Friday, January 31, 2020

A Slow Burn to Madness: Freak (1999)

Freak (1999) (AKA "The Last Roadstop")
Rating: **
Starring: Amy Paliganoff, Travis Patton, Andrea Johnson

With a simple title like Freak (1999), you would expect a uniquely intriguing slasher from the late 90s and, in a way that's akin to a double-edged blade, this certainly is one.

Nine years ago, a young disfigured boy living in the dilapidated remains of his home finally snaps when his abusive pregnant mother gives birth and tosses her newborn into a dumpster fire. After rescuing the baby, the boy ends his mother with a rock and soon gets transported to a mental asylum while his sibling gets adopted.

Present day, aspiring artist Staci is moving with her younger sister Jodi to a new house after their parents' death when, at the exact same time, our disfigured killer finds himself being transferred to a new hospital for treatment and gets an opportunity to escape when the van transport's left unattended by its driver. Now free to roam and kill, the bandaged-up maniac eventually crosses paths with the sisters, stalking and closing in on them with plans on kidnapping Jodi for a very macabre reason.

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) undoubtedly inspired a butt-load of slashers ever since it came out and even to this day, its influence can still be seen in modern slashers with varying success, plenty of which having a heighten up kill count, gore and exploitation. Freak (1999), on the other hand, sought to replicate and build itself around the atmospheric slow burn of the John Carpenter classic and I can certainly tell they tried.

Working around the minuscule budget, Freak (1999) focuses on creating a steady, near-realistic direction and mundane yet unsettling visual elements consisting mostly of moldering houses and long deserted back-roads. Character development, in turn, has quite the spotlight on this movie's plotting as we learn enough about our two sister protagonists to eventually care about them to some extent. Because of this, most of the horror elements get set aside as there's nothing that graphic going on in this slasher in terms of kills with its lack of high numbers and only half of the count bearing strong blood work. Any scares brought up and used are also near absent, but thankfully it work its way back to the movie's climax as Staci is forced to journey into the decaying house wherein all of this horror began to save her sister from our simplistic yet creepy-looking monster.

Strong drawbacks from this movie include long lulling moments where almost nothing significant happen, as well as a shortage other characters either we or our cast could have interacted with which would have made the road trip part of the movie that more interesting. And yet, despite this, there is a unique charm to be found in Freak (1999) as it did courageously attempt something different from your classic bodycounter. Whether you see this as a hidden slowburn gem, or a distressingly limp attempt of a psychological horror, there is no denying this is quite a unique slasher that earns at least a single viewing.

1 female brained to death with a rock
1 female attacked, killed offscreen
1 male seen killed, method unknown
1 male hacked on the head with a hatchet, bled to death
Total: 4

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

When Trailer Park Girls Cry: Far From Home (1989)

Far From Home (1989)
Rating; ***
Starring: Matt Frewer, Drew Barrymore, Richard Masur

Starring a tweenage Drew Barrymore as Joleen Cox, Far From Home (1989) follows her and her character's divorced father Charlie driving cross country throughout almost an entire Summer for a journalism job, until their gas tank runs low enroute back to their Los Angeles home. They eventually end up wandering around a nearby Nevada town of Banco where they apparently have to stay at for a bit as its only gas station's dried out and the other fuel source around is at least another drive away.

Renting out a trailer from guest ranch owner Agnes, Joleen, desperate for some romance and excitement, gets smitten by Agnes’ mysterious teenage son Jimmy, who may or may not be all that safe to be around with considering he's a bit of a bullying creeper with voyeuristic tendencies and a rapey-side. And with the town's suddenly outbreak of suspicious deaths picking off residents one by one, Joleen fears she might be flirting with the top suspect of these murders and that she might be next on the hit list.

Mildly entertaining at its best, Far From Home is, without a doubt, targeted to tweens with its depictions of struggle to gain an adult perspective on life, managing control on said perspective as well as one's brooding interest on the opposite sex. It manages to do this alternatively between being laughably cheesy and borderline exploitative at some (nothing too explicit, though the leering shots of a two-piece clad Barrymore felt rather unnecessary), showing off the dangers that would come from an unready mindset and how some innocent acts can have troubling drawbacks. All of this through  an otherwise predictable murder mystery with shared slasher elements.

Considering the small number of casts and momentous amount of horror and thriller cliches played, it wasn't that hard to figure out the identities of both the killer and red herrings. In a way, the direction and pace of the movie makes a lot of sense, but the lack of surprise and creative curves just dull the impact of the plot. Add the matter that the kills aren't particularly graphic (but it does have its small share of ingenuity at times), Home could have been a lot more stale and forgettable if it wasn't for the cast; Barrymore and Matt Frewer make a cogent father-daughter pair, even if majority of the focus was around Barrymore's moody Joleen transitioning between adolescence and adulthood. Richard Masur has a fun surrogate uncle feel to his depiction to his Duckett, a Vietnam veteran living with a mantra that help shouldn't come at a price, while Jennifer Tilly and Karen Austin as Amy and Louise respectively were sweet in their enjoyable supporting roles as two women also stranded in the town, ready to befriend the father-daughter pair.

There's also a great deal of atmosphere present as the desert's sense of isolation from urban civilization makes everything a serious debacle, may it be finding gasoline or hiding from a knife-wielding killer during sandstorms. The climax itself utilizes this predicament greatly with its cat-and-mouse final act, a small reward for sitting through what is technically a young adult mystery novel turned feature length viewing.

 Easy on the mind while passing around creepy vibes and interesting characters, Far From Home (1989) doesn't offer much in weight as a teen thriller with a bodycount but, for what it is, it's a watchable effort that tries to be potential game changer for one of its decade's well-loved child stars. See for the cheap thrills and ham and you'll do just fine.

1 male found shot on the head
1 female electrocuted in a tub with a tossed electric fan
1 female caught inside a burning car
1 female found dead, body preserved in ice
1 male had his throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male shot, falls and lands on a satellite dish
Total: 6

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Well, I'm 28 Years old now.

Two more years and I guess my real life starts? Welp, if that's the case, then I better binge all the cheese and B-Horror while I still can!

Hehe, yeah. Happy Birthday to me~

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Evil Eye On The Fly: The Drone (2019)

The Drone (2019)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Sam Adegoke, Edgar Blackmon, Anita Briem

Tell me if you heard of this already: a serial killer gets hunted down by police, recites an incantation and ends up having their soul transferred to a toy. If you didn't say Child's Play (1987) then I question your validity as a horror fan as well as a visitor to this small slice of the web. Seriously, were you've been living under a rock with nothing but dung slugs for food and occasional company for those long lonely nights?

So, yeah, The Drone (2019) is another "haunted object" horror movie where unsuspecting people gets terrorized by unsuspecting everyday trinkets that's somehow resided by an unsuspecting paranormal evil. In this case, it is the soul of a voyeuristic serial killer known as The Violator who gets struck dead by a random lightning after reciting some presumably cursed binary codes as the SWAT corners him.

After making a quick kill out of one of the detectives, the now-possessed drone flies its way to newlyweds Chris and Rachel, played respectively by John Brotherton and Alex Essoe, and disguises itself as garbage dumped on top of the couple's trash bin. Chris sees the drone and quickly salvages it much to his delight, but Rachel isn't too keen on keeping a remote controlled cam-copter as toys that come with wireless joysticks trigger traumatic flashbacks involving a vehicular manslaughter caused by her RC car. Nevertheless, she soldiers on, hoping to keep the peace.

And as you would expect, nothing that savage for a good while; Chris goes working as a porn photographer while Rachel enjoys some "me time", blissfully unaware that their new toy's hovering around their house and neighborhood leering up women, recording private moments and setting up one of them as a voyeur. After finding their dog hanged by its leash and a hot neighbor killed by what appears to be tiny propeller blades, the two start piecing together a possibility that the recent mishaps and misfortunes are linked to their new drone, soon to be somehow proven when the gadget starts attacking them and, too, those that are in the way.

Presenting itself as a trying techno-thriller with a creative slasher curve, The Drone pretty much trails down your typical haunted object plot, with one character slowly realizing that something may not be quite right with a cursed object only for the rest of the cast refusing to acknowledge the claim until warm flesh hits the tiny fans. Seeing the focus here was more on building the absurd situation, the pacing is relatively slow and steady at first, but this is thankfully remedied by the film's expressively eccentric and fun casts, and too some odd-duck scenes including laughably cheesy horror tributes (I see one for The Exorcist III (1990) and ALIEN³ (1992)) and the drone getting very advanced upgrades to get its kill-zone on.

The third act is when most of the bloodier drone kills rear their cheap and ugly head out but, for what it is, they're in par with the B-grade style of plotting and direction this movie is going for and I would say I'm pleased at some point. The climax also pays off kindly for any slow starts and hammy misgiving, rewarding our patience with a dumb yet enjoyable final fight with the drone which, by then, ditched the silent stalker act for a more wise-cracking persona that had me chuckling for its worth, especially when it starts to act and feel like a genuine slasher villain.

Silly? Yes, and I'm not gonna deny its strongly feisty fromage neither. The Drone (2019) is the type of movie made for someone who can find simple joy out of the strangest things. Granted, the idea of a possessed toy isn't all that original seeing this movie even resorted to borrowing elements from other better titles out there which you could have been watching instead of this, but it has the exuberance to power through the cliched story and its strange choice of villain with all of the gusto it can muster and that is something I learn to admire from this little timewaster. It's not for everyone, but if you love something so bad it's good, give this freak a spin!

1 female had her neck slashed offcamera
1 male had his throat slashed with a knife
1 male struck by supernatural lightning
1 male killed in car crash
1 male, 1 female and 1 boy killed in car crash (flashback)
1 dog hanged by its leash through a fence
1 female slashed to death offcamera with drone propellers
1 male slashed to death through the arse with drone propellers
1 male gets a powerdrill to the gut, brained against the table edge
2 males decapitated with drone propellers
1 male pushed and falls through a window, impaled on a pole
Total: 14

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Welp, Happy New Year, Boils and ghouls!

Here's wishing you all a good day, a good night, a hopeful start for a new year once the sun comes up!
And wishing me enough patience to see both Godzilla vs Kong and Halloween Kills...