Sep

posted by Blake | September 15, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Bad movie, Reviews by Blake

Recent soul-less reboots like Robocop and Total Recall have given me a very jaundiced eye towards the concept, so news that Mad Max is getting the Hollywood Reboot treatment fills me with fear and loathing even with the original director at the helm.  There is, however, one great post-apocalyptic film which I am sure will be forever safe from the grubby hands of studios  lacking originality: Peter George’s 1987 movie Surf Nazis Must Die, an abandoned child from the Troma family of fun.

The main plot centers around Murder and Revenge, while a subplot forms around a surf-gang leader’s desire for World Domination…or at least dominating the beaches of SoCal.  The majority of beach scenes were shot in Long Beach or Hamilton Beach, both being well-known SoCal surf meccas.

Interspersed throughout the film are six or seven different montages showing the Surf Nazis and other surf-gangs, well, surfing.  In the great tradition of horrid 60s surf films like Gidget and    How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, the film spends quite a bit of filler time showing fuzzy clips of anonymous, semi-pro surfers dressed in character’s costumes and shooting tubes.  Unlike the 60s drech, these dudes occasionally give the Nazi salute as they ride the nose and can be seen deliberately nudging other surfers off their boards—an act apparently more evil than theft and assault of beachgoers, judging by the reactions of those so treated.  Oddly, these montages were all shot on the north shore of Oahu rather than California.

The film is set “sometime in the near future,” when the California coastline has supposedly been devastated by the Big One, an earthquake that registered R8.0+ and caused at least 80,000 casualties while displacing most of the population.  In the aftermath of this disaster, the beaches south of Los Angeles have been overrun with anarchy, with police presence at zero and competing surf-gangs ruling the sands and victimizing citizens (think Beach Blanket Bingo meets A Clockwork Orange).  A note on the gangs: they definitely come from the Warriors school of cinematic gang-depiction, with their own themes, dorkey outfits, and names (Samurai Surfers, Pipeliners, Designer Waves, etc.; at least none of them are in baseball jerseys).  What makes them seem less like bangers and even more like “Pirate” extras from Danger Island is that they aren’t particularly evil or threatening; all of the gangs, including the eponymous Surf Nazis, spend most of their time either surfing, sleeping, drinking beer, or engaging in petty theft.  You would expect post-apocalyptic gangs modeling themselves on the Third Reich to be into some seriously evil stuff, but until the gang-war starts stealing cameras and threatening a pawn-shop owner are as nasty as they get.

Other than some footage taken in industrial storage yards and empty lots and some Before and After scenes of a burning building, there is little evidence of ruin; there is no real feel in the film that the characters are walking through a collapsed. There is no explanation for the complete absence of any law-enforcement or military personnel, or any type of civil infrastructure.  There are all manner of stores still open, including both surf- and pawn-shops, and for a chaotic war zone there seems to be quite a few elderly, middle-class suburbanites, pier-fisherman and other normal L.A. types wandering the beaches, complete with tourist cameras and 80s boomboxes.

One displaced family is Eleanor Washington and her son Leroy, whose home was destroyed outright.  Leroy moves Mama to a comfortable, if restrictive, retirement home and heads off to his work as a successful young oil industry worker (which we know because he wears a suit, a hardhat labeled “Chief,” and spends a good minute of film time wandering around a working pumpjack, looking confused).  Apparently, besides shops and retirement homes the Big One left the power grid and the LA-area oil industry intact, because between the pumpjack, a working offshore platform, and a functioning refinery used in the last scene, SoCal’s oil production still seems to be going strong.

In the main subplot one particular gang, the Surf Nazis, decides to try for world conqeust by either uniting or wiping out the rival gangs and securing the best surfing beaches for themselves; because, you know, like, taking over Hamilton Beach and its gnarly grinders is kinda like invading Poland and annexing the Sudetenland, right?  I mean, it’s just Tube City, dude, and Polski don’t surf.

The gang’s leader, “Adolf,” looks more like Freddie Mercury than the Fuhrer and is borderline batshit to boot.  He is supported and semi-dominated by Eva (played by 80s B-queen Dawn Wildsmith), who is as nutcase as Adolf but considerably more able, and backed by enforcers named Hook (guess what he has for a hand…), Brutus, and the intelligent but twisted Mengele, who is played by veteran B-actor, director, and punk musician Michael Sonye.  Numerous hangers-on include a pathetic, teenaged wannabe named Smeg and a gaggle of tweens who serve as an unorganized Hitlerjugend of petty thieves and pickpockets.

Adolf calls a conference between the gangs and manages to bully them into following his nominal lead.  They will pay some tribute to the Surf Nazis and respect the boundaries of each others’ beaches, allowing Adolf and his followers to focus their energies on victimizing the populace, drinking beer, and surfing.

One day, one of the little Hitlerjugend tries to snatch a purse from an elderly woman on the shoreline, only to be foiled by Leroy Washington out for a jog at the beach.  Adolf witnesses the event and decides to take revenge, ordering Hook to deal with him.  Hook emasculates Washington with his custom-edged hook, and the next scenes show Mama Washington ID’ing the body and making “arrangements,” then agonizing in a chapel about God’s Will.  Doing a little self-investigating at the shoreline, Mama overhears Smeg bragging about the killing to a couple of beach-bimbos; she pressures him into coughing up the identities and details of the Surf Nazis and, presumably, their rivalries with the other surf-gangs.

Having nothing left to lose, Big Mama vows revenge and initiates a “Final Solution” of her own.  She goes to a pawn-shop, telling the owner, “I wanna buy a gun…but I’m more interested in something that’ll shoot the head off a honky at 20 paces.”  She ends up leaving with a Walther P-38 (an ironic touch on the director’s part as the 9mm P-38 was the primary sidearm of the Third Reich), a box of ammo, and a grenade.  She also begins a series of covert actions which turn the surf-gangs on each other, shattering the fragile truce between them and leading to the deaths of all rival gangs and the loss in battle of Brutus.

When the dust settles after the Beach of Long Knives, the surviving Surf Nazis retire to their graffiti-enhanced bunker to rest and recover; but Big Mama has other plans.  In the light of early dawn, Mama rolls a grenade down into the bunker which comes to rest right next to Hook’s soon-to-be-non-existent head.  The grenade detonates and, in another ironic twist by the director, Adolf and Eva become the ones who survive the Final Bunker Scene; Hook and Mengele are now riding the tails of Hell-bound Bings.  Laughing in maniacal triumph, Mama roars off on a motorcycle, only to be pursued by Adolf and Eva in the gang’s shark-themed van.

After a chase, Mama manages to corner them in the part-yard of an oil refinery, getting off some shots before they escape in a very bad directorial cut.  Suddenly, the fleeing pair are stealing the boards of two hapless surfers and paddling into the bay.  Mama uses her 9mm charms to convince a fisherman to follow them in his powerboat.  After a pass or two, the boat runs directly over Eva, demolishing her board and leaving her severed head bobbing amongst the debris.  On the next pass, Adolf kills the boat’s owner with a throwing knife, leaving Mama to struggle with the controls.  Just as she regains control, Adolf appears over the fantail and tries to stab her; Mama is aware of him, however, and shoves the barrel of the Walther down Adolf’s throat, gagging him.  Just before she squeezes the trigger, she delivers one of the best B-grade, pre-mortem one-liners ever: “Taste some of  Mama’s home cooking, Adolf!” She blows out the back of his head and his corpse goes overboard as she laughs.

Final scene: Mama rides off on her motorcycle, laughing.  The End.

While this film suffers from bad photography, poor special effects, and a badly-written script, it does have some good points: a dark sense of humor; some of the old ultraviolence (and speaking of which, Hook is used as a vehicle for a few visual references to Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange); rather interesting performances by Sonye and Wildsmith (I said “interesting,” not “good”); a decent helping of 80s surf lingo, and a far better soundtrack than I would have expected.  While it is not in the league of Troma’s greatest triumph, The Toxic Avenger, it is still well-worth the time invested; if you’re in the mood for some sand and surf, it sure as hell beats watching Frankie and Annette.

.

roadside attractions

  • Breasts, ‘boards, and beer
  • Pistol Packin’ Mama
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Mengele licks the blood of a rival off his knife-blade

5

blood

BREASTS

Covered and uncovered, including Wildsmith’s

0

beast

BEASTS

Not even a dead jellyfish in the shore-break

3.5 OVERALL
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trailers

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Sep

posted by The Goon | September 9, 2014 | Drama, Horror movies, New Releases, Reviews by the Goon, Suspense, modern horror, screeners

Lucky Bastard
“This will not end well.”

2014 – NC 17 – 94 Minutes – Revolver Entertainment
Starring Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Jay Paulson – Directed by Robert Nathan

Porn. That’s really all you need to say and you have anyone’s attention. I always found it strange that it’s the one thing we all watch, yet are ashamed to admit that we do… not that I watch it. People always seem to talk about how great it would be to work in porn and have sex all day, but let me tell you… you ever eat nothing but ice cream all day, then about halfway through the day, you think to yourself, “Man, I’ve eaten nothing but ice cream today. I’m kinda sick of it.” I imagine that’s what that line of work is like. At some point, getting it from behind must be tiring and you just want to go home and play some Super Nintendo. I guess that’s true with any job though.

But what if things get really out of hand? You know that point where things become too much to handle and the perks and pay don’t seem worth it anymore? And that’s putting it lightly. That’s kinda what Lucky Bastard is about. Things start off normal, get weird, you try to laugh it off, but then it comes back to bite you in the butt. Lucky Bastard explores the worst case scenario possible for adult film stars seeking out to do a service for one lucky fan. It does so through the ever increasing tiresome found footage genre, but to its credit its unique in the sense that nobody has done a found footage porn-esque horror film before, which is surprising, because most pornos play out like really really bad found footage movies.

lb_2Meet Ashley Saint played by Betsy Rue, who you may remember got fully nude for the remake of My Bloody Valentine. I remember it so much so, I have an autographed picture of that on my wall. Through the eyes of a camera (like the whole film, so I don’t know why I wrote that), two men who have lured a young woman, Casey, and are raping her, but stop their assault to welcome Ashley into their home to sign some papers (hey, even porn has to be legit) when she hears the cries of Casey in the back. Ashley snaps into action and stomps menacingly through the house, fending the captors off with verbal suggestion. Upon finding Casey and untying her, one of the men springs up and holds Ashley down and begins to rape her when she jokingly says… and I quote, “That’s my butthole!” Laughter erupts and the director, Mike, of this faux-rape movie steps out and introduces our star as everyone gets all chummy.

So, rape porn is a thing people enjoy?

To the movie’s credibility, you also get to see what it is like behind the scenes of a porno. Like driving a family sized SUV with Cheetos on the floor. Yeah, people tend to forget that even adult film stars have families… or feelings.

Anyway, Mike is actually quite understanding and seems to care about his actors, opposite of how you usually see porn producers portrayed in film. Mike also runs a website of the same name, Lucky Bastard. The title is makes sense, as fans submit videos of why they should get to be the lucky bastard to have sex with one of the adult film industry’s hottest ladies on film. The winner happens to be awkward and dweeby Dave, but something doesn’t seem quite right with him. He seems like a can short of a six pack, like he’s not playing with a full deck, like he’s lost his marbles.

lb_3What I’m trying to say is that Dave is crazy.

Right away, he begins giving Ashley the heebie jeebies as she tries to have a conversation with him, until he reveals too much detail about her personal life and she threatens to leave the production. Dave apologizes and the gig is back on, relocating to a home that has been fit with a dozen security cameras since it was once used in a reality TV show. Quite a convenient plot device; a house with multiple angles. Anyhow, it doesn’t take long for Dave to humiliate himself again and everyone in the cast and crew has a good laugh at him and his temper tantrum that follows. Well even if they didn’t get to shoot the horizontal mambo, they have some good bloopers to show. After all, part of intent of the site is to humiliate these “lucky” bastards. Demanding the tapes, Mike kicks him out and has one of his assistants drive him back into town… only they don’t make it. Dave smashes his head in with a rock and heads back to house with a bat, then gaining a firearm, and now everyone is going not going to be so lucky.

lb_4This one is a bit of a slow burn, taking it’s time to set up in the first act, getting down to business in the second and Dave finally kicks it into full sociopath mode in the last act. At times, the film feels like it’s dragging its feet, but quickly recovers from fumbling by some well done character development. Betsy Rue is quite good in this role, showing that she can be a fantastic lead. You really get the feeling that her character is burnt out from the adult film industry, but it pays well and she has a family to take care of. She mentions an abusive spouse in her past and she had to take control and you see as she relives those emotions through the movie. Don McManus who plays Mike also shows all the different layers he has, as at first you think he’s a good guy, then you see what a manipulative s.o.b. he is, so when he gets his comeuppance… and does he get it (I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it does involve something being inserted into his anus)… you still feel sorry for the torture the guy goes through. Even though I have to say, at times it’s hard to tell if he’s being manipulative or genuinely concerned for Ashley’s feelings. Well played, sir. Dave, on the other hand, I didn’t feel for. He was just weird and creepy throughout the film and not very menacing, even when he is going crazy. I don’t fault the actor, I just felt he was a weak character. I feel like a gust of wind could have knocked this guy the hell over and took his lunch money.

Being somewhat of a horror film, it manages to pull off some tension, but what it inevitably builds up to is a moment you know is going to happen, given away by the opening segment, which I’m beginning to notice is popular with these found footage movies. There isn’t much in the way of blood either, aside from some arterial spray, so if you’re looking look for a blood and guts spectacle, you are looking in the wrong place. However, if you are here for the T and A, then you have come to the right place. And that’s not just restricted to the ladies! In case you didn’t notice, this is an NC-17 film, so why it may not be real sex, it certainly pulls more thrusts (pun intended) and will fill your speaking with that familiar wet packing sound you’ve come to love.

Lucky Bastard
It’s understandably earned its rating and overall, Lucky Bastard is an enjoyable littler thriller. Although doing nothing new with the found footage genre, it doesn’t repeat all those tired jump scares and plot devices they love so much, not that you would be watching this to see if it reinvents the genre or something. So while the film may do a good job keeping your interest “peaked” when it’s being sexy, you may find that underperforms when it comes to the horror aspect. You see what I did there? Little sexual innuendos? I bet I’m the first person to make those kind of references when reviewing this film.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Betsy Rue. Naked. That’s all you need.
  • Sex, Cheetos & Videotape.
  • Softball champ.
  • Sticking it where the sun don’t shine.
  • Premature humiliation.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Everything happens off screen or too quick, but the film doesn’t focus on gore.

9

blood

BREASTS

All actors and actresses are required to be naked when in the presence of this movie.

4

beast

BEASTS

Dave is the kind of guy who gets picked on by kids when he walks by schools.

5.6 OVERALL
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Sep

posted by admin | September 7, 2014 | B-movie Reviews, B-movies, New Releases, Review by Barry Goodall

It’s not often we don’t do a deep dive into a movie review here on Lost Highway. We pride ourselves on giving you a full rundown on the blood, breasts, and beasts count and it’s highway attraction totals. However in the case of Meat.Puppets we’re not going to spoil any of the surprise as that just wouldn’t be fair to you our mutant reading public. Three girls are being held captive and taunted by some deranged psycho and that’s all you need to know! if we told you anymore we’d have to kill you. Meat.Puppets is directed by illustrator Roger Scholz and stars Ashley Short, Marjorie Pierson Yost, Jessica Rose Van Netten and Larry Lutzeit. This gritty feature was filmed on a budget of $70 despite $50 of that just being used to feed the cast and crew. It is truly one of the best times we had with a short film feature in a long time. You just have to see it for yourself. Get yourself a copy or check it out at your local horror film fest and let the director know what you think. https://www.facebook.com/meat.puppets.movie

Aug

Slumber Party Massacre 2
“The party begins when the lights go out!”

1987 – R – 74 Minutes – Shout! Factory
Starring – Crystal Bernard, Atanas Ilitch, Heidi Kozak – Directed by Deborah Brock

So we have this really controversial, popular film that has some clever jabs about women in horror films… what should we do? Make a sequel, but this time let’s tone all that down and make up for that with a silly villain. Oh and get that chick who played Helen in Wings. Also since the first one had a female director, so we’re gonna need one too. Throw in some topless pillow fights and rock and roll and now we have Slumber Party Massacre II!

I think just about every slasher film in the 80’s had a sequel. After all, it was basically like printing money. But there was something those sequels were all missing that the original had; heart. Is that what I want to say? The original would often have a lot of style or something about it that would stick out and make it popular, so the sequels always tried to repeat that, often making for a bland rehash of the first film. So is Slumber Party Massacre II an exception?

Rather than give us a disposable random character, the film actually centers on Valerie’s sister Courtney, who seems to be suffering from nightmares ever since the events of the first film. Her nightmares consist of… and I kid you not… a Rockabilly serial killer with a drill at the end of his guitar as he torments Valerie in the institution where she now resides and warns Courtney not to “go all the way.” Courtney should consider herself lucky. My nightmares consist of an endless date with Miley Cyrus, only she has the voice of Steve Urkel and won’t shut up about which guy from Supernatural she thinks is cuter.

spm2_2Courtney is (now) a real shy and quiet girl, which kinda seems like the polar opposite of her character from the first film, who has a crush on a super hunky dude Matt and invites him over to watch her all girl pop rock band practice. Oh yeah, she’s in a band now too. Are we sure this is the same girl? Seems like quite a departure from the foul mouthed, bratty pervert. Courtney finally gathers up the courage to invite Matt out to Sheila’s dad’s condo for the weekend. Just a few days of R&R, partying, rocking out and definitely not getting butchered or have premarital sex. Hopefully she can convince mom.

Although the weekend would be her birthday and they are suppose to visit Valerie, Courtney actually makes a solid argument that she doesn’t want to spend her birthday in an institution, so off to the condo to get wasted with the other gals from the band and an all girl band calls for a roll call! There’s the oversexed lead singer Sheila (Juliette Cummins who played Robin in Friday the 13th Part V), the drummer Sally (Heidi Kozak who would go on the next year to be in Friday the 13th Part VII) and the timid, but not as timid as our heroine, Amy. Now that we have these girls in a room isolated from any authority figures, it’s time to pay ever so discreetly to fan service by having the girls deepthroat corndogs and stripdown for a topless pillow fight while spraying champagne all over each other, complete with some slo-mo!

For some reason all I can think is dirty thoughts. This movie was being so subtle, it must have been messing with my mind!

spm2_3And it wouldn’t be a traditional 80’s screwball horror flick if two of the boyfriends didn’t arrive just in time for the show. These two doofuses are Jeff and TJ, the latter of which is that stoner, raspy voiced guy who can’t stop chuckling at all his stupid jokes and says “dude” way more than any human being should be allowed to. Anyone can do his voice. Just ask your friend to do an impression of an 80’s surfer and that’s TJ’s voice. It’s like Keanu Reeves and Spicoli had an illegitimate child. Jeff is that non-defined 80’s guy in a polo with teased fluffy hair that has no personality. You see this guy in every film of that decade and you can’t for the life of you figure out why the characters would hang out with him. You know this pair; the leather jacket wearing slacker that hangs out with the preppy dude in sweaters. Even Matt stops by, so now that our buffet of victims is full, we can kick our exploitation film into high gear.

Courtney’s nightmares are becoming more intense and increasingly more difficult to deal with. Her friends blame it on the hangover, but Courtney can’t shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen and she couldn’t be more right… TJ offers to heal her like a televangelist and tosses her in the pool, watching her kick and scream until she nearly drowns. The jerk even has a stinger prepared after he apologizes. Seeing as how that friendly traumatic experience didn’t help, Courtney is now having wide awake nightmares, envisioning things like blood pouring out of the bathtub and one of the sickest, gross out moments a film could pull, a giant zit growing on Sally’s face and then exploding, soaking her. This is a moment that should include a barf bag.

After this, Sally winds up missing and further drives Courtney mad. She tries to convince the others that the hallucinations are real, until Officers Voorhees and Krueger show up to ridicule her mental illness. As they finish up their top notch police work, Sally appears with the excuse that she met “some hot guy.” Case closed. Courtney is feeling ashamed and full of low self esteem, which is perfect timing with Matt to go all the way! Just as they are about to, he is ‘penetrated’ with that guitar drill and our rocker pulls his arm off, cackling. Courtney panics and runs to warn the others in an incoherent, blubbering way. At a glance, they don’t believe her, but why on Earth is she covered in blood? They are soon about to find out why! Like ducks in a row (is that the expression?), they meet their demise at the end of the drill, including TJ who gets a leg injury first, forcing him to hobble around like a wounded animal.

I was rooting for TJ to get killed the entire film and when he finally did, I was filled with glee. Not Glee the TV show, that would be stupid, but happiness. But this was a different feeling that you get when there is an obnoxious character you want to get the axe. You see, I actually didn’t mind TJ, mostly due to all the cliches his character played up to. The actor Joel Hoffman was clearly having a blast and as intolerable as a character like that can be, he still manages to make you chuckle with his idiot antics. It’s not like something like Hostel where every character is that character and it makes watching the film insufferable.

spm2_4As Courtney and the survivors dwindle down in numbers, the moment you knew would happen (and hoped for) finally happens… a sing and dance number! It’s surprisingly a catchy little tune and the scene is lit like a giallo film as the killer performs his act, even breaking the fourth wall. But like all musical number, they must end, as Courtney is chased to the roof of a building under construction and she sets him ablaze with no resistance, like he accepts his fate. Either that and he realized he wants out of the movie.

The sun rises, it’s now morning and the police are cleaning up the mess. Courtney, looking understandably in total shock, stops to look at Amy’s body who rises to life with laughter! With a gasp of air, Courtney wakes up next to Matt naked. It was all a dream and she is plagued with guilt after having nightmares about her sister telling her not to go all the way (?). But WAIT! It’s not really Matt! It’s the killer! Now she wakes up… again… in a small room shrieking at the top of her lungs as a drill boars through the floor, symbolizing the danger of sex? Maybe? So… she’s crazy just like her sister and it’s hereditary? The ending has so many twists that even M. Night would tell them to tone it down. I don’t think the ending was trying to be symbolic of anything or have a deeper meaning, but just a twist for the sake of a twist. This was at a time where a twist ending would come along and work, so the next several dozen movies would try to do the same thing even if it made no sense or didn’t fit.

To be honest, I didn’t like this film the first time I saw it. I thought it was stupid and didn’t make sense and was too goofy, like nothing fit together. I can admit when I’m wrong and I must have been watching this movie with my eyes closed because after a another viewing, I actually liked it. Do I like it as much as the first film? Definitely not, but I think my opinion was misguided the first time. For starters, having the girls in this home doing very stereotypical 80’s teen girl sleepover stuff and being in a slasher film, the whole thing feels like Night Trap! I keep expecting to see Commander Simms pop up and pull the plug on me for not protecting them. For me, that feeling is a good thing and it’s resonates throughout the film. What I at first thought to be a cornball, half heart shlocky attempt at cashing in on a sequel to a slasher (it is, but hang on…) turned out to be this massively fun, highly enjoyable slasher that gives you exactly what you are looking for out of an exploitation film.

Slumber Party Massacre 2
Minus the incoherent mess of an ending, Slumber Party Massacre II is a lot of fun, which comes to no surprise from a Roger Corman produced movie. It’s evenly placed and doesn’t run on too long. It’s a popcorn flick filled with exactly what you want: nudity, blood, humor and all the great ingredients to make that perfect cheesy flick. Although it’s evident it wasn’t the filmmakers intention to make a goofball horror-comedy, that’s how it turned out. Nine times out of ten, that is a bad thing, but everything here works. So invite the girls over, slap each other silly with 100 goose down pillows and pop the cork on that champagne! Watch this flick for a good time.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A Nightmare on… whatever street Slumber Party Massacre II takes place on.
  • Rock-a-billy nightmare!
  • Pillow fight!
  • TJ.
  • Driller killer.
  • Poppin’ a zit!
  • Slumber Party Inception Massacre.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Blood splatters and sprays, limbs fly and zits pop!

7

blood

BREASTS

It wouldn’t be a Corman flick without ‘em.

4

beast

BEASTS

The killer is far too enjoyable as a performer than to be scared of him. Still, pretty cool.

6 OVERALL
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trailers

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Aug

The Queit Ones
2014 – PG 13 – 98 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cook – Directed by John Pogue

Much like the monsters they made films about, Hammer never truly died, although it did lay dormant for a long time. In 2008, they returned with Beyond on the Rave and hit it big with Let Me In in 2010 and The Woman in Black in 2012. This year, they released The Quiet Ones, a film inspired by true events. In a nutshell, the events in this film are based on The Philip Experiment in the 1970’s where a group of Canadian parapsychologists wanted to attempt an experiment to create a ghost, proving their theory that the human mind can produce spirits through expectation, imagination and visualization. Sounds interesting enough for a movie, but given that this is a Hammer production, loads of gothic atmosphere and sleaziness are thrown into the mix, making for a more fictional story than true. Lots of films do this, I’m not saying it’s bad thing, but does it mix well?

tqo_2When he isn’t chain smoking like it’s about to be outlawed, Dr. Coupland (Jared Harris channeling his character from Mr. Deeds) wants to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist through tortuous and almost medieval experiments, so he recruits the shy, inspiring young filmmaker Brian to document this rather fascinating experiment. Brian is interested right away and along with two of Dr. Coupland’s other students, Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry, they waste no time to begin their experiment on Jane Harper (Olivia Cook). Jane seems possessed at times and as with any other possession movie that has come out in the last few years, we know she is possessed because she is a pale white woman with stringy hair and wears a white gown. Seriously, why does every possession movie feature a stringy haired white girl in a white gown? Do demons have an obsession toward those or does Hollywood just seem to think that is scary?

Jane is kept in a room with loud music blasting to keep her awake, which Dr, Coupland hopes will piss her off for better results. Sure it seems mean, but it does get good results. And just like any movie about college kids and a teacher conducting a “most unorthodox” experiment, funding is pulled and they have to relocate to a remote run down country house where all the really weird things begin to happen. Janes takes this possession, or negative energy rather, and focuses it on who she calls Evey, which she is given a doll to transfer it to so that it may be destroyed. Sounds easy on paper, but as Jane is driven more insane by these tests, the results become more violent.

tqo_3Brian, increasingly developing feelings for Evey, becomes more upset and less likely to participate (not something you want under your name in the yearbook) as he even begins to develop somewhat of a relationship with Jane. However, this seemingly makes Evey more violent and vomit terrible looking CG tube monster things out of her mouth. When this happens, Dr. Coupland and gang look terrified, but if it were me I would have started laughing. Even after witnessing that silly manifestation, Dr. Coupland is still stubborn about the supernatural, not believing it to be a possession… even after a mysterious cult marking shows up on Jane’s body. So Brian heads off into town uncovering the truth behind the cult symbol and who Evey really is.

We also begin to see who Dr. Coupland really is. Well, he is still Dr. Coupland, but I am referring to his past and who the boy is in the video that he shows throughout the movie. We also learn of his motives and this is when the film starts to turn into a Hammer film… kind of. Jane, most likely because she is being driven mad, attempts to have sex with Brian and even flashes him while she is in the bathtub. The camera quickly cuts away from this, as if it is ashamed of its own content. Jane even begins to cut herself, but once the blood starts to ooze out, the cameras once again cut away. This all begs the question, then why have this at all? Is there a demand for safe, watered down horror films that I’m not aware of? Who watches these scenes and says, “Oh cool, there were almost boobs there!”

As the film begins to whimper out and we now know Jane’s history, Dr. Coupland begins to become more of a villain archetype, almost downright cartoonish. Tragic things begin to befall our cast and it’s up to Brian to stop it!

Surprisingly, The Quiet Ones is swimming with mood, nicely blending the free spirit look of the 70’s with the traditional rustic, gothic scenery that Hammer is notorious for. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where their influence ends. The film does mix a nice blend of found footage and typical movie, as we watch the film as usual, then through the eyes of Brian or through the lens of his camera I should say. Although since this is the 70’s and he’s shooting on film, the snob in me can’t help but wonder how on Earth he is recording sound, since we never see any sound equipment recording it seperately and I’m pretty sure cameras, and film, back then couldn’t record sound.

tqo_4But enough nitpicking, let’s get down to brass tax.

Just when something suspenseful and scary is picking up speed and the tension is building, the film cuts abruptly to the next scene. Substituting loud noises for genuine scares, the film never reaches true levels of terror, though it continuously makes you think it will. Think of walking quietly down a hallway with a friend and then they bang as loud as they can on a wall. That’s the kind of scares you’re in for here.

Sure the movie has blood and violence, sure the movie has sex, but The Quiet Ones is afraid to show any of it. Instead it merely wants to hint at it, forgetting that it’s a horror film. This is one of those cases where the final product really could have benefited from an ‘R’ rating. At the end of the day, it was nothing more than watered down imagery and loud jump scares and although I didn’t hate it, it’s nothing I’m going to remember, which is such a shame since all of the actors bring in real solid performances. Jared Harris has made a profession of playing the scumbag type of character and really makes Dr. Coupland detestable, yet likable. Olivia Cook is sinister and sympathetic, Sam Claflin is the likable moral centered one and Erin Richards is gorgeous as a 70’s tramp.

You really can’t help but to think of where all this talent and this idea could have gone if it weren’t so by the books and watered down. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the PG-13 horror movie craze that producers seem to be wanting to shove down our throats. Instead of getting a truly shocking, frightening film, we get something safe for the kids just to sell tickets. And how do these films generally do? Terrible. So what’s the point of making it PG-13 if your ticket sales aren’t really improving? If you’re going to imply all this sex and violence, grows some gonads and make it shocking. Your audience will respect and appreciate you for it. Instead what we get is the most shining example of a film playing it safe in recent memory.

The Queit Ones
I have an idea for an experiment. Try to sit through a PG-13 horror film like The Quiet Ones and try to get scared by it.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Hammer is too legit too quit.
  • Olivia Cook naked… almost!
  • Jared Harris, professional a-hole.
  • There is one scare with a car door.
  • Burning down the house.
  • CG poop snake monster thing. (?)
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Nothing oozing or squirting, but we see the walls painted with it.

3

blood

BREASTS

Olivia Cook in a bathtub should be the most amazing thing, but…

7

beast

BEASTS

Olivia Cook plays one terrifying girl, you’d have to be crazy to date her!

5 OVERALL
dripper

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trailers

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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>