Archive for the 'Slasher' Category

Dec

Comments Off on To All A Goodnight

 

1980 – R – 87 Minutes – Scorpion Releasing
Starring Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile – Directed by David Hess

You mean to tell me that there’s a Christmas slasher flick written by The Incredible Melting Man himself, Alex Rebar and directed by David Hess, the sadistic Krug from The Last House on the Left? Well, sign me up! This sounds like a jolly-good show! You would think so, right? David Hess was a talented actor, but as a director, there’s nothing that really sticks out about To All A Goodnight. It’s a bland looking movie, not even using the Christmas element or lighting to make it stick out on a visual level. I wouldn’t say that it’s poorly directed, but it’s not exactly a masterpiece in cinematography. The writing is about as stock as a slasher can get, like made-from-the-can kind of slasher. Just pop that open, dump all the contents into a bowl and microwave it for five minutes. Sure, it may smell like a slasher film, but it sure doesn’t taste the same.

It’s hard to tell whether or not the writer and director duo wanted to capture the same spirit as Friday the 13th or if they were just hired guns, although I think it may be the latter considering the two are actually quite talented people. The film does reek of producers stepping in and taking control. After all, producers always know what’s best and have never screwed up a film. Ahem.  Again, that’s speculation on my half, but either way the end product isn’t really all that impressive, but I do have to admit there is a certain kind of sleaze to it that makes it watchable.

The story starts off in the past during Christmas vacation at the Calvin Finishing School For Girls where a prank goes horribly wrong, as they usually do in a horror film, and a girl falls off a balcony to her death, kinda reminding me of Prom Night, which came out the same year. So, there’s your slasher’s motive. If it feels like you’ve seen this done a hundred times before, it’s probably because you have. Fast forward two years later and the five girls responsible, Nancy, Melody, Leia, Trisha and Sam, have whatever reason to stay at school for Christmas break once again, which is quite a convenient coincidence for our killer. There is another girl, Cynthia, but she’s dispatched of by the killer only moments after being on screen that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Each girl takes on a cliched trope, but all seem to share the personality of spoiled, selfish teenage girl, making all but the lead, Nancy, unlikable. But hey, if there is anything that modern slashers have taught me, it’s who needs likable characters in a slasher?

All girls just wanna have fun, but how can a group of girls do that if their bothersome house mother, Mrs. Jensen, is there to babysit them? Why, by drugging her of course. Something about this feels very wrong, as the girls slip some sleeping pills into her milk and off to bed she goes. Now the girls can invite their rich, alcoholic boyfriends in their private jet, drink and get laid, basically every girl’s Christmas dream. Hell, porn legend Henry Reems (under the name Dan Stryker, a name better suited for a terrible ’70s cop show) pilots the spoiled, young men to the party. Now that there is a whole slew of victims, it’s pretty much paint by numbers here. Eventually one or two wonder off to do their own thing, usually sex, and get killed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a slasher, heck, it’s encouraged, but the kills are so dull and virtually bloodless that it hardly qualifies as entertaining. The only thing that really sticks out in my mind at the moment (which keep in mind it’s only been a few moments since I’ve seen it) is a Mario Bava-esque inspired killing when one couple is going about the horizontal rumba, the guy on top is shot in the back with an arrow, pinning down his lady lover and she is promptly decapitated. Oh, did I mention that the killer is hiding in a suit of knight armor when this happens? What I’m more interested in is how he found the time and snuck into knight’s armor all quiet and patiently waited in there until a couple decided to have sex right in that room in that exact spot placed in front of them. It’s actually pretty clever… or poorly thought out screenwriting.

Why, there’s even a Crazy Ralph knock-off named… Ralph. What the hell, why not? The film has absolutely no shame in ripping off Friday the 13th‘s fan favorite prophet of doom. He’s not only an obvious red herring (even by 1980 standards, near the beginning of the slasher genre), but he’s literally a red herring, dressed in red onesie and carrying around gardening sheers, spouting out nonsense about evil and protecting the girls and blah, blah, blah. I don’t know at what point slasher flicks decided that it would be implied that this particular type of character would be a simpleton, but even for the lowest common denominator of slashers, this feels pretty weak. Like, a copy of a copy of a copy. The man is essentially a giant toddler in his red underoos and his seemingly childish behavior and babbling.

At this point, the film is going to be taking the have-sex-and-get-killed rule a little too serious since just about every character is having sex or attempting to have sex and immediately murdered for it. I can picture in my head an overweight, balding producer demanding more sex and nudity and trying to justify it by murdering the teenagers for it. Of course, the final girl, Nancy, no longer feels like part of an ensemble, but sticks out like a sore thumb. Like, putting an Amish girl in a crowded punk rock show. While the others are drinking and having intercourse, she’s walking around fully clothed in what looks like a 1920’s nightgown and drinking a glass of milk. You know, just in case you couldn’t tell she’s the innocent one. So, one by one, or two by two actually, their numbers dwindle until it’s Nancy and some geeky guy who only got a handjob, so I guess that doesn’t count as intercourse, so he gets to survive. Now, I wouldn’t want to steal the excitement of revealing who the killer is from you, but if you really want to know, just think about who’s left alive. Yeah, it’s pretty underwhelming. I will tell you that it very much echos Friday the 13th, wherein a mother is seeking revenge for the death of her child. It’s pretty predictable in that sense, plus you know, Friday the 13th did it, so every cheap slasher film had to also.

If you thought that To All A Goodnight was a quick, cheap cash in on the then new slasher boom, you’d be correct. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, even for 1980, that I’ve mentioned was basically the start of the slasher boom, this one feels like a really, really bad cash-in. It’s like it took a look at Friday the 13th and Halloween and basically just said, “yeah, do that, but we don’t want to spend a whole lot of money and it has to be done next week.” This was the only film David Hess directed and to his credit, it’s not the direction that’s terrible… it’s everything else. To be fair, Alex Rebar would go on to write Demented and that was a pretty decent film. However, there is a sleazy vibe present throughout the movie and perhaps that’s because of the low budget nature of it, but it could also be porn star Harry Reems presence in the film.

I do have to ask, where were all the protesters and whiners when this movie came out? Silent Night, Deadly Night was targeted, picketed and pulled from theaters, but you never saw one person complain about a killer Santa in To All a Goodnight after their children saw an ad for it. Well, there’s your answer right there; it’s all in the marketing. I couldn’t find any information about the film’s budget or even so much a TV promo or radio spot. Plus, this movie is pretty awful and nobody cares if you protest a bad movie.

 

As time has been proof of, To All A Goodnight isn’t regarded as a great holiday classic or even a good slasher flick. It’s there and it exists and I’d recommend checking it out at least once, but I get the feeling it’s not going to be something you’ll get a hankering to watch every so often. Not even at Christmas.

Check out the whole dang movie.

Jul

Comments Off on Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

grounding

Welcome to another review, folks! Now, it’s no secret I have a soft spot for remakes, but that doesn’t mean I won’t judge them accordingly. Plus, I feel for the filmmakers trying to walk the tightrope and balance doing too much to change the story, or not enough. Also, no matter how good a remake, or reboot, is, it will get a fair amount of negativity; such as the incredibly done Evil Dead remake. The movie we’re talking about today is a remake of the first horror movie I ever saw, as a kid. Let’s just say my babysitter, at the time, thought it’d make a great bedtime story. Let’s get to Nightmare On Elm Street.

The film opens up in a diner with a teen, who looks more like he’s in his late 20’s, sitting alone, chugging coffee. Someone should’ve told him caffeine only takes you so far, after that stop you’re gonna need a taser. The waitress bypasses him, holding his sweet nectar of consciousness, and he follows, giving us our first look at the new Freddy Kruger. Well, it’s more like a glimpse through really dirty glasses. The guy wakes up, nursing his newly cut hand, and talking to a friend, who’s purpose for being there was already forgotten. The coffee spills, and he knocks out, again, finding himself fighting the dream. We cut back to reality, he’s asleep, and in serious danger of getting a hickey from a steak knife. With confirmation that this is the thing Kruger needs we watch as the teen cuts his own neck, starting the movie off with a great bit of gore, and a good introduction to a favorite movie monster of many.

mathWe attend the dead teen’s funeral, and, per usual get into some long exposition about….wait…is that another dream sequence? By Krom, it is! The movie is not letting up on the Freddy, at all, they’re laying it on thick, and I’m loving it. The next day the blonde girl is in school, thinking about the mysterious man with the clawed hand, only to fall asleep, again! Has she not figured out this is where she’s vulnerable? This girls seems to be the type to stick the fork in the socket twice, just to make sure it worked. Freddy scares her, she screams, and WHAT a scream, she wakes up, and we move on. Her boyfriend comes over, and pays homage to Wes Craven, via Scream reference, and tries to help her, in a way that I never figured out. Him being there is pretty pointless, except, maybe, to set up a patsy, and witness the horror that comes for them in their sleep. Called it! Blonde is ripped to shreds, gives the room, and her boyfriend, a new coat of red paint, and he’s arrested wearing her like a shine job.

Now, this is where I’d start talking about the differences in the original versus the remake. So. I’m gonna. Let’s start with the tone of the movie. While the original was made to be a horror movie, it used humor to stymie the darkness. Meanwhile, the remake revels in it. Do I like one more than the other? Yes. I like the darker tone, namely because Kruger, himself, as of later years, and movies, has become more hardy-har-har than horror, and I like this return to form. The filmmakers understood they had to pay homage, while innovating, so we have wonderful shots of distorted reality, gory images, and even classic shots reappearing. Lastly, let’s talk Freddy. Robert Englund was iconic, immortalized in this role, and rightfully so. Jackie Earle Haley, however, is just as remarkable. Englund’s portrayal was over the top, even cartoonish at times, while still being scary. While Haley’s take is a lot darker, adding ticks, subtracting the smile, and it works just as well. Classic Freddy will always have a special place in my heart, but, I want to see more of the new Kruger.

starbucksBack in the movie, boyfriend boy runs to Nancy’s house. Can’t have a Nightmare movie without her! And tries to tell her what’s going on, only to be arrested shortly after. With each progressing dream sequence we start to learn a little more about the demon haunting the kids’ dreams. Boyfriend guy is in jail, now, trying to stay awake, and…wait for it…fails miserably! Freddy toys with him, displaying the filleted friends like gory trophies. After some teasing Kruger turns the guy into a screaming meat puppet, plunging claws first through the chest. I don’t think he’s going to be okay. And this is another point in favor of the remake: The gore is much more visceral, much more real feeling, I think it has to do with taking the darker tone, and leaving the fantastical behind. Nancy calls another friend, who’s being haunted by the same nightmares, and they try to come up with a plan. And this is something new to the Nightmare movies, as well: The science of sleep. It seems micro-naps will get you killed, even if you’re not aware you’re doing it, like answering your phone while pumping gas. Now that Nancy has entered the mix, things ought to go full steam ahead.

The classic bathtub scene rears it’s awesome head, and little Nancy is sent to Krugerville. He tries to jog her memory of him via face lick, but her alarm goes off and thwarts any further reminding. My question is this: Why would you take a relaxing bath when you’re being hunted by a murderer in your dreams?!? I’d be taking an ice cube shower and doing shots of espresso while blasting the most annoying synth pop I could get my hands on! Moving on. Nancy’s mom is acting suspicious, so Nancy goes on a hunt for information. Mom spills the beans that there was a man named Fred Kruger, who worked at the preschool that all the kids who’ve been murdered attended. This is the beginning of that turn into the seriously dark tone, by implying that the children were molested, but Kruger left town before there were any consequences. Nancy doesn’t buy it, but Scruffy McTeenGuy does. Now our heroes are divided, and we have two very interesting paths this movie is taking.

noseNext day at swim class, while in the pool, Scruffy McTeenGuy falls asleep in the pool. That’s right, in the middle of the pool! Good gravy almighty! You could take these kids out with some well placed velcro! In the dream Scruffy learns about what really happened to Kruger, a tale we know, but with a twist: It seems that Freddy might’ve been innocent. While he coughs up six gallons of pool water we join Nancy in watching a video series of another teen, posted online, confirming not only the preschool, but Freddy, himself. Scruffy shows up and they go confront his father, the principal, only to get further confirmation that they had no evidence for what Kruger was accused of, but they burnt him, anyways. Oh, hello, old classic shot of dead girl in body bag. It’s still so creepy, even after all these years. Scruffy goes to get more pills so Nancy and him can continue-JUMPING JUPITER JONES! Thanks for the jump scare, Freddy! She falls asleep, is chased into the pharmacy, and gets sliced. Luckily they’re in a pharmacy. But, she also discovers that Kruger can be brought to the real world by holding on to him when she wakes up. That’s a bull I don’t wanna try to ride, thank you!

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An epinephrine shot later Scruffy finds out that even with chemical help he can’t escape those pesky micro-naps. Two, count ’em, two jump scares later we head into the final scenes of the movie. No spoilers, here folks! So is this movie better than the original? No, it is completely different, telling the same story with a different narrative. Is this Freddy better than the original? Same answer. Should you give this movie a shot? Abso-friggin’-lutely! Without the nostalgia goggles on, and without trying to compare minutes of the past and the new, this movie stands well enough, on it’s own. And I, personally, hope they make more. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay Tuned!

 

roadside attractions

  • Worst Hell’s Kitchen ever.
  • Whatcha doin’ with that knife?
  • Freddy does not like dogs!
  • That’s not washing out!
  • Silent Hill much?
  • When the term “Air Bed” gets too literal.
  • That had to hurt.
  • Don’t drive while sleepy.
  • That had to hurt, too.
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

Copious, flowing, and awesome

1

blood  

BREASTS

They’re teenagers, and this ain’t the 80’s!

 

10

beast  

BEASTS

It’s Freddy!

8.00 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Nightmare On Elm Street

trailers
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Nov

Comments Off on Friday the 13th: Part III

To celebrate Friday the 13th by watching Friday the 13th, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite Friday, “Friday the 13th Part III.” It’s like watching “Die Hard” at Christmas at my house.
Part III, how do I love thee? Lemme count. Number one, there’s the sweet 80’s main theme that I like to call Disco Jason. Such a party track. Number two, Part III is in 3D, and many copies you can buy even come with old school 3D glasses. (And, mercifully, the option to watch in 2D.) But number three and most importantly, this is the first Friday where Jason is the Jason we know, love, and make action figures of, the man in the mask Alice Cooper belted about in part VI. I mean, everyone knows Mrs. Voorhees is the killer in part one, and in II, Jason’s rocking a flour sack and not truly at full Jason – although, in fairness, he is mourning his crazy mama. Part III is Jason moving on, out of the shack with mama’s severed head, out of the camp setting entirely, and while he’s still pretty human looking around the edges, we do get the hockey masked, immortal/undead/zombie/whatever the hell he is killing machine of legend and box art in this movie.

Part III opens with the end of part II, just in case you were afraid you’d be lost in the mythology. Ginny, the Final Girl of II, pretends to be Jason’s mama and then machetes him real good in the shoulder. When the coast is clear though, we see wounded Jason scoot away into the darkness. Then we rock out with Disco Jason and 3D movie credits invade our personal space.
But the movie really starts with a bickering couple, presumably middle-aged, although I think the wife is actually pretty young and they put her in a bathrobe and curlers to make her insta-45. Bickering couple are just chilling out at their combination crappy home/crappy rural grocery, when the wife listens to local news recount the aftermath of part II, so of course, Jason’s ears are burning. It’s OK; bickering couple were just the appetizer.
After we’ve established that Jason’s on the loose and his stabbing arm is all warmed up, we get to meet our crew of nubile young victims. And they’re in a van. They even have a pair of stoners in the van. I’m just glad they didn’t have a dog, because I cannot stand violence against animals.

OK, so roll call: we’ve got Chris, the Final Girl – we know this because she’s a pretty, but serious girl, kinda turned off of sex, and she both owns the van and has a boy’s name. We have Shelly, who attempts to make up for his lack of traditional good looks with gory practical jokes and pouting about how no one likes him; the stoner couple; Deb the pregnant girl and her innocuous boyfriend Andy; and finally, Vera, a cool Latina who was conned into being Shelly’s date. Pretty good selection for Jason to run through. Despite happening upon a crazy old man who warns them, um…pretty much just to be warned, he’s not very specific, the kids continue to Chris’s family farm, which is also convenient to Camp Blood.

When they arrive, Chris meets up with Rick, an old boyfriend, and she starts to get emo and ominous about not being back to the place for two years. I would like to take a moment and point out that despite not seeing each other for an undefined amount of time or being in a current relationship, Rick instantly begins pressuring Chris to get snuggly and never, ever stops. I realize inviting a guy to spend a weekend with you strongly implies receptivity to snuggling, but let her finish a sentence, you horndog. Rick’s painted as a good guy, driving a VW Beetle and everything, but really, he’s a jerk. Jason will make it better, I’m sure.

Back to the plot. I need to introduce a few more victims. Our other variety of jerk (bigus fatus jerkus), Shelly, goes with Vera to a local grocery for supplies. This grocery, however, is being menaced by a three-person biker gang. They don’t do much though besides threaten the kids a little bit, and you have to wonder exactly how much tough biker ganging there is to be done in a brightly-lit country store too small to even have aisles. Shelly manages to back over one of their bikes as they leave though, and in so doing unwittingly adds three more to Jason’s kill list, because you know the gang’s going to have to follow them and try to get revenge.

All the dominoes are now set up, and it’s fun to see how Jason knocks them down. 3D filming techniques will assist where possible. He’s less creative than he will be in the future, of course, but I believe he does innovate the fuse box kill here, and while there are some callbacks – Kevin Bacon’s death in the first “Friday the 13th” is a good one – they’re well repurposed.
It all comes down to Jason and Chris though, and we learn through torturous, onion peeling dialogue scenes that this is not her first rodeo with a deformed psycho killer. In fact…it was at this very place on the lake… Sigh. Chris, you’re an idiot, aren’t you?

I will give Chris credit for being a pretty effective Final Girl, using things in her environment as diverse and innocuous as hay bales and manual car windows to her advantage and executing traps with minimal whimpering. I wouldn’t be able to go close enough to Jason to loop a noose around his neck, uh-uh, no way. She may not be Kirsty Cotton or Laurie Strode, but she’s pretty tough stuff. Not as tough as Jason, but hey, who is? Jason’s basically jerky to start with.

roadside attractions

  • Brand-new crazy old man to warn the kids about Jason
  • Jason finds his signature look
  • Central casting stoners
  • Central casting bikers
  • Fried hippie
  • Not practicing speargun safety
  • Not practicing hammock safety
  • Red-hot poker action
  • The Boy Who Cried Psycho Killer
  • I am crushing your head
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

A little dated and heavy on the eyeballs for my taste, but Jason shows real enthusiasm for this kind of work.

2

blood

BREASTS


Fleeting exposure in a pretty self-conscious shower scene.

8

beast

BEASTS Jason will get hulkier, maggotier, and more inventive in later sequels, but there wouldn’t have been a Jason X without Disco Jason.

8 OVERALL There’s a purity to Part III I enjoy. The formula is solid by this point without being overdone, and it’s happy to just be what it is: a big dumb fun slasher movie for Reagan’s America.
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Watch the trailer to “Friday the 13th: Part III”

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Jun

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Revelations

Clive Barker was moved to tweet upon seeing ad copy that promoted “Hellraiser: Revelations” as being “from the mind of Clive Barker.”It reads in part: “If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.” Mic drop.

The previous several films all pretty much bedazzled some very not-Hellraiser horror movies with the hooks, chains, and nails of the Hellraiser franchise, shot a few scenes with the Cenobites, and called it Hellraiser, as I have harped endlessly, I know. But with “Revelations,” the Weinstein Company suddenly realized that their Hellraiser rights were going to expire, oh noes, and so they had to jiffy up a film tout de suite to retain the legal, if not moral, rights to milk the Hellraiser franchise to the last drop. So they started scrambling a film together with basically no time and no budget, a slapdash approach that cost them Doug Bradley’s involvement, and Doug had come along for all of the previous movies, all those previous godawful movies, including “Hellworld,” where they gave all the good lines to Lance Henriksen, so that’s kinda saying something.

The twist though is that this ashcan flick they slapped together – possibly because they didn’t have time to do much more than riff on the original – ended up being more faithful to the franchise than any sequel had been since “Bloodline.” More Hellraiser: First Draft than “Hellraiser: Revelations,” true, but while it may have not been from Clive Barker’s b-hole, it still kind of looked like his crap.

The film starts out as found footage, which is admittedly a smart choice when you have neither script nor money. We’re following two college-aged idiots, Nico and Steven, to “Tee-wana” as they enthusiastically repeat over many shots of tequila. Cut. And then we see, sort of, through Steven’s shakycam footage, Nico opening the box.
Cut to a furniture showroom, maybe a producer’s house. Very well decorated. I took some decorating notes for my next trip to Pier One. Nico and Steven’s families have gathered for dinner. The boys, we soon understand, are missing. Some of their stuff made it back to their parents, including the video camera, but only Steven’s mom has watched the footage, and she sneaks off and watches it a lot. Daughter Emma, who in addition to being Steven’s sister is Nico’s girlfriend, go go gadget economical script, justifiably calls her mom out on the weirdness and demands to know what they’re going to do about the boys’ disappearance. It all leads to a fairly uncomfortable first course with an outburst from Mom for afters.
Later, Emma sneaks off and watches the sacred footage herself. In it, she learns that Nico and Steven got up to some untranslated sexytimes with a Mexican prostitute, culminating in Nico having sex with, then murdering the lady in a bathroom stall. Well, that’s one revelation, I guess. Nico was a psychopath.

What fortuitous timing then that Steven shows up at the house that very night, looking haunted and wan – although he does have all of his skin, and that’s surprising in the Hellraiser universe. Naturally, the families are shocked, but less than they will be when Steven seduces his sister and takes the family hostage at gunpoint. There’s one more big revelation left, of course, and it plays out as Steven forces Emma to solve the puzzle box.

I mentioned in the Hellworld review how Miguel from Horrible Imaginings and I were watching all of these hours of Hellraiser sequels together for our Scarlet Gospels podcast, and at first, we were really amazed that it was authentic Hellraiser. Box, check. Chains, check. Pinhead – well, a head with nails in it anyway, check. Cenobites being invoked by witless, morally desolate hedonist? Checkity-check. But it wasn’t long before we realized that we were giving it too much credit, as though we had been drinking warm Coors Light all day and then someone gave us a cold PBR. (No offense to fans of PBR. I know you exist, and you are stalwart souls.) But the original Hellraiser was more like a Stella Artois.

…Or maybe I just need a drink.

One thing this sequel needed was a proper Pinhead. The proper Pinhead. And a budget. And a few more drafts. But the skeleton of it…You know, for all its faults, I still honestly think “Hellraiser: Deader” was worse.

roadside attractions

  • Mercifully little found footage
  • Chainings
  • Skinnings
  • Shotgunnings
  • A little Luke and Leia action
  • Idiots Gone Wild
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Chains, blood, skinless guys. This is more like it.

2

blood

BREASTS


Yeah, they snuck a couple breasts in there.

1

beast

BEASTS I am giving it one point for the non-Pinhead Cenobites.

3 OVERALL Not worth watching, but it might have been if they had committed to making it for real.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Revelations”

trailers

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Jun

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Hellworld

I binge-watched all of the Hellraiser sequels from “Inferno” on with horror maven/podcast partner Miguel Rodriguez from Horrible Imaginings in preparation for our big celebratory Scarlet Gospels podcast. By the time we got to “Hellworld,” we were bored with the shallow moralizing and inertia of “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” and our bar for the franchise had gotten too low to limbo under. The promise of Lance Henriksen in a cast is always a reason to fist pump though, and we dared hope. The director is still Rick Bota, just like on “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” but “Hellworld” got a much brighter, bloodier, boobier visual aesthetic, reflecting his work on films like the “House on Haunted Hill” remake. The whole thing just looks more fun, and it better, because this one is 95% party.
The movie starts out ominously enough; a bare-chested, blood-streaked guy digging, probably a grave, appropriately chilling choral music, and then some murmured exposition among your standard slasher movie set of thirty-something teenagers at a closed casket funeral. Actually, I don’t know that they’re supposed to be teenagers. You just assume that because they seem to be living at home and paired off for snuggling and play video games a lot, but maybe they all were English majors and work at the same restaurant.

The funeral is for their common friend Adam, and the picture by the casket is of the guy we saw digging before someone turned the Chant album on. We learn through the furtive whispers of his buddies that Adam killed himself, apparently because he got too into a game they all enjoy playing called Hellworld. Hellworld is clearly based off the Hellraiser franchise, so we’re in deep meta waters here, kids.

Anyway, his friends blame themselves, to varying degrees, that they didn’t see Adam’s self-slaughter coming. They also note how he has no family at his own funeral, which seems like it might be as much a contributing factor to suicide as anything powered by a 386 Pentium chip.

Speaking of Pentiums, as an authentic gamer and nerd from back when those things meant you were lonely and pathetic AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY, the days before cute Doctors Who, when anime was called Japanimation and you could only find one half of a shelf of it in your most specialty video store, and when all comic book movies sucked direct to video, I need to call this movie out. I can deal with gorgeous teens who don’t wear braces or break out; that’s common cultural currency. And yeah, the term geek in just the last ten years has gone from something that left deep psychological welts to an effective branding tool, but these people are Abercrombie models. I can smell the guys’ Cool Water through the Netflix stream. And it makes me wonder, since the people who make movies, especially horror movies, are usually a little nerdy, why the nerds of this film are so Bayside High? Was it some sort of ironic commentary? Is it possible none of the creatives on “Hellworld” knew what a gamer was?
None of it matters, of course. “Hellraiser: Hellworld” is just looking for a way to get cute actors into gory set pieces, and the gaming and Hellraiser aspects are as incidental to how this happens as actual intake procedures at a female prison are to a porn setup.

OK, so now that I’ve done my gatekeeping, let’s get to the movie. After the funeral, the kids or whatever they are all wind up playing Hellworld again, although you don’t see much gameplay beyond opening a virtual version of the box. And one by one they win invitations to a big Hellworld party. More of a frat party than a LAN party, as it turns out. There’s some hemming and hawing about going from Chelsea, and this makes her instantly recognizable as our Final Girl. She also wears leather pants and is blonde, so you can think of her as a Buffy proxy. Jake, the shoegazey one, is also reluctant, blaming himself and the others extra hard for Adam’s death, but he ends up coming, too. There is also a Fairuza Balk-y one, the as-yet unknown Henry Cavill one, and a token person of color one. Try not to get attached.

The Scoobies arrive at the party, and it’s fully House on Horny Hill, with raucous metal banging, full frontal boobs, a dance floor crowded with plain white masks doing the Monster Mash, and Lance Henriksen parting the nubile crowd with a cryptic smile.

Our host – and that’s all the name you get from him, the Host — Lance is playfully sinister as he tours the kids through the house. First he shows them tons of Hellraiser memorabilia and talks about the history of the house, originally a convent turned asylum built by Phillipe Lemerchand. The kids occasionally insist that Hellraiser is just fiction, but Lance soldiers on with the unwavering confidence of a Creationist or an ancient aliens theorist, a sly smile suggesting that he’s read further in the script than they have. He looks like he’s having fun, and I hope he was, because he’s the only decent actor in this thing and I don’t think we could tell if he were screaming on the inside. I found this part of the movie quite pleasant, but I always enjoy the setting up the dominos part of slasher movies.

At the end of the tour, Lance presents each of the Scoobies with plain white masks with numbers on the forehead and a Nokia. The numbers on the masks correspond to the number to dial on the cell phones, the better to anonymously hook up with you, my dear. He excuses himself with a twinkle in his eye. (Don’t go, Lance! Take me with you!)

With Lance sadly gone, time to watch these idiots get perished. Each of our Scoobies obligingly wanders off to get isolated and culled according to formula. It will surprise no one when Lance shows up for these murders, but Pinhead does, too, and this was the point when Miguel and I started throwing popcorn at the screen, because Pinhead would not waste a victim on simple executions the way we see here. Of course, since this is a post-Scream slasher flick, there’s a twist.

Twist or not, nothing makes much sense once body parts start flying, but it doesn’t matter. Just go with it and watch the meta crap and don’t hope for anything else. In the beginning, it seems like the movie might be doing something clever and consciously referencing the Hellraiser series in a way that is particularized and special, but it’s not. It’s just a big, dumb, sloppy slasher flick, and it should be better, but it could be worse. Oh, look, there’s Lance. Man, Lance is awesome. So cool.

roadside attractions

  • Lance [bleep] Henriksen
  • Saturated colors and saturated co-eds
  • Hellraiser Simulation
  • The call was coming from inside the house!
  • Premature burials
  • No actual gamers were harmed in the making of this film
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Respectable bloodletting, more on the order of Final Destination than Hellraiser, but acceptable.

7

blood

BREASTS


Actual dialogue: “Gratuitous tit shot.” “Necessary tit shot.”

2

beast

BEASTS Contract-stipulated Cenobites notwithstanding, more party animals than beasts

5 OVERALL It makes complete hash of all continuity and the ethos of the Cenobites, but you could do worse than a dumb meta slasher flick starring Lance Henriksen, and the Hellraiser series has, a lot.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Hellworld”

trailers

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