Monthly Archives: October 2012
Halloween Camp 2003
aka Bloody Murder 2
Directed by: Rob Spera
Starring: Katy Woodruff, Tyler Sedustine, Amanda Magairian
Review by Luisjo González
I’m not ashamed to say that I loved the time that I spent in Russia. It’s my second home. Pelmeni, Okroshka, Baltika Beer, stunning historical architecture, the greatest vodka available on the planet and the most beautiful, cultured and passionate women that you’ll ever meet. I like it so much that if I could guarantee a similar salary and had no need for a Visa to work, I’d be living there, now. In the eighties though, they unleashed something upon us that was almost unforgivable and could have ruined their nation’s beauty. No, I’m not talking about the cover up of Chernobyl, I’m talking about the Lada Riva. At the age of fifteen when I was learning to drive, I bought one for £40 in order to train myself on the fields behind my house and have a few laughs. The biggest laugh though was on me. There are a tonne of mocking skits about this particular model of automobile and a popular Jeremy Clarkson video where he destroys one in jest, so I don’t need to go in to detail on why that heap of junk was so pitiful. One question that is very difficult to answer though is why was it ever produced?
The same query can be levelled at today’s film of choice, Halloween Camp. Even more so when you check out its other release title: Bloody Murder 2. It’s a follow up to Ralph Portillo’s film from 2000 and if ever in the whole history of moving pictures there was one that didn’t deserve a sequel… Well, you get the idea. We won’t talk too much about Portllo’s bore-fest now, because I’m saving that for another day. A day when I’m angry or really need to rant at something. Suffice to say, as Randy correctly stated in Scream 2, second-chapters are rarely better than the first in cinema. So I got prepared, Russian Vodka in hand, for a follow-up on what had reached new levels of cinematic dross for me previously…
A group of counsellors have stayed behind to help clear up Placid Pines Summer Camp. One of them is the sister of a guy who has been missing since a gruesome spate of murders five-years earlier. The killer was never captured though and is still wanted by local cops. When teens begin disappearing, we realise that there is a masked killer on the loose..
Expectation is an odd thing. Hundreds of fans were disappointed recently with Prometheus. In fairness it was slightly flawed, but if it had not been marketed as a prequel to Alien, would the reception have been different? The human mind does build us up for stuff all the time and often it can be the downfall of a specific experience. For example, you go on holiday somewhere nice. The food’s great, the wine’s amazing and you can’t stop looking at the snaps when you get home. Based on that vacation, you book again to go a second time and it’s not quite as good as you remembered. Why is that always the case? Well, we seem to have a habit of automatically setting the perception bar at unreachable heights, so unless something absolutely amazing happens, your expectations will never be fulfilled. It’s a shame that we don’t just have some kind of meter in our brains that we can set to zero before each new event in our lives. That way, there would be less disappointment and everything could be judged, well, without any bias.
That philosophy might help us 99 times out of 100; but Halloween Camp was one of the rare occasions where already thinking that I knew what was coming worked to the film’s favour. You see, I was waiting for a boring and snooze inducing cesspool and what I got was well… dare I say it? Actually quite good. You see, what we have here is a tribute to the slashers of old and not so much an ‘I know the rules’ Scream clone. There’s a woodland setting, a campfire story scene, a masked maniac and a fair dose of el cheapo gore. So in other words, we have all the things that we associate with a good ol’ killer in the woods flick. The fact that the plan was to take us back to retro splatter rather than the modern style of slasher action, means that we have an unexpectedly exciting time with what we are given.
I had a look at the previous work of director Rob Spera, because I thought that his genre knowledge may stem from the fact that he already had a slasher addition under his belt. He did shoot a horror flick in the heavily-populated year of 1988 no less, but sadly, Witchcraft was more a rip-off of Rosemary’s Baby than it was Rosemary’s Killer. He most definitely had enjoyed watching his fair share of stalk and slash classics though, even if it was only for research purposes before he began work on this entry. Despite generally steering clear of parody, there were a few scenes of self recognition of the category’s trappings. The one black dude in the cast, Elvis, has some witty dialogue, admitting that he was going to die no matter what because ‘black guys always do‘. I was actually fairly disappointed when he went, because he was the coolest character and the easiest to like. During the same conversation that I highlighted above, the bunny that he was speaking to says, “Girls always bite it early in these movies (too), usually after showing their boobs”. This leads to a fairly unique aspect about the plot, because Camp has just the one female victim. She is, of course, the only chica that whips off her undies! On that note though, I’m not sure if in an uncut version, Juanita, the Latino servant, also gets killed. She does seem to ‘disappear’ quite bizarrely. Why is it always Latinos that are the servants nowadays? Another film stereotype that gets overlooked? Maybe…
The murders are one of the film’s best handled aspects. They are gory; incredibly so. But what really impressed me was that they’re unusually sadistic. The youngsters here don’t just get their throat sliced quickly and then get dragged off screen. Instead, they are made to seriously suffer and the death scenes are some of the longest and nastiest that I have seen. Our first victim has both of his legs chopped off and attempts to crawl away, only to get his head crushed with a rock. Another gets shot through the throat with an arrow and then buried in mud whilst he is dying. My favourite though, was the murder of Elvis’ character that I told you about earlier. He really didn’t want to die and fought quite frantically with his assailant until he quite literally could fight no more. Ray Smith’s entire portrayal was really convincing and he was the best of a pretty mediocre bunch of performances. There’s a scene early on, (the first filmed?) where the characters chat like they are standing in different rooms and there’s no real chemistry in their delivery. This does improve as we roll on, but the dramatics are most definitely NOT the film’s strong point.
Thankfully, the cinematography here is much more deserving of praise and was at times really impressive. There’s some good shock tactics used to help deliver an atmosphere, including flashing lights when one guy gets ruthlessly butchered. The producers have done a slick job, which means that Camp looks the business and there was seriously very little that I could find fault with.
In 1,000 years time, if we humans haven’t already all killed ourselves and our ancestors choose to look back on the slasher cycle, they will probably not notice the gap between the overkill years of 1978 – 1988 and the Scream-started re-birth of 1996. If that were the case, updated fashions aside, you could put Halloween Camp quite comfortably along side the likes of The Prey, Madman Marz and the rest of those killer in the woods flicks. It has gore, an intriguing mystery (random, but hard to guess), a really hot chica (Amanda Magarian – wow) and a fun packed 82 minutes. Put it this way, to get back to how I started my review; if Lada had followed up the Riva with an Escort XR3i, this would be the same level of improvement. Watch it!
Final Girl: √√
Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us and also Happy Halloween!
Yes it’s our first year on the web!!!!
Actually it was our Birthday 24 days ago, but we had such a hangover from the massive anniversary celebration that I thought that I’d push our announcement up to share the date that John Carpenter changed our lives in 1978.
You should of seen the party though. We had a fancy dress theme and squires Voorhees, Myers, Moorhouse, Wallace et al all turned up in appropriate masks. I have to say a massive thanks to Felony who supplied the music on stage. Their rendition of a tune called ‘Gangster Rock’ (it lasted 1,298 minutes) was exactly what the party needed. Security was provided by Matt Cordell, Sheriff Dean and Officer Joe Vickers, who did an astounding job. We also had some lovely ladies in attendance, including Laurie Strode, Ginny Fields, Virginia Wainwright and Jody Marken. That pesky reporter Gale Weathers was trying to blag VIP tickets, but we set Ghostface on her and that my friends was the end of that.
Also it’s Halloween yay! What will you watch? What will happen? I’ve got a themed review of the shock that is Halloween Camp. I hope that you enjoy it 🙂
Thanks so much for your visits to the site. We are getting bigger month on month and it is all thanks to you peeps 🙂
HAPPY HALLOWEEN :)))
Phantom Brother 1988
Directed by: William Szarka
Starring: John Gigante, John Hammer, Cheryl Hendricks
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Woo-wee!!! You know those times when you have a few beers too many and your head pounds like a bass drum? Well Phantom Brother is the stalk and slash equivalent of that feeling. Allow me to catch my breath… One second. Ok right, let me attempt to explain…
I have owned the VHS of this one for literally ages and its been peering at me from my shelf for as long as I can remember. There has been many a time that I’ve stumbled home late and been in the mood for some slasher action and I’ve picked up this cover only to put it back down and watch something else. I can’t explain exactly why I never had the urge to see it, but I guess that I had the feeling that it was another Splatter Farm or Death Nurse quality hunk of junkola. How wrong I was.
Four ‘young adults’ head off in to the forest, where there’s an old abandoned house that is perfect for a spot of rumpy pumpy. One of the girls senses danger, so she wants to wait outside with her beau, whilst the other couple head on upstairs. The guy shouts all the time with an obvious Brooklyn accent and has a hairstyle that looks like someone has skinned a wolf and put the fur coat on his head. His partner could most definitely do with discovering a washing machine, but has arguably the most fantastic natural boobs that I have ever seen. Seriously, they’re amazing. Anyway, they’re not at it for long, when a loon in a great mask/hood combo jumps out and kills them both with a kitchen blade. The guy downstairs hears a scream and shoots off to check it out, but he also meets his end via a bloody tracheotomy.
The last remaining chica decides against following them to their doom and instead runs off to look for help. She bumps in to Abel, who promises to go and take a look, but seems to know more than he cares to let on about the dilapidated abode. We learn that it used to belong to his family, before they were all killed in a car accident in which Abel was the only survivor. The remaining spirits of his mother and sister haunt the woodland along with his ‘Phantom Brother’ who enjoys nothing more than murdering trespassers with his trusty blade.
Abel is disgusted with the antics of his family, but there’s very little he can do except clean up after them. He does however have feelings for the unfortunate surviving girl who is curious about what happened to her friends. They partake in an ‘awkward’ getting to know you scene that goes something like: Girl: (Jill) You’re very nice. Guy: (Abel) You’re groovy. Jill: You’re sweet. Abel: You’re happening. Jill: You’re interesting. Abel: You’re pretty. Jill: You’re bleeding. Abel: You’re observant. And on and on and Ariston… Can he protect her from his murderous hermano whilst at the same time cleaning up the blood from the multitude of victims?
Phantom Brother is in many ways a really authentic piece of slasher hokum. Much like Evil Laugh, it’s a parody of the genre it frequents, but it’s also one of the VERY few horror comedies that actually works. There’s a good example of the cheeky humour about halfway through that I have to tell you about. Abel has arranged to meet Jill at the horror house that is frequented by the murderous trio. He informs us over narration (the vocal story guidance is another unique aspect) that he is running late because he stopped off to purchase some condoms, ‘just in case’. When he gets there, his date is nowhere to be seen because unbeknownst to him, she’s been tied up by his maniacal bro. The voice over continues, ‘I hoped that nothing bad had happened to her and also wondered if the chemist would give me the money back for the condoms if it had’. Brilliant.
It’s not that there are loads of hilarious lines throughout the picture, it’s just that it is totally weird and if it had have taken a more serious approach, I don’t think things would’ve worked. There’s so much going on that in order to tell you everything I’d need to buy a new server to handle the amount of paragraphs, so I will try to keep it as condensed as possible. Suffice to say that various plot-branches pop-up that are arranged solely to give us more victims to kill off. The special effects are really bargain basement and are pretty much just a few lashings of corn syrup and dismembered body parts. There was one seriously good throat-slashing though and there is a fairly humongous body count. People could have thought that maybe it was too supernatural to be a typical stalk and slash movie, but that isn’t the case at all. It also includes a really good twist that I was not expecting and it ties things together nicely.
The mystery-aspect helps to keep things rolling at a great pace and some of the cinematography is really impressive. The score is a bit manic. Almost like Jan Hammer had sniffed a gram of pure cocaine and then attempted to do a cover version of the Halloween medley, but I guess it suits the film’s atmosphere. The bad acting also helps the cheesiness and it’s one of those mega rare occasions where the overall amateurism works to the film’s favour. Professional crews don’t make movies like this and so it’s nice to find one that’s not exactly ‘so bad it’s good’, but more ‘quite bad but at the same time pretty good’, if you get what I mean.
It was shot by a gang of acquaintances who really wanted to jump aboard the SOV horror bandwagon. Director William Szarka has previously worked on the godawful Plutonium Baby, but had walked off set after a disagreement with his camera operator. Here they get it just about right by giving us a cheesy dose of slasher trash with enough ingenuity for it to stand out from the crowd. It’s an interesting movie that packs in bundles of strange situations and a superb guise for its psycho killer. High alcohol intake aside, I really enjoyed it and am surprised that I haven’t seen it before. The corny attempts at humour are not as despicable as usual because the movie is not trying to be two things at the same time and it sets the goofy tone early on. Whilst I have never been a fan of stupid comedy mixed with slasher shenanigans, this one somehow managed to get the blend spot on.
It’s not often that I will tell you to track down an obscurity here on a SLASH above, but this one’s well worth a punt. I had a great time watching it and I am sure that you will too. It’s incredibly hard to find, but if you can grab a copy for a couple of quid, then by all means add it to your collection. I think that because I was expecting something really awful, I was really surprised with what I got. If you like ’em cheap and quirky, you should feel the same. Cheryl Hendricks’ breasts alone are worth the purchase price…
Killer Guise: √√√√
Final Girl: √√
Violent Shit 1989
Directed by: Andreas Schnaas
Starring: Wolfgang Hinz, Volker Mechter, Christian Biallas
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
What should I have expected from a movie that says, ‘Experience a lesson in real BAD taste’ and ‘Expect the worst’ on the front cover? Featuring a bogeyman called K. the butcher shitter and produced by the violent shitters? This was the debut of loud-mouthed German gore fiend Andreas Schnaas. A director who is renowned for little more than releasing ‘films’ that would get banned in most countries for their titles alone. I met him once and to say that he ‘lights up a room’ would be something of a foolish understatement
Shot on the equivalent of a camcorder, Violent Shit makes Nail Gun Massacre look like Spielberg helmed it in his spare time under a pseudonym. Seriously, this isn’t a movie at all; it’s more like an exercise in restraint. Sitting through the whole eighty minutes is like being locked in a room with Peewee Herman and not killing him. A task that, if completed, will prove a man’s machismo so decidedly, that he will be able to walk proudly for the rest of his life. If you’ve read more than one review on a SLASH above, you’ll see that I’m a forgiving fellow. I’d have to be, because I’ve seen some utter crap in my life. This however wipes the existence of the worst of them from my memory. Quite how it went on to spawn three sequels is amazing, and how the crew behind the production was not imprisoned for some kind of breach of human rights was a further miracle. Still, I’ve started my review so I may as well tell you what left me so bemused.
The credits roll over a child playing in some woodland with a ball. He goes home and his mother threatens him, saying “You wait. Get in here” The door closes and we hear a somewhat leisurely squawked scream. It looks as if the youngster killed his mum with a meat cleaver, because he comes outside splashed in blood with the weapon of choice in his hand. Two decades later, the Police (or Polizei) are transferring the demented looking bogeyman to, erm, well, we don’t ever learn. Thankfully, an officer sums it up neatly for us, “Now we have to work overtime to bring these retards back to their holes!” I couldn’t have put it better myself. I must comment on the security, which was questionable to say the least. I mean, is that how they transfer homicidal maniacs in this part of Deutschland? In a VW camper without any bars on the windows or dead locks on the door? Hmmm.
Anyway, one of the crew makes the fatal mistake of giving in to the call of nature and returns to find his buddies bloodily dispatched. I thought the killer (we don’t find out his name) was giving one of them a love bite, but I guess he was supposed to be munching his neck. After shouting, “Stop you pig, or I’ll shoot” the last man standing meets his bloody end by a patently cardboard machete to the shoulder. His demise was undoubtedly his own fault for leaving such a deadly blade inside the van with a nut-job in the first place. But hey, I guess his rampage had to be kicked off somehow. Without mentioning the fact that this constabulary’s methods for transferring psychopaths certainly needed a complete overhaul, let’s just say that the butcher ends up roaming the countryside and killing everyone that he bumps into on his journey.
The ‘plot’ here is as thin as the elastic on Rita Ora’s knickers and equally as overused. The maniac legs it around some greenland with a blade in his hand and a scar on his cheek(s) offing anyone that he stumbles upon. The first, a woman driving along listening to UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ (has Schnaas been sued or did he buy the rights? – I very much doubt it!) breaks down, then gets thrown on the floor and her breast cut off. After some bizarre camera work involving the photographer spinning the camcorder in circles (yes, you’ll get a headache) a guy gets his penis chopped in half. All these sequences are shot in unflinching close-up with paint-red blood spraying unconvincingly over the surroundings. Next up, an unfortunate gardener with a vulgar tongue gets cut in half with a hedge trimmer and then his head is chopped in two. The final excuse for gratuitous gore that I’ll tell you about (although there’s plenty more throughout the eighty minute runtime), involves a woman getting split in half from the vagina upward. Then the killer (we still didn’t learn his name) disembowels her and chucks her intestines, liver and every other organ that Schnaas could find a close replica for on the floor in front of the camera. I’m making this sound a whole lot better than it actually is, but keep in mind that the ‘acting’ is no less than ridiculous, the music is played separately from the dialogue (what do you expect from a camcorder) and the lighting stinks.
At one-point things got all anti-religious when the nut-job sticks his head in, I guess what’s supposed to be Jesus’ stomach. We don’t get an explanation as to why, there he is – the son of God – stuck on a crucifix out in the middle of the woods. Unless i had fallen asleep and dreamed the whole thing though, it did most definitely happen. And the ending, oh yes the ending. What the hell?
There’s loads of pointless padding, like endless driving sequences showing cars heading down long, boring roads that never amount to anything and there’s some X-rated dialogue that brings about a giggle if you’re in to that kind of thing. I guess we can forgive some of the inconsistencies, seeing how this was made tongue in cheek to be consumed in the same manor. But to be honest, a lot of the pointless exploitation was a little too sickening and not in a good way.
The budget was a modest 2k and they did the best they could, which is quite an amazing achievement. Think about it like this. I am posting a review here some twenty three years later of a film that cost as much to make as a return flight from London to Vegas. Perhaps, Schnaas should have started himself a career in special effects, where he could put his clearly visible talents to use with more experienced filmmakers. I am not a big fan of gratuitous perversion and vulgar language and I guess that’s why movies like this will only appeal to gore hounds that are truly forgiving.
What’s left for me to write about Violent Shit? Is it Violent? Yes, very. But don’t forget, it’s also a steaming pile of….! You get the picture.
Masque of the Red Death1989
Directed by: Alan Birkinshaw
Starring: Frank Stallone, Brenda Vaccaro, Christine Lundé
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
This is an update of my IMDB review from January 2005. I wanted to post it here, so last night I watched the film again. I must be the one of the few people alive who has seen this ‘classic’ more than once. (The rest were probably crew members) If there’s anyone else that has achieved this feat, I take my hat off to you…
Alan Birkinshaw’s Masque of the Red Death was one of two movies released in the same year that attempted to give a classic Edgar Allan Poe tale the full slasher makeover. Gerard Kikoine’s abysmal Buried Alive was the second of the pair to secure a worldwide release, but both efforts were heavily panned and didn’t take too long to vanish into obscurity. Buried Alive was notable mainly for two cast-related reasons. Firstly, it was the last screen role for horror vet John Carradine before his untimely death in 1988. Secondly it is perhaps most curiously remembered for an awful performance from the usually reliable Donald Pleasance.
At first glance I hoped that Masque’s intriguing premise would be enough to make it the better of the efforts. It boasts an interesting ensemble of prolific B-movie faces and also a killer’s disguise to rival the hilarity of the costumes featured in both Girl’s Nite Out and Killer Party.
Eccentric millionaire Ludwig (Herbert Lom) is hosting a masked ball at his huge 18th-century castle in honour of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. The party-goers are all rich and famous celebrities that owe a majority of their fortune to the mysterious bachelor. All except Rebecca Stephens (Michelle Hoey) who is nothing but an ambitious journalist that has forged a dodgy invitation to get a story on the conceited actress, Elaina Hart (Brenda Vaccaro). During the eighties, not many fancy dress parties commenced without someone ending up splattered (think – Hack-O-Lantern, Terror Train, Small Town Massacre, Killer Party etc) – and this one certainly isn’t looking to break the mould in that respect either. Before long a maniac wearing a disguise that’s hilariously similar to that of a Star Wars Imperial Guard begins hacking his way through the guest list using various imaginative methods. So who is this maniacal intruder and what are his motives for murder?
Wow! The fromage is spread thick and fast throughout this goofy slasher like lunchtime at a mall-cafeteria after a weekend’s famine. As soon as I saw a typical mid-eighties soft rawwwwwk group turn up with an entourage of female dancers that sported hair higher than the Ronettes’ beehives, I knew that I was in for something that a straight vodka would most definitely help with. Or perhaps two. Or three…?
The story is ‘interestingly’ structured so that victims wander off to their doom in the most hilarious of ways. At midnight for example, the revellers are invited to partake in ‘King Ludwig’s great Easter egg hunt’. This of course means that they can split up to stroll around the castle whilst sporting fashions that even The Village People would flee from. They are finally rescued from further humiliation by the blade of the maniac, whose ‘scary’ killer-guise is one of my favourite of the genre. When the guests finally realise that there is a psycho roaming the stone corridors, Ludwig has the ingenious idea of locking everyone inside for six hours for reasons that remain unexplained. He’s not even the murderous psycho? This leads to perhaps the biggest laugh-out-loud moment of the bunch when Frank Stallone is confronted by the assassin and decides to grab a sword and square-up for a fencing contest. I guess I shouldn’t really have to tell you that he gets exactly what he deserves.
Now for an ancient castle, I do have to admit that Ludwig’s abode was incredibly high-tech. He had fitted alongside the usual couches and bed linen an impressive bundle of gadgets, which included video surveillance and electronic gates that a billion chainsaws couldn’t cut through. All that security, but no space for a phone, radio or any such appliance to make contact with the outside world? Ummm okey…
If you’ve stumbled upon my website, then I’m guessing that you’re a genre regular and by now must have seen a cheesy eighties slasher movie and are fully prepared to take-on the wealth of ‘underwhelming’ performances. Frank Stallone manages the only two emotions he can muster: cheesy and mega cheesy, whilst the rest of the cast look to be comfortably going through the motions. I did however like watching Christine Lundé, who suspicious accent aside, at least made the most of her ‘a tad more than eye candy’ role, Look out for the laughable final scene that sees the heroine and the unmasked killer scrap like junior kids in a school playground – truly a spectacle fit for the ‘King’ Ludwig. I am sure that he was really impressed. Or was he dead by then? Darn I don’t remember…
Thankfully some of the murders were quite imaginative and even go as far as to include a couple of ‘death traps’. Birkinshaw, a name that you should have seen by now after his work on Ten Little Indians, Killer’s Moon (not a slasher) and Don’t Open ’til Christmas, shows that he knows a thing or two about horror. I liked the scene that saw an unfortunate female get chained beneath a swinging axe-like pendulum that was motorised by a huge clock. As the seconds tick away, the blade drops an inch closer to her throat and if the minute hand reaches twelve, then it’s adiós from her. He builds a nice slice of suspense with the set-up, especially as we see Rebecca struggling desperately to free the victim from certain demise. There are also a couple of other fairly gruesome moments that I won’t spoil for you, but I have to say that when the killer is finally revealed, it does somewhat leave you scratching your head in confusion at how he managed to orchestrate such mayhem.
On the plus side, Scott Wheeler’s tacky gore-lite effects are good fun and there’s a fair few of them for you to feast on. Also, fans of trashola will be in heaven, because as I have eluded to throughout, there’s more corniness here than at a Unicorn’s Acorn convention in Cornwall.
I finished my initial review of this with the line: There’s really nothing solid here to recommend and Masque fails on almost every level. Now I want to update that with, This is complete eighties trash and if you haven’t seen it, your life will never be complete.
Killer Guise: √√√√√
Final Girl: √√
Directed by: Michael J. Gallagher
Starring: Caitlain Gerad, Melanie Papalia, Roger Bart
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Those of you that are connected to the a SLASH above Facebook page may recall that recently I mentioned that I’d been invited to an early showing of the new horror film, Smiley. As it was in the US, I thought nothing of it until as luck would have it I had to fly out there on business. Not being one that’s scared of a few hours on a train as long as I have my trusty iPad, I took a slight detour and managed to catch it on the big screen.
I was born in 1981, so I never got the chance to see a slasher movie ‘live’ during the post-Halloween heyday. When Scream came out, I was fifteen years old and despite already being a massive collector on VHS, I missed out on that one too due to being caught up in teenage shenanigans. I have tried to make up for it as much as possible by attending almost every new release that gets a showtime in the UK or Europe since. I guess that the best experience that I have had so far was being one of the first to see the My Bloody Valentine remake in 3D. I blagged myself tickets to a pre-screener three-days before it showed nationally in the UK and if you search the web, you can probably still find my extremely positive review. You know what? I will have to look for it myself, take a second viewing of the film and post the update here.
I remember thinking then that the stalk and slash cycle was going to bounce back once again from the dead, just as it did in 1996. That didn’t quite happen though, so I’m always hopeful that the next picture that I witness in the cinema will be the one that awakens the slasher genre from its slumber. I read a few reports on Smiley whilst it was being produced and from what information I could gather, it looked to be fairly well-budgeted with a good idea for a plot. Me being me, I couldn’t help but think, ‘You know what? Maybe this time…
A young girl leaves her family home for the first time to go to college. Once she arrives, she is invited to a party, where she comes across the urban legend of a sadistic killer. Rumour has it that if you type, ‘I did it for the lulz’, on an Internet chat room three times, a masked maniac will slaughter the person that you are talking to. Most of the kids laugh at the story and think that the webcam videos floating around are phoney. Ashley feels differently however and under pressure from her friend, she decides to try it out for herself. When the guy that she’s speaking to gets stabbed by a masked loon, suddenly fear settles in. Soon local kids begin disappearing and it looks like the youngster is next on the killer’s list..
I looked this up on the IMDB just now and it already has a score of 3.3. Just to put that in perspective, it shares a ranking on the world’s largest Internet movie site with Camp Blood. Think about that for a second and I’ll try to explain to you what I made of it.
When the second phase of slasher domination kicked off during the nineties, it was all about crossbreeding the style that we knew so well with something that had been tried before, but never taken to its maximum potential: satire. Kevin Williamson’s screenplay was sharp, witty and smart. When it was mixed with Craven’s experience and technical flair, the combination was highly successful and both critics and audiences swooned. You can’t knock Michael Gallagher for trying to mix two different cinematic tones in an attempt to reach a similar novel juxtaposition. Smiley does have a masked killer, a sensitive heroine, teenage victims and a shade of mystery to the maniac’s motive and identity. The plot here goes for a more psychological slant though and therefore sacrifices the opportunity for action scenes.
What do you expect when you sit down to watch a slasher film? Blood, suspense, nudity, gore, fun? None of those are the strongest points of Gallagher’s story and his movie tries to say so much that the real point gets lost somewhere amongst the crossroads of loose sub-plots. Is this a character study on a protagonist that’s emotionally vulnerable? Is it a social commentary on the effects of Internet trolling? Or is it just an ambitious slasher movie with a heavily flawed screenplay? I couldn’t really get my head around it and maybe I need to watch the film again when the DVD is released. What I did notice was that the dialogue really wants to come across as intellectual and instead it seems too desperate to impress. You want to sit down with me and talk philosophy? Great; pull up a chair and let’s begin. Do you want to do it whilst we’re watching a slasher film? No, of course you don’t. Gallagher’s ideas should not not in a million years have been included in a film of this kind. Also if you are looking to give your audience some examples of your intelligence, it may be better not to make the catchphrase of your movie, ‘I did it for the lulz’. Saying ‘Candyman’ three times is creepy, shouting ‘Madman Marz’ above a whisper is ominous. Typing ‘I did it for the lulz’ on MSN is plain stupid.
In honesty, I didn’t think that Smiley was as bad as it has been made out to be. It includes a lot of effective jump scares, a great performance from Roger Bart and a decent guise for its bogeyman. Actually it reminded me a bit of the mask that the maniac wore in the late nineties serial killer flick, Resurrection. There’s the usual amount of teen eye candy for both the guys and slasherettes and did anyone else notice that that Melanie Papalia looked a bit like Penélope Cruz? There’s a couple of attempts at suspense, but I guess that the main problem with a story that needs us to see murders over webcam is that it eradicates the chance of lengthy stalking sequences. This made it harder for Gallagher to develop a taut atmosphere.
The final ‘twist’ is a massive gamble that unfortunately doesn’t pay off. I really don’t want to reveal it, because you definitely won’t enjoy the film if you already know. I kind of had a feeling that it would end that way, so probably you will too. The majority of the people in the audience and especially the one that I saw it with were totally dissatisfied. Probably because the story was convoluted and leaves too many holes that weren’t filled.
Should you go and see Smiley at the cinema? I think it depends on the amount of spare time you have available and your budget restraints. If you chose it as your Saturday night feature after a hard week’s work and pay for premier seats, you might be disappointed. I wasn’t, because I quite liked the incorporation of pseudoscience in to the plot, the intriguing dialogue and the expressive ideas. Those looking for a typical dose of teenie kill cheese will not find their filling here.
This is most definitely not gonna re-launch the slasher film and I guess that I was most hopeful for that outcome. Instead it seems to have done the complete opposite and ironically, lines of Internet trolls have taken to social media sites and online forums to bash this movie. Whilst I feel that it is somewhat undeserving of such hatred, there’s no doubt in my mind that a huge opportunity has been missed.
Killer Guise: √√√√
Final Girl: √√√
Nightmare Beach 1988
aka Welcome to Spring Break
Directed by: Harry Kirkpatrick
Starring: Nicholas De Toth, Sarah Buxton, John Saxon
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Along with Ruggero Deodato’s Bodycount, Joe D’Amato’s Absurd, Claudio Fragrasso’s Night Killer and Michele Soavi’s Stagefright, Nightmare Beach is a mostly Italian produced slasher film that avoids its native trappings and overtly Americanises its backdrop. Shot in 1988, one of the most prolific years on the slasher timeline, it never came close in terms of popularity to those others that I mentioned and in effect is rarely noted by enthusiasts.
As time has gone by, it has become wrapped in something of a mystery as to who it was directed by. Check the IMDB and you’ll see that it is credited to Umberto Lenzi, but it was released as the work of an unknown by the name of Harry Kirkpatrick. It is not unusual for European exploitation directors to have a list of aliases as long as a desert highway and Joe D’Amato, Jesus Franco and Bruno Mattei would regularly churn out films under ‘Americanised’ names to assist with exposure to wider global audiences. (Franco used them because he would make two, sometimes three features from one production budget). It was believed for many years that Nightmare Beach was just Umberto operating under an assumed identity, but he recently said in an interview that Harry Kirkpatrick DID in fact exist and that the majority of this feature was shot by him with Lenzi only assisting in places.
Learning this information only raised more questions than it did answers and so I immediately began to try and find out a bit more about Mr Kirkpatrick. A quick browse on the IMDB brought up three people that have used that name. The first and most popular is Alec Baldwin, who adopted it as a pseudonym when he was displeased with the way that his directorial début ‘Shortcut to Happiness’ was cut during post production. Baldwin does like to reinvent himself every now and then, but shooting a cheesy slasher movie at the peak of his eighties prowess? No way – he definitely didn’t direct Nightmare Beach. (Even if it would have been an amazing twist if he had;)). Next up, we have Signor Lenzi, the guy that logic dictates would be the most likely ‘Kirkpatrick’. According to his own words though, he was barely involved with the actual development of this picture, so unless he isn’t being honest, we can cross him from our list. The third and last that appears on the IMDB search is James Justice, who has only two cinema credits, and one of those is as the screenwriter of Nightmare Beach.
So armed with that information, I did some further research and discovered the truth of the matter. Lenzi was hired by his Italian counterparts as the ideal lead for this project. Unfortunately, he had a huge falling out with the US-based producers and threatened to walk off set after only three weeks. The only friend that he had from the U.S. side of the crew was the aforementioned writer of the screenplay, James Justice. Justice used his bond with Lenzi to keep him on set as a consultant and with the film having to be completed quickly, Justice took over the alongside the experienced Italian. So ‘Harry Kirkpatrick’ turned out to be two people. And that my friends is the mystery solved.
So with that out the way, we can concentrate on the film, which launches seeing a guy get strapped to an electric chair. Eduardo ‘Diablo’ Santor, the leader of a gang of vicious bikers, has been accused of murder by the over zealous Police chief, John Strycher. The victim’s younger sister, Gail, is in the stands to watch him fry. As the executioner prepares to flick the switch, Diablo shouts that he has been set up and swears vengeance from beyond the grave. Sometime after, a killer dressed in motorcycle leathers with a tinted helmet begins stalking the local beach and slaughtering random teenagers. When the friend of one of the fatalities begins searching for clues, the maniac begins to target him and Gail…
Nightmare Beach is another title that I reviewed around ten years ago, but wanted to check out again to see what I would make of it after a second viewing. My post today is not so much an update as a total re-write of my thoughts on the movie, but there’s one thing that I said then that I still agree with: The best way that I can describe this flick to you is like an episode of Baywatch with a hooded killer running amok in the background. The action takes place around a beautiful Florida beach and the runtime is packed to the brim with bikinis, bad hair, muscle bound jocks, stupid pranks and metal music. They even manage to chuck in a wet T-shirt contest just for the hell of it! The ‘metal music’ that I mentioned is arguably the only rock slasher playlist, which didn’t make me want to turn down the volume to avoid a headache. The bands (including Rough Cutt) are pretty decent and were obviously captured on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, where glam and sleaze was hot stuff in 1988. It’s more Faster Pussycat than Slipknot, which is cool by me.
The bright photography and audacious sets do a grand job of making this look like a slickly produced feature, but it’s surprising that it shows literally *zero* signs of its Italian heritage. The music by Claudio Simonetti of the Goblin fame is unrecognisable from his previous work, there are no renowned European cast members and the humour remains exclusively American. Put it this way, if you hadn’t read somewhere that Lenzi and co were involved, you’d never guess that to be the case, although I must tell you about the one interesting reference that I noticed. A gang of bikers that play a huge part in the delivery of the plot, call themselves ‘The Demons’. In a not so sly nod to Lamberto Bava’s film of the same title, the troupe have the name embroidered across the back of their leather jackets using the distinctive logo of that feature.
On top of those nuisance motorcyclists, who at one point raid a Police station to rescue their leader in a scene that was obviously inspired by John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, we get our motorcycle helmet sporting killer. His method of slaughter is electrocution and he works his way through a large number of the aforementioned bit-part characters. He rides around on a Harley that has an ‘electric chair’ contraption on the back, but funnily enough he only uses it once or twice. The effects from Gary Bentley are cheesy as hell, but gory; and some of the murders are fairly brutal. I liked the death of the Police Chief the best, because he gets tied to the back of a motorbike and dragged off at high-speed. It reminded me of something that we might see in Mad Max, and to make it even better, John Saxon was playing the unfortunate cop. I have been a fan since I saw him in Enter the Dragon when I was a young child, but always thought that he was wasted in titles like Baby Doll Murders, Beyond Evil and Blood Salvage. It could be argued that he was a fan of B-movies, because he did in fact direct his own one, Zombie Death House in 1987.
With so much going on, you won’t fall asleep whilst watching Beach, but in honesty it does feel somewhat disjointed. I’m not sure if this was due to the problems behind the scenes? The characters are well written and with a cast that includes Lance LeGault, Michael Parks AND John Saxon, you’d think that the dramatics wouldn’t be an issue. The effort from everyone seems to be somewhat lacklustre though and the runtime is limp because of it. The two leads have absolutely no chemistry and Nichols De Toth is useless as the hero. He’s totally boring and doesn’t drink, rejects advances from a busty eighteen-year-old and does literally nothing of note throughout the whole film. I much preferred his friend, Ronnie, and his constant quips about nailing hotties and being on ‘beaver patrol’. He died far too early in the story and even if, admittedly, it was a pretty cool gore scene, his presence was missed when we were left with only Señor Tedium carrying the rest of the story.
There’s not really much suspense in any of the killings, the mystery is far too easy to figure out and it also makes literally no sense when it is revealed. With that said though, Nightmare Beach is a fun slasher flick with eighties action as bright as the photography of the sun kissed sandy beaches. It falls someway short of being a good addition to the category, but it’s worth watching all the same. Killers in motorcycle helmets have been here since Strip Nude for your Killer and I personally quite like the guise. Terror Eyes from 1981 also used it, but my favourite would have to be the wonderful duck-taped goofball maniac from Nail Gun Massacre. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean.
Something of an overlooked entry, I say give it a shot.
Killer Guise: √√√
Final Girl: √√
Fatal Pulse 2013
Directed by: Anthony J. Christopher
Starring: Joe Estevez, Michelle McCormick, Ken Roberts
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
There’s no doubt about it, the slasher boom of the eighties should always be traced back to the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Hot on its heels though, were two other key genre pieces that also became outlines for copycat titles to follow. Friday the 13th must take its share of credit for launching the mass of killer in the woods titles, which included Just Before Dawn, The Prey and more recently Camp Blood et al. Another offering that can also be attributed with generating a long line of mostly inferior imitations is Amy Holden Jones’ Slumber Party Massacre. Despite being received unenthusiastically by critics, Jones’ splatter flick went on to achieve cult status and inspired the likes of Sorority House Massacre, The Last Slumber Party, Blood Sisters, Cheerleader Massacre and Anthony J Christopher’s Fatal Pulse from 1988.
Sororities were never a safe place during the eighties and Fatal Pulse is no exemption to that rule. After co-eds begin turning up murdered around the campus, Jeff Kramer (Ken Roberts) is immediately put in the frame when it is revealed that he was the last person to see one of the victims before she was slaughtered. Aided by his lumbering buddy Mark (Blair Karsch), Jeff sets out on a mission to prove his innocence and catch the psychopath before he kills again. As the bodies pile up, Jeff begins to realise that his girlfriend Lisa (Michelle McCormick) could be next on the assassin’s list.
Fatal Pulse is truly a bizarre movie experience, which combines moments of mediocrity, stupidity, inadvertent comedy and uncomfortable brutality to conjure up a somewhat authentic juxtaposition. Technically, we are in amateur-ville once again and the performances from the unknown cast are completely awful. The hero of the feature (Ken Roberts) was the worst offender and boasted the expressive fluency of a turnip. Seriously, I have seen wooden bridges with more emotional definition. Michelle McCormick made for an incredibly unapproachable final girl and pretty much everyone involved delivered their lines with the conviction of a toilet cleaner on the day before retirement. They were not helped by a woefully uninspired script, which added just about every stereotype from the annals of bad-movie obscurity. Brad the obnoxious ‘tough guy’ was characterised as some kind of odd fifties ‘Grease’ throwback, whilst the token comic relief inclusion, Mark, was greeted by a peculiar ‘Boing!’ effect in the soundtrack upon his every arrival. Strangely enough, this even occurred during a suspense scene towards the film’s conclusion. Boing!
Director Anthony Christopher mimics the Giallo titans of yesteryear, by conveying every murder from the view of the black gloved assassin. Mario Bava was a master of creating artistic suspense in his set pieces, whereas Christopher fails to generate even a millisecond. Despite the disappointingly fast-paced nature of the murders, the merciless brutality of them does provide a somewhat reverse spiral on the quality of the feature. Even heavily financed slashers such as the latter entries to the Friday the 13th series failed to add convincing viciousness to their slaughters. Despite being laughably lacklustre in almost every department, Fatal Pulse is surprisingly sadistic in the way it draws out the suffering of its victims. The electrocution sequence was particularly mean spirited and ruthless. Any sense of dread or fear factor that could have been gained by a particularly savage antagonist is cheapened and therefore ruined by the fact that *every* female victim manages to flash her heaving breasts before being executed. An advertisement for feminism in the slasher industry Fatal Pulse certainly is not.
The score also becomes an irritation with consistent screeching synthesizer accompaniment, whilst the less said about the ‘jazz band on acid’ intro music, the better. As Fatal Pulse is a bad eighties movie, it characteristically offers its share of bad eighties movie moments, which have become lovably nostalgic for many retro cheese fans. Part of the story involves an un-engaging romance between the two emotionless leads. There are plenty of inadvertent laughs to be had when the couple go cycling to the strains of an eighties pop monstrosity. Also watch out for a bizarre and somewhat inexplicable scene involving comic relief character Mark (Boing!) and a Captain Marvell outfit. I won’t ruin it for you by describing it here, but it almost beggars belief.
The killer does have a fairly intriguing motive and to be fair the last 15 minutes manage to add the smallest possible dose of intrigue to the final conclusion. It’s tough to recommend Fatal Pulse for any kind of recognition though, because it is just too poorly conceived.
Another that has been completely overlooked on DVD, I think that even the most loyal slasher fan will find it tough to sit through. It does include some interesting killings (one girl has her throat sliced by a 12″ vinyl – WHAT?), but the lack of suspense, chills or shocks mean that there’s very little to provide scares. It just seems so carelessly misogynistic that it leaves a sour taste in the throat.
Final Girl: √
Porn Shoot Massacre 2009
Directed by: Corbin Timbrook
Starring: Robert Ambrose, Naomi Cruz, Nick Machado
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
As I write this, I’m thirty-one years old and still obsessed with tracking down and reviewing every slasher film ever released. Sometimes, even a few that haven’t been unleashed at all. Don’t ask me why I do it, because I’ll never know, but it’s probably a hobby that I’ll take to the grave with me. I might as well just have, ‘a SLASH above‘ written on my tombstone… Anyway, the people I associate and live with aren’t as keen on these pictures as me, so I generally convert them to MP4, load them on my iPad and watch away whilst on my way to work. This has never been a problem for me, until I got round to Porn Shoot Massacre. I was on a long train journey and in the seat opposite me, was a young and rather timid looking lady. I hit play and almost turned red when the first thing on the screen was a silicone embedded chica stark naked for about five-minutes. I turned my pad away from her line of sight a tad too late and I can’t imagine what she thought of me. Being caught watching what purely and simply looks like a porno movie on the train is not the best experience that I’ve ever had. I only have myself to blame though, because the warning is right there in the title.
Unlike Bloodbath in Psycho Town, Porn Shoot Massacre does not have a misleading moniker. We get porn, we get a shoot and we get a massacre. It does what it says on the tin. It’s another of those ‘charming’ zero budget new age features that chuck in an erotic angle to grab an audience. Other examples of this phenomenon are Fantom Killer, Massacre at Rocky Ridge and Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre. They are usually worthy only of being stacked in a pile and never watched again, but Rocky Ridge was unique enough to re-set my expectation levels. Could Colin Timbrook’s slasher do the same?
A new director in town is hiring all the local Adult talent for a shoot in an abandoned warehouse. They turn up to perform, but find his eccentric style somewhat overpowering. Soon it becomes apparent that there’s also a masked killer on set and they need to stick together to escape…
Many times in my short film reviewing history I have written quips like, ‘dramatics that would shame a porno film’. That’s not going to work here though, because the cast of Timbrook’s opus are pretty much all Adult movie stars. Damn, I’ll have to start thinking of something else cocky to write. Anyway, let’s get down to basics. What we have here is an exploitation flick that chooses boobies over blood and guts. If you love watching strumpets whip off their kits, then this is the place for you to be. We get various soft porn embraces with plenty of gusto and they even chuck in a lesbian scene just for the hell of it.
In between all that nonsense, we thankfully get reminded that we are watching a slasher film. The hulking killer turns up regularly to do his thing and the murders are fairly creative. He stalks throughout the shadows in a warehouse behind the set and picks off his victims when they wander out the back. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t see too much gore, but I think this is most definitely down to the financiers being priced out of their ambition by cigar chopping special effects guys and their high wage demands. The good news is that the low amount of crimson is kind of made up for by the pure brutality of the slaughters. Especially the first one, which is actually quite shocking.
Where the movie really surprised me was with its ambitious story. It’s a good attempt at building a macabre surrounding for the characters and a fairly authentic motive. It does suffer from predictability a bit, but I personally quite liked the conclusion. The performances are awful, but it’s worth mentioning the guy who plays the psycho killer. His grunting and heavy breath was effectively conveyed. We get a campy director, who also steals scenes for all the wrong reasons. The way he was dressed with his eighties Top Gun shades, thin moustache and ‘awkward’ beard made me think of the hilarious DJ from the old school slasher, The Scaremaker. Unfortunately the chances of him becoming a classic cheese-ball persona are ruined by poor dramatization, an awful attempt at an English accent and a late story revelation that totally ruins the cheesiness. Still, as you can see in the picture opposite, at least for a while, his image does bring a smile.
As I can’t really see too many young ladies liking this film, let me put it the simplest possible way to my male readers. You go to the disco to get your drink on. You are checking out the dance floor and getting ready to make your move. Do you go for A) the girl shaking her booty in the ‘belt like’ skirt and tattoos who invested $10,000 on ‘bodily improvements’. Or do you go for B) The shy little cutie in the corner that’s drinking a soda water and lime? If the answer to that question is A, then this my friends will light your fire. If you are choosing B, you will probably be as embarrassed as I was. I think my readers will have learned by what I write that I love women. Whilst it’s also true that I am a boob man, classless, silicone, whorey women are not my type.
Porn Shoot Massacre deserves a pat on the back for having one or two surprisingly effective flourishes. The only thing that ruins it for me is the skyscraper level of unnecessary nudity. The odd T&A shot is as much an ingredient to the cycle as a masked killer, but the stuff featured here makes this more smutty than creepy. I am not knocking that though. How could I with a film titled Porn Shoot Massacre? Features like these DO have an audience and this is most definitely one that can only be recommended to them. It’s nowhere near as atrocious as something like Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre, but I still think that most of you will find no real entertainment value.
If I ever see that lady on the train again, I’m going to make sure that I’m watching something like, Dear John or When a Man Loves a Woman. I still have nightmares about that unbelievably ‘uncomfortable’ moment. If you are reading my dear, I’m not a raving porn freak… Lol
Killer Guise: √√√
Final Girl: √
Bloodbath in Psychotown 1989
Directed by: Alessandro De Gaetano
Starring: Donna Baltron, Ron Arragon, Dave Elliot
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Some movies are overwhelming with a power to evoke passion in a viewer, which wraps them up in the director’s illusion throughout the runtime. A few motion pictures become truly life altering experiences, and Bloodbath in Psycho Town manages to fit in that category. The morning after I watched this barrel scraped ‘slasher’, I woke up to a hefty £200 pound fine for unpaid parking tickets that I was unaware that I had ever received. I got up and went to play for my local soccer team and we were knocked out of the London lower league cup by a crunching 3-0 defeat. Much later I received a phone call from the girl that I was seeing, telling me that she wanted to discuss a rumour that she heard about a ‘gentleman’s only’ weekend in Amsterdam, which I thought I’d got away with a few weeks earlier. Then to add more pain to this bizarrely unfortunate day, my beloved Arsenal were beaten 8-2 by their biggest rivals Manchester United in an early taster for the season ahead. Life looked pretty grim…
All these drastically unlucky occurrences began with ninety wasted minutes of my life that I spent in front of this totally forgotten Z grade Troma trash. It’s almost as if…well… the ESP plot line had escaped the feature and invaded my life. Hideo Nakata’s The Ring was a famous story about a video that could jinx viewers to the worst kind of misfortune. Well now I’m sure I’ve uncovered an earlier example of this bizarre phenomenon. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved when seven days had passed and I was still alive!
Eric and his girlfriend Donna head to the remote town of Casa Della with three days left to finish their video project for graduation. Eric has decided to make a documentary about the village because it has a long history of bizarre occurrences. They bed down at a dilapidated mansion, which is owned by Eric’s father and was the scene of a recent unsolved murder. Donna feels that the abode may well be haunted, but her boyfriend disagrees. The following day, the couple head out to interview the locals and ask them for their opinions on the tragedy that happened only a week earlier. All that they find in the town, is a group of psychic palm reading hippies, who seem afraid of Donna’s subtle telepathic abilities. Before long the inevitable hooded nut job turns up and begins stalking the dumb-as-you-like students. Despite being given hundreds of blatant warnings from residents and even voices from beyond the grave, they decide to get to the bottom of the mystery. Just who or what could be behind the recent disappearances?
There’s not too much to put into words about this one, mainly because not a great deal happens. I will tell you though that ‘Drip of Blood in a Timber Yard’ is a much more suitable title for this snoozer. Troma has an awful track record with the slasher genre. Movies like Angel Negro, Girls School Screamers and the abysmal The Creeper have made Blood Hook, Splatter University and Graduation Day – the best of their output – look like Oscar material in comparison. Alessandro De Gaetano’s offering continues the low quality tradition, by being so mind numbingly boring that you’ll believe you’ve been locked in a concrete tomb for the entire runtime. With a title like Bloodbath in Psycho Town, I must admit that I expected a few gruesome murders. Unfortunately we get one anaemic chance to see the killer use his blade, which is hardly a Bloodbath and just isn’t good enough over ninety minutes. This was in fact so yawn-inducing that the director included five pathetic sex scenes featuring the same unappealing couple in a weak attempt at upping the momentum.
The hero and heroine of the feature, the ‘stars’ of aforementioned sex-scenes, are eminently watchable for the simple fact that they represent mankind’s mysterious personality-link with wood. Yes, if you thought that you had previously viewed timber-like performances, these two will leave you convinced that they studied drama in a forest under the tuition of a wilting Great Oak. Eric was particularly amusing, as he effortlessly proved that not only the T100s in the Terminator movies are devoid of human emotion. His girlfriend, who should have known better after previously appearing in both Hide and Go Shriek and Shallow Grave, managed to dictate the tedium with her constant nagging, which was as unrelenting as the lack of action. Not only were they a pair of human tree-trunks, but they also looked completely disinterested. That’s awful for up and coming actors.
Funnily enough, a member of the crew has written a comment on the IMDB about Psychotown, which attempts to explain why the movie turned out so badly. He says that director Alessandro De Gaetano blew most of the budget in the local Spanish restaurant and then split town without paying the crew. Even though these reports are intriguing, the poster loses credibility by coming across as totally bitter. He takes a snipe at De Gaetano’s sexuality, which is a cheap shot and also says Spanish food is rubbish (unforgivable lol!). Anyway, it most definitely looks like there were some problems on the set and maybe this resulted in the awkward picture that exists today.
On the plus side, Psycho Town does manage to build a smidgen of atmosphere in places. I liked the Blair Witch-alike interview scenes, which of course pre-date that movie by a good ten years. It looks quite obvious that the plan was to build a slow boiling and atmospheric psychological slasher film, much like Unhinged from 1980. It’s poorly handled though and a huge majority of the runtime is mind numbingly flat and forgettable. This only just manages to slot into the slasher category, due to the brief appearance of the mystery killer in a bright yellow rain coat. I believe that with only one on-screen murder in its locker, most genre fans will allow this to pass them by. The whereabouts of the touted ‘bloodbath’ is one of cinema’s biggest mysteries and it is a dumb and misleading title. A few years later, my good ‘friends’ over at Troma went one step further, by calling it Video Demons do Psycho Town and gave it a cover that made it look more like a supernatural gorefest. That’s exactly what the feature DIDN’T need.
This is no longer obscure, because it has been packaged on DVD under the aforementioned new name. When I first heard that this was happening, I thought that knowing Troma, it would be something like, ‘Tonnes of Naked Chicks, Gore and Academy Award winning actors in a Huge Massacre’. To be honest, I wasn’t that far away.
I just can’t see any of you liking this one and it’s best left well alone.
Killer Guise: √√
Final Girl: √