Sunday, March 31, 2024

Some Bad Scrambled Easter Eggs: Easter Sunday (2014)

Easter Sunday (2014)
Rating: *
Starring: Robert Z'Dar, Jeremy Todd Morehead, Ari Lehman

A fat bloke has his throat sliced open with an axe and farts during his death rattles. The killer, in a voice pitched up as if his balls were being flagellated with an electrified flail, asks the guy if he just broke wind and proceeds to pick up a log to totally decimate the poor shmuck's head with, claiming that "All farters must perish".

All of this is just within the first five minutes of the film. Fuck.

Twenty four years ago on Easter night, Douglas Fisher went cuckoo for carnage, dons a rabbit mask and starts chopping down people dead with an axe, including his wife and daughter. He was soon caught and shot dead by the sheriff (the late Robert Z'dar of the Maniac Cop franchise) and the town he terrorized hardly celebrated Easter since then. Cutting forward to the present and we have the members of an indie band called The Heart Eaters visiting Fisher's hometown for a rockin' Easter weekend. One of the members just so happens to be the surviving son of the infamous bunny-masked killer and as a final 'fuck you' to his homicidal father, the dude decided to play around with a spirit board so he can say all the nasty shit he always wanted to against the fella.

And wouldn't you know it, this allowed the soul of Douglas Fisher to possess his son and start another killing spree. Well, shit, who didn't see that coming?

Easter Sunday (2014)
is a difficult movie to watch, in all honesty; the micro-budget production is distractingly evident as a good deal of the kills were enhanced with CG, the sound mixing is atrocious that the background tune is often louder than the audio and a lot of the camera work is boring and dull. I would and could tolerate all of these shortcomings if the story and tone is any better, but with the characters, including the damn killer, acting like overly exaggerated cartoon caricatures spouting painfully unfunny lines for comedic purposes simply made the film too juvenile and desperate to be enjoyable. Like, really, it's torture enough that none of the so-called jokes and one-liners hit, but they just have to make everyone be doofuses who can't stop yapping at how supposedly hilarious their shenanigans are. Look, I get it, it's a tongue-in-cheek homage to old school 80s slashers and I can respect that but, yeah, the level of goofiness here tries too hard to be funny, it fumbled. A lot. 

Frankly, Easter Sunday (2014) is less of a working movie and more of an endurance test at how much low-budget shlock one can take. I can't trash it completely since this is Robert Z'dar's last acting role before he passed away in 2015 and I will give the movie the grace of at least giving him a good role, but this one simply isn't for me. Trash it along with the other stale Easter goods.

1 male had his throat cut with an axe, head crushed with a thrown log
1 female had her face dunked in a boiling pot of water, head repeatedly stomped on
1 girl hacked with an axe
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female seen murdered
1 male shot
1 female had her head crushed
1 male decapitated with an axe
1 female split in half with an axe
1 male beaten to death with a baseball
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male had his throat cut with a knife, gets drizzled with hot oil
1 male and 1 female found murdered
1 male decapitated with an axe
1 female had her head stomped on
1 female had her neck snapped
1 male decapitated with an axe
Total: 18

Thursday, March 21, 2024

#RUSHSLOTH: Slotherhouse (2023)

Slotherhouse (2023)
Rating: ***
Starring: Lisa Ambalavanar, Sydney Craven, Andrew Horton

We have slasher films featuring grizzly bears (i.e. Grizzly Park (2008)), wolves (i.e. Wolfen (1981)) and, heck, even sharks (i.e. Shark Night (2013)). Now, we welcome the newest addition to the killer animal sub-genre, one that is prowled by a deadly, dangerous, despicable, dastardly denizen of the Nicaraguan Jungle: a baby sloth.

Obsessed with becoming the next Sigma Lambda Theta sorority president, Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) would soon find herself talking to a friendly fella at a mall who claims to be selling a variety of pets, including exotic ones, suggesting that she should get herself a unique furry friend to boost her image and impress her sorority sisters. Unbeknownst to her, the guy is actually an animal trafficker, one who recently poached a baby sloth straight out of her home and would have the worst of luck when said sloth turns out to be psychotic. Very psychotic. Murderous, even. And yet, when Emily arrives to pick up the sloth, blissfully unaware of the freshly mutilated poacher, the two appear to have formed a bond and the bouncy sorority senior gets a big shot of popularity when she suggests making her new sloth, Alpha, the mascot of their house.

Thus the race to campus house presidency begins, with Emily butting heads against resident mean girl Brianna (Sydney Craven) and Alpha surprisingly adapting well to her new home, mastering mobile phones and laptops, hanging out with friends and even helping out Emily with her goal of winning the election. Through murders. Lots of murders. So much so that by the end of it all, the girls of Sigma Lambda Theta will have no choice but to fight back and survive Alpha's Slotherhouse~!

If you're gonna sit and watch Slotherhouse (2023) expecting deeply complex characters, underlying messages of the evils of animal poaching and heart-stopping intensity in its murders, I say you're off your rockers, luv! It's a campus slasher with a baby sloth for a killer, it's as silly as it sounds and when approached with a leap of faith and a popcorn B-flick mindset, it's surprisingly good! 

The premise is simply fun for its honest ridiculousness, mixing the dumb hilarity of a killer sloth situation with the known slasher trope of sorority girls-in-peril well enough to make the absurd story work as a comical twist on your usual teen bodycounter and animals-gone-bad carnage. Its writing has a tongue firmly pressed in a cheek and the characters are an okay bunch despite lingering near the typical stereotypes of goody girls and queen bitches, with a notable few managing to deliver some genuine quirk and personality within the ensemble, courtesy of a quippy script and pretty alright acting for a B-grade production. The pacing does hobble a bit whenever the story decides to focus on the sorority girl drama and college life capers, though this is balanced and remedied with the unapologetically gimmicky yet fun shlock that is Alpha's misadventures of mischief, murder and mayhem!

For sure, the diminutive sloth is undoubtedly the highlight of Slotherhouse (2023) as not only does the critter act less like an actual animal and more of an anthropomorphized fuzzy menace capable of doing a real number on the kill count, giving her a tad more character and a further reason for this whole thing to be amusingly ludicrous, but she also earns the film a score of points for taking the time to bring the slasher sloth to life via practical puppet effects. The prop looks stuffy, yes, but it adds an old school flavor to its already nonsensical charm and dish out a lot of outrageous visuals to boot, especially during the times Alpha unleashes her inner psycho at just about anyone she comes across in the Sigma Lambda Theta house. A lot of cheekiness is to be expected around these killing sprees in turn, though I do wish we got a little bit more onscreen slaughter to go along with it as a good run of the violence was done mostly off-screen.

Completely looney in the best and most charming ways, Slotherhouse (2023) is a popcorn flick with the enthusiasm of being so bad, it's good. Bewildering yet entertaining under the right mood, this movie can be a real blast of a watch!

1 male mauled, clawed to death
1 female had her throat clawed out
1 female stuffed inside a sleeping bag, pushed off a bridge
1 female killed offscreen
1 female seen slaughtered
1 female beaten with a hair straightener
1 female killed, later seen with a Glasgow smile
1 female attacked, killed offscreen
1 female killed offscreen, later seen with a clawed neck
1 female killed with a mesh net ball
7 females electrocuted in a shower room with a live wire
1 female mauled to death
1 female dragged away, killed
1 female got clawed through the gut
Total: 20

Sunday, March 10, 2024

El Machete Satánico: The Curse of El Charro (2005)

The Curse of El Charro (2005)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Andrew Bryniarski, Danny Trejo, Drew Mia

Suffering from nightmares and bloody visions of a dark machete-wielding figure ever since she found her sister dead from suicide a year ago, Maria accepts an invitation from her roommate Chris to join her and her two friends, Tanya and Rose, at her uncle’s house in Saguaro, Arizona for some good old-fashioned debauchery, hopefully to get her mind off these ghoulish visages and relax a bit. Unbeknownst to her, these visions foreshadow a terrible fate upon her and her friends as Maria is actually a descendent of a girl from Saguaro who was terrorized and cursed by a wealthy yet diabolical land baron, El Charro, after she rejected his love for her. Now, El Charro wanders Saguaro as a murderous revenant, seeking to finish off the bloodline of the girl who broke his heart and he's going to do the same to just about anyone who gets in his way.

Or is simply in his way. As most undead murderers do. 

I wanted to like The Curse of El Charro (2005) a little more than your average slasher flick as it does have an interesting premise and some very artsy direction when it comes to its visuals, particularly during scenes involving horrifying visions and surreal nightmares. The mostly one-dimensional characters, though, as well as the fact that the plot really takes a while to get to the bloody massacre does test one's patience and knock the peg down a bit. 

The movie firstly spends a good deal of the its run on the girls' road trip misadventures like trying to seduce a horny cop into not busting them for speeding, encountering creepy rednecks at a dingy bar where the main attraction for the night is Lemmy Kilmister as a tuxedo-wearing crippled guy singing horribly off key, or picking up some guy dates who we all know are just there to boost up the bodycount, all the while our lead gal Maria's otherworldly trances kick in and out to keep things spooky. It isn't until the last act that our villain, the dirty poncho-wearing, mad machete-swinging El Charro finally waltzes in to do some murdering and, for its worth, the massacre is a messy yet respectable affair with a generous amount of blood work and sloppy body parts. The ending does veer into the outrageously silly with a downer of a swing, but at least it got a little chuckle out of me.

Bluntly, The Curse of El Charro (2005) is okay-ish. It certainly could've been better, but it's far from being completely awful. (I mean, it has Danny Trejo voicing El Charro. That has to count for something, right?) Pretty plain for a slasher flick and that's about the gist of it. 

1 female seen dead from slit wrists (flashback)
1 female killed with a machete (flashback)
1 female killed with a machete (flashback)
1 male hanged on a noose (flashback)
1 female decapitated with a machete
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 male slashed across the face with a machete
1 female had her jaw torn off
1 female had her throat slashed with a machete
1 female hacked to death with a machete
1 male decapitated offscreen, blood splash seen
1 female dragged away, killed offscreen
1 male hacked to death with a machete, decapitated
Total: 13

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

This is The Whack of Undertaker Zach: The Embalmer (1996)

The Embalmer (1996)
Rating: **
Starring: Jennifer T. Kelly, Kenneth E. Mullen, Myron Creek

Tell you a story about Undertaker Zach.
He killed his wife with a whack, whack, whack!
His daughter started cryin’ ’cause her mama was dead;
He shut her up by choppin’ off her head.

Life at home isn't good for Chiffon (real name Laura), not with her folks practically making a slave out of her, ordering her to do laundry, fetch beer and change TV channels using the dial before getting angry at her for blocking the damn screen. One night, though, this troubling sight got out of hand and next thing we see is that Chiffon's kicked out from her own house. Distressed, she calls her boyfriend Duane to pick her up after explaining what happened, who in turn calls his bud Archie to help them out as a favor and the guy tagged along his girlfriend Cindi because why the hell not? The gang basically decided to run away from their crappy lives that evening but, after running a red light, they got a little trouble with the law and got chased into hiding inside an abandoned house's garage. 

The stunt, unfortunately, killed the car's battery and the teens find out that not only did they lock themselves in by accident, but the house also once belonged to Dr. Zachary Harbotswood, AKA Undertaker Zach, a local urban legend who's known to have murdered his wife and daughter during a psychotic episode. Chiffon doesn't like this fact at all seeing she used to have nightmares about this place as a kid, but with no other plan at hand on how they'll get out of the house, the gang opted to stay put and just deal with the situation until they figure something out.

Badly acted melodrama here, a tame sex scene there, maybe even throw in a last minute nightmare sequence involving big snakes (both literally and figuratively), the foursome eventually encounters Undertaker Zach in the flesh, as well as a nasty little secret hidden down in the basement...

In a way, it's not hard to picture why this low-budget regional urban horror is so below the radar as instead of your typical bodycounter plot of murdered horny teens and angry maniacs, The Embalmer (1996) dragged its focus more on the somber schmaltz going on with our lead girl life, which frankly would have worked with the genuinely dark and uneasy issues tackled like trauma, child abuse and sexual assault, if only the tone and direction were anywhere as competent. It's simply difficult to buy into the seriousness of the subjects when most of the casts act their parts and deliver their lines like your everyday B-grade horror fodders, which can be either hilarious or bothersome, though I will give actress Jennifer T. Kelly for putting more effort in her role as the troubled main gal, Chiffon. Couple these with the usual talk of the killer's lore and sexy times under the sheets, and the film essentially yapped its way through a really clumsy and sloppy midsection.

Thankfully, the last twenty-some minutes picked up greatly as this is where the slasher elements kick in with a few good gore effects given the budget and, too, a fairly decent twist reveal that nicely leads to a surprisingly effective and satisfying conclusion that I didn't entirely see coming. It's a good enough take on the teen slasher set-up, one that kinda gives The Embalmer (1996) the potential to be a tolerable watch given, that is, you could overlook the distracting low cost production and the slow lumpy road. All in all, it's nowhere near being a real gem of a find, but it is an adequately interesting time waster should you ever need one. 

1 female slaughtered to death with a scalpel
1 girl hacked to death with a meat cleaver
1 male castrated with a knife, brained to death with a hammer
1 female stabbed to death with a scalpel
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel
1 male and 1 female killed offscreen with a knife
Total: 7

Blood-Splattered Saw Dust: The Carpenter (1988)

The Carpenter (Canada, 1988)
Rating: ***
Starring: Wings Hauser, Lynne Adams, Pierre Lenoir

Canada in the 80s pretty much gave us a good deal of golden age slasher cult classics like My Bloody Valentine (1981), Happy Birthday To Me (1981) and Prom Night (1980), but the country also brought upon a platter of weird ventures within the sub-genre such as the Dungeons and Dragons is Satanic-inspired Skullduggery (1983), the "Wendigo psychosis" leaning Ghostkeeper (1983) and this oddly surreal melodramatic bodycounter, The Carpenter (1988).  

The movie starts with the chillingly calm mental and emotional breakdown of housewife Alice Jarrett (Lynne Adams), who soon sees herself being taken away to a mental facility after her husband Martin (Pierre Lenoir) finds her cutting up one of his suits one day. Upon her release, Martin believes that a change of scenery is in order so he bought them a house at a countryside that's currently being worked on by cheap and rowdy construction crew. That night, though, after the workers gone home, Alice is awaken by a lone carpenter (Wings Hauser) still busying himself down in the basement and the two have an unusually cordial conversation about his work, ending with Alice pretty much just leaving the guy to do whatever he needs to fix up the place.

Things go pretty hairy when Martin leaves for work one day, leaving Alice all on her lonesome when one of the crewmen got more than a tad tipsy drunk that evening and breaks into the house to assault her. Fortunately for our housewife in distress, her friendly neighborhood carpenter is there to protect her. Unfortunately for our would-be rapist, said protection involves getting both of his arms sliced off with a circular saw. (Not that he minds, apparently. He looked more bewilderedly inconvenienced about losing those limbs than, I dunno, in complete, horrifying pain!) 

Alice would soon learn that the house once belonged to a man named Edward Byrd who fell into massive debt in his obsession of making his home perfect, only to be executed after killing several of the repo men sent after him. Edward now haunts the house, still trying to finish it, and Alice is shockingly okay with this! So much so that when Ed starts murdering away more and more of the crewmen who he sees doing wrong to both the house and its new lovely owner, Alice has no qualms of him massacring these people and, in one scene, appears to be more upset at that fact that he's awfully messy with the slayings! 

Needless to say, Alice is swooned by Ed's pleasantly hunky demeanor and good work ethics, overlooking the whole homicidal lunacy that goes with the package, and the ghostly carpenter himself returns her infatuation, promising more bloodshed to whoever comes between them. 

Directed by David Wellington (who would later do a lot of TV work like Vikings and Orphan Black) and written by Doug Taylor (of Splice (2009) and A Christmas Horror Story (2015)), The Carpenter (1988) is a strange piece of 80s Canuxploitation bodycounter that builds itself more around the ghostly theatrics between Lynne Adam's mentally troubled spouse and Wing Hauser's unhinged gentleman of a paranormal handyman, only to juxtapose to the nasty killings here and there in an unusual dream-like direction. The result is often goofy as the supernatural psychodrama doesn't really have the solid footing to be as captivating as the unhealthy growing romance between the living and the undead implies here. Instead, it all comes out more hammy for how it is scripted, acted and edited, all sided with touches of eccentricities like the overuse of dissolves to transition from scene to scene or Alice's overly offbeat reactions, implying a form of crazed whimsy from her point of view. It's serviceable so long as you find the unintentional hilarity of the film's nutty arthouse aesthetic and as a slasher, The Carpenter (1988) ain't too bad.

The kills themselves aren't that loud and splashy (strange coming from a film that have power tools for murder weapons, honestly) and the pacing really do takes its time getting around to them, but I have to commend at just how odd the interactions are during and after each murder between Alice and Ed, as if the act of killing is just something the two can do and witness while talking about how good the weather is! It also helps that Wings Hauser is practically tailor-made for his role as the titular carpenter, doing the ole' wisecracking villain trope popularized by one Elm Street's Fred Krueger, only with a good dose of Southern politeness and neighborly sweetness that made a lot of his scenes an intriguing watch. His delivery is spot-on to the craziness of the villain, maniacally dispatching one poor soul a minute, being shy about it in the next. The movie did falter a little in its last act as all the oddities made about Alice being so nonchalant with all of the bloodshed gets discarded way too easily for a by-the-book horror finale, making the fantastical, rather upbeat turn of events feel kinda undeserved for how much it just came out of left field. 

Still, the majority of the product has some hokey charm to it, making The Carpenter (1988) a decent enough title for lovers of quirky horror and obscure slashers to try out. It's a sublime blend of several moods and ideas, mostly succeeding in its own curious yet entertaining way.

1 male had his arms cut off with a circular saw, killed
1 male gets a belt sander to the face
1 male powerdrilled to the throat
1 female shot to death with a nail gun
1 male pinned to the floor with screwdrivers to the hands, head crushed with a vise
Total: 5