Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Bloody Leg Warmers: Murdercise (2023)

Murdercise (2023)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Kansas Bowling, Nina Lanee Kent, Jessa Flux

We got slasher films taking place in film shoots (Destroyer (1988), The Freeway Maniac (1989)) and we got slasher films taking place during aerobic sessions (Killer Workout (1987), Death Spa (1989)). But what if we have a slasher film taking place in both? During the filming of an aerobics workout video?! 

This is where Murdercise (2023) comes in, a microbudget production of the horror-comedy variety following a small studio shoot of an overly sleazy exercise video with a group of buxom babes in skimpy bathing suits and skin tight leotards bending and bouncing in front of a leering camera. Everyone's having a good time except for one Phoebe (Kansas Bowling), who thinks this is supposed to be a serious workout video and proceeds to be a stick in the mud by openly complaining at how perverse the choreography have been and actual exercise is very important to hot-blooded Americans, more or less leading to her being mocked, disrespected and hated by the other cast members.

The plot thickens when hard-as-nails mafia princess Isabella (Nina Lanee Kent) waltz in and is given a role in the video as a favor for her mother, whose husband is financing the entire filming. The wild child is basically there to keep herself out of trouble and does pretty well at that by striking an immediate friendship with Phoebe, teaching the obsessed fitness nerd how to properly assert herself. Phoebe, however, may have taken in these teachings with a slight twinge of crazy as, when the producer steps away for a bit and left her in charge, she settles to put an end to all of the staffs' crudeness and takes the rectitude of the shoot into her own hands. 

Her scissor-wielding, steel pipe-jabbing, folding chair- swinging hands.

From Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba, who previously gave us the bad-girl-vs-misogynist-cult revenge thriller Streets of Vengeance (2016) and the bachelorette party-gone-murderous backwoods slasher Slashlorette Party (2020), Murdercise (2023) is an exercise (pun-intended) of off-the-wall horror comedy exploitation disguised as a nostalgic throwback and, seeing all the busty potential victims, murderous betrayals and a few other deadly surprises, the film's undoubtedly succeeds on being one of the crazier and sleazier microbudget slashers to ever grace my eyes. 

The direction and writing are practically tailor-made to be as hammy as the over-the-top performances of its casts, hitting most of its slapsticks and jokey dialogue with an acceptable amount of raunchiness and quirk. (Especially Drew Marvick as Chuck, the group's overly enthusiastic everyman. He's cool!) Eye candy is also a certainty here for those who like their bodycounters with a generous amount of skin, taking into account that the film isn't shy on cashing on the bare bods whenever a gag calls for it. The only thing that kinda gets in the way is the fact that not a lot of characters here are likeable and while I do understand they're supposed to be cartoonishly obnoxious for the laughs, a good chunk of them does the bitchy persona way too well that I just find them irritating. Fortunately for me, the movie packs a decent bunch of kills to go around and what little special effects done within the filming's micro-budget does look pretty neat and bloody.

As a crowdfunded indie project, Murdercise (2023) is hardly what you call a throwback masterpiece but you can very much tell everyone involved had fun for how energetic and comfortably nuts it is. It's campy, steamy and overall silly, I say exercise your right to see a simple rompy slasher and give this one a go! 

1 female strangled to death
1 female stabbed to death with a pair of scissors
1 female had her throat crushed with a folding chair
1 male jabbed in the eye with a steel pipe
1 female strangled with a belt, beaten to death against a table
1 male gets a hammer claw to the head
1 female gutted with a knife
1 male had his head carved with a chainsaw
Total: 8

Never change, Chuck. Never change.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Off The Beaten Path: The Shortcut (2009)

The Shortcut (2009)
Rating: **
Starring: Katrina Bowden, Jeremy Bastian, Cavan Cunningham

Here's a fun fact for ya! Comedian Adam Sandler's TV and movie production company Happy Madison once attempted to branch out into making horror films through an off-shoot aptly called Scary Madison and the first movie made under this studio, The Shortcut (2009), also happens to be its last thanks to the title's critical and commercial failure. But is it really that bad? Bad enough to single-handedly kill off its producer's foray into horror projects?   

The film opens in 1945, at a small town's Homecoming dance where we see teenager Ivor Hartley walking his date through a shortcut in the woods wherein things get pretty dark as he gets too handsy and attempts to rape her. She got a lucky shot kneeing him in the tenders which sends the would-be rapist stumbling home, only for the poor gal to find out trouble is far from over for her when a kid shows up to beat her with a rock and kills her with a slingshot.

Cut forward to the present and we now follow Derek, a regular teen boy two months into a new town with his family yet already starting some drama by quitting the school's rowing crew because he sees most of his teammates as pricks. His younger brother Tobey also got himself into a little misadventure when he accepted a dare from his friends to walk through 'The Shortcut', a fenced-off private forest path where over the years, kids and pets have been disappearing, and from there he finds a mutilated dog and an angry old man waving a shovel at him promising bloodshed should he ever find the tyke in his land again. 

Word of what happened to Tobey got around school and Derek finds himself roped deeper into the situation when a jock named Taylor brought up his missing dog and he believes the old man may have something to do with it. After a night of sneaking around the private land and learning that the old coot not only has a tin can full of name tags from missing pets, but is also a tad nutty up there, Derek and Taylor, along with Derek's friends Mark and Lisa, as well as Christy, the girl our lead guy's trying to swoon here and there, plan to break into the old man's property to gather more proof of his supposed pet-killing savagery.

All the while, we're treated with flashbacks of the killer kid in the opening act, which turns out to be Ivor's own little brother whose aggression scale is starting to scare local elementary schools into suggesting to his family, The Hartleys, that he's better off locked up in a loonie bin. We see over the years that, yes, the kid is indeed psycho and the Hartleys, big shots around the small town, done all they could to prevent the fact that one of their kids is a mad murderer from coming out. Could this killer kid be the crazy oldster in the present? Or is there something more sinister at play here?

Written by Adam Sandler's brother Scott and Happy Madison's development officer Dan Hannon, The Shortcut's original draft was said to be more gruesome until rewrites were done as the movie's distributor Leomax was only interested in releasing a more PG-13 horror outing. The resulting story is more akin to a slightly mature Are You Afraid of The Dark episode in turn, with a plot very much following an undoubtedly familiar pattern of the main casts investigating a suspicious figure believed to be responsible for some horrible deeds, only to find a twist which welcomes in the climactic last act. (And maybe another twist or two) Still, as uninspired as The Shortcut mostly is, it's far from terrible since I do dig the writing's stronger focus on mystery and character building, which is frankly this movie's far more acceptable elements long with the direction, pacing and the talents involved. The killings, though with little to no gore at all, still has their decent suspenseful build-ups and the gnarly special effects done for a few of them are passable at least.

The Shortcut (2009), in all fairness, is a decent-enough flick, though the lack of edge and flair in its story kept it from being more enjoyable as a slasher flick. Then again, it could be worse and the least PG-13 horror movies like this could do is be interesting and, on a level, this one done enough good to be worth its while.
1 female beaten with a rock, killed with a slingshot
1 male seen dead with a head wound (flashback)
1 male shot with a shotgun (flashback)
1 male brained with a sledgehammer
1 male had his head bashed with a sledgehammer
1 female had her neck crushed with a length of chain
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male shot through the head with a shotgun
1 female stabbed in the back with a carving knife
Total: 9

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Another Baghead In The Woods - The Trilogy: Terror at Black Tree Forest (2010), Escape to Black Tree Forest (2012) and Black Tree Forest III (2012)

Welp, here we are. Across the wide open plains of a cheapjack franchise involving another bag-masked loonie killing people in the woods, channeling their inner-Jason Voorhees. How original...

Terror At Black Tree Forest (2010)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Allison Scott II, Paul Albers, Steve Carty

So for the first six minutes of this mostly hour long-trek, we see a 1970s married couple and their boy Brian Mellows out in the woods, with mom and pop deciding to leave lil' Brian alone to play while they go hanky-panky in the forest. This private baby-making session is unfortunately interrupted by a random killer in a sack mask who proceeds to stab dear hubby dead and go rapey on dear wifey. Brian hears the commotion and arrives there just in time to see his mother get snuffed out by the masked man, leading to a chase scene that kinda goes forever with both the kid and the killer tripping on stuff. The boy eventually outruns his assailant and was soon found tuckered out near the road by a passing driver.

Cut to the present and we now follow four friends out to camp at the very same woods Brian Mellows had his haunting experience and, wouldn't you know it, Mr. Mellows, now fully grown yet mentally broken from the trauma, has just escaped from an asylum and made his way to the very same backwoods with a murderous streak. Take a wild guess where all of this is heading to...

There's really not a lot go by this one; the story can be easily shortened down to "kids go to the wood, kids go dead" and nothing much else, all shot and edited in that psuedo-grainy "grindhouse" aesthetic then popularized by the Tarantino/Rodriguez double-feature throwback Grindhouse (2007), only with more eye-straining colored tinting that I'm sure would fry some people's eyes blind if they look at it too long, as well as brain-numbingly dull rock acoustics and synthesizer music to bore our ears, too. All the characters were written unremarkably generic and, worse even, acted with the flair of a wooden stump, so, really, this is honestly one of the most forgettable slasher titles out there, which makes the fact this thing got a movie series even more shocking.

I honestly see very little appeal in this one. Sure, you could call this title an attempt to capture the good old days of hacking and slashing, but it just doesn't feel like it tried too much. Everything about it look, sounds and feel half-assed and it shows. If y'all are looking for a throwback slasher, you can do better than this limp piece of work...

1 male knifed through the head
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 female knifed in the gut
1 female knifed to death
1 female knifed in the eye, killed
1 male had his throat sliced with a knife
1 male found murdered, method unknown
Total: 8

Escape to Black Tree Forest (2012)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Paul Albers, Brandon Aylor, Karrie Bauman

Taking place two weeks after the events of the first film, now dubbed in the news as the "Black Tree Terror Massacre", lone survivor Mare Strode is still reeling from the fact that she narrowly escaped being butchered by the mad masked slasher Brian Mellows and her recent stay at the hospital to recover did little to help. So much so that, the moment she got home, Mary picked up a pillow case and turned it into a mask before going Halloween (1978) opening sequence on her own mother, knifing her to death. 

Yep, it looks like we're going down the route of Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), only this one's a lot more open with the fact that our then-final girl is now a mad slasher, returning to Black Tree Forest to start another killing spree. And everything from there is basically a repeat of the first film as we have yet another set of four teens visiting the titular woods to camp out, all the while doing some dumb shenanigans like stopping by a grocery to buy some supplies and pig out on free samples, as well as skinny dip on a pond albeit some footages missing. (Yep, they're still doing the Grindhouse (2007) shtick here) These tomfooleries are mostly intertwined with Mare's dad and a detective out driving to the same site in hopes of finding the girl, unaware that she'd gone cuckoo for murder and is about to go Michael Myers on our main gaggle around (and I kid you not) the last fifteen minutes of the damn movie.

Frankly, the whole thing simply failed to bring anything with actual substance as despite the plot implying a lot of interesting directions, like Mare's sudden turn to the stabby side, her father's desperate search for her or the suggestions that the first film's original killer may still be out there seeing no actual body was found, none of that really mattered as these are all set aside for what basically amounted to nothing but a lot of padding and even more padding. There's no real urgency to the pace here and by the time we do get some actual slasher horror, the fucking shit is rushed like hell with cheap kills, one uninspired chase sequence and an ending that I'm certain would have been more impacting given we actually gave a shit.

Much like the first film, this sequel is damn forgettable. Heck, even more so as practically nothing happened here to earn any genuine form of thrills, scares or intrigue. It doesn't help too that the writing is as bland as the talent acting them out, as well as the sound design and editing are basically shit. It's simply a boring follow-up to an already boring film and I would rather eat a laundry pod than subject myself to another helping of this movie. Throw it out on a pile of dog doo and carry on with your day...

1 male knifed in the eye
1 female knifed to death
1 male knifed in the back
1 male implied brained, bloody rock seen (flashback)
1 female knifed
1 male impaled on a tree branch
1 female knifed to death
1 female killed offscreen with a knife
1 female shot with a shotgun
1 male shot through the head with a shotgun
Total: 9 

Black Tree Forest III (2012)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Brandon Aylor, Jennii Caroline, Breana Mitchell

Wow. Like, actual wow. You couldn't even see shit most of the time in this one!

So apart from being a backwoods slasher, this third entry to a franchise that doesn't even need to exist is also a holiday bodycounter, taking place around Halloween. Here we follow Chuck, a character from the prior film who survived the massacre that took the lives of his friends and girlfriend. He's now locked up in a nuthouse where we see a doctor interviewing him about the events that led to them camping at the titular Black Tree Forest, which meant half the running time of the entire run focusing on random shots of him and his girlfriend having fun at an amusement park before eventually showing us the clip note version of the second movie. (Think Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987), only less funny, less 'Garbage Day!' and grainer)

Chuck also now believes he's part of a cycle of violence which may or may not be an actual curse inflected by the Black Tree Forest and it is this belief that motivates him to escape the nuthouse, don a raincoat and dollar store mask, as well as steal a knife from an old lady's house ala Halloween II (1981) before legging it back to the woods. All the while, yet another set of four characters planning a Halloween night bonfire at Black Tree Forest and, well, you know what comes after...

...That is, of course, if you could see goddamn anything! Seriously, there's little to no lighting done in this mess so most of the time I'm trying to figure out what half of the crap I'm looking at whenever a scene takes place either at night or in the dark. And because of this, I couldn't even make out most of the killings and for those that I did see, they're nothing to clamor about, making Black Tree Forest III's talky direction, muddled audio, padded pacing, and overly grainy and irritatingly saturated shot-on-video visual aesthetics not really worth sitting through.

I mean, I can give it some respect for perfectly capturing the feel of an 80s local channel midnight Halloween viewing, this film definitely replicated the look. (complete with a shlocky TV host and an intermission courtesy of a black-and-white Trick 'r Treat safety PSA!) I can also appreciate it for trying some type of twist in the form of a random red herring involving a woman being tortured inside someone's basement which eventually ties up to this movie's ending but, aside from these, Black Tree Forest III is just a big bore of a movie and a headache to watch. What really else is there to say about this movie but 'fuck off' !

1 male murdered, seen strangled with a cord
1 male found dead with a missing eye
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 male hit on the temple with a nailed wooden board
1 female brained with a hammer, body later seen dumped off a bridge
1 female killed, method unknown
Total: 8

And that's all of them. All three of the original Black Tree Forest movies and, my god, I think I need a strong drink to cleanse away these horrifically atrocious exploitation throwbacks I just subjected my eyeballs to. I'd be even more fortunate if I pass out drunk and get a hangover in the following morning because that would have been a far more engaging experience compared to this movie, too! But oh, what's that? Why did I phrase these three films as the original? Well, dear reader, you curious scamp, you! The franchise found a way to be remade in United Kingdom back in 2021! In fact, I reviewed that movie first and swore then that I wouldn't even touch this franchise for how horrible that movie was but I'm a completist. 

A fucking stupid completist...

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Fuzzy and Frenzied: Night of The Killer Bears (2022)

Night of The Killer Bears (AKA "The World of Killing People") (Thailand, 2022)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Sananthachat Thanapatpisal, Patchata Jan-Ngern, Khemanit Jamikorn

"Ted meets Terrifier" the ads say. Yeah, no, it's nothing like that. I mean, it's weird like Ted (2012), but nowhere at the level of gory gruesomeness as Terrifier (2017). Still, not bad!

Night of The Killer Bears (2022)
opens with something out of Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood (1971), with a lone female worker at a resort serving some nice guy his four cups of coffee and doing her best to disregard his advances. As night falls, the resort closes early from a very slow day, the lone worker continues cleaning up the place and, to little to no surprise, nice guy turns out to be a "nice guy" as he returns to creep up on his victim. What comes next is twist upon twists upon twists as some people are not who they seem to be and heads get decapitated.

In comes another day and we now focus our attention to five young adults heading to the same resort for a friendly reunion of sorts as it's been years since they all last seen one another. Its owner welcomes them with cold reserve (like, suspiciously cold) and tension appears to be holding the gang from being completely chummy, hinted to be caused by a tragic event that led to them splitting up to begin with. It also doesn't help that a few of these buds are hiding terrible secrets. Shockingly vile and horribly monstrous secrets. And it is these secrets that may or may not be reason why the resort is suddenly being stalked by killers wearing giant teddy bear heads.

Not gonna go deep into the plot, but its original title "The World of Killing People" best describes what's in store for us in this movie; it's about various characters getting their murder on as one twist stumbles unto another, leaving red herrings and main casts running around either slaughtering or getting slaughtered left and right. It's half-way played seriously and half-way darkly comedic, keeping us on toes as we try and figure out what's really going on in this picture past the zany madness and blood, and most of the time it works. I love how the more maniacally insane the situation gradually becomes, the more the story becomes more coherent somehow, and the casts did play their roles well enough to warrant an interest to where their own little stories are going, albeit it comes with the drawback of some plot holes and loose ends that never really got answered.

When it comes to the murders, Night of The Killer Bears (2022) struts a decent massacre despite a share of the kills being done in CG. They're mostly basic stabbings, but the few that stood out has a cartoonish streak that fits the movie's grimly humorous tone, such as one poor lass getting an impromptu breast operation via hunting knife, topped with a gooey silicone punchline! The titular killer bears perpetrate the killing spree, though, interestingly, they're not the main bads of the film as they're more of lackeys to somebody else pulling the strings in the shadow. We do eventually get a reveal to whoever is masterminding most of the massacre (read, most) and the last act is just absolute bonkers by then, with the real villain donning their own bear suit with a huge head and doing their darnest to keep it on while attempting to kill off the remaining survivors. 

Practically, the horror and humor is all over in this movie, not exactly parodying itself, but relishing instead in its own resulting weirdness as a slasher. Night of The Killer Bears (2022) is just a hoot of a good time if you're looking for a bodycount movie that isn't afraid to be darkly silly and bloodily messy, where victims can be killers and killers can be victims, and not to mention looney enough to associate mascot teddy bear heads with knife-wielding, sledgehammer-swinging maniacs! 

1 male found slaughtered to death
1 male decapitated with a machete
1 female slashed across the neck with a machete, decapitated
1 male seen knifed to death (opening credit)
1 female seen knifed in the neck (opening credit)
1 female stabbed through the breast with a hunting knife, silicone torn off
1 male seen stabbed to death
1 male sliced down in half with an axe
1 male stabbed through the mouth with a machete
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 male hacked with an axe
1 male hacked with an axe
1 male gets a thrown axe to the neck
1 male slashed across the throat, stabbed through with a hunting knife
1 male gutted with a hunting knife, stabbed in the neck
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 female ran through with a machete
1 male brained to death with a sledgehammer
1 male drowned in a diving incident (flashback)
1 male dies from a gunshot wound
1 male beaten with a branch, knifed in the eye
Total: 22

Monday, August 7, 2023

The Island of No Return: Slaughter Island (2010)

Slaughter Island (Jutou) (Japan, 2010)
Rating: ***
Starring: Tôru Amemiya, Noriko Ikemi, Serina Ogawa

In this low-budget, direct-to-video Japanese teen-kill offering, we get to see that minimalism, when done right, can lead to some worthy results.

Slaughter Island (2010)
 follows the usual story of lively teens enjoying themselves vacationing on a deserted island, doing nothing but fun and games of swimming around, playing in the beach and indulging on evening barbecues with spooky campfire tales to share. One of these tales is of a mysterious island where, legend has it, anybody who goes in never comes out. Word has it that the island they're at is the very one with this spooky reputation, though they all chalk it up to just a funny scare.

That is until the following morning comes; when two of the teens ventured into the woods, one came back splattered in blood and in complete hysterics, while the other is later found torn in half. Unsure of what to make of this, the rest of the gang decided to end the trip and go back to the mainland to get help, only to find the boat they used to get there is now missing and learn that none of them even bothered telling anyone where they were going, effectively stranding them in the island with something that's out to end them all...

Director Hisaaki Nagaota basically does everything you would expect from a teen-kill flick in Slaughter Island (2010), giving us a good dose of skin, scares and slaughtered bodies in a rather simplistic plot, all of which with little to no sets, limited special effects, a distinguishably small cast and a runtime of only an hour and five minutes. The minimalist production and direction may as well be this film's double-edge as those expecting strong exploitative thrills and novelties may find this movie rather lacking and cheap, though if one's looking for something thriving within the realms of nightmare logic and brooding atmosphere, then this movie fairly delivers.

Without giving away much, whatever it is that's killing the doomed teenagers works well enough to be this movie's more note-worthy element as its silent and stoic presence, paired with the fact that there's no actual reason as to why it does what it does nor are there any explanation given as to why or how it exists, builds a strong sense of eeriness and unnerving dread to the killings, even more so when it is made clear that there's hardly anything that can be done to stop it. This is where Slaughter Island (2010)'s limited resources get put to good use as they stylized the simple offscreen murders with blood splashes and gory after death effects which fit very nicely with the ambiguous nature of the murders, though occasionally the film do treat us with a couple of fair onscreen killings that are still done under a restrictive budget but quite effective nonetheless.

Albeit starting off like your typical B-flick gaggle of enthusiastic youths, the characters are a tolerable bunch with the teen casts playing them doing a genuinely okay job with their performances, giving off a candid feel that befits the movie's mood. The only qualm I can get from this is that none of the characters do stand out, even once the slaughtering starts and the group's stance switches from carefree and excited to serious and focused. Yes, a few did show a hint of development and even some depth, but most of it got flushed down in favor of using them as red herrings or the casual meat for murder.

Slaughter Island (2010) may not be the best example of a supernatural slasher with its overly unostentatious story and obviously minuscule funding, but to credit when credit is due, it is at least an original and entertaining effort, one that proves that sometimes you don't need extreme visuals or a big budget to make something worth watching. Give it a try!

1 female slaughtered, blood splash seen
1 male torn in half
1 female slaughtered, gut seen split open
1 male killed offscreen, later found with his guts strewn out
1 male gets a tree branch shoved down his mouth
1 female killed offscreen, later found impaled on a tree branch
1 female killed, method unknown
1 male found slaughtered
1 female slaughtered, blood splash seen
1 male stabbed in the gut with a tree branch, arm torn off
1 female killed offscreen
Total: 11

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Criminal Carnage And Gory Guffaws: The Cottage (2008)

The Cottage (United Kingdom, 2008)
Rating: ****
Starring: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison

Grab the girl. Hold her for ransom. Escape with the cash. This is the plan a thug named David (Andy Serkis of the Lord of The Ring trilogy) have in mind when he decided to kidnap the teenage daughter of one Arnie (Steven Berkoff), a mobster boss. His boss. And it would have been a fairly passable plan given, that is, he didn't tagged along his brother Peter (Shaun of The Dead (2004)'s Reece Shearsmith) and the kidnapped girl's own stepbrother Andrew (Steve O'Donell) as accomplices.

Now, see, Peter is someone you would call a tool; meek yet obnoxious, suffering from a phobia of moths and is pretty much ruled under the fat thumb of his own whale of a wife. He doesn't really want to be a part of David's little scheme, but knowing this is an opportunity to please his overbearing spouse as his brother agreed to give him his half of an inherited house should everything goes according to plan, Peter tags along which much reluctance. On the other hand, Andrew is, for the lack of a better term, an oaf. The type who buys the wrong kind of ski mask to cover his identity and may or may not have slipped sometime somewhere about this little gig which leads to a very pissed crime boss sending out a couple of hired hitmen to end whoever needs to be ended.

The night gradually goes from bad to terrible when the kidnapped girl, Tracey (Jennifer Ellison), proves to be more than these guys could handle as her foul mouth, short temper and psychopathic tendencies coincide with her resourcefulness and surprising intelligence. So it kinda comes to no surprise that she soon escapes after the fellas dropped their guard one too many times. And even worse, she takes Peter hostage at knife point as they go deep into the woods to look for a way back to the city. 

And this. All of this is just the first act of the movie.

For more than half of its run time, The Cottage (2008) is a crime comedy wherein its black humor is centered within one of the worst kidnapping schemes in movie history and the engagingly hilarious characters involved, with failure upon failure stacking up against our hapless hooligans to the point that you actually want to root for these luckless suckers to at least get one thing right and somehow still win in the end even if, y'know, they messed up many many things along the way. In spite of some pacing concerns, it's honestly a smart direction to take as we do get to know more about these wannabe criminal chumps and their terrifyingly aggressive victim, giving them memorable distinctive traits and a good score of funny moments as their idiotic plan goes up in flames, as well as a decent level of character development, especially between David and Peter as even though they don't see eye to eye, they do still have their brother's back and sincerely cares for one another.

This little slice of depth do come in handy for cathartic reasons once the film drew out the creepy villagers (one of them being Hellraiser's Doug Bradley!) ominously warning not to go out at night and the plot shifts gear to slasher horror territories; as David and Andrew go after Tracey and Peter, the four soon ended up stumbling into private lands with a not-so-cozy farmhouse filled with clutter, strange noises from down the cellar and severed hands in the freezer. Oh, and a large, heavily-deformed, bellowing farmer with a killing streak. Kinda hard to miss him considering, apart from being a towering blood-thirsty maniac out chopping people up with shovels and billhooks, he often have his own goofy moments that are completely in tone with the kind of silliness this film runs on, mainly his confused and frustrated reactions when things don't go the way it normally does in a night of bloody massacring. (Like, how often do you get one of the victims aggressively coax the killer to murder another victim? Weird.) 

As any good slasher would, the kills here are gruesomely gory, some parts satisfying, other parts shocking and devastating. Heck, even the offscreen slayings have some decent splatter and guts to be seen from the resulting corpses through some fair-looking make-up and gore effects. The cat-and-mouse antics are mostly played for laughs and cheeky shocks, occasionally accompanied by classical music and a running gags of sorts with Peter being the butt of painful and/or humiliating torment not limited to the monster farmer's own brand of brutalizing. Interestingly, there's actually a story behind the killer's madness and the way the movie decided to acknowledge this is to hint it all over his abode through photos, diaries and even the corpses laying around. It's real gnarly stuff from what I can tell and I do like the fact that it's mostly kept in the shadows for an effective creep factor, though I cannot deny that I wished they explored this a tad further as it would have made the killer much more interesting.

Still, The Cottage (2008) wears its madcap crime comedy and cartoonish splatter with devilish glee and whimsy and I absolutely love it for that. Delivering acting of pure quality, comedic writing that's darkly witty, and the splatter horror that's entertainingly gruesome, if you adore a damn good slasher comedy with a British tang then go on and add this one to your collection!

1 male found eviscerated
1 male found dead with his neck cut open
1 female decapitated by the mouth with a shovel
1 male killed, jacket seen
1 male gets a billhook to the groin
1 male hacked on the chest with a pickaxe
1 male devoured alive
Total: 7

Boogie Bop Flop: 1962 Halloween Massacre (2023)

1962 Halloween Massacre (2023)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Ariel Ash, Caroline Beagles, Will Branner

Yeah, this one is a real doozy of a slasher movie. And here I was thinking watching the side of my painted house dry was terrible, I have no idea there's something even more boring!

This hogwash of a film is actually based on an internet urban legend involving a vintage photo of a 1960s Halloween party. Among the people in the picture is a figure wearing a simple black mask and story has it that the fella would soon lock all the guests in and start attacking them, killing seven before disappearing into the night and leaving the FBI the black mask as the only piece of evidence from the massacre. 

1962 Halloween Massacre (2023) basically tries molding a story out of the urban legend, focusing on four friends who happen to be members of an elite circle of pharmaceutical families, driving to a remote cottage in the woods for a Halloween party. As they enjoy the spirit of the night and the debaucheries that comes with it (mainly sex, booze and a game of hide-and-seek apparently), an unexpected guest drops by to skulk around and say random doomsayer shit to himself, before soon enough trapping everybody in the cottage by tying the doors with heavy duty rope and going around stabbing people to death.

Now, see, this would have been exciting given that the film wasn't so focused on way too many conversations between its main casts or the random spouting of nonsensicals from the deranged maniac, so much so that 1962 Halloween Massacre (2023) is mostly jabber and little horror action from the maniac stabber. It's slowburn beyond slowburn, a direction littered with dull yakking about things that barely made the movie's dry run intriguing, something that doesn't help the fact that the low budget is more than evident from the cheap sets, use of CG blood and lackluster visual work that's obviously shot by some guy walking around with a camera. Most of the acting is okay(ish) at least, although I can't help but feel awkward watching some of these actors line read 1960s lingo with the enthusiasm of a highschool theater play. 

Damning of it all, though, is how this film concludes; without giving out a lot, too many survivors ran away scott-free with the killer leaving them be under the reason that they prefer a "captive audience" and "when you buy a ticket to the movies, you don't have to chase the picture to watch that". Uh, bullshit! Just tell us you're lazy, you self-glorifying asshat! This is then followed by more mad ramblings from the jerk before they phone in the killings to the police while pretending to be some sort of cross between a murder victim and an entitled bitch who cries "lawyer" when shit doesn't go their way. (No, really) The scene then simply cuts to the following morning, with FBI detectives weirdly scoping out the place and ending with heavy implications that the killer is among the investigators. Riveting, it ain't.

1962 Halloween Massacre (2023), as a concept, has the potential to be a good time capsule slasher flick set in the 60s, but its cheap and rushed production unsurprisingly results to one of the most nerve-wreckingly unexciting slasher to ever disgrace the face of horror. To be plain and simple, this one is just a drag. 

1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 female knifed to death
1 male knifed to death
1 male knifed to death
1 male knifed to death
1 female knifed to death
1 female knifed to death 
Total: 7