Archive for the 'Horror movies' Category

Apr

Camp Dread
2014 – Unrated – Image Entertainment
Starring Danielle Harris, Eric Roberts, Felissa Rose – Directed by B. Harrison Smith

Not to be confused with the 2004 horror comedy Club Dread, Camp Dread is a movie that will give you a different impression of what it’s about based on the box art. The tagline suggest that I pitch my tent, which is irrelevant to the film, since they all stay in cabins. Kinda stretching that one for a tagline, but whatever. Films do it all the time, but sure enough, there is a photo of a tent right on the front there. I know it sounds like I’m nitpicking and perhaps I am, but another thing that will come to bother me is the image of Danielle Harris, front and center, as well as her name in eye sight. Hell, there’s even a photo of her on the back, so she occupies a good chunk of the overall box art (even the spine). Don’t get me wrong either, I’m not complaining because she is in the movie, but I won’t spoil it now. As we talk about the movie, you’ll see why it bothers me.

So where do we start? Well, there’s a diner scene with Julian (played by Eric Roberts, turning in the only convincing acting), who plays the director of a fictional slasher movie series called Summer Camp and is now producing a reality TV show based on his horror series and Danielle Harris, is the Sheriff of the small town… and that’s it. I was excited to see her in the role of a sheriff, since it seemed to be something different for her, but this is where the disappointment starts, seeing as after this scene, you won’t see her again for a very long time.

cd_2So a reality TV show themed horror movie, sure you’ve seen this before, but there’s a spin. Seeing as these are all troubled “kids” (clearly in their thirties, but this is even pointed out by Eric Roberts that they aren’t kids, but in their early twenties…), mixed up with drugs, violence or what have you, they have two choices; be a contestant on the show and possibly win a million bucks or face time in jail or rehab. To be honest, what would you go with? On a side note, it is pretty cool that this was filmed at an actual camp in the Poconos. Within moments of exceeding frat boy levels of obnoxious, you come to the realization that these are the characters you are supposed to be identifying with and there’s the underlining problem. NONE of them are identifiable. From the insipid prankster, loudmouth idiot who whenever he spoke, I was screaming “SHUT UP!” at my television to the girl whose dialogue pretty much consist of hate filled, vile homo bashing. Now, I know this can be used to set up a loathsome character, but it becomes so redundant to the point where it’s ineffective and comes off as ignorant. To be fair, there are two other kids that are given some back story and would have been likable if the film had given them a little more development. The only other character that is given a sliver of sympathy is a girl who murdered her brother after he was raping her, but by the end of the film, they manage to strip that away from her.

cd_3It takes serious talent to set up a character with that kind of back story and still make them unlikable by your film’s finale. Wait, is talent the right word?

Julian invites his old producer, John, out to be a part of the show and to bury the hatchet. You see, Julian was notorious for disregarding his actor’s safety and John blew the whistle on him, which in consequence got him black listed from ever directing again. Of course John flies first class to tell Julian off and doesn’t partake in this project. Also joining Julian is Summer Camp actress turned counselor (yeah… quite a coincidence), Rachel, played by Felissa Rose. I was happy to see her come back, but disappointed with how little she is used in the movie and by that I don’t mean she isn’t in it enough, I mean they don’t use her character for much. Come to think of it, they don’t do that with any of the characters in the movie. Like I said, some of them are given a back story or a skill that could be intricate to the plot, but it’s never utilized, because the film makers would rather raise the body count. Hoo-f***ing-ray.

That’s all it is from here… just watching characters die, one by one. The film even drops the ball in this department, often shying away from gore, never really showing much or paying off with its kills. Although some of the kills are creative, such as a prosthetic leg being used to bash someone’s head in and killing another character with a decapitated head. So there is that, but even then it hardly feels worth it. While people are getting picked off, you see Julian has an ulterior motive, a secret plan, but it doesn’t come as a surprise, since you see it coming from the beginning of the film. The killer is exactly who you think it is, certain characters turn on each other the way you thought they would and Eric Roberts is more sleazy than he leads on to be, just as you expected. Speaking of not coming as a surprise, we have a predictable twist ending to get to…

cd_4And just when you were thinking, “Hey, wasn’t Danielle Harris in this movie?” She pops up at the end to unconvincingly tie up the predictable, tired and cliched ending you were really hoping the film wasn’t going for, although it was evident it would, as the movie falls apart in the final act. Well, thanks anyway, Ms. Harris. Your check is in the mail.

For the majority of its run time, Camp Dread walks that fine line of a good bad movie or just bad… and during the final act, it leaps way past that line. This is a film that plays it safe, never taking any risks by sticking to the same predictable cliches you’ve seen done to death and are bored to tears with. It’s almost frustrating at moments when you realize the alternate route they could go in terms of the story and you so badly want it to, but it never does. It tries to push itself at times, trying to be “in your face,” with homophobic bashing and shocking you with potential rape, but it all comes off as annoyingly mean spirited. There is a huge difference between shockingly offensive, controversial and seeming ignorant. This is something the movie can’t seem to figure out, most likely due to the one dimensional, meat headed, bigoted characters, that all seem to be those stereotyped Jersey Shore jock types (because that’s exactly who the majority of any audience wants to spend a 90 minute movie with…). You can’t just have several characters spew out dense, childish homo-bashing lines and expect it to flesh out a character, especially when all of your characters are despicable to begin with. And that’s where one of the major flaws of the movie is; there are too many characters and all but a few are sympathetic, not that they do anything with them anyway. Which brings up another issue… there are WAY too many characters. Camp Dread opts for more characters to increase a body count, rather than a few well developed, solid characters to focus on. It’s a story with too many unlikable, selfish characters with absolutely no character or anything to round them out as a human being. They are just slasher fodder. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am, or a good population of the horror community for that matter, of horror films that set up horrible, unlikable characters for the sake of getting killed off in the name of a body count. This is a movie will fall into the void of forgettable dime-a-dozen slashers.

Camp Dread
It’s frustrating because although this plot is so generic and uninspiring, there are moments where if the filmmakers had taken a risk, it could have been something unexpected and possibly good. It often teases something scandalous, like a lesbian sex scene, but never goes that route. It’s a film that really wants to shock you with sex, violence and imagery, but it comes off as annoying instead. Like those vegetarians that have to constantly remind you they are a vegetarian and scoff and get upset when there aren’t more vegetarian options at places to eat. It really pains me to experience what I felt while watching this film, because it sounded interesting, but alas, just a diarrhea wolf in sheep clothing. Overall, there isn’t much to be offered here in terms of story, gore, nudity… nothing to really give fans anything they want, unless you are looking for a shameless body count. Perhaps you should go to space camp instead.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Eric Roberts, professional sleaze.
  • Hello, Danielle Harris…
  • Angela returns to camp.
  • He has a ‘leg up.’
  • Hanging meat.
  • Head catapulting!
  • …goodbye, Danielle Harris.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Arrow through the eye and a decapitation, but mostly tame.

4

blood

BREASTS

A peak here and there.

3

beast

BEASTS

When it comes down to it, just about everyone is a monster and it is stale.

4.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “Camp Dread!

trailers

dripper
Mar

posted by The Goon | March 28, 2014 | Action, Bad movie, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, modern horror

Day of the Dead
2008 – R – Millennium Films
Starring Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, Ving Rhames – Directed by Steve Miner

It’s easy to have a biased opinion on remakes these days because of the sheer volume of them. People will pass judgement without even seeing a trailer just because it’s a remake. Although we complain, we are first in line to go see them. Sure, over the past few years, remakes are more commonplace than ever, however filmmakers seem to be taking the source material more seriously while adding their own view or style to it, giving it a fresh and unique spin, so they are telling the same story without making it a carbon copy. Unfortunately that seems to be few and far between. A good majority of the time, we either get unnecessary updates that are aforementioned carbon copies or we get an insulting misrepresentation of source material, so painful it stings. And possibly the most painful of them all is Day of the Dead.

Talk about missing not only the mark, but the concept, the social satire, the amazing practical effects, the story telling, the larger than life characters, competent film making and story telling. Sure it’s common for a film maker to want to take a different approach when doing a remake (in fact, it’s something I encourage and want them to do), but there is a fine line between creativity and total stupidity. What do I mean? Do you remember how the other Dead film’s open? With interesting characters in the middle of a situation they are unaware of that they must immediately adapt to. How does this film open? With a group of four teens dancing in a missile silo playing grab arse. If there is one way to make your characters be as unrelatable as possible, it’s to have them do something that nobody can relate to. I think this concept is lost when older people are trying to write about what they think teens do now.

dotd_2Anyhow, our two main teens, Trevor and Nina, decide they’ve seen enough prepubescent groping from their friends Kyle and… nameless girl and want to head home to make whoopee in a more comfortable setting. Along the way, Kyle seems to be showing signs of a cold, you know… obvious foreshadowing, so throw out any hope for suspense. It turns out there is an outbreak of this virus all over town and the military is now blocking any way in or out. Rhodes (played by Ving Rhames, sleepwalking through this performance) heads up the roadblock and couldn’t seem more uninterested if he were trying. One thing you may notice about these soldiers is that they aren’t exactly armed, leading you to believe it’s the Reserves. This brings me to one of my biggest gripes about the film, Rhodes is seriously underwhelming and stripped of what made him a threatening menace in the original. Ving Rhames moans out every line of dialogue like he’s falling asleep and never once gives any indication that he is a force to be reckoned with, because in this film, he isn’t.

Among his squad is Sarah, who the camera is pointed at most of the time (since it’s insulting to call her our heroine), rookie Bud (who I’m sure you all remember as the intelligent zombie BUB with a military background from Romero’s original) and the increasingly annoying, false representation of a generation, one liner, cliche spewing Salazar played by Nick Cannon. Never in my life have I wanted to physically assault a character after every cocky line of dialogue spewed from their stupid face as I have Salazar. Since Sarah’s mother is sick with coincidental plot device syndrome, she and Bud take a drive to her house and along the way, they have a one on one. She tells him her gun isn’t loaded and that it’s complicated (another plot point that is never truly explained) and he tells her that he is a vegetarian (which will come back to provide the “jumping the shark” holy grail of all plot points), only to run into her brother Trevor and Nina where the mellow drama begins. Trevor holds a grudge against his sister for wanting to do something with her life and leaving and to my recollection, this is never resolved or fully explained, making it entirely pointless. Then again, I could say that about everything in this movie.

Learning that Kyle was showing the same symptoms, they all head over to his house and find his parents mutilated and report it to Rhodes while en route to get their mother to the hospital where we meet the other insult to source material, Dr. Logan, who is now suave and sleazy, rather than a burnt out scientist on the verge of losing his mind, because you know, that might have been interesting. When at the hospital, Sarah leaves her brother to look after their mother, while Rhodes then sends a team to check on Kyle’s house, but come to find out, there are three bodies instead of the reported two. Yes, in this movies, the zombies are intelligent and set traps, but that is the least of the stupidest abilities the zombies have in this movie…

dotd_3This is when things go to hell, both for the characters and for you, the viewer. All of the infected people go from catatonic to undead with super human powers! Not only are they incredibly fast and agile, they can also leap great distances and crawl on the walls and ceiling! Hmm, maybe it was a radioactive spider that bit all of them. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do something different, as I stated earlier. Making changes that a pose a threat can make for the characters to develop and adjust to the situation in an interesting way and possibly provide you with something you haven’t seen before, but IT HAS TO MAKE SENSE! Other than a quick one sentence explanation that is never followed up on, it is never mentioned how this virus can give the undead abilities that are outside of normal human capabilities. If you want us to believe the creatures can do this, again, IT HAS TO MAKE SENSE in your film’s reality. If the movie hasn’t completely lost you earlier, it definitely will now.

During the undead attack, Rhodes is immediately devoured, which could be a good thing that this piss poor version of the character is done with, or it will anger you that perhaps one of the greatest antagonists in a zombie flick was portrayed against everything that made him great. Either way, he does come back undead, giving an mildly interesting chase scene with no legs, only to be comically killed off by Salazar, adding insult to injury.

A good majority of the movie is the soldiers WITHOUT WEAPONS trying to escape from the hospital and is it boring. During the escape, Bud is bit on the hand. Salazar wants to waste him, but Sarah pleads and says he can be of use until he turns, at which point, she will take care of it. After stealing Rhode’s Humvee and stopping at a gun store that somehow has fully automatic weapons, Bud turns into a zombie, but to their surprise, he’s obedient like a soldier, which I suppose is fine. But in the most idiotic of explanations as to why he isn’t trying to eat them, as Sarah says, is because he’s a vegetarian. So let me get this straight… in this backwards world, if you were a vegetarian, when turned into a zombie, you won’t crave human flesh? In this health aware world where vegetarians are pretty dominant, these zombies are supposed to be a threat? I’m sorry… I need a minute to wash my brain off all the stupid.

Trevor and Nina managed to escape to a radio station where a few other survivors are holed up and wouldn’t you know it, a few of them are hiding the fact that they are infected. The film does try to pass off some suspense here where you briefly wonder who’s infected, but then you realize it doesn’t matter since the three brief characters that have nothing to do with the plot are killed, leaving Trevor and Nina to be rescued by Sarah.

dotd_4By the way, it’s at this point I realized they’ve been calling Sarah “Corporal Cross” when it’s referenced that their family’s last name is Bowman, so… did the writer just forget this or is he as brain dead as the zombies? Speaking of, in true nature to this film, it’s never explained.

After an accident from a run in with zombie Kyle, they come across an underground bunker that just so happens to be where the scientists were developing the virus for…? There is a scene with Mad TV’s Pat Kilbane, but he barely brushes the topic. It’s never fully explained, so who cares! We don’t need to explain anything when we have zombies! And that’s how the film treats you; as if you are stupid and they can shove zombies into something and you’ll watch it, which I guess this means we did, so joke’s on us. Touche. Anyway, while they putz around and failing to provide any exposition, zombies attack and kill Logan, which I’m sure we’re all heart broken over since he was so likable, as is Salazar (FINALLY). I really haven’t talked much about his character, other than how intolerable and irritating his “hip-teen-lingo-catch-phrase-of-the-day” dialogue is, but trust me… the less said, the better. It’s like being talked down to by an older person who is trying to relate to your generation.

So Sarah, Nina and Trevor escape and the film throws in an ineffective jump scare. Nobody cares. It’s over.

Like all uninspiring remakes, these characters can only be identified by their stereotyped character trait. The tone of the film comes off as a cheap teen slasher flick, maybe due to the fact that Steve Miner directed, whose previous works included Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3 and Halloween: H20. And For a movie called Day of the Dead, a lot of it takes place at night, but I guess that’s just me nitpicking.

Day of the Dead feels more like a humdrum teen slasher of the post Scream era then it does your insipid cut-and-paste zombie flick. How many times are we going to see the same story about some virus spreading the infection? Why do these filmmakers feel like they need to explain everything? If you have a strong enough story and characters that we care about, details like that are left a mystery and it adds to the doomed feeling of the situation the characters are in and that’s part of what made George Romero’s movies work! If you’re going to remake one of his movies and claim you are being faithful, while putting a fresh “spin” on it, the least you could do is just that. There’s another thing that gets thrown out in the remake world too much; “putting a fresh spin on it.” When you hear that, it usually means they gave the characters cell phones and Facebook jokes in their dialogue. Updating a film is fine. That’s been done since the dawn of films, but you need to make your characters relevant to the time period and give us examples of why they work in the situation that’s going on, instead of vomiting out the same annoying, slang spewing rejects from cliched stereotypes.

Day of the Dead
Not only is this a god awful remake, but a god awful film overall with absolutely nothing good about it. I found it to be unenjoyable, even with a group of friends looking for a cheesy movie to have fun with. Everything about this film is not only a misrepresentation of its source material, but to the genre as well to the point where it feels insulting. Even the editing seems to be sped up or have frames chopped out so the zombies seem like they are more supernatural, which comes off as laughably bad (but not frustrating like Automaton Transfusion). And of course being a late 2000’s horror film, practically all of the effects are unnecessary CGI and boy, does it look terrible. I’ve seen better effects in Asylum movies. I don’t know what else to say. This movie is so awful, they couldn’t even get it released theatrically! I can only tell you that this is one of the few times I would urge someone to stay away from a film. Treat it like a zombie outbreak; get out of there and stay away from this stinker as far as possible!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Drinking game… just drink because you are watching this train wreck.
  • I didn’t know it was possible to make Ving Rhames look like Steve Urkel.
  • Nick Cannon’s one liners.
  • No brains, I’m a vegan.
  • Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Zombie!
  • Dr. Douche.
  • If you haven’t beat yourself senseless while watching this movie, you are a brave soul.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Regardless of the horrendous CG gore, it’s still pretty tame by today’s standards.

0

blood

BREASTS

As if this film would give you even one second of something to look at.

3

beast

BEASTS

You think super ability zombies would be scary, but no. Under played and laughably stupid.

2.6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie… if you you don’t want any brain cells!

trailers

dripper
Mar

The Flesh and Blood Show
1972 – R – Redemption Films
96 Minutes – Starring Ray Brooks, Luan Peters – Directed by Pete Walker

Who doesn’t love a good a good murder mystery? In fact, one of the most popular television shows is about an elderly woman who is a writer/detective and the old people love it! When that show comes on, it’s like ecstasy being broadcast over an unseen signal, like in They Live only in a retirement home. Old people aside, I’ve always loved the idea of a ‘who-done-it,’ playing along with the movie as I mentally collect clues and try to solve the puzzle of the murders that will lead to the identity of the killer. Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood is a perfect example (especially with that set up), but others can fall kind of flat, like Pete Walker’s The Flesh and Blood Show.

Of course you don’t realize this until it’s over, but it’s not a completely bad experience, nor will it leave a sour aftertaste in your mouth. For the most part, it seems to keep everything at a good pace, although feeling like it’s dragging out from time to time until you reach the film’s climax when it feels like it should have been over for some time. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws it has is its plot that has not aged well. Sure, in the early 70’s it probably wasn’t all that common, but now audiences may find that it’s been done to death, especially when parts of it resemble April Fool’s Day. It’s comprised of part mystery, part proto-slasher and part sleazy go-go. Sounds good on paper, but the execution…

fbs_2Like most slashers, there is an obnoxious character, John, and for whatever bizarre reason, decides to go to his friend Carol’s flat with a knife in his belly, but it’s nothing more than a prank. Maybe John and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 are pen pals. Anyway, he stopped by… at 2 o’clock in the morning… waking Carol, who is completely nude and shares a bed with her flatmate Jane (do they have your attention now?) to tell them he has just been offered to have a role in the improv theater show The Flesh and Blood Show at Dome Theater, which has been closed for a very long time after a horrible event took place. Coincidentally, Carol and Jane also have been invited to participate in the show, so off they go to the creepy old abandoned theater where horrible things await them.

They meet up with the rest of the crew comprised of bad 70’s haircuts; Tony the Aussie, Simon, who you will swear is a miniature Mick Jagger stunt double, sexy blonde Angela and Mike, the show’s producer. By a first glance at this place, you should know better not to go in, as it is plagued with all the run down theme park cliches and probably has the actual plague floating around. But that doesn’t stop them from going about their rehearsal or sleeping there. Too cheap to cough up the quid for a hotel, the cast and crew decide to sleep there and it doesn’t take long for things to get sleazy. One of the girls instantly jumps in the sack with Tony for knowing him all of about several minutes and another girl decides to rub Carol down topless as John watches from afar. As if this theater wasn’t caked in enough filth and grime, here’s some more.

I won’t lie. It’s an awesome scene.

fbs_3Immediately following that scene, a scream is heard and the lesbian girl (sorry, I forgot her name and I’m forced to identify her by her character trait) has gone missing. After searching the theater, Mike finds her head on top of a shelf and her body next to a guillotine, but keeps it from the others. I’m actually kinda stunned that a theater has a properly working guillotine. He does, however, get the fuzz involved, but upon inspecting the “crime scene,” all evidence of any murder has been hidden, which is impressive to not leave any trace of a recent decapitation. Everyone chalks it up to John and one of his practical jokes, but soon they find a note that stating why she left… but the note was actually left behind by the killer! Oh well, time to find her replacement. This is showbiz, after all. Enter up and coming film actress Julie!

The town may be as dead as our recently departed blonde, but a local nearby restaurant is still open and probably the only clean thing in town. This is where we meet an elderly man, Major Bell, who you can guess is the killer if you have any deductive powers. The cast crew occasionally pays visit to him and his wife (played by Sheila Keith from Frightmare) in between their rehearsals. Nothing much really happens, until Carol decides she wants to go for a stroll alone one night along the dock. John follows her out, unbeknownst to her, when she is attacked and nearly raped by what appears to be a hobo, until her screams are heard and the gang, minus John, find her. They all come to realize he wasn’t around and becomes the prime suspect… until his body is found a few days later by the police and in a twist, has been dead since that night he followed Carol outside? So if not him, then who?

Like I said earlier, it’s pretty obvious.

fbs_4After some more rehearsals of random things, spiced up with plenty of nudity, they eventually notice someone is running the spotlight (face palm) and another of the crew is killed. As the lights go dim, the Major shows up spewing lines from a play as he confesses to the murders and that it was him who committed the horrible acts long ago and tells us the tale in flashback form. Even after, he still prances about, regurgitating lines from the previous play, to which the remaining members of the crew use to their advantage and cleverly, and oddly somehow, reenact the events of his crime. Since he’s bonkers and his lid has clearly flipped, that same evening from long ago is playing out in his mind. The 5-0 shows up in time, arrest the Major and the crew comes to the realization that in order to kill some of their actors, he must’ve had help… from his daughter… who may be with them at this moment!

As you can gather, The Flesh and Blood Show resembles the Scooby Doo cartoon, only with boobs and wieners (yeah, you get full frontal… ladies). Overall, it feels very stiff and as if you’ve seen it a hundred of times before (which you have, but for the time this wasn’t that common of a plot), it teeters slightly over the edge of sleaze, just enough to keep you watching. It’s self aware of how voluptuous the females are in this movie and will often parade them around fully nude. As you realized, the slasher and mystery bits, in retrospect, seem very cut and paste and tired by today’s standards. The film itself now is considered to be very tame, but at its time, it’s one that could spark a bit of controversy. Maybe it’s the title, but I can’t help but feel this should have been a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, who could have truly brought the sleaziness and violence that the title provokes.

One pretty interesting thing The Flesh and Blood Show does is present the flashback sequence in 3-D in black and white (Pete Walker sure loved his black and white flashbacks, huh?) The scene during the film is standard, but you do have the option in the bonus features of watching the ten minute sequence in anaglyphic red-blue process (for those of you who don’t know, anaglyphic works better in black and white) or if you have a 3D TV, you can check it out in stereoscopic as well. I was able to watch the scene in anaglyphic (make sure you have the classic red and blue glasses, they aren’t included) and it worked pretty well, except for when things are supposed to really pop out at you, like when a character points something directly at the lens, the image seems to split apart. Other special features on the disc are a theatrical trailer and another interview with Pete Walker.

The Flesh and Blood Show
In the end, it’s a little underwhelming and hard to believe that it also received an X rating. Lacking in genuine scares and gore (again like Frightmare, most kills take place off camera), The Flesh and Blood Show has little to offer, but it does have some of that old fashioned grindhouse, go-go sleaziness to it. So if you ever wanted to see what an episode of Scooby Doo would look like with sex and murder, then you should give it a watch.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • John’s jokes are a real punch in the gut.
  • Go-Go full frontal nudity.
  • She lost her head over this play.
  • “Old man Withers!”
  • 3D Flashback Revenge.
  • Daughter secrets.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Most of the death occurs off screen making it a mystery… as to why the hell they didn’t show it!

9

blood

BREASTS

These voluptuous, curvy ladies show you why the theater is awesome. Minus a point for 70’s bush and dong.

3

beast

BEASTS

You have to be more useless than lint in a couch cushion to be killed by this old man.

5.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “The Flesh and Blood Show!”

trailers

dripper
Mar

Frightmare
1974 – R – Redemption Films
86 Minutes – Starring Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith – Directed by Pete Walker

Let’s be all serious for a moment and think; does censorship really protect us? Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the UK was severely bringing the hammer down on horror films, believing they made sadists, psychopaths and bullies out of the everyday normal Joe. The solution? To excise all sex and violence out of the film, often leaving the final cut incomprehensible. I recently talked about My Bloody Valentine and how the R rated cut of the film’s finale left you puzzled as you saw Axel running away holding his arm. But what you didn’t see was him sawing his own arm off, thus explaining why he was holding his arm. So maybe it wasn’t always incomprehensible, but you certainly were left with a product that was lackluster and taking away elements as to why you are watching the film. In horror’s case; the aforementioned sex and violence.

The BBFC (now apparently at it again) became so notorious for this, that horror films unjustifiably became targeted and heavily censored or downright banned just because of the fact that it was a horror film! Whether it was advertising (via posters or reviews) or because a filmmaker became notorious for having made controversial horror films, it would seem that the BBFC would demand severe cuts or ban the film without actually having taking a look at the film. Now, we know this doesn’t keep the material out of the wrong hands, like children, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

fm_2After years pass, possibly many years, this controversy can actually work in favor of the film. Take Frightmare, for example. Although never a Video Nasty, I always heard so much controversy about this film and all the graphic content that got it banned, so in my head I built this movie up to be an exploitation film filled with blood, guts, nudity and every other fun filled nightmare that I could think of. However, if you’ve seen the film… Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that content makes a film good, but you can see how controversy can create a different movie in your head.

Frightmare opens in a black and white sequence during 1957 as a straggler happens upon a farmhouse. He’s welcomed inside, all shot in POV and within moments, a good chunk of his face has been removed and the assailant, now revealed to be Dorothy Yates, is institutionalized in the following scene for having butchered and eaten several people along with her husband Edmund, who had been faking his insanity so that he may be locked up with his wife that he loved so much. Ladies, how many of your guys would take that vow?

Cut to present day 1974 where the daughter of Edmund from a previous marriage, Jackie, is having dinner with some friends all while her stepsister Debbie is out causing a ruckus at a bar. She’s what you would call a “wild card” or “hangs out with a rough crowd.” Don’t believe me? She and her rowdy friends, a biker gang with The Monkee’s style haircuts, beat a bartender within inches of his life just for not serving her a drink for being underage. That’ll teach you to obey the law!

fm_3Dorothy and Edmund have also been declared sane and released, living back in their remote farmhouse. Now, I’m no expert, but wouldn’t they be under probation of some kind or under supervision temporarily? Or maybe I’m wrong and convicted cannibals are free to roam willy nilly once they get that stamp of approval. Jackie puts her love life on hold and keeping her family’s secret to the persistent Graham, who looks like a British Peter Parker, to keep an eye on her father and stepmother. Edmund tells Jackie that he fears Dorothy is already lapsing and up to her old deeds and he has every right to be, because she is. It doesn’t take Dorothy long before she is luring in loners without families or loved ones with tea and tarot card readings that result in their (most of the time) off screen deaths. I have no idea how she fooled such clever doctors.

After several visits from the fuzz, Jackie has had it with Debbie and demands she leave, but newly psychiatrist Graham tells Jackie she needs to be more caring to her sister, because if there is one thing that girl needs it’s negative reinforcement for her bad behavior. But Debbie is beyond a simple scolding, as she claims to have “found” the barkeep from the fight dead and has stored him in her trunk. It’s actually pretty sneaky, since you aren’t sure whether or not Debbie is directly involved in his death, but soon all suspicions are laid to rest, as she has a secret of her own…

Coming home from work one day, Edmund discovers Dorothy in the midst of one of her murders and although he’s shocked and terrified, vows to help her cover it up. Because of his loyalty, Dorothy lets him in on her little secret, that she has been having a little help with her murders from her daughter! Hey, you may as well keep it in the family. Edmund comes to the conclusion that Dorothy will never stop, but Jackie will be a thorn in their side. Hmm, what are crazed murderous cannibals to do?

fm_4After learning of Dorothy’s illness, Graham sets out really figure out what is going on, so I’m sure he will be alright. Jackie heads out to the old farmhouse to bring things to a close, but she may already be too late and discovers the shocking and grisly truth that Dorothy is still murdering… with a little help. Now lacking protection from her father, Jackie is walking into a trap and she may not make it out alive!

After viewing the film, you may have noticed that there is quite a lack of gore. Most of the bloody effects are an aftermath, someone’s face sliced halfway off, but there are a few scenes of Dorothy stabbing someone to death. This is what I meant earlier about a film’s censorship unrealistically boosting your expectations, as I went in expecting murder and mayhem, but what I got was actually a mild, violent filled, shocking and suspenseful tale of a cannibalistic woman that is very well paced. In a way, it reminds me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t need to show you graphic details, but lets your mind make it up for you. Even though most of the butchering is never seen and we never actually see her eat anyone (the implication is more scary, but clearly not as grotesque), Dorothy is a well developed and truly frightening antagonist. Every moment on screen, you are never sure which way her personality is going to take her, so much so, that I was expecting her to kill Edmund at any moment.

As usual, Redemption did a stellar job restoring the film from its original 35mm prints. Although slight discoloration and grain is present, the overall image quality is clean and sharp, revealing beautiful detail to the visceral imagery. As for the audio, there isn’t a whole lot you can do with something that’s 2.0, but it’s never muffled and the dialogue is clear and understandable and really, you can’t ask for more. It’s almost impossible to restore a forty year old film without some remaining damage, but Redemption manages to make it the best it will ever be. On a special features note, there is an interview with director Pete Walker as he recalls the film and talks about how the censorship was a help to the publicity, a look at the work of Sheila Keith, the actress who played Dorothy, a trailer and a commentary track.

Frightmare
If the sight of pulling out intestines, eating splines and feasting upon the organs of people, as blood spews like a faucet isn’t your thing… then you’ll probably enjoy Frightmare, as I’ve said, it doesn’t show much gore, but rather pulls the punches in the suspense. Although not quite living up to its famous controversy, Frightmare is still a bloody good time that’s good for a scare with plenty of secrets.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • My Step Mother is a Cannibal next on Maury.
  • Not the WB Sister/Sister that you remember.
  • Some death with your tea?
  • For England, they have some nice teeth.
  • Husband of the year.
  • Driller killer.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Some squirts, some sprays and some eyeball removal.

5

blood

BREASTS

Jackie sports some cleavage making you want to see more.

8

beast

BEASTS

Debbie will break your heart and Dorothy will eat it!

6 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Frightmare!”

trailers

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Mar

My Bloody Valentine
1981 – R/Unrated – Paramount
90 (R)/93 (Unrated) Minutes – Starring Neil Affleck, Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier – Directed by George Mihalka

For every season, there is a holiday and for every holiday, there is a horror film and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Yes, even the patron saint of overpriced flowers and chocolates so you can look like the world’s best boyfriend for a nanosecond has a slasher flick for his special day. Given the easily playable theme of love and romantic getaways, I’m surprised there aren’t more Valentine Day horror themed movies (the only one coming to mind at the moment is that late 90’s Scream knock off, Valentine). However, the “holiday” does have perhaps one of the earliest and better Friday the 13th clones simply known as My Bloody Valentine, one of the finer things to come out of Canada.

I mean, it’s the perfect setting for a horror film; everything is drenched in shades of red, the theme of the roses and love, hearts… it presents itself full of opportunities for some scares, so how does it play out in this film?

mbv_2The movie opens in a coal mine (there you go, that’s your connection right there… right?) as two people in miner suits, masks and overalls, seem to be alone. One of them strips to reveal that they are a blonde bombshell, which is fortunate for us, because I don’t think anyone would have wanted to see a dirty, hairy man strip down to his drawers . She tries to undress him, starting with his mask, which he rejects, but she continues her seduction anyway. Gotta say, she makes teasing a gas mask look sexy. His breathing becomes heavy and erratic, until he lifts her off the ground and slams her on a pick ax he previously stuck in the wall next to them. As she screams, a cool little animated intro drips blood as creepy music box type of melody plays over it, reminding you of the the Silent Night, Deadly Night title card.

After that, we see it’s Thursday, February 12… get it? Because it’s a Paramount film and they own Friday the 13th… Anyway, all of the men are rushing out of work at the mines to the rec center to meet their gals who are setting up for the big Valentine’s Dance. Normally, something like this wouldn’t be such a big deal to you kids with your iPads and hula hoops, but to the small town of Valentine’s Bluff, it’s the main attraction. Especially seeing as how this is the first dance in twenty years since the night Harry Warden’s killing spree.

You see, a couple of eager beaver supervisors decided to split early before checking methane levels and there was an explosion, trapping five miners down below deep in the mines. Only one man, Harry Warden was finally rescued, having eaten the other miners to survive. One year later, Harry took his revenge on the supervisors, carving out their hearts and putting them in heart shaped candy boxes, warning the townspeople for years to come to never have a dance ever again… ever! Looks like high school drama club is finally paying off.

Speaking of drama club, what would a slasher movie about Valentine’s Day be without a love triangle? TJ returns to his hometown, mostly to hang out in the corner of the room sipping a beer and smoking Marbs, after several years of being away on the west coast to find his girlfriend Sarah is now in the arms of Axel, who has the most animated lips of anyone speaking I have ever seen. It’s a classic pissing contest between these two as Sarah sits idly by moping and doing what she is told, because apparently this is the old West as two men battle for the affection of a woman.

mbv_3So you may be able to see why it’s a big deal (hey c’mon, this was before the internet… what else were they supposed to do?) about the dance. With Harry locked up in the loony bin, dear old Mabel and the gals are working around the clock to make the dance look better than it’s ever been. This means hanging up streamers and construction paper hearts and… well, that’s pretty much it. But soon, the Mayor receives a heart shaped box with a human heart inside, along with a warning to cancel the dance. It appears that Harry Warden is back!

That night as Mabel works at her laundromat, she is attacked by someone in miner gear. The next day, Chief Newby stops in to gets his pants pressed or whatever laundry business he has, when he finds Mabel stuffed inside a tumbling dryer, burnt to a crisp. Trying not to cause a panic, Newby and the Mayor announce Mabel had died from a heart attack (well, they are halfway right…). Newby calls the mental institution where Harry Warden was locked up and they just so happen to no longer have any records of him being there. Gee, what are the odds? Finally heeding the warning, the dance is cancelled, but do kids ever listen? Our group of promiscuous teens decide they are going to have a dance after all and have it at the mine, because that sounds totally safe. But soon they will learn their lesson, one by one.

Even the crotchety old bartender doesn’t want the kids having their dance, as he over hears their plans. Wanting to trick the kids using the urban legend of Harry Warden, he brilliantly sets up a scarecrow type of miner, rigged to a door that raises a pick ax upon opening. Wow, between planning this idea and executing it, this man certainly has a lot of spare time. But it’s all taken down in a matter of seconds, as he drunkenly giggles to himself testing out his gag and who should be standing there, but Harry Warden, driving his pick ax through the bottom of the bartender’s jaw, popping out one of his eyeballs in what is probably the goriest effect in the whole movie and is it satisfying. But the killing, and visceral death sequences, don’t stop there.

mbv_4Now it’s the time of the big dance, where TJ and Axel finally have it out over Sarah in a true beer drinking, chest thumping, sports fan kind of way… fist fighting. After the fight, Axel storms off, opening a beer in the most dramatic way possible and chugging it. Now that the happy mood is killed (along with a few of the party goers), a small group, including Sarah decide to go down into the mines to get their minds of that neanderthal way claiming women as property, but Harry Warden follows them down and his cover is blown when the kids come across a few dead bodies. Finding Axel, TJ devises a plan to go down into the mines to rescue Sarah, but as the Newby makes his way to the crime scene, he receives some disturbing and interesting news… there were no records of Harry Warden because he died a few years prior. So if it’s not Harry, then who is assuming his identity and carrying out his vengeance?

After Axel falls into water, seemingly drowning, TJ finds what’s left of the group as he and Sarah are now chased by Harry Warden, only it’s not Harry. After being pinned by rocks after they fall from the ceiling, it is revealed to be none other than Axel! It turns out, Axel’s father was one of the supervisors that was responsible for mine explosion and after witnessing his father being killed when he was a boy, it snapped his fragile little mind. Before being caught, Axel saws his own arm off to free himself from being trapped in the rocks, swearing to return and get his revenge! Hey, if you can saw your own arm off in an escape attempt, you deserve to get away and have revenge.

A sequel was proposed, but unfortunately never made due to poor box office results, which is a bummer seeing as how this is a really decent slasher flick. Although it’s one of the many that are considered to be a Friday the 13th “clone,” I would say it has more than enough substance and story to be considered one of the more original “clones” in Friday’s shadow, enough to stand on its own, even if it does share a lot of similarities, like the prophet of doom character, a masked killer who suffered the loss of a family member, creative and over the top kills… okay, so they are pretty similar.

My Bloody Valentine
Luckily, the most readily available version of the film is the uncut version with the deleted scenes edited back into the film. But since they all came from different sources or Lionsgate didn’t feel like putting the money into it, they aren’t remastered in HD or cleaned up too well, but if you ask me, I think it the aged look gives it a nice touch. So, remember all those graphic and spectacular special effects and kills I’ve been talking about? Yeah, those aren’t in the R rated version. I suppose I could pick on it a bit for being a Canadian film, but I have a new found soft spot for Canada… So cuddle up with the one you love and watch horny teens get murdered, because nothing else says, “I love you.”

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A true heart breaker.
  • Hot male shower scene, a little something for the ladies.
  • Take a shot every time you notice something Candian-y.
  • Bobbing for boiled hot dogs.
  • I been working in a coal mine, going down, down. Working in a coal mine… Whew, about to slip down!
  • Give this man a hand… he escaped the long arm of the law (rimshot).
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Face boiling, pick axing, decapitating, eye gouging good time… in the unrated version.

6

blood

BREASTS

More buns that boobs, but that’s the Valentine’s gift for the ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

Neil Affleck’s line delivery is more terrifying than Harry Warden himself.

7 OVERALL
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“Watch the trailer for “My Bloody Valentine!”

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