Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween, 2021~!

You know the rules for a safe Halloween, boys and girls! Always stay on sidewalks, never go into a stranger's house and never go out...



Evil Dies Tonight: Halloween Kills (2021)

Halloween Kills (2021)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak

Previously on Halloween (2018); Michael Myers, after 40 years in captivity for the killings he committed that one night he came home, escapes once again after his transport bus somehow ended up crashing. Making his way back to his home town of Haddonfield, he starts another wave of (more brutal) murders until he comes face to face with Laurie Strode, a survivor from his previous slaughter spree who have been preparing for his return since. Rigging her house into a giant trap, Laurie, along with her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson, fights the boogeyman off long enough before the house's mechanism triggers, barring him inside while the home sets itself on fire.

Last time we see Michael, he's staring back at these women as they make their escape while the entire place go ablaze, leaving him to a fate unknown...

Halloween Kills (2021) picks up moments after all of that excitement, with Laurie getting whisked to a nearby hospital by her remaining family to get her wounds stabilized, unbeknownst to them all that the inferno they created to send Michael Myers to hell was called upon by some concerned neighbors, sending first responders to put it out. Michael, ever the opportunist, murders his way out of the house, slaughters the rest of the firemen despite being outnumbered and goes on his merry way depopulating the town of Haddonfield as usual. 

Somewhere else in town, a bar have middle-aged Tommy Doyle retelling the night Michael returned to Haddonfield back at '78 and expresses how the murders this madman committed more or less shaped the community, a sentiment he is very close to considering he was the young boy Laurie Strode was babysitting the night she was originally attacked forty years ago. So when he learns that murders have been popping up left and right around the streets once again, Tommy suspects Michael has returned and he, along with a few other Michael Myers survivors that just happens to be there, leads a vigilante mob to take out boogeyman for good. 

Of course, things are easier said than done as Michael continues to lay waste to whoever just happens to be in the way. Allyson and her mother Karen, upon learning of Michael's survival, are torn to what to do next; Allyson wants to join the vigilante mob to put an end to big guy, while Karen wants the police to take care of it by setting up a parameter around the hospital, fearing Michael is heading there. In the end, things will just go for the worse, but that wouldn't stop Allyson, Laurie, Tommy and the rest of Haddonfield to try and make sure 'Evil Dies Tonight!"

Halloween Kills (2021) is unquestionably one of the odder entries to be made for the entire franchise, wherein it does so many things but accomplishing very little; for one, there really isn't much of a coherent story to tell here, juggling its focus from one set of characters to the next while interjecting scenes involving Michael Myers being a much more brutal boogeyman than before. It doesn't really help that only a few characters were made interesting (adorable gay couple Big John and Little John who now resides in the Myers house, Sheriff Hawkins surviving the murder attempt against him and finally having to sweet talk Laurie Strode as they both recover) while the rest falls short on getting one-note characterizations. (Adult Tommy Doyle is angry. Allyson is angry. Karen is a mom who still hadn't learned to not undermine Michael's madness, etc.)

An attempt on lore and morality play were even made here, stemming from an entire scene involving an escaped mental patient from the prior film's bus crash getting mistaken for Michael Myers. The scene is infamous for how unnecessary it is, a misplaced subplot about the dangers of mob mentality as, tired of Michael Myer's terror, the people of Haddonfield starts rooting for Tommy Doyle to end the evil and this sends them into a frightened yet frenzied state which they unfortunately unleashed upon an unsuspecting victim who just wanted their help; this would have worked in any other movie, one that is showing the inner horrors of being human, but this is a Halloween movie and we already have an active threat: Michael Myers. The mob scene just undermines his identity as the main villain and it trying to lore it all out by implying Michael caused this falls flat on the fact it just sounded too convenient and contrived.

So weird plotting, pandering fan service and mostly uninteresting characters aside, is there anything Halloween Kills did right? Yes, and it is the kills; frankly, this is the most savage I've seen Michael Myers get since Rob Zombie did the two hicksploitation Halloween films as The Shape easily murders his way through anyone he can grab hold to. There's a strong intensity in his body language and the amount of brutish strength and bloodletting here just shows he isn't holding back anymore. If there's anything I could compare this movie to, it is the Hatchet 2 (2010) of Halloween (2018), less of a story but more on gratuitous kills and some attempt on an in-universe mythos as, in the end, it seems to imply that Michael has reached a level of transcendence wherein he might not even have the capability of dying anymore at this point.  

Honestly, Halloween Kills (2021) is alright but it definitely could have been better. Way better. It has ideas, juicy kills and unexpected mythos in the works, but the execution of it all felt lackluster and more of a teaser of things to come. This said, here's hoping it bridges well towards its finale, Halloween Ends, and that this modern Michael Myers saga improves! 

1 male shot on the neck, bled to death (flashback)
1 male hacked in the face with a Halligan bar
1 male killed offscreen
1 male stabbed in the eye with a Halligan bar
1 male brained with a Halligan bar
1 male jabbed in the face with a Halligan bar
1 male impaled and lifted through the gut with a Halligan bar
1 male sliced down with a rotary saw
4 males slaughtered offcamera, bodies later seen 
1 elderly male pulled neck first into a broken window shard, repeatedly stabbed with knives
1 boy murdered offcamera, bloodied mask seen
1 elderly female knifed to death
1 male knifed in the eye
1 female had a gun knocked back to her face, shot
1 male stabbed in the side with a knife, eyes thumbed
1 male stabbed to death offscreen with knives
1 male jumped to his death
1 male murdered offcamera, body later found stuffed in an attic door
1 male repeatedly knifed, head twisted
1 elderly male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male knifed in the throat
1 male had his heel cut with a knife, presumably killed
1 male had his arm broken, presumably killed
1 male had his neck cut with a knife
1 victim slashed with a knife
1 female knifed in the back
1 male seen knifed through an arm, presumably killed
1 male slashed across the back with a knife
1 male knifed in the chest, brained with a bat
1 female knifed to death
Total: 33*

*Note: I'm only counting confirmable onscreen kills here, so I'm not going to count the entire mob surrounding Michael at the near end. I'm sure a few of them have enough brain cells to make a run for it once the table turned against them as Mikey starts slaughtering everyone near him...

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Night of The Meteor Mutants: Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2 (2021)

Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2 (W lesie dzis nie zasnie nikt II) (Poland, 2021)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Izabela Dabrowska, Lech Dyblik and Andrzej Grabowski

For those who are not acquainted, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight (2020) is a rather basic backwoods slasher following teens from a "technology detox" camp being hunted down by a pair of very deformed and obese murder twins with a taste for flesh. The only things that set this apart from your other forest-set bodycounters would be its weird attempt to flesh out its characters more and the fact that the reason behind the killers' madness was (*spoiler alert!*) a black goo-filled meteor. 

This sequel follows up some time after the first film, with final girl Zosia being captured at some local police station, along with the "Fatties" responsible for massacring her friends and then some. She's there for further questioning as the head honcho of the station, Sergeant Waldek, couldn't wrap his head around her story of meteors turning people evil and how Zosia supposedly murdered one of the Fatties by stabbing him to death with a machete, so to get a better idea what happened, she's eventually taken back to the Fatties' humble abode and asked to point out where it all happened exactly.

Unfortunately for them all, once they get there, the meteor responsible for turning the Fatties evil strikes again, this time oozing its goo into Zosia and turning her into a deformed "meteor mutant". As history repeats itself and another bloodbath starts taking the lives of locals, a very meek Constable Adas gets caught in the middle of this madness and will soon find a fate weirder than death...

For a good hour or so, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2 (2021) continues its affairs as a standardized backwoods kill-a-thon as it dish out murder after murder while trying to establish a set of characters to follow along in the story. Just as the first film, though, the characterization here can be a bit weird and random, if not downright annoying, such as our supposed lead here, Adas, being a whiny coward most of the time to the point he's just pathetic, or the fact two of of the folks who decided to help out the remaining police force happen to be a pair of Neo-Nazi hunters. It doesn't help that we will be, more or less, just be watching this group be dysfunctional for a while, but that's a little more tolerable looking into what this film have in store for us in the last act.

After practically murdering off almost everyone introduced so far, Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2 (2021) throws a curveball at us and we're suddenly looking into the monster's perspective as we learn why they're killing people, which sums up to them simply being evil. Just plain evil. One of the human characters is also turned into a meteor mutant and the final third of the movie is just now these two mutants frolicking around, teaching the other why it's great to be an evil murder creature and having monster sex. Yes. Monster sex. It's an odd turn of events, one that I wouldn't mind if it wasn't done around the remaining act which makes the whole thing feel rushed. The finale of it all also fails to be anything exciting as it kinda sizzle down and it all felt like it happened just for the sake of it happening and nothing else. (Like, what was even the point of it?)

Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2 (2021) shines the best when it's just the meteor mutant going ape on the dismemberments as the gore effects here are among the juiciest and the attacks are intense for their brutality. Whenever it tries to make something out of the cast, though, I think it would have been more welcoming if the film just stuck with the killer-in-the-woods jig and try not to over complicate things. Still, I'm not going to completely diss its shots at character development since a few scenes did come out rather hilarious, so I say that while it doesn't it completely deliver, it still has something for the fans of the gruesome and weird to clamor over!

1 male had his legs torn off, bled to death
1 male pushed head first to a fusebox, disemboweled
1 male found slaughtered
1 male dies from exhaustion after his hands got cut off from a bear trap
1 male had his heart and larynx clawed out
1 female torn to pieces
1 male found beheaded
1 male gets knifed in the eye
1 female had her face flayed off and her head repeatedly stomped
1 female ran over by an armored truck
2 males decimated with a grenade
Total: 12

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Obsessive and Fanatical: 13 Fanboy (2021)

13 Fanboy (2021)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Corey Feldman, Dee Wallace and Kane Hodder

As of writing, the Friday the 13th franchise is in a bit of a standstill due to a plethora of legal battles which prevents any opportunity to create another official movie. This, however, does not stop Friday The 13th alumni Deborah Voorhees of the Part V: A New Beginning (1985) fame to produce, write and direct her own meta-slasher film project wherein fellow Friday the 13th stars are hunted down by a fan who takes their love for the film series to a whole murderous level.

13 Fanboy follows Kelsie Voorhees, who witnessed the death of Deborah Voorhees, her grandmother, by the hands of deranged fan 13 years ago. She now believes the killer is back and targeting as many Friday The 13th stars as they can in what looks like a twisted act of vengeance when Lar Park-Lincoln, Tina of Part VII: The New Blood (1988), is last seen in a creepy video of her seemingly being held captive somewhere. The cops, of course, think Lar's disappearance is just a marketing stunt for an upcoming found footage horror she'd be starring in, though Kelsie knows something is up when she starts receiving threatening phone calls and more familiar faces from the franchise starts ending up missing or murdered. 

There's no surprise here that 13 Fanboy (2021) is made with hardcore Friday The 13th fans in mind, both as an appreciative gesture for their on-going support to all of the talents involved, as well as a look into the darker side of the fandom where obsession and toxicity dwells. As a meta-horror, there's certainly a touch of realism in the plot when it comes to its more dramatic moments of grief and trauma, though the effectiveness of this clashes greatly against the movie's campier elements, like the killer's lame and whiny one-liners, Corey Feldman as a sleazy producer named Mike Merryman, or Kane Hodder doing a monologue about his family while being on death's door, among many. This leads to the movie's tone to be a bit all over and it distracts the effectiveness of the plot. 
Other issues that hobbled my experience with 13 Fanboy (2021) would be its padded out pacing, where we get characterizations and scenes that do little to none in bettering the story, as well as an annoyingly expressive editing style that leaves some shot looking too wonky and cheap. And then there's the killer’s weak design of a random ghoul mask and a dirty hood, a presentation that falls too average for me, if not hardly striking enough to be memorable as a menace. I do like their deranged motive, but once this film rears its last minute twist in, the hodge-podge of murder motives just doesn't work altogether.

Fortunately, as a slasher, it does good when it comes to the killings, all done in gloriously gory practical effects and each a little different from the other. We also got ourselves a capable heroine out of actress Hayley Greenbauer as Kelsie Voorhees, who pretty much carried this film as a rising horror actress haunted by a dark past. Add a few interesting alternate-reality twists as our horror stars play a version of themselves for that extra touch of humor and satire (Ron Sloan, Junior from Part V: A New Beginning (1985), being married to Dee Wallace, for example), and you get an otherwise still okay watch here.  

While not the grandest stab at a meta-slasher, 13 Fanboy (2021) does enough to ham its way through a plot and bring a sizable bloodletting along to be at least considered capable. May you be a casual slasher fan or a hardcore Friday The 13th fanatic, I say still give this one a round!

1 female ran through with a pitchfork
1 female knifed to death
1 girl seen knifed in the gut (photo)
1 boy seen dead with a head wound (photo)
1 male seen with a plastic bag over his head, shot through the neck with an arrow (photo)
1 male seen knifed in the head
1 male seen gutted
1 male gets a broken mop handle skewered through his head
1 female killed offscreen
1 male repeatedly stabbed with a machete, bled to death
1 female knifed in the chest
1 female mentioned repeatedly knifed and decapitated
1 male found stabbed in the throat with a pair of scissors
1 male gets a throwing axe to the gut
1 female hacked on the head with a hoe
1 male shot to death
1 female gets a powerdrill to the temple
1 female stabbed to death with a mirror shard
Total: 18

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Teens Gone Satan'd: Satan's Servant (2021)

Satan's Servant (2021)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Josephine Thompson, Erin Wynden and Sean Okimoto

After a girl in their town seemingly disappears one night, bestfriends James and Tyler suspect a similar worst case scenario when they learn their friend, Jane Booker, hadn't come home from a party they were attending just hours ago. Through a rather uncomfortable talk with her mother, the boys figured they could try tracking her through her phone and soon finds her... safe and sound with her boyfriend, Bryan.

Turn out that Jane's avoiding her mom like the plague as earlier that evening, Mrs. Booker duct-taped Jane to a chair and rambled on about a murder-y Satanic ritual she planned to better her daughter. Jane, of course, thinks her mum have gone cuckoo for Satan (Well, further cuckoo. Turns out this wasn't ole' mumsie's first dabbling with the dark arts) and managed to escape her captor.

Hoping to put a stop to Mrs. Booker's Satanic reign, James, Tyler, Bryan and Jane hatch a plan to lure her out and find as much evidence as possible back at the house for their claims of ritual murders and unholy pacts. Unfortunately for these teens, Mrs. Booker has grown desperate to get her daughter back to do the ritual, so she enlists the help of a mask-wearing otherworldly butcher and all hell will soon break loose...

Within the budget of around $2000.

Satan's Servant (2021) advertises itself as a film made by teens and there really is no denying that fact; in true do-it-yourself fashion, the entire production is made within a close circle of friends and families, with special effects and editing done on the most frugal fashion, as well as acting chops that are just as good as the writing done for them which isn't really a lot. In a sense, it's not an effective horror movie given its near no-budget quality for, well, everything, but Satan's Servant still has its interesting plot points and a rather ambitious execution despite its budgetary restrictions so entertainment-wise, it's pretty okay.

There's no doubting the room of improvements needed here, particularly the writing, its tone and the gore effects, but Satan's Servant (2021) can still be seen as a nice little throwback to late 80s and early 90s SOV horror titles that haunted almost every Mom & Pop video rental stores, all cheap as chips but determined to entertain! With its little serving of Satanic horror meets suburban slasher, why not give this little slice of horror effort a try?

1 male mentioned killed, later seen with a stabbed chest
1 male gets an arm torn off and a thrown knife to the head
1 male stabbed in the head with a switchblade
1 male stabbed in the gut with a garden shear blade, head torn off
1 male decapitated with a switchblade
1 female knifed in the neck
Total: 6

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Consciousness Killer: Paranoid (2000)

Paranoid (2000) (AKA "Frightmare")
Rating: *
Starring: Shanda Lee MunsonSummer Sloan LaPannBrandon O'Dell

As of writing, it's the month of October and I'm kinda regretting covering most of the good Halloween slashers early on this site's creation as now I'm stuck with nothing to review but these degrading D-Grades that I'm sure most, if not no one would even bother with. On the plus side, though, the sooner I get my thoughts out about these cruds, the sooner I get to boot them out of my system. So here be one of them, a messy murder mystery going by Paranoid (2000). (Or "Frightmare" in some releases)

Opening with a girl heading home from a gym, we get our first taste of blood when after getting stalked by some dude with gnarly long hair, the girl discovers her parents were already murdered in their home by the same stalker who then proceeds to rope her up between trees and guts her open with a knife. Word of this crime spreads quickly all over town, reaching one high school wannabe-journalist Sarah, who cannot help but recall the death of her own twin sister at the hands of an infamous serial slayer known as the "Conscience Killer".

Things get hairy real quick when Sarah and her friends, done for the night after working on a Halloween funhouse, stumbles upon an abandoned building while on their way to a party. The abode, of course, didn't turn out to be completely abandoned as not only did they find some items inside that looks and feel mighty suspicious, but they also got chased out by a masked loon with a chainsaw. Believing they just found the hideout of the Conscience Killer, Sarah tries to convince her friends and local authorities the seriousness of the situation but, seeing each of them has bit of a reputation around the community, they weren't taken seriously. 

But as these things tend to go, someone starts killing random people and Sarah thinks its the Conscience Killer trying to find her and her friends to cover loose ends. Could she be right? 

Well, I would have cared more about this movie's little mystery if everything wasn't so stuffed up with low quality cheese and lackluster storytelling. For a slasher, there's more melodrama talk and dangerously wide plot holes here than thrills and spills and that just makes Paranoid (2000) a very unrewarding experience of a horror flick. Granted that the actors did their best to make the best out of the cheap-as-chips scripting, its plot still drags on to the point of a lulling stalemate with little to reward our patience, made worse by its horrid editing and unexciting (mostly offscreen) murder set-pieces.

To simply put it, fuck off, Paranoid (2000)! It's low-budget filmmaking done sloppily, better off collecting dust in some shelf than tainting one's brain with its very existence. 

1 male and 1 female found murdered
1 female gutted with a hunting knife
1 male and 1 female murdered with an axe, bodies later seen splayed 
1 female murdered with a knife (flashback)
1 male stabbed and slashed to death with a knife
1 male stabbed in the chest with a knife
1 female found murdered
1 male axed on the chest
Total: 10

Friday, October 15, 2021

Jesus Christ, Slasher Star: I Know What You Did Last Supper (2013)

I Know What You Did Last Supper
Author: Wayne Williams and Darren Allan
Publication Year: 2013
Chapters: 73 Including Epilogue
Rating: ****1/2

I first read about this book a year or so before I graduated college, the same time in my life where I had a religious crisis and ultimately changed from a Catholic to a proud religious skeptic. It was also the time I was rediscovering my love for slasher movies, old and new, so needless to say it was a match made in "heaven" and I fell in love with the daringness of this book's concept. I didn't get the chance to read it until very recently, however, and let me tell you all that it was a decade-long wait worth it!

In its pages, I Know What You Did last Supper follows the infamous apostle who betrayed Jesus Christ to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver, Judas Iscariot, though painted in a more sympathetic light; after learning that his uncle Gideon got himself in a spot of gambling trouble and now owes a sizable sum to a brutal ex-Gladiator, Judas decided to secretly meet up with Caiaphas, a Sanhedrin high priest who just so happens to be willing to pay silver in exchange of Jesus' whereabouts. Believing his friend and teacher can easily escape capture considering the godly miracles he performed, Judas uneasily agrees with Caiaphas' terms and leads the high priest and his men to Jesus.

Only Jesus didn't fend off his captors and, long story short, he got whisked away to a gruesome trial where he is tortured, humiliated and eventually crucified, dying no soon after.

Horrified of what he have done, Judas tries to reason his guilt away with the matter that he did it to save a loved one. However, much to his further distress, it turns out his betrayal was all for nothing when upon meeting his uncle, he discovers that the man was able to pay off his gambling debts by selling some of his own belongings. With his mentor dead from his own actions and his fellow apostles suspecting him as the one responsible for Christ's capture, Judas has nowhere to go but back to his friends and family, some grew estranged from him after he became a follower of Christ, others just glad to have their beloved companion back.

No matter where the guilty Iscariot goes, unfortunately, torment will follow him and, soon, his loved ones as well; one by one, they will all fall victim to the hands of a madman. A madman with a vicious streak and a lust for carnage. A madman who believes in the words "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". A madman who knows what Judas did last supper...

I Know What You Did Last Supper is, frankly, the net result if you cross a somewhat accurate and consistent historical fiction set in Biblical times with the gory offerings of a modern day slasher exploitation and even a bit of murder mystery thriller. While it took some liberties in its portrayal of ancient Jerusalem as it more or less transpositions slasher and horror cliches to its period, it does bring out some creative and intriguing perspectives as to how some Biblical characters would've reacted and felt after the death of Christ which, in turn, leads to a lot of interesting characterization and development. 

Judas, for one, is portrayed here as actually proud to be one of Jesus' disciples and sincerely believes in the man's teachings, which makes his regrets and forlornness understandable and relatable. For a decent amount of chapters, we pretty much follow the Iscariot stressing over the fact he technically sentenced the Son of God, his closest friend, to death and that his only means of possible solace could be to just run away from it all. Add in a lively and colorful set of characters from Judas' circle of friends, family and foes and we practically have a good line-up for a bloody misadventure once the first two kills jump-start the very meat of the plot.   

As a slasher literature, the book delivers and then some; with selected chapters dedicated to a murder or two (or three), it racks up a nice bodycount and quite a build-up for each. The writing goes carnally descriptive with its violence, though there are a few that were ironic for that taste of dark humor while others benefit from being as gruesome and harrowing at how extreme and torturous they can get. And, as the title implies, there's a mystery regarding the identity of the killer who announces their knowledge of Judas' secret through ominous writing in blood and a few suspects do get thrown around; some of these eventually become red herrings as any good twisty mystery would and a great deal of suspicion falls on very interesting possible culprits including the high priest who gave Judas his thirty silver (and apparently has a very dark secret he is willing to do anything to keep quiet about) and Jesus Christ himself. (Yes, they went there)

Up until the last act, I Know What You Did Last Supper makes all the smart and fun moves, each twists and turns leading to a shocking surprise and splatter-filled slayings. It's around the finale where the novel kinda falters a bit as we get a reveal that's somewhat fascinating, only to be downgraded by yet another curveball that would have been good if it didn't read like a last minute addition. Thankfully, this is really just a small smudge in an otherwise thrilling roller coaster of a horror fiction that wonderfully blends exploitative mayhem with earnest yet curious Biblical world-building. With rich characters, insane horror set-pieces and engaging whodunit plotting, I say, fellow slasher fans, give this one a read if you get the chance to pick it up, for God's sake!  

Bodycount: 21
Notable Kill: Oh Lord, there are plenty: We have a steamhouse massacre involving fellows getting cooked in boiling pools, their necks broken or have themselves pushed into furnaces. There's an unsettling break-in wherein a mother and a daughter gets attacked, one repeatedly cut while the other gets forced-fed with blood until they choke. And then there's that darkly hilarious dental appointment involving "tooth worms", a hammer and a knifed hand.

Oh, and we have a case of literal "coïtus interruptus" that got a bit too woody. Can't forget a staple slasher trope!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Bloody Bobby Bloodfest: Black Pumpkin (2018) and Legend of Fall Creek (2021) Double Bill Review

A low-budget slasher franchise about a Halloween-themed killer kid? Offing people?! On Halloween?!?! Eh, sure, why not?

Black Pumpkin (2018)
Rating: ***
Starring: Ellie Patrikios, Matt Rife and Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick

Years ago, on Halloween, a local sheriff and his teenage daughter were murdered in their home and though the killer was never caught, they did left a calling card: a black pumpkin.

Fast forward ten years later, two kids, Elliot and his best friend Porkchop, are filming a documentary about a local spook spot known as Diablo's Den for their school project, a place known for being the setting of "pretty much every tall tale and campfire story" from their town. Their presence, unfortunately, awaken something that terrorized their little burgh before, a local boogeyman named "Bloody Bobby" who many say was the ten-year old kid that vanished into the woods of Diablo's Den back at 1988. 

As people start being killed by “Bloody Bobby”, it's only a matter of time before the killer tyke makes his way to the two kids that brought him back, all the while local crazy Alex Griffin, who lost his brother at the hands of Bobby, tries his darnest to warn everyone of the little boogeyman's return and end the nightmare once and for all.

Black Pumpkin (2018) can be best described as the love child between "kid-centered" horror vibe ala The Monster Squad (1987) or Monster House (2006) and gorily shlocky supernatural slasher mayhem, done in that cheapjack B-grade filmmaking job that would either leave you giggling or groaning at how cheesy it can get. It's hardly scary with its less-than-stellar acting and cookie cutter plotting, not to mention its bargain price editing and uninspired score, but the film does have that macabre playfulness lingering around in terms of tone and the scenes wherein little "Bloody Bobby" is just doing his murderous deeds are just fun enough for how practical they're done, giving this messy treat at least a pass for its effort.

There isn't really much else to say about Black Pumpkin (2018), frankly; it's a low-budget bodycounter with a hammy heart of a kid who grew up in the late 80s or early 90s and that's more or less it. It's definitely not for everyone, but those willing to give this a try are welcome to do so, especially if you're into crazy killer kid movies and/or a big Halloween horror nut who's a little tougher to crack.

1 male knifed, later found with his eye plucked out
1 female shot on the face with a rigged shotgun
1 male hacked on the head with a hatchet
1 female crushed against a tree with a van
1 male disemboweled
1 female wrapped in barbwire and set ablaze
1 female strangled with fairy lights
1 male shredded with a lawnmower
1 male stabbed on the throat with a fire poker
Total: 9

Legend of Fall Creek (2021)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Frank Brantley, Alton Clemente and Chuck Clendenin

After opening with a brief lesson of vocabulistics regarding the term “Grindhouse” and a text scroll backstory to the urban legend of Bobby Maxwell, a boy who vanished into the woods of Diablo's Den back at 1988 Halloween, the plot officially starts with a couple with car problems getting stranded on a road at All Hallow's Eve midnight and, as you would've guessed, they're soon killed by someone.

Cut to hours later and we now follow one Reggie who's returning to his home town to visit his favorite cousin Tiffany, 20 years after he and his family suddenly moved away. Their plans to catch-up lead to them attending the big Halloween party in town later that evening, unknown to the cousins and pretty much everybody else that Bobby Maxwell, AKA "Bloody Bobby", has gatecrashed the festivities with murder, mayhem and revenge in mind.

Although marketed as the prequel to Black Pumpkin (2018), Legend of Fall Creek (2021) actually takes place first, shot two years before Pumpkin under the title Bloody Bobby before being edited and retitled for distribution. This said, the movie certainly shows its age and low(er) budget and, I'm not gonna jerk around with this but, yeah, it's bad; the plot wallows in D-grade melodrama talk in large chunks and snail pace, hardly showing and doing anything horror-related until it remembers that it has this killer kid thing going around the opening and throws in a murder and/or exposition when it has the time. It does eventually go full slasher by the third act once the Halloween party starts but that doesn't really help when there are hardly any likable and/or interesting characters to go with this, further falling the film short on the entertainment factor.

Annoyingly, whenever a kill or so happens, Legend of Fall Creek (2021) go Grindhouse on us with video and audio effects made to look and sound like melted film reels, distorted voices, slow-mo shots and the likes. I'm not sure whether this is already in the unedited Bloody Bobby version or these are the editing done by the folks back at distribution, but all it does is make the murders hardly comprehensible and cheapened, something a good Grindhouse tribute should avoid doing at all costs!

In a way, I can see why Black Pumpkin (2018) was released first as that film is a whale of an improvement compared to Legend of Fall Creek (2021). What we have here is a trainwreck of corner-cutting direction, talky bad acting and tiresome plotting with barely anything to make up for them, a real damn feat at being unworkable. So unless you're a real hard ass for punishment, I suggest skipping this one. 

1 male found slaughtered
1 female brained with a hammer, later found gutted
1 female knifed to death
1 male decapitated with a machete
1 male brained with a bat, beaten against a toilet
1 female stabbed in the gut with a machete, later found garroted with fairy lights
1 female crucifix to a wall, gets a nail hammered into her mouth
1 male stabbed in the mouth with a nail and had his guts fished out
Total: 8

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Deadly Secrets of Osborne, Nebraska: There's Someone Inside Your House (2021)

There's Someone Inside Your House (2021)
Rating: ***
Starring: Sydney Park, Théodore Pellerin and Asjha Cooper

It all started with the murder of a small town football star; Jackson Pace was home alone and sleeping when he's awakened by an egg-timer going off next to him. He finds out that someone have been or still is in his house as photos of him beating a gay teammate bloody is posted all over the place. He eventually makes his way into a closet where a hooded figure just happens to be waiting for him, donning a mask resembling Jackson’s face and swiftly cutting the sport star's heels before knifing him dead. The murder is broadcasted all over town and talks of who's responsible spread the following morning.

Among pondering about the identity of the killer are Hawaii-born student Makani Young and her small group of friends, with some of them jokingly suggesting one of the dumb jocks while a few sincerely believes that a brooding loner named Ollie Larsson is responsible. Unbeknownst to them, Makani has a little history with Ollie, both being romantic with one another a Summer ago and she's thinking of continuing her sweet affairs with him, all the while keeping the relationship a secret along with her own troubled past. 

It isn't long before another one of the town's highschoolers bite the big one, this time class president Katie Koons, who recorded and anonymously posted a racist podcast. It comes to the attention of Makani's clique then that the killer is seemingly targeting people with dirty little secrets and, after a "Secret Party" gets held, where the attending youngsters literally have to share secrets with one another to make them "safe" from the prowling psycho (Glad to see Cherry Falls (2000) is still getting some recognition...), the motive is unfortunately proven true when Rodrigo, one of Makani's friends, gets the sharp blade after he fails to reveal his secret drug problems.

Already distraught from the loss, Makani is further torn when her friends begin to accuse Ollie as the killer since he did disappear during the Secret Party and his brother being the town's deputy also meant he can easily search private information about anybody in town. Makani couldn't believe it at first, but when Ollie reveals he did look her up, thus learning about the charges made against her back at Hawaii, and the killer just happens to target her next, she may have to face the chance that her boyfriend might be demented enough to start a spree killing...

Although the movie is based on the 2017 Young Adult slasher novel of the same name by Stephanie Perkins, There's Someone Inside Your House (2021) honestly feels more like a companion piece than a straight adaptation for how much it changed the narrative around, pretty much bearing its own plot with scenes and characters seemingly inspired by the book, rather. 

That said, I do like the straightforward and character-focused direction here as it gave us a workable and likable casts that we can definitely feel for. The film does lack a bit of edge when it comes to its horror and thriller elements despite the generous gore and creepy set-pieces, this is possibly due to the fact the approach taken here factors more on psychological and emotional horror through the film's theme of "weaponizing" secrets rather than excessive violence. This is seen and felt mostly from Makani's daily fear and paranoia of her past coming back to ruin her new life, often leading to her weighing the devastating losses she'd suffer from should anything she's hiding becomes public. Actress Sydney Park's invested performance as Makani undoubtedly played a big part on making this mostly work, though, story-wise, the direction could've been done even better should the rest of the victims were given the same poignant plight rather than making most of them deserving douches, soiling option for more effective cathartic moments.

Adding in the underwhelming reveal of the killer's identity which comes paired with a rather disjointed, too on-the-nose motive behind the killings, There's Someone Inside Your House (2021) certainly missed a lot of opportunities for improvement. Still, looking past the coming-of-age dramatics and the flawed thrills and horrors, the film has the saving graces of at least looking sleek, being occasionally funny and meeting its brutal quota whenever it needs to be met. It's workable enough in its excels to be more than another typical slasher through characterization and depth, so the film is far from terrible but unquestionably average for a dead teenager horror piece still. The book is better.  

1 male had his heels cut, knifed on the chest
1 female gutted, pushed face-first to a knife
1 male had his throat slashed with a knife 
1 male found gutted
1 male found slashed across the chest
1 male gets a sword skewered through his head
1 male knifed to death
Total: 7

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Lives And Deaths In Osborne, Nebraska: There's Someone Inside Your House (2017)

There's Someone Inside Your House

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Year: 2017
Chapters: 29
Rating: ****

Welcome to Osborne, Nebraska. Population of twenty-six hundred. 

Or, at least it was.

It's been almost a year since Hawaiian-born Makani Young moved to this small town and all she wanted is to live a life of normalcy accompanied by new close friends and a loving grandmother, as well as finishing her high school senior year without her dark past coming back to haunt her. But when news broke out that one of her classmates was found with her throat slaughtered and her eyes slashed into grotesque "dead cartoon eyes" one morning, Makani finds herself in the middle of the dilemma when she decided to rekindle her relationship with Oliver "Ollie" Larsson, her lonesome pink-haired Summertime fling and possible suspect.

With Ollie having a bit of a reputation, one that involves ghastly rumors about his parents' demise, it isn't much of a surprise that Makani's friends are uneasy with him just looming around her. But do they know him as well as she does? Or has Makani's budding romance towards the boy blinded her from the possibility that he could be a vile murderer? As more bodies pile up, it's only a matter of time before Makani learns the truth behind these killings and that she might be the only one to stop it.

With a tone screaming pure 90s slasher nostalgia, There's Someone Inside Your House is author Stephanie Perkins' first stroll in penning an impressively violent teen horror after her line young adult romance novels, merging coming-of-age teenage drama with bodycounting nightmares in an attempt to flesh out its characters and build up the intrigue surrounding the murders. It's a direction that comes with a double edge as after the tension-building first murder, the story halter itself into a bit of a slump as we focus greatly around Makani's relationship issues with (one of) the town misfits; a bit of romance adds layers to the plot and it gives our leading characters their likable charm and depth, yes, but a long while of this nearly made the plot looking a tad like another romantic shindig only with a side of slasher horror.

Fortunately, once the murders start rearing up again, the plot picks up in a speedy and entertaining pace as a couple of chapters are dedicated to the morbidity and creepiness of the killer's attacks, written with a flair of brutal dismemberments and visceral slayings, accompanied with effectively distressing mind games done to toy and unnerve its unfortunate victims. It's around these parts we also get to know more about Makani's hidden past and how it intertwines with her present state as a potential target to a killer who's doing well enough to evade capture. As much as it adds a bit of mystery and edge to the situation, I better enjoyed the fact that the developments within these parts got rocky and tested, yet ending with Makani and her friends and lover bonding stronger to form a firm little group racing against time to stop a killer from claiming more lives.

Curiously, the last third of the book is where the whodunit ploy gets swapped out with a more manic stalk-and-prowl act wherein the killer is revealed not just to us, but also to the main casts, and yet our psycho continues their rampage, slaying as many as possible while the whole town searches for them. It's one of the best turns the story could've made and the resulting carnage is as exciting as it is gruesome, plus the thrill of knowing the killer yet unsure where they'll strike next is a whole ballpark of satisfactory horror reading! 

For what it is, There's Someone Inside Your House is an interesting addition to horror literature and a fun, quick read for slasher fans who hopefully wouldn't mind a lot of make-out sessions before and after a bloody good kill. While it may not necessarily add anything new, it's a good story that you can't put down, especially once that hunting knife gets wielded and the town of Osborne gets to know the face of true madness!

Bodycount: 6
Notable Kill: In context, this is a simple kill with some laughable imagery, but an entire chapter was built around the murder of a football player contemplating whether he is suffering from CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) or not. The details written about his panic, confusion and distress just made the entire thing a lot more cathartic. I feel for the dude...