WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Short Shear Terror: Biotherapy (1986)

Biotherapy (Japan, 1986 Short)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jun'ichi Haruta, Yumiko Ishikawa, Hirohisa Nakata

Experimenting on growth serums made from glutamyltransferase (or just GT serum to make things less pretentious) extracted from meteors, a group of scientists see themselves in a deadly situation as a masked alien garbed in a coat and fedora suddenly appears and starts demanding the completed GT serum from them. Should they fail to comply, the hostile visitor has no problem butchering them one by one, prompting one of these scientists and his girlfriend to race against time and find the completed serum first, as well as understand why exactly this alien is after it.

Released direct to VHS back in the days and running for less than an hour, Biotherapy (1986) is more of an exercise on low-budget ultraviolence, giving up the likes of a developed story and characters in favor of dishing out as many messy kills as a short film can fit in itself. There are ideas, more or less science talk about what the serum can do and its side effects (and too blabberings of time travel and alien life just to complicate things) but these were so underdeveloped that there are holes on the details and the plot surrounding it fails to be consistent. Thankfully, given its short time, pacing runs quickly and is hardly boring as there's always something going on, may it be cheesy dialogue for unconventional humor or sloppily edited yet effectively brutal killings to satisfy our inner gore hounds.

In fact, the special effects used here definitely cost the movie most of its budget since all of the murders are done with detailed practical work, with a splatter flick aesthetic that borderlines to cartoonish for how much blood gushing out or how absurd the slayings can get. (Seriously, that eye gouge in the beginning looked close to being real!) The killer's concept and design do drop the film down to cheesier territories, however; to emphasize their otherworldly-ness, their lines were overdubbed with an echoplexed demonic voice and the actor is filmed to have a trippy blue glow effect around him. Once unmasked, the creature make-up just looks rubbery, kinda reminding me of those Power Rangers bad guys only, well, more homicidal-ish, and I can't help but snicker at that.

Oh, and did I mention this slasher also have telekinesis and is impervious to bullets? Touched once in a scene or two, never to be brought up again in the rest...

Frankly, this movie is just a delight. It's nothing big or grand, but as a simple underrated flawed gem that's just begging to have an audience, especially those of the splatter-appreciative kind, its a bit of a worthwhile rarity. Should you find yourself looking at a copy of this anywhere, in anyhow, then grab a chance to see it and enjoy the nonsensical alien violence that is Biotherapy (1986)!

Bodycount:
1 male had his neck crushed, eye plucked out
1 female repeatedly stabbed with broken test tubes, tongue ripped off
1 male found slaughtered
1 male shot through the mouth
1 male repeatedly beaten against a wall
1 male disemboweled
1 alien doused with experimental component, dissolves
Total: 7

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Through The Eyes of Moros: The Burningmoore Deaths (2010)

The Burningmoore Deaths (2010) (AKA "The Burningmoore Incident", "Reality Kills")
Rating: ***
Starring: Tim Gallin, Joe Pallister, Tony Guida


Presented as a true crime mockumentary, The Burningmoore Deaths (2010) centers on an elusive killer named James Parrish who, three days before Christmas in 2005, murdered his entire family in cold blood before disappearing into the night, never to be seen from that day forth. With no clear motive to go by, authorities are left baffled by the sudden psychosis that befell on James and they can only suspect the possibilities behind the killings. 
Moving forward a couple of years, the film crew of an upcoming reality TV show Gettin' Hammered sets their eyes on renovating an old waterfront New York home into a fancy Bed & Breakfast. After preparing the house and setting up cameras all over to document their misadventures, the crew and their hired contractors head forth to give the house a proper makeover for the show's pilot (given they're not busy smoking weed or ruining shots by playing rock music at the background), unaware that a certain Mr. Parish has been squatting in the basement all this time and is now prowling around the premises since they stepped foot, waiting for the right moment to strike.

The movie's formatting, despite being anything but new or original in this day and age, is probably most the notable aspect it brought upon as its gimmicky style of hybriding recovered footage and cold case TV programming elements still holds a bit of hammy charm to it for how much work done to get that authentic feel, or how stylized yet bloody the killcount will get. Regardless whether the direction goes with it or not.
For the first twenty or so minutes, Burningmoore Deaths fills us in with a retrospective of Parish's crime, fitting the mockumentary bill well enough for the detailed crime data and realistic interviews played in, thus giving us that nostalgic cold case docu-drama feel ala Unsolved Mysteries while introducing to us the basic of our villain. Once we get to the reality show footage, though, this is when the film curveballs away the documentary approach and more or less drop off any attempt to work any realism, simply diving ahead as a light plotted slasher.

Seeing the rest of the film is shot as a lost document of an supposedly unaired pilot, this meant that the remaining run is light on plot and lacking of solid characters to focus on since a good bulk of the action focuses on the sometimes-funny-sometimes-not exploits of the crew, as well as their eventual deaths. Writing around this part is a lot to be desired (How long does it take to notice three of your crew is missing for the next hour or so?), so those looking for anything deeper of a story than random people getting mass slaughtered by a maniac may not enjoy what they'll be sitting through. (Or at least not as much as the next guy)

For the kills, the factor that static cameras were placed in every room meant that the murders do get to be witnessed, but likely due to budget constraints and/or visionary flair, most are either obscured in shadows or happen just about off screen so while bloody, it's far from excessive and just about right on the blood quota. The editing and soundtrack done for these murders are fair work, too, with composed pieces that have its creepy moments and some editing elevating the simpler murders into something more unconventional, at times borderline cheesy in a passable way.

It's absence of a deeper plot or shortage of blood-wet body bags may put off a few, but for fans of reality documentary filming and open slasher junkies, The Burningmoore Deaths (2010) packs enough craziness and bloodshed to be quite an interesting watch, albeit not looking much. A certified rent, or a guilty pleasure keep!

Bodycount:
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 female and 2 boys found slaughtered
1 male found hanged
1 female strangled to death with a power cord
1 male brained to death with a wrench
1 male pushed to a fuse box, electrocuted
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 female knifed to death
1 female strangled
1 male bled out from a knife cut on the neck
1 male eviscerated with a circular saw
1 male attacked, killed offscreen
1 male thrown through a window, falls to his death
1 male found injured from crash, implied dead later 
1 male found murdered
Total: 18

Monday, April 27, 2020

All That is Loved: Alone (2002)

Alone (United Kingdom, 2002)
Rating: ***
Starring: Miriam Margolyes, John Shrapnel, Laurel Holloman

A lonesome obsessive compulsive haunted by their past, Alex worked themselves into a habit of anonymously writing to "lonely" women before breaking into their homes and killing them. However, unable to bear the weight of these murders, they visit a case worker once a week in hopes of finding a way to silence their dangerous urges, only to be advised one day to try taking one of these women out for dinner, blissfully unaware of the growing killcount Alex is responsible for.

Taking this advise to heart, our troubled soul stalks and breaks into the house of a girl they spotted alone at a cemetery one time, force feeding her copious amount of food which leads to an unexpected death. Now aware that a serial killer is on the loose, a pair of inspectors try figuring out the identity of their maniac, not knowing that luck and desperation will soon give them a lead when another girl Alex got smitten to survives an attack.

Predating Maniac (2012)'s gimmick of telling its story largely through the point-of-view of our villain, Alone (2002) is an artsy variant that's light on the blood and heavy on thrills, focusing equally on detective work as well as on a killer's exploits to find the girl of their dreams. It's not the most original idea per se, and some of the art house editing do get too annoyingly surreal to be watchable, but the fact that we get to see and hear the thoughts and struggles of our antagonist is always a fascinating angle to approach.

This said, I find our Alex character to an intriguing individual as you can tell that they don't want to be the stalking and murdering kind, but is unable to find any other way to express their need for companionship apart from harming people or quietly creeping on them while they sleep, nor make sense of their isolation in a healthy manner. This sets them, along with the movie, far from being your run-in-the-mill slasher and closer to a psychological thriller, until that is we get to the last third of the run in which Alone shifts gear to a cat-and-mouse stalking finale most bodycounter flicks have.

Its around this finale that we find ourselves accepting the movie's weakest payoff, a twist ending finally showing whose murderous eyes are we sharing with all this time, only it isn’t really a reveal given the first-person voice used whenever we are "Alex". It's pointless, yes, but at least it was a fun ride while it lasted, set to a fitting monotone photography, garbled techno music and nightmarish editing that encapsulates a killer's unstable mind, straight down to the film's Halloween (1978) - inspired final moments.

A choice highlight would be an unconventional murder set-piece in which we see a victim gets messily force-fed cold lasagna and tubs of cream whilst paralyzed, ending with a gag-worthy sight of them simply dying while dirtied with spilled food. All in all, Alone (2002) may not be everybody's choice of poison, but it is definitely my guilty pleasure!

Bodycount:
1 female pushed down the stairs
1 female suffers and dies from an allergic shock
1 female attacked, presumably killed
1 female smothered to death
Total: 4

Good Ole' Freaky Eyes: Circle (2010)

Circle (2010)
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Jason Thompson, Silas Weir Mitchell, Erin Reese

Silas Weir Mitchell of Prison Break fame stars in this confused mess as James Bennett, a crazy-eyed serial killer whose modus appears to be bounding five victims in chairs arranged in a semi-circle before offing them one-by-one. We see him do this in the opening, ending the lives of five fellow inmates before ducking out of there, crusty tome of sacred doodles at hand.

In response to his escape, a disgruntled cop with multiple issues in his life (smoking, drinking, separation, etc) finds himself teamed up with an FBI agent in order to hunt down Bennett before history repeats itself. This mostly takes up the plot as these lovely people of the law babble down the killer's fascination with the soul and Greek mythology, that is whenever they're not poking each other's irate nerves.

All the while, five grad students are escorted to Bennett’s childhood home as a field trip for their criminology course. Most of them try to figure out Bennett's childhood by snooping and pondering about everything in the household, while others are busy bumping uglies whenever they're on screen. Long story short, Bennett soon arrives and starts abducting the kids one by one for another semi-circle stabby session, during which the cops try to puts all the pieces together and find out Bennett's ultimate goal.

With all of the action centered on the investigation, Circle (2010) is mostly a talky serial killer thriller first and a backwoods slasher second, a matter that really puts this film on a dull note since there isn't much going on in terms of watchable bodycounting or effective tension building for the majority of the movie's run. It's just stereotype law enforcers and teens being their exaggeratedly selves, the former busy talking our ears off with multitudes of procedural talk and speculations, the latter just doing backwoods horror victims stuff like shower hanky-pankies and teen talk, all of which boring and tiresome as this is all the movie was until we get to the climax.

By then, slowly pouring boiling acid on open wounds, Circle (2010) still limps further as aside from basically not having an actual ending, the film simply have the teens get knocked unconscious and stabbed unceremoniously so nothing worth the wait there, and then there's the lazy attempt of a plot twist that honestly adds very little to the overall story other than making us say an uninteresting "Huh". Just don't bother with this at all; if you want cop thrillers tainted with horror, then you better start looking somewhere else and feel free to chuck any copy of this along the way into any nearby trash compactors. It belongs there.

Bodycount;
3 males and 1 female seen stabbed to death with an ice pick
1 male stabbed with an ice pick
1 male found dead with a bleeding ear
1 female found slaughtered
1 female stabbed with a knife
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 male stabbed with a knife
Total: 10

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Laserblast Massacre: Nightbeast (1982)

Nightbeast (1982)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karin Kardian

When I covered the direct-to-video slasher Dead Hunt (2007) a few years ago, I never thought I'll be reviewing another one of low-budget filmmaker Don Dohler's filmography until I came upon Nightbeast (1982), a Troma-released micro-budget horror piece of the aggressively cheesy kind. 

Something of a tribute to 1950s scifi monster flicks, with the ferocity and sensibilities of a Golden Age 80s slasher, Nightbeast follows a random alien crash landing into Earth and starting a murder spree because reasons. Like, really, for the first twenty minutes, this thing in the spacesuit with the face of a hairless grinning gorilla and teeth that never heard of dental plan just whips out a laser gun and starts vaporizing anybody it sees, except for a couple in the woods and the father two two boys. Those people got mauled to death instead!

After one too many reports of a something falling from the night sky and townsfolk getting vaporized, a sheriff and his female deputy rallied up a small group to investigate the scene, only to be met hostility as the alien easily lay waste on them. Surviving the ordeal, the sheriff, his remaining deputies and a couple of other yokels plot out their next move, much to the chagrin of their mayor who doesn't want to evacuate the town due to some big event he's planning.

Oh, and there's a guy named Drago who's apparently a douchebag causing problems and strangling some women.

Much like the rest of Dohler's filmography, Nightbeast is thousands of miles away from being what many would consider a good movie; plot is non-existent and there is a noticeable lacking of good performances, a decent script, or solid dialogue, and then there's that awkward sex scene between  a pale, permed and mustachioed dude and an over-tanned woman, both presumably in their 40s to 50s. Its all painful to look at, and a bit testy to watch since it did drag a bit once we reach the forty to fifty minutes of the run, but this awkwardness can also be seen as this movie's charm, as like many so-bad-its-good horror movies.

Basically, what Nightbeast lacks in better scripting, acting and story is made up for its energetic set-pieces and overall openness to how silly its plot is, whether it's scenes of the alien is massacring people with its laser gun, a random bad guy attacking people coz he just felt like it or townsfolk doing their darnest to look busy and invested to the danger posed by their alien visitor. The movie no short of momentum in keeping up its over-the-top elements as entertaining as possible and it is something you can admire even if, again, the near absence of budget and skills tend to get in the way once in a while. Gore is still chunky and red, the kills are high in numbers, it has a score done by a young J.J. Abrams (No, really!) and it all ends with a fun note of a showdown that cues in some extra bodies for good horror fans like us.

A film made with true indie spirit, Nightbeast (1982) may not win any Oscars or total recognition from the more uppity folks, but it will always find a home among appreciative horror fans who love a good simple monster movie.

Bodycount:
1 male vaporized with a laser gun
2 males vaporized with a laser gun
1 male found mauled to death
1 male had his guts clawed out
1 female lifted and mauled mostly offscreen
2 boys vaporized with a laser gun
1 male vaporized with a laser gun
1 male vaporized with a laser gun
2 males vaporized with a laser gun
1 male clawed on the face
1 male vaporized with a laser gun
1 male vaporized with a laser gun
1 male implied torn in half
1 female strangled to death
1 male had his arm clawed off, killed
1 male clawed
1 male clawed to death
1 male found with his gut slice opened
1 female murdered offcamera
1 male had his head torn off
1 male shot through the back with a shotgun
1 male mauled to death
1 male clawed
1 male electrocuted to death
1 alien electrocuted to death
Total: 28

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bottled Threat: Party Hard, Die Young (2018)

Party Hard, Die Young (Austria, 2018)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Marlon Boess, Markus Freist├Ątter, Michael Glantschnig

At a small Croatian island, neon lights, rave dances and free-for-all booze welcome in thousands of young adults to celebrate their last day of school. Among these party-fueled horde are our main gang of high schoolers, including besties Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch) and Jessy (Antonia Moretti) who planned on going to Vienna in the fall and room together in campus.

That is until Julia's little secret got spilled by one of their friends, as it turns out she's actually going to attend college in Munich and couldn't gather the courage to tell her friend. Upset, Jessy pops in some happy pills and storms off, with Julia attempting to tail along apologizing and drunk until she starts to tire and pass out. Before getting completely tuckered, however, Julia seemingly sees a masked figure attack Jessy and when morning comes, her friend is nowhere to be found.

Believing something horrible happened to Jessy, Julia tries to convince the rest of the gang, as well as some of the island's officials to help search for her, but everyone is quick to suggest that the girl is simply out someplace within the island, still bitter about the argument. When Julia gets a Snapchat pic of Jessy with white crosses through her face, though, and a few of her friends start to die off or disappear, she is certain that all of this is far from foul play and it's up to her to find out what is happening before its too late.

In its core, Party Hard, Die Young (2018) is another foreign callback to the mystery-heavy 90s slashers, particularly I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Scream (1996), only with a cast seemingly consisting of late-80s stereotypes and strongly establishing its chaotic yet enticing tone with laser light visuals, strong rave scores and psychedelic editing. On a narrative sense, it's all the familiar slasher trappings we walked before, with a fair pace to feature in a splashy kill or two without ruining the momentum. Its simplistic approach on character, though, do draws a concerning shortage of likability among our main youths since the movie basically establishes most of them -may it be aggressive jocks, preppy gossip girls and creepy geeks- as just horny creepers and jealous broads who're easy to get on each other's throats when things start to go way South.

This is normally a movie's way of building up potential suspects or give us a reason to root for their demise, but with an approach so obvious and clumsy, Die Young practically had us waiting around these cliched red herrings on two legs to get moving and be arses before we reach a climax that only half works despite delivering on some messed-up scenes. (Like one involving two dudes and a wine bottle) It all felt rushed and methodic since they got all the juicy parts done and over before it even escalates properly, leaving a potentially thrilling finale wasted in favor of bad guy revenge monologues, too many survivors and a lackluster death for the villain.

All of this being said, Party Hard, Die Young (2018) grants nothing new to the formula (and may have even knocked it back a few years with its last act) but it does secure its rather impressive production and workable stalk-and-slash sequences as simple run-in-the-mill dead teenager entertainment that can be enjoyed on a shallow level. Yes, there are shortcomings, but the overall result is still eye candy, far from being completely unbearable of a watch, just hard to recommend to just about anybody. I guess if you're a slasher completist who has ninety minutes to spare, then you're free to give this one a run.

Bodycount:
1 female attacked, later found floating dead in a harbor
1 female falls unto a pole, impaled
1 male gets a wine bottle shoved down his throat
1 female implied dead from wrist cut suicide
1 female had her throat cut offcamera
1 male had his throat slashed with a bottle shard
Total: 6

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Vintage Dark Net: Evilspeak (1981)

Evilspeak (1981)
Rating: ****
Starring: Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joe Cortese 

Revenge can be sweet and deadly, but sometimes it can be outrageous. For slasher fans, revenge is a staple hold for most movies of that sub-genre but none of them reached the outlandish stakes as devil worship and embraced new age technology as Evilspeak. Well, none back in the 80s at least...

Opening in the Dark Ages, we see Satanic priest Father Esteban (Richard Moll) and his followers get banished to the shores of Spain for going against God. Unfazed, Esteban continues his Satanist ways, holding blood rituals and treating us with this film's first kill as he hacks away a willing sacrifice's head with a sword. 

Jumping forward to the present, we now follow Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard), an orphan in his teen years enrolled at West Andover Military Academy, whose inept social and athletic skills made him an easy target of bullying from not only his fellow cadets, but most of his instructors who sees nothing worthwhile in him. When tasked to clean out the basement of the school's church one day, he finds the forgotten tomb of Father Esteban, which contains his diary and a tome filled with Satanic rituals. Translating the books using his computer skills, Stanley learns of Esteban's Satanic past, and too detailed instructions on how to initiate a Black Mass.

As the bullies continue to make life a living hell for him, Stanley grows desperate on dabbling into dark powers to get even, unaware that another tragedy will soon fall on him and hell, literally, will break loose.

Seen by most as a genderbent take on Stephen King's Carrie only with Satanism and some early 80s computer tech thrown in, Evilspeak (1981) is a rather bleak and intriguingly straight revenge tale that slow burns its way through various misadventures littered with terrible people as a mean to create a focused sympathy for our protagonist, as well as a couple of worthwhile kills chucked in to pass the time. It is an approach that definitely isn't for everyone, especially coming from the fact that its silly concepts of Satanic computers are played with as little cheese and humor as possible thus the pacing and tone would be a challenge to sit through for some, but for those who are patient and open can get something of entertaining value at the climax, particularly of the violent kind.

The last third of the film is where the juicy parts rear their ugly yet welcome head as the film lets go of all sense of realism to bring us chaos at the hands of a floating Clint Howard, a burning church and a horde of demonic boars. It's a stalk-and-slash last act like no other, made more memorable with the amount of chunky gore and visual effects used, including a memorable kill involving a pulsating crucifix with a very lethal nail and a head getting cleaved down with so much force, its practically destroyed.  It also helps that the synth music here, scored by Roger Kellaway, channels The Omen (1976) only with a more manic nature and praising crescendo, elevating the mood up to its hellish end.

 All in all, Evilspeak (1981) may not be everybody's go-to slow burn revenge supernatural slasher everyone would remember fondly, but it is an underrated gem for some who can appreciate its uniqueness and oddity of a direction. Rent it if you like, but for fans of cheese and no holds barred supernatural revenge, this could be a keeper!

Bodycount:
1 female decapitated with sword
1 male had his neck broken, head twisted all the way to the back
1 female devoured by boars
1 puppy knifed
1 male thrown to a bladed chandeliers, impaled
1 male gets a crucifix nail shot to his head
1 male caught on fire
1 male had his head split open with sword
1 male devoured by boars
1 male decapitated with sword
1 male found hanging dead
1 male decapitated with sword
1 male devoured by boars
1 male had his heart ripped out
5 males mentioned dead
Total: 19

Friday, April 17, 2020

House of The Shrieking Goat Thing: The Unnamable (1988)

The Unnamable (1988) (AKA "H.P. Lovecraft's The Unnamable")
Rating: ***
Starring: Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Alexandra Durrell

American fiction writer Howard Phillip Lovecraft is the last name you would expect tied to a slasher film seeing that the author's works mostly focuses on cosmic horror and weird science, but that didn't stop a few titles like this late 80s supernatural dead teenager flick to - for better or for worse - try reworking these concepts into familiar B-grade entertainment.

Opening in the 1800s, we watch a man trying to calm an unseen shrieking creature and have it go into a locked room. From the looks of it, he have been keeping an eye on the thing for some time now and it's all about to end one night when the creature finally rebels, clawing the man's heart out.

Flash forward to the present, Miskatonic University student Randolph Carter (cheekily played by Mark Kinsey Stephenson), shares to his campus friends Joel (Mark Parra) and Howard (Charles Klausmeyer) the tale of a nearby haunted house that's rumored to be inhabited by a creature so terrifying, it defies explanation. Joel, a skeptic, disregards the claim and bets to Randolph that he can stay overnight in said house and come out the next day unharmed.

Only, he didn't.

Rightfully concerned the following day, Howard tries talking Randolph into checking up on Joel together as he's yet to return since the previous night, though (with an amusingly deadpan disinterest) Carter's convinced that their friend is still alive, well and probably out chilling someplace else. After some back-and-forth discussing Joel's well-being, the two eventually agrees to look for their missing friend, unaware that two of the campus' frat boys will be holding a double date at the same haunted house with a couple of girls, dooming them all as victims to the house's inhuman prisoner.

A simplistic stalk-and-slash piece with strong gothic aesthetics, The Unnamable (1988) doesn't offer anything new into the melting pot, but it does hold up an easy popcorn charm one can enjoy for how open the plot is with its monster/slasher-hybrid flair. Its three-or-so weeks production may have limited its grander supernatural elements to a couple of magic verses that turns candle light on and off, as well as place most of the action within in a single house, but the film makes up for it with well-paced manic energy and a decent minimal cast that is just fair enough with their roles, especially Kinsey Stephenson whose amazingly humorous reactions to the horror happening just got me chuckling through and through.

It also helps that the movie boasts some great gore effects, a pinch of spicy nudity and a (oddly) beautiful monster design, but if we are to speak of any flaws, there are a few; the synthesized music used often ruins the mood of some supposedly intense scenes and the ending they came up with just felt lackluster for how easy the villainess was defeated. Thankfully, these are small cases that can be easily overlooked so no real harm done overall.

The Unnamable (1988) may lack the authentic Lovecraft experience, but if you all you're looking for is a back-to-basics horror flick with grue and cheese, then there’s still a lot of fun to be had with this shrieking madness.

Bodycount:
1 male had his heart clawed out
1 male mauled to death, head later seen
1 male had his throat clawed open
1 male repeatedly brained against the floor
1 female had her neck snapped
Total: 5

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Water Park Gone Dark: Aquaslash (2019)

Aquaslash (Canada, 2019)
Rating: ***
Starring: Brittany Drisdelle, Lanisa Dawn, Samantha Hodhod

When it comes to water park-set horror movies, you normally would expect aquatic life as the main baddie coming from the likes of Jaws 3-D (1983) or even that atrocious Piranha 3DD (2012). So when Aquaslash (2019) came about and markets itself as a murder mystery set in an old water park, color me intrigued! (Especially since there really isn't much water park horror movies to begin with...)

The scene starts with a Friday The 13th (1980) homage as two employees of Wet Valley Water Park decide to pork at the top of a water slide, only to be confronted by someone wielding a machete. Dude falls to his death and hits a beam, girl gets her limbs and head lopped off.

Morning comes and so do the teens of Valley Hills High School, there to celebrate an 80s-style senior year graduation party. Amidst the hormones and booze, we follow a twisty love triangle with aspiring musician Josh (Nicolas Fontaine) rekindling his love for his ex, Kim (Lanisa Dawn), who in turn works at the park and is in a rather stressed relationship with fellow employee, the ill-tempered Tommy (Paul Zinno). If that isn't loopy enough, we also have Josh's wealthy father (Howard Rosenstein) appearing in the park to try make amends with his son, given pops isn't busy cheating with the park owner’s wife whose own husband is also banging one of the lifeguards.

Evening soon comes and after a musical performance ends with a brawl, Tommy is last seen hulking it out and threatening to get everyone, while Josh learns that his dad plans on purchasing the park and offers him a rather sizable slice of the deal, upsetting some employees who caught wind of this. It's definitely bad news galore that night, so much so that somebody goes to express their discontent to the extreme by tampering some slides with a sizable pair of blades. The same slides to be used the following day for a supposedly fun competition among the graduates...

As a slasher, Aquaslash approached its story with enough familiar footing at first, before curving the turn to unexpected directions that, impressively, still delivers a good bodycount. Like many teen slashers, the movie wanted to play a bit with its admittedly flawed characters, build as many red herrings as possible from sappy love triangles to the park's own dark pasts to make most of the main casts a possible suspect. The movie, in turn, lacks any genuinely likable characters to balance everything out and the matter that the resulting drama nearly takes up the whole film sadly meant the pacing can crawl to a slight drawl and often dry of teen bloodshed.

In fact, it isn't until the last third of the run when Aquaslash remembers its a horror movie and that it needs to do some killing. For a film spanning an hour and eleven minutes only, this is a worryingly tight space to squeeze in anything workable but, with the help of Blood Brothers FX, the movie still pulls it off by practically not holding back on the nasty shit. The final act may lack a visible living villain like your typical slasher finale, but the resulting gory chaos that painted the pool red and chunky with diced body parts spells the same gruesome slasher tone, only on a more novel note. It's the kind upheaval this sub-genre needs and I am glad this movie did it quite effectively!

Without a doubt, Aquaslash (2019) isn't for everyone as those looking for straight-forward slasher mayhem will instead find Porky's (1981) -inspired screwball perviness here, only with a gory end. Personally, though, while the awkward romantic sub-plot and unlikable dynamics can get tedious and annoying, the innovative payoff makes it all worthwhile and I will admit that I did get invested on where the story was heading to. It's far from a game changer, but you got to appreciate the effort, at least.

Bodycount:
1 male falls off a water slide, head cracked against a beam
1 female hacked limbless and decapitated with a machete
1 male found dead with a throat cut (flashback)
1 male repeatedly shot, later found with wrist cuts
1 female diced through a bladed water slide
2 females diced through a bladed water slide
1 male decapitated through a bladed water slide
2 females diced through a bladed water slide offcamera
1 male found dead
1 male diced through a bladed water slide offcamera
Total: 12

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Give Me Your Suffering: Asylum (2008)

Asylum (2008)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Sarah Roemer, Jake Muxworthy, Mark Rolston

From the director of the cheese-tainted action thriller movie Snakes on A Plane (2006) and two Final Destination entries David R. Ellis, comes this relatively simple supernatural slasher about some teens, an asylum and a wisecracking slasher who uses fear as a tool. And no, this isn't a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987).

Traumatized from seeing her father off himself as a kid, then losing her brother from another apparent suicide some years later, Madison (Sarah Roemer) harbors these tragedies to herself as much as possible while finding the closure she desperately needs to move on, going as far as attending the same college her brother was at. The matter eventually takes an odd turn when she, along with a few other freshmen, finds out that the dorm they'll be staying at was once an asylum headed by an infamous doctor who tortured and murdered his patients as a part of his studies.
Curiosity soon gets the better of these kids and it isn't long before they find a restricted area at the dorm which, upon entering, awakens the maddened spirit of the doctor, now armed with weaponized surgical picks and enough cheesy energy to rise up as your classy knock-off Freddy Krueger-type.

On a technical sense, this is a concerningly cheap movie, so much so that there's hardly any other casts going on and about aside from the teens and a few adults, and not to mention said dorm looks suspiciously like a constructed set. It also doesn't help that the few CG effects this film can afford looks as bad as the ones from most made-for-TV SYFY movies but, despite all of these drawbacks, there's something quite admirable regarding the plot's straightforward cheekiness and bodycounting mayhem.
It’s conventional (harboring close to overdone) yet entertaining in a tongue-in-cheek manner with how all of the characters practically mock their own stereotypes and attempted seriousness, as well as the movie helping itself with some serviceable over-the-top violence (orbitoclasts sharp enough to decapitate, anyone?) and a killer - though not scary - that's just hilarious to look at with his S&M suit and his cheesy set-up on punishing victims before snuffing them out via fear treatment.

Asylum (2008) may have failed as a horror film but if we're going to count in its unintentional humor, it’s a fun pizza movie that you can definitely poke fun at while swimming in beer with your friends. Probably best rented, but if you happen to enjoy bad B-flicks, then this is a small keeper!

Bodycount:
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot on the head (flashback/hallucination)
1 male strangled with a length of string, later found hanged
1 female scalped and decapitated with orbitoclasts
1 boy drowned in a pool (flashback)
1 male pinned to a table by the wrists and had his face sliced to bits with an orbitoclast, killed
1 male stabbed in the eyes with orbitoclasts, bound in barbwire and left for dead (flashback)
1 male stabbed in the eyes with orbitoclasts
1 female stabbed to death with orbitoclasts
Total: 9

Monday, April 13, 2020

Oh, they're rebooting Final Destination? And There's Another SAW movie?

Yeah, been living under my rock for quite some time now so this is considered news to me. (With the recent virus outbreak, too. Can you blame me if my attention was divided?) This are just my thoughts on the upcoming and/or planned reboots getting announced here and there and, well, I am mostly excited. Mostly.

So first, Final Destination; eversince the first film got released at 2000, each sequel appears to have been coming out in every three years with the exception of Final Destination 5, which was released at 2011, two years after that The Final Destination mess. There was talk of doing a back-to-back filming for both the franchise's 6th and 7th installment should 5 was a success but as far as I can tell, this filming is dead.

Now, we have talks of soft rebooting the series as word of mouth says that the announced film is still supposed to take place within the same universe, only we will be following a group of first responders rather than teenagers. This is an intriguing concept, one that we definitely could have worked on some time during the franchise's height and I'm actually surprised it took us this long to handle this approach on the big screen seeing New Lines's Black Flame novels already did in paper through the book Death of the Senses, where it focuses on a homeless man and a policewoman he saved. This new perspective can definitely bring out some new spark to the franchise and I, for one, cannot wait to finally see what Death (and big shot Hollywood producers) has in store for us.

For the new SAW movie, it also appears this franchise is hopping into the soft reboot bandwagon as Spiral: From The Book of Saw looks like it'll be slightly returning to its thriller roots as the scene appears to follow detectives investigating a series of grisly murders that, I assume, resembles the work of Jigsaw. Details show that the previous eight movies is still canon in this Spiral, but it's not going to be a direct sequel to 2017's Jigsaw and this appears to be focusing more on policework. An interesting approach, made more intriguing with Chris Rock being its executive producer and starring in the lead role. Not really sure what to feel about this as, personally, the entire franchise really worked its best as a trilogy, but so long as this one got the workable brains, thrills and gore to make a worthwhile SAW movie, count me (wearily) in.

That's in it for now, boys and girls. I am aware there are other franchise entries being worked around this year and beyond such as that Scream reboot which have Ready or Not (2019) directors Matthew Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett attached, but I'm most interested in these two for the moment seeing how odd and intriguing their ideas are. Until then, stay safe, wash yer hands and keep your fucking hands away from you're face!

The One With A Boring Madman Mannequin: The Tombs (2019)

The Tombs (United Kingdom, 2019)
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Jessica Cameron, Jess Impiazzi, Akie Kotabe

Filmed at an actual haunted maze in London, The Tombs (2019) follows a group of celebrities and cast members from an in-universe slasher movie titled The, er, Tombs visiting an attraction specifically set-up to promote the movie's upcoming sequel and hopefully rile up some publicity. What they didn't know is that the haunt unknowingly unearthed the slumbering spirit of a necromancer who will stop at nothing to harvest some fresh victims, as well as find a new host to take over.
I first came upon this movie's existence all the way back at 2017 and the premise they put out then got me excited with the notion that this is going to be a haunt-set bodycounter with a supernatural robot/animatronic for a villain. I have a small soft spot for slashers set in haunts as movies like The Funhouse (1980), Dark Ride (2006) and Haunt (2019) proved to be a fun bunch so long as they utilize the settings to its full potential. Unfortunately, The Tombs failed to do this, among other unsatisfying elements.
Basically, The Tombs just feels uninspired and uncaring overall, seen evidently with its lackluster writing, unlikable characters and paperthin plot circling around the gag that these victims are unaware that the madman with the axe is killing people for real. The pace hobbles in a clumsy gait that tries to build-up to the massacre with as much cast interaction and banter as a 70 plus movie can, only to drop on us a collection of uninspired axe murders and little else to add variety. (Plus, the offscreen killings. Oh, God. The cheap trick of offscreen killings) I guess the matter of fact that this film has been crowdfunding its budget all the way back at 2015 is a tell-tale sign that its quality is going to be close to crap.
Quite a shame, really; I like the idea, but all of this is just absolute "meh" for me and it's better that I just leave it at that. The Tombs (2019) isn't bad enough to have a copy drop-kicked into a hundred pieces, but its very far from an entertainment piece that deserves even a second viewing.

 Bodycount:
1 male murdered, method unknown
2 males seen murdered
1 female killed, seen with a bloodied back
1 male hacked on the head with an axe
1 male found hacked on the face
1 female found murdered
1 male found attacked, killed later
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female gets a throat cut
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 male had his neck snapped
1 female gutted with an axe
2 males and 2 females seen murdered
1 female hacked with an axe
1 male had his neck broken
1 male hacked on the gut with an axe, bled to death
1 male presumably hacked with an axe
Total: 21

Monday, April 6, 2020

Curse You, Satanic Cheese Lightning!: A Night To Dismember (Lost Cut, 1983)

A Night To Dismember (Lost Cut, 1983)
Rating: **
Starring: Samantha Fox, Diane Cummins, Saul Meth

Back at 1983, slasher fans got the displeasure of seeing A Night To Dismember, a bodycount movie that was nearly lost in a fire-related sabotage attempt but was salvaged, and then had its surviving footage and a couple of random clips from other (and arguably better) cult horror flicks spliced together into a hodge-podge patchwork. As you would expect from this, the resulting product was an atrocious mess, making very little sense from a narrative point of view and made kinda worse by its cheesy editing. For the longest time, this final product would come in as one of the worst slasher movies to have ever came up from the 80s (gaining cult status of its own from this notoriety, strangely enough) and it appears this isn't going to change ever.

Until 2019, at a Youtube channel called Hamilton Trash Cinema; Ben Ruffett, founder of the channel, happens to have inquired the movie's cinematographer C. Davis Smith about getting a copy of the film to screen and while Smith did not own any of the film's official VHS release, he did have a copy of the original extended cut on tape which includes Diana Cummings in the lead role. So, does this mean we will finally have a long lost classic at our hands and eyeballs here?

Mmm. Could be?

Our lost movie opens in a cemetery, where a cloaked man welcomes us to the story in an EC Comic Crypt Keeper fashion, to the power of ten dad jokes. He regales us a tale of two generations of women; the first is Mary, pregnant out of wedlock and keeping it a secret from the rest of her family out of shame, a predicament that got her so troubled that she decided to stroll out one night, into a freak lightning accident that (as the narrator wordily suggests) grants her otherworldly powers which may or may not include her just going bonkers.

Through clairvoyance and a ghostly voice egging her to destroy those who made her suffer, Mary unleashes bloody retribution against anyone she deems worthy of her revenge, from her cheating lover to her abusive family. This half of the movie ends with Mary giving birth and dying from it, leading us to the next generation psycho, her adult daughter Vickie.

Adopted and unloved, Vickie gets the reputation of being the crazy weirdo of the town thanks to her dark family history, a matter made worse when she and her adoptive family decided to move in to her birth mom's home. Add in the troubles of her suddenly seeing bloodied visions of decapitated heads and skeletal hands, it becomes clear to us that Vickie inherited her mum's insanity and supposedly supernatural need to destroy people.

Much like the case of another lost slasher The Intruder (1975), the story behind the lost cut of A Night to Dismember is more interesting of a tale than the movie itself; though the film has its charms, it's definitely not for everyone since the plot more or less narrows down to just two women going stab-happy and murder anyone that mistreats them. It does try to add more substance to it by introducing some supernatural aspects, but this is done so cheaply that it's either close to nonexistent or too laughable to be taken seriously.

In fact, the whole movie is a joke of a production from its wonky editing to wooden acting, inconsistent details to overly electrified score, but as mentioned before, this can be a fun deal if you're into feisty cheese and hammy terror. Its budget certainly shows as far as being a slasher film goes, definitely less a gory shlock but it boasts quite the maniacal energy on unleashing sizable killcounts, even if the methods used can be a tad repetitive or nonsensical. (Keep an eye on the house fire kill, it's whacked out of nowhere!) You could say that this lost cut is comparable to a very violent issue of an old school EC horror comic like Tales From The Crypt or The Vault of Horror turned feature length grindhouse flick, short on story but rich in pulpy horror goodness.

A better example of a so-bad-it's-good flick compared to its prior butchered release, this lost cut of A Night To Dismember is a tiny roughed-up gem of a find that only a brave few can enjoy. If you fancy yourself as the patient and forgiving kind then feel free to try this and brace yourself for a barrage of chunky stale cheese.

Bodycount:
1 male and 1 female decapitated with a machete
1 male brained with a rock, buried alive
1 female hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male gets stabbed through the neck with an ice pick
1 female hacked to death with a hatchet
1 female dies from childbirth (implied)
1 male knifed through the neck
1 male knifed to death
20+ individuals burned to death in house fire
1 female knifed to death
1 female stabbed and hacked to death (dream)
1 male hacked on the head with a hatchet, heart  punched out
1 female had her head ran over with a car
1 female hacked to death with a hatchet
Total: 34+