Archive for the 'Slasher films' Category

Jun

Madman
1982 – R – Code Red
Starring – Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish – Directed by Joe Giannone

Ah, summertime. I believe Will Smith said it best when he said, “Every moment frontin’ and maxin’, chillin’ in the car they spent all day waxin’. Leanin to the side, but you can’t speed through, two miles an hour so everybody sees you.” This has nothing to do with this review, but man wasn’t that a good song? Especially in the summer?

Alright, now that the joke is out of the way, summer holds a special nostalgic place in most of our hearts. For me, going to camp was one of the most exciting parts. Getting together with all the other kids to play games, learning survival skills and telling spooky stories around the campfire. And let’s be honest, you felt so accomplished when they would slap a badge for that on your shirt, but instantly demasculate you with a baking badge. Nonetheless, I love the old feeling I get when I’m up late watching horror movies based around summer camp. Brings me back to a time when it was okay for adults to scare the living pee out of children.

One such tale is the legend of Cropsey. An actual story I’m familiar with since it was most popular in the upstate New York area, where I lived when I was young and went to camp. In a nutshell, the story is about a man returning to his familiar grounds and murder anyone who dares to camp there. Of course, this all depends on who is telling the tale, since, as with most legends, there are several versions of it, but this one seemed to be the most popular. So popular in fact, that someone decided to make a movie about and call it The Burning. However, another movie using the same tale was being made around the same time, but the good ol’ Weinstein’s beat them to the punch, so a small rewrite later, writer/director Joe Giannone unleashed Madman.

mm_2It’s the last day of camp as a group of kids are being horribly scarred for life by a ghost story that camp counselor sings to them as he prances around the fire. Chuckling at his amateur kid frightening skills, head counselor Max decides to one up him and calmly tells the children in the most trusting and soothing voice a supposedly true legend that will make sure no amount of therapy will ever help these children. That tale is the legend of Madman Marz, who murdered his wife and child with an axe, where he was shortly hung for his crimes (this was back in the day when lynching was encouraged… or the South), but his body had disappeared! Concluding, his name is never to be said above a whisper or else he would return to his sacred grounds and kill anyone who is present. So of course, the first thing the mouthy little punk Richie (who must’ve been a top contender for Mouth in The Goonies) does is scream his name and unnecessarily throw a rock an unknown amount of distance, which I’m guessing is at least half a mile away, judging by his solo march there later on, smashing out a window on a vacant house. This house seems so far off, it may as well have been Jenny’s house from Forest Gump. All have a good laugh as Max says his goodbye and goodnight to the kids, but Betsy (played by Dawn of the Dead’s Gaylen Ross) disapproves of the story frightening the children, forever spoiling spooky campfire stories for everyone everywhere.

Betsy has a thing for TP and your guess is as good as mine as to why, since he snuffs her affection before they all return to their cabin. He quickly apologizes to the group about his outburst and to Betsy since it’s probably his last opportunity to hook up, as Max leaves to head into town to get supplies… and beer. Can’t forget beer.

But that’s not why you’re watching this movie. Camp cook and professional whiskey drinker Dippie is the first to fall victim, as Marz tears out his throat. I know we are all attached to this character and you’ll be in disbelief when you see him die, like when you saw Steven Segal die in Executive Decision. Still brings tears to my eyes.

What follows next is perhaps one of the most drawn out, semi-underwater, slow motion love scenes between TP and Betsy and lemme tell ya, you will be reaching for that fast forward button. It seriously drags out for several minutes, which normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Gaylen Ross keeps her puppies well hidden the entire time, while TP flexes his cheeks before climbing into the hot tub. While these two are contaminating the water, Madman Marz watches from outside. It’s about this time TP realizes he should probably check on the boys and notices that Richie is missing and goes out looking for him… alone… in the dark woods. Betsy offers to come with him, but he declines, as she sees a lumbering, shadowy figure darting around, but shrugs it off. I’m sure TP will be fine…

Did I say fine? I meant strangled and hung up like a pinata. To the actor’s credit, he really pulls of the excruciating pain that one must go through when being hung, as he actually choked himself by tying a rubber band around his neck! Now that’s “dead-ication.” Meanwhile, Betsy is back at camp complaining to Stacy that TP only wants sex when they realize he’s been gone for quite some time. Dave volunteers to go out alone into the woods to get killed next, bumping into TP’s body along the way and manages to dodge a few of Marz’s axe attacks before one finally manages to decapitate him. He was way in over his head anyway…

mm_3So now Stacy think TP is playing a joke (cause that’s what you did back then, play ineffectual pranks) and takes the car down to find everyone. Investigating something going bump in the night, she bursts in on the other two counselors, Ellie and Bill, about to bump uglies. She leaves them to their session of foreignication and has either very keen senses to where the others may be or this is the smallest wooded area in the world. She literally stumbles on Dave’s headless corpse (you starting to see a pattern here?) and runs back to the truck, but unfortunately the she has fallen victim to horror cliche #14: the stalling vehicle. Using all her mechanic knowledge, which I’m guessing is about none, she sticks her head right under the hood so Marz can cleverly jump on the hood to take off her head. That’s yer problem right there!

Bill and Ellie are hot on her heels searching for her when Ellie spots Marz standing over his trophy, which immediately sends her dashing toward Bill where she pleads with him to do the most rational thing; LEAVE! But what good is that? Bill suggests the most facepalming idea in history, to go check it out. Yes, go right toward the lumbering, superhuman maniac with an axe. Stacy’s body and Marz are gone when they reach the truck and oddly enough, neither of them see the blood splashed all over the front of the truck and decide to drive it back to camp, but if you recall, the truck does not start. Daves finds Stacy’s head in the engine and tosses it aside like an unwanted soggy melon and the truck starts (that’s got ‘er!) and they start to speed back to camp, but not before Marz rips Bill out of the driver’s side and snaps his back like a twig. After the truck crashes into a tree, Ellie runs back into camp and very cleverly hiding in the fridge. Seriously, if I were a killer (I’m not, I swear!), I would never in a million years think to check the fridge for my victims. Fresh ones anyway. That’s where you keep the leftovers. Unfortunately, it’s all for nothing. Once the noise quiets down, Ellie pokes her head out and checks the place out, only to be stabbed. The scene is really well paced and actually made me nervous!

Cut in between all this is the adventures of our young hooligan Richie, who has now stumbled upon the house he threw a rock at, which happens to be the home of Marz. After poking around a bit, he finds the dead bodies of all of the counselors in the basement. Good luck with therapy, kid!

So, if you’re doing your math correctly, this leaves lonesome Betsy, who is unaware that her friends have been brutally butchered. She’s making her rounds like a prison guard, which I’m sure all campers are familiar with that feeling, when she spots Ellie’s body and dashes off to grab a shotgun. Seems like the only smart characters in this movie are gossipy girls. Guys take note; just because your girlfriend talks constantly about makeup and their friend’s current boy toys, doesn’t mean she can’t properly load your hunting rifles and outgun you. Just ask Ellie, who managed to survive her stab wounds and creeps up to the door, who Betsy mistakes for Marz and blasts her friend’s face off. Whoops.

Betsy loads all the kids onto the bus and tells the eldest to drive the rest into town as she searches for her friends, which, remember, she has no idea are already dead. It’s probably a good thing a panicked woman who just emptied a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun at her friend’s head, probably isn’t in the best condition to drive a bus full of scared, jumpy children. Marz attacks the bus before they can leave, but retreats once the non harmful, padded door is shut on his hand and Betsy knows she has to end it once and for all, chasing him down to the house from before that Richie somehow managed to bust a window out from several miles away. After some creeping around, Marz attacks her, slashing her face open and impaling her on a hook Texas Chainsaw Massacre style, but happens to be packing a hunting knife, stabbing Marz who accidentally knocks over a candle, setting the place ablaze. Who knew her inner-pyro would come in handy? All for nothing though, as Marz escapes into the night.

mm_4Coming back from a long night of drinking, Max who is surprisingly not swerving all over the road spots Richie who is riddled with fear. Max asks the Richie what’s the matter, to which he exclaims, “Madman Marz… he’s real!”

To the movies credibility, it does pace the tension and build up very nicely. The scenes that build up to a characters death are drawn out to the point where you will be on the edge of your seat just waiting for something to happen and when it finally does in a glorious, blood splattered death, it pays off. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the scenes of the counselors interacting with one another. I would say it’s too close to real life, since they don’t really discuss anything interesting, but that’s what it is. Just conversations about things I don’t think people actually talk about or girls going on about guys and blah, blah, blah. Mostly, they serve as an excuse for one character to head out into the dark woods alone to find the previous character who went off into the dark woods alone, so at least at times it does get the plot moving along.

Also, for being a low budget horror film of the early 80’s, it does have some of the best atmosphere you can get out of a slasher. The scenes are dark and often backlit, filled with the wood’s cold fog that can make something as open as the outdoors feel claustrophobic and making Marz feel larger than life. Speaking of, Marz is a pretty interesting killer with a well developed back story. Some horror flicks take several sequels to build a character’s backstory and can’t even do as good of a job as this movie did in just a few minutes. I’m looking at you Saw! A sequel was actually planned, picking up shortly after the events of the first film, wherein Richie would be in a psychiatric ward and he and Max return to the camp ground to try and stop Marz, but sadly the movie was never made, most likely due to Madman’s obscurity or maybe studios didn’t want to take a chance on a lesser known flick, since Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. sequels were the ticket.

Madman
I like to find any reason I can to talk about this film, as I mentioned Madman is one of my favorite slashers. Sure it’s filled with a number of cliches, but it’s fun. Heck, I even did a video review of it, which you can check out here. So join me next time around the campfire to tell more chilling ghost stories… and bring S’mores!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • The legend of Madman Marz, as told by the most trusting man ever.
  • Riche, all star quarterback.
  • Dippie.
  • Girl talk.
  • Hanging around.
  • Car trouble.
  • She was shooting her mouth off!
  • Gaylen Ross is Drew Berrymore in Firestarter.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Decapitations, bone snappings, mutilations and throat rips that even Patrick Swayze would be proud of.

3

blood

BREASTS

Two sex scenes and no boobs… something is wrong here.

9

beast

BEASTS

Shove off Jason, make room for Marz!

6.6 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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May

Graduation Day
1981 – R – Troma
Starring Christopher George, Vanna White, Linnea Quigley – Directed by Herb Freed

School kids are going to be graduating and soon, the streets are going to be littered with over privileged kids who think they know it all because they maintained a C average in Psych, drinking and driving during the day, being loud and rude in public places and throwing their trash on the sidewalks. Ah yes, the bright, young future leaders of our businesses and country. In honor of this most joyous celebration (or second most dreaded time of the year, the first being Christmas), we’re gonna sit back with a Troma flick and watch these dunces get hacked and slashed in the appropriately titled Graduation Day. This of course was in the wake of the slasher boom since, hey, Friday the 13th was successful, so let’s just do that.

But does copying its neighbors test make it a passing grade?

It’s the end of the school year and track star Laura collapses and dies after crossing the finish line at the 100 meter race. A metaphor for racing to the finish line in life perhaps? Most likely not, it’s just something that happens in the movie. Coach George Michaels (played by genre favorite Christopher George) is blamed for causing her death from pushing her limits too far and also from being one letter away from having the same name as the guy who was in Wham. Plus, he’s kind of a tool, so that doesn’t help. Laura’s sister Anne comes home after hitching a ride from a sleazy truck driver, which I feel is a one sided representation of a truck driver. Until Big Trouble in Little China, truck drivers were always portrayed as fat, lazy and stupid sleaze balls. Anyway, as another member of the track team jogs through the shady woods near the school, someone with a stop watch and a pair of black leather gloves approaches from behind and slits her throat in under thirty seconds! That’s gotta be some kind of slasher movie record.

gd_2So where does Anne fit into all this? Well, she is here to honor her during graduation and accept her diploma and to thank Laura’s boyfriend, Kevin, for all his support. The two meet up later on (no, it’s not what you think, perv) at Kevin’s grandmother’s house, who spends her last few dragging minutes of life sitting in a rocking chair and staring into space while shouting for people to leave or get out. So, basically every old person ever. Anyway, Anne wanted to meet up with Kevin to give him Laura’s track medal, which I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to pawn it for cigarette money.

Since this is a slasher in the early 80’s, we enter autopilot where no characters are really developed and only serve the purpose to add to the body count one at a time, as we watch the same set of gloved hands time his kills in under 30 seconds. Quick thought, Dead in 30 Seconds would make a great sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds, so someone get on that. What on Earth is he timing all these deaths for? Is there some sort of forum where he posts his time and competes? Actually, it does tie in with how Laura died and if you made that connection (as I’m sure most of you did during the first kill), you can already make a safe assumption about who the murderer is.

However, this doesn’t stop the film from trying to throw you off. For example, the principal of the school opens his desk to remove a switchblade to peel an apple (cause you know, just eating it regular would be weird…). We also see a stop watch in his desk, so if you didn’t have a brain, something along the lines of, “Duhhh, whaaa? Is he the killer?” may have popped into your skull, but anyone with the intelligence of more than a tangerine knows better.

gd_3*Editor’s note: I mean no offense to tangerines. I like tangerines. They are delicious.

So if you’ve been keep track of everything I told you, pretty much the remainder of the film is like a tame stag reel of random character deaths, which ordinarily isn’t exactly a bad thing. But believe it or not, this is where the movie really starts to feel like it’s dragging. Of all the scenes in a horror film, you should be excited to see characters get offed, but this is where Graduation Day really fails; none of these characters are truly developed. I’m not saying they have to have really emotional and in depth back stories, but ANY kind of character development would have helped to make their murders feel entertaining instead of random shots of people dying, which is truly surprising given that this movie has a fairly decent cast, which ultimately makes it feel like such a waste! Christopher George, Vanna freakin’ White and Linnea Quigley! Even when poor Linnea gets decapitated (surprisingly almost no blood for a decapitation, by the way) the only thing you know about her is that she is a promiscuous stoner. Which I’m sure may sound great to some of you after just reading that, but once you see the execution (both in character development and demise of), you’ll see what I mean.

By now you may have just realized that Anne hasn’t been in the film in quite some time and isn’t she the heroine of the story? Well just when you think that, Anne pays a visit to Coach Michaels and accuses him of murdering her sister to which he denies (I guess he gots to faith… ahem). We already knew this, but the film really wants to drill it into your head that he’s the killer, but since you’re smarter than that, you know it’s hogwash. So more scenes of randoms dying, mostly through virtually bloodless impalements, and the principal yelling at poor Vanna White for the flood of incoming calls about the school kids missing, which understandably brings in the local police. Not shockingly, the film really doesn’t do anything with this either. A detective shows up, states that they are all probably just out partying or running away with their ladies for the weekend. Really driving home the tired cliche of the uninterested local police force that doesn’t really do any police work. Normally this would be frustrating, but thankfully do to the film’s lack of character development, it’s easy not to care.

gd_4A few students find one of the victims stuffed inside a locker, which Coach Michaels (after having been fired) sees since he is nearby. Boy, they really want you to believe he is the killer. Gee, I guess he is and not who it obviously is… speaking of, Kevin is now locked in fistacuffs with Coach, blaming him for all the murders, but… yeah do I need to keep repeating myself? We know who the killer is, but regardless, the movie wants to drag out this false sense suspense for several more minutes as a chase ensues, resulting in Coach Michael’s being gunned down by the cops, leaving Anne to enter the movie once again just as you are thinking, “where the hell is she?”

So the murderer is dead and everyone can move on, right? Well in such a shocking twist, Anne pays a visit once again to Kevin to see how he is holding up, discovering Laura’s corpse in his room, which could only mean… he is the killer!? Duh, whaaaa?!?! Yeah you saw it coming since he stepped foot into frame. So once again, we partake in another chase scene, leaving you feeling like some exhausted dog; Go fetch the ball, bring it back… but to save us some time, Anne gets the upperhand after a struggle, kicking Kevin onto a giant board of huge nails. You know, even if someone wasn’t killing all the students, I’m sure they would have died anyway, since this school has walls of nails sticking out. And parents think their kids will get hurt playing touch football.

At the end of the day and as much as I hate saying things like this, Graduation Day is nothing more than a Friday the 13th clone and a boring one at that. It feels like something of a cash-in, riding on the coattails of more successful slasher flicks during the boom, than it feels like it actually tried to be something. All of the characters are very one dimensional, the film doesn’t exactly try to play it like the straight man horror film (like Halloween) or even take a chance to let the audience know it’s self aware and spoof the genre. This makes Graduation Day void of (almost) any humor or genuine tense or scary moments. You would think that something following a pretty simple formula would have been successful and make an moderately enjoyable film, but it seems to fall flat in those examples. It’s not that the film itself is confused in which direction it should take the tone or appears to be confused on what it wants to be. It will leave you, for lack of a better word, bored.

Graduation Day
Given the material presented in the movie and being an 80’s slasher, it’s not fun… not even cheesy fun, like something such as Blood Hook or Unhinged. Between the darkness of the film and the headache inducing score makes this one ugly film. It’s hard to believe Troma would later stamp their name on it, seeing as it lacks any elements they are known for. Still, it’s not entirely dreadful, nor is it the worst example of a slasher film. It’s just there, it exists and nothing it presented can save it or make it enjoyable. Not even when Linnea Quigley bears her top. And it takes some sort of bizarro talent to make that not worth the time invested in this film. You’re better of skipping school to avoid this.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • If the glove fits, you must murder.
  • Murder in 30 Seconds!
  • Track and Field… of Death!
  • Corpse kissing.
  • Relaxing bed of nails.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Surprisingly interesting kills with almost no blood.

7

blood

BREASTS

It’s always a pleasure to see Linnea’s pair, but unfortunately it’s in this movie.

1

beast

BEASTS

Blind grandma is far scarier than Kevin.

4 OVERALL
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trailers

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May

Scream Park
2012 – Not Rated – Wild Eye Releasing
Starring Wend Wygant, Steve Rudzinski, Doug Bradley – Directed by Cary Hill

Step right up, folks! It’s the last chance you’ll have to experience these amazing, freaks of nature! That’s right, see the mystifying Scream Park movie that’s shot on video with a shoe string budget that somehow got Doug Bradley. Seriously, how the hell do you cast Doug Bradley, the guy who plays Pinhead? I also read that Tom Savini was going to have a role! Must be a Pittsburgh pride thing. On a personal note, I don’t feel like there are enough amusement park themed horror films (Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse immediately comes to mind) and I’m not sure why. Amusement parks are pretty frightening on their own, presenting filmmakers with plenty of material to work with. Unfortunately most of the time, they really aren’t that good… *cough* Final Destination 3 *cough*.

sp_2After the opening title sequence, a direct homage to Friday the 13th, we learn it’s the final few days of The Frightland Amusement Park, as the crew of misfit teenagers are closing up for the evening. That’s the harsh reality of a business; it’s all about profits. But what if something horrible were to happen? Something that people would want to go there to experience? It would be the only place they could go to to experience something so wicked! Hmm, I wonder…

Unbeknownst to the crew of Frightland, they will soon find out with the arrival of a mysterious decrepit brown van. The crew consists of all the slasher film regulars; You have the jock douchebag Tony and his voluptuous girlfriend Carlee, the chain smoking goth girl Allison, the doofy young prankster Rhodie (who will steal the show for all the wrong reasons), characterless blonde girl Missi and of course the chastity practicing heroine, Jennifer. In charge of this rag tag bunch of horror stereotypes is Marty, who’s not only a callous dweeb, but also kind of a skeevy pervert. Carlee and Missi play against his perversions with the power of breasts to convince him to have a party for them at the park. Let’s be honest, one glance at Carlee’s cleavage and you would be powerless to all thought, reduced to the most primordial grunts and drooling.

sp_3As the park’s security guard who also doubles as the film’s token black guy, no nonsense Henry, is making his rounds, the kids are sneaking in booze provided by Missi’s punk rocker boyfriend and two mysterious masked prowlers are observing them and circling them from a distance like the patient predators they are. One is a silent, but deadly (sorry, not a fart joke) behemoth in a scarecrow mask and the other is a chuckling maniac in an old plague doctor’s mask. The party rages on… actually, it doesn’t so much as rage as it does casually peak at uninterested levels. You know those parties where only two of the several people are drinking and the others wonder off to do their own thing? Yeah, that’s this party.

Luckily our killers know how to start a party! Or stop, rather. Wisely disposing of the only person who could pose a threat by hanging him by the neck and stabbing him in the chest, our killers can now hunt their prey without worry. Never striding away from the engraved slasher formula, the teens are disposed of one by one, whether it be having their face melted off in a deep fryer, tied up and gutted (kinda reminds me of the first kill in Scream), throat slashed and scalped. As the number of survivors dwindles down, the mystery of the killers is resolved or should say lack of mystery, but the why is resolved in the only scene with Doug Bradley, better known as Pinhead from the Hellraiser series. By this point, it sort of comes as a shock that he’s just now making an appearance in the film (about an hour into the film) and being that it’s his only scene, you wonder how in the hell he got top billing. How? I’ll tell you how! If you had a low budget independent movie and you managed to cast a well known name in horror, you’d slap their name right on the cover too. Once it’s down to the final girl, she squares off the with now masked killers, one of which is revealed to be… a redneck. Yeah, who else would run around killing people in an amusement park. As you can figure you, things wrap up nice and neat with a little predictable twist and wink.

sp_4I know everything I mentioned must sounds like it should be the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of crime scenes, but the gore is very tame. Favoring just a squirt of blood and a quick glance at intestines over a geyser of entrails and carnage, which I feel the film really could have benefited from, since there is nothing in the story separating Scream Park from the pack of other cut and paste slashers. Technically speaking, Scream Park isn’t exactly Six Flags (if I may make an amusement park analogy). A majority of the shots in the film seem like bad, lifeless photographs shot with an average consumer HD camcorder. The only lighting seems to be provided by what’s only available in the environment, i.e. street lights or overhead indoor lights, making for grainy shots with muddy colors and shadows obscuring facial features or other details. Seemingly two dimensional with no depth, it focuses the camera on everything in frame rather than the subject, which makes for visually dull (and at times it can really feel like an eye sore) movie. The only scene that seems to be an exception from this is Doug Bradley’s scene, which looks well framed with some depth and has adequate lighting. It’s noticeably drastic that it feels like an entirely different movie. Wonder if he had anything to do with it? Another technical flaw is the Birdemic quality audio, where sounds drop in and out between cuts and are often covered with hiss and fizz. From time to time, there also seems to be a lack of sound effects or they sound like they were recorded in a box, sounding muffled. Luckily, the film is still enjoyable.

But personally, I like shot on video movies. That aside, Scream Park is decently paced, managing to hold your interest. Not to mention it’s packed with cameos and a lot of behind the scenes contribution, like music from The Razorblade Dolls! My favorite part of the entire movie is the character Rhodie, because it’s such an alluring performance. He doesn’t chew scenery or call in his performance, but somewhere that’s not exactly in between. It’s hard to explain exactly where it lies, but basically every line is delivered like he just woke up. Rhodie reminds me of that “dude” in high school that was always blazed and mellow, yet somehow always late for Trig. It’s as if he were an understudy for Matthew McConaughey for Dazed and Confused. Kevin ‘Ogre’ Ogilvie also brings in a fun performance as one of the redneck killers, clearly having a good time in his role and bringing his best. He ranges from shouting vulgarity to cackling like a madman, that’s sure to put a smile on your face every time.

Scream Park
Even though Scream Park is very typical, run of the mill, follow the ingredients type of slasher film with every beat being predictable, it’s not a terrible film. It managed to keep me entertained and I’m glad I watched it. It has a low budget charm, never trying to be more than what it is, although at times it could have used the opportunities to be something more rather than blend in anonymously with every other modern day slasher. It has some unique things about it, making seemingly dry cliches appealing, like with the killers and their interesting masks…. and Carlee’s cleavage. Ok, so not that last one, but it’s still awesome. I would say buy your ticket and take the ride!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • The busty gals of the Frightland Amusement is a good enough attraction.
  • Good ol’ Rhodie.
  • Redneck Rampage.
  • Goth girls just want to have fun… and die cause their life is so agonizing.
  • Face first french fries!
  • Scalping like Injuns..
  • Doug Bradley.
  • Get your head out of the locker…
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

With quick glimpse of guts and a little splatter, the film could have used a little more.

7

blood

BREASTS

These gals flaunt what they got and Carlee unleashes her dynamic duo!

6

beast

BEASTS

These guys should tour with the Just Before Dawn killers and make a stop in Deliverance.

6 OVERALL
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trailers

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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
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Watch the trailer for “Camp Dread!

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