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Stripped To Kill 1987 Review

Stripped To Kill 1987

Directed by: Katt Shea Ruben

Starring: Kay Lens, Greg Evigen, Norman Fell

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Review by Luisjo González

John Carpenter’s Halloween is certainly one of the most imitated movies ever released. It could, in fact, be THE most 2021-10-14 (2)copied in motion picture history. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the only slasher movie to create a string of wannabes. Friday the 13th started all the killer in the woods flicks and it even got a straight up duplicate with 2000’s Scream Bloody Murder. 1982’s Slumber Party Massacre also had a landslide of impersonators, including Fatal Pulse, Sorority House Massacre and Cheerleader Massacre. There was another eighties slasher that inspired production teams to become magpies again and that was this Roger Corman beauty. In fairness, this itself is an echo of Murder-Rock from 1984, but it’s overwhelming success created a raft of similar themed cinematics that continued until the early nineties.2021-10-14 (3)

I’ve told you guys previously that as a born and bred womaniser, slashers in strip bars are possibly my favourite kind. I’m a successful businessman, but all my bosses will tell you, I put the ladies before everything else, always; – even work. Will this mindset make Stripped to Kill my all time favourite genre entry? Let’s see…

When Detective Cody Sheehan discovers the body of a stripper from the Rock Bottom dance club, she begins an investigation. Her partner, Detective Heineman, is equally involved, but the only way Cody can get the assignment from her superiors is to go undercover as a stripper at the club…

Here we have a movie that truly is 95% strip, 5% slash. With only a couple of murders until the final five minutes, calling this a stalk and slash flick is more than a bit misleading. I’m actually surprised STK was so popular because it’s2021-10-14 (29) true most men like watching girls strip, but most women don’t; – and it’s literally non-stop dance sequences for the majority of the runtime. The laydees featured are better than the ones we usually see in films of this ilk, because they do flips and cartwheels on stage. It can get monotonous viewing them after a while, when you’d prefer to see more slasher action and we get kind of disappointed to be stuck with the same old sh*t. We see none of the stalking sequences that made Halloween so enjoyable, the hooded killer just turns up briefly once or twice. The slaughters are creative in their MO, with a strangulation and setting someone on fire, but the director shows us no build up, so there’s no excitement or tension at all. We don’t even get heavy breath POVs or slow-mo stalking. Alfred Hitchcock said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it”, but Katt Shea Ruben must not be a fan of the legendary filmmaker, because she gives us a disappointing ZERO. Whilst I was disenchanted by the lack of key genre trappings, I liked most of the characters and Lenz actually has ok-ish chemistry with Evigen. They were a couple that genuinely looked like they could be together.

The crux of the synopsis is the police investigation into the murders and we get a couple of attractive young cops that 2021-10-14 (20)are hot on the case. Unfortunately the script doesn’t even get this right, because it’s impossible for anyone with an IQ bigger than an ant to believe any ‘constabulary of the law’ would let one of their detectives work undercover as a stripper. They do attempt to explain this later in the runtime, but once things fall into the realms of make believe, we struggle to take the feature seriously again. I guess, the best thing, was that STK certainly seemed more ‘eighties’ than usual and the spandex, big hair and mullets really took me back to the decade I grew up in. Surprisingly enough, whilst many slasher pictures from this time were undeniably cheesy, this one steers clear of being too camp, which is a shock. Whilst I was disenchanted by by the lack of slasher action, I didn’t hate the characters and Lenz gives us a final girl that we want to succeed. Director Shea used real strippers in her cast, but none of the girls here have a decent rack at all. As I said in my review of Strip Club Slasher, I’ve dated a couple of strippers and they and all their work buddies were well endowed with huge breasts. A couple of them were silicone laden, but busty all the same. I guess, because my personal taste is not the slim, sporty Keira Knightly type, I am being selfish by criticising the girls featured in this flick. If you like laydees with cero curves, you’ll be happy with the chicas featured. I suppose you could say I am a true Latin guy that likes the Latin, coca cola bottle shaped figure. I just prefer voluptuous curves to slim stick insects. In Spain we say, eres tanta curva y yo sin frenos!

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Obviously I saw this many years ago and revisiting it the day before yesterday reminded me that I’ve never particularly liked STK. It’s an ok thriller with a twist that I didn’t guess, but it’s often poorly acted and as I alluded to, almost fantasy with its screenplay. Roger Corman regularly used female directors to cover up accusations of misogyny, but Katt Shea Ruben is not one of the better ones. It’s a disappointment that a film with such a huge budget couldn’t have been better, but it did lead to a number of great imitations including the wonderful almost remake, Dance with Death. I guess you can add it to your collection if you love slashers, but it’s not one I’d recommend to convince non believers. For a Strip & Slasher it falls far too short.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:

Final Girl:√√

RATING: securedownload-1 - Copy (2)

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Dance with Death 1992 Review

Bailando Con La Muerte 1992

aka Dance With Death

Directed by: Charles Philip Moore

Starring: Jill Pierce, Maxwell Caulfield, Barbara Alyn Woods

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Review by Luisjo González

I’m not going to repeat the same stories I’ve told you all before about watching Halloween when I was 1six-year’s-old and then becoming a slasher addict. However I can tell you an amusing story that relates to this picture. I was obviously hunting through my video rental emporiums for more slasher trash and I came across the cover of Stripped to Kill way back when. The back blurb seemed pretty slasher, but the problem was, my madre wouldn’t let me rent it because of the suggested nudity on the package description. Eventually, I was able to go to Stoke Newington high street with an older kid from my street, and I was able to pay a homeless guy to rent the forbidden movie for me.0987654345678909876543234567898765432345678765432

Obviously I love the ladies and the eight-year old me was enamoured with what I saw during that runtime. It’s sad to think that we grew up so quick in crime ridden London and sometimes I regret not having a childhood. What does information about Stripped to Kill have to do with Dance with Death you rightly ask? Well, this motion picture is a jazzed-up remake of STK, they even use the same dialogue and it’s from the same author. DWD was one of a number of dance/strip related slasher movies that were released following the success of the 1987 Roger Corman thriller, Stripped To Kill. Some others include: Slash Dance, Deadly Dancer, Last Dance, Strip Club Slasher and The Rain Killer. Whist we’re on that subject, it must be stated that STK was not an authentic movie and was itself a rip off of Lucio Fulci’s Murder-rock from 1984.

A number of killings at a local strip joint give a reporter the chance to go undercover and begin an 987654345678908765432345678987654345678investigation. Kelly gets a job as a stripper and begins to question the resident dancers. As she gets closer to the truth, more and more people end up dead and she looks to be next on the killer’s list…

I understand that certain people may believe that a slasher movie in a strip bar is going to have zero class and be extremely exploitive. Whilst I admit the setup is tacky, the characterisations are not. The females in the cast are all written as strong women and the heroine is a fiery reporter with a forceful will. This is a slasher movie of course, with a masked killer and all the trimmings, but at times, it’s possible to forget you’re watching a horror film. A couple of the dancers have issues that are covered, we have the journalist backstory due to the final girl’s employment and finally the owner of the club, which is called Bottoms up, is having regular issues with his employees. There are a few slaughters, but they’re not spaced close together, which makes you wonder what tone the production1 team was aiming for. We go from a strip scene, to a brutal murder, then attempts at humour, something of a romance between the leads and it’s all thrown at us in about five minutes. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel? Was I meant to be scared? In a comic mood? Or involved in the liaison?

The key element of the story of course is the mystery of who’s killing everybody. There’s a number of suspects, but I worked it out by the dialogue. It took me a while and I admit it’s not an easy one to solve, but listen to what they say closely. What’s interesting is that Bottoms Up the bar is always full, but the car park outside is consistently empty. Do they walk home at 2am? Rather them than me, I tell you. I’ve never been to a strip bar in reality, because I am not interested in looking if I can’t touch. Being a handsome guy gives me that luxury (wink w345678909876543234567890-09876543234567890-09876wink – joke, I’m handsome but not arrogant!!)). Anyway, If I were to venture to Bottoms Up by chance, I’d demand my money back. The only girl with a decent rack, the stunning Lola (hottie Jill Pierce), is the first killed and the rest of the laydees are flatter than a pancake on my ironing board. If these guy customers are paying to watch these strumpets, they must be desperate. Go to a disco and get yourself a girl you can take home with you after.

One of the striptastic boogie queens is reported to have a drug problem and we see her laughing and then falling in to the crowd. She gets sacked for being a junkie and then if that’s not bad enough, she gets killed (brutal murder btw). It’d be nice if the screenwriters did some research when writing the dire-logue for a movie that’s going to be shown in cinemas. The only drug that makes you laugh is marijuana and it’s not so bad that you’d burst into hysterics on stage whilst working. Cocaine, crack, heroin, PCP are not giggling drugs and she wasn’t on LSD, because no one mentioned hallucinations. Whilst we talking about the script, I bust out laughing when the cop was telling some criminal sales guy98765432345678987654345678987654324567 that he was interrogating to go away. He said, in Spanish ‘vamos amigo’ and walks off?? Vamos means we go, not go away. What he meant to say was, vete or vaya (go away or you go). I wonder how much these authors got paid for this crapola??? Why use Español and get it wrong. My head was in my hands. 😂

I always disliked Prom Night’s balaclava, because I thought it was lazy from Peter Simpson to go for something so basic. The assassin here also sports a similar black mask, but I thought it worked much better in DWD. I guess it could be because of his height/build. Drew Snyder from Terror Eyes plays the editor, but thankfully they had more sense than casting him as a womaniser as he was in the 1981 slasher classic. I mentioned in my original review, how unrealistic 345678909876543456789098765432345678909876543212345678that looked having the balding Snyder as a lady killer. Maxwell Caulfield is the detective and whilst he’s not a horrible actor, the way his career fell apart is a real shame. To go from a huge film like Grease 2 to Dance with Death is really disappointing. He stayed busy, but for a handsome guy, it was a big fall from the top. None of the performances featured stink the place out and all in all it’s an enjoyable runtime.

A slasher movie that allows me to see topless women is always going to be my favourite kind, so expect me to review of the rest of this type before the end of 2022. I had fun with Dance with Death. One or two brutal murders, an interesting plot, a good mystery and the chance to see topless women. If that ticks your boxes, check it out. One last question I’ll answer for the ladies… Is this a motion picture for slasherettes? I still say, yes. They won’t enjoy the female nudity (unless they’re gay), but as I said, the puzzle is good and it’s not tedious. Perhaps the21345678909876543212345678909876543212345678908765432345678765432123456789876543 biggest plus of all is the beautiful and breathtakingly stunning Jill Pierce plays the first victim, Lola. I first saw her in Darkroom, but it seems she had a boob job, because since then, she’s gone from a 32A (it looked about that) to a 34DD. That’s some enlargement in three years. She’s up there with Traci Lords, Natti Natasha, Abbie Shapiro, Christine Hendricks and Ariel Winter in the gorgeous stakes. Married and madly in love, I still 1000% would🤣. I wish my Mum moved to USA instead of England all those años ago. I guarantee that if I was working close to that set when they were shooting Dance With Death, I would’ve asked out and dated Jill Pierce. Maybe I’d have another kid with her by now haha. Peace

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11a-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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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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Amerikill 1999 Review

Amerikill 1999

Directed by: Chris LaMartina

Starring: Sean Quinn, Jenny Saurallo, Andrew Hughes

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

How ya didling a SLASH abovers? Here we have another obscurity that I’ve spent years tracking down to examine for y’all – I’m just too damn nice! Amerikill was the first horror flick from esteemed director 76873873983983093093Chris LaMartina and it really is a ‘junior project’ in every sense of the word. Whilst it has become a cliche of the genre that most slasher films have actors in their mid-thirties unconvincingly playing teens, Amerikill turns that totally on its head. You see, this was Mr LaMartina’s High School project and he shot it with his friends at the age of 14!7838739839830930930930-3

I learned of its existence when I purchased Death O’Lantern from Warlock Home Video. They had a large catalogue of titles and what stood out to me about this one was the killer’s awesome Jester guise. I immediately tried to buy a copy, but was told that there were none left and there likely wouldn’t be any more available. Dejected, I set up an eBay search and tried all the usual methods of allocating a copy, to no avail. My recent review of President’s Day put me in touch directly with filmmaker Chris LaMartina and after a few begging emails, I managed to finally get him to send me a pristine DVD…

A small town High School is thrown into chaos when ‘Jester Face’ – a vicious masked serial killer – begins butchering local kids. A group of friends set out to solve the mystery by watching ‘cheesy slasher 7687387383983983093093films’ to uncover the killer’s logic. 

Before we kick off the review, I think it’s important that I mention something that will better allow you to understand this film. In terms of maturity, I was something of a late bloomer. I’ve just turned thirty-five and when I look back on the silly things that I did in my past, I wish that I had the ‘intelligence’ or ‘cultural understanding’ that I posses today. Adult minds are filled with analysis of past experiences, consideration of consequences and a greater fear of risk, whereas youngsters only think, ‘That looks cool, let’s do it!’. At the age of fourteen, I had no idea what a protagonist was, the difference between gibberish and complex dialogue or the reasons why I enjoyed certain films more than others. My list of ‘essential good movie ingredients’ was the size of a postage stamp and I could mindlessly sit through crap like Ninja Terminator or Day of Judgement without flinching an eyelid. Now of course, the smallest mediocre element can force me to reevaluate my rankings and even a great eighties cheese-fest like Commando has lost some of its 7387383983930930930-3appeal. 

I tell you this because it has a lot to do with how you may perceive Amerikill. Did I think it was a very good movie? No, not particularly. Would I have done so when I was an impressionable fifteen-year-old? Hell yeah!! You see, this is a ‘fan boy’ film in the truest sense and ticks all the boxes that we know and love. It is very obviously inspired by Wes Craven’s Scream but also verbally pays homage to some peak period slasher hits such as, Sleepaway Camp. What surprised me most though was that there were a few 76387387383983983093signs of credibility that transcended the dime store budget and pre-pubescent age range.

For a start, it’s amazing how there are so few visible weaknesses in the dramatics. Whilst we are not talking method actors by any means, we see very little flat or wooden line delivery, which is a real achievement considering the amateur cast members. It could be argued of course that the kids were literally ‘playing themselves’; but in comparison with most budget stalk and slashers, Amerikill has no bad performances that really stand out. We get a whodunit mystery that waddles along admirably and even if I guessed who was under the mask early on, I never felt completely sure of my decision, and there was even a twist of kind before the credits rolled. As I mentioned earlier, the maniac has a truly creepy disguise and it led me to wonder why there are so many killer clowns, but so few psycho jesters? This dude outshone Marty Rantzen from Slaughter High, simply because he looked much more ominous in black with a white face mask that was splashed with blood. We get a number of kill scenes that include some bare 87387398398393o39030-bones attempts at gore and they all take place to the strains of a rock soundtrack that actually includes a few decent songs. 

I guess that the reason I can’t really say that Amerikill will appeal to all slasher buffs is because it is very much a teenage movie. It was almost awkward for me watching the production, because I felt like an old guy that was trying to fit in. That’s no fault of the filmmakers of course, they couldn’t change their age; but it’s important that you prepare yourself before viewing the film. We do get a semblance of a plot narrative, but there’s no central character or script cohesion, which is totally understandable considering the lack of experienced heads on set. In fact, it’s pointless really to 87387387398398309320920-2criticise Amerikill because it’s astounding how much the director managed to get right. Even Tim Ritter was two-years older when he made Day of the Reaper and that’s nowhere near as slick as this.

When all is said and done, Amerikill is much better than it has any right to be. We can ignore the lack of Police, the flimsy structure etc, because this is a high school project and if you leave your brain at the door, you might even enjoy some parts of the film; – I know I did. There’s fun to be had with the cheesetastic gore and we see a glimpse of the light humour tone that was so successful in President’s Day. Also, have you ever wondered why might happen if a masked killer bumped into a trio of school bullies? No? Well Chris LaMartina has – and his interpretation of it is actually pretty funny… I’m glad I saw Amerikill. 

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Fatal Exam 1985 Review

Fatal Exam 1985

Directed by: Jack Snyder

Starring: Mike Coleman, Terry Comer, Carol Fitzgerald Carlberg

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Good morning a SLASH abovers… So, here we have one that I never thought that I’d be adding to this 65767687989889887766656website.  I’ve owned Fatal Exam on VHS for many years, but I didn’t bother covering it because I’ve always considered it to be a bit of an outsider. I guess that it just about scrapes the guidebook in terms of what’s needed to fit within the standard template, but I was under the impression that it was a little too Satanic to really be a traditional entry. Still, with so many of you asking me to include it (12 at last count), I decided to dust off my VHS cassette and give it a whirl.

A college professor gives six students an assignment to stay in a secluded house and investigate some murders that took place a few years earlier. As the weekend unfolds, strange occurrences begin to unsettle the visitors…

The best way that I could describe Fatal Exam to you is by comparing it with one of those all-day conferences that companies send you on to do some ‘networking’. As you enter the site at 8:30 in the am, you see crates of beers being lined up behind the bar and a sign that reads, “Free drinks and 7676878989899887767676snacks after the event”. You sit in a chair for the next six hours battling exhaustion, boredom and the desperate desire to fidget, whilst maintaining positivity by picturing the booze and cocktail sausages that you’ll eventually be consuming (and stuffing in your briefcase whilst no one’s looking). In the case of James Snyder’s long-forgotten debut feature though, it’s like a fourteen-hour lecture on the collaboration of a steel plate with only a stick of celery and a cup of soda water to look forward to when it’s finally finished.

120 minutes is a risky runtime for Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest motion picture achievement, so you can 7676767766545456576878imagine what to expect from a flick by Jack ‘no idea what momentum means’ Snyder. Despite the glamour and glitz, filmmaking can be a long and frustrating process, because crews spend hours shooting the same thing at countless angles in order to get the right ‘tone’ for every scene. A talented editor makes his mark thereafter by removing excessive overindulgence and making sure that a taut but descriptive pace is amalgamated from the mounds of footage. Fatal Exam plays like Snyder didn’t trust his audience to understand anything without being held by the hand, so every sequence is conveyed without any dynamism or brevity at all. When a character mouths a statement in a group conversation, we see a separate reaction shot from each person, which is totally unnecessary and monotonous, because really we only needed the one  – or even none at all. Also, a simple action, like someone getting an item from their car, will be displayed to us by them exiting the house, heading along a pathway, opening the boot, picking up the item and then returning. All this wasn’t necessary, because the same point could be emphasised in a single line of expository dialogue. In the world of Señor Snyder however, he yearns to show you e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in the finest detail, which gets very boring, very quickly. The film even starts with our protagonist climbing out of bed, brushing his hair, cleaning his teeth, eating a bowl of cereal, getting dressed, entering his car and driving to school. I mean FFS! JUST START THE DAMN MOVIE FROM THE DAMN SCHOOL!!!45656576879898980909

In fact, the first forty-five minutes could have been removed and replaced with a simple text intro that would’ve worked a whole lot better. We could’ve read something like, ” Ambitious student Nick and a gang of his college buddies are given an assignment to spend a weekend at the house where the sadistic Malcolm Nostrand killed his family two-years earlier. Here’s what happened once they settled in.” That would have given us the same amount, if not more, information than we gained from the coma-inducing hour of watching bad actors do a big pile of nada. The net result is something that I can only guess was created to test the patience of Buddhist monks. Either that or it was funded by the CIA as a potential psychological weapon of torture? I’m joking of course, but the truth is that this is a sleep-inducing marathon of pointless nothingness. Apparently the film was completed in 1985, but sat on a shelf for five-years because the crew ‘ran out of budget’. I am not surprised, think how much $$$ was wasted on shooting scenes that were completely devoid of relevance. 16mm film isn’t cheap, you know. By the way, I must give a shout out to Carl Leta, the guy that scored the movie. He really played like a man that knew what he was up against, but battled valiantly to try and bring some kind of atmosphere to what he 4565676768787788was given. It was amusing that the score was getting creepier and creepier, but all we could see on screen were a gang of halfwits doing another big pile of na….

The reason that I was in no rush to post Fatal Exam here was not only because it’s an arduous feature to sit through, but mainly because it plays more like Blood Cult than it does a typical slasher flick. We do get an antagonist in a cool grim reaper-alike guise, but he’s one of a number of villains that appear in the final thirty-minutes, which is alien to the more standard ‘central boogeyman’ trademark. Ironically, I wrote two paragraphs about the film’s lacklustre editing strategy, but the one noteworthy slasher sequence that we do get on the 78 minute mark is cut so rapidly that we can barely make out what’s happening. It’s a shame, because after sitting through all 656768787887877676that nonsense for so long, I felt as if I thoroughly deserved the ‘free beer and sandwiches’ for my effort. What I got though was the aforementioned mouldy stick of celery and a glass of flat tomato juice.

I’m not sure what else I can tell you about Fatal Exam. I guess it’s like an even more tedious version of Girls School Screamers, but with a silly satanic sheen and the worst digital special effect at the conclusion that I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’d recommend watching it if only to see that C64-type moment of cheesy eighties madness. So this is nowhere near as good as the similarly titled Final Exam, but does it stoop to the lows of Fred Olen Ray’s Final Examination? Hmmm… That’s one I am not willing to investigate

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√

RATING:

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Slasher Shorts Reviews Issue 1

Slasher Shorts

Reviews by Luis Joaquín González

a SLASH abover Paul Morris sent me an email a while back asking why I don’t review many slasher shorts on the site. I guess the reason is because I post a review once a week and I’m used to covering a feature-length movie. There’s only so much that you can say about a film that’s a few minutes long and I write about 800 words about each flick that I watch. Then suddenly it dawned on me, why don’t I just review a few together!?! Ta-da. (It’s hardly inventing the wheel, but you have to understand that sometimes, I’m not the quickest)

So, every now and then from here on out, I’ll post an update here that’ll feature the shorts that I’ve watched and my opinion on them. I own quite a few and with many I have zero information on how they were put together. I apologise in advance if I don’t provide all you need, but they’ll all be slashers and I’ll give what I can:

Dead Air 2014  

Directed by: Zac Morris. Running time: 6 Minutes

Set at a dorm party on Halloween night no less, Dead Air focuses on revenge for a prank that went wrong some time ago. At just over five-minutes, it’s a fun little flick, but doesn’t particularly explode with an abundance of potential film making quality. Whilst it’s creatively shot, the killings are all off-screen, I didn’t think much of the performances and there are no new gimmicks or tweaks to the formula. Cool black mask though and I will admit, if this was a teaser for an up and coming slasher, I would be adding it to my ‘to watch list’.

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I, Murderer 2014

Directed by Dipayan Chatterjee. Running Time: 7 minutes

A poignant and disturbing seven-minute flick from India that will certainly make you think. I don’t agree that the slasher genre is the right place for political or campaign messages, but I’ll make an exception here because it truly is beautifully shot and professionally edited. I am very much pro-life. As a conservative, I consider abortion the same as murder. When you conceive, your baby has eye colour, hair colour, personality, his build etc. Abortion is murder pure and simple, but is the slasher genre the right place for tgis message? I have to say, no. If we forget about the concept for a moment, we can credit the haunting mask and musical accompaniment, which is top-class. I guess in this over-populated rat-race of a world that we live in, we need to think more about this subject, take precaution and as we say in Spain, controlarse y tened cuidado.

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Fear the Reaper2004

Directed by Keith Munden. Running Time: 28 minutes

The first of Munden’s Reaper trilogy, this one tells the tale of a supernatural murderous being that’s stalking and murdering youngsters around a small residential area. A plump teen has a bizarre connection with the killer and sees what he does in visions and dreams, which means she must try to stop him. A few good moments that border on suspense are ruined by a disjointed flow and the fact that we can barely see anything some of the time. Even when we are given clear day shots, it’s still tough to follow, because the plot has the narration of melted ice cream and even repeats a few minutes of the SAME scene toward the conclusion. I can only presume that the editor was with his friend LSD when he put this together. Still, for a big fat 0 budget, it does show signs of potential here and there.

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Teddy2011

Directed by Steve Goltz. Running Time: 11 minutes

After a group of kids run down an old man by a roadside, a masked killer follows them camping to take revenge. Here we have the debut movie from Slasher Studios; the team that would go on to bring us Dismembering Christmas and Don’t Go to the Reunion. It’s a dose of extreme slasherism that’s confidently produced and tells an entire I Know What You Did Last Summer-type story in eleven-minutes, which is some achievement. Keeping in mind the bite size runtime, the characters are well conveyed and the film goes all out to impress. A true tribute to everything that we love about slashers, the use of the teddy bear and a cool mask are welcome inclusions. With four murders, some gore and a sex scene, you get bang for your buck, it’s just a shame they couldn’t chuck in some suspense. Still, as slasher shorts go, it’s a definite must see.

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She’s Not Alone 2012

Directed by Mike Streeter. Running Time: 8 minutes

The slasher genre went through a bizarre referential phase recently, where there were a host of entries that played like Z-grade Elvis tribute acts to the peak period. I can honestly say that I can’t name many that managed to pull off the retro gimmick as well as this classy and stylishly directed addition from Mike Streeter (a name to watch). Everything from the music, props, fashion and style is pure nostalgia. It annoys me with shorts that if crews only need to fulfil a few minutes of screen time, why can’t they make the most of each shot. We are given a plethora of good camera work during SNA and even some tricks that Carpenter himself would have been proud of. In fact, if someone told me that Carpenter had directed this, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to question. I can’t give She’s Not Alone any more credit that that.

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Pesadilla Sangrienta 2006

Directed by Marceleo Cabrera/Felipe Paredes. Running Time: 7 minutes

A pretty nothing-ness slasher movie that was likely filmed on a cheap mobile phone. Zero dialogue, zero gore and you can’t see what’s going on most of the time. No real story with this one outside of a guy with a Guns n Roses-era Slash-style haircut stalking a girl that has one too, which only adds to the confusion. It’s great that people make slashers at home, but I can’t give them credit if they’re this bad.

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Hunter 2013

Directed by Ryan Shovey. Running Time: 12 minutes

This one was originally meant as a teaser for a feature length slasher that thus far hasn’t materialised. It’s a shame, because Hunter really is a superb slice of slasherism that much like She’s Not Alone, shows heavy Carpenter influences. It’s set inside a house and so we don’t get given much space, but Shovey delivers suspense, shocks and some Argento-alike camera tricks. The killer is creepy as hell too. What I thought worked best was the fact that we got to know the two characters in only twelve-minutes, which was a sign of good scripting. I understand that the director is working on another slasher movie, so let’s hope it turns out to be as stylish as this.

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Title Unknown 2011

Directed by Unkown. Running Time: 9 minutes

I have no information on this one or even its title, which is a shame because I kind of have a soft spot for it. The whole production reminded me of mid-nineties SOV titles like Savage Vows and it has a similar type of attractive obscurity. It tells the tale of an ambitious Deputy that wants to rid the town of a vicious masked killer, but the Sheriff is less eager, which raises suspicion in the eyes of the apprentice. Whilst there’s no gore and the score has been borrowed from other hits (even Halloween), the killer’s mask (reminiscent of the Monk from Terror Train) and a couple of impressive shots make this one interesting. It’s by no means a polished example of great filmmaking, but it gains points because it’s so reminiscent of the days of buying cheap VHS from stores/websites.

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Chainsaw 2015

Directed by David Dinetz, Dylan Trussell . Running Time: 8 minutes

Chainsaw was presented by Eli Roth and it tells the tale of a huge maniac stalking a Haunted House at a theme park. It’s certainly amongst the most gratuitous shorts that I’ve witnessed and includes some extremely graphic shots of a chainsaw-blade cutting into flesh. Whilst it is an extremely modern picture with its MTV flash cuts and CGI, it had an interesting comment on voyeurism, which was a key theme of Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse. Bizarrely, the intro reminded me of the brilliant Derek Cianfrance drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. Definitely one for gore hounds.

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Panic Fear 2015

Directed by John Francis Conway III. Running Time: 5 minutes

Panic Fear won’t take up too much of your time, but it makes a statement with its structured shots and inventive camera placement. I appreciated the lengths that the director went to for realism by demonstrating how victimised we would be if a similar scenario were to strike when we least expect it. The smart use of muffled external sound worked wonders to set-up the theme of a killer invading a place of complete seclusion: our home. In fact, this one becomes more scary upon post reflection. I’ve seen thousands of people butchered in slasher films, but this one just felt a little more ruthless than usual.

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Axecutioner 2015

Directed by Jarno Mahlberg. Running Time: 12 minutes

If I had to compare this Finnish slasher with any other that I’d reviewed of late, then it would have to be Murhapukki, which funnily enough hails from… Finland. Whilst I don’t like horror comedies that go out of their way to try to be funny, I’m a big fan of black humour or a slice of the tongue in cheek. Axecutioner overcomes its low budget with a huge chunk of fun that I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s some very cheap gore that is creatively displayed and the outlandish camera angles are Scott Spiegel-esque. It’s as standard as could possibly be in terms of plot (three guys go to a cabin in the woods to drink whilst there’s a masked nut on the loose), but it ticks the boxes with its overall campiness. This one reminded of cheesy eighties hits without broadcasting that it’s doing so.

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Time to Die 2011

Directed by Madness INC. Running Time: 10 minutes

Whilst on the subject of Horror Comedies that work, here we have one on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. At nine minutes and thirty-nine seconds, Time to Die is nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds too long. From what I could make out from the bad audio, it tells the tale of a group of misfits that have paid for a time share or something along those lines to explain away the threadbare plot. Before long, a killer that looks like a throwback from the Kiss glam metal era offs a handful of them in slapstick ways. Look I appreciate that this is just a group of friends having fun, but I have to call it as I see it and what I saw sucked like a mosquito on steroids. To make a comedy work, you either need jokes that are, well, funny or an obvious source code for what you’re mocking. I had no idea what was going on here and wish they hadn’t have bothered. In fact, it made me wish it was time to…

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Killer on the Loose 2015

Directed by Mark Baliff. Running Time: 15 minutes

Here we have an expertly taut and cunningly smart slasher from director Mark Baliff that definitely needs to be seen. It demonstrates style right from an opening credit sequence that incorporates a handful of creative shots of Halloween props to build the tone. We then cut to a blood stained girl that’s fleeing a hockey mask sporting stranger. She manages to sneak into an unoccupied house where a cat and mouse game of hide and seek begins with the would-be assailant. Killer on the Loose includes a bundle of references to Halloween and Friday the 13th (including an abode very similar to the Myers House and Night of the Living Dead playing on the TV). It’s no carbon copy though and builds up to a unique and impressive conclusion. What really stood out for me, aside from the aforementioned structured shots, was a strong use of sound and gothic lighting. If the slasher genre is left in the hands of filmmakers like Señor Baliff, we have loads to look forward to.

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The Welder 2015

Directed by Justin Cauti. Running Time: 15 minutes

Three girls head to their college to meet Trey, the boyfriend of Alex, who’s celebrating her birthday. Little do they know that a psychopathic Welder that was mutilated ten-years earlier is back for revenge. With a decent budget, killer guise, location and score, I was disappointed that this one wasn’t better. Most of the characters are the brash-cocky-brat-type that ruined a plethora of post-Scream entries, except one; but he doesn’t last long enough to make an impression. With nothing to attract me to the victims, I was hoping for some gore or suspense, but aside from a couple of interesting shots, it was mainly put-together with minimal flair. It’s hard to find fault with the hulking maniac and his deranged heavy breath, but the film lacks the polish of others I’ve reviewed here. Still a killer Welder is a good idea for a feature length picture guys..

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Squeal 2013

Directed by Will Morris. Running Time: 4 minutes

Porkchop was so bad that it ruined the concept of a cool killer ‘Pig Head’ guise. Thankfully, Squeal improves upon the lacklustre Chop but still falls short of giving us a great and gratuitous gammon gore fest. It tells the tale of a group of girls at a party that are stalked by said maniacal assassin; but this guy has a deranged but intriguing motive for his attacks. As expected, he looks pretty menacing clutching a scythe, but some awful acting and overuse of a strobe effect prevents the film from really impressing.

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Night Night Nancy 2011

Directed by Lewis Farinella. Running Time: 5 minutes

I have often believed that surrealism would be a good blend with the Slasher genre, but in fairness we haven’t seen many attempts at introducing the concept. The idea here was definitely to make a visual interpretation of a bad dream and the net result was fairly impressive. A young girl wakes up alone and discovers that there’s a masked intruder in her house and so she tries desperately to escape his clutches. What I really liked about Night Night Nancy was the killer’s awkward limp and deranged breathing, which really gave the impression that he/she was seriously disturbed. I also thought that incorporating a mobile phone as a source of terror was smart and the conclusion conveyed a nightmarish quality. The final girl made some silly decisions, but mostly it worked well.

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Forest Falls 2012

Directed by Ryan McDuffie. Running Time: 27 minutes

At just under half an hour, Falls is longer than many on this page and it’s also one of the most unique that I’ve featured. The plot line starts as have a million others, with a group of teens heading up to a secluded camp site to indulge in some beer drinking and partying. It’s when the killer reveals himself BEFORE starting the bloodletting that the film heads off on a pathway that’s ambitiously uncommon. Whilst I am not really sure if I enjoyed everything I saw here, I can’t knock director Ryan McDuffie for trying to break the mould. Our masked killer is no Jason Voorhees wannabee and dispatches his victims rapidly with a handgun, which takes the ‘slash’ out of any slasher flick. I also didn’t think that knowing who the killer was from the outset worked, because it removed any intrigue or mystery that may have made him more ominous. Still, there’s no denying that Falls is expansively produced and I was impressed by some of the acting. The sets are slick and well-lighted and the movie opens with a Doo-Wop song, which added some real culture. It’s just that for me, guns in slashers are like sausages at a Vegan banquet – totally out of place. The film just couldn’t recover from that.

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Midnight Man 2011

Directed by Kyle Stackhouse. Running Time: 4 minutes

Midnight Man is another of the many shorts that chooses a ‘one woman alone in apartment’ set-up to deliver some creative visuals. Here we have a maniac with a creepy mask (reminded me of the the antagonist from Final Scream) stalking a blonde female in her bedroom. The director uses some neat sound and a couple of Carpenter-alike ‘boogeyman looming in the background’ shots to add class, but it’d been nice to have seen more of a struggle from the victim or even a chase sequence.

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Pizza Man 2015

Directed by Todd Condit. Running Time: 5 minutes

Interesting idea for a slasher movie, where the boogeyman is your Pizza Delivery guy! In honesty, these couriers get a hard time, because they bare the brunt of your wrath if the food’s late (even if it’s rarely their fault) and they don’t get a tip as would a Taxi driver. Shot in black and white, Pizza Man plays well on the fact that waiting around for a meal is the most antagonising thing in the history of food. Whilst there’s not a lot of suspense in the way the stalking is rolled out, we do get some gore and a killer Delivery Guy who’d make a great spouse for the chick from Pizza Girl Massacre don’t you think?

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Untitled 2005

Directed by Steve Piché. Running Time: 3 minutes

Well this one wins the award for the shortest title of today’s post at under 180 seconds, but that surprisingly doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. A Slash abover Martin was involved in the production of this one over ten years ago and he kindly allowed me to review it for you all today. It only shows the stalking and slashing of an unfortunate wanderer, but there’s definitely a chunk of credibility on display. We get some nice low camera angles, a machete through cranium killing and a slow stalking maniac in a burlap sack, which regular readers will know is my favourite guise.

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Tear Her 2014

Directed by Ricky Bird. Running Time: 6 minutes

Creepy little short from Hectic films that was made as a tribute to watching scary movies on VHS and dealing with inconsistent tracking. Rather than reminisce about my VCR though, the mazy screen and some chilling sound effects gave Tear Her a nightmarish feel, which helped to make it fresh. It shows a killer in a terrifying mask stalking an unfortunate model in a large dilapidated complex, which may not be much in terms of novel scripting, but works because it’s uniquely put together. I always have believed that the best horror is the type that goes the extra mile. Tear her does just that

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Zydeco 2012 Review

Zydeco 2012

Directed by: David Noble

Starring: Courtney Shay Young, LaTasha Williams, Elgin Foster

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

I remember reading a report a few years back about a slasher movie that was being produced in Louisiana and how local residents were excited about its release. It had been named after a regional 78387329829820920920-20-20-2dance/music trend, but the one photo that was attached to the article showed a hulking killer pursuing a petrified blonde girl through some forest. I filed the news-clipping under ‘items of interest’ in a SLASH above‘s sprawling HQ (my room) and heard nothing else on the subject. Then, about a year ago, I dug-out 7627638729820920920-20-that preview and set myself a mission of discovering the status of that peculiar picture. Zydeco is an impossibly obscure title and another a SLASH above exclusive. It’s a slice of small-town filmmaking that takes pride in its heritage and so I was keen to see how it’d play.

Two chicas from Chicago head down to explore the sights of Louisiana. Once there, they inadvertently upset the local townsfolk and become the targets of a giant merciless killer.

You know, I was so close to posting this on my Slasher Shorts page, because at 45 minutes, it barely 87387287298298209209209qualifies as ‘feature length’. The reason I changed my mind is because much like Death O’Lantern and Friday the 13th: Halloween Night, it’s quite a rarity and deserves at least one ‘full’ review on the web.  Perhaps the reason it’s become so obscure is because it’s such a strange runtime to sit through. We open with a text description of the notorious ‘Bloody Benders’ from Kansas, which I thought was a credible launchpad. Next comes a slickly produced credit sequence that shows a young girl fleeing through a forest from an unknown pursuer. I sat up in my seat and thought, ‘Damn, this looks good’, and it really did… at least up until I heard the twang of a country guitar…763763872982982092092

I’m reminded of when the geeky cashier in Burger King only gives you one Ketchup to go with your XXL Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal. You’re left desperately trying to squeeze the last remaining drips from the sachet so as not be eating dry salty chips whilst wondering, “Do they pay for these sauces from their salaries or something?!?”. Zydeco looked to have run out of salsa in those first ten-seconds of pre-credit sequence and it rapidly took a downward spiral into Poopsville. We follow the two poorly acted girls as they visit sights around Louisiana and even if we could perhaps accept the uninspiring dialogue, the lack of any actual horror was proving less forgivable.  I was left struggling to ascertain what tone Noble was aiming for. There’s the historical intrigue with the Bloody 673763872982092092020-20-Bender intro, the effective chills from that initial chase scene, but then we slump into comedic dialogue and a collage of the girls on a shopping trip. I mean, what were they trying to make the audience feel…?

I stopped watching Zydeco on the twenty-five minute mark because my train had pulled into my station and the next day, I wasn’t overly keen to pick up from where I’d left off. Thankfully, director David Noble seemed to realise that the ante should be upped and when I eventually got round to finishing the feature, the introduction of the Jason Voorhees-alike killer did seem to offer slight redemption. Our antagonist is a big hefty menace and he takes out a handful of victims, which results in at least one tacky but fun gore scene. (It includes slasher regular and all round cool guy Jade La Font getting gutted!!)) I didn’t notice a huge amount of panache in the way that Noble decided to shoot the movie, but one lengthy tracking shot, which looked to have been filmed with the cameraman on a quad bike or something, was really rather audacious. It was in fact so impressive that the editor included it three times, but I’m not convinced that the only reason for its repetition was 87378322982092092020-20-2because they were proud of how it looked.

You see, Zydeco has a unique structure for a slasher that starts out fairly well, but kind of gets progressively stranger as the film rolls along. We have our main story, which is the fate of the two city girls and their eminent misfortune in and around Louisiana. Then there’s also a plot-branch involving a brother that has hired a Private Detective a while later (exactly how much later is left un-clarified) to hunt out his missing 763873287298298202020-2sibling. These two timelines coincide quite well until the final scene, which I won’t spoil, but it left me with the impression that they ran out of budget before finishing the original script. I could even speculate that the whole Private Detective part was bolted on to pad out the runtime and explain away the bizarre ending. If I went into detail about why I think this, it would ruin a twist that in fairness, I wasn’t expecting. If you manage to locate a copy of Zydeco though, you’ll automatically see what I mean. It feels like there’s a part of the movie that they didn’t have the funds to film and so they had to include a wrap-up 762872872982092092092scene to get it to a format that was at least releasable. I guess that this could explain why Zydeco has become hard to find and why they re-used that impressive footage. The idea was obviously to get as much out of what they had as humanly possible.

Then again, with no concrete information, all that we have is my ramblings on a SLASH above and what do I know? Maybe this is how it was all meant to be. Maybe people like collages of badly acted girls doing shopping in slasher movies. Well if that be the case, give Zydeco five-stars and hunt it out. Me, I’ll leave it with just the one (and a bit)

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo-211

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Memorial Valley Massacre1988 Review

Memorial Valley Massacre 1988

aka Valley of Death

Directed by: Robert C Hughes

Starring: John Kerry, Cameron Mitchell, Julie Jachim

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Those were the days… The intrigue… The tension… The excitement… Oh hello a SLASH abovers and excuse me, I was just reminiscing about the times when I first discovered the Internet and opened the 63763873983093093093door to a world of slashers that stretched beyond my local video emporium. Strange as it may seem to you all, I was collecting these things even before I knew that they were part of a genre called ‘slasher’. Instead, I’d just pick up similar looking video covers and hope to see certain things that I recognised from the one that started it all for me, Halloween. Nowadays, you can check the web and know instantly whether a prospective picture is actually an entry to our beloved category or not. In moons gone by however, it was all about lucky dip.38739839830930930-3

When I eventually got onto the IMDB, I would use various investigative techniques to uncover entries to add to my list of ‘desperate to see features‘. One of those was typing the word ‘Massacre’ into the search bar and examining each title to see if they were slashertastic enough for a purchase. It didn’t take long for me to uncover this beauty…. but upon discovery, a new challenge arose… locating a copy!! During the late nineties, Amazon US weren’t keen on International delivery and despite them having twelve copies available on VHS at a reasonable price, I just couldn’t find a seller that’d distribute across the pond to sunny UK :(.

There I sat, staring longingly at the picture from the listing, dreaming of the slasher fun that lurked inside the cardboard cover. For you pups, I guess it’s a lot easier, because additions such as this have become free content and can be downloaded in an instant from YouTube. Times have changed for the better for 763763873873983983093093slasher buffs. Eventually I came across a Spanish language version in Jaén and I rushed home in excitement, eager to to witness whether Memorial Valley Massacre would satisfy me in all the ways I’d expected…? Well…

It tells the tale of a city businessman that has bought a huge piece of land and wants to open it as a camp site for people to bring their Winnebagos and spend a few days in the wild. During pre-launch, the production has suffered some unexplained events, including the deaths of a few construction workers. Despite no running water, the openning goes ahead as planned to coincide with Memorial Day, and the campers pull up in droves. 7633873873983983983983093Little do they know that they are sharing the grounds with a cave dwelling maniac that is out to kill….

I often go to Spain to visit my dad, younger brother and the rest of my family. Last year, whilst laying on a beach in Punta Umbría, I realised how much I miss Andalucía and felt sad that the branches of life had led me away from my true home. I returned to England and the weather was atrocious, which added to my gloomy feeling. In a semi-drunken stupor, I booked another vacation for the next couple of weeks and effectively went straight back to the Andalusian beaches. From the moment I got off the return plane, it began raining; – and it continued to do so throughout my trip. ‘Tienes mala suerte’ (bad luck) my dad told me, but I decided that I’d at least try to go out and 87373983983093030-30-enjoy Sevilla with an umbrella; – and I did exactly that. That my friends is what psychologists call a ‘Positive Thinking Mindset’.

You need a ‘Positive Thinking Mindset’ to really enjoy Memorial Valley Massacre, and if you engage one, you may find that your experience will be a lot like mine in rainy Andalucía. We may not have a sterling killer in the woods flick here, but instead it’s an entertaining campy ride that does provide some cheesy thrills – with the emphasis being on cheesy. For 92 minutes, MVM moves incredibly quickly and even if the action only really begins on the hour mark, the characters are silly enough to remain amusing throughout. It’s also worth noting that the picture is certainly authentic and I don’t remember another that goes for a killer that’s been borrowed from Disney’s Jungle Book. Looking like the fifth member of Twisted Sister – in a get-up that you could pick up in any dime-store fancy dress shop – his story is unique, if slightly underplayed. He was left in the forest as a child because a kidnap/ransom attempt went wrong; and therefore, he grew up as a feral human. The filmmakers do however try to bizarrely build pathos for him in the early scenes, by showing him feeding a mouse and generally seeming at one with nature. These moments of vulnerability weaken his fear factor, but when he begins his kill frenzy, he becomes effectively merciless. One chap is set on fire and runs around screaming as he burns to death, whilst another likeable fellow ends up in a pit of 7638739839830930930930-3spikes. It was refreshing that I felt like I wanted these guys to survive, because in more modern slashers, I couldn’t care less.

Massacre’s strengths are definitely its have a campy ball with the trademarks attitude and it’s cast of likably dumb participants. There’s an interesting relationship between hero, David Sangster, who’s the son of a millionaire businessmen that bought the land, and George Webster, the head ranger of the site. They don’t really get along at first, but instead of the more typical rookie/veteran bonding methodology, Robert C Hughes’ screenplay works slightly differently to provide some authenticity. We do get a hottie love interest for David, who’s there mainly to add eye-candy. His attempts to woo her are highly amusing; especially the speech that he uses to finally seal the deal. In fact, the dialogue here has some stand out lines like, “I’ve got cigars older than her” and “They couldn’t punch their way through a wet cracker”, which show that Hughes boasted a knack for the 763873873983093093093tongue in cheek. Having eighties slum artists such as, William Smith, John Kerry and Cameron Mitchell reciting such campiness just added the final gloss to the cheesecake.

This film plays much like Doom Asylum, which I reviewed recently, but it’s not quite as good. Whilst you could never call Doom particularly scary, it boasted gore and sharper direction, whilst Valley just feels too light-hearted, even in moments when it’s more ruthless than you expected. I believe this is because the killer just doesn’t look particuarly intimidating and the attrocious keyboard score doesn’t help. I’m no master musician, but just when you feel that the composer shouldn’t go a note higher nor lower, go there he does – and then some. The final thirty minutes of Valley are rapid with a handful of killings and a breakneck pace, but it still looks devoid of a 76376387398398309303certain something. Hughes’ direction never seems to draw you in and that’s why I couldn’t buy into what I was seeing. By no means is this a horror comedy but it would only take some minor script adjustments to make it Police Academy. And within its undecidedness on whether to go full-on gruesome tone or stay campy lies the movie’s biggest flaw.

We slasher fans know more than most that it’s possible to enjoy a shoddy movie and we pretty much created the ‘so bad its good’ brand. With MVM that’s exactly what happened for me. Due mainly to the minimal gore and nudity, it’s certainly not a worthwhile killer in the woods flick, but it’s one that serious collectors should be adding to their pile for its pure entertainment potential.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

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Porkchop 2010 Review

PorkChop 2010

Directed by: Eamon Hardiman

Starring: Derek Rydall, Jonathan Goldsmith, Kari Whi 

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Whilst slasher directors are regularly mocked by general cinema critics like Robert Ebert or James Berardinelli, I wonder if filmmakers in our favourite genre really get the appreciation that they deserve. I mean, let’s examine this topic a little more closely. With 1,000+ titles in existence, do you know how hard it must be to choose a unique mask for your antagonist? Let’s be thankful 784874984984894984904949040404004for those that just keep their killer off-screen throughout the runtime, because if they didn’t, there would be no masks left for up and coming filmmakers to choose from.7857887498498498494900939030930333

Eamon Hardiman found the solution for that conundrum by going for a pig headpiece. I can hazard a guess at how he came up with the idea. It must’ve gone something this: ‘Hmmm what guise should I use for my slasher? Perhaps a dog? No – they’re man’s best friend, so not shocking enough. A bull? Hmmm well, they’re pretty threatening, but they remind me of a burger. No, we can’t have a killer Big Mac. A pig? Well Evilspeak had hogs in it. Ok, that’ll do, let’s move along. Now l know that pigs get killed in slaughterhouses (but so do cows, chickens, sheep etc) and slaughterhouses are scary, so there’s more to this idea than just animal loving. In fairness to Hardiman, whatever the reason for his choice, Porkchop certainly led the way in creative killer garbs for the year 2-0-1-0…

A gang of dweebs head off to a campsite in the woods for a spot of the usual antics. They fail to take heed of the legend of Porkchop – a 78578578894984940940940449904pig-masked killer that is rumoured to stalk the local vicinity. Before long he’s after the campers with a chainsaw and a sledgehammer…

One thing that we all know about the slasher genre is that originality is rarely found amongst titles. Halloween was indeed so iconic that many of its cinematic inventions are duplicated; – even today. In modern times, there’s a common element that we see more and more in post-Scream productions that makes no sense to me at all. It’s the process of filling a story with totally unlikeable characters. I have hurt my head thinking about this and I cannot uncover any logic in the approach or why we see it so often. On a basic psychological level, fear derives from the threat of something that could happen to you or someone that you care about. Whilst most films are obviously just fantasy, there’s a big difference between how we feel towards a character like Laurie Stroud or how we feel about ‘forgot what her name is girl’ from Porkchop. It’s a trend in recent times for slasher movies to pack their casts with boring, loutish idiots and it’s amazing in many respects how many crews stick with this methodology76457647847848383893893893983989833

In Hardiman’s slasher, we get a stereotypical punk rocker(?) with an awful English accent (I thought he was Australian at first), a guy who is cheating on his girlfriend with a ditsy teenager, a porn obsessed geek, two foul-mouthed sluts and a robot (?) voiced by Dan Hicks as the source of comic relief. C3PO was a solid humour provider in the original Star Wars pictures and that may have been the idea here. I don’t remember seeing a prop made of yoghurt pots taking a chick from behind in any Star Wars movie though and they could’ve ripped off Jar Jar Binks (cringe) and it would’ve made the same nonsensical 7857857848489489390309390303003333impact. We look on for an hour as these poorly acted, heinously scripted jerks make jokes that progressively become more vomit inducing whilst we are left begging for the killer to turn up and put us out or misery.

When ‘Pig-Head’ finally gets to slashing, the first couple of campers are butchered off screen, which is a huge disappointment because the pre credits murder was explicitly gory and promised so much. In fact, I have to ask whether that opening sequence was bolted on later, presumably after a distributor gave them more money to inject some pizazz. The scene builds up so well, with the killer’s boots traipsing through some undergrowth whilst a stunning chica whips off her top to unveil a lovely pair of jubblies. We get a superb machete through head effect and then what follows is a ski slope to ineptsville as the film leisurely strolls through its clichéd footpath. I can give credit for the eighties references (a hideously acted guy screams ‘you’re doomed’ ala Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th), the chicks are hotter than usual and the part where Deb uncovers the bodies of her chums is stylish with its red-ish tint and creepy scoring. 76575784874894939393939033My main gripe is with the characters, which are as appealing as having your appendix removed by Cropsy. Without anaesthetic.

All this leaves me wondering, what if Hardiman had scripted his cast to be likeable youngsters that we see bond over an hour’s build up? They wouldn’t have had to be good natured, we could’ve had an insecure slutty type like Donna from Humongous for example. The group could’ve grown as friends as normal people do and then when the psychopath makes 767547848758949898493493903093903an appearance, we might have rooted for them to overcome the evil, just like in any film with a well-developed protagonist. Instead, we get an overlong, poorly directed bore that I’d forgotten about moments after it’d finished.

It’s worth mentioning that Hardiman’s entry was successful enough to have a follow-up and a remake of sort that was filmed in 3D. I haven’t seen either so can’t really comment on whether the level of quality had improved, but I am mystified by Porkchop’s popularity. It offers little more than either Blood Reaper or Memorial Day and should really be thought of with the same amount of adulation. I’d go as far as to say that Camp Blood was better. Even Carnage Roa…. Ok, ok… that’s going too far…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√

RATING:

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