Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sweets to the Sweet

It was late and I had Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999) on the DVR. I kept going past it on occasion and decided to be rid of it. I hadn't watched it since 2000, a clean sixteen years. Yeah, it wasn't exactly beckoning from memory any sort of longing to return to it. Tony Todd has charisma and real presence regardless of the obvious diminishing returns that came from the passage of time (nine years). No longer is that name or hook so fierce as it was in previous entries. Lost is the atmosphere and Philip Glass score that even enhanced the second film.

Here you have the great granddaughter of Candyman (Donna D'Errico) displaying his paintings in a gallery in LA.  Her gallery showrunner plays up the hook-handed killer mythos, encouraging D'Errico to speak into a mirror and speak the name that should not be spoken. A hired actor scares the shit out of her and the gallery attendees get a kick out of it. The publicity only truly brings Candyman upon all those who associate themselves with D'Errico.

The hook impalements and guttings are lacking in punch and the idea to have Todd yap endlessly about D'Errico surrendering to him gradually deprives Candyman of that aura of menace so crucial to what made the character exceptional. The low voice, Todd's tenor of sinister intent, is so much more meant in smaller doses. I felt as I watched it, the approach was to see him as much as possible. That and D'Errico in tight shirts to show off her impressive bust and panties, a Baywatch cast-off looking to capitalize on the opportunity of starring opposite a popular horror character (up til this film at least). There's a racist LA cop on the Candyman murders, a Candyman cult looking to raise him from the beyond (wherever that is), and a body count linked to D'Errico and the actor in the gallery as they must also contend with the titular fiend. Even thrown in are bees coming out of Candyman's mouth and carcass, D'Errico getting some help by the actor's spiritualist mom who uses her "tools of the trade" as protection, a police chase through celebration of Day of the Dead, and D'Errico fainting nearly every time Candyman appears to her. All of this is directed with a far inferior budget and direction lacking flair, further cursed with an editing style which undercuts any intensity needed to builds to Candyman's appearances. Todd tries to answer that call, but three time was not the charm. D'Errico serves as a desirable blond bunny but she's certainly no Virginia Madsen.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Twilight Zone - The Hunters

Louise Fletcher stars as an archeologist studying an underground cave found by a boy when he discovered a hole in the ground located where a new housing community is to be developed. She’s an independently-minded, stubborn, vocally-assertive “ivory tower intellectual” cave-painting expert with no tolerance for capitalist house-builder, Jim Hilsen (Cronenberg regular, Leslie Carlson), making it very clear she intends for the land to not be disturbed, pretty sure of herself. Mysteriously, animals are being found slaughtered nearby the cave, with tracks and blood leading right to it, with Fletcher’s Dr. Cline wanting to know what’s going on. As does the sheriff, Roy (Michael Hogan), who is hearing it from locals balking about their dead livestock. Dr. Cline notices the paintings on the walls of stick figure hunters with spears are “changing”, and this odd circle could very well be a type of portal or gateway for those of the past to travel through, from the past to the present! Shocking fate of Dr. Cline could be looked at as invited considering Sheriff Roy tried to get her to leave the cave for the night, with her insisting she was going to stay. It was a given something might happen considering warning signs were right there noising danger Cline’s way. I think we chalk it up to Cline’s obsession with ancient “art” and their importance in field study and additional historical importance…still, she should have stuck to studying during the day with others in attendance. Sheriff Roy’s quick thinking regarding a sponge and some soapy water works wonders to rid himself of a spear in the back. Surreal plot fits the spirit of TZ, but the visual of a stick figure drawing pulling a dead stick figure body across a cave canvas is rather laughable.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Castles and Fog... or in the case of The Terror (1963), Mausoleums and Fog

My son was really into the movie, so we watched it together. Just astounding how this could be as competently put together as it is! Corman's public domain movie during the Poe era with Karloff working on the cheap and a stiff Jack getting through it. Even Dick Miller couldn't summon the inspiration to care. Sandra Knight is enigmatic if stone faced. It's the sets and atmosphere, even as it was all been torn down, that really hit my G-spot.

Karloff Cannot Die

A Karloff Mad Scientist movie is always welcome on my screen. I've been stuck at home with a current potential problem (mass on the tail of my pancreas could be something or nothing), so for me knowing Karloff is on (Turner Classics doing their Summer of the Stars right now) is especially worthwhile. I can't bring myself to watch his Frankenstein movies (just too soon to October), but "The Man They Could Not Hang" (1939) is just right. These movies really are like manna from heaven. I can't get enough of them. Anyone who complains that "Karloff made the same movie four times" can go watch something else, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, I will agree there was one film after the other churned out as part of studios' B-Movie divisions, made cheap with certain typecast actors hired to lure movie-goers. Everyone has their vice, and I just don't think Karloff mad scientist movies (often he's a widower, with a daughter, who starts out wanting to help mankind and is punished when something goes awry, although he also had his share of criminals wanting a second chance but receiving punishing fates) is too unhealthy.

This movie has Karloff as a brilliant scientist and doctor who is on the cusp of inventing a mechanical heart capable of maintaining life even after the healthy heart dies. But when the fiance of his healthy male volunteer goes to the police while he's "technically" killing him (poison that doesn't kill the tissues) so he can restore the subject with his mechanical heart, law enforcement interferes with the reviving process resulting in the guinea pig's demise. Then comes a court trial, jury debate, verdict, sentencing, and waiting for the hangman's noose. Karloff vows to get even with those who sentenced him to death and halted his experimental breakthrough.

Karloff has an assistant who not only repairs his broken neck but also brings him back to life by following the notes and teaching which operate the mechanical heart procedure. Once recuperated, Karloff knocks off the jurors who were dead set to execute him, sparing the three who argued tirelessly in his defense. The others (the judge, prosecutor, police, police surgeon, fiance, and head juror vocally responsible for swaying all jurors to vote against Karloff) are tricked by invitation to the castle of Karloff, with his devious wicked plan to bump them off one by one through traps set up (like how he kills the judge with electrified metal doors to the living room, and a phone tricked with a spike that stabs the head juror in the ear).

I think Karloff, with that special delivery and slight lisp, really makes some of the dialogue hum, like when he condemns those responsible for his sentencing in the court room or how he speaks about the medical field's potential on the stand to the jury of his peers what his disrupted work could have meant. He has a marvel of a monologue with his daughter character of the film, on how man has corrupted what science created, how the good meant from inventions or advances in medicine man used for evil or harm. I can't help but grin at Karloff in how he tells those who wronged him (in his mind) they are doomed...he certainly doesn't cop out for the easy paycheck. He proves he can make dialogue purr and is more than just a hulking monster...give him something to chew on and watch him work. So yeah, I think these little B-movies that Bogart wanted nothing to do with have their place...especially in my library.

Maniac Cop

The late Robert Z'Dar sure cut a menacing figure in Maniac Cop (1987). It was on in the afternoon the other day, and I hadn't watched it in a while. The score as backdrop for the prisoners who attacked him in prison was quite unnerving. Valiantly defending himself, he was stabbed with a chiv in the back. Maniac Cop threw caution with the wind and allowed him to just withstand anything. Shots directly to the torso and face (cut by the chiv repeatedly in the face along with the stab in the back in prison which would easily kill any normal man, particularly the way he was bleeding out; the coroner reflection has Z'Dar on a table under a blood-soaked sheet, resuscitating him from the brink of death) do not stop him. You can plow into him with a car, too. Oh, and the end has him impaled by a post while driving a police van at full speed, not to mention, the vehicle drives right into the harbor, but the psycho emerges with that damned hand snakily slithering up a post.

I was talking to my wife while watching it. I was in the back bedroom as she passed, and I related a memory one of my internet buddies mentioned about the tragic fate of Tom Atkins. In my IMDb review, I commented on how it was cool that Atkins got top billing over Bruce Campbell, who had come off the success of the first two Evil Dead movies. Neat was the fact that I felt he totally deserved it although few other than John Carpenter and his buddy Tommy Lee Wallace would give him such a position in the credits. He was the trench coat detective in the film that never felt Campbell was the killer cop on the loose killing civilians, and the further he investigated the closer to danger he got. I found myself barely able to watch what Z'Dar does to him in the film, and it always summons the reflection by the internet buddy that when he was in the theatre, the audience were in a state of shock when Atkins left the film. That is what a beloved actor can do: you give a shit about him and don't imagine (or want to) he'd get the rotten and rough Z'Dar mistreatment.

Campbell as a cheating husband the film makes a default hero, with Laurene Landon as his lover (a narcotics cop who works a lot of undercover work as a hooker) helping his cause, is a surprising script decision. He's not exactly a completely sympathetic figure, but how he's framed, through the brutal murder of his wife and subsequent cop killings of the maniac cop incorrectly tied to him, goes a long way to help him out.

Whatever I might feel about Cohen's script (this was something I spent a lot of time on when writing my user comments on the IMDb), it is cast quite well. Z'Dar is shot by Lustig in the dark as quite a scary figure. Atkins makes for a veteran cop whose instincts are right throughout but his duty takes him right into the crosshairs of Z'Dar. Richard Roundtree as the commish, and William Smith, as the scratchy-voice captain, both are cocksure that Campbell is their man despite every kind of evidence regarding the brute strength and force it would take saying otherwise.

I have read of Lustig's bad direction, but I felt different. I think he takes an uneven mess of a script (and I love Cohen), pacing the film and stylizing it impressively. I think he tries to mask the flaws by getting the most out of the cast and how dangerous and intimidating Z'Dar is. I think the extended version, with the mayor and his chief of staff (Lerner and Rossi) is the ideal way to go as it adds some meat to the bones and further elaborates on why Z'Dar is so pissed off. With a thrilling car chase with Landon and an officer following Z'Dar in the police van containing Campbell in hot pursuit, Lustig keeps the film moving along at a clip. Sometimes that's what it takes to persuade us not to focus on the implausible aspects of the script. Z'Dar's herculean abilities are quite grandiose. Can't leave without mentioning Sheree North as a cripple Z'Dar is fond of and vice versa...she conceals his actions and takes Atkins into account for driving a wedge between her and her maniac cop...supporting casting like her doesn't hurt.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Watched V/H/S (2012) for the third time and I can certainly say that it digresses with each viewing. I do think there's the idea, concept, whatever, that is a cool nostalgic tool that appeals to us of the video age. Those of us who dealt with rough recordings/copies of movies both made by us and rented from elsewhere get a bone tossed at us by those who also spent their time experiencing the scratchy, glitchy, video quality, with all the tracking problems and irksome degeneration of the tape. But glasses being able to record a demon obliterating his drunk and horny friends while the wearer tries to flee her advances and a "glitch psycho" picking off teens in the woods (think your tracking problem turned into a phantom who is wicked with a knife (what he is and how he came into existence isn't elaborated) don't quite capitalize exponentially on the concept. In and out appearances of murdered friends of a girl recorded from a previous visit to the woods and what is being captured present seems as questionable even if jarringly unsettling. The chilling idea of snuff on film is rather effective in and of itself, but glitch killers carrying them out is rather dubious. Boring touring footage of a couple in Arizona going about their travel exploits and how the wife might not be quite so happy in the marriage (as evidenced by what someone else does to her husband) doesn't thrill as much as remind me of the inundating dullness of watching everyday life. Only a brief scourge of knife violence to a throat jars the banality. Halloween hijinks by dudes looking for a party and inadvertently interrupting an exorcism unleashing a house invaded by dark spirits levitating people and objects, with hands reaching from walls, as they drag a girl out of the clutches of folks hoping to rid her of evil plays on Paranormal Activity films, including the grim finale where a car ride escape with the wrong passenger brings on a train...this is closer to what currently exists than a throwback to the days of 80s/90s youth. Vandals damaging property and stealing tapes from a dead man's home, who just so happens to turn into a zombie for whatever reason, as a wraparound and excuse to have others survey the recordings that make up the anthology, features shaky footage at its worst. Yeah, no legs for this found footage offering which earned plenty of pop upon release and word of mouth.

Chilling Visions 2014

 This was meant for my imdb user account, but the 1000 word limit wouldn't allow it, so I'll just drop it in full here and try and reduce the review so that it can be accepted.

This is an anthology of unrelated short films all dealing with fears ranging from the inability to move, burial alive, losing your ability to function without assistance, succumbing to derangement which results in cutting yourself, and losing a loved one too soon.

"Ego Death": a narcissistic, womanizing cretin, with a hefty bank
account, drives his "mouthy, nagging" lover out to the desert to rid
himself of a nuisance, returning to his pretty, calm-voiced wife.
Before burying the other woman alive, she laughed up at him, with this
seemingly serving as a type of guilty attachment he can't seem to
shake. Her phantom re-emerges to mock and torment him. Returning to the
scene of the crime when his dinner with the wifey is interrupted by the
"spectre of a bothered conscience", he will confront more than just a
lone figure in the dark of the desert…we soon learn than this burial
wasn't a "one time occurrence". Sufficed to say, he cannot overcome his
past transgressions, no matter how big the hole he dug is or how much
earth he covers across them. I actually liked this, considering it is
eight minutes and a lot of backstory needs to be elaborated in that
time. We get the details we need, plus the buried lover returning from
beyond the grave (even if a demon on the mind) to haunt the creep is
coolly elaborated. Like when she is silhouetted in another room behind
the wife (nice contrasting shot), or you see multiple specters emerging
across the dirt (silhouetted themselves, with only their figures,
darkened by the night, transparent) "approaching" the villain as if a
coven ready to get their pound of flesh. Gets the point across, for
sure. Impressively photographed for a low budget short. ***

"Separation": An elderly man, seemingly succumbing to dementia and
memory loss, is approached by his daughter and her husband (who he
despises) to move out of the house (which he built with his own hands
he yells at his son-in-law), but he's persistent that the only way that
will happen is in a coffin. Appearing to have his best interest at
heart, a noble effort to keep him safe and well looked after, the
couple try as they might to convince him to go to a home they said he
liked. But all is not what it appears when the old timer digs up the
dog he supposedly put down, after building a coffin and planning to
blow his brains out with a shotgun (a shotgun he forgot to load the
shells in!). Best laid plans are soon thrown into mortal terror when
"premature burial" visits itself on those who would manipulate and take
advantage of their elder. The image of the old man above ground and a
begging victim in a coffin pounding the wood deep in the earth is
especially inventive. While it isn't too uncommon to see a horror film
where characters appear one way only to be revealed completely
different, with a rather unsettling agenda, I thought this was rather
effective in its execution. Just desserts, too, as the victim soon
turns the tables. Is this altogether original—not really—but the
direction gets the most out of the material. It does verify that there
is cause for alarm (the stove incident, occasional falls), but
ultimately when he gains understanding of how he's been duped, there's
enough cognitive reasoning left to usurp those wanting to capitalize on
his vulnerability. **½

"Mutilation": A handsome couple decides to visit a Connecticut area,
remote and seemingly vacant, once a thriving community that fell to a
type of lyme disease. The husband seemed to have been there some with
his father and so this is an important revisit for him. The wife agrees
because it means a lot to her beau. What they encounter is a type of
infection, even perhaps a mental breakdown resulting from a type of
radioactive or bio-chemical mad science. The fence with the warning
sign should have told them that perhaps visiting the place was the
wrong idea! This is a particularly grisly tale with an opening scene
that really sets up the short film in skin crawling fashion: a
scientist from a Plum facility is cutting away at whatever he thinks is
inside him. An ominous figure - never truly elaborated in full figure -
seems to be a weapon that keeps the area a secret from outside
"invaders". Seeing the couple crippled by madness and tearing away at
their body (particularly the wife) with a knife is quite
squirm-inducing. This might test some folks resolve. There is some
explanation before it begins that might clear the air on what is going
on to those in the story. The gray, dead winter aesthetic of the
environs is quite a backdrop to the disturbing violence unleashed on
the viewer. **½

"Extinction": A grieving mother's daughter's ghost visits her with
instructions: to kill the husband who plotted and executed her demise!
Instead of killing him outright, the mother prolongs the man's
suffering so she can continue to spend time with her daughter who seems
to be withering! The "restless spirit" angle is given quite a fresh
coat of paint as the mother, asked to get revenge for the phantom
unable to have peace until her loss is avenged, just wants more time
with the daughter gone far too soon. The mourning of a mother
counteracts with justice for her daughter…she would have to give up
further time with her daughter if she does kill the bastard that took
her life. A pickle for the mom, for sure. The daughter's wishes
ultimately will force the mom to comply…or the killer's moving things
along by breaking free from his restraints. **½

"Loss of Autonomy": A news reporter has been committing infidelity and
his wife (who reports the news alongside him) knows all about it.
Convenient stroke leaves him unable to move or talk, just move his
eyes, and the wife plots her revenge, with plenty of tormenting and
ridicule – and plots to take what money he has invested for their son
and kill him! – capitalizing on his unfortunate state. What I thought
made this effective was how the husband communicates with nothing but
his eyes the struggle while the vengeance-fueled wife carries out her
wares right in front of him with plenty of malice and venom. The
vulnerable position he is in (she has sex in front of him with a
graphics designer, doesn't change his diaper, sets his wheelchair to go
into a pool) is sympathized because we see what he's been married to
all his life. The telekinesis which arises is a neat little addition
which eventually favors him and grants us a twist which gives her a
little dose of her own medicine. **½

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

I had already wrote a user comment on the imdb for this, not realizing it. I will discard the one meant for it tonight here:

Rod Serling penned the brilliant script for this memorable episode (it is my #1 personal favorite episode of the series) of the Twilight Zone, about a bright light that flashes momentarily over Maple Street, with accompanying electrical and airwaves stoppage causing burgeoning paranoia and increasing distrust among those living in the neighborhood. The persistent advice and warnings from a boy on the street, using content from sci-fi literature he reads, and a steadily building and mounting degree of suspicion regarding possible neighbors being aliens from outer space soon turns everyone against each other. A car that starts and stops by itself, lights in houses going on and off, and ominous footsteps from a distant walking “figure” (who they suspect to be an alien, despite the fact that one from their neighborhood had told them he was heading over to a different street to see if they had similar electrical problems) complicate matters. Not to mention, pointed fingers, vocal accusation, suspecting “neighborhood watch” gives way to thrown stones, a gunshot, shouting, heated reactions, frenetic chaos of scattered people looking to mob a scapegoat, and a street in ruins…all that was needed was to turn some lights, a car, and a lawn mower on and off and let the street destroy themselves.

I do get that it also took the use of a sci-fi story about aliens told from a scared kid to plant the seed that eventually blossomed into anarchy. The camera’s focus on speeding legs, tilted angles of the Maple Street sign, and direct close-ups of hysterical faces add incredibly to the narrative of how a situation can escalate out of control when feelings perhaps buried inside can surface if flamed by circumstances most unusual (the tricks used by aliens planning to colonize once the human race obliterates itself). A most superb cast: Claude Akins (who tries to be the voice of reason as accusations even point his direction because he was messing around with a ham radio!), Jack Weston (as a ringleader in the mob), Barry Atwater (as the first accused because of his car’s on and off trick), and Burt Metcalf (as a friend of Akins and Weston who soon turns on both of them) among others really aid the intentions of Serling’s story. At the beginning, seemingly hospitable, level-headed, friendly, honest, and temperate folks—representing the All-American, white picket fence family of the Cleavers or Mayberry—eventually descend into monsters themselves…done in a startlingly thirty minute show that has no fat, a lean and staggering critique on how we ourselves can become the very danger that terrifies us. When the women even participate in spreading panic, all hope seems lost.

I had it already written, so I had to do something with it. Waste not, want not.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Woke up early this morning and watched The Crazies (1973). Of all the scenes I could mention, this one above impacted me the most. To say that things had spiralled out of control would be an understatement. But Lynn Lowry, lit by the sun behind her as it had risen for the day as soldiers in decontamination suits and gas masks surround her, uttering "Oh", collapsing to the ground in a quiet heap certainly spoke volumes about how control was lost. Lowry, what a stunning woman, in this film, after succumbing to the Trixie, is not overtly hostile as much as giggly and childish, walking into the gaggle of soldiers free from any recognition that life for her was coming to an end. The soldiers lost all resolve with anxieties and fears for their own welfare at the forefront.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fender Bender

I kept asking myself about Mark Pavia, the director of “Fender Bender”, a home invasion slasher little brother to The Collector, when I noticed his name come up at the end credits as the film was concluding. I researched him and sure enough, he directed “The Night Flier”, a film based on a Stephen King story that starred a particularly nasty Miguel Ferrer. I always liked his film but wondered why he hadn't directed more than he had.

Fender Bender (2016, a joint ChillerTv and Scream Factory effort) itself is quite a mean-spirited slasher, with a short supply of bodies butchered, but just the same the killer doles out some hostile violence certain to leave an impression. A serial killer preys on teenage girls by using fender bender “accidents” as a means to derive information from them so he can descend upon their homes (sharing info after the wreck occurs), puts on a leather mask fashioned with metal rings for eyes and metal pins favoring teeth, wears a thick leather jacket certain to withstand retaliation from those who might return some of what he dishes out, and drives a particularly menacing ride that serves as his “introduction” to the victims he desires.

His next selection is a cute Makenzie Vega, not long with her driver’s license, dealing with an ex jock who cockily emerges at her door thinking he might can get her back. Vega exchanges info not imagining Bill Sage (I know him from the CSI: Miami episode, “Recoil”) will return to her home with a knife meant for her torso. Dre Davis and Kelsey Montoya are Vega’s buddies, coming over to hang out with her. Soon all three (including Harrison Sim as the prick ex who Vega threatens with a bat!) are targets for Sage.

There’s no doubt that you can pick this apart and find one flaw after another. There are stupid decisions aplenty (particularly from Vega) and what Vega does to Sage (the use of a crow bar multiple times and even gasoline lit fire fail to keep Sage down long!) would kill any normal human being. The ending shows Sage as human which belies what just happened before him. His going through Vega’s bedroom and personal items, removing his “murder disguise/gear” delicately/meticulously, and setting up bodies in cars in a line as a type of artistic statement really leave an unsettling feeling I found especially effective. But I simply have a hard time with you asking me to accept that this human monster could endure what Vega delivers on his person at the end of the film, and then buy the bill of goods regarding his ability to go on with his life as if he didn’t just receive heavy contact across the face/head by a crowbar and get lit on fire! Countless opportunities for Vega to call for help and how she’s punished for the fender bender despite not being responsible for it are also details that really noise aloud at how preposterous the film can be at times.

But when it gets down to the bread and butter of the economical slasher film, Fender Bender does have its moments. Bill Sage in costume summons the Shape and moves about the grounds and home like a silent phantom, purposing a mission of destruction that seems impossible to defy. Sage has a type of make-shift switchblade he impales with quiet ferocity in the victims who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time: around Vega, at her home. Vega, though, is allowed to be the raison d'etre for Sage’s devotion. The others are playthings for him to slay before getting to her. A blade through the stomach or throat, and even using his car to drive over a victim, are appetizers: Vega is the meal.

As far as what to expect: the usual. It has style and Pavia knows how to build scenes to their apex. His script wasn't afraid to lure us into relaxation only to bum us out. As mentioned, the killer is ridiculously superhuman (he does kind of function as a spectre who winds up where he needs to when it is time to kill victims) and we are asked to believe he is impervious to bodily harm. Vega could have been victimized at different points but the killer waits until the script wants him to attack. The three scatter chaotically instead of go out the nearest exit immediately when the killer showed himself in the house. The parents away so that the killer has the "final girl" all to himself... And on and on.

By now we kind of know what we're getting into. The film seemed designed as a throwback with a score that isn't exactly synth but has a beat to it that follows the hunt and the execution. I particularly like how Pavia unveils Sage with lightning strikes that reveal him in the dark. The phone voicemail from her mother after all the carnage, and how it is Sage who listens is particularly disturbing. Vega begging for her life and Sage diminishing it as meaningless also leaves a really bad taste. This shows that Pavia is willing to not pull punches. But there's a lot of stupidity I had a hard time looking past.

Not a total success, but I think some slasher fans will approve.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Killer Holiday

Like clowns and scarecrows, there just aren't really a whole lot of good amusement park horror movies. Not sure why. You'd think they'd be a bunch of them by now. At any rate, I guess the likes of Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse and Dark Ride (part of After Dark Horrorfest's 8 films to die for 2006) come immediately to mind. Killer Holiday (2013) is a very typical slasher film that doesn't function as an outlier in the slightest. I never felt as I was watching it that those involved weren't totally sold out to the formula as it is. Kids not far from high school commit to the gnarly road trip certain to feature booze and possible sex. Life's a party and this trip was a means for those riding in the RV for a summer to remember...however, of course, things don't go according to plan. While cruising Route 66, the gang finds a fallen sign pointing towards an old amusement park and decide to see what it is all about...big mistake, obviously.

Before even leaving, the kids are at the home of Rachel Lara, fresh out of rehab. Upstairs, unbeknownst to them, a hunky psychopath is butchering her parents with a kitchen knife. He will follow behind them in a cherry red convertible, stopping off in a desert town (right after they do) to pick up a cowboy hat. He'll meet them, as you might have guessed it, at the amusement park.

Rachel Lara stood out with the best impression, Vibrant red hair and a flaming sensuality to match, Lara is very attune to her body and presence...it is hard to take your eyes away from her. There's a funny scene where one of the guys, cuckolded by his uneasy lack of confidence and awkward inability to read the tea leaves of a flirt, has Lara in the RV while the others search for three of their gang had been grappling with the killer. Lara shamelessly flaunts her figure in a pull-down shirt after coyly taunting his desire to look at her when she walked to the back room to change. In a separate event, around a camp fire, she performed a little dance for the company, settling on the lap of David Namminga.  The token "nerd" of the group (one of only three girls, among a chorus of dudes), is Julia Beth Stern. Stern has a certain fondness for Namminga, so Lara choosing him was almost strategic in how feminine wiles drive the engine of male attention.

I was rather disappointed in the lack of atmosphere for the amusement park.Most of the movie, when at the park, is just too dark. Even worse is that the park doesn't get much definition during the late afternoon. The violence is very familiar: the weapons of the trade you normally see are in the killer's toolbox. The kitchen knife is his favorite. There's a clever rigged guitar with a sharp, pointy handle trap that emerges after a victim believes he's survived an electrocution. An accidental arm decapitation (and not so accidental beheading) leaves the victim emasculating the killer! A knife surprises another victim in the eye while the killer takes great time impaling another with a broken bottle (here, he stabs her, allows her to suffer before finally ending her after telling her "to breathe"). And so on.

There's even a visit to the killer's pop who tried to warn the kids away and is held in contempt for do so. He's forced to hold the knife as the killer drives a victim's head into it. Par for the course. Michael Copon summons his inner Fred Krueger. He mocks his victims, taking great pleasure in being the final face they see before the fade to black. Lara's parents' execution at the beginning immediately presents the kind of killer you'll see throughout. Being a slasher, there's a twist (which isn't much of a twist considering slasher fans have grown to read the signs from countless others before Killer Holiday) involving family revelations that ties the killer to a member of the RV gang. And another twist involving the killer in a whole different way to a member of the RV gang. The fact that the killer was so intimately involved with murdering the parents should be a clue. The relative twist is noised to us repeatedly.

What the director does with slow motion, B&W photography featuring moments in scenes we have previously seen, and ADD editing all interfere with the pacing of the plot and just rather feel desperate in begging us to recognize an attempt at filmmaking style. But they really don't add anything of value to characters that do little to distinguish themselves. Few are colorful enough (well, just one or two, really) to leave their mark on us. Meat for the grinder, really.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I was rather surprised to find Jack-O (1995) available with audio commentary and it was of definite interest particularly because I wanted to know opinion on the nude shower scene with Linnea Quigley and how it seems rather shoehorned into a film that, for the most part, feels rather PG-13. Sure the pumpkin-head killer wields a deadly scythe, the special effects aren’t overtly gory (due to the budget), so the nudity is rather startling (even though it is Quigley, known for her showers naked). Considering at this point she was 37, and she should’ve been quite proud of her body. She looked fantastic. That said, it does feel out of place with the vibe and personality of the overall project. I recommend trying to find the film with the audio commentary as director Latshaw is quite vocal about the shower scene, and how admittedly hated its inclusion. Just the same, it is in the film, strategically placed (or is it sandwiched?) in among one of the film's major developing kill scenes. I reckon it depends on your preference for how you take your horror movies (with Quigley involved). Amusingly, the debate on Quigley's involvement and her naked shower gets Latshaw stirred up and annoyed.

You know, this third Slumber Party Massacre film surprisingly has received very little notoriety unlike its previous films (the first for its violence and the second for its surreal comic value) despite being absolutely mean-spirited and oftentimes cruel. Maybe it is because of its availability. I don't think it was as accessible as the first and second films. Perhaps it was the fact that the slasher genre (as the 80s ended and 90s began) was fading. Everything about the cover of this box reads "more of the same". By 1990 I think the audience this aimed for were just no longer interested. Well, I think there's always interest in the slasher films of yesterday, especially those less mentioned than the usual suspects. Sequels with familiar franchises and subliminal cover arts are bound to find those interested. The slasher film might fade but always seems to linger on the periphery.

I myself didn't see this film for the first time until 2009. I was not impressed. This second viewing left me quite taken aback. It lingers unpleasantly now. Those that hate the slasher film would find much to despise about this bad boy.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Slumber Party Massacre III

Summer in 1990 should be an ideal time for friends from high school to enjoy a night together with a slumber party, including games, pizza, and talking guys. Too bad a killer decides to ruin the fun!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

I visit the IMDb Horror message board on occasion to see what buzz might be stirring about particular horror movies and hopefully discover interesting users who might have relatable interests in the genre. I have this private message sent to me telling me that a secret vote was taken among this douchebag and other boarders about how I should leave and blow my opinions out my ass. I kind of laughed because essentially I have just been participating in Top Ten threads with little opinion actually offered. The board, by and large, has become a sad state of affairs with slight glimmers of good trying to free itself from the muck and mire. Obviously I won't allow some crude pimple on the ass of the internet to dictate my visit to a board far from its glory,  which was peaking around 2005 or so. Trolling is the norm over there and some good folks who might still entertain the board are long gone because of the infestation. Oh, and I happened to peek at his profile and it is a puppet account with no posts on the horror board and has been active three weeks...this kind of insect flies around so it can buzz in your ear, get in your mouth, and be a nuisance. Wonder why so few congregate there anymore. Why bother?




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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...