Friday, April 29, 2016

Non-Horror Post: Last Wednesday, I chose a side...

And decided to see Captain America: Civil War.

And loved every minute of it!

I'll be honest, after that underwhelming DC mash-up that is Batman V Superman, I was a bit skeptical on seeing another hero-vs-hero movie (and more skeptical now on seeing Suicide Squad when it comes) but Disney/Marvel knows how to make a good superhero movie work!

Where do I begin? I love the thought-provoking realism of this entry and I love the fact that it didn't devolve into mere superhero theatrics at the end with the inclusion of this movie's villain, Zemo. I love the two teams created out of the Avengers. I love the cameos. I love how they'll be slugging each other was perfectly paced for the wait. I love Ant-Man's little distraction. I love that they're hinting a new solo movie for Spiderman. I love that they're hinting a solo Black Panther movie. I love the bromance between Steve, Sam and Bucky. And I love how this movie effectively placed me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end, especially that final battle between Cap, Bucky, and Tony.

I hadn't felt this kind of rush since I saw Jurassic World, Godzilla (2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy, and I am happy to say, waking up 7:00 AM to get my tetanus shot first before walking through an entire town just to see this was well worth it! (I need to get my shots cuz my dog bit my finger for the umpteenth time. Long story for another time...) If you are yet to see this, I will punch a llama for it. I will eat a live rat for it. I will do this and that for it. And I highly recommend it.

See it!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Foul Play: Night Of The Dribbler (1990)

Night of The Dribbler (Canada, 1990)
Rating: *
Starring: Fred Travalena, Gregory Calpakis, Flavia Carrozzi

Heh. Ahahahahahahaha...

No. A hundred fucking times "No".

Night of The Dribbler was a supposed lost slasher until a few horror fans became aware of its existence, herded enough attention about it and somehow convinced a high power (or at least an unfortunate distributor known as Code Red) to have it released. Little do they know they'll be wishing they haven't done that.

In this movie, a really terrible basketball team known as The Plumbers is on their 6th year losing streak and appears to be decreasing a teammate one suspicious accident at a time. A lot of them got hurt. Very few gets killed. All perpetrated by a hoodlum in a rubbery basketball mask. But who could it be? Is it our hero, Stan Bates (Gregory Calpakis)? A benchwarmer stuck on ball boy duties who dreams of becoming a basketball star? His overbearing dad who isn't too happy with his son's current position? The goth girl Becky (Flavia Carrozzi) who obviously had taken a liking to Stan? Or maybe it's that weird science teacher who always finds himself in wrong place at the wrong time?

Personally? Who cares. Night of The Dribbler is a sad, futile, unfunny attempt to be another Airplane! version of a slasher movie, so much so that its 88 minute running time left like 88 hours! The obvious reason for this is that the writing had it fall flat on a joke in every minute, all of them wall-bangingly horrendous for how ungodly un-hilarious, inept and overworked they are. Making all of this worse is the fact that none of the casts have any charm or wit to their portrayals, the entire movie cannot hide its overall low budget, and the "slasher" subplot (which the film's extensively marketed as) was hardly used with only two victims ending up dead and the rest are harmed so badly that they can't play basketball. Yeah, harm counts. We pay good money to have a slasher out and all we got is a spoof with fucking harm counts. Zippy-Dee-Doodah...

Before this movie, the one of the last slasher spoofs treated to us was Pandemonium back at 1982 and that personally remains one of the best slasher spoofs ever made; it has workable characters, a pace in its jokes, and the overall randomness felt balanced enough to really make the funny tone work. A few things Night of The Dribbler obviously lost even before the actual movie began. For its worth, I dig the killer's mask, but if this is the only thing I can root for from an entire movie, then what's point?

Nothing! Just like this movie will be in my memory after I finish fifteen Jello-Shots! Avoid like a plague!

1 male head seen
1 male electrocuted in a pool with a live TV
Total: 2

The Mother of All Troma!: Terror Firmer (1998)

Terror Firmer (1998)
Rating: ***
Starring: Will Keenan, Alyce LaTourelle, Lloyd Kaufman

And once again, I dive into another love/hate relationship with Troma Entertainment as I "treat" myself with one of their better films, a self-referential stab at their own goofiness that's loosely based on a book titled  All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, known as Terror Firmer.

The plot revolves around Troma Studios finishing another Toxic Avenger entry but they can't seem to do so as their blind director Larry Benjamin (played by none other than Lloyd Kaufman himself) keeps changing the plot, the crew and actors just keep boning each other, and then there's a mad femme fatale killing a good portion of the people involved in the movie.

There's also tension within the production assistants as the serious Casey (Will Keenan) and eccentric Jerry (Trent Haaga) both have the hots for another PA, Jennifer (Alyce LaTourelle). The triangle goes from sweet, to romantic, to sexual, and then downright weird, but in the end she can only chose one and by the time that happens, something weirder and deadlier is bound to follow.

Then again, a lot of weird things have been going on throughout Terror Firmer that I am actually surprised that I sat through all of it and, by damnation, enjoyed a hefty portion of the madness! Yes, I still see this film as an overworked gross-out comedy that wholeheartedly addresses itself as the loving tribute to all things Troma, tackling jokes from the prude to the rude, offensive to disgusting, immature to mature (if you catch my drift) but with the violence so plentiful and the story actually making some slight of sense in terms of commentary and plot, all hope may not be lost for Terror.

The slasher bits here are an absolute treat on my book, featuring an intriguing killer babe with a bloodlust to match a rabid dog in heat. She quips like Freddy Krueger, has a moral compass (and voice) similar to Jennifer Tilly's character Tiffany in Seed of Chucky, and a maniacal sense of killing spree to rival Angela Baker from the two 80s Sleepaway Camp sequels in sense of creativity. Gore is obviously plentiful as, again and obviously, this is a Troma slasher, wherein the word subtle is buried underneath the pile of gunk, cum and shit, and almost every kill has to involve gallons of fake blood, realistic latex organs, and other kinds of bodily fluids.

I also found the fact that our killer is a supposed metaphor for mainstream movies hacking up indie flicks as an interesting notion; though I do love and respect indie flicks, with many of my fave slashers and horror flicks being hailed from indie directors (hey, Jennifer Kent!), but when it comes to most Troma movies, I can't help but understand where she's coming. Of course, in a way for Troma to make itself look sympathetic and the "real" victim here, the killer's real identity had to be in par with the overall gross comedy tone and pretty much have everything end up with a big middle finger to political correctness, catering to its (growing) fans. (As do many other Troma titles out there)

Production quality is (what else) of B-grade standard that often tips into Z-flick ineptness, so do not expect that much stellar acting and all that relatable character plotting, but do know you will be treated one or two offensive gags to the next. The humor here is specifically made for hard-core Troma fans and the copious amount of cameos of other well known Troma characters (The Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman being some of them), so it is no surprise that this movie will divide viewers between the understandably utterly appalled and those who be laughing their shits off at every poop and fart joke here coz, well, Troma humor. I honestly find myself at the former but I did come to appreciate the self-referencing nature of the film, pretty much the cinematic equivalent of a stand-up comedian poking fun at their own flaws much to the approval and laughter of their audience.

At times, however, a joke seems to go on forever and this is among the reason why I couldn't fully enjoy Terror Firmer at its finest. With the length of the movie running for nearly two hours, those who are not familiar or used to the film's brand of humor may get tired or annoyed at some point, making the film a real test for sanity and patience among the rest. Thankfully, when it does something right, may it be a joke, a murder, or softcore porn (yes, softcore porn), it does it with much slyness and overkill that it can be considered great as an effort.

Good "Good" Troma movies are hard to come by and, interestingly, some of the Troma movies I did enjoy are simply released by the company. On that note, I did notice that most of the movies I dislike from this studio are directed by Kaufman; I am, however, 1/16th proud to say that Terror Firmer finally changed that, at least for now. Kaufman, your films are an acquired taste and I want nothing to do with it, but I am happy that I somewhat enjoyed Terror Firmer. May The Toxic Avenger be with you!

1 male bludgeoned to death with his own severed leg
1 female disemboweled, fetus torn out
1 male found dead under a mountain of cereal
1 male repeatedly stabbed in the head with a broken bog, brains scooped out
1 female trampled (flashback)
1 male crushed through an escalator, hacked apart with an axe
1 male shot on the head
1 male dies, cause unknown
1 male had his head fried by a falling stage-light
1 male had his legs crushed off between trucks, killed
1 male drowned in feces
1 female had her breasts shot off with a shotgun
1 male crushed underneath a car
1 male had his hand chopped off with an axe, groin mutilated
1 male decimated by a bomb
1 hermaphrodite set ablaze, ran through the groin with a boom mike
Total: 16

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bloody Coconuts and Reggae Horror Shows: Club Dread (2004)

Club Dread (2004)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Bill Paxton, Kevin Heffernan

I should start off by saying I am not familiar with the comedy group Broken Lizard outside of this "slasher spoof" and I'm not sure I get their definition of  a "spoof", being the kind of guy who grew up watching and loving spoofs like Airplane!, The Naked Gun series, the Hot Shots duo and the first three Scary Movie movies. Still, if they can do a decent slasher comedy like this with their brand of funnies then, hell, they can shit in a box and call it comedy for all I care.

Somewhere in Costa Rica is Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island, a place for swinging partiers and drunk vacationers to spend a week under the sun, having fun, and getting some. That is until someone in a rainslicker and carrying a mean kukri, who may or may not be the island's urban legend figure "Machete Phil", begins to drop the guest and staff count down one kill at a time. The further the days go and the more victims pile up, the harder the staff tries to convince everyone that everything's under control and that nobody else is gonna bite it during their stay. Of course, this is a load of bull as the killer eventually makes a scene and all hell breaks loose.

As mentioned, I never heard of the Broken Lizard group before seeing this and never really bothered to see their other movies after, hence I am not sure how much of their comedy was applied here, but one thing is certain and that is Club Dread's barely the usual spoof one would expect. (At least not in today's Epic Movie and Disaster Movie infested celluloid) In fact, this is hardly a spoof as it is more of a real slasher movie with a few comedic moments, as the jokes here are hardly quippier than your usual sex and drugs mishaps commonly found in 80s and 90s college/sex comedies, sets of old hat jokey dialogues and camp-grade situations that try to be offensive or interesting but barely denting out any comedy gold from the attempts. Granted I did smirked and chuckled at some jokes but I've seen many of these supposedly hilarious stunts done before from gag shows and other (more) decent comedy flicks, making a whole gaggle of these quips a hit-or-miss.

In the end, I believe Club Dread did better with its slasher elements, with the killer played straight, the murders being gruesome, and there is actually a sense of dread and mystery underneath the cheeky tone and colorful characters. Club Dread may not have twisted the flow enough to make it a unique spoof, but it follows the rules and cliches with so much respect and understanding, all the while delivering some interesting set-pieces for the murders both straight and comical, I actually learned to overthrow the point that this film was intended to poke fun at the very tropes it is ironically playing quite well. (The Pac Man maze, for instance. Who knew watching a guy dressed up as a yellow blob trying to run away from a killer dressed up as a pineapple would be so thrilling yet so random at the same time.)

The plotting is also a treat from this movie, taking cues from Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indian as the killer appears to base their murder spree from the lyrics of a stoner song. And with nearly everyone having some backstory and suspicious quirks, Club Dread does away the whodunit treatment with some flair before we have our killer revealed at the hour mark and swerving into a campy survivalist-type bodycounter.

Being a film funded and released by a big company like 20th Century Fox, you can expect the best (if not just great) production quality from this movie. The picture looks slick, the audio is great, and it boasts some of the more entertaining set of victims, suspects, and red herrings-to-be. (Including Bill Paxton as the stoner, singer and island owner Coconut Pete) Gore effects are minimal as the killer prefers traditional slaying like hackings and slashings, but the build-up to these killings are great, plus we did have a funky head rolling on an electronic turntable and villain's own great demise to satisfy a little of our gore lust.

Overall, though I am unimpressed by the comedy elements played with here, I love the rest of Club Dread as a fairly decent hack as an early 2000s slasher. A cult classic among more open slasher fans and die-hard Broken Lizard groupies, I for one am one of the former and proud to say that this is one of the better slasher comedies I've seen around this bloody and interesting hobby of mine. If you're yet to see it, expect some laughs, expect some blood and expect a fair bodycounter. That's all you have to know!

1 male slashed through with a kukri
1 female falls off a cliff
1 female decapitated with a kukri
1 male stabbed to death with a kitchen knife
1 male slashed on the gut with a kukri
1 male had his throat cut with a kukri
1 female hacked armless with a kukri
2 males immolated in explosion
1 male electrocuted in a pool with a live TV
1 male found hanged
1 male decapitated with a kukri
1 male gets a thrown kukri to his chest
1 male found with his gut hacked open
1 male crushed and bisected with ropes, drowns
Total: 15

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Watch This With Hambone: Terror at Blood Fart Lake (2009)

Terror at Blood Fart Lake (2009)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jesse Ames, Teen Ape, Andrew Baltes

A little guilty pleasure of mine. One that gives me the chuckles every time I feel like seeing it.

We first see Hambone; Hambone is a rich dude with a weird accent and refers himself in third person. Hambone just invited his friends to his lakeside cabin. Hambone is happy that his life (and his T-shirt business) is working out well for him. Hambone decided to take a dip at the lake only for Hambone to be attacked by a killer.

After that incident with Hambone, we now follow a group of five idiots who are supposed to be stereotype slasher victims depicted by actors who are clearly into tats and piercings; these guys are Ben the main nice guy, Zeebs the cocky jock-type who also has a weird accent, Sally the overweight goth, Snake the stoner, and Gwendelyn the misplaced 50s flapper who has a thing for movies.

Along the way, they come upon Leo, a hillbilly with a (not) dashing mustache warning them of a death curse at the lake they are visiting, all the while helping them re-fuel their van by peeing into it. Not wanting to do anything more with Leo, the kids continue their way and meet their flamboyant afro-wearing host Caspian, who instantly taken a liking to them. It’s not too long, however, before the killer strikes again, apparently a gayish skull-headed scarecrow slasher named Jimmy, who in turn is unaware that a mysterious femme-fatale vigilante is hot on his trail. With all of this, one question remains; will there be anybody left alive in the end?!

Done in an obviously meager budget, Terror at Bloodfart Lake didn’t bother hiding any of its homegrown quality as we can tell these are just people in cheap costumes having a good time in making fun at the sub-genre itself, trying to make the jokes work with its weird plot, weird visuals, and a plethora of weird writing for equally weird characters.

This is a personally tough film to review since I can tell the humor here is not going to cater everybody’s funny bones; it has this subtle yet over-the-top randomness that follows the typical backwoods slasher format, only with some odd set-pieces and each character sporting their respective clichés dumber in cartoonish exaggeration, this including our killer who speaks with a shrill flimsy voice, kills with outrageous murder weapons and merrily skips away after snuffing one off. Some may find this hilarious, some may look at it as desperation, so it’s only real disadvantage (like any zero-budget slasher spoof out there) is how well it caters to its audience’s taste for comedy and tolerance for zero-budget.

Thankfully for this film, I am one of those who found its jokes far from the obnoxious in-your-face overworking of what is considered today as "spoofs". (Disaster Movie. I'm looking at you, you sonova-) With Terror pretty much boasting some workable quips and visual humor that sort of remind me of the refined craziness of Airplane! or even the Naked Gun trilogy only with a near-absent budget, you can tell these guys had a blast doing this film even if some of the jokes had been done before. I guess this is what puts me in a tad bias position when it comes to this title: I just love a movie with a heart!

The amateur acting and obvious lack of props surprisingly go quite well with the purposely bad script, and while some of the gags did got a bit gross, these can be easily overlooked by the dialogue and body language driven absurdity that this movie possesses. It's not perfect as a slasher or as a full-on comedy, but any film that can make corn murders as bloody and cheesy funny, or terrible pick-up lines as groan-tastically hilarious as Terror did deserves at least a viewing.

If you want to try your hands on some homemade slasher spoof, Terror at Bloodfart Lake is an absolute addition to your viewing tick list. A little gooey, a little bad, but a whole lot of fun!

1 Hambone killed
1 male stabbed on the eye with a corn cob
1 male gets a corn cob shoved through his arse, exits out of groin
1 female force-fed with her own fat, choked
1 female ran through with a corn cob, neck broken
1 male eaten alive by...hell leeches grown from someone's arse...wait, what?
Total: 6

A Bad Place To Bleach: Fear Town, USA (2014)

Fear Town, USA (2014)
Rating: ***
Starring: Anna Callegari, Cody Lindquist, Amber Sophia Nelson

Welcome to Fear Town, USA, where gun-packing boyfriends shoot their girlfriends (and themselves) to death, retail discussion is a great substitute for campfire stories, and households store hundreds of bottles of bleach.

It’s also St. Blevin’s Day and the kids are delighted to celebrate that one holiday honoring a heroic pilgrim who tricked thousands of innocent Polish children into drowning. As parties are thrown and road trips are made, little do these idiots know that they’re in mortal danger as a masked psycho is on the loose killing people, the ghost of a deceased bully continues her trolling from beyond the grave, a van full of hooded people is seen around, and somebody who may or may not be Satan has stopped by to party!

Told through the perspectives of separate groups, mainly four geeks on a quest to lose their virginities (or as they call it "pussycrush"), a girl who can see ghosts, and a group of campers wherein one has a urinary problem (just to name a few!), Fear Town, USA is a sort of anthology similar to that of Trick'R Treat (2007), wherein seemingly unrelated stories run their courses, only to be linked with one another through little snippets and chances.

A spoof of backwoods teen-kill with a fodder of hilarious sidelines, Fear Town might be cheap in production but it worked away its gags with much heart, style, timing, and cheese as far as their budget allows it, focusing more on the anything-can-happen mishaps, randomness and quirky dialogue that befall on its characters. As a marketed backwoods slasher, it is pretty decent on that department with the funnies coming more from its victims rather than the killer. For most, the welding mask-wearing psycho's played straight and is treated as the tying presence for all the segments, with the only hilarity we got out of him is that he has troubles shooting arrows and his motive during the reveal.

But personally, I believe the best of these subplots have to be the nerds getting stopped for a multitude of reasons that are hilariously crazier than the last, and the bits about a ghostly teen troll whose method of killing involves calling people "fat" over and over again. These segments have the most charm with the characters involved and simply for the absurdity of it all, matching quite well with the overall tone of the movie.

Due to the unpredictable nature of its narrative, Fear Town manages to keep some of its jokes fresh and modestly hilarious without going too over-the-top. A bit immature and corny at a side, yes, but I find these spoofs modest and chuckle-friendly all through out with its near-deadpan simplicity, reminiscent of the old Airplane! or Naked Gun movie.

I will also say that I am a little impressed at the amount of props and sets used for this flick despite the cheap budget; they’re nothing grand (obviously) but, again, it works well with the narrative style and humor so that’s a kudos for the film’s creative team. Of course, this would also mean a reasonable lack of blood and while I can overlook this in favor of the movie's comedy, I can tell this will not sit well for those who were eyeing for the gory kind of slasher spoof unless they're open for a little more variety done in a near zero-budget.

Some jokes and gags can get too random, but the net result is still an entertaining horror-spoof that could use more polishing. Nevertheless, Fear Town, USA still aims well as a junk food slasher spoof, the sort of movie you can rent overnight or over the weekend just for you to laugh your arses off, with or without the assistance of your favorite good brewsky. Worth a try!

1 female shot dead (by accident)
1 male shot dead (by accident)
1 female strangled to death
1 female drowned in a pool (flashback)
1 male shot on the chest with an arrow
1 male stabbed to death with an arrow
1 male ran through the arse with a machete
1 female hacked on the head with a machete
1 female happily ingests a 90% more poisonous brand of bleach
2 males knifed, dies after realizing how much of a jerk they were in life
1 male ingests bleach
1 male ingests bleach
5 victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 male seen dead from ingesting bleach
2 victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 male and 1 female dies from ingesting bleach
A number of victims seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 female decapitated with a machete
1 male hacked to death with a shovel
1 male and 1 female seen dead from ingesting bleach
1 female seen dead from alcohol poisoning
Total: 28+

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Power Generator Massacre: Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991)

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) (AKA "Picking Up The Pieces")
Rating: ***
Starring: Jake Dengel, Joe Sharkey, Susann Fletche

First of all, no. While the film was indeed shot in Pittsburgh, it does not include any bloodsucking pharaohs.

What we have instead are two bumbling detectives, Joe Blocker and Sweeney Birdwell (Joe Sharkey and Jake Dengal respectively), following a trail of murder and dismemberment that's getting more brutal (and absurd) than the last, perpetrated by a madman who pulls a kid's wagon full of high-powered tools, cleaning appliances and a large gas-powered generator.

Their only leads happen to be pieces of parchment with hieroglyphics on them and the fact that a spree similar to this happened in Las Vegas some time ago, little details that could mean anything... except that the perp might be hiding around Pittsburgh's Egyptian district (yes, apparently, that is a thing) and it is the same killer from the Vegas spree.

Unfortunately for these two detectives, they're idiots. Just idiots. But fortunately for them, Joe's former partner's daughter (and meter maid)  Deedee (Susann Fletcher) decided to come out of the blue to help them with the case and she's doing a better job at it! But just when things are finally looking up for the trio, the killer kidnaps Deedee, transpiring to a melting pot of underground cults, ninjas, a woman's smoking aversion therapy, and more blood. Of course.

Overall weird and making little sense despite the (sort of) existence of a plot, Bloodsucking Pharaohs is really a love letter for 60s/70s gore flick and cheesy 80s slashers, doused in spoof juice that oozed out of films like Airplane! or The Naked Gun trilogy, set out to dry in an air of obscurity and cult following.

As a parody, it's pretty hit-and-miss with the gags, often feeling like it was trying a tad too hard to be funny as it attempts to cover a lot of comedy styles. In turn, the humor felt inconsistent and resulting to a rather confused final product that's either a straight-out parody or just a cheesed up slasher flick. A good example of this randomness includes a detective's chain-smoking wife going through a rehabilitation program that involves a gaggle of "deterrent", from a film viewing of a plane (full of chain-smokers) crashing, to being electrocuted by a group carrying cattle prods. These are scenes inserted every once in a while throughout the movie, serving very little purpose but to pad up the running time and be, well, funny. Unfortunately, it's only funny in a selective case and it does very little for the main story until the chaotic climax. wherein a supposedly hilarious scene somewhat helps the detectives finish off some bad guys.

Thankfully when it does manage to deliver, Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh delivers well; the three leads are likable on a level and while they can be annoying as characters, they're not insulting bad. (Also, we got Don Brockett from Mister Roger's Neighborhood as police chief Buzz Saw. How weird is that?) The mystery is a decent one too despite the obvious solutions, and it manages to deliver a great dose of gore courtesy of a makeup department under the supervision of effects maestro, Tom Savini. (In fact, the gore might as well be the best thing about this movie!)

It eventually breezes to a rather fun and energetic climax that ends with a satisfying note as a horror-comedy. Safe to say, Bloodsucking Pharaohs is flawed, but not a total lost especially if you have a funny bone and/or a gore craving to spare. It tries to work with what it have and it attempted to be hilarious without being all on our faces with it, so I guess that deserved the film at least a single viewing. Try it out!

1 female had her skull sliced open with a buzzsaw, brains removed
1 male shot to death (flashback)
1 female eviscerated with a hedge-trimmer
1 female had her insides sucked out with a vacuum
1 dog sucked and crushed through a vacuum
1 female jackhammered to death, pinned to a meter post
1 female shot
1 female shot
1 female shot on the head
1 male boiled alive until his skin peels off
1 male beheaded with a spear
1 female crushed to death in a hydraulic press
Total: 12

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Marilyn Monroe Masked Massacre: Kill Game (2015)

Kill Game (2015) (AKA "Prank'd")
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Pierson Fode, Joe Adler, Laura Ashley Samuels

Standard is what standard does and Kill Game played this no better.

Following the Prom Night (1980), I know What You Did Last Summer (1997) or even Sorority Row (2009) backdrop, Kill Game has six former highschool buddies gathering together to pay respect to one of their friends who was killed in a supposed bad drug deal.

This, unfortunately, wasn’t really the case when it turns out, a maniac in a Marilyn Monroe mask is actually hunting them down, apparently avenging one of their own friends who they accidentally killed in a prank-gone-wrong. As the death toll rises, the gang is forced to try and uncover who is behind the murders. But with so many former-prank victims possibly out to get them, which is further complicated by the arrival of their dead friend's estranged twin brother who just came to town looking for answers, trust is a risk too dangerous for them to take.

Clocking an hour and forty minutes of hammy intrigue and a few savage bloodletting, Kill Game (or Prank'd as it was originally and befittingly called) gives us mean-spirited former-pranksters getting their comeuppance in a variety of murder methods that walk between the fine line of torture porn and slasher, all the while attempting to bulk the story with a whodunit that sortah works in keeping us guessing, but not enough to give us an overwhelming end product.

Perhaps it’s the length of the film that plays against itself as the cheesy melodrama and mystery can be a hassle, especially if it involved clumsily portrayed characters and a conflict that's been done multiple times before. Some red herrings were attempted to make the film as twisty as the crime thriller it is trying to be (Y’know. To keep us invested in the mystery) but they were dead obvious and did very little to make the story intriguing, leaving much of the narrative barely surprising and its cast overly dramatized with little-to-no effect.

Much of this is evident around the middle portion of the film where around five to four characters are left and the story took the opportunity to slow down and focus on them trying to deduct their predicament. I admire this effort but, again, it comes with the delivery of the casts and while not exactly terrible, you can tell they could use some work on the acting gig. Until then, it’s nothing but people panicking, being remorseful, brutally dying, and talking in a threatening manner to make them look like a suspect but is actually not. (That’s how blatantly obvious these red herrings are)

Thankfully, the film manages to do the slasher parts just right as not only did it feature a creepy/cool masked killer but the murders they commit are graphically satisfying and worth sitting through some of the trouble. As mentioned, they come across somewhere between torture porn and standard slasher killings, so expect the killer to have a tendency of putting their victims in elaborate set-pieces such as blood transfusions with a dead deer and one Friday the 13th redux-inspired bonfire roasting. These elaborate sets, though, are ex-pranksters exclusives so everybody else who got in the way are treated to machete beheadings and hackings, thus the traditional stalk-and-kill still being present to cater those preferring their murders back-to-basic.

I also came to (masochistically) enjoy the twist reveals at the very end of the movie, where we spend 10 to 5 minutes before the end credits going through what might be the offspring of three horror film ending clichés if they ever have an orgy. Without spoiling much, some people turned out to be innocent, more people die, dream fake reveal here and then the killer’s identity was a blink and miss all this time. Overly determined? Definitely and its worth the little snickers it comes with.

I can’t say that Kill Game failed as a movie since it did do what it is supposed to do; a trying whodunit that can’t hide its slasher exploits with all the blood and cheeky murder mystery antics it so generously (and I mean generously) provide. If only they downplayed some of these overly dramatic crud, I could have liked this better, but I say for those with enough time on their hands, give this one a try as a fair rent.

1 male roasted alive above a bonfire
1 female gets a blood transfusion with a dead deer, later found killed with deer antlers
1 male doused in gasoline, set on fire
1 male slashed with a machete
1 female beheaded with a machete
1 female disemboweled
1 female seen hacked to death
1 male drowned (implied in flashback)
1 male beaten with barbells, electrocuted in a tub with a live TV
1 male slashed to death with a machete
1 male shot
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
Total: 12

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Freaking Out The Cheap n' Nasty Way: Freak Out (2004)

Freak Out (United Kingdom, 2004)
Rating: ***
Starring: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer, Nicola Connell

Interesting by far as slasher spoofs can go, Freak Out is one of United Kingdom's own hilarious spit on the sub-genre as we follow Merv Doody (James Heathcote), a nerdy slacker who lives with his grandma and spends his days after school watching rented horror videos. His life will suddenly change when he got his home invaded by an escaped mental patient named Looney (Yazz Fetto), whom he easily “defeated” and captured.

Although excited from the fact that this was the most out-of-the-ordinary thing to happen in his rather bland (albeit strange) life in Redwater Cove, it turns out Looney’s a disappointing pansy, though he is rather enthusiastic to be the homicidal vengeful killer he is destined (or he wished to be) precisely 13 years ago. Seeing some potential in the moron (and pretty much have nothing else to do), Merv agrees to help him and enlists the help of his bestfriend Onkey (Dan Palmer) to train Looney to be the best masked serial killer two idiots can make and sell out to!

Of course, their plan begin to backfire when Looney starts to lose his mind (like, much more than they anticipated) and the realization that he will be killing folks suddenly puts Merv and Onkey in a position where they no longer want to be a part of Looney’s dream, which obviously isn’t going to sit well with the masked maniac.

With numerous random gags to put any viewer in a daze, Freak Out may have overdone a few of its jokes on a long run but it does get points for originality as the idea of an incompetent slasher getting help from a pair of idiots does call for a fun satire to the sub-genre and for a while, it was exactly that.

There are a few gags here and there that were worth a few chuckle, with the best scenes concerning Looney’s training to be a heartless slasher being the best considering how flimsy, gullible and vegan he is despite his eagerness to kill, easily shown to a few close calls he had in murdering a few folks. (And by that, I meant Onkey got into a lot of bloody accidents much to his friend’s worry and to the viewers' amusement.)

However, as there were good jokes, there were also gags that felt a little too pushy to the point it kind of made some of the characters less likable and a few scenes overworked that they are anything but funny. These jokes were one-trick sillies or overused situations that we may already have seen in so many other comedies out there, which shouldn’t be a problem if it was handled well, taken with a new approach, or, for this movie, trimmed down for subtlety’s sake.

Thankfully, Freak Out picked up quite okay after a while, bringing us to the last act of the film where a new fully-slasherfied Looney is now on full killer mode, chasing our hapless heroes and committing lots of massacres. The best of them had to be the final bloodbath that took place at a mall’s parking lot where more random folks get chased and slaughtered with a giant spatula and a salami-filled shirt gun might be the only way to stop our killer. It’s crazy, bloody, and insanely hilarious, just as everything we could ask for a slasher spoof final act.

Freak Out is an oddity from beginning to end that is more akin to Troma movies minus the extreme exploits and more on the childish unpredictability. Perhaps not for everybody’s funny bone as its randomness can only go so far in being funny but if you can learn to endure it as I did, it still packed some decent slasher action so I’m only recommending this for those who want to try it, or for those who are planning to see it with other good slasher spoofs like Pandemonium (1982), Fear Town, USA (2013), or even Dude Bro Party Massacre Part III (2015)!

1 female shot herself
1 male swallowed pills
1 male gets a chainsaw to his gut
1 male and 1 female rammed with a shopping cart, crushed
1 male stomped on the head
1 male had his head torn off
1 male found with a throat cut
1 female eaten by random zombies
A number of party-goers killed in the dark
1 male ran through with a mop
1 male had his neck punched broken
A number of victims seen dead in police station massacre
1 male gets a spatula to the arse, killed
1 female had her throat cut with a spatula
1 male killed
1 male stabbed on the back with a spatula
1 female slashed with a giant spatula
1 male hacked with a giant spatula
1 male hacked in half with a giant spatula
1 male explodes into goop
Total: 19+

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It Was All A Joke: Los Inocentes (2013)

Los Inocentes (Spain, 2013) (AKA "The Innocent", "Bloody April Fools")
Rating: ****
Starring: Joan Amargós, Enric Auquer, Àlex Batllori

An hour and some minutes of down-to-basic slasher goodness from Spain? Oh my, I think Christmas just came early for me!

A collaborative effort of 12 directors (!), Los Inocentes tells the average slasher tale of nine teens getting lost in the road one El día de los Inocentes night (which is like April Fools day in Spain, celebrated it in late-Decembers), only to find refuge in an abandoned brothel and plan on spending the night there to party, drink and getting some old-fashioned premarital sex.

Unknown to them, however, the brothel was the site of a prank-gone-wrong 15 years ago, wherein a young man was scorched to death. Now, it appears someone -or something- doesn't want the teens there, promising death to all of them in the grisliest and far-fetched manner.

If you know your slasher movies then you'll know Los Inocentes' did a lot of things right as a bodycounter, ticking down the cliches and twisting it enough to create something out of the ordinary once in awhile. I guess you can say that the movie is a bit of the old and the new together, paying good tributes to classic slashers like The BurningFriday the 13th and Slaughter High without the need of name-dropping or purposely copying scenes from these films for the sake of a "tribute". Instead, Inocentes felt like a familiar story, running through the slasher cliches from the silent killer's POV shots to the ole' sex-means-death trope, told in a way that is refreshing and energetic, choosing the right moments and directions to keep it shocking and dark when the moment calls for it.

This is quite evident with the wildly varying kills awaiting our hapless teens, including nailgun shootings and gasoline burnings, as well as really strange ones like bee attacks and death by laughing gas. These murders are done away with a good mix of CG and practical effects, a welcome effort made better with the movie's devilish side of dark humor and some good build-up for a couple of these scenes.

The killer committing these murders was also played around with as we never get a glimpse of them until the twist reveal, resulting to a good bulk of the murders either being set-up as traps or were just too fantastic to be committed by a mere mortal. This isn't to say that the film heavily implies the supernatural, but there were a few scenes that uses nightmare logic (or no logic at all) to snuff out the victims, thus making the reveal at the end quite a surprise in a way only a lovable B-flick can.

With only a running time of 65 minutes, Los Inocentes breezed through the plot with a fast pace, luscious camera work and a few likable (if not just tolerable) set of good-looking teens. Finding flaws among the mountainous amount of goodness this slasher have proves to be a rather difficult task, but I do have mixed feelings on how open-and-shut the ending was, with it being a too easy way to end. Of course, this coming from a movie where one boy got killed by a swarm of bees coming out of a car's air conditioner, the ending still fits with enough mean-spirited tone to be acceptable nonetheless.

More of the good and almost none of the bad, I'm proud to say that Los Inocentes is well-worth the video hunt for all of you slasher and horror fanatics out there! Gory fun to watch, easy on the brain, all the makings of a fun popcorn throwback slasher! Seek it and keep it!

1 male scorched to death inside a boiler room
1 female bitten by a snake, hit by an incoming bus
1 male shot on the eye with a nailgun
1 female slips and cracked her skull against the floor, fingered on the brain
1 male stung to death by bees, beheaded
1 male doused in gasoline and set ablaze
1 male and 1 female suffocates on laughing gas
1 male shot to death
1 male shot with a hunting rifle
1 female shot
Total: 11