Archive for the 'Slasher films' Category

Dec

Comments Off on Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out)

Christmas Evil
“Better Watch Out… Better Not Cry… Or You May DIE!”

1980 – R – 100 Minutes – Vinegar Syndrome
Starring Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey Demunn, Dianne Hull – Directed by Lewis Jackson

The idea of Santa Claus is pretty creepy once you start to think about it. I mean, a man who wears the same suit every day of his life and shakes like a bowl full of jelly watches kids and everything they do every single day of the year, then if they are “good”, he breaks into their home to leave them gifts. And we actually let children believe this! That’s pretty horrific, but perhaps something more horrific than that would be a man driven so insane by the cheerfulness of jolly ol’ Saint Nick that he starts to believe his is Santa Claus!

Oh yeah, there’s a movie for that. Christmas Evil or as the title card would suggest, You Better Watch Out. Actually, that’s the title of the film. It was later changed before release to Christmas Evil to seem more appealing to the slasher crowds that were booming at the time. This debately only hurt the film over time, but luckily due to Synapse putting the DVD out a few years ago and now Vinegar Syndrome just recently releasing it on Blu-ray, it seems to be finding a bigger audience every year. It’s what John Waters calls “the greatest Christmas movie ever,” so let’s check it out.

On a totally unrelated note, star of the film, Brandon Maggart, is the father of Fiona Apple. Remember her?

ce_2Late Christmas Eve in 1947, young Harry sneaks from his room to see Santa, which is really his father dressed up, licking his mom’s leg like a lollipop. This sight is so traumatic that he smashes a snow globe open and gouges his hand with a shard of the broken glass. Cut to (non pun intended) present day 1980 and Harry is obsessed with Santa. You know those older guys that still collect toys (guilty) or are so obsessed with Spider-Man or something and they still wear the pajamas, watch the cartoons all day and hum the little jingles? That’s Harry. Thankfully, the guy doesn’t go around in public wearing his Santa jammies. He does, however, wear them inside his all year around Christmas decorated home. It’s kinda like the Cracker Barrel if they decorated for Christmas every single day of the year.

Harry also happened to land himself a supervisor position at the toy factory he works at, Jolly Dreams. It’s a non-union job, so nobody listens to him, treat him like crap and look down at him for taking the position, like he betrayed the other workers. But he’s still a good guy that he even takes crummy worker Frank’s shift for him that evening. Luckily, he has his hobbies to take his mind off things, like spying on the neighborhood kids from the rooftop with binoculars, jotting down who’s being a good or bad boy or girl in his naughty or nice books, of which he has several. Oh yeah, he’s been doing this for a long time. You may want to take a break from the film to scrub yourself clean right now.

Heading home from a long day at work, he spots Frank, the co-worker who shift he covered, getting nice and drunk and calling Harry a shmuck. Harry heads home in a hurry for some therapeutic squeezing a toy soldier until it breaks while humming a Christmas tune as he increasingly becomes more anxious doing so. Ah, doesn’t that feel better?

ce_3Thanksgiving passes, Harry blows off his brother Phil (played by Jeffrey DeMunn) and his wife and two kids, and his company’s Christmas party is in full swing. And brother, is it swinging! White people be getting drunk up in there! Through a televised announcement, Harry learns that Jolly Dreams will be donating toys to less fortunate kids, but only if profits increase. Harry asks his supervisors about how many toys are being donated and if all of the kids will receive something, but they don’t seem to care. But what of the little children and their toys? Harry decides to step in and take action! While the party is still in full effect, he marches right on down to the assembly and steals toys to give to the good boys and girls. Call the guy a shmuck all you want, but he has a good heart.

But if you are gonna play the part of Santa, you may as well become Santa. Harry finally melts down, making toys down in his basement, gluing a beard to his face and dressing in full Santa garb. He packs the toys in his van and does what would be considered the most charitable thing a man could do, if you didn’t know he was totally bonkers, and drops off toys to Willowy Springs State Hospital. It’s actually a very heartwarming moment to think those kids were just given a Christmas by a total stranger who cares about their well being, but then you start to dial that thought back once the night further unfolds.

Stopping by at a nearby church after mass where a few of his supervisors are attending, Harry waits outside for the place to empty with a glare Jack Torrence would shudder at. As the crowd exits, Harry starts to make a move toward his bosses, but is stopped by some yuppies, none of which are Patrick Bateman. They taunt and tease Harry, but he has more than toys in his sack! Jabbing one of their eyes out with a toy soldier, he then proceeds to hack them to death with a rather festive looking Hatchet and darts off into the night, taking cover in a Christmas party and giving the most chilling Santa speech to some children. Good thing Billy from Silent Night, Deadly Night was someplace else.

ce_4The night is still young and Santa’s work isn’t over. Harry stops by Frank’s house, first by trying to squeeze through the chimney, further validating his insanity and giving a claustrophobic like me anxiety. Realizing that won’t work, he breaks into Frank’s home like a normal person, through the door, dropping off some toys for his children under the tree… then paying a visit to Frank himself, who is tucked in bed, fast asleep next to his wife. Harry gives another dark speech, then tries to smother him to death with a pillow, but ultimately slashing Frank’s neck with a Christmas ornament, which is more fitting. Tis the season afterall.

Phil knows something is wrong when Harry (who is busting up toys at Jolly Dreams) is absent on Christmas day and comes to the realization that his brother is the psycho-Santa he heard about on the news. Later in the evening, Harry’s van breaks down on the wrong side of town… the kind where apparently they have frequent Frankenstein’s monster problems as he finds himself being chased by a torch carrying mob after his cover is blown. He manages to escape and seeks help from Phil, who greets him by strangling Harry over what he’s done and drags him back into his van. However, Harry isn’t dead and knocks his brother down with a punch and speeds off just as the lynch mob is catching up. Phil chases on foot only to witness what is debateably among fans either a miracle or a tragedy; Harry swerves to dodge the mob, only to have his van crash off a bridge as it soars into the sky as he recites the final lines ‘To All a Goodnight’. Did his van crash off the bridge, killing Harry or did he actually become Santa and soar into the sky? The sound certainly sounds like a crash, but the look on Phil’s face says otherwise… that is left up to the viewer, which ultimately makes for a better ending.

Christmas Evil is kinda like the Taxi Driver of Christmas. You watch as a man being bullied by coworkers, surrounded by greedy people who don’t care about the less fortunate, basically completely overwhelmed by the scum of the Earth as the needy are laughed at, loses his mind. He goes so far over the edge to actually believe he is Santa, much like Travis saw the same atrocities and believed himself to be some sort of equalizer or cleanser. Brandon Maggart’s performance as Harry is downright unnerving, as you watch a normal man who isn’t all there, be pushed over the edge to the point of no return. You feel sad for him, but your feelings are put to question once you begin to realize how sick he is and what he is doing is wrong. You want to help him, then he murders a few people and you aren’t sure how to feel. But that’s what the filmmaker was going for. This is more of a character piece than it is a slasher. And that’s a common misconception most people have with this film and as I stated earlier, it could be due to the way the movie was marketed, is that it’s viewed as a slasher, when it really isn’t. Sure it has slasher like elements and he slashes a few people, but the overall arch is about Harry’s fall into madness.

Christmas Evil
It’s a great film, swimming with two kinds of mood; the kind that gets you geared up and excited for the holidays and the other kind that sends shivers down your spine and cautious of anyone that is dressed like Santa Claus. The festive Christmas lights against the dark sky as Harry stands in the cold night, breath visibly exhaling from his body, in a dirty Santa suit is one of the scariest images I can think of. Although the pacing itself is slow and there isn’t much gore, there is still a chilling and shocking story to find here. Give yourself a gift this year and watch what is probably the best Christmas movie of all time. Eat it, A Christmas Story!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • A Travis Bickle Christmas.
  • Fiona Apple’s dad.
  • Crazy-Claus
  • Eye see toy soldiers.
  • Hatchet induced migraines.
  • Christmas star throat slashing.
  • Full size van sleigh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

The eye gouge and hatcheting are heavily cut, but there is still some there to be enjoyed. Someone’s on the MPAA’s naughty list.

2

blood

BREASTS

No bewbs this Christmas, but a little leg.

10

beast

BEASTS

You better be good or else Santa will come for you.

6 OVERALL
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trailers

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Aug

Comments Off on Slumber Party Massacre II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

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

7

blood

BLOOD

Blood splatters and sprays, limbs fly and zits pop!

7

blood

BREASTS

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

4

beast

BEASTS

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

6 OVERALL
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Jul

Comments Off on Curtains

Curtains
1983 – R – 90 Minutes – Synapse Films
Starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson – Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker)

Klondike brings up the most provocative question of all time by asking you, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” Or in Curtains‘ case, “What would you do for the perfect role?” Me personally, I would audition and send a gift basket with one really pricey gift in the middle of fine cheeses and jams, but some people are actually willing to kill for it! In the early days of all the shlocky Friday the 13th clones, this little diddy from Canada cuts to the top and shows that bacon and Rush aren’t the only good things to come from our neighbors to the North.

Samantha (Samantha Eggar, The Brood) rehearses on stage as the director of the film Audra, Stryker (John Vernon, Animal House), isn’t quite convinced of her performance. I, however, am not convinced that a man named Stryker should be directing, but instead should be a cop who doesn’t play by the rules or a man who spends most of his time selling homemade potato cannons to school kids. You see, the character of Audra is absolutely mad and if Samantha, a dedicated and methodical actress, is gonna pull it off convincingly it’s gonna take some serious… um, convincing.

It’s not long before they are sitting in front of a doctor with Stryker detailing Samantha’s violent history and threatening to end her film career altogether, so Samantha lunges at him with a prison shank, screaming in pure rage! She is quickly restrained and slapped in a straightjacket, but as the doctor and the orderlies leave the two of them in the room (wait, they are just gonna leave her in the room with him after she came at him with a knife?) Stryker and Samantha begin laughing, revealing this was all a ruse. Faking insanity for a starring role; that’s dedication.

cur_2Samantha is now institutionalized, living among the insane and observing them. Stryker visits occasionally for progress and for support, but that only goes so far, as the madness seems to be getting to Samantha. She’s constantly pointed at and laughed at. The girl she shares a room with every night wakes up screaming, until one day she is taken away in the middle of the night after a fit and Samantha wakes to find her lobotomized. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, as everything seemingly starts to be cracking Samantha. On his final visit, Stryker and Samantha don’t exchange any dialogue, but sit in silence until he slowly gets up and leaves. And he doesn’t just leave the room… he leaves her there for good.

Rather than do the right thing by telling the doctor it was a ploy and give the actress the role he promised her, Stryker decides to have himself a casting couch session at his remote home with six hot ladies who are all eager to play the role of Audra. This is cleverly told through the styling of stand-up comedy from Patti (Lynne Griffin, Black Christmas), one of the girls auditioning for the part. So we have our comedic relief, who else might we have? Filling out the roles of horror stereotypes, we have the snooty veteran actress Brooke, Laurian the rich girl, Tara the musician, Christie the young promising skater and Amanda. Amanda would have a description, but after having a nightmare about a melancholy looking doll in her room, she is stabbed in the stomach by someone in the shadows after spending the evening with her boyfriend, discussing all the kinky ways he can tap that. Meanwhile, at some other location, Samantha has escaped! All Bond villains, step aside and let Samantha show you how to film a sinister scene! Fireplace: check. Sipping on a fine alcoholic drink: check. Plotting your revenge and vowing to do whatever it takes to someone in the room whose identity is obscured: Oh yeah, big check. But there is no need to worry. The film has more surprises hidden away.

Now at Stryker’s home, the girls get acquainted and have themselves some girl talk. You know, who would do the dirtiest thing to Stryker. This is when he makes his grand entrance and circles the table, introducing each girl with a sentence that sums up their character, like they are all henchman to his Bond villain. It’s classic. I just imagine Stryker hiding behind the door eavesdropping and getting excited as the girls discuss what they would do for him sexually to get the roll. Then quietly he does a fist pump, then psyches himself to get back in the game, practices his lines about each one of the ladies and waits for the right cue to burst into the room. It all pays off. This dude is smooth. He then tells them that acting is only half of the audition, but they need to prove they are right for the role through dedication and sacrifice, setting the precursor to reality TV shows. Damn you, Stryker!

cur_3Guess who decides to show up for dinner? That’s right, Samantha! Later that night, Christie overhears Samantha and Stryker arguing about what happened in the looney bin, but before she can make sense of it, Stryker’s Spidey-Sense tingles and he rips the door open, surprising her. He quickly feeds Christie some BS about it being a scene from an old play and then coaxes her into sleeping with him (no doubt with a promise of the role and not to speak of what she overheard) and leaving her looking smug as she spends the rest of the night crying from guilt. Told you this guy was smooth.

Maybe what Christie needs is some therapeutic ice-skating to get her mind off the previous night’s dirty deed. As Christie skates her troubles away the next morning, she sees a familiar looking doll, partially hidden away in the snow. Suddenly in slo-motion, a figure decked head to toe in black careening toward her disguised with a hag mask and armed with a sharp sickle raised in the air. This sets up one of the most iconic slasher movie scenes of all time as the killer skates after Christie (yes, SKATES) in a cat and mouse game until she is finally done in. This is one of those scenes you really have to see to experience. It’s unintentionally memorable in almost a dream quality looking shot, complete with the image of a witch like looking figure. This scene easily could have been farcical, but everything I mentioned composed together makes it frightening wide awake nightmare.

Of course this is easily written off by Stryker as he tells the other girls that a note was left under his door and she left, but the show must go on! During the auditions, Stryker places the hag mask on Samantha and demands her to seduce him! After she fails at it, he humiliates her acting and moves along in his audition. Could Stryker be the murderer since he is in possession of the mask or is that too obvious? Soon after ridiculing Patti and taunting her into giving him a convincing audition, the hag mask goes missing… You get the feeling this guy isn’t so nice? In case you aren’t sure about Stryker’s motives, how about him using Brooke in a state of hysteria after she finds Christie’s head in the toilet (which vanishes after Stryker comes in the room and nothing is found)?

As the night closes in, the body count rises. Tara is next on the list, as she dances like what can only be described as a drunk robot trying to swim in molasses. Brooke and Stryker, embracing each other as she pleads for the role, are interrupted as someone bursts through the door with a revolver, firing a few shots! Laurian is chased endlessly through a nightmare maze of bizarre set pieces and props and Patti is approached and confronted by Samantha. The killer is revealed in not so much of a shocking twist, but more of a somewhat lackluster and questionable twist that you seem to go along with.

cur_4When all is said and done, two things about Curtains is glaringly obvious. The first being the some of the plot holes, while nothing major to deter you from the film, they will leave you with questions. The killer’s motive is ultimately weak, given that not much time is spent with them, but the biggest hole being the unknown person in the room with Samantha early on in the film after she escaped. We never find out who this person is, what their relation to Samantha is or what role they play in the movie. It was so mysterious and seemed to have set up a big reveal, but this character is never seen or heard from again. I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere out there that there is a deleted scene explaining this and unfortunately there are no deleted scenes to be found on Synapse’s newly released Blu-ray.

This doesn’t mean the movie is terrible, mind you. In fact, it’s quite good. As I said previously, these questions and holes in the plot are absolutely minor and this is actually quite a suspenseful little horror film. Although not entirely heavy on violence, there is enough to keep all blood thirsty cretins at bay with just enough sleaze added to fill in the void for those craving more gore. There is plenty of titillating scenes showing off the naked skin of our beautiful leading ladies, who all pull in solid performances, by the way. The movie is tense when it should be and during the downtime, dialogue scenes, there is plenty of treachery and filth to keep you interested, but not too much to turn you off. There is enough mystery to keep you curious and overall, it’s a damn fine experience. Curtains is comprised of quite a few memorable, vivid scenes to ever be seen in a slasher film. Who knew these things could be somewhat artistic?

Which finally brings us to the newly restored Blu-ray from Synapse. I see a lot of films restored from the original 35mm prints, but I have yet to see one that looks as defined as this. All the lines are crisp and sharp and very little grain and scratch is detected and when there is, it feels like a part of the scene. Synapse’s painstaking 2k restoration paid off beautifully and was well worth the wait. Of course, the film’s audio is presented in newly remastered 5.1 for the young blood’s or original mono for the OGs. Not pops, no hiss, it’s as clean as you get, but even if you are having trouble hearing, English subs are available. There is even an audio commentary track from actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin moderated by Edwin Samuelson that focuses on the their experiences on set. It makes for a good listen as they recall stories from filming. There are two other bonus features if you are looking for something a little more on the tech side, one being a six minute vintage video called Ciupka: A Film-Maker In Transition that gives you a look at director Richard Ciupka working and interacting with the cast and crew. The other is a new 35-minute documentary that chronicles the making of the film as the cast and crew recalls their experiences. Believe me, there is enough to keep you busy. You haven’t seen Curtains until you have seen this release from Synapse.

Curtains
So even though at times Curtains can be untenable, it does take itself very seriously and that’s for the better. Solid performances, amazing set pieces, a memorable killer and an overall enjoyable film all put together and presented handsomely by Synapse. I would put Curtains up there with poutine. It’s that simple of an idea and it’s that good.

Images courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Stand up comedy plot.
  • Dirty talk.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Ice-skating of death!
  • Stryker the playa.
  • Get your head out of the toilet!
  • Samantha be cray.
  • Who done it? Ehhh.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

A lot of stabbing and slashing, but nothing to lose your head about!

5

blood

BREASTS

The film is filled with fine, sexy ladies.

8

beast

BEASTS

Among a room full of people willing to backstab each other, someone is running around in a hag mask killing them!

6.3 OVERALL
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trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on The Addicted

The Addicted
2014 – Not Rated – 90 Minutes – Revolver
Starring Jenny Gayner, Sean J Vincent, Thea Knight – Directed by Sean J Vincent

Ghosts, abandoned spooky place, masked killer, revenge plot… mix that all together and you have a vile, wretched cocktail so bitter that it’s hard to swallow and you get The Addicted. It’s a low budget film from England, that will bore you to tears and drive you to the verge of madness, you’ll wish customs seized it. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but you weren’t there, man!

The setup is simple and in retrospect, pointless, as a group of four adults posing as youngsters, two guys and their girlfriends, sneak into an abandoned rehab clinic with an Ouija board to summon the spirits that haunt the place. Rather than set up any type of mood or draw out suspense as they don’t even ask the departed questions with their mystical Parker Bros. game, an unseen entity, or an entity that looks like two stagehands dressed in black, immediately drag one of the girls into the dark. She returns with a pipe in her stomach and falls to the ground dead, setting the others into ‘scatter and panic’ mode and are dispatched in a pretty mild fashion.

Pacing, tone and suspense are all set up within the first few minutes… nonexistent.

add_2Four “kids” go missing? That sounds like just the scoop for our reporter (I guess?) Nicole who is looking for that hot lead and that story might be the ticket. Especially since her father use to run the place. Wow, what a coincidence! You think that may have anything pivotal to do with the plot? It’s starting at this point where you are easily able to connect the dots and figure out what happens in the movie before anything happens.

Anyway if you’re still watching, a new security guard is brought in to watch over the clinic and mere moments into his first night, he is dragged off and killed, along with any possible tension or suspense. By now, you are probably realizing this is a movie that is clearly mistaking a pointless body count for actual horror.

But in an actual attempt to provide exposition, we flashback to 1987 when the clinic was open. David, a heroine junkie, is informed by his doctor that he hasn’t made any progress and will not be released… and then hands him some horse. Huh?! As David injects himself with the stuff, his doctor leans in and tells him in a sinister fashion that he is going to take his wife and money and makes sure that David rots there forever! Woah, evil ulterior motives? As the doctor makes moves on David’s wife, he spots David’s son looking down at him from the stairs, looking none too pleased.

Nicole, along with her boyfriend Adam, decide to go and investigate this place for unknown magazine or newspaper. But, you can’t have a movie with just two victims running around an abandoned place, that would require too much mood and tension. So they introduce another couple, Mike and Liz, whose personalities are so thin, they are transparent. After a pointless amateur music video that consist of stock footage of this group partying, they finally arrive at the clinic and the first thing they do? Sit around and talk about how they shouldn’t be there. Way to establish that your protagonist is a real go getter. They do manage to provide some plot, explaining why the place closed down, but the reason for it… is pure genius. Are you ready for it?

add_3Because a patient, David, committed suicide.

I’m not making a joke about suicide here, but if clinics closed because a patient killed himself, every clinic in the world would be shut down. What, do they expect to have a 100% success rate with their patients? Moving on, after Adam vanishes to go set up cameras and is apparently good at creeping up on people too, as evident upon his return. Finally realizing some plot needs to happen, they explore the place to shortly come to a door that Mike is volunteered to open. It pulls from his hand and they all scream and panic, while Mike is dragged off by two grips, I mean that ghost, which has the ability to set itself ablaze like the Human Torch composed of the world’s worst After Effects composite. Luckily Mike is rescued by Adam as smoke from… something (?) begins filling the room and the screen so intensely, that the effect actually goes over the aspect ratio bars.

Ok, if your editor can’t figure out which effect goes on what layer, it’s time to find someone else.

With the place locked down, they all vaguely recall a fire escape! Brilliant. Ok, so best course of action would be to stick together and go look… or Adam can venture off by himself once again. Gee, you think he is up to something? As the others wait for him to come back, Mike is in need of a fag (calm down, that’s what they call them in England) and goes off alone to find them and is dragged off into the dark again.

You know, it’s like Latent learning where you see if they change their behavior based on the result of what previously happened, but it never does. Lab rats are smarter than these people.

Mike awakens bound to a gurney to be greeted by a man in an orange jumpsuit and black skull/clown mask, who looks like the rejected member of Slipknot, shoots him in the leg with a nail gun for no reason, then injects him with heroine. I wonder where Adam could be… oh, there he is! He regroups with the others to search for Mike and almost immediately find him. Hopefully he isn’t dragged off again anytime soon. That would redundant and stupid… oh, sonuva…

add_4Remembering that they once had a point of finding a fire escape, Adam disappears, AGAIN, to go find it. Seriously, how hard is it to find a fire escape? It’s a fire escape! They are supposed to be easy to find in case of a, you know, fire! While Adam is looking for this obscure relic known as the fire escape, the girls are attacked by the ghost! Things sure are getting tense, as we see Mike waking up bound to a gurney once again (are we really doing this scene again?) and seeing as we seem to be stuck in an endless loop, you can guess what happens to Mike.

But it’s now that this masked psychopath reveals their true identity and it’s exactly who you’ve known it’s been the whole movie. The obvious continues to unfold, I mean drag out, as the killer’s plot is revealed and the connection with David’s ghost is explained and how Nicole fits into all of this as it boils down to her toughening up, by stripping down to a wife beater and tying her hair back like every heroine in most horror films ever and the movie ends on the most tired, predictable mirror jump scare in cinema history. But, you already guessed all of this. You’re smarter than this. Long ago, you probably shut this movie off and started doing something better with your time, like not watching The Addicted.

Within the first twenty minutes, the entire plot is set up, the reveal and all, so there is no wonder, there is no suspense… it’s all filler from here and it’s the worst kind. Boring, drawn out filler. It was at about this twenty minute mark I fell asleep, woke up toward the end just as the killer was about to reveal their identity and I guessed who it was with total confidence. That’s how cliched, tired and run of the mill this movie is. You can watch it in your sleep. This movie has the feel of ‘we have a dark, large empty space, let’s make a movie!’ And within this space they have to make a movie, they take one idea and repeat it continuously, you’ll think that the movie is broken as you think, “wait, didn’t I see this already?” Why yes, yes you have, but now it’s happening again… only the same. But that’s what happens when you don’t have things happen in your movie. The Addicted is like a one hit wonder CD a friend buys because of one song; He puts it in and puts that track on repeat over and over, until you finally snap.

This is a boring movie that relies on a huge coincidence too, doesn’t it? Part of your antagonist’s evil plan happens to be that you need to be somehow connected to the girl your revenge plot is against. Hey, didn’t Scream do that? Yeah, it was stupid then and it’s stupid now. Of course, maybe the film would have been a little more tolerable if they did some ADR or used better mics, as the movie sounds incredibly disembodied and muffled. Do you know how hard it is to hear an actor’s dialogue through a rubber mask in a hollow, echo-y room through an incredibly thick British accent? It’s not easy! Same can be said about the visuals. I understand this is a low budget film, but my god if you can’t pull off the bare minimum of decent looking effects, don’t have them. Not to mention that it’s a poorly lit movie, with lighting changing drastically between shots, that the scenes often look very muddy. On a fair note, some of the practicals are pulled off rather decent and if I have anything positive to say about the film, it’s that the actors do a bang up job. Everyone pulls of a convincing role and emotes well, but unfortunately it’s wasted in this film.

The Addicted
It’s a one note movie that feels like it drags on with very little thought put in, relying heavily on the same scare and idea to work repeatedly and then repeats the same ideas, the same scares, hell, even the same shots of those scares to a point where you feel like you are going insane or living in some sort of time loop. You have to wonder how a film like this got made. For a low budget indie film, this is one that isn’t worth your time. In fact, it should be locked away in solitary confinement forever and ever… and ever and ever.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Everytime someone is dragged off, take a shot.
  • Take a shot every time Adam vanishes.
  • Eye candy.
  • Nail gun massacre.
  • Oh and take a shot every time Mike is dragged off into the dark.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

The pole through the stomach is done nice, but the blood seems to be used sparingly.

1

blood

BREASTS

We are… for having seen this, but a point for Nicole’s awesome cleavage.

1

beast

BEASTS

These beasts are easily outwitted, but the victims own worst enemy is their very own stupidity.

2 OVERALL
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trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on Don’t Go in the Woods

Don't Go in the Woods
1981 – R – Code Red
Starring – Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden – Directed by James Bryan

There’s a title that also works as warning sign in life; Don’t Go in the Woods or Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone if you are one of the many people that confused the oddly placed tagline right next to the title (the actual title card in the movie reads Don’t Go in the Woods). I won’t go on a tangent or anything, but this little issue has been confusing horror fans for years, but director James Bryan cleared the issue up on the DVD’s special features and even IMDB credits the movie as Don’t Go in the Woods and if it’s on IMDB, then it’s 100% accurate…

Camp slashers in the early 80’s had a dark and somewhat serious tone to them, whether it be Friday the 13th or (as silly as it was) Madman, but then comes along Don’t Go in the Woods and says, “We’re here to have fun!” And there’s a fun little analogy: if this film were a character in an 80’s slasher, it would be the beer drinking, pot smoking, prank playing, one liner spewing character. However, don’t mistake this for a comedy or a spoof. The tone is definitely horror, but the delivery is pure lovable cheese.

dgitw_2Right out the door, this film doesn’t hold back. A young woman dashes through the woods, screaming her lungs out and tripping and falling into a shallow river to soak her white shirt as blood begins to pool. Another poor sap who is enjoying the most boring hobby of all time, bird watching, has his arm is hacked off (which only seems to slightly knock him off balance) and clobbered over the head. In the first few minutes, the film let’s you know it’s going to be sleazy and filthy with ridiculous levels of violence and less than average acting… which is exactly what we are tuning in for!

While the happy campers of… whatever the name of this place is, are being hacked into pieces, let’s meet our group of four adventurers, Ingrid, Joanne, the misfit Peter and led by the lecturing outdoor connoisseur Craig. When you get down to it, they ultimately have no other goal than to just be camping in the woods. That’s no stretch of the imagination and from what I understand, people actually do that. No reason to bog this plot down with pointless exposition like, they are looking for a secret treasure, or it’s a getaway from the daily grind or claiming inherited property. They are just there to camp, so deal with it. Peter doesn’t take camping too seriously, dangerously leaping from a log and stomping on the ground as Craig scolds him about how risky and stupid that was. He could have been injured or there could have been snakes!

As they frolic about, our killer stalks more random prey, this time a chubby photographer and his wife. He drags her off and does who knows what to it and the husband is thrown off the side of a cliff for the crime of wearing too much pink. He clearly won’t be missed, as a group of teens splashes about in the water literally feet from where his bloated, lifeless body now defecates itself.

dgitw_2So what are the police going to do about this? Surely all of these people disappearing is pretty suspicious. Nah, it’s probably bears assumes our heroic law enforcement, as they brush it off with around of some office putt-putt. These men sure know how to prioritize.

It’s been several minutes since someone has been savagely torn apart, so who better to volunteer themselves as victims than a couple of randy, um, middle aged people? Huh, usually in this scenario it’s teenagers, but here it looks like mom and dad don’t have the kids for weekend and need to drive miles away from civilization in an RV to do the no pants dance. Our killer, not having premium basic cable packages provided out in his area (probably due to coverage), decides to catch the live Skinemax show. Dad isn’t having any of that and grabs his pea shooter, shouting into the night in a random direction, which upsets the maniac. He dispatches dad pretty quickly and rolls mom in the RV down a hill, which explodes at bottom after settling there for a few moments, which all vehicles were known for doing in the 80’s.

Well perhaps the portly Sheriff should look into things, as he takes to the sky in a helicopter, although he doesn’t seem too concerned with looking for anything suspicious… meanwhile, a young mother gets stabbed to death while painting, posing for the cover art and her baby is stolen and a poor helpless man in a wheelchair is decapitated. Yeah, nothing odd going on around here, just people vanishing by the handful. No need to concern yourself or exert any energy that isn’t going in to eating ham.

You’re probably starting to see a pattern happening. But to break the mold (and to kick some plot into gear), Peter decides he’s a bad enough dude to rescue the President from Ninjas go camping on his own and wanders off from his group, which is the best thing you can do when you’re in the wilderness, with little food and water and no knowledge in survival and first aid. It goes about as well as you think. He’s cold, hungry, miserable… the classics. I was expecting a montage of the silly mishaps that could happen to him, like getting his hand stuck in a toaster, a bucket stuck on his head, butt caught in a mousetrap all while slapstick music plays. But no, morning finally comes and he witnesses a fisherman get murdered by the now revealed crazy, bearded, homeless looking bear guy with beads on his face. Typical.

dgitw_3Before looking for Peter, the rest of the gang decide to play ineffectual pranks, as Craig strings up Joanne in her sleeping bag, just as the crazed woodsman stumbles upon them and kills Craig. Ingrid (now that I’m thinking of it, who the hell is named Ingrid that wasn’t born in the 20’s?) bolts the scene, leaving Joanne to be strung up like a pinata. Peter, now armed with a sharp stick, bumps into Ingrid and the two dash frantically through the woods, running smack into Rope Face Guy’s crazy kill shack, littered with garbage and dead bodies. Upon surviving an attack from the killer, Ingrid and Peter escape (but not before accidentally killing a hiker by mistake… which is oddly never brought up or seems to have an effect on either of their mental health) and check in to the local hospital, where the police FINALLY decide to do something about it and round up a posse for a good ol’ fashioned manhunt! Believing Joanne to still be out there, Peter sets forth on his own manhunt, against the wishes of the law enforcement.

Peter races against the posse to find this backwoods killer and stop him once and for all. And also to make sure his friend is still alive. It all boils down to a duel, with Ingrid somehow running out of the middle of nowhere and finding Peter to help him stop the maniac once and for all. I guess GPS tracking devices were invented while they were in the hospital and the doctors implanted one inside Peter without him knowing… or it’s just a coincidence.

Although the gore may not be the most amazing practical effects and at times laughable (although given the tone of the film, it’s a safe assumption it was intentional), it was enough to land this film a spot on the notorious Video Nasties list. Even though it was later removed (in 2007) because the effects are so laughable, it’s still noteworthy. The film has a certain sleaze feel to it and I get that feeling like I’m watching something that I shouldn’t be every time I view this and it makes me giddy, which is what I think was the reaction the James Bryan was looking for. It’s not a film to be taken seriously, so loosen up and have a good time with it. It’s actually surprising to read that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. Being an over the top slasher flick from the 80’s, depicting horrific death scenes makes it a perfect target I suppose. Some of the deaths feel like possibly the intent was to cause controversy, such as the woman being killed in front of her child and the man in the wheelchair having his head cut off, but the fact that the acting is so hokey, if you want to call that acting and the crew most likely intended to do it so. The film even has its share of pointless scenes, like where a roller skater (in the woods…) bumps into the Sherrif and they both go about their day. Why was she rollerskating in the woods? Where was she headed? Was that supposed to be a jump scare? I can’t believe people were so up in arms about this, even back then. Silly people looking for things to be upset about. Sigh.

Don't Go in the Woods
Don’t Go in the Woods is a simple, silly slasher flick not to be taken seriously. Sure, the acting is so cheesy that it’s stinkier than Munster cheese, but the kills are so entertaining! Sure, none of the characters are really likeable in a realistic since, but they are so goofy that you don’t mind hanging out with them for the duration of the movie. You’ll have more fun watching this movie than you would actually going camping. Plus you don’t have worry about getting killed by some crazy woodsman.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Don’t go in the woods alone, but you do anyway.
  • Bird watching costs an arm…
  • Peter of the jungle… or woods, whatever.
  • Bear trap headache.
  • Painting the canvas red.
  • Mountain man Ewok.
  • Lazy law enforcement.
  • Sleeping bag pinata.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Mutilations galore in a spectacle of over the top blood, made from BBQ sauce!

0

blood

BREASTS

I don’t even think we get any cleavage and coming from a director of adult movies, that is shocking.

6

beast

BEASTS

The grizzle killer is pretty scary, but I take away points for his weird Ewok costume and beads on the face.

4.6 OVERALL
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About the Highway

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