Category Archives: Slasher

The House Where Death Lives 1981 Review

The House Where Death Lives 1981

aka Delusion

Directed by: Alan Beattie

Starring: Patricia Percy, Joseph Cotton, David Hayward

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Review by Luisjo González

I must admit that I treat this movie somewhat unfairly. Many times I have written about the first slasher flicks that I came across is in my local video stores in Spain, before I left the country after the break-up of my parents. I never 852569652586have named this one, even if it was one of the first I found under the title of Delusion in España. In the UK, I found the VIPCO VHS under the the name of this review. I refreshed my memory by revisiting it and I even started a review back then for the IMDB, but I never got around to finishing it. That must’ve been around 2002. I bought an NTSC copy of the movie and it was that VHS I watched anoche. Despite suffering amnesia in the accident I told you about in my review of Paranoid, I could clearly remember watching this one and my opinion of it.

One of the main things that initially caught my eye about the UK release was the inexplicable and nonsensical moniker of the feature that made not a lick of sense to the junior me. How can ‘death’ ‘live’ in a house? Think about it: The8525854523 house where death lives. If you’re alive and living somewhere, then you’re not dead, so how can death live anywhere, let alone in a house? During my first view, I awaited patiently for the first reanimated corpse so the name would seem logical, but of course, such a thing never happened. THWDT is certainly a stalk and slash movie and it was released during the peak year of 1981. Thing is though, if you take an entry like Friday the 13th and compare it with this, the differences are astounding. The two are about as contrasting as a pet cat and a smilodon, so how is it possible that they’re in the same sub-genre? Well, allow me to explain…

A nurse named Meredith Stone goes to a house to care for a crippled old millionaire. She is soon joined by the gentleman’s 16 year-old grandson, Gabriel. As soon as the teenager arrives, someone begins killing off the house members and it becomes apparent a vicious maniac is on the property…

I mentioned that this is disparate from Friday the 13th above and whilst they both stick to the same basic principles of 85258524525the slasher rule book, one is pure popcorn ‘jolt’ horror and this is more of a pseudo psychological tale that’s quite involving. Whereas Sean S Cunningham’s entry moved at a fast pace and went for a few bloody deaths, Alan Beattie’s thriller is gradual moving and rather drawn out in what moods it aims for. Whilst watching initially, I was reminded of The Silent Scream from 1979, which had a similar set-up and ended up being a fantastic project. THWDL couldn’t maintain the same momentum and it never gained the correct velocity. It’s also extremely anaemic too and there’s barely any shots of blood throughout the entire runtime. It was released in the United Kingdom as a 15 certificate, which confirms its bloodless visuals. Don’t let that put you off though, because even if there’s no goo on display, the murders are extremely brutal and there’s a couple of really tense jolts throughout the runtime. It’s quite atmospheric overall and boasts a really8541589636852 creepy score, but it’s not particularly scary or a film that you’d watch on a date. 

The story concentrates purely on the mystery and it certainly owes more to Christie than Carpenter in that sense. It’s a very engrossing puzzle to guess who’s wiping out the residents, but people that are experienced at guessing whodunits like myself, will read the clues and work it out within 45 minutes. When the killer is revealed, it’s a smart choice from the screenwriter, but hard to picture after the final credits have rolled. Without giving anything away, it somehow didn’t seem physically possible that the maniac would be able to do it, but there is a visual example that looks really good and convincing. It still doesn’t sit right with me somehow. 852585252Interestingly enough, the marketing media for the USA cinema run gave away the killer’s identity on the posters. If you went to see the movie and became engrossed in the conundrum, you’d know exactly who it was by remembering the advertisement. 

Alan Beattie seemed to have the modus operendai to ‘wow’ them in the end with a big, shocking twist. The obvious problem with that methodology is that I predicted the revelation and so, the climax felt almost like having to pay twice for only one meal. Everything had really built up to the unmasking, but it was lessened for me, because I guessed what would happen. Along the way though, various interesting areas are explored, including Meredith being sexually attracted to a sixteen year-old boy. This is quite a strange story-branch and even if one-six is not an age that’s illegal, Meredith was much older and my hatred of paedophilia made it uncomfortable to watch. It’s really hard to work out what the director was going for with that idea, but go there he does, including a sex852587456 scene. No skin is visible and there was no boob shots in this film, which is unusual as that’s a slasher key ingredient. This was, in fact, an older cast in many ways than the norm, because most of the characters were elderly and even the sixteen-year-old was played by a man who was twenty-two. No screaming teens here. No hot chicas either, although Patricia Percy is beautiful, if you’re a man that doesn’t need big boobs like I do.

The director shoots the scenes comfortably and it’s bizarre that he only had one more directorial credit inside him following this release. There’s some really neat cinematography and THWDL certainly looks well financed. Also worth 9876567890mentioning are some fabulous performances throughout the cast including Joseph Cotton as the cripple. Patricia Percy from Squirm was fine as the protagonist nurse. She’s not a bad actress, but her performance was kind of like a zombie and she doesn’t boast a strong presence on the screen. I was impressed with her physicality in the last couple of scenes and she never came across as unconvincing in a dramatic sense. I prefer actors that dominate the visuals, which she never achieved, often being outshone by others.

As I said, The house where death lives is definitely a slasher movie, but it’s atypical of the rest of its brothers and sisters released around the same time. It is extremely snail paced and some may find It a battle to stay engaged and focused. It takes a while for the killings to start, but they’re quite aggressive when they happen and the killer utilises a9874562 table-leg as his tool for slaughter. I’m not really sure if I can recommend THWDL, because it is lento (slow) in a major way. If you’re looking for a mystery though, you’d find a lot worse on the shelves and 8 is not a small body count. One problem I had with the film is that the busty beauty on the cover doesn’t appear in the movie even once! She was better looking than every other girl throughout the runtime kurwa! A well made psychodrama that is also a slasher, but a bloodless and not a fun-party one

Killer Guise:

Gore:

Final Girl:

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Miner’s Massacre 2002 Review

Miner’s Massacre 2012

aka Curse Of The Forty-Niner’

Directed by: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Alexandra Ford, Karen Black, Richard Lynch

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Review by Luisjo González

What with Штольня and XP3D a few years back, I’d been coincidentally ‘digging’ through the mine-based slashers with a pick-axe at 45an impressive rate. Here we have one that I’ve wanted to add for some time, but there’s always been a title in front of it… until now. Curse of the Forty Niner or Miner Massacre as it’s known round these parts, was the second slasher film from John Carl Buechler after he directed arguably the most ‘gutted’ of the Friday the 13th sequels (part 7). He also provided special make-up effects for a number of eighties stalk and slash films including The Prey and Demonwarp. Known for his visceral gore scenarios, Buechler was something of a cult hero throughout horror’s most cheesetastic decade. Although his directorial efforts never really put him on a level with Carpenter or Craven, he still played an important part in the1 production of numerous entries. After the Scream-inspired slasher rebirth, he returned to the cycle that he had heavily contributed to with this overlooked inclusion.

A group of young adults head off to a remote Southern location where it’s rumoured that a murderous outlaw named Jeremiah Stone stashed a pile of gold. The area is surrounded by the legend of the ‘Curse of the Forty-Niner’, which dictates that if anyone searches for the treasure, the spirit of Stone will return from beyond the grave and murder those responsible. Guess what happens next…

Is sticking consistently to your stereotype always a bad thing? To be honest I’m not so sure. If we erase the past twenty years, I’m a massive Robert Deniro fan. I loathe his politics, but I honestly believe that his Vito Corleone in 9Godfather 2 and his Leonard Lowe in Awakenings are (along with Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking) amongst the greatest performances ever captured on celluloid. His critics will say that he can only play a gangster or a villain, but I disagree, because the best of his work from the past two decades is Silver Linings Playbook and Everybody’s Fine, which are everything but dark characters. It’s a shame that the roles that he’s most renowned for are violent or aggressive, because he has more strings to his bow than he is given credit for. Despite accusations of churning out anything for the paycheque of late, his quality has been mainly evident when he’s played against type.2

In the case of John Buechler though, Miner’s Massacre has the opposite effect. If you’ve got a slasher film from a guy that’s known for making ‘the goriest continuation to Friday the 13th, I guess you build a certain level of pre-view anticipation. Then when said movie has about as much blood as I Know What You Did Last Summer, you kind of feel, well, a bit disappointed. It certainly looked as if, stung by the censorship issues that plagued his entry to the Voorhees saga, Buechler had re-invented himself as a filmmaker more focused on suspense. In honesty, I much prefer the Carpenter methodology and value style over substance, so was keen to see how he’d get on with such a stark change of approach.

On first glance, Miner’s Massacre starts fairly limply, with pancake personalities and plot branches that have minimal 8exposition. Our antagonist is brought back from the grave rapidly with no real explanation and the gang know exactly where they’re going to seek treasure after receiving only half a map and a chunk of gold(???). It could have been a prank by a friend or a marketing gimmick from Walmart, but they merrily pack their stuff and off they go without a second look. Thankfully, when they reach the secluded location, the film drastically improves, due to a tighter pace and an aura that’s subtlety reminiscent of inclusions from the late entries of the eighties. Buechler outshines many of his contemporaries by capturing the charm and wit of the genre heavyweights without over-emphasising the fact in neon lights. He fills his film with archetypal slasher personalities, but I did like a couple of them, which made a real difference to the egotistical tosh that fills other modern slashers. I think that my favorite was the ‘moan-a-lot-bitch-girlfriend-from-hell’ that became the first victim of the zombie assassin. Her OTT Brooklyn ‘My Cousin Vinny’-lite accent really gave her some spark and I was fairly disappointed when she checked out prematurely. She may not have escaped her stereotype, but because she was played with fire, I really thought that she stood out.4

Looking like a cross between Freddy Kruegar and Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, the killer stalks and slashes his way through the group with impressive menace and the murders build up to a tense conclusion in an underground mine. Its fair to say that Buechler directs with endeavor, but there’s nothing outstanding that genuinely transcends the norm. The decision to shoot the night scenes with a tint of blue was a poor one and the lack of visual clarity is surprising considering the budget. That’s not to say that the production had extensive funds to play with, but there were a handful of explosions and OTT effects, which could have been substituted for a better lighting rig. One of my readers, a cool dude from the Philippines posted a comment on Death Valley. He correctly mentioned that it was one of the only slashers that had a Western slant, but I guess that you could say that Miner’s Massacre also counts as a genre entry that owes 7something to outlaws and gunslingers from America’s Wild West.

The movie eventually goes where you expect it to, with most of the cast getting killed off, aside from the final girl and her beau, who end up facing off with the maniac. The main issue I had with Massacre is that it felt incredibly tame. I would’ve never expected subdued and harmless horror from señor Buechler. I guess you can compare him to an elderly rocker like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler. They were all 24/7 drugs and alcohol in the swinging sixties/seventies, but now that they’ve got their eyes on their health at their ages, it’s shandy, healthy food and cocoa before bed.48

I guess that you could call Miner’s Massacre the slasher equivalent of a film like Con Air. It’s an entertaining stroll that takes the expected route, but doesn’t attempt to uncover an adventurous shortcut. There’s a cute, but flat chested chica (Eve), some exciting stalking scenarios and an authentic antagonist, but I couldn’t help but think that this director is capable of delivering so much more.

I was saying to my mum recently that it’s amusing how so many heavy metal groups from the eighties have ‘reunions’ when the bank balance is looking a bit on the light side. I suppose that in the case of Buechler, he just accepted the odd director’s gig for the exact same reason. Sadly Mr Buechler caught cancer in 2017 and despite valiantly battling with it, he died in March 2019. A real disappointment. Not many of the maestros from the original slasher boom are left alive… it’s a huge shame…

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Slasher In The House 1981 Review

Slasher In The House 1981

aka Home Sweet Home

Directed by: Nettie Peña

Starring: Jake Steinfeld, Don Edmunds, Vinessa Shaw

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Review by Luisjo González

Oh mama! Woooh, I need to take a deep breath…. Ok… am I still alive? Where am I? What the f**k did I just watch?

When I was in hospital all that time (check 4567890-09876545Paranoid review), I put on 7kg of weight. 36 months in a bed, 3 meals a day, you can imagine. However when I was released, because I lost all my muscle mass, I went up to 130kg. Everything I ate, no matter how healthy, turned to fat. When you consider I used to be 81kg, that’s obese. I’m too vain to be overweight, so I soon joined a gym, but quickly noticed that cardio wasn’t working for me. 800 calories on the cross-trainer changed nada. What did start to 1AAwork however was weightlifting. Soon, I was bench pressing 80kg and watching the flab drop off my body. I’m no longer 81kg, granted, I’m 99kg, but with only 11% fat, I’m now a hench muscle man. I’ve fallen madly in love with bodybuilding.

I tell you this, because the antagonist of this picture is Jewish personal trainer and overall cool dude, Jake Steinfeld. Now bodybuilding, much like supporting a particular soccer/baseball team or meeting a fellow angler, is a hobby that men and women can bond over. ‘What muscles you working on today, buddy?’ It’s a link that connects people in social circles. Will my love of the gym make me adore Slasher In The House due to its famous fitness trainer bogeyman?

I can’t tell you that I wasn’t warned. On another películas del terror website, there’s a pretty bad review and the general consensus everywhere online is that it’s not great. The write-up on the other horror page is in fact so disrespectful that I almost felt like it was bullying. I promised myself, I’d be a lot more just and fair with my analysis of this peak period Halloween clone. I’ve owned SITH (SITH = Slasher In The House) on VHS since 1987, but the first time I watched it was yesterday. So6789098765567890 what can I say? Well, not much of originality (like the movie) but is it as bad as its hideous reputation would have you believe?

Well, it’s going to take me a little while to explain, because the answer involves every single thing in the movie. In fairness though, things start extremely positively with a killing within about thirty seconds of screen time. A guy is parked up on the freeway, drinking a larger, before driving. (Don’t you love the eighties, when you could see cigarillos and drinking and driving in the movies). Out of the corner of the parked dude’s eye, he catches our killer approaching the vehicle and offers him a beer. His kindness doesn’t get him anywhere, as the muscle-bound jock drags him out of the car, murders him via a method I couldn’t make out and steals his wheels. Next up, the assassin, who has a habit of cackling madly when he’s killing people, runs down an old lady, who looks like a thirty-year-old woman in a grey wig. We hear via the radio in the automobile, that our nutjob is a guy called Jay Jones, bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewho (of course) has just escaped from an insane asylum after being sentenced for murdering his parents as a child. So far, so by the book…

After lots of shots of our bogeyman driving, more driving, erm, holding a steering wheel, changing gears and even more views of him, you know, driving; he ends up pulling up near a secluded house. The abode belongs to the Bradleys, a family that look to have invited over a number of guests for a thanksgiving dinner. Amongst the revellers is is a Hispanic chick named Maria (Lisa Rodriguez) and a guy who has his face painted white like the glam metal band Kiss. If it’s your group’s identity to paint your faces blanco how Kiss used to, it looks pretty cool. If you’re just doing it on your lonesome however, it comes across as, well, a bit weird, freakish and also worrying. Anyway, the white-face guy is called Scott (David Mielke) and he very quickly becomes extremely annoying. He carries a guitar around with him, winding everybody up by disrupting them when5678909876545678I they’re trying to make out and other such boring palaver.

If you haven’t already guessed, people start leaving the house to get some wine, or find those that haven’t yet returned (murdered) etcetera. Well, of course Jay Jones is watching in cheesier than a dairy heavy breath POV shots. It goes exactly where you expected it to and we’re left trying to guess who will survive…

floooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooomI’ve told you all before on a Slash above, I got into the slasher genre after staying up to watch Halloween in 1986. I am obviously a Latino-born dude that grew up in London, as my mother was working there. I clearly recall reading a criticising article by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert about stalk and slashers and they hinted that they were racist and said, where are all the black people in these flicks? Well, something about SITH surprised me. They may not have a black character included, but they sure as hell-fire have a Latina, who has a lot of screen time. I was secretly hoping that all the gringos would get killed (wink wink) and the Spanish chica would defeat the maniac. Yay!! The problem with this though, is that I found the character actually more of an offence to our race than a thumbs up.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not one of those guys that considers everything offensive. However Maria, the Hispana girl in this story, says stupid things in Spanish like Bésame (kiss me) or voy al baño (go to bathroom) all the2345678909876543234567 time and she never converses in English, but she’s with a group of people that do not understand el Español. It’s even hinted her BF is American. How did they converse? Also, were the filmmakers trying to hint that Hispanic people don’t learn languages? To make matters worse, the director could herself be a one of us. Her name is Nettie Peña, but it just seemed a strange thing to have in a movie. Or I personally found it that way. Why would a Hispanic person publically mock her own race?

Anyway, a major problem with the feature, aside from the fact that it’s not very good, is that it moves far too S-L-O-W-L-Y.  A fine example of this is when two of the girls go out to get the wine, or go to the power company, I can’t 1234remember exactly why they left. Anyway, they get pulled over by a couple of cops in a pointless scene (except that one of the chicas has a fantastic rack). Anyway, we don’t just get that nonsensical sequence, the director follows it up with an equally inept conversation between the two Police officers. We watch these movies to see the slashings cabrón!! The performances across the board aren’t heinous, but they’re not good either. I noted a whole heap of unconvincing fear and crud line delivery. At one point, white-face dude begs for his life, whilst offering to sing for the maniac. I’ll let you guess how well that goes. Also worth mentioning, is that this bogeyman talks to victims and at one point, he says that women are worthless. The problem with this dialogue is it seems like something a guy who’s been divorced twice (like me) might say. Isn’t it true that Jay Jones has been in an insane asylum after murdering his padres as a 12 year old? How much experience could he have with women? Was he married at 18 months old? Man, either my flatmate put LSD in my wine or this is the worst screenwriting since Star Wars The Phantom Menace???123

Also before I forget, in the beginning we see the killer injecting angel dust under his tongue. That’s unusual, you may think and I agree. However the main problem with the concept is, where the hell did he get the PCP from? It’s been illegal in the United States long before this film was made and the story says he just escaped an asylum. Did he visit and murder a drug dealer? How did he find the dope peddler? Did he ask around in the ghetto? He must’ve murdered said narcotics man, because he slaughters everyone else. So if that happened, why didn’t we get to see it? I mean going to the ghetto to buy drugs and then taking out the dealer is a unique and exciting sub plot. From what we see here that must have happened, so why didn’t we view this action? My head is hurting, I need to have a lie 56down…

So what’s left to be said? Well, I can say that the antagonist consistently cackling destroys his aura of menace and he’s about as scary as a teddy bear. Mr Steinfeld didn’t do anything bad with the part and he has the right build, but the laughing looks silly, not scary. Also, slashers look much better in a mask. Another thing of note is that SITH is a total career killer. Practically every cast member featured never acted again except Don Edmunds the producer. Mr Edmunds is a name you may recognise, because he directed the exceptionally bland Terror On Tour in 1980. The only person to go on to a successful period was the child, played by Vinessa Shaw. The director totally vanished for 28 years and was substituted to one barely seen documentary in 2009😂.There’s no gore of note and only one of the killings is effectively brutal. It involves a guy trying to steal a battery from an abandoned automobile and our muscle-bound psycho jumps on the hood, crushing his skull.(See it above). Also when the cops turn up towards the end, they seem to know that multiple people have been killed even though they found only2 one corpse. Did they find and read the script before they came across the first body? That must’ve happened.

I guess we can say that Slasher in the house was made tongue in cheek, to be consumed the same way. It’s main problems are its momentum and the idea to make the killer laugh/converse instead of keeping silent like Mr Michael Myers etc. Going back to the review on the other website, I’d say this flick’s not THAT bad. Not great, granted, but an ok eighties slasher throwaway with cast members we don’t hate (unlike modern post-Scream entries). Lastly, I’ll tell you, throughout this review I called the film SITH for short. Well if you rearrange those letters you get the word SHI… Most accurate line in this review. Peace…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: securedownload-1 - Copy (2)

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Paranoid 2000 Review

Paranoid 2000

aka Frightmare

Directed by: Ash Smith

Starring: Shanda Lee Munson, Summer Sloan LePann, Brandon O’Dell

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Morning A Slash abovers…. Like Jason Voorhees… I’M BACK!!

I owe all of you, each and every one, a sincere apology. I had a huge number – 177,000 regular readers and other visitors –  at my peak and I conversed with a lot of you peeps. My blog was so popular, some motherfucker stole my web address www. aslahabove .com, puta! If I find him, I’ll chain him to a chair and yaaamake him watch Curse Of Halloween for 24 hours on repeat with tooth picks holding his eye lids open. Anyway, basically, what happened was, I work in IT sales and I’m a pretty successful-ish guy in my industry. Anyway, August 2016, I was promoted to sales manager and I also got into a new romantic relationship around the time (I have two divorces and four kids from four different women) and my new Mrs wasn’t a horror movie fan. So, whilst in the old days I would watch a movie in the evening and write a review on the train to work or at lunch, it became an incredibly busy period for me and there was no ‘slasher time’. During the evening, I was watching normal cinema, such as mafia movies, romantic comedies and dramas et al with my Bulgarian new girl. (I learned Bulgarian too and one of my kids is hers. That means I now speak 7 languages).

Then, to make matters worse, in November 2018, I was a passenger in a tragic car crash that saw two of my friends instantly killed and one died the next day. Due to the shock, I went into a diabetic coma (I’m type 1 with insulin) and the doctors told my mum and brother (in England) that IF I recover (and that was a BIG if), I’d be a total vegetable. I86 wouldn’t be able to move, think or speak. There was an idea to turn off the life support, but my mum knew I’d fight. I recovered with a brain injury and I had to learn to walk/speak again. If you check the photo to the right, that’s me with Oliverio from my family, when I was recovering in 2020, looking pale and rough. I’m slightly different after the crash; but I’m coping well and getting back to my best. By degree I’m an evolutionary biologist and much like Richard Dawkins, I’m completely agonistic and don’t believe in things with zero proof. That means religion, luck, ghosts, aliens, karma etc. I realised however, that life can be incredibly short and I want to leave this world with an impact on our favourite slasher sub-genre. A Slash above of course, is the perfect way for me to achieve that.

After 36 months I was released and I came home to Spain. I have some amnesia, but I am ready to rock and roll once more! I’m back working again and feeling and looking good. The Bulgarian is in her country with my son and I’m with a Romanian beauty and she likes horror movies, so these lifestyle changes mean I’m back for A SLASH ABOVE PART II: The return of Luisjo 😂 . I’m also thinking of a YouTube channel so you can see my handsome chiselled features, but that’s in the future. We’ll see how the website goes first. I doubt I’ll be able to go back to posting reviews once a week, but we’ll see how things go, before we think too far into the future. Are there still slasher fans breathing or will I post reviews to nobody????? Let’s see…

I was actually a bit excited about re-visiting Paranoid. Whilst it’s not a film that I can really remember (last watch was 21 years ago), I’ve always held a subtle fondness for it, because it reminds me of a unique time. I was a slasher fan before the release of Scream and even though I was only a teenager, I knew that during the early nineties, this genre 97had become obscure and unpopular.

This was the general theme, up until 1996 when Craven’s blockbuster (the aforementioned Scream) became the mystical ritual that awoke slasher flicks from their slumber like the living dead from Andrea Bianchi’s Burial Ground. Video stores were once again full of hand-drawn covers with cheesy titles and almost every week I’d come across a different slasher to take home with me. It makes me sad that the MPEG generation will never experience the joys of hunting through shelves for cinematic trash, the way we did back then. I spoke to an a SLASH abover recently that had downloaded his entire collection of 400 slasher films from portals in a few days. I’m conscious of sounding like an12 elderly bore, but for me, finding them so easily, removes the most enjoyable part of being a genre enthusiast.

Titles like Final Scream, Camp Blood, Cherry Falls and Christina’s House were amongst the last of the slashers that could be discovered by rummaging through rental stores, so I’ll always have a soft spot for them, no matter their credibility. Whilst I didn’t recall much about Paranoid, I am quite sure that I wasn’t over impressed with it all those years ago.

A vicious serial killer has been stalking cities of America and ruthlessly butchering students. The media have dubbed the maniac, ‘The Conscience Killer’, due to the haunting letters he leaves at the scene of each crime. Whilst a group of teenagers are preparing to graduate college, it seems that the fearsome psychopath has chosen their remote town…

457Most of the entries from the early noughties are so similar to Scream that they lose some allure due to their lack of innovation. In that respect, Paranoid is no different, but where it does distinguish itself is that it’s a true amalgamation of qualities. If you were to take something hideous like rotten milk and mix it with something mind blowing like Tovaritch Russian Vodka, then and only then would you achieve a combination that might be considered similar to how hard Paranoid is to give an accurate review. It’s a jumble of elements that combine to leave a runtime that plays like a date with a beautiful bipolar schizophrenic.871

It’s clear to see that first and last time director Ash Smith was keen to fill his debut movie with ‘va-va-voom’ and alongside cinematographer Keith Holland, they unleash some energetic and audacious shooting styles. Whilst there are viewers that find more credibility in subtle lens placement, I’m a sucker for visual exuberance and I appreciated the vibrancy. The killer looks suspiciously identical to the antagonist from Cherry Falls, but it looks to be coincidental as they were both released the same year. If I am going to chose one director here to accuse of imitation, it certainly not Falls’ Geoffrey Wright. We get a couple of ominous sequences of the psycho watching news reports of his murders in a candle-lit room, and they reminded me of the deeply ominous tone from Goodnight Godbless   because there was an extremely similar scene in that film too. Robert Albertson’s scoring for these parts is unique and threatening and even though I’m not sure how much of it was strategically planned, the use of audio (and the lack of during the kill scenes) is surprisingly adept. In fact there’s a lot of stuff here that really adds a layer of creepiness to proceedings and Smith displayed a flair for the macabre in various places. He even manages to pull off suspense with two terrific set-pieces that excel with some superb antagonist placement and blocking.

Shanda Lee Munson deserves kudos for the range she showed as our final girl, even if she fades on some of the meatier ‘acting’ parts. Also, I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but wardrobe suitably dressed her down when she was 65depressed and dolled her up when her attitude was more positive, which certainly (at least subconsciously) improved our interpretation of the plot. Sadly the rest of the cast were far less impressive and assisted in demonstrating the aforementioned lack of cinematic balance. The script has some neat ideas to generate momentum (the whole ‘conscious killer’ back story was intriguing), but it loses impact with it’s ropey continuity. There are quite a few examples of lackadaisical screenwriting, but the ones that stood out, were the police brushing off a credible report of the maniac’s whereabouts (he had just openly chased our key players with a chainsaw!). Then we get a late plot development about the protagonist’s sibling that makes little sense with what went before it. It’s like they expected viewers not to76 remember anything we’d seen previously for longer than five minutes. Look, slasher movies don’t need to be intellectual philosophy, but they should, at least, remain logical.

I mentioned the creative photography above because it really made an impression, but the same couldn’t be said about the editing, which was the worst thing about the picture. I was reminded of the saying, “Don’t run before you can walk”, because there was a lot of flashy chop cuts that came at the expense of a linear flow that would’ve best benefited the story. It’s a shame because I really thought Paranoid deserved better, but it became stagnated and cluttered in the editing suite. The overall limpness also had an effect on the conclusion to the mystery, which could have hit us like ‘wow – really!!!’, but instead it just feels like, ‘ohhhhhh…really…. ho hum…’

Paranoid reminded me of my first car, which was an Mk1 Ford Fiesta 1100. I put an XR2 engine in it, slapped on a body kit, performance suspension, a roll-cage, tinted windows and a cherry bomb exhaust. I only had it on the road six-weeks and then the gearbox and clutch totally failed. I took it to the garage, he took a good look and noticed that rust was eating away the wheel-arches and the floor under the driver’s seat. As a slasher movie, Paranoid is exactly the same as that Fiesta. Looks good, but it’s rusty and rotten…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√

RATING: securedownload-1

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Girls Gone Dead 2012 Review

Bikini Spring Break Massacre 2008

aka Girls Gone Dead

Directed by: Michael Hoffman Jr, Aaron T Wells

Starring: Katie Peterson, Shea Stewart, Brandy Whitford

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Review by Luisjo González

I often wonder if exploitation cinema may be reaching its date of expiration. For decades, a host of low-budget titles would provide horror, shocks, nudity and gore that would fulfil both morbid curiosities 763w7632762872982982092092and rebellious desires. Having grown up during the tail-end of the exploitation boom, I experienced first hand the excitement of hunting out hand-drawn VHS covers and guessing what forbidden treasures might be included within. Nowadays of course, the most explicit content imaginable can be found quite easily with a Google search, which is why I wonder whether the market might be drying up for the exploitation genre.6565768787989898

Released in 2012, Girls Gone Dead was marketed as a T&A slasher; – a style that we saw in abundance during the noughties. Generally, T&A slashers lack technical quality in their attempts at delivering terror, so they up the ante with nudity and silicone enhanced ‘babes’. Good examples of the phenomenon are, Strip Club Slasher, Porn Shoot Massacre, Blood and Sex Nightmare, Fatal Delusion, Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre, Fatal Pulse and Massacre at Rocky Ridge. As I alluded to in my opening paragraph, I can’t help but assume that the growth of free-access online porn has stolen a percentage of the audience for titles that sell themselves on having a couple of extra nudity shots. 

A group of girlfriends head off to the remote mansion of one of the troupe’s fathers for a weekend of crazy partying. Missy, the daughter of an over-zealous church member, promises that she will let her hair down and finally break the shackles that have been imposed on her by her incredibly strict mother. Excitement leads to disappointment when they learn that their ‘house of fun’ is actually located in a 6w767687287298298209092retirement community. The bad news gets worse when a hulking masked killer turns up with a large axe…

Whilst T&A slashers are my least favourite sub-category of our favourite sub-genre, I will never complete my mission of reviewing the entire pool of these flicks if I don’t go against my preferences from time to time. I’m reminded of something a girl I met in Kraków once told me, “Be more intelligent than the rest, without making it obvious”. Another suitable quote might be, “The smartest disguise is that of the clueless clown”. I mention these because, GGD is an interesting addition to the slasher collection and it’s one that may have a hidden layer.873873873983983093093

I watched it straight after Most Likely To Die and whilst they are both modern slasher movies with slick productions, they are totally different beasts cinematically. MLTD spent a while expanding the complex identities of its unique personalities, whilst GGD rolls out the clichés without a second look. Directors Michael Hoffman and Aaron T. Wells have a ball with their cast of attractive bunnies and said bunnies carry the lengthy exposition parts comfortably. At 102 minutes, I was expecting the momentum to stagnate whilst watching the girls getting drunk and pulling off the predicted shenanigans, but the script has enough wit and endeavour to keep things moving. There’s a sub-plot about an adult porno/big-brother type website, which I initially thought was an unnecessary diversion. It leads to a house party sequence that includes a humorous (if misplaced) cameo from Ron Jeremy, tonnes of bikini-clad bimbos and an abusive wannabe Hugh Hefner with a face that you’d love to punch. With a crowbar. Thankfully, the killer turns up and puts an abrupt end to the decadence with his trusty hatchet. Due to the cameras that were capturing the boogieing hotties, some footage of the murders is posted 763328732982982982982online and we get to see our key players watch it, in jest, a short while later. The irony didn’t escape me that they were mocking the earlier massacre, whilst blissfully unaware that they’re next on the maniac’s list.

Eventually the killer turns up to take care of Missy and her pals, and begins picking them off one by one as they wander off to get up to mischief. Hoffman and Wells go all guns blazing and deliver some brutal murders and gratuitous gore. We get an antagonist dressed in a robe and cherub mask (nod to Valentine?) and there’s a few interesting set-ups, including the death of a valiant chica that I really felt deserved to escape the maniac’s clutches. It’s fair to say that 90% of the runtime sustains an ‘entertaining’ (but non threatening) tone, although the final twenty-minutes did deliver some really neat tension and a couple of scares. I mentioned earlier that these types of pictures are generally pretty shabby from a technical perspective, but that’s not the case with this one and the directors pull off some interesting stuff. Some other reviews that I have read criticised the mystery saying that it was too easy to guess who it was under the mask. In honesty though, I didn’t notice it to be worse (or better) than any other slasher/whodunit I’ve seen of late. One thing I will say is that I often complain about unlikeable characters in modern entries, but GGD managed to even make me root for the spoiled brat. That’s a real 763763763873873983093achievement.

Going back to the comparison with Most Likely to Die, for the best part of GGD, I was thinking that it lacked the intelligence in scripting and preferred ticking boxes over attempting MLTD’s more ambitious style of storytelling. Later though, I noticed the aforementioned ‘hidden layer’ and that GGD possibly included a subtle comment on modern voyeurism and the easy access to society’s ills via social media, which in effect makes them dangerously acceptable. Perhaps there was also a nod to parental relations and how there comes a time when padres need to accept generational differences. I also noticed a view on religious fanaticism and how certain ideologies have become outdated with the technologies and desires 76327632872872982982090922of modern society. Then again, maybe it’s just a silly slasher and I was overreaching when i noticed those depths…? 

What I can be sure of is that Girl’s Gone Dead is an entertaining and fun entry that is as close as it gets to an eighties cheese flick without being an eighties cheese flick. It’s overlong; for sure. Actually, if they removed all the cuts away to Ron Jeremy and his chums, the film would work a damn site better. Still, I managed to remain hooked and I couldn’t ask for more than that. In reference to my comment on the fading appeal of exploitation pictures, it’s fair to say, if they’re this fun, there’s still a market for them. Oh and one last thing, I’ve proved many times on a SLASH above that the IMDB is an awful guide to slasher movies. Well this one has a rating of 3.5 on there! Stop the world, I want to get off…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo-211

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School’s Out 1999 Review

School’s Out 1999

aka Schrei Denn Ich Werde Dich Toten

Directed by: Robert Sigl

Starring: Katharina Wackernagel, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Nils Nelleßen

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

In my review of Amerikill, I made an unforgivable error. I said that it was strange that there are so many killer clowns and hardly any psycho jesters in the slasher genre. Slaughter High got a well-deserved mention, 7637638732873983983983but I failed to acknowledge School’s Out, which includes arguably the most slasheristic jester disguise of them all. I hope that you find it in your hearts to forgive me…?653763872982982092092092

I picked this one up back in the early 2000s on an Amazon multi-buy with Party Crasher, The Catcher and Carnage Road. There’s another German slasher called School’s Out Forever that I will likely review soon, but to the best of my knowledge, it has nothing else in common with this. Whilst researching, I found out that this was originally a TV production, which I’d never have guessed, because aside from a lack of gore, it looks plush enough to have been a cinematic release. I’m quite surprised by its lack of popularity amongst slasher completists and that it has picked up only a few mixed reviews. With this in mind, I thought it was about time that I set the record straight with a gloves-off autopsy here on a SLASH above

We begin with a young girl heading along a dark road and listening to music, which immediately brought to mind the opening of Urban Legend.  She even comes across a creepy looking stranger whose car has broken down just to confirm the homage. Jessica slows down to offer assistance to the incapacitated driver, but comes to her senses and speeds off when he tries opening her door. As she heads along the road, her cellular phone rings and the voice quickly identifies himself as the man she just left in a layby. He admits that he has her number because it’s painted on the side (she’s driving her father’s taxi) and pleads again for a ride into town. The mystery caller gives his 76376387398398393093093best Scream ‘creepy mutter’ impression, but it doesn’t prevent the foolish youngster from turning around and returning to the scene…

Next up we meet a group of students that are going to stay over at their campus to celebrate graduation. Nina has recently broken up with her boyfriend and that’s just one of a number of delicate complexities that surround the relationships of the troupe. As they begin to party through the night, it soon becomes apparent that a maniac that was responsible for a massacre on the site a decade earlier has broken out of a local asylum. Their worst fears are realised when a masked killer begins slicing through the revellers with the same weapon that the escapee used all those years ago – a large pair of scissors…653376328739873983983093093

School’s Out is a film that’s split into three distinct acts and the best way that I can review it for you is by describing how each one delivered varying moods. For the first thirty minutes or so, I was struggling to adapt to the tone, which was mainly due to the most unconvincing dubbing since The Blazing Ninja and some peculiar lines that had been awkwardly translated from the German script. 763387387398398There were a host of conversations that sounded unusual and noticeably peculiar, so I would have preferred to have viewed a subtitled copy.  On top of that, the fact that it had started with the aforementioned elements that were clearly lifted from Urban Legend and Scream meant that my initial impression was that this was an extremely poor European rendition of its American brethren. We were given a few scenarios that attempted to bring the key players to life, but the staggered flow of the klutzy dialogue meant that I couldn’t buy into what I was seeing. With so little to keep me engaged, I began to fidget and 763763872982982982092lose interest whilst waiting for the action to commence.

When the killer gets to work though, the pace begins to tighten, which is mainly due to a couple of splendid decisions from director, Robert Sigl. Never has the inside of a school looked so gothic and he traps his characters amongst terrific backdrops, including an ominous spiral staircase and a room that’s filled with mannequins and tarpaulin maps. Without any gore, the crew rely on sharp editing and frantic movement to bring the kill scenes to life and there’s a tense moment when a fleeing bunny tries to grab the assailant’s weapon whilst he’s temporarily immobilised. Another notable sequence sees a victim slaughtered whilst her friend looks on through an air vent and there’s a fairly tight mystery that will keep you unsure of your choice of cast member that’s under the mask. I mentioned above that this is the most ‘slasheristic’ jester guise of those I’ve featured on a SLASH above and with a red mask and period costume it’s hard to disagree with that statement. Sadly, I also think it’s the weakest of the three; – because the plastic look of the visor is at odds with 763763873873873983the rest of the attire. Amerikill and Slaughter High did it better for me.

The third and final part of School’s Out is my favourite and its authenticity allows the film to overcome allegations of being a complete Scream clone. Our heroine Nina and one of her friends survive the school massacre but they do not believe that the Police have pinned it on the correct suspect. We get some effective dialogue scenes that open-up new layers to the puzzle and they all lead to a final confrontation back on the campus that’s staged well enough to build drama. It’s unusual for a slasher to go for an aftermath 763276387387398309309309309plot-branch and I liked the way that the script didn’t push itself into corners or run up blind alleys. Nina makes for a subtlety appealing heroine, if again, let down by the scripting; whilst the motive, when revealed, is totally ‘out there’ but that’s pretty much par for the course.

Even if it may be a bit long-winded in places, School’s Out is a satisfying slasher film that has some slick embellishments. If I could track down a subtitled copy, I’d give it an extra half-star, but as it is, it’s still worth the effort of checking out. It was followed by an equally enjoyable sequel that has, strangely, become almost impossible to track down. On another note,I just noticed I’ve posted this on the weekend after Brexit. As a Spanish/Irishman that lives in the UK, perhaps reviewing a German slasher could be considered a political statement of kind…? Then again, perhaps not…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo11

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Most likely To Die 2015 Review

Most Likely to Die 2015

Directed by: Anthony DiBlasi

Starring: Heather Morris, Jason Tobias, Tatum Miranda

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

For me, the biggest mystery surrounding the slasher genre is how such a basic and straight forward formula has resulted in so few genuinely credible motion pictures. Of the 800 or so entries that have 43873873873983983093093been produced, you can count the truly outstanding ones on your fingers.  For movie watchers that aren’t slasherholics, there seems to be a thin middle ground and these flicks are either superb or trash-can worthy. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons why the category hosts so few exquisite inclusions, but I think a big part of it is that filmmakers often try to expand on the traditional template when there’s really no need to.

Most Likely to Die is refreshing because it’s a big(ger) budgeted effort that proves that you can still make a sharp and thoroughly entertaining movie by sticking to the guidelines. Instead of flamboyant recalibration of the nuts and bolts, Anthony DiBlasi has decided to polish the old ones and paint them in chrome – and it works

A group of youngsters arrange a get-together at the remote mansion of one of their friends to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their graduation. As they begin to arrive, they notice that Ray – the house owner and a professional hockey player – is mysteriously absent. Still, they begin to catch-up on their achievements and celebrate their reunion. Little do they know that a brutal 65657687879898989809masked killer is watching them and before long they’re fighting for their lives…

When I first learned that DiBlasi was making a slasher movie I was extremely keen to see the net result because he’s a director that I have a lot of respect for. His previous features have shown a unique flair for mixing horror with strongly developed characters and I wondered how he’d get on with the more basic trappings of a stalk and slash flick. If there were any lingering doubts about his potential as a competent up and comer, he washes them away with MLTD, by staying true to the category’s principles without betraying his own vision. The film offers a wealth of intriguing set-ups that allow its players to transcend the usual stereotypes and this is most-evident in the choice of final girl; – a professional poker player with a self-destructive lack of trust. At first I wrote a note that the friendships looked unconvincing, but as the film progresses, we are given more insight on the complex relationships that exist between the former classmates and why some of them may have 6568798989898877the motive to kill. Whilst I wouldn’t say that the mystery is outstanding or that the conclusion was a shock (it is in fact fairly underwhelming), it does add an extra layer to the tension of the marauding killer.

DiBlasi is wise to pay tribute to the slashers of old without making it obvious that he’s doing so. The film can be described as a mix of Terror Train, Pranks and Slaughter High, but it doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that it’s been filmed in 2015. We get a host of gimmicks that we’ll recognise from the classics including the killer putting a red X over the yearbook pictures of his victims and a subtle sub-plot of a prank that backfired. In time-honoured tradition, the opening scene includes a chase sequence and a (surprisingly) bloodless slaughter, but we don’t get to witness the antagonist for quite a while after. The in-between parts are spent unraveling the personalities of the school friends and there’s some interesting tweaks that bring them to life. What I liked about MLTD is that it breaks away from the ‘one by one they wander off to die’ chestnut, because the entire group are made aware fairly early that there’s an uninvited guest on site. This means that the script needs to be more creative in the way it strands its65657678989898980909 victims and puts them at the peril of their pursuer.

Our antagonist has a unique guise and he strikes with a ferocious brutality. There’s a really well set-up scene in an alleyway that provides suspense as the maniacal menace closes in on a trapped victim, smashing lightbulbs along the way, like we saw in both My Bloody Valentine and Terror Train. It would be an extreme exaggeration to call this a gore film, but there are some gruesome moments and an audacious kill with a hockey stick that’ll satisfy blood hounds. DiBlasi directs with confidence and draws pitch-perfect performances from an inexperienced cast. His choice of lighting for the second half of the picture is perfect and he delivers a vibrant combination of audio that hits more 7622873873873983983often than misses. Using the English National anthem for a kill scene was a masterstroke that I’m surprised didn’t come with an explanation of kind.

The lengthy attempts at dramatising the key players may be off-putting to those looking for a fast-paced slasher flick. It could also be said that the killings aren’t graphic enough for hardcore hounds, but you’d have to be hyper-critical to truly find much more fault with Most Likely To Die. Here we have a movie from a production team that made the right decisions: don’t waste budget on non-essential ingredients when all you really need is competent actors, a cool killer guise, some blood and a director with the ambition to succeed. Sometimes doing the basics to the best of your ability outshines an overload of creativity. This may not be a genre-defining movie, but it’s a worthy inclusion that should be a lesson to filmmakers looking to continue the legacy.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√√

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo11

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Bone Cave 2011 Review

Bone Cave 2011

Directed by: Matthew Brooks

Starring: Justin Rose, Jeremy Jusek, Andrew Hart

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

So here we have yet another extremely rare slasher movie, but it’s one that is refreshingly unique. Even as a fan of the genre, I often get tired of the amount of films that traipse along the standard 48743873983983983983093093clichés without even attempting to inject any authenticity.  Bone Cave on the other hand is unlike anything that I’ve seen before and despite its limitations, it offers an encouraging slant on the stalk and slash formula.

A pair of college kids hatch a life-changing plan to get rich by robbing a local ecstasy dealer and hosting a rave so that they can sell the tabs that they stole. As the party gets underway, it soon becomes apparent that a caped killer is lurking among the revelers and looking to slaughter the drug-induced teens…

For the first twenty-minutes or so, Bone Cave played like it was little more than a slasher by the numbers. It kicked off with a pair of poorly acted lovers being murdered in a cave by a caped menace with a painted face. There was nothing about the sequence that couldn’t have been copy and pasted from a million other genre entries and when the next cut showed us a couple of kids sitting outside a high-school, I felt like I was watching a lower budget knock-off of President’s Day. However as those 7477848739839832982922same characters began speaking about their ambitious plan to rob a local drug pusher and host an illegal party, I began to realise that Ohio based director Matthew Brooks was on a thoroughly different wave-length.

Whilst there’s no denying that Bone Cave is a slasher movie, it’s one that plays like it’s only half-aware of the trappings, which I mean as a compliment. We get forty-five minutes of plot development from the three main players and perhaps because the dialogue has been written by a youngster (Brooks was in his twenties) it comes across as genuine as to how youngsters speak. It could be said that the pace during these parts isn’t as tight as it should be and a couple of killings might have made the runtime sharper, but Brooks’ flair for witty lines and realistic scenarios kept things afloat. If you’ve been a long-term reader of a SLASH above, you’ll know my thoughts on the challenges of mixing slapstick and terror into a palatable cocktail. There are many entries that have tried this formula (Easter Sunday/Slaughter Studios) and the majority of them are disjointed and shabby. It would be unfair to call Bone Cave a slasher/comedy, but the script delivers a nice blend of humor (from the dialogue) and horror (from the multiple victims).  I expected the theft of the ecstasy 7647638738739832982982tablets to be a small background sub-plot, but it is smartly expanded to generate a solid spine. It’s fair to say that there are no real surprises in later revelations and the killer’s identity is easy to guess, but most of the ideas here are novel and smartly delivered.

The second half of the film takes place inside the cave of the title, which was the location chosen to host the rave. The exteriors were filmed locally and are impressively conveyed considering the lack of experience and I can only guess that a hall was used for the other  parts, but credut to the set designer(s) that worked hard to make it look as realistic as possible. Early on, I was a little worried that the lighting would be a problem, because we have about ten-minutes of footage that is 7648743873983983093090illuminated by a couple of torches, but this soon improves and the crew did a good job technically. I also thought it was original the way that the killings were staged. Initially we get a torture porn-esque kidnap of a young girl that gets acid thrown in her face, but then the maniac goes on a rampage and runs into the middle of the party-goers with his custom blade and begins slashing… Cue pandemonium! We do get some blood splashing and a couple of gooey moments, but Bone Cave is fairly light on the gore score. It draws to a conclusion with the three main characters trapped with the maniac and they must overpower him in order to flee the carnage. If I were to be really harsh, I could say that the film might’ve worked better with a meaner spirit and I also didn’t think that the killer’s 7648748738739839832092092092dialogue (he’s a real chatterbox) was effective. Still, earlier on I mentioned President’s Day and whilst the pair have very little in common, they share an alluring vibe that’s impossible to brush off.

All in all I enjoyed Bone Cave. It’s certainly full of innovation and a handful of smart accomplishments. The pace does stagnate a bit during the first half and some of the effects are visibly cheap (the grenade explosions are PSone-esque!!), but I guess that they made the most of an extremely tight budget. Matthew Brooks is certainly a talented filmmaker and his inclusion to the genre is worth a look.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Paranormal Xperience 2011 Review

Paranormal Xperience 3D 2011

aka XP3D

Directed by: Sergi Vizcaino

Starring: Amaia Salamanca, Alba Ribas, Miguel Ángel Jenner

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Like most slasher fans, I’d be a liar if I said that I hadn’t considered making my own entry to the sub-genre. On the drive from Aracena, my family’s pueblo, to Huelva, there’s an old quarry 784874873983983983983that is one of the most historical sites in Southern Andalucía. Nowadays, Parque Minero Riotinto has a museum that displays artifacts from its 3,000 years as Europe’s biggest mine. The story began with the Phoenicians hunting for copper, and as the tides of time swept over the Iberian peninsular, the Romans took over when they discovered large stashes of silver. In the late nineteenth century, an entrepreneur from London purchased the site and it became one of the first British settlements in Spain. Even if the visitors loved the hot weather and spacious deserts, they missed a few of their own novel customs and decided to introduce them to their gracious hosts. Before long, a Golf course was opened and a soccer team by the name of, Recreativo de Huelva. None of those early settlers could have predicted that they had laid the foundations for the creation of the league that would give us the 8783983983983930909333largest match in the world, ‘El Clásico’ between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. 

With its dilapidated tunnels and isolated landscape, I often felt that the Riotinto mine would be the perfect location to shoot a slasher movie. A lack of time and funds however meant that I never took my daydreams further than the initial stage. When I learned about the production of XP3D, I hoped that the crew would make the most of the concept and I can’t deny a slight satisfaction in thinking that an idea of mine was actually being developed for the big screen. Albeit, by someone else and without my involvement :((

A group of medical students are given the task of hunting out any truth to the rumours that surround an abandoned mine. Years earlier, a professor ruthlessly butchered some locals, but his corpse was never discovered and legend dictates that he still roams the grounds. Due to a lack of transport, Ángela invites her younger sister, Diana, who owns a van to join them on their expedition. Their relationship broke 78873873983920920920202down after their father committed suicide and since then, they have never seen eye to eye. Almost as soon as the group arrive, they sense an ominous presence and are left having to fight to survive…

I’m from Andalucía and the fact that so much of Spain’s globally recognised culture comes from my community (Siesta, Toros, Flamenco, Tapas etc) makes me extremely proud. Even Cristóbal Colón set sale on his groundbreaking journey of discovery from the ports of Huelva. When it comes to slashers though, I have to take my hat off to Cataluña, because their track record of Los Inocentes and Los Ojos de Julia speaks for itself. XP3D is another Catalan entry and I was keen to see if it could be the Luis Suarez to sit alongside Messi and Neymar in their slasheristic 78487387398398292092092attack.  

On a relatively light budget of €3,200,000, the film looks as good as any of the entries that have thrown untold-millions behind their developments. Shooting in contained underground environments is always a recipe for a bad lighting rig, but Rosa Ros’ sets are extensive in their detail and perfectly displayed. Whilst It takes around forty minutes for our first killing, Paranormal Xperience sustains interest due to an exquisitely mastered intro, which I won’t spoil for you. I will say though that it is a masterclass of tension in a confined environment. From then on, we spend time with a group of youngsters that may not be extensively developed, but they are at least likeable and given interesting tweaks. It was a risk to fill the cast with actors that hadn’t even really made a mark in TV shows, but the dramatics are surprisingly solid, especially from Maxi Iglesias and Amaia Salamanca as our beautiful heroine. Although they prove that they weren’t only cast for their physical appearance, the camera does linger longingly on Úrsula 7487387398389398309309303Corberó’s rear-end almost as many times as it does her face. I guess though, a culo like hers deserves to be appreciated 😉

Director Sergi Vizcaino shoots the action with a visible gloss and it gives the film an adroit realism. I recall the advertising campaign, which created the impression that we were in for an out and out gore extravaganza. We do get an extremely gruesome CGI head-rip and a wince worthy moment where a rock hammer is removed from a victim’s eye socket (nasty), but not everything was shown on-screen. I did like the look of the antagonist, who 8748748739838398393093sports a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ style half-mask, but his taunts are neither threatening nor witty, which leaves them lingering without substance. 

Even if Spanish cinema is renowned for its unique character driven narratives, I’m the first to confess that we do often make films that are inspired by Hollywood trends and conventions. Following the success of Saw and My Bloody Valentine in 3D, XP attempts to follow In their footsteps with the same visual gimmick. In doing so, I feel that the film sacrificed some of its potential. It’s almost as if they were halfway through writing the script when a producer came up with the idea of 3D and then everything else fell by the wayside. All the realistic dialogue and depth that had been visible from the launch suddenly evaporates and it felt like someone gave acupuncture to the second-half of the screenplay. The characters clearly have mobile phones (I won’t mention the most obvious Sony product placement ever) and use them to contact each other whilst at the mine. When the killings finally start, not one of the panicking victims even mentions calling for assistance, which looked like a bizarre thing for the author to overlook. (?) In fairness, the invention of cellular technology was the biggest challenge that the slasher genre’s basic structure has ever faced. It can be overcome though with a simple line of goofy but expository dialogue like, ‘My battery’s dead’ or, ‘I have no signal’ (I mean, they were in an underground mine). Штольня even went as 874874873873983983209209209209far as to give us a scene that explained the lack of a call for help; – and whilst that’s not always necessary, anything looks better than absolutely nada. 

Another issue is that the film overestimates the intelligence of its gimmick. I won’t tell you how so as not to ruin any potential surprise, but it reminded me of an excited present bearer that wants to tell you what your gift is before you shake the box or rip the wrapping paper. There’s nothing wrong with a twist, because many slasher movies are built upon them, but it was easy to predict the outcome here. It could also be said that the storyline doesn’t really know what it wants to be. We launch along a pathway that makes us believe that we’re watching a film about a haunting, which makes sense considering the ‘paranormal’ title. Then the masked killer turns up and we slot into the traditional template without a second look. I mean, they do mention a supernatural-ish aspect later, but it felt like it’d been bolted on at the last minute when someone on set said to the screenwriter, “Yo dude, what about the ghostly stuff?”. The response was probably something along the lines of, “Oh yeah… Damn it, I forgot about that…” I don’t know; it just looks like the script was completed in a week and based on a combination of ideas that were cobbled together in haste. If you compare XP with Los Inocentes, it’s easy to see that one had a logical plan 8748748738739839839309309093THAT WORKED and the other plays like a skateboard rolling down a pebbled hill. 

It’s a strange analogy, but you can’t prepare a good curry by simply throwing in more spice. It’s about the finer details; the timing, the seasonings, the blend of the right herbs. XP borders on being an exquisite main course, but the fact that it throws too much into the Tandoori oven, leaves it a bit too overdone to be truly succulent. Not even a helping of gore-soaked poppadoms could perfect the taste. So with that I’m off to the kitchen…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Final Exam 1981 Review

Final Exam 1980

Directed by: Jimmy Huston

Starring: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Ralph Brown

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

So following on from my review of Fatal Exam, I thought I’d cover this peak period sleeper and get all of the ‘exam’ slashers out of the way once and for all. I must admit that I hadn’t seen it for about 873873873983983093twenty-years, so I was keen for a second viewing and thorough analysis. My perception from back then was that it was a bit too much of a Halloween magpie and I didn’t appreciate the unimaginative ‘look’ of the antagonist. I was about 15 at the time and my non-franchise favourites were the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Prowler, StageFright and Legend of Moated Manor, which all included killers with memorable masks. In comparison, Final 87387387398298298209209Exam felt, well, a little bit ‘meh’, and I have never re-visited it… Until now…

Writer/Director Jimmy Huston shot Exam over six-weeks during the spring of 1980 and he utilised friends and students that he had recruited from word of mouth and a small advertising campaign. It would be his fourth motion picture and a complete change of tone from his previous work, which was mostly genre films that played like European productions. Despite the self-sourced nature of the development, the $53,000 budget didn’t stretch as far as anticipated, which resulted in a few scenes having to be re-written or completely scrapped. I couldn’t find any information in regards to the film’s box-office performance, but it certainly acquired a solid VHS distribution deal, because I own Spanish, British and Polish copies.

As a small college prepares to close its doors for the end of semester, a number of students remain on campus for the last of the exams. Their final preparations for the journey into adulthood take a turn for the worse when a psychopathic killer 87387387298298209209begins to butcher them one by one…

I won’t be making any headlines when I inform you that Final Exam is not a competitor to Halloween, Friday the 13th or even Curtains, but I do think that it’s a much better movie than its reputation would lead you to believe. In fact, I’d say that if all the slasher flicks of the past twenty-years had been a similar level of quality, the genre would be filled with a lot more critical acclaim. 63763732872982982982

We are given the clichés of the category’s most notorious offerings with the characterisations (virginal lead, promiscuous friend, ‘horror’ nerd, bullying jock etc) but I found it intriguing how they were conveyed with a subtle depth. Radish, the curly haired geeky guy, was certainly a prototype for Scream’s Randy both physically and personally. He has a crush on our straight-laced heroine, Courtney, and his romantic pursuit shows moments of realism that are well-handled and recognisable. There’s an interesting scene, where the two have a heart to heart about her insecurities, which offers a delicate comment on the fear of rejection and the challenges of confessing true feelings. Courtney herself is clearly based on the sensitive Laurie Stroud-stereotype, but she carries a desire to overcome her social trepidation, which I thought made her more appealing. The ‘slut’ persona, Lisa, defends her actions in a humorous sequence that displays how she uses her appearance to progress. Hell, even the rebellious jock had something of a sadness about him and a desperation for recognition. All these common elements that are never explored in most slasher movies seem to be written with a keener focus and it gives the personalities an extra layer. Whilst it can be argued that the key players never really have an arc or 6565656576787879898reach the destination of their inner journies, the dialogue is memorable because it offers situations that we can relate to.

Whilst Huston deserves praise for his scripting and ability to derive convincing performances from an inexperienced cast, the look of the movie definitely belongs to Darrel Cathcart. As one of the most underrated DPs of the peak period, he really put his visual stamp down with some wide-framed set-ups and impressive camera placement. His input also greatly improved another eighties slasher (Death Screams from the same year), but Exam demonstrates the best of his work. There are countless postcard shots of the boogeyman in dimly lighted locations that are extremely impressive and even if the score is clearly 76768798090900-0-0-ripped from John Carpenter, it assists with the creation of some creepy moments.

I always felt that Michael Myers was much scarier than Jason Voorhees, because his motives were ambiguous and never clarified. Jason killed to avenge the decapitation of his mother and Michael just murdered because he was ‘pure evil’. It’s true that when it comes to antagonists, less is always more; but the killer here is a total nobody and the ‘nothing at all’ approach doesn’t work. I’m not sure if it was an unsuccessful attempt at breaking ground from Huston or some expository scenes were cut from the final print, but we’re left with a villain that is little more than a cardboard prop. We didn’t even hear the traditional radio news report that informed us that, ‘an infamous murderer has escaped the local asylum killing two-guards…’ I’ve overcome my disappointment at his lack of a ‘killer guise’, because I took it as him being so deranged that he didn’t care about concealing his identity. It’s just that the story lacks a Dr Loomis type character to elaborate his menace with some hammy lines about, ‘The blackest eyes… The devil’s eyes…’ It’s 767687989809090998776strange that the film is so similar to Halloween in its structure, but so authentic in the finer details. It’s a shame that those are the ones that no one really notices.

Over the years, many reviewers have commented on the film’s sluggish first-half and the extreme lack of gore, which are fair criticisms that I can’t defend. Personally though, I felt that this captured the essence of the peak-period superbly and showed why the golden oldies will always be the best examples of the sub-genre. There’s no denying that the pathway to the conclusion builds a sharp momentum as bodies drop in rapid succession and the final face-off in a claustrophobic bell-tower is competently staged. 87878798878776767687

Final Exam is an important addition to the slasher grouping that overcomes its accusations of imitation with some solid examples of impressive filmmaking. There are a lot of elements that don’t really move the plot in a progressive direction (the artistic, yet unnecessary POV through a kitchen vent for example) that over-inflate the runtime, but all in all there’s a lot here that warrants respect. Jimmy Huston never really revealed any trivia about the production in later interviews, which only adds to the enigma.

We live in a world that’s full of injustices and whilst Final Exam is regularly brushed aside as an average picture, Porkchop gets remade in 3D. Let that sink in for a moment…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:

Final Girl:√√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo-211

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