Blog Archives

Only Darkness 1999 Review

Only Darkness 1999

Directed by: Mitchell Morgan

Starring: Nicole Streak, Crispin Manson, Edmund Dehn

IMG_9495

 

Review by Luisjo González

The two films I get asked about most here on a Slash above are Legend of Moated Manor and Only Darkness as OD1they’re both on my my A-Z slasher list. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve lost count of the amount of emails I’ve received from you guys and gals about that double. Well I’m finally going to post a review of one of them and I hope that it answers some of your questions. Britain doesn’t have a great reputation with it’s output within the slasher genre, so there’s certainly a gap in the market for a decent entry from those shores. Only Darkness came out hot on the heels of Scream, but a traditional slasher movie, it’s definitely not. In fact, it’s barely a slasher movie at all, but it’s more like a giallo and even that doesn’t really describe it.

Paul Salem is a horror author who writes screenplays for slasher movies. Salem wants to write in other genres and move away from the horror stereotype, but his agent tries to convince him otherwise. One evening, whilst he is driving home, he comes across a young girl who is fleeing an assailant. The young girl moves in temporarily to the author’s house, but the maniac is closing in on her…OD6

Out of Darkness is certainly a strange creature and it defies traditional description. It definitely does belong on this page, but it’s not a duplicate of either Halloween or Scream. I prefer silent antagonists that kill without being given a characterisation, but the assassin here has basic dialogue. Another strange thing about OD is that the antagonist flees from the hero, which totally dilutes his fear factor. This is all explained in the big revelation, but what could have been an extremely authentic twist doesn’t end up making a lick of sense. Whilst trying not to give anything away, one murder is explained in the conclusion, but the slaughter of the doctor? What about that? I’ve always said that guns don’t belong in a slasher movie because you can’t ‘slash’ with a OD2pistol, but the nutjob here uses a beretta to murder one victim and it disappointed me. One way that Michell Morgan’s screenplay really succeeds is that it plays with the roles of the ‘final girl’ and the ‘maniac’. I can’t really say much more without giving away the twist, but the open ending leaves interesting questions. I thought it was a supremely intelligent idea to play with the rules that way, but as I said above, the screenwriter made a clear error.OD7

This was shot on video in the late nineties when British SOV flicks were not just a rarity, they totally didn’t exist. It’s IMDB page has zero reviews and no one has even ranked it. What is interesting is that the VHS I own is not in a typical British video case, it’s one of the types of covers used in the American rental market, which begs the question was this only released stateside? A Google search reveals minimal information on this feature and it is completely obscure. It’s all put together in a fairly basic manner and the performances are competent, but not exceptional. I’ve never been able to understand how two directors are able to work on one feature film, but we get a duo in the hot seat(s) here. The pair released two more movies that actually have rankings on the IMDB, but their last effort was over twelve years ago. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, but I didn’t hate them either, so I was intrigued to find out how it would all conclude. One thing that I loved about ther movie was that every character is seen smoking cigarettes. I miss the old days when people were real in movies. I smoked for many years, but it wasn’t cinema that made me do it. Nowadays, every person in filmland is woke, doesn’t smoke, drink too much or do drugs. Give me Wolf Of Wall Street anyday over Many Saints of Newark. In real life, people I meet smoke crack, snort coke, puff on cigarillos and I’ve met hundreds of racists at work or in clubs. I’ve received racism myself. Producers consider their audiences idiots, but most people don’t want to view fairytales.

There’s not much more that I can tell you about Only Darkness, because it’s the type of film where too much information will ruin it for viewers. It’s a giallo with a pretty small body count, but it’s not a whodunit. There is a revelation in the final scene, but it’s not what you’re used to seeing. I’ve never viewed a movie similar to this and I guess I must praise that.

Killer Guise:

Gore:

Final Girl:

RATING:

OD10

 

The Tallaght Chainsaw Massacre 2005 Review

The Tallaght Chainsaw Massacre 2005

Directed by: Ken Johnson

Starring: Ken Johnson, Julio Mandeas, Frank Sinister

87654324567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567876543

Review by Luisjo González

When it comes to rare slasher movies, I AM THE DADDY! If you disagree and think I’m a loser in terms of rarity in the slasher genre, I want you to write me a letter explaining how and post it to: I don’t give a s**t, lick my ballsack, goofy hijo de puta cabrón, Jupiter’s moon Europa. 666 Satan.

8765456789876543Are we ready to get started now? Ok. This movie is not to be confused with Texas chainsaw massacre, even though they’re both as famous as each other😂. In honesty, this one is in fact so rare, it barely even exists. Try typing it in Google or IMDB. With one of the biggest and most popular blogs in slasher cyberspace, I speak to a lot of directors and many genre gurus. I told one of the slasher ‘names’ that I’m positive you peeps know, about Tallaght Massacre and he said it didn’t exist. In fact, he accused me of making it all up. I can’t tell you more about him, because you’d know who he is.(He will know) I can say, many of you associate with him, whether it be interacting via his Facebook page or contacting him another way. Well, I know that he checks a Slash above, so I ask him, how do you feel now muthaf**ker? You’ve been tangoed! Haters gonna hate and all that.

Two youths are pursued through the forest by a masked, chainsaw-brandishing killer. They’re desperate to escape, but the maniac seems as smart as they are

When my mum and dad split up when I was a nipper and before I moved to London, we lived for a little while in sunny Ireland. It’s a country that I love very much and it’s one of the greatest nations on planet earth. Spain and Ireland have a long history in conjunction and during the days of the Armada, Españoles we’re looking for people who understood the weather of the British isles and hated the English to join them in an invasion. Ireland stepped up and many9876543234567898765434 Spaniards settled in the country in the following years. The term ‘black Irish’ refers to dark haired Irishmen that hail from Hispanic heritage.

Are you aware that 62.3% of Hollywood actors have Irish heritage? Robert Dinero, Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Clint Eastwood, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, practically every famous actor has the gene. I had a DNA test myself, thinking it’d come back 100% latin, but I’ve actually got a tiny bit of Irish somewhere in my bloodline too. Why do I tell you all that? Well, Tallaght is a city near Dublin and this is in fact, the first Irish slasher flick ever made.

To cut directly to the chase, this is not even low budget filmmaking. This is no budget filmmaking and it’s truly a back garden project. At 35 minutes, it certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, but what was truly shocking was that it actually looked somewhat professional. I was indeed flabbergasted by some of the camera placement and the scoring is really effective, sounding a lot like The 1997 PlayStation 1 game, Resident Evil. It could of course mean that they stole it from that soundtrack, but either way, it worked well.

98765432345678987654323456789876543There’s not much plot involved in the synopsis and I recall about seven lines of dialogue, but the movie is pretty fun and it packs a few surprises. There’s no gore of course, but that’s likely because the budget for this entire production was about €10. Interestingly enough, I watched this after Don’t Look In The Cellar and whilst the people in this short are indeed absolute rank amateurs, I wasn’t getting frustrated watching them as I was during the aforementioned flick.

I can’t really say much else, because it is far too short and there’s a twist that I don’t want to ruin. I understand that this might upset you because you think you’ll never be able to find it, but I did, and I recommend to keep an eye on YouTube and rare movie sites. Not a great movie, but I was entertained all the same. If I had to chose a negative, I’d say I prefer watching buxom women getting stalked, but that’s a minor and I think the whole thing worked in a very fun way. The Mrs liked it too. Why only one star you ask? Well to give it more would be criminal, but it’s not sh**t and it works for what it is.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:

Final Girl:

RATING:

87654324567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567890-0987654321234567876543

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

123

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)

1

School’s Out 1999 Review

School’s Out 1999

aka Schrei Denn Ich Werde Dich Toten

Directed by: Robert Sigl

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

873873873873983983093

Review by Luis Joaquín González

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:

Final Girl:√√√

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

653763763873873983983093093

Bone Cave 2011 Review

Bone Cave 2011

Directed by: Matthew Brooks

Starring: Justin Rose, Jeremy Jusek, Andrew Hart

874873873983983983983

Review by Luis Joaquín González

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

763873873873983989839309309

Paranormal Xperience 2011 Review

Paranormal Xperience 3D 2011

aka XP3D

Directed by: Sergi Vizcaino

Starring: Amaia Salamanca, Alba Ribas, Miguel Ángel Jenner

78387383983983939309

Review by Luis Joaquín González

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

8748748748739839839303093

Штольня 2006 Review

Штольня 2006

aka The Pit

Directed by: Lubomyr Levytskyi

Starring: Svitlana Artamonova, Mykola Kartzev, Olga Storozhuk

738739832982092092

Review by Luis Joaquín González

The fact that my kids are half Polish and I speak the language fluently means I feel like an honouree Pole of sorts. Due to this I always wanted to review a category addition from that country, but despite the 873873983920920920-20-2fact that horror is extremely popular in PL, they haven’t yet given us a true slasher flick. I had high hopes when I learned about the production of 2008’s Pora Mroku, because it had been listed in the media as a similar concept to Wes Craven’s Scream. The net result though turned out to be more of a Hostel clone, so we are still waiting for an entry from the land of żubrówka. Some may cite 637638728729829829292Fantom Killer as a Polish slasher, but it was actually filmed in East London and Roman Nowicki is an alias for British filmmaker, Trevor Barley.

The reason I tell you this is because I was excited about seeing this offering from Ukraine, which neighbours Poland along the Eastern border. Ukrainian as a language utilises the same Cyrillic alphabet as Russian, but a lot of words are far more similar to Polish (Jak instead of Kak, Tak instead of Da etc)). I speak Russian, Polish and I’m learning Bulgarian, which means I had no problem at all in understanding the dialogue spoken throughout this movie.

A group of students head off to explore an underground chamber where it’s rumoured that an ancient Pagan cult had hidden valuable artefacts. They are accompanied by their college professor and soon discover a locked entrance to a tunnel that leads to the darkness below. When they wake up the next 872873298298298209209209morning, the professor has disappeared and the gate has been mysteriously opened. They venture inside to hunt for their colleague and some treasure, but eventually discover more than they bargained for.

Much as with the case of the aforementioned Pora Mroku, there are various different synopsises that can be discovered online for Штольня. If you were left wondering if this actually is a slasher movie, you’ll be happy to learn that it certainly is, right down to a hooded menace bumping off students one by one. It’s surprising how much the film plays true to the genre’s trappings, especially in the cliched personalities of its personnel. We get the stereotypical jocks, cute heroine and geeky hero and there’s even the chance to guess if the maniac is someone we’ve already met. Debutant Lubomer Levytski draws solid performances from his actors and Olga Storozhuk is brilliant as the beautiful heroine. Eastern European women are amongst the most gorgeous in the world and the director certainly makes the most of this fact by casting a few staggeringly hot chicas. I was disappointed that other titles from Slavic countries, like Slovenia’s Masaker, were so weak on the 783873873982982092092092eye-candy factor. Luckily, Trackman – a film arguably inspired by this – brought back some credibility.

We get a couple of fantastic set-pieces that really underline the abandonment of the victims. The most memorable is when they discover a ventilation pipe that leads outside and begin screaming for help in the hope that someone will hear them. We are shown a worker that is a few yards away and would immediately be able to assist if it weren’t for the fact he was wearing sound-mufflers to protect from the roar of his chainsaw and generator (!). Perhaps what makes the scene all the more hard hitting is that he turns off his devices and removes the earplugs at the exact same time that the troupe take a break from shouting. Just as he puts them back in, their cries begin again….only more frantically!. Don’t you just hate days like that?!? There’s also a very effective 73873873298298209209202jump scare that hits us as the kids are driving to the excavation site. It shows impeccable timing from Levytski.

With the underground backdrop, flashlights and dark tunnels, it’s impossible not to think of My Bloody Valentine when analysing this entry. The difference is, George Mihalka’s classic boasted a hulking antagonist that was regularly on screen and shown to be stalking his intended prey. Maybe it was an attempt to add an extra layer of mystery to Штольня’s premise, but the killer is barely seen up until the climax. I don’t even recall a chase sequence that attempted to deliver suspense. I’ve always believed that it’s much harder to direct a horror movie than it is any other genre and whilst Levytski does well with many of the core principles of 782872872982900920920-2filmmaking, he fails to capture the tone of dread that this feature needed. With so much at his disposal in terms of a great location and a convincing set-up, it’s a shame that the flick didn’t deliver much tension or terror. We cared about the characters and wanted them to prevail, but we never faced a genuine aura of trepidation. I sat watching in the hope that a dark cloud would engulf the purity of the runtime, but the threat wasn’t really visible to us. Looking back at Halloween, we had the eerie scoring and ‘the shape’ lurking in the background of many shots. Here I couldn’t shake the feeling that the characters had to tell us that they were scared because there was no visual antagonist to impose fear upon us. It’s also worth noting how little the flick offers in terms of cultural recognition. The cast and language are Ukrainian, but aside from that this could just be a dubbed copy 28728729829829209202of a US film. I was hoping to see some expository dialogue whilst they ate Pelmeni or prepared Borsch, but unfortunately there was nothing that truly represented the blue and yellow of the former Soviet state.

Штольня is a solid slasher film that would be a great one if it had an atmosphere of doom and a central villain. We needed a lot more stalking and even a few more heavy breath POVs, but instead it was left up to the actors to convey the terror verbally. Of course that doesn’t mean that this is a bad movie, in fact it’s actually pretty good. It’s just a shame how close it came to being outstanding and just missed that certain something.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

7627628729819821910909109101

Night Killer 1989 Review

Night Killer 1989

aka Non Aprite Quella Porta 3

Directed by: Claudio Fragasso

Starring: Peter Hooten, Tara Buckman, Richard Foster

873762872982090922

Review by Luis Joaquín González

I was saying to a friend the other night that after four-years of writing reviews for a SLASH above, I’m still nowhere near halfway through the slashers that I own. Due to the sheer weight of numbers, I’m 87387389398320920920-2guilty of overlooking the Giallo sub genre, which is a shame because Italy deserves its place in this online encyclopaedia. To make up for the lack of Tenebrae etc, I’ve tried covering the slasher films from Southern Europe that were moulded upon their US counterparts. The likes of StageFright, Nightmare Beach, Absurd and Bodycount have always intrigued me,  because it’s strange that Italian directors adapted their methodologies to appeal to a foreign market trend that had been inspired by a style they created.763763872982982982982092

This is another one of their ‘Americanised’ exports and it’s by far the most obscure. It’s from Claudio Fragasso, who became a cult hero from the popularity of his daft project that was filmed on US soil. I haven’t seen Troll 2, but you don’t have to search far to learn that it’s a notorious ‘so bad it’s good’ cheese-fest. Fragasso began his career as an assistant to Bruno Mattei and it’s easy to see similarities in their filmographies. They worked extensively in the exploitation space and both seemed equally as focused on tackling popular cinematic trends on minimal funding. Due to loopholes in copyright laws, many low-budget flicks were released in Italy as unofficial sequels to renowned hits in order to grab an audience. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Italian title is Don’t Open the Door (Non Aprite Quella Porta). Well this one was circulated as a continuation of kind to that series (Non Aprite Quella Porta 3), which made me think that it might be heavily influenced by Leatherface and his cannibalistic family.

It begins in much the same fashion as did Michael Soavi’s StageFright, with a group of theatre performers practicing their dance moves. Before long we meet our masked killer and he slaughters one of the bunnies backstage with a Freddy Kruegar-esque glove. When the bitchy director goes to check on the missing cast-member’s whereabouts, she also gets attacked by the loon, but he only manages to slice her throat delicately, which weakens her vocal chords. What follows is an 762762872982982982982energetic chase sequence that ends with the injured female tumbling from the auditorium to the floor below. The cast members look on in shock at the corpse and the screen fades to black.

We soon learn that the city is being plagued by a maniac that is killing and raping females at a terrifying rate. Thus far, the Police and a Psychiatrist (by far the most credible Sam Loomis impersonation) have no lead on his true identity, but they’re desperate to put an end to the ferocious butchery. His next victim, Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman), manages to survive and gets a view of the attacker’s face, but the event has left her with short term memory loss and she doesn’t recall anything about the night. She is released from hospital and bumps into an alcoholic vagabond by the name of Axel (Peter Hooten). His frantic beeping of his horn and offer of alcohol doesn’t immediately woo her, so he follows her into the women’s toilets (even a cubicle) where she draws a gun and forces him to strip to his briefs and flush away his clothes (I’m not joking). Axel manages to find a T-Shirt and new pair of pants from somewhere and continues his pursuit, which results in him preventing the desperate female from committing suicide on a beach. After taking her to a hotel (this guy is a true player, it usually takes me, at least, a lot of sweet talk, a couple of drinks and a dance to get a girl to a hotel), he begins to reveal some worrying shades to his personality. It looks like Axel is increasingly unstable and 76387387298209209202could well be the vicious maniac that she escaped from last time…

I mentioned Bruno Mattei above and whilst it’s true that he made some pretty bad movies, his Eyes Without a Face is a smart giallo that proved that even directors renowned for cheesy trash could helm a stylish picture on occasion. if you break down this film to the sum of its parts, I guess you could say that it looks fairly mediocre. We do get some gore, but it’s very amateur (the boogeyman’s glove is clearly rubber), the uncredited score is only outdone by the flamboyance of the performances and we lack a traditionally ‘clean cut’ protagonist that the audience can sympathise with. Somehow though, the bouncy soundtrack, unhinged characters, peculiar dialogue (“Oh Grandma, what a big schlong you have(!)”) and videotape picture quality combine to create an authentic and pulsating movie that blew my expectations 76287287298292092092to smithereens. It’s almost as if I kept waiting for the runtime to become tedious, but it maintained a momentum and only grew in intrigue with every step.

It’s clear that Night Killer was structured like a slasher movie, but it certainly has the grit and (not so) subtle sexual themes of a giallo. Our heroine regularly exposes her breasts (she massages them at one point after receiving a threatening call (?)) and we are told that the victims are raped before they are slaughtered. Thankfully, this is never demonstrated visually, and we only see the psychopath punching his bladed glove through their stomachs like he was The Terminator (??). One of the unfortunate females is even killed by having her face pushed into a bowl of latex (???). I managed to work out who was under the mask long before the conclusion, but there’s a further revelation that makes zero sense on reflection, even if it would rival the denouement of The Usual Suspects if you happen to be the guy from Momento or a Goldfish with a five-second attention span.762872872982982090920920-20-2

As I alluded to above, the leads really go OTT with their portrayals. This is especially true in the case of Peter Hooten, whose demeanor and vocal delivery was reminiscent of Matthew McConaughey’s cameo from The Wolf of Wall Street. Despite the misleading Italian release title, Night Killer is not similar at all to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s pure slasher trash that plays like a mix between Terror Eyes and Halloween. There are no supernatural elements, but the killer’s mask is clearly modelled on the face of Freddy Krueger and then of course there’s the bladed glove. We even get a final sequence that could have been lifted from the Edmund Purdom trash bag, Don’t Open ’til Christmas. I know that seems unlikely, but if great minds think alike, I guess that the opposite can happen too 😉

It would be illogical to call Night Killer a well made movie, but it’s constantly entertaining and riddled with intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing and it’s another of those time capsules from a long forgotten time that modern entries regularly attempt to but never manage to emulate…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

7628728729829820920-2

Final Curtain 2003 Review

Final Curtain 2003

Directed by: Mike Goodreau

Starring: Michelle Algarin, Tricia DePaola, Mike Goodreau

7872872873878398298292

Review by Luis Joaquín González

I’ve covered a few obscurities of late, so thought it was about time that I got round to giving this one a blast. Not to be confused with Brett Kelly’s identically themed (and titled) film of 2005, Final Curtain 76387387287287282982989822comes with its fair share of trivia. The IMDB lists eleven sequels, but I heard on the slasher grapevine that there are even a couple more and I have no idea how they’re funded because it’s almost impossible to find copies to buy on any 763738738728298298292092092format. I tracked down this one on eBay, but a brief scan through the usual purchase sites shows no listings at all.

The collection comes from Mike Goodreau and was shot on video as a throwback to the low budget flicks of the eighties. Goodreau has a few actor credits that I came across, but looks to have dedicated his directorial career to these films. It’s a shame that I haven’t yet managed to track down every instalment, because I’d like to see if they changed with yearly progression.

An ambitious businessman relocates to the small town of Taft, Massachusetts and hatches a plan to open an amateur theatre. Despite some friction from officials, the community are generally happy about the idea and he begins casting locals. It seems though that someone wants to tell their own story and 87387387387982982982982they are willing to resort to murder to do so…

Not knowing anything about Mr Goodreau, I had to go into the film unarmed figuratively speaking. What I ascertained from what I saw was that he’s a big fan of theatre and probably a lot in reality like the character he plays here, Levi O’Neil. The background plot of him opening a small dramatic group is fairly engaging in the fact that it dominates the main chunk of the runtime. When the killer strikes, it comes out of nowhere and leaves us thinking, ‘Oh wow I forgot that I was watching a slasher movie.’ It takes twenty-minutes for said assailant to put in an appearance, but after, we get a handful of murders. They’re rolled out in the typical whodunit fashion, with the antagonist mostly off-screen, but despite their unimaginative nature (sword or knife stabbings), they are set-up impressively. We also get a few brazen 657676878898988778878attempts at gore that range from el cheapo to actually pretty good. In fact, we have to credit Goodreau for doing what he could on such a pocket-money budget.

That pocket-money budget is certainly visible in Final Curtain and it gives the film a ‘homemade’ sheen. Most of the audio is sketchy at best and the score, which is at least memorable, jumps like a scratched vinyl in places. I’m guessing that it was shot on a camcorder, but overall, it would be unfair to criticise the visuals. Despite some haziness, I don’t recall squinting to make-out what was happening too many times and there are a couple of bigger budgeted films, like Humongous for example, that couldn’t even achieve this level of clarity.73873873873298298289298298292

What prevented me from being really impressed was that as I alluded to above, the initial kill-scenes feel like they’ve been bolted-on to a TV show or documentary. When you think about classic scary movies, they’re not built upon much else than a horror core. You can have a mystery, sub-plots, in-depth character development, hidden meanings and even romance; but these elements should always be side-salads to a terrorising main course. Goodreau looked to be putting more effort into the trials and tribulations of the theatre plot branch, which reduced the impact of the murders. I don’t want to come across as being petty, but this didn’t ‘feel’ like a horror film for the most part and that prevented me from giving it a higher ranking. Other similarly funded features like Killer Campout or Bloody Creek managed 76376387287287298298298292to sustain a grim environment, but this one sacrificed some of its fear factor (and momentum) for the tale of a ‘theatrical’ journey. We spent a lot of time with the cast members, but never really knew who they were. Because of this, we couldn’t care less when they were killed.

Still, Final Curtain works in a cheapjack way. It’s one that much like Day of the Reaper, you need to be extra forgiving to enjoy, but me, I’m all about forgiveness…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:√√

Final Girl:√√

RATING: a-slash-above-logo11

387387387398398398983093

Marco Polo 2008 Review

Marco Polo 2008

Directed by: Alton Glass

Starring: Cristina DeRosa, Eddie Goines, William L. Johnson

76376387298298298

Review by Luis Joaquín González

When you look at all the ‘hard to find’ slashers, you’ll notice that the majority of them share familiar characteristics. Whether it be that they were self-funded and lacked solid distribution or were plagued 676878798980909throughout production, which led the crew to abandon circulation, there’s usually a common link to be discovered between them. That’s where Marco Polo stands apart. This one was completed in 2007 on a solid budget and with a talented cast, so it’s strange that it has become so obscure.

In fact, what we have here is a feature that truly frustrates me; and my frustrations stem from the fact that it’s better than a large majority of the slashers that I watch, so why isn’t it available for global consumption? It kicks off with a fast-paced sequence that offers a pre-credits 76873872989209202introduction to our boogeyman, Marco Polo. In a periodic scene from 1342, Polo, his wife and daughter are pursued through some forest, where they are eventually cornered and assaulted by their weapon-clenching assailants. Director Alton Glass goes for an incredibly merciless approach by showing us in detail how Polo was made to suffer by being blinded by the thumbs of a hulking barbarian. As he lies screaming on the floor, he can only listen helplessly whilst his spouse is raped and his child slaughtered. It’s an uncommonly harrowing intro, which shows a level of graphic violence that was quite intense. We then fast forward to present day California, where we meet our likely victims.

It’s these parts that most proved to me that Glass has the potential to be a competent filmmaker. We see 738739829820920920all of our characters together at a pool party and there’s a blend of African Americans and Whites. What stood out to me was that the dialogue was audacious and intriguing, because it’s not the usual Hollywood sugar coated chit-chat. One girl nags her black boyfriend for leering over a white chick and he responds by saying, “She must have some black in her to be that fine”. Then a bullish Caucasian belittles a guy that looks like a poor man’s Eminem with the line, “Stay White Brother!” We live in a world where touching upon such topics always carries a risk of offence, but in reality, the majority of us aren’t racists and can share good-natured (and even competitive) interracial banter. I admired the director’s ambition to strive for realism and this continues throughout the runtime.76872872982982902092

After such a crowded launch, we get a closer look at what will surely be our two central players. Jared is extremely disappointed that his younger brother Kelly wants to play basketball in Italy and not follow his sibling into the business that their entrepreneurial father left them when he passed away. This leads to an interesting ‘head or heart’ conversation that offers enough depth to develop both personalities. They decide to spend a camping trip together before Kelly jets off to Europe and this gives us a logical pathway to alienate our intended victims. There are eight campers that board the Winnebago to the forest, and each of them gets enough screen time to stand out. It would be wrong to say that they broke away from the traditional clichés, but the annoying jock type guy diversified into a real hero that I found 68787980999888798myself rooting for. Actually, I wanted most of them to survive and I guess it’s because they were given more than just basic lines to move the plot from A to B.

When the killings start, they’re ferociously gory and Glass unleashes some tremendous visceral FX and a real injection of excitement. One guy gets chopped in half with a machete, there’s a unique decapitation and the brutal masked killer gives a credible Jason Voorhees impersonation. I liked the way that the film gave the players a slice of courage that convinced us that they wanted to survive. It’s tough to convey the true effect that a mass-killer would have on the average everyday Joe, but at least they weren’t just slashed and immediately rushed off screen to be forgotten. Every single box in regards to slasher trademarks is ticked (we even get a scary story around a campfire scene), but this film differentiates itself by including influences from thrillers like Fallen as well as a large dose of Friday the 13th. The biggest chunk of originality came from the conclusion, which I certainly wasn’t expecting.657687879890909898787

The real Marco Polo was an ambitious traveller that passed away peacefully, surrounded by his wife and daughters, in bed. There are definite question marks over the logic of using such a renowned historical figure as the film’s antagonist. The fact that the screenwriter has bolted-on a distinct and unflattering streak to his personality makes it all the more peculiar. It would have been easier if they’d just used an imaginary 565768789898person – a conquistador perhaps – because Polo was everything but a sadistic butcher. Still, I cannot really find any other relevant criticism to aim at this slasher and I’m scratching my head as to why it’s so obscure. When a motion picture that is confidently produced and includes sharp direction, a rapid pace, unpredictability, interesting scenarios, a professional gloss and some gore, you’d think that it had achieved everything that was asked during pre-production. A friend of mine said that he had heard that this was extremely similar to See No Evil, but it’s not at all. Alton Glass’ entry to the sub-genre is much better and deserving of a more prominent status.

So why does the film remain on the missing list? It seems like it all came down to bad timing. Just as shooting was completed in 2008, the lead producer had to deal with some personal matters, which 6576878798989009meant that the concept was pushed to one side. When he was finally able to re-focus his efforts on securing circulation, the digital boom had rendered him unable to find the right deal. Now, eight-years later, it can finally be seen on Amazon.com, but only if you reside in the US. 

There are around sixty slashers that I know of that will never see light of day on the right format. There’s a strong argument to say that Marco Polo and Legend of Moated Manor are the best of those. I hope you one day get the opportunity to see if you agree.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√√√√

Final Girl:

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

768728729820909202