Jan

The Long Hair of Death
1964 – NR – 100 Minutes – Raro Video
Starring Barbara Steele, George Ardisson, Halina Zalewska – by Antonio Margheriti

Anytime something bad is happening in the world, it’s probably because of a witch’s curse and to get rid of it, you have to burn her on a cross. If she cries out for her maker and dies, she wasn’t a witch after all, but if she shrieks out hexes and curses those who wronged her, she is a witch, but she is burning, so the curse is gone! Everybody wins. Except the witch. These are all scientific facts.

But you better hope that witch doesn’t curse you and cry out for vengeance upon her execution. It will haunt you for the rest of your life, which will come to an end unexpectedly, just as you think you are on top of the world. The Long Hair of Death is such an example. It’s dark and shadowy trip down a cold, chilling hallway of treachery, murder and revenge from Antonio Margheriti, the director of cult classics like Castle of Blood and Yor, Hunter From the Future. Ok, that last one maybe not so much, but the guy knows how to create mood and tension.

lhd_2And what way better way to open up a movie? Count Humboldt and his rather douchy son Curt are burning a witch at the stake, but this isn’t your regular kind of tie-them-to-a-cross burning. It’s some sort of torcherous haystack maze that is set on fire! As the accused witch is trying to escape the hellfire, her hot daughter (no pun intended) Helen, played by the gorgeous Barbara Steele, is attempting to plead with the Count to save her by any means necessary… any, if you catch my drift. So while the Count is grinding on her, he promises her that her mother will be safe, but then Curt sets a torch to the maze and the old woman catches fire while her youngest daughter watches and she shouts curses on her tormentors. Jeez, the guy couldn’t even wait til morning to break his promise. Helen vows that she will have her revenge, but there may be a change of plans. The Count tosses her off a cliff and into a river, leaving her younger sister Lisabeth as the sole survivor. Helen is buried with the old witch’s ashes, which you know is going to be a combination more deadly than peanut butter and chocolate.

Some years pass and Lisabeth is now a young woman, being stalked by the even creepier Curt, who basically forces her into marriage. Of course, this is back in the day when you could just say you’re going to marry someone and claim them. That’s basically what happens, but even though she’s his wife now, he will never have her heart. He doesn’t truly love her and she hates him and they spend a good amount of time loathing each other and staring daggers as she plots her revenge against Curt while avoiding him. So, it’s your basic run of the mill marriage. Lisabeth begs for vengeance and vengeance she shall have!

lhd_3As the plague is claiming the lives of the villagers, Curt and his father stay safely in their castle until an old, familiar face returns! Could it be Helen? She certainly looks like her, but doesn’t act like her… The woman says her name is Mary and has been separated from her group. Upon seeing her face, the count dies from guilt and Curt greaves in Helen’s magnificent bosom. But don’t think Lisabeth doesn’t notice some other floozy making moves on her man! She soon becomes jealous and suspects Curt of adultery and she should, because he is totally hitting that behind her back. Even as Helen tries to leave, Curt goes as far as to poison a messenger sent out to find her party. Now, if that isn’t the sign of someone who loves you, I don’t know what is.

Deceit, treachery and murder are all part of this marriage (I guess each couple has to keep their relationship “fresh”), as Curt plots Lisabeth’s death and she patiently awaits for revenge, but will she ever get it? And why is it hard to advert my eyes away from Helen’s cleavage? Curt soon brings Helen into the mix, turning her against Lisabeth and soon paranoia sets in and there is nobody they can trust, not even the priest! Well, if you can’t trust the priest, then who can you? It’s a devilish story about getting even that leads up to an ending that will ring of The Wicker Man.

Talk about an exciting, little murder mystery! There are plenty of moments in the film where anything seems possible and you aren’t sure what’s going to happen, but you’re certainly there, wide eyed in anticipation waiting for it. Sure, you’ve seen this plot probably about a dozen times and maybe it’s the way it’s presented here, but it doesn’t feel old. Those Italians sure do know how to create some genuine suspense. It does take some time getting to the revenge, but everything is a slow build, so you have enough time to get to know these characters and despise them enough so that any type of revenge is justified, no matter how cruel and unusual it may be. And boy, does it get cruel and unusual.

lhd_4But that’s just the start. There is a lot of sexualization in the film and dealing into darker matters with rape and abuse, which may seem unheard of for films from the 60’s, but this is when European Gothic horror films were really starting to become just what they were meant to be; dark. Yes, there was a time when goth was more than whatever was trending down at the Hot Topic and The Long Hair of Death represents that. Presenting the spousal abuse, adultery, death and plague is some beautifully lit set pieces, highly contrasting the lights and shadows within the castle, something Italian filmmakers seem to have a knack for. The film has some seriously beautiful images.

And I have to give praise to the performances in the film. Curt is that villain you love to hate. He’s always up to something that will only further his desires while hurting someone else. Everything he says seems to be there to shine light on his greed, selfishness and his treacherous scheming. Even against his own father, who starts off as the most detestable person in the film, but later accepts his own fate. I did find it odd that Curt would later come to mourn his passing, especially after Curt admits to the reason behind the Count’s brother’s disappearance. Countering that is Lisabeth, the sympathetic female unwillingly caught in the middle of all of this. At times she seems a little weak, because you want her to extract the revenge, but that is lent a more supernatural hand. I also felt that her jealousy was a bit unwarranted, since adultery was met with execution back in the day and that could have solved her problem right there, but I guess she wanted to do it herself. And of course we have to mention the gothic bombshell Barbara Steele in a dual role. This woman does the unimaginable in an attempt to save her mother’s life as Helen and as Mary, she flaunts was she was born with and expresses what a sexual beast she can be.

For those of you always looking for the greatest quality out there, Raro really came through for you. The picture is sharp and smooth, although sometimes too smooth, delivering a pretty crisp picture with little leftover scratches. The same can be said about the audio, which seems to be flawless here. That score will get stuck in your head for days and both Italian and English dialogue tracks are here. I recommend the Italian track with the English subs, since the English dub seems to be a bit sillier and some of the dialogue is omitted, like an inner voice speaking to Lisabeth.

The Long Hair of Death
Sure, you could choose from one of the many Hammer Horror films if the mood strikes you for something gothic, but I say reach a little further for The Long Hair of Death. Something about it feels more natural than something in the Hammer series (not saying anything bad about Hammer), especially within the scenery. It’s a dreary good time that is remarkable to look at and will keep you in suspense as wave after wave of tension keep slamming into you.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Barbara Steele will steal your heart.
  • Curt, lord douche.
  • Murder, deception and betrayal! Oh my!
  • Gothic interior decorating.
  • Man, The Wicker.
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

Nuttin’ but a rotten corpse.

6

blood

BREASTS

Two words. Barbara and Steele.

7

beast

BEASTS

Curt needs a mustache to twirl while lightening strikes behind him.

5.3 OVERALL
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Jan

posted by deadman | January 6, 2015 | Action, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Reviews by Deadman, Sci-Fi, modern horror

Ragnarok
Don’t you love being pleasantly surprised when you go into a movie expecting to be in pain the entire time and end up with a good experience? Me too! Oh my dear B-movie makers, you never cease to surprise me. What I thought was going to be a CGI-laden, generic-screaming-girl, dude-with-bad-catchphrase-saves-the-day attempt at a would-be monster movie, turned into a cool romp into Norse legends and a decent creature flick.

Ragnarok is a foreign movie about an archaeologist who has been studying runes, boats, coins and shells all in an attempt to prove that a certain tribe of Vikings sailed to a certain point in geography. Cool idea, but the best evidence he has is a few shells stuck to a boat that sank. I don’t know if I’d cut funding at that point, but I’d definitely have some second thoughts when all I’m given shells. What’s that? Foreshadowing so heavy that the viewer is practically bludgeoned over the head with it is missing? Say no more! Runes and their meanings, ho! And while we’re at it, let’s verify the title. The end of the world might not be figurative, but a literal incident that the Vikings were trying to document and warn the rest of the world about. Duh. Funding pulled. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to the next plot point.

rk_2Character development is now flying at us so fast that a snail on a salt trail could finish a 2K marathon first. Single dad? Check! Bratty spoiled teenager? Check! Enthusiastic young son? Check! Wait. We’re missing a trope. Oh. There it is! Best friend with the perfect piece of evidence to force the main character to do something stupid and endanger himself and his family? Checkity check! After chartering a boat with a guide and a survival expert to another part of the country, they begin their quest for the end of the world event. This whole time I’m asking where the money came from if his funding got pulled? And how did they put this all together in less than 24 hours? Seriously! I can barely go out to eat fast food without a three-day reservation! Also, if you’re going to go spelunking in dangerous caves in a part of the country you’ve never been and know nothing about, bring the kids! It’ll be fun!

After a short trek through generic woods number 4,612, our characters reach their destination: an island surrounded by a supposed ‘bottom-less lake’ where the event Ragnarok happened. With several camera shots that establish that there is indeed a monster looming in said lake, they set out to explore said island and find nothing! These guys are the worst archaeologists in history! Why do I say that? Because the young son finds the secret of the island, then the daughter finds remnants of previous inhabitants. Both of those finds aren’t that far from the camp they set up. Pulled funding now justified! After playing in the cave and finding some items, they’re robbed at gunpoint by the guide. Raise your hand if you saw that coming, folks. Yeah, me too. But wait, this is supposed to be a monster movie. Where’s the monster? Well, we get a rrreeeeaaaaallllllyyyy far away shot of the monster attacking said guide trying to get away. Now, back to that salt trail.

rk_3If horror movies have taught me anything, it’s not to go in the woods. The second thing they’ve taught me is never touch things that look like eggs! Seriously. Ask Sigourney Weaver what I’m talking about. Of course, the young boy takes one of the monster’s eggs that conveniently hatches shortly after and now we have the reason for the monster to chase everyone. Here’s where the movie gets kind of good.

We’re given glimpses of the monster, dramatic camera angles and bubbling water which all keep the thing off the screen, but the threat real. I happen to enjoy this method of using the threat of a monster. It builds a fear that the unknown is still out there and hunting the characters. It keeps the monster hidden for most of the movie, helping create a suspense most popularized by Jaws. By the time we see the monster, we’re more impressed and this movie follows that old formula very, very well. Kudos to the writer and director for successfully pulling this off.

rk_4It was established earlier on that Soviets inhabited the island and a lot of their stuff is still lying around, giving us our next set piece: an underground bunker. With the monster now revealed as a giant dinosaur snake… thing… we have several chase scenes, close calls and the final scenes of the movie. No spoilers, folks. But I will say, this little gem is worth a watch. With decent pacing, an easy-to-follow plot and an impressive use of a monster, I’d happily recommend this to anyone looking for old school formulas used with modern technology. Thanks for reading, folks. Stay tuned!

roadside attractions

  • Everyone likes fries.
  • Don’t touch that.
  • How many times can you say ‘Duh’?
  • Bad tantrum timing.
  • Never yell.
  • That’s why you never yell.
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

A lot of tension, but almost no gore.

2

blood

BREASTS

None exposed, yet the ones there are ruggedly sexy.

9

beast

BEASTS

THAT is an original design.

4.3 OVERALL
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Jan

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
“He’s Home… But He’s Not Alone.”

1991 – R – 90 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring William Thorne, Mickey Rooney, Jane Higginson – Directed by Martin Kitrosser

Let’s take a moment to consider what Christmas is really about; toys. The newest and coolest toys. If you don’t have the latest and greatest toys, then you suck, you’re dead to me. Get better toys. Much like video stores, the mom and pop toy stores were run out of business for not carrying the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ or the latest Pokeman’s. It’s all big business now and they lack any heart. It’s the little guy who knows your kid’s name and will leave him killer toys anonymously at your doorstep, then head back to his filthy apartment to beat his kid. At least this is the case in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker stars Mickey Rooney, a well known actor who wrote a letter of disgust in protest against the original film stating that the “scum” who made the movie should be “run out of town.” That is until he needed a paycheck. Change of heart suddenly, Mickey? It also stars a bunch of other people that aren’t worth noting, so does this make it a bad film? Nah, it’s alright.

Like EVERY Christmas-horror movie, some kid named Derek is watching their mom going at it like a pony out to stud, but for a change of pace, it’s not with Santa Claus this time. His peeping tom time is interrupted by the doorbell, which to his surprise when he answers, is a gift for him. Before he can open it, his dad, a very shirtless and hairy man, sends him off to bed for opening the door so late by himself! After all, what if it were a killer Santa? Feeling greedy, he opens the gift to find a musical orb painted up like Santa. It’s charming, until he literally flips the kill switch on the thing, which proceeds to strangle the gangly, hairy man as he falls on a fireplace poker. Double kill!

sndn5_2Two weeks pass and Derek hasn’t spoken a word. His mother, Sarah, on the other hand, is annoyed that Derek hasn’t moved on. She is on vacation mode while this kid does odd things like squish his eggs at breakfast, for which she smacks him around a bit. Geez kid, your father was brutally murdered in front of you by a Christmas toy, get over it! But if there is one thing to get a child’s mind off a witnessed homicide, it’s a brand new toy. Sarah takes him down to Petto’s Toy Store run by Joe Petto (played by the aforementioned Mickey Rooney) and the odd Pino. Pino is the type of odd that makes you feel uncomfortable in daylight… in public. Pino offers Derek the hottest toy they have to offer, Larry the Larvae! That’s right, all the kids are clamoring for the latest, hideous looking and sounding insect toy. All this time, some guy named Noah disguised as Kyle Reese has been following Sarah and creeping around Petto’s store. Who on Earth could he possibly be? For one thing, he’s the world’s biggest (and most likely only) Larry the Larvae enthusiast, cause he scoops that hunk of plastic up after Derek and Sarah leave and he seems to be in a rush. I can tell ya, he’s not in any rush to pay his rent at the local seedy motel he’s staying at, wherein his room is littered with toys from Joe’s shop. The landlord (or whoever runs motels) shows up demanding money or Noah will be evicted and manages to talk the landlord into taking the Larry the Larvae toy until he can get him his money. Wow, this thing must’ve been a hot commodity! It’s worth more than a handful of them Beanie Babies!

Such a hot commodity that the landlord needs to play with it and take it out of the packaging while driving at unsafe speeds. First of all, who takes their child’s toy out of the package to give to them and secondly, why in the car? The guy is barely paying attention to the road that his death is unavoidable at this point. Larry the Larvae acts in natural selection’s place and crawl into his mouth, sucking in his eyes as he inevitably crashes his car and being early 90’s movie law, the car explodes! All this guy wants for Christmas is his two front eyes!

sndn4_3Maybe taking Derek to see Santa will help him out (with another anonymous present to be found on their way out), even if Santa turns out to be a creep, since it’s Noah in disguise. What are the odds he happens to be a mall Santa, spotted them in line and talked Ricky (Clint Howard reprising his role, but not the same role) into giving him his shift? The stars must be aligning.

While all of that was going on, Pino is breaking into Sarah’s home with a key he keeps hidden under a brick with the writing, “Pino ‘75″. Wow, it’s a good thing those locks haven’t been changed nearly twenty years. Wait, why is his name dated from that long ago? I’m getting ahead of myself and that question will be answered, but Derek and Sarah arrive home early thanks to Santa Creep and Pino bolts from there, scaring Sarah half to death. She immediately storms down to Petto’s Toy Store and demands answers and that answer is… they use to live there. That’s it. Still, it feels like there is something more to it…

That night, Sarah decides to let Derek open the mystery gift, thinking it’s from her friend Kim and to answer your question, yes the same Kim from Silent Night, Deadly Night 4! She has apparently adopted Lonnie and they both seem to have forgotten all about the crazy bug cult, kidnapping and spontaneous combustion and now live in a town with killer toys. As Kim is distracting Sarah, Derek takes the present out to the trash since the last time he had a gift left on his doorstep, it didn’t turn out so well. Lonnie happens upon this discarded present and opens it up to find himself a brand new pair of rollerblades! But these rollerblades were secretly rocket powered, enabling Lonnie to go at uncontrollable speeds of about 5 miles per hour! He smacks right into a car, which I’m sure he could have done faster by going down a slight incline, and ends up mummy wrapped in the hospital.

Back at Petto’s place, he does his typical dad stuff, like gets drunk and starts wailing on Pino, who it turns out is much stronger than he looks and accidentally tosses Joe right down the stairs.

Sarah heads off to visit Kim and Lonnie in the hospital, leaving Derek to a pair of promiscuous baby sitters. Just this kid’s luck. You remember what happened the last time this kid heard people going at it? As odds would have it, it happens again. Joe appears dressed as Santa and drops off a sack full of deadly toys for a (what seems to be) heavily cut gore buffet! He uses this opportunity to snatch up Derek and flee the scene, cause nobody would be able to connect who left all these toys from a specific store in the middle of a bloodbath.

sndn5_4Meanwhile, the connection between Noah and Sarah is revealed; he left for the military, they were dating and that he is actually Derek’s real father. Wow, that’s a lot of unnecessary and predictable exposition. But we can’t move on the the finale yet, there is more. Noah explains what he was doing with all the toys; making sure they weren’t boobytrapped! That’s right and there’s more. Turns out, Joe was arrested for boobytrapping some toys in the past after his pregnant wife died in an accident. That explains that, but then who is Pino?

And we do find out in an eye popping moment when Pino reveals he is actually a robot built by his father! He strips his costume right off and resembles a Ken doll, full size and come to life… and just as smooth, if you catch my drift. Turns out he grew quite an affection for Sarah and wants to kill her son to replace him. He expresses this by lifting up her legs and dry humping her, making for a very merry Christmas, I’m sure.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 not only (kinda) brings back the killer Santa gig, but also goes back to the series more exploitation roots, opting more for bizarre and disturbing sci-fi that was popular during the early 90’s rather than the then not so popular slasher elements. As you may have noticed, the plot for a type of film like this seems needlessly complicated, but I assure you, it’s not. Everything is explained in a couple lines of dialogue and they move on. Earlier I stated that this film stars nobody at the expense of a joke, but that is underselling it. Everyone actually puts in a fine performance, especially the actor playing Derek, who barely has any dialogue throughout the film and even Noah resembles somewhat of an almost as talented Stephen Dorff. Pino is downright creepy and when his true nature is revealed, you look back and realize he was kind of robotic in hindsight. Come to think of the casting, you have to assume casting Mickey Rooney and putting him in a Santa costume as a killer was intentional. Also, the Pinocchio nod with Joe Petto and Pino and Pino being a toy created by Joe was a very cool, dark twist on a fairy tale.

I can’t help but shake the feeling the MPAA wanted this one cut down, as there seems to be quick cuts away from gore, which is a shame since it’s done quite well. Yeah, this film has more blood than the previous two, but less ickiness than Initiation. The onslaught scene of the toys massacring the babysitters is outstandingly bloody and perhaps a bit comical.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
The film certainly captures the holiday spirit (you know, decorations, Santa and murder) much better than Initiation and doesn’t feel like the title was a last minute inclusion, but rather it’s part of an anthology series with the same theme. I found it to be a lot of fun from the concept, right down to the performances, you will have a jolly ol’ time. It made me wanting for a sixth installment, but what we got instead was a less than mediocre, copy and paste modern day slasher. Maybe we will take a look at that next year.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t open till Christmas… or else.
  • Killer toys.
  • Keep your eye on that toy!
  • Drunk Mickey Rooney dressed as Santa and smacking people around.
  • Battle of the bedroom.
  • Robo-Pino.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a whole lotta red.

4

blood

BREASTS

Two pair are better than one.

7

beast

BEASTS

Drunken Mickey Rooney with an army of killer toys and a creepy, perverted robot kid!

5.6 OVERALL
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Dec

Bermuda Tentacles
One of the reasons I love horror movies is that you can pretty much turn any scenario into a horror one. Bought a creepy doll at a second hand store? Boom. Haunted murder doll. Fixed up a car from a salvage yard? Boom. Haunted murder car. Got that house cheap on the market? Boom. Haunted murder house. You know, I’m starting to see a trend there. So let’s go a little more extreme, shall we? Flying the President of the United States to a summit meeting in who-cares-ville? Throw in the Bermuda Triangle, tentacles, and Linda Hamilton and you got yourself a genuine SyFy flick!

Oh you read that right, folks, the Bermuda Triangle, tentacles, and Linda Hamilton. So our scenario goes by the numbers; President’s plane goes down, some rouge-ish type soldiers are called in to rescue him and tentacles attack. But wait! There’s more! Let’s add a submarine that pilots like an airplane for some reason, plus a boneyard of planes and ships and all the bad CGI you can handle. There you have it, your very own terrible movie. No easy payment plan needed.

bt_2So after our opening scene and the entire setup, which is honestly so badly scripted I wonder if the writers were every sober, we get to meet our cast. Enter soldiers one through six and Linda Hamilton. Seriously. You’re not going to remember their names. I tried! But all I could think was, “Wow. I don’t care about a single one of you.” Linda Hamilton’s character gives us the short and also badly scripted set of orders to rescue the president. But oh, no! Translucent tentacles reach up from the depths of what looks like San Francisco Bay to terrorize the ships that have come to aid!

What’s truly entertaining about this nondescript monster is how it changes it’s mode of attack from full on impalement to dragging folks around by their ankles. But what’s even more entertaining than watching that is watching the soldiers aboard the ships try to fight it. I know folks work on a budget and all, but maybe you could demonstrate what it looks like to fire a real weapon. The actors and extras stand there shaking their obvious airsoft guns like they’re trying to get a stubborn picture off an etch-a-sketch! Not to mention the entire crew is on a battle carrier with cannons and they all stand on the side of the boat with guns. Logic!

Well now that we’ve heard about these “Sea worms” from a marine biologist. Cause, you know, every naval fleet has at least one or two of those in their emergency kit. We finally get to watch the cast do their best impressions of the original Star Trek show by fumbling around a small set whilst piloting some top secret submarine to go and fetch the leader of the free world, who conveniently is in a life support pod that has been sucked to some impossible number of feet below the surface. Why the President’s pod can traverse these depths with no issue while a billion dollar submersible has more trouble than Jean Claude Van Damme faking a country accent is a question I’d like answered.

bt_3After a sequence that lasts way too long we finally get to the set piece that ate up most of the budget: the inside of some underwater cavern littered with remnants of sunken ships and planes. Funny how that place looks just like the airplane graveyard that the Mythbusters used to go to acquire parts. While soldiers 1-6 try to find the fallen President we go back to the surface for more exposition, Linda Hamilton, who apparently ran from the Terminator so hard she wound up in a SyFy flick, gets news that the “sea worms” are attached to a bigger creature and are actually just tentacles. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming. Yeah. Thought so.

Back underwater, we get more surprises that don’t surprise. More tentacle attacks! More gun shaking! Oh, hey, they found the President. But what’s this? It’s not an underwater cave after all? Well what could it be? You guessed it folks: Aliens! Which for some reason has laid dormant this entire time trying to repair itself and has just finished those pesky malfunctions right as the soldiers are trying to rescue the Chief of Staff. Don’t that beat all? Quick! Back to the bad CGI sub and into another overly extended sequence. While I am not an expert in marine terminology, I’m fairly certain most of the dialogue that takes place during this sequence was either made up or taken from Airplane.

bt_4Back to the surface to do battle with the fully repaired alien ship! Trust me folks, if you’ve made it this far into the movie you’re a trooper and deserve to laugh at the final scene of this flick. No spoilers here! Oh SyFy, you brilliantly bad movie factory, you. I’m never disappointed when I need to watch bad CGI, horrible scripted scenes and actors or actresses that are in dire need of a paycheck. This movie is another gem that is ripe for a drinking game or a sequel. Either way, I’ll be watching for both. Thanks for reading! And as always, stay tuned.

roadside attractions

  • Shells. No shells. Shells.
  • Leftover props from Megashark.
  • Leftover actors from Megashark.
  • Leftover Submarine cockpit from Megashark.
  • Leftovers.
  • Extras that die twice.
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

CGI and bad effects make it almost comedic.

0

blood

BREASTS

It’s made for TV. Even cursing isn’t allowed.

4

beast

BEASTS

Recycled animations and unoriginal ideas.

2.3 OVERALL
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trailers

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Dec

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
“And if I die before I wake, thank you.”

1990 – R – 86 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Maud Adams – Directed by Brian Yuzna

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Unless you are reading this any other time than December, anyway, but there is always a cheerful holiday flick to get you in the spirit. Take the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise for example, a film series that derailed so sharply and quickly, I think it gave me whiplash. Would it surprise you that the fourth installment has literally nothing to do with Christmas? Well, it takes place at Christmas, but that’s where any relation to previous entries or even the Christmas holiday stops. It’s like they had a script to a horror film and weren’t sure how to market it, then realized they owned the rights to this series, made some last minute changes, stapled Silent Night, Deadly Night to it and there ya go… Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation.

Somebody filmed Clint Howard going about his day, covered in his own ofal and eating hamburgers covered in ants that he found on the ground and decided to make a movie. As he is enjoying his meal, a woman cosplaying as the Human Torch falls from a building and splats on the sidewalk. The news seems to write this off as “spontaneous combustion,” because apparently that is a thing. However, eager junior reporter Kim thinks there’s more to it when she catches the news while her boyfriend, Hank, is making sweaty and what looks to be extremely humid sex to her. She wants to report the story, but her boss’ club clearly has a ‘no girls allowed’ sign, but after talking with her co-worker Janice (who’s only excuse for the way men act in this film is, “boys will be boys”) Kim decides to do it anyway.

sndn4_2Everyone wants to seem to write this off as a suicide, which seems like overkill if you are already on fire, but that doesn’t fool Kim. She heads down to the bookstore where she checks out a book, Initiation of the Virgin Goddess and befriends Fima, a suspicious old woman who gets a crystal wind chime sound every time she glances at someone suspiciously… which is constantly. Fima offers Kim a snack that looks like a date, but is something more sinister, as noted by the previously mentioned not-so-subtle music cue. Not a very subtle approach to the true nature of the character. Next on Kim’s to-do-list is check out the roof where the woman had jumped. She climbs to the ledge and seems to be in some kind of trance, when Ricky comes out of nowhere and yanks goopy, giant arm sized maggot out from a vent and shows it to Kim as if he is saying, “Look at what the special effects guys made! It may not make sense, but it looks cool!” End scene. I’m sure it will make sense somewhere.

Kim gets home and things totally begin to ‘bug’ out as her apartment is now crawling with cockroaches. She flips threw her recently checked out book and comes across a symbol of women’s power, which her spaghetti has somehow taken the shape of! What could this mean? Is the flying spaghetti monster real? No time to think about it, she’s running late for dinner at Hank’s parent house, where his father berates her for being Jewish, further proving that all men think very little of women (in this movie). Hank tries to apologize to her by groping her outside, but she doesn’t take it and heads home where more illusions and bugs are happening. Kim passes out from the weirdness (and you might be as well), but is woken up the next day by Janice just in time to make it to the creepy picnic where she meets two of Fima’s friends. They drink wine and act suspiciously like they are in some kind of cult as Kim is passing out. Hank arrives and picks her up from work, which she had ditched to go to this picnic. Priorities, Kim, priorities.

Kim and Hank check out the spot where the woman on fire commited suicide or whatever and find a recently drawn symbol that is starting to look familiar, so Kim takes off to Fima’s apartment for some tea. So this is the second time she has blown of a story she is supposedly interested in? And she wonders why her boss won’t give her an assignment. As Fima tells Kim that she reminds her of her daughter Lilith, Kim starts to get drowsy. Fima is now demanding Kim eat another date, making her the most aggressive date saleswoman ever.

sndn4_3Kim wakes up to what can only be described as a fever dream, where Fima and her friends strip Kim of her clothes, paint some symbols on her and slice a rat open over her as Ricky places the giant maggot on her stomach from earlier, which begins to bore into her stomach. Weird, I get the same dreams whenever I eat Arby’s. Kim awakens again in Fima’s apartment and leaves, but that dream must have got her feeling frisky as she starts having the intercourse with Hank once she gets home. Ricky enters the apartment and begins watching Silent Night, Deadly Night 3

…Wait, what? Nevermind.

Hank finally notices that some weirdo is in the room watching a crappy horror movie and is stabbed to death by Ricky, just as Janice is calling and Kim answers. Typical woman on the phone while her boyfriend is being murdered. Sheesh. Ricky manages to capture Kim just as Janice is arriving, but in a shocking twist, Janice scolds Ricky for making a mess of the situation, revealing she is part of that cult! Kim, having passed out AGAIN is now waking up surrounded by the cult only to have a sweaty, doughy, hairy Clint Howard wearing a mask from A Clockwork Orange and thrusting at the camera. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Another hallucination and another passing out later, Kim is officially part of the club! Hooray? After chatting with Fima at the bookstore, we learn that woman who died at the beginning was Lilith, Fima’s daughter, who wasn’t strong enough. Strong enough for what, I don’t know. They never really get into what this cult’s ultimate plan is. Maybe it’s to get Clint Howard laid, in which case, mission accomplished. Anywho, Kim has now taken the place of Lilith and must sacrifice a man or else she will be set ablaze too. Always read the fine print when you join a cult.

sndn4_4So the plan is a Christmas kidnapping (hey, there’s the tie in to the series) of Hank’s little brother Lonnie, which goes pretty smoothly actually (after Ricky murders his parents, of course), where he is to be sacrificed on the roof, should Kim fulfill her destiny. Or do you think she will kill Fiona and Ricky, thus adopting Lonnie and appearing briefly in the sequel?

At the end of the movie, you will slump back in your sofa with a nearly permanent dumbfound expression on your face and think, “What the hell did that have to do with Christmas?” and “How did this series get so far away from what made the original so great?” I get that they wanted to do something different, but that’s not always a good thing, especially when the movie isn’t even relatable to neither the series or a certain holiday it’s supposed to take place during. It’s really mind boggling that someone felt that a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 needed to be rushed immediately, saw this script and thought, “Perfect!” The characters are so one dimensional, that it makes comic strip characters seem full of life. Everyone seems to be playing a harsh stereotype of something, whether it’s how chauvinistic men can be or the powerful witchy women, it seems like someone had a single view on how people are represented and rolled with it. They make the Punch-Out games look subtle in their stereotyping. Not all is bad though, I mean, the practical effects are pretty good, but you get good stuff when it’s a Brian Yuzna film with Screaming Mad George effects. It’s goopy and gross and it’s sure to capture the holiday spirit.

As far as the Silent Night, Deadly Night series goes, Initiation is by far the most detached, having dropped the whole killer Santa angle. After Part 2, for whatever reason, the films become more Sci-Fi influenced, which is a really bizarre decision for Christmas themed movies. They most likely wanted to try something different, a new spin on something old, but if there is anything the slasher genre should have learned, it’s that you should never stray away from the formula. In this case though, I don’t think it would matter. Even if you take it out of the franchise and look at it as its own film, Initiation really isn’t that interesting and it should be, most likely due to the flat feeling I’ve continuously mentioned. Aside from the few gross out moments that are intentionally thrown at you for the sake of being gross, there is nothing of value or entertaining to watch.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
If there is anything Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation has taught me, it’s that men are chauvinistic pigs and women are mystical cult witches with super powers. Can’t trust anyone. Anyway, with giant maggots, women on fire and a sweaty, naked Clint Howard, I say Merry Christmas!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Burger time.
  • Spontaneous combustion-a-cide .
  • It’s a maggot miracle.
  • Witchy women.
  • Clint Howard put out to stud.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

People set of fire, stabbed and gross, icky bugs.

4

blood

BREASTS

Two turtle doves.

2

beast

BEASTS

Clint Howard having sex in a mask.

3.6 OVERALL
dripper

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