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Boardinghouse 1982 Review

Boardinghouse 1982

aka La Casa Del Terror

Directed by: John Wintergate

Starring: John Wintergate, Kalassu Kay, Lindsay Freeman

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Move over Nail Gun Massacre, make way Last Slumber Party and step aside Night Ripper

It begins with a prologue showing us murders that have plagued ‘The Hoffman House’. A guy is pushed into a swimming pool, which bizarrely kills him. Another stranger is seen pulling out his intestines and an unseen someone with a black glove forces a woman (that really doesn’t seem too concerned) to hang herself. These are all intercut with a computer screen that shows us in text that every person that has ever so much as entered this abode has ended up either hung, drawn, quartered or has suffered some other gruesome fate. So can you guess who will be the next occupants to move in to the mansion and meet their doom? Why of course you can – it’s a randy telekinetic guy and a troupe of beaming ‘hotties’ with a tonne of mascara but not a trace of common sense between them.

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Did I once date a Boardinghouse bunny??

This was the first horror movie to be shot on video, which is a big up yours to Christopher Lewis who made the belated claim that Blood Cult, his semi-slasher effort from three years after, was the first entry of that kind. Funnily enough, this one actually had a theatre run, but I have no idea about its box office successes. I can only guess that it was hardly a massive hit.

Surprisingly, to all intents and purposes, Boarding House is not your typical hack and slasher. Director John Wintergate has chucked in a neat dose of outer-body mayhem, 87467487438739833which means that the killer can eliminate the useless thespians without being anywhere near them at the time. This gives us the chance to see the drama school dropouts attempting to look as if they’ve suddenly been possessed by a mysterious hellish agony, without knowing where the hell it’s come from. Cue plenty of unconvincing facial expressions and stilted cries as the cast choke and pull off their faces whilst trying to act like they’re completely unaware why they’re doing it. In one particular scene, our heroine screams consistently for about two minutes while she suffers (yet) another of her ‘terrifying’ nightmares, which I think reached double figures before the final credits rolled. I am not sure what was more effected, my eardrums or her throat after that yelling marathon.

The ‘star’ of the movie, Hank Adly (a guy who looks like Rod Stewart might after 12 grams of coke), provided bucket loads of inadvertent humour. I loved the bit where he 123456made a bar of soap fly around his bathtub to show off his telekinetic abilities and impress the on looking bunnies. There’s certainly plenty of nonsensical activity to bring a 78367437487487498744smile to the lips to those who cherish those classic bad movie moments. The final scene is particularly hilarious, as the killer and two survivors stand off for a telekinetic battle. Staged like a showdown from a Sergio Leone movie, the three gather in a circle and simultaneously gurn as they each try to inflict psychic pain on one another. It’s hard to give you a description that would do justice to the extent of the silliness, but trust me – it’s worth it’s weight in comedy gold. All of the female cast members manage to whip off their underwear at one point or another and there’s just enough exploitation to satisfy eighties trash fans.

Interestingly enough, Boarding House was something of a first, because it included a warning for viewers of a weaker disposition that would let us know when something horrific was about to Nice view...!!happen. Suddenly, the screen comes alive in a maze of colours and that’s when we the audience know that someone is going to get dismembered. I must admit that this was a novel idea if we were about to sit down and watch a Lucio Fulci marathon. I’m not exaggerating my claim however when I state that my four-year-old daughter can create more realistic body parts with her Play Doh kit. This is especially evident in the ‘intestine ripping’ scene, which is clearly an actor pulling corn-syrup coated sausages from the gap in his shirt. Maybe they could have featured a warning before every bad movie moment? In fact they could have just placed an ‘amateur morons at work’ notice before the first credit sequence? Imagine the savings on budget!

Boarding House IS as mind numbingly atrocious as you had probably expected it to be. Even the back cover blurb has NO relevance whatsoever to the movie and I can’t forget to mention the wonderful tagline that promises intrigue, suspicion and a sinister environment (yeah right!). Oh and before I go, I’ll leave you with a quote from the female lead singer of ’33 and a third’ – The heavy metal band that ‘entertain’ the party at the film’s climax. “You say you want a rock romance, you’ve been begging just to get in my pants!” And with that I shall leave you to explore for yourselves…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore √√

Final Girl √

RATING:

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Gutterballs 2008 Review

Gutterballs 2008

Directed by: Ryan Nicholson

Starring: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Wittle

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

As fans of horror, maybe you can tell me, when is it safe to say that in attempts to shock, filmmakers have gone too 9838738738739839030-3far? Now a big part of my youth was spent hunting out video nasties, but bizarre as it may 87575487484949848494seem, they look very tame opposed to some of the efforts to be gratuitous that we get now.

I turned thirty this year and maybe it’s just that I’m a bit of an old fashioned kind of guy. I even think that modern music takes the level of profanity far too high. I mean, as adults we all have sex, we all know swear words, we all can drink and if we really, REALLY wanted to, we could probably all get hold of a bag of drugs. Does it excite you to hear songs about this? How does it make you feel? Is it really necessary? Personally I 86349864think it’s more creative to be restrained, but as I said, I must be somewhat out of touch.

I know that it is a strange thing to say, but cultural transgression and a much looser level of acceptance, has given old-skool slashers a kind of innocence about them. I guess that you could compare it to the way that the fifties era of rock and roll now looks laughably lame, but at the time was pretty controversial. Despite it’s efforts to reference its retro roots as you can see in most of the artwork, Gutterballs goes all out to take things to a new level of explicitness.

A verbal and physical fight between two gangs results in the sadistic rape of a young girl. The following night at the bowling rink, a masked killer locks everyone inside and begins to slaughter them one by one.

* I tried to edit out the language as much as possible, but I couldn’t post without one ‘F’ so be warned –

Judging by his age, director Ryan Nicholson would have experienced and enjoyed the outstanding achievements of  8767565878998098Canada’s entries to the slasher genre under producers such as John Dunning, Peter Simpson and directors including William Frue, Paul Lynch. He began his career as a make-up artist and special effects technician for TV shows like the X Files and Stargate before he took his talents to the silver screen for major budgeted pictures, which include Final Destination. His success has allowed him to be the major force in Canada based studio, Plotdigger films. His first feature length movie, Live Feed – a torture porn gore fest in the vein of Hostel – gave him the springboard to produce more of his ideas and Gutterballs is the result of years of hard work.

The movie has a nice look and a very retro feel in the way it makes the most of its eighties setting. The bootleg that I watched for this review has a great soundtrack, which was never licensed for the final cut that is widely available, due84767478498309303-03 to the obvious high costs involved. Nicholson makes good use of the location and the methods of murder are themed to involve all that you can imagine from bowling appliances. One girl is killed by having her throat sliced by the laces of a pair of the specialised shoes, whilst another has his entire face ‘burned off’ by a ball waxing machine (see above). There’s also a highly amusing ’69 suffocation’, where a chick is choked by her partner’s (prosthetic) penis and the guy is smothered to death by…well, you get the idea. The director has said that he doesn’t believe in cutting away and his vision of horror is to make it as graphic as possible. In its unrated print, Gutterballs definitely delivers on the gore score and you will never feel cheated by a lack of ambition from the effects.

The killer’s disguise is immense and the mystery aspect is handled with enough suspects to keep you guessing and I liked the choice for the maniac’s identity. The pace stays high from start to finish and there’s even a macabre calling 8338787398320922card as the body count is notched up on the computerised score board – a skull and crossbones for each victim.

If this had been released during the period that it references, it would have been banned in most countries and therefore would have become a cult classic. I can imagine it being the kind of film that my buddies and I would have uncovered on a cruddy VHS and bunked off of school to sit down and watch – repeatedly. Whilst trying its hardest to be the baddest of the bunch, it 8487467567748744comes across as too excessive and lacks class and charm. The director has been very vocal in his defence of the extremely graphic rape sequence, which sees a girl violated by a bowling pin after being brutally penetrated by three guys. He has admitted that it was tough to shoot, but he did it to get a reaction from the audience, even if it be one of immense disgust. It’s certainly an uncomfortable scene to watch, but even after the appalling nature of the event, it’s almost impossible to feel sympathy for any of these characters as they are a collection of personalities without one redeeming feature between them.

There’s no excuse for rape and no one deserves it, but after an intro that takes ludicrous sexual profanity to a level perhaps unseen in cinema previously, it’s impossible to pick anyone to care about. The film is heinously scripted to 848748794983093093the extent that it looks to have no vocabulary other than swear words and in some scenes we get five or six actors shouting over each other at the same time. Every second word is a vile cuss and by the fifth time of hearing c**t or d**k it had exactly the wrong kind of effect. I may have thought that Gutterballs was cool when I was a rebellious fourteen year-old, but as an adult it just looked ignorant and devoid of intelligence.

It’s not just the language that is taken to the outer limits. When it comes to nudity, we get a close up shot of a shaved vagina and countless prosthetic penises. Most of the murders have a sexual angle, including one guy getting his eyes gauged out and then his corpse discovered with used condoms in his eye sockets. The ‘included just for a reason to be homophobic’ transvestite gets his genitals cut in half in loving close up and one guy is violently 9725sodomised with a sharp instrument.

If any or all of the above takes your fancy then Gutterballs will fulfil your wildest cinematic desires and if that’s the case it has achieved exactly what the director had intended. For me, I definitely prefer the less is more approach and thought this was too distasteful for its own good. It’s sleazy 98387387387398239822for sure, but in a way that lacks sympathy for the results of its actions and that’s the biggest missing ingredient that it needed to make it effective. I agree with director Ryan Nicholson that gore is in itself a form of art, but to be artistic you need to be aware of parameters and this slasher has none that I noticed.

A tribute to the eighties peak this may be, but even the worst of them had more style than this. I may be harsh as the director seems like an intelligent enough guy to realise that pushing it beyond the limits was always going to upset some and therefore he must have expected this type of reaction. I do however have to call it as I see it and what I saw I didn’t enjoy as much as I should have

Slasher Trappings:

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Gore √√√√

Final Girl √

RATING:

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Mardi Gras Massacre 1978 Review

Mardi Gras Massacre 1978

Directed by: Jack Weis

Starring: Curt Dawson, Gwen Arment, William Metzo


Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Of all the films that were banned in the United Kingdom during the Video-Nasty era of the eighties, Mardi Gras 874374873873873873983Massacre is probably the least notorious. It’s also one of the few that has remained on the rejection list, which isn’t because it’s extremely sickening or shockingly gory like so many of the titles that it shares its status with. It’s just that I doubt any distributor has had the heart (or the balls) to admit to wanting to resubmit it. The fact that it truly is a cinematic nightmare that’s so bad – well, It’s just bad – probably has quite a lot to do with the on-going abandonment.

Despite the somewhat suggestive title, a cover picture showing a hooded killer about to murder a bikini-clad bimbo and various misleading plot summaries that describe a masked maniac stalking the Mardi Gras festival, surprisingly this isn’t a traditional stalk and slash flick. Instead, it plays like a rip-off of 1962’s Blood Feast. It does however have enough ingredients to be considered a proto-slasher, which is why I have included it here. 84784764873873983983This would signal director Jack Weis’ last attempt at box office success and watching it through just once leaves it not too difficult to understand why. I’m betting – although I don’t know for sure – that it emptied drive in theaters quicker than a terrorist bomb threat, creating a similar amount of disgust and animosity towards those responsible for the sudden evacuation.

For readers that still find themselves mysteriously allured to learning more about this long-erased from existence exploitation offering, let me tell you exactly what was going on over at the festival that particular year…

After a seemingly never-ending black screen displaying the title in what looks like Times New Roman fonts, the camera pans into a nightclub. That’s right, there’s no credit sequence or any kind of opening, it just dives straight into the, err, action. A smartly dressed guy enters a club and approaches two cheery hookers. He begins flashing a few bucks and tells them that he’s looking for something ‘special’. He asks them who they think is the most ‘evil’ woman in the bar tonight and they point out Shirley, a dark haired strumpet that’s seated at the opposite end of the dance-floor. He heads on over and asks her, ‘I have heard that you are the most evil woman in this room?’ To which she replies cheekily, ‘Listen honey, I could probably take first prize in any evil contest!’ So with that, a sale has been made and the two of them head back to the Gentleman’s apartment. I should make it clear now that we never learn this mysterious stranger’s name, but he looks like Robert Mitchum might have done if he’d been smashed in the face with a shovel repeatedly, so I’ll call him Bob.

Bob seems like a polite sort of guy, kind of like a bizarre throwback from the cinema era of the forties – complete with 848748748738739839823982982222three piece suit, Bogart-worthy dialogue and even a classic brylcream-laden side-parting. (Or was it a toupee?)

Once inside his bachelor pad, he proposes that the couple retire to the next room to engage in something ‘special’. Although cinematically they’re only meant to be crossing the hallway, in reality, they must have hurried along to the nearest soundstage, (it was in fact a warehouse) because the room’s the size of a five-a-side football pitch.

The hooker doesn’t bat a fluttering eyelid to the fact that the décor resembles a satanic mausoleum and she’s even 8384874874873983983983less concerned when Bob re-appears dressed from head-to-toe in traditional psycho garb, which includes a striking copper-mask. She strips naked and lies down on the bed, whilst the soon-to-become murderer gives her a massage to get her in the mood. Shirley’s clearly enjoying herself at this moment in time, so much so that she even remarks, ‘Maybe I should pay YOU for this.’

By now, I was rather scratching my head and considering re-evaluating this particular movie viewing experience. I mean, here I am watching a psychopath in full killer-costume massaging a hooker in her skin suit with her legs spread like a tonne of margarine. Eventually the tone is set, when Bob finally reveals his less than 8736746737838728929829829822erotic motives. He ties the escort down and again begins asking her if she’s, truly a naughty girl. (Kinky, eh?) Then he grabs a dagger and stabs her in the hand, remarking, ‘This hand accepted the money for evil.’ Next up, it’s her feet, presumably for transporting her to the place where she committed such…oh, you know… Finally, the masked menace performs a cack-handed autopsy, in order to remove a body part that she uses for all this apparent wrongdoing. This sequence is undeniably the film’s gory highlight, which most probably single handedly got it added to the DPP list quicker than a moggy flees a rabies-ravaged Rottweiler. And no, it isn’t the ‘body part’ that you’re thinking of by the way – it’s her heart, actually.

Cue some chop-socky editing as we switch scenes and we see that poor old Shirley’s corpse is being loaded into an 8748746738738733ambulance for her last journey in an automobile. Kudos to Bob – the artistic maniac, who tried to disguise his work by dumping her body in the middle of a set of train tracks. Whether the 10.30 to New Orleans Central splattered her across the landscape we’ll never know, but still, ten out of ten for creativity.

We then head over to the morgue, where we meet the town coroner and the two nincompoop detectives that are soon to be on the case of the bizarre ritualistic killer. Seeing how this was released during the ‘do you feel lucky’ era of grizzled lawmen on the edge like Dirty Harry, Serpico and Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle, we explore the notion that cop and killer are two sides of a similar jaded coin. This particular psychopath may not be the kind of guy that women would want to spend too much time alone with and he may not possess the warmest of intentions towards naughty natured hookers, but at least he’s not a lady-bashing light-fingered alcoholic, which is more than can be said for our male-protagonist. Just to think, he was supposed to be on the righteous side of the law. Anyway, he heads out to interview a few of Shirley’s buddies, which results in him meeting Sherry (Shirley, Sherry – all we need is a Shelly and we could have an alternative to the Three Degrees.) Sherry is yet another of the town’s down and out sex-sales-women, and she arouses more than just the suspicions of Sergeant Mike Abraham – our very own Dirty Harry. The two begin a relationship, which punctures the plot of Bob 73673763872872872and his sacrificial slaughters. It also results in a bad movie moment straight from the abyss of the largest cheese dairy in the universe. After the two have a heated argument, Sherry heads down to the local discotheque to drown her sorrows the old fashioned way. Among other things, she fights with a couple of bimbos, shows John Travolta how it is really done by clearing the dance-floor and boogieing like a Bee Gee on speed and then ends up getting dragged away by the local constabulary. A good night all round then!

Meanwhile, Bob is busy working his way through the Mardi Gras band of gold, repeating the same gore effect ad 8736746737838728929829829822naseum. At one point, he even makes one naked hooker do a ballet routine in her patterned knickers. After he’s watched her performance and come to the conclusion that this particular youngster was two cans short of a six-pack, he feels a tad of sympathy and tells her to get out of his house. She almost becomes the one that got away, but at the last moment, he changes his mind and she ends up becoming just another hokey gore effect to add to the collection.

Next we finally learn the true motives for this sacrificial killing spree. Apparently, he offers the victims to an Aztec goddess in order to receive super-human powers, which brought me to the conclusion that he possesses all these exceptional abilities, but acting is still something that he hasn’t quite got to grips with. The festival comes around and if you hadn’t already guessed, Dirty Harry ends up chasing the Aztec warrior through the carnival, while passers-by stare blankly into the camera, completely unaware that they were unpaid extras in the biggest pile of cheese that was released during horror’s heyday. Does the lawman prevent any re-occurrence or sequels from12376 emerging years down the line? Well now, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

On the surface at least, Mardi Gras Massacre offers everything the fans of exploitation find so immensely appealing. Graphic gore, excessive nudity, a masked maniac and the added bonus of a ‘video-nasty’ disqualification – it’s all here for the taking baby! Scratch beneath that glossy veneer though and what you’re left with is a vial of tedium-drenched campiness that is so beguilingly awful that it almost defies description.

Now I’m the last one to stand up for political correctness and often I wonder how stringent our ancestors will be forced to live their day to day lives in years to come. The problem is that MGM is so shamefully misogynistic that if it were released today, I’m sure it would cause women’s rights activists to bend over backwards in disgust. The lowlights of all this anti-feminism include: A heavy-handed detective with a fetish for call-girls, a maniac that enjoys 87348746746738738728972spending his time disemboweling them and a lowlife hooker as the film’s female protagonist. Come to think of it, every woman in the damn thing was classed as either a) a dishonest slapper or b) an under achiever worthy only of an autopsy by dagger. Does anyone get the feeling that Jack Weis had something deep-rooted against the fairer sex of the species?

One thing that I noticed about this stinker is the fact that it tries to include everything that was in demand around the mid to late seventies. There’s disco music and THAT hilarious dance scene to tickle fans of Saturday Night Fever. Then we have the grizzled cop that I told you about earlier and of course the satanic references to stay in vogue with Cop Thrillers and The Omen et al. But Weis is such an awful director, that he fails to make use of any of the clichés that he steals and to be honest, the film is so tedious that even the copious amount of gore 87467473873873873872982982scenes don’t salvage it

Mardi Gras Massacre is a cheesetastic Grindhouse rarity that will have you gobsmacked at its ineptness, but in fits of laughter at some of its attempts at being a sinister horror effort. I cannot really recommend it to anyone seriously but for those that like a laugh it needs to be seen to be believed.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

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Final Girl √

RATING:

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The Baby Doll Murders 1993 Review

The Baby Doll Murders 1993

Directed by: Paul Leder

Starring: Jeff Kober, John Saxon, Melanie Smith

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Review by Luisjo González

I’ve read reports that suggest Baby Doll Murders was actually a re-imaging of Burt Topper’s The Strangler from 1964, which itself was loosely based on the case of the ‘Boston stranglings’. Mimi Leder’s father Paul updated the murder mystery aspect to keep his movie in check with the craze that had swept the world throughout the eighties – the slasher genre. Although this is not a teenie-kill movie in the more typical Friday the 13th mould, Leder utilizes many of the genre’s underlining clichés that allow it to fit quite comfortably amongst the other cycle entries. For example, the killer wears a mask and stalks through point of view camera shots just like his slasher granddaddy Michael Myers. He also has that trademark knack for catching female victims when they’re just about to expose the parts of the body that your mama warned would make you go blind. Well rules will be rules…and I guess clichés will be clichés too…

The film boasts an intriguing and fairly macabre premise, which involves a maniac slaughtering women and leaving a Baby Doll beside their mutilated corpses. From the off we are thrown in at the deep end as we learn that there has already been four of these gruesome murders. We then get to meet the detectives and central characters that all play a part in the case. Louis Benz (Jeff Kober) is a stereotypical movie-cop that is always at boiling point and spends the majority of the movie chasing ex-con Les Parker (Tom Hodges) even though he nearly loses his job because of it. His partner Larry Brown (Bobby DiCicco) is thankfully a little more laid back, but still seems desperate to stop these prolific slaughters. The Police secretary Peggy Davies (Melanie Smith) – who is also Benz’s squeeze – also feels the effect of the murders when they begin to cause a strain on her relationship with Louis. After many more women have been methodically slaughtered, the Detectives finally uncover a clue that puts the lives of people close to them at risk. Will Benz be able to solve the case before the killer strikes closer to home…?

If it weren’t for the brazen amount of gratuitous nudity that can be found throughout Baby Doll Murders, I would have sworn that it was a TV movie. The extreme amount of forbidden flesh on display though certainly put the ki-bosh on that suggestion. Each of the many victims makes sure to flash her heaving bosoms before/as she is slaughtered, which makes me wonder why no ladies in the area ever bothered wearing a bra? Female underwear sales must have been virtually non-existent in Los Angeles circa 1992. It’s also worth noting that this bogeyman is the first that I’ve seen to wear trendy Nike trainers whilst on massacre duties. Well, who says that homicidal maniacs can’t have style?

The film scurries along at an acceptable pace and there’s a big enough body count to keep things moving. It’s a shame that Leder felt the need to chuck in needless padding like the unnecessary false confession, which only added cluster to an otherwise engaging premise. In any slasher-thriller the most important aspect is the mystery, but the screenplay doesn’t really give us enough suspects to keep the guessing game flowing. I have always wondered why screenwriters feels that it’s necessary to give away obvious clues, which only makes the conclusion less intriguing. Audiences aren’t  as stupid as some filmmakers like to think we are. With that said though the final plot twist is worth the wait and turns out to be convincing and fairly controversial too. Obviously if you’ve seen enough of my reviews, you’ll know I am an evolutionary biologist by degree, so the motive is something that I am passionate about. Without trying to give it away, I am on the killer’s side here 100%. 

The performances are mixed from the interesting ensemble of B-movie titans. It’s always good to see John Saxon as a supporting character, but Jeff Kober delivers a colourless portrayal in the lead. Melanie Smith attempts to add weight to the case that’s she’s not just eye candy, whilst the beautiful Julie McCullough – former playboy playmate – earns points by mysteriously avoiding the contagious urge to rip off her bra. Hot chica by the way… I would! By far the best performance of the cast came from the unknown Mark Dana, who did a really good job of playing the deaf husband of a deceased victim. He really gave a touching portrayal. Unfortunately, despite the odd credibly shot set-piece, Leder fails to add suspense to the kill scenes and it’s a real shame when you consider the fact that he’s an experienced director. He was behind proto-slasher, I Dismember Mama, so was no stranger to crazed killers and I expected more.

Baby Doll Murders does just enough to warrant a viewing from fans of the slasher genre. I really liked the creepy Baby Doll gimmick and some of the cheesy killings. If you don’t go expecting too much then you’ll probably just about be satisfied. It’s hardly a masterpiece, but if you’ve seen everything else in the video shop then give it a go.

Slasher Trappings:

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Gore

Final Girl √√√

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

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