Blog Archives

The Orphan Killer 2011 Review

The Orphan Killer 2011

Directed by: Matt Farnsworth

Starring: Diane Foster, David Backus, Edward Winrow

454565768787

Review by Luis Joaquín González

The IMDB is such a fantastic tool for checking out big budget movies. Before going to the cinema or buying a DVD, it’s always worth looking at the ranking that a studio flick has acquired. If it’s above an 8, you’re 4545657687879898generally in for an out and out classic, whilst anything from 6.5 will certainly be worth investing two-hours of your life with. Where the site really has issues is when it comes to stalk and slash pictures. Whilst Halloween sits accurately at 7.9, Friday the 13th Part II has a measly 6. It’s even worse when you start to look at low budget entries, and that’s where I found a problem with The Orphan Killer.43456576768789898

After watching the film, I checked to see what others had been saying about it and I found five reviews in a row that had given it 1/10, the lowest ranking that the IMDB offers. There were also a few comments, including the classic, ‘Just when you think you’ve seen the worst movie in the world, you stumble upon this piece of trash.‘ Really? We live in an age where there are features available that have been shot and edited on an iPad, but if you listen to the users on the IMDB, this is poorer than any of them. Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I have to underline the necessity of a site like a SLASH above, where authors like my good self make the effort to analyse these films in detail to give you the best possible heads-up.

 

Two young children that survived the brutal murder of their parents in a botched robbery attempt are transferred to a catholic orphanage and put up for adoption. Upon arrival, Audrey manages to settle in quickly and make friends with the other kids, but her brother Marcus has a much tougher time and displays bouts of vicious violence that lead to aggressive punishment from his superiors.  It doesn’t take long for Audrey to find a home with a loving family, but Marcus is left behind to suffer abuse from the over-zealous 454565768988776665priest. Years later, Marcus escapes his confines and returns to the church to hunt out the sibling that he feels abandoned him.   

As someone who was collecting slasher VHS during the late eighties, I remember the buzz of hunting out the full version of a gore film. Back then, due to censorship issues, it was a challenge to uncover an uncut copy from foreign (usually Dutch) shores and a real treat when you finally did. The likes of Absurd or Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche were never known for their intriguing plots or great acting, but they certainly delivered on the red stuff, which gave them a unique standing. In more recent times, we have much more leniency in what gets through on DVD or Blue Ray and it means that viewers don’t only demand gruesome effects; they want everything else to boot. If The Orphan Killer had been released in 1981, it would have become one of those cult classics that horror fans spent an eternity searching for. Nowadays though it’s a fossil from a bygone era and gratuitous bloodletting alone 45656576879809886544doesn’t have the same underground appeal.

Whilst it’s hard for me to say whether my recollections of those times have swayed my opinion, I found quite a lot to appreciate about The Orphan Killer. I am writing this review the morning after the 2015 Oscars and Alejandro González Inarritu’s wonderfully kooky Birdman picked up Best Picture. It was filmed using lengthy tracking sequences that were so cleverly cut that the film looked like one continuous shot from start to finish. Director Matt Farnsworth (on a much smaller scale of course) utilises the completely opposite approach here, but also creates some intriguing visuals that brought to mind early Aronofsky. I counted 8 cuts in a thirty-second scene at one point; and each came from a camera placed in a creative location that was rarely static. It’s almost as if Farnsworth entered a room and spent hours defining all the possible areas that he could shoot from before deciding how he could apply movement to keep the momentum running. During the mid-section, there’s a marathon 4545657687989898of stalk and slash action that includes so many camera switches and angles that I literally lost count of them. A great example of this can be found in the murder of the unfortunate nun that I have posted above.

Orphan is a splatter flick at heart and the gore is exceptional considering the stringent funding. Heads are crushed, squashed, smashed and in one really gruesome scene, split in two by a machete. I recall numerous moments that made me flinch away due to the level of grotesque imagery, and this is a picture that revels in the suffering of its players. Marcus Miller is a terrifyingly ruthless antagonist and he stalks with an obvious menace that brings to mind the iconic bogeymen of yesteryear. Unlike many of his kin, Marcus taunts his victims with verbal threats that add to his intimidation and the backstory works to help build his psychopathic aura. David Backus does a superb job of bringing the killer 4565768787989809to life and he fills the role with power, strength and maniacal intent. 

Even if I have highlighted that gore films are never huge on character development, it is clearly visible how the lack of any at all has left Orphan looking extremely hollow. It’s rare that you’ll see a cast list with so many anonymous credits such as ‘Skateboarder’ or ‘Urban Legend Teen #2’ and the people featured within are given less importance than the props the killer uses to dispatch them. It makes such a difference to have players that we’ve invested in emotionally, but even the heroine failed to win us over in this script. This leaves the film without a solid structure and it plays almost like a collection of kill scenes that have been loosely stapled together. I’m not a fan of death metal and I look at horror as a genre that succeeds when audio and visual are juxtaposed together to bring an environment to life. More often than not I found myself reaching for the ear plugs and the 4545657687878798film could have done with a suitably creepy score.

Once Marcus has finally caught and imprisoned Audrey, we get some slower paced torture porn-like scenes that are a lot less engrossing. A directorial style as rapid as Farnsworth’s didn’t flow as well in an enclosed environment and the best pieces of his work came during the numerous chase sequences. In terms of dramatics, the performances were weak but serviceable and kudos to Diane Foster, who gives her all in a portrayal that 4565657687899898asked an incredible amount of physicality. The insane killer stalking his sister synopsis has been done to death, but Orphan manages to keep you interested, despite the numerous flaws.

Matt Farnsworth has worked really hard here to give us a film that pushes the boundaries of what we have experienced previously. It infuriates me that all this effort can be brushed off by a 1/10 rating without recognition of all that he has achieved. It’s ok to dislike a film, but it’s a waste of time to read any write-up that contains something along the lines of ‘this is the worst movie ever made’. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that it simply is not…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√√

Gore √√√√√

Final Girl: √√

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

 4565657687877644343445

Burlesque Massacre 2011 Review

Burlesque Massacre 2011

Directed by: Tim Whitfield

Starring: Crystal Swarovski, Olivia Bellafontaine, Polly Peabody

67363672782782

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Tim Whitfield is another of those self-financing underground directors that has built up a catalogue of horror films on 774785785784874383983983983983low budgets and released and distributed them through his own company, Timberwolf West Entertainment. Back in 2002, he produced a slasher movie called Summer’s End: The Legend of Samhain, which added a supernatural sheen to the standard masked killer vs teen template. It was extremely low 64674874378387383893893983983983983budget, but it played true to its eighties heritage and delivered a high quota of boobs and blood. I have it in Spain amongst my other VHS cassettes and will no doubt review it in the future.

Over ten years later, Whitfield returned to the genre with Burlesque Massacre, a title that he has said pays homage to the sleaze-ridden entries from the seventies. It’s available to buy from his website and you can also get a copy on Amazon at an agreeable price.

 

After a creepy black and white intro that shows a naked chick getting drowned in a bath, we meet a group of low level strippers at a dance club. They’re planning to take a break for a weekend at the abode of one of their friend’s with a 785785785498489398398398498494couple of days to practice before their next gig. Unfortunately for them, it seems that they’re sharing the house with a pair of vicious killers that plan to slaughter them all.

First things first, Burlesque Massacre is a huge improvement on Samhain in terms of production quality. The photography is crystal clear and beautifully plush, which gives the movie an extremely polished look. Whitfield incorporates various shades to his colour palette that include sepia for the recollection footage and grainy borders to reference the 70s Grindhouse inspirations. He’s also invested in a stylish soundtrack that is competently mixed and works wonders in the opening twenty-minutes to7574843838398292922 vitalise the tone. We hear a melodic piano composition at one point that is so unique and operatic that it really gives the runtime a gloss of professionalism that hides the moderate budget.

Burlesque doesn’t dwindle in the delivery of its subject matter and we see three murders and two full frontal nudity shots in the first fifteen minutes. I don’t recall any lengthy periods where someone isn’t about to get slaughtered and Whitfield shows an awareness that slashers often get tedious when the maniac is not on the screen. There is little chance of that happening though because there is a tag team of psychopaths at work, and they notch up an impressive number of corpses between them as the story unravels. The 6546474378378387387383983983main bogeyman has a skull-mask and hulking frame and despite the film not being overtly gory with what it displays, the killings are gruesome due to their remorselessness.

I’m not giving away anything by revealing the crux of the plot, because Burlesque is not a whodunit. Our villains are a brother and sister who have grown into a incestuous relationship due to the abuse of their father. We are shown numerous scenes where they get it on (sometimes around corpses) and this ups the sleaze factor to the maximum. They plan to murder all of the strippers and then take off somewhere so that they can be together and open a dance school, but we never really learn how they plan to cover their tracks. It does seem that their murderous mission is the crux of the synopsis, because none of the other girls step up to take on the protagonist mantle. Usually this is the kind of thing that is likely to ruin similar features, but Burlesque moves so quickly and is so packed to the rafters with action that I barely got time to notice 64674737838738383893what was lacking.

This is at heart another title like Porn Shoot Massacre or Strip Club Slasher that aims to be as perverted as possible to attract the T&A type of audience. I have mentioned previously that slasher movies that go with the softcore approach are not my bag and if I must be honest, my stance hasn’t changed. The incest scenes were OTT and disturbing and went a bit too far for my tastes. I like my slashers to be cheesy and scary, but I don’t need to see so much nudity and exploitation. Still, I 674764783873983892982982can openly admit that this is down to my personal preference and if screaming hookers in their skin suits rocks your boat then that’s fine by me.

Whilst not really being the kind of entry that I usually enjoy, I must admit that there’s loads for others to like about Burlesque Massacre. It’s a gritty take on the slasher template that has moments of creepiness, bundles of murders and an overall flair for unpredictability. Stalk and slash flicks are meant to be fun and Whitfield deserves credit for avoiding the flaws that destroy so many of his brethren. By avoiding the typical mystery aspect, giving us a twosome of maniacs and keeping with its aura of sadism, its actually fairly authentic.

I say check it out…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√

Gore √√

Final Girl √

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

646747848758758754848484894984983983983983

Demons Never Die 2011 Review

Demons Never Die 2011

aka Suicide Kids

Directed by: Arjun Rose

Starring: Robert Sheehan, Ashley Waters, Jason Maza

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Oh Tulisa Tulisa. A couple of months ago I posted a review of Nine Lives here on the site. Admittedly it’s a hunk of junk, but the fact that it had a cameo from alcoholic nympho Paris Hilton, meant that at least it had a minor 6746747378328728728282sense of allure. Well here we have Demons Never Die, one of the few slasher flicks produced in 2011. Ok so there’s no Gucci bag clenching heiresses in sight, but it does include a walk on appearance from Tulisa Contostavlos aka the new Cheryl Cole. (Just before finishing this review, I noticed she also has a sex tape floating about)74e674673783782829822

Hands up who watches X Factor? Come on boys, you’re only lying to yourself if you say no. Not many people know this, but I’ve had an action packed life so far and I once got through a couple of auditions for the big X. I sang Enrique Iglesias’ Hero to a producer and she said, “Yes!” What a great day that was. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that watch every show with my One Direction t-shirt on and my phone in my palm. I do however have it on in the background while the Mrs remains transfixed and if I could recreate that magic feeling when I got the golden ticket and sell it on to everyone that I know… Well let’s just say coke dealers in London would be out of business. Was it really that good? Heeeell yeah!

Anyway back to the film, or kind of. So Tulisa’s success as the Cheryl replacement on the aforementioned 78784783783873823892982]program has pushed her celebrity status up a few thousand notches and Arjun Rose (cool name) has capitalised on that timing to cast her in a bit part here. Did she improve sales amongst teeny-boppers? I would say probably yes. Does she improve the movie in any way outside of eye candy? I would definitely say no. Funnily enough she grew up in the same part of London as me and we obviously both come from ‘other’ European heritage, which is noticeable by our (not so) ‘strong British names’. The difference is that she is now a 74764783783873873873millionaire celebrity and me… well I’m definitely not. But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom, I get to review slasher films for you peeps every day.

When a girl is mistakenly thought to have taken her own life, a gang of youngsters launch a suicide pact. They plan to go out with a bang and decide to set-up a memorable occasion. In 73674673738723872829829822the meantime, they seem to be getting help in the form of a masked maniac. Who could it be that’s killing them off?

Back in the days when Internet was still growing, a small company called Google was desperately looking for an injection of cash. They had two meetings with Yahoo CEO Terry Selem over dinner with the possibility of a take-over. Google’s then chairman, Larry Page, was not over keen on 873267236728728728792982selling, but admitted that an offer of $3billion would be tough to turn down. Selem was furious at the proposal and felt he had a much better plan B. “Five billion dollars, seven billion, ten billion. I don’t know what they’re really worth and you don’t either,” he told his staff. “There’s no fucking way we’re going to do this!” So talks closed down, both chased their own projects and went their separate ways. Some ten years later, Google reported gross profits of $7.8 billion in Q4 of 2011, whilst Yahoo managed $1.08. Selem is now in a different employment and Yahoo missed the chance to be the undisputed kings of the internet. That my friends is what you would call a bad decision.

Do you want to hear about another?

Ok check this out: You put together the funds to make a slasher movie. In a haze of trying to be original, some bright spark comes up with a maniac killing off people that want to die. No, seriously. So this brings up a major problem. How do you build any kind of sympathy or connection with people that the killer is in effect helping to achieve their aims? Now don’t get me wrong, the story does attempt to divert from this by revealing the ‘shock’ decision that they change their minds and actually 7636723872872982989822decide against it. By that point though we are left with a bunch of cardboard cut out personalities and no one really to bond to.

Demons is obviously heavily inspired by Wes Craven’s Scream and includes a multitude of references. Many of them reach beyond the realms of just ‘inspiration’ to flagrant copy and paste territory. For a genre that has survived on its ability to self reference, this is all acceptable if it’s handled correctly. Rose’s script lacks charm however and the wit to 87236736723872387298298298u22accompany its lack of authenticity and energy. A solid collection of capable actors are left without a challenging depth to their characters and therefore have no possibility to shine.

As slasher movies are not renowned for their strengths in dramatics, complexity in plotting or philosophical messages, they can only really aim for two emotions. The first and most obvious is fear – everybody loves a good scare. The only other option is to make the film as camp as possible and give the audience something to enjoy in a more humorous way. Demons however gets lost in its attempt to convey a message that a) we don’t understand and b) we don’t give a damn about; – and it takes itself far too seriously to be fun. There’s a large-ish body count, a few attempts to mimic horror classics such as The 8738738739823982982982Blair Witch Project and an unclear but interesting motive, but it’s technically weak and therefore just not good enough to deliver any thrills.

I saw some positive reviews floating around before I picked this up myself, but I am guessing that they were posted by crew members as a form of marketing, because what I saw was pretty irredeemable. I mean, what’s the moral of the story? What’s the point? Don’t commit suicide because a maniac will come and kill you? I wouldn’t care about the lack of logic if it at least had something, anything, to cover up the obvious amateurism. I grew up in the kind of areas that this 6363673672728728728722film attempts to convey. Some of the people that I knew back then lacked an education or anything really to offer the tough society that we lived in. None of them however were dumb enough to run in to a dimly lighted forest instead of to the nearest crowd of people after witnessing a murder, which these fools seem to do consistently.

I remember one great song on the soundtrack that lifted the mood about halfway through. Congratulations to Jessie J; a fine example of the talent of London youth. As for Arjun Rose, a former stockbroker, he needs to try harder…

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:√√

Final Girl: √√

RATING:

654356365362672626722

Fright Flick 2011 Review

Fright Flick 2011

Directed by: Israel Luna

Starring: Chad Allen, Richard D. Curtin, Todd Jenkins

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

So what did you slasher fans think of 2011? Thirty-three years after the release of Halloween and the genre is 64647638737838728282892982again going through something of a lull. The biggest flick of the year was the fourth chapter in the Scream trilogy, which to be fair was a bit of a flop, but most surprising was the amount (or therefore lack) of DTV entries that were financed by up and coming filmmakers. Now since the success of the original Scream, Brain Damage and the like have been rolling out slashers by the bucket load, but this year it all came to a thundering halt with very few hitting646473873882982838374746437373828282 the ex-rental DVD sale section of Blockbusters. It’s become so bad that I’m longing for the likes of To Become One, Camp Blood and Paranoid again. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my drift

Fright Flick was one of those that snuck out last year, but even that’s not entirely proof that there’s still a desire to make these films, as it was completed in 2008. Shot in Dallas on a minimal budget by Texan filmmaker Israel Luna, who had received high praise for his camp cult/revenge flick Ticked-off Trannies with Knives, it was one I had been keen to see.

A group of filmmakers are preparing to shoot the third and final sequel to the ‘Fright Flick’ series, but almost as 7678575soon as production begins, there’s obvious animosity and jealousy on the set between the cast and crew. The franchise has something of a morbid history as during the development of the first chapter, the lead actress was murdered by an unseen assailant. As soon as shooting begins, it becomes apparent that the maniac has returned and the people involved begin to die at the gloved hand of the killer…

Many slasher movies have chosen film productions as a backdrop for slaughter and it is as good a reason as any to place a group of victims against a maniacal nut job. Although Fright Flick makes good use of its synopsis, it doesn’t try to blur its film within a film fantasy so much with the slashertastic reality of what’s going on. Cinematically, I guess you could say that this was closest in its structure to that forgotten entry, Return to Horror High, but it’s hard to tell if that’s intentional or not. There have been so many parodies by now of the flicks of old that at times it feels like there are no ideas left to mock. Luna’s self-penned script however gets the mix of humour and horror spot on, by keeping the references flowing but restricted to only a couple of major genre pictures. The hints are so subtle that at times I was unaware if they were deliberate or not, but then in the final third, the director reveals that he’s done his homework as we see a neat homage to Halloween II, Friday the 13th (heavy) and believe it or not, Pieces. It was delivered with finesse and without giving too much away, I loved the closing 5465467373738723828374374364664sequence and remember thinking, ‘Are they really going to go there?’ Go there they did and it was a perfect OTT and fitting finale.

Israel Luna is a proud member of his local gay community and if I hadn’t just told you that, you’d easily have guessed it by watching this film (and Ticked-Off Trannies most definitely). Almost every male character here is either homosexual or bi and he camps them up to the max, which leads to a few intentional laughs. There are jokes that are targeted specifically at gay film fans, but as a straight guy, I also enjoyed them. There’s pretty much something here for all genre enthusiasts and if you keep 6464673478378387382828929292929in mind that the first thing(s) on-screen are an enormous pair of silicone lady lumps in the most gratuitous ‘shower scene’ anywhere ever, you will know pretty much what to expect.

There’s quite a bit of gore too and the opening few murders are creative and fast paced. We get a tripod through the skull, a smart decapitation (one of two) and the most ingenious ‘garden shear murder’ that I have seen for a while. I wasn’t amazed by Luna’s direction; I mean, there were no stand-out ‘wow’ sequences, but the odd trick he pulled off just about worked. The ‘turn on the light’ sequence in the bathroom was well handled and there were a couple of decent jumps. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the sound wasn’t completed on the rough print I watched, so it’ll probably look a lot better in the final release that you folks will see. What was weird was that whilst the first four of five murders were 654646737373723828273743646463737287282rock and roll, they started to become a bit samey as the film wore on. It’s almost as if the director ran out of budget later and had to take us back to basics.

The performances are below average, but passable, it all looks polished enough and it’s a fun popcorn flick that delivers most things you’re looking for from a slasher movie. So is there anything that I hated? Well, to be honest, no not really. The characters are all unlikeable but it seemed like part of the gimmick, so I can’t really complain about that. There were only very few scares, but most modern-day slashers have lost the art of building a foreboding atmosphere, so it’s become par for the course. It’s 647478387382892982929398389839834called Fright Flick, but there’s nothing here very frightening. In fact, there’s nothing at all. It’s not one for people who can’t forgive the odd goof, because it gets very stupid in places, especially in the way that some of the victims are still screaming/moving LONG after they should have been dead.

This is a straight up new age slasher flick that makes the most of a low-budget and aims to give viewers a good time. I would say that it’s better than Gutterballs that was produced around the same time and if you set your expectations low enough, you’ll probably enjoy some of the cool murders and easy-to-recognise references from one of the category faves. Although I would love to see a modern-day entry that captures the chilling environment that we saw in the likes of The Mutilator, House by the Cemetery and The Prowler, until then this is as good as we’ve got – and by now, I am used to it. 

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:√√√

Final Girl: √

RATING:

90383673