Archive for the 'Slasher' Category

Oct

Maniac
2012 – Not Rated – IFC Midnight

Remakes are a very fickle subject. Films that are often being remade, are those that are regarded as high ‘cult’ status and have a large and not to mention intense fan base. So, it goes without saying that when rumors were rumbling that William Lustig’s serial killer masterpiece Maniac was being fitted for a remake, it would be critically disapproved before it was even made. This disapproval seemed to settle into gentle curiosity when High Tension director Alexander Aja was attached and shortly after the casting of Elijah Wood in the role of Frank Zito, not only were we curious, but they had our attention as well. Sure enough, we were watching the production of this film under a microscope and growing more interested with every shred of news.

It’s also tricky reviewing a remake. It will, of course, be compared to the original, which in most cases, is far superior (if not only for nostalgic reasons). But you have to remember to look at it as its own entity and judge it based on its own merit. After all, do you really want to see the same thing rehashed exactly the same way (remember the Psycho remake)? Like I said, it’s very challenging to remake and modernize a horror film, so how does Franck Khalfoun’s rendition of the classic hold up?

It starts off similar enough, with Frank stalking his prey. Only this time a young woman decides to walk home from a night club all by herself, unaware that Frank is watching her (as we watch from his POV) from his truck. After one of the best opening music soundtracks in this generation, Frank meets her at her apartment, unbeknownst to her though. He cuts the power, darkening the corridor and walks behind her, breathing heavily until she is about to enter her apartment. Hesitant to turn around, he tells her, “Please don’t scream,” and before she can, he plunges a giant Bowie knife under her chin. Gently he caresses her face and removes the knife to scalp her and then in big, bold, confident and alarming red letters as big as the screen, the title MANIAC appears before fading to black. Right out of the gates, the movie doesn’t hold back any punches and doesn’t shy away from disturbing you.

maniac_2As Frank wakes up and goes about his daily routine, makes coffee, hallucinates that a girl is in his bed (you know, the usual stuff), you may be noticing that it hasn’t switched out of his POV and that is what not only separates this remake from the original, but from pretty much every other film out there. Keeping in theme with the original, Frank staples the scalp to a mannequin while talking with it. So just in case you weren’t sure he was a few cans short of a six pack, this should tip you off. Continuing, we get a look into how this movie is ‘modernized’ as Frank stalks and sets up potential kills via dating websites. It actually makes good sense and clearly illustrates every single person’s worst fear, but now it’s going to make it harder for me to score a date… especially when we watch this!

A quick online dating success later, he meets up with a cute little trollop named Lucy. It’s during this dinner that we get a look into Frank’s psyche, as the radial blur filters the screen, he sees everyone in the restaurant staring at him and blood trickles down Lucy’s face. It’s never explained exactly what this condition is, though he calls them migraines. They seem to quickly reside after he pops a few pills. Unfortunately, they effects don’t last long. Lucy invites him over for a drink and he insists that he needs to leave, but nervous guys that she can domineer are her thing. She dances around her apartment to ‘Goodbye Horses’, made popular in Silence of the Lambs and forever stapling it to all things creepy. Overcome with homicidal tendencies, he strangles her and scalps her, thus acquiring a new girlfriend (in his mind), after he staples the scalp on a mannequin, of course.

It’s interesting to note that this kill is somewhat different from the others in the film, in that he is hesitant to kill her and almost seemingly resists. He even throws up afterwards and weeps, possibly indicating that he was beginning to like Lucy and did not want to kill her. It adds a whole new dimension to the character and not just a showing the typical ‘kill the women mindlessly’ slasher trend. But now I’m getting off track.

maniac_3This is when we are introduced to the lovely Anna, who will become the love interest of sorts to Frank. She wakes him the next morning by taking photos of his mannequins outside his shop window. Feeling a desirable, artistic connection, he invites her inside to look at his work. When he isn’t doing the Apache scalp to women, Frank restores antique mannequins out of a shop he inherited from his mother, who recently died. The two bond and create a friendship, perhaps with an unspoken romance and you can really see it in their eyes. More specifically her eyes, as the actress, Nora Arnezeder, has to stare into the camera as if she is looking deeply and affectionately into Frank’s eyes and she does this convincingly well. You’ll fall in love with her as she looks past the camera and into your eyes, piercing your soul. But how long can Frank subdue his murderous impulses?

As the two spend more time together, it’s noticeable (to the audience) that Frank is falling for Anna. It’s actually quite charming to see him become smitten by her. Maybe it’s the way she looks at us, the audience, that we are falling in love with her! The very mention that she has a boyfriend gives him a “migraine” like before with Lucy. He goes out of his way to take non prescription pharmaceuticals to control these sinister urges, but unfortunately like all classic monster movies, the beast has to come out. He follows a girl home from a dance studio, chases her through a subway and into a parking lot where perhaps the most daunting and brutal murder of the film takes place, as hides under a car, slicing her Achilles tendon as she walks by and stabbing her repeatedly in the back until finally scalping her and posing by a car, so that his reflection resembles the original movie poster. It’s actually a clever nod, seeing as how we don’t get the infamous bathroom or shotgun scenes.

Having borrowed some of Frank’s mannequins for an art show, Anna invites him to said show where everyone seems to be judgmental of the two, but they are lost in each other’s creativity, as Frank and Anna speak, you really get a sense of the tragedy that they most likely will not end up together. At this point, it’s really debatable if this is a love story or not. You want nothing more than for her to save him from all his troubles. You want Frank to tell Anna that he loves her and maybe that’s the true horror of this film and not the murders; that Frank and Anna will never be together. And as if seeing Anna with her beau wasn’t enough to crush his spirits, he’s ridiculed by him for potentially being a closet homosexual (jocks at an art show… this IS fiction) and then by Anna’s manager. Frank follows her home and in a rather disturbing scene, Frank watches her bathe for a moment, just before dunking her head underwater. He then begins yelling at her as if he were yelling at his mother for the terrible things she did and then scalping her. It’s in this scene where you think maybe Frank doesn’t believe that he is killing anyone, but helping them to live on forever.

maniac_4After receiving the news that her manager is dead, Anna calls up Frank who is more than happy to console her. However, Frank lets a few things slip as you watch Anna’s facial expressions change from sad, to quizzical, to horrified as she realizes Frank is a killer. Realizing she is in terrible danger, she now fights off the psychotic Frank, who tells her he wants nothing more than to help her and take her away, all leading to a very dark, but unfortunately for Frank, fitting end.

In a word, Maniac is intense. Although it contains the same elements and ideas of the original, it feels like a completely different beast. But that’s how a remake should feel. For starters, the entire movie is shot from Frank’s POV, with a few exceptions where the camera will come out from his eyes and we see him committing horrendous acts of violence, which is incredibly effective as you see the murder through the killer’s eyes, then transition to be an audience to it. Frank himself is quite different, being an unassuming, charming young man rather than the chubby, greasy (no offense) counterpart and Elijah Wood plays this role eerily convincing. It’s seriously my favorite portrayal of a character in a long time. Elijah Wood ‘kills’ it! We also go into his childhood quite a bit and examine his mother issues, which there aren’t that many. So it feels like the film could do without these scenes and still work, but the way they are shown is pretty traumatizing. Especially when you see little Frank’s mother getting gang banged as he watches from the closet… and she knows he’s in there. Ah, brings back memories.

As I said before, the entire cinematography is from the point of view of Frank. We are looking through his eyes, which you would think could get nauseating or even be distracting, but the shots are smooth and don’t bob around so much like it would with a free hand found footage type of movie. This also makes viewing it ghastly, like you are a part of this macabre destruction and gore. Speaking of gore, Maniac may not contain the famous head explosion like the original, but it has more than enough repulsive violence and bloodshed to go around! A majority of the effects are practical (or a combination of composite shots) and seeing Frank use his buck knife or straight razor to remove his victims scalps, then slowly pull them off may require you to prepare barf bags before viewing. And to further shake your core, the score by Rob is a simple one, reminiscent of John Carpenter, with an easy synth beat and heavy stings, but always fitting the mood of the movie.

Maniac
While it does take the idea of the original and stays true to the classic, it does take its own path while it tells its own story. I guess you could call it an ‘updated version’ (and by that I don’t mean they use computers and cell phones… although they do). Maniac is most definitely a modern day horror film that will eventually become a classic on its own merit, rather than lurking in the shadow of William Lustig’s original 1980 shocker. In fact, this may very well spawn clones of POV serial killer movies, which will soon become annoying, just like all found footage and possession movies. Check out Maniac, alone or on a date… but not with anyone you met on a dating website.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Frank the Apache.
  • Mannequin makeover.
  • Goodbye horses… goodbye, Lucy!
  • Strangers on a subway.
  • Maniac Migraine.
  • If you have a mommy issue, reach for a tissue.
  • Grand Theft Anna.
  • Frank spills his guts.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Blood and guts galore with plenty of scalping.

8

blood

BREASTS

All kinds and all sizes for the kiddies!

10

beast

BEASTS

Although a bit more sympathetic, Elijah Wood ‘kills’ it as Frank. He pulls off totally unassuming and totally bonkers.

9 OVERALL
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Oct

Remember when a killer soundtrack could actually save a horrible movie from extinction? Something that you could rock out to even if the movie didn’t make a lick of sense. Movies like Flashdance, The Sound of Music or that evil orphan movie with little red headed asian girl, Annie. Yes, there’s a handful if not dozens of such films and Rocktober Blood is one of them. It’s pure metalsploitation where a soundtrack will melt your face off,┬ábut only long enough to distract you from just what a piece of horse pucky you’re actually watching.

Tray Loren plays Billy “Eye” Harper, a local rocker whose been laying down some “killer” tracks at the recording studio with his back up singer/girlfriend Lynn. Billy isn’t very happy with the record producers, so he starts killing them off while Lynn takes an incredibly long time to undress for the hot tub upstairs. After impaling one of them on coat hook, Billy in his Top Gun sunglasses, forces Lynn to sing at knife point until a security guard breaks up the karaoke. Billy is later arrested, tried, and executed for killing at least 25 people. They obviously didn’t know to rock.

rocktober blood2 years later, Lynn takes over the band and starts her own tour of heavy metal with a blood and guts stage show. She’s obviously working through some relationship issues. Unfortunately she’s starting to see Billy’s face pop-up around town and running into him at parties, which is always awkward. Nobody in her band believes her, especially her manager who suspiciously resembles a beaten Fabio and insists that her friends take her on vacation. They fly her up to a secluded cabin where they all can relax and aerobicise in the wild, but Billy shows up again just to taunt her with his annoying laugh and rummages through her underwear drawer. Lynn insists Billy is alive despite nobody else seeing him and heads back to dig up his grave to prove it. Unfortunately she finds his decayed corpse still wearing a rockin’ bandanna instead. Shyamalan plot twist – Billy is really dead!

Convinced she is going nuts, Lynn decides the best therapy is to get back to her concert tour, but just before the show she is drugged backstage by Billy’s evil twin John who killed everyone years ago and has been following Lynn ever since. “Sorry Billy about that whole conviction and execution thing. My bad.”

Tom handcuffs Lynn to his wrist and performs in front of a live studio audience as Billy. His band is un-phased by it all and continues to rock on. Fabio sneaks up with an electric guitar and mashes him on the head just as Tom finishes out his solo. But haven’t we’ve seen all this before on American Idol?

Rocktober Blood has very little to do with Oktober or Rock and contains very little blood. Playing Guitar Hero has better character development but at least it all ends on a high note. Barry Goodall gives it 2 guitar riffs out of 5 mostly for the gratuitous areobicizing.

roadside attractions

  • Gratuitous backup singing
  • Wall coat peg impalement
  • Neck slashin’
  • “lactose intolerant” Fabio
  • Breakdancing werewolf
  • Jacuzzi dunking
  • Death by steam cleaning
  • Heart ripping with optional decapitation
  • Death by rock!
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

A few good splatters and neck slicing though most of it happens on a rock stage with corn syrup.

8

blood

BREASTS

Does it count if it’s the same hot tub scene shown twice? Yes, yes it does.

1

beast

BEASTS

Billy who is strangely reminiscent of a screaming cub bear lost in the woods.

3.5 OVERALL
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Oct

Pieces
1983 – Unrated – Grindhouse Releasing

Grindhouse Releasing is responsible for distributing the most sadistic, trashiest, violent and perverted films known to man and that’s why we love them. There’s something about films filled with unnecessary gore and nudity that really captivate you. It’s like it fills an arcane void, satisfying your darkest needs so you won’t lash out at the public. Take the film Pieces, for example. It’s permeate with buckets of gore, murder, nudity and hokiness any everyday Samaritan who is about to detonate with rage could need.

It’s 1942 in Boston and although the Patriots pennant on the wall won’t exist until the 60’s, a young lad sits deliberating, solving where the next piece to his nudie puzzle should go. His mother enters and instantly starts slapping him like she’s Chris Brown and grabs a garbage bag (from the future apparently, since those weren’t invented until the 50’s) and tosses the puzzle in there. Like any rational young boy, he axes her to death, out of nowhere, severs the body with a saw, grinning away the whole time. This is just in time for the cleaning lady and the police to show up and find him, and his mother’s head, and call his aunt with a push button phone from the 70’s. Wow, you could call this a period piece… Period Pieces… ahem.

pieces_2Forty years later, a pair of black rubber gloved hands, presumably the young boy all grown up, starts to piece the puzzle back together. After a moment of that, the movie decides to show you a college girl on a skateboard crash into a giant mirror being carried across the sidewalk by two movers, which I thought they only did in cartoons. This scene is irrelevant to the movie, but it’s warming you up for what’s in store. Next, we see another young college girl studying on the grass, played by the same actress oddly enough (and no, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same girl) as someone covered head to toe in a long coat, scarf and fedora is doing some light gardening with a chainsaw. What other attire would be proper to garden in? Rather than cut down some branches, he decapitates her, spewing gallons of blood! Hope you aren’t squeamish, because it only gets better from here.

Have no fear, Lt. Bracken (played by the favorable Christopher George) is on the case, usually chewing on what looks like a Slim Jim. On campus, he meets with the dean, played by Edmund Perdom, who seems to be overly pointing the finger at the groundskeeper, Willard, a large oafish man, reminding you of Bluto from Popeye. He seems innocent enough, even if he is chuckling to himself while passionately cleaning a chainsaw. Overcompensating for something, Willard?

pieces_3This is when we are introduced to campus stud (the movie’s words, not mine), Kendall. He’s like if you crossed Steve Guttenberg with Richie Cunningham. The babes are on him so thick, he has to peel them off like wet bologna stuck to aluminum siding on a hot summer day. He’s about to secure himself a dip in the pool with some hot bitty, but someone dressed like The Shadow hacks her up. But as fate would have it, Kendall’s paths cross with Lt. Bracken, who recruits Kendall to be his “inside guy,” because it’s not like he has a whole station of cops who are paid to investigate and track down the murder suspect. Endangering the welfare of a college student for free is a better suited idea.

After much Slim Jim chewing, Lt. Bracken decides maybe he does actually need some type of law enforcement personal working undercover. He pairs Kendall up with Mary Riggs, played by his real life wife (say that five times fast), Lynda Day. Her resume boasts, Pro Tennis star/Cop, which I’m sure are two skills that are often used simultaneously.

On a side note, that would make an awesome show, Pro Tennis star turned Detective. It could be called Justice Served!

Anyway, it feels like several minutes since a woman has been brutally butchered, so while doing some solo aerobics one evening, random girl #3 gets the feeling she is being watched and dashes for the elevator. She hops on, along with a man shrouded completely in black clothes and hat, thinking nothing about that could be suspicious, until her arm is lopped off by his chainsaw. First a head, then a torso and now arms… what could the killer possibly be doing with body parts in a movie called Pieces?

The next night, or that same night, or it really doesn’t matter, Kendall, just having finished bumping uglies with some random skank, hangs one out for the ladies and spots Mary walking in the dark from his window. Mary can’t help but hear someone is creeping up on her. Just then, the assailant jumps out of the bushes and does Karate kicks at her! Terrified, she slowly backs up, just as the intruder doubles over with indigestion. This is when Kendall rolls up on his hog (wimpy dirt bike) and introduces Mary to his “Kung-Fu Professor.” He apologizes for his random lashing out of sporadic martial arts, blames it on some bad chop suey and goes about his night. Kendall gives Mary a ride home, hoping to get lucky. Nobody speaks of this scene again.

pieces_4By now, you may have caught yourself asking, “What the hell does that scene have to do with anything?” The answer is nothing. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but that’s a part of Pieces‘ charm. This scene was thrown in because apparently producer Dick Randall was working on a martial arts film with Bruce Lee imitator, Bruce Le and added that scene because… he couldn’t wait to show you his movie? There are a few other scenes that feel out of place, like the girl crashing through the mirror, but you already know you’re in for a wild ride.

To be fair that last scene did serve as a transition to another scene, as a reporter from earlier is knifed to death on a waterbed. I could have mentioned her earlier, but she goes by so fast, you barely notice. This is leading into the final piece of the puzzle, so to speak, as the chainsaw wielding maniac carves a young girl in half after a tennis match… which leads to one of the greatest reactions from Lynda Day, as she shrieks into the air and curses the villain with a clenched fist, like she’s auditioning for Super Friends. Interesting little tidbit, they actually used a pig carcass for the grisly scene! Well, that’s enough victims and this film’s been going on long enough.

Kendall works at digging through personal files with the police as Mary heads to the dean’s house. Everyone seems to be zeroing in on the killer, who has all the body parts he needs, but what for? Just wait until you see, as they reveal the killer to be… exactly who you think it is! Especially if you know your film history, this seems to be a bit of typecasting. Oh and I’m sure the ending will still surprise you.

Pieces
To reiterate what I said earlier, Pieces is the crowning example of what people generally think of when they think of Grindhouse or Drive-In Classic. The premise is basic, yet with its twists and filled with oddball characters making daffy choices, packing enough macabre imagery soaked in blood and exhibiting some fine 80’s T & A. You’ll chuckle at the dialogue and line delivery, as characters seem to be taking it perhaps a bit too seriously or not enough. And let’s not forget scenes that seem to come completely out of left field. It may leave you scratching your head at parts, but for the most part, you’ll be jumping back in your seat with disgust or laughter. In every definition of the word, it’s a riot. It’s exactly what an exploitation film is defined as. It’s worth every penny to see.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Extreme gardening!
  • Piecing the puzzle together.
  • Skinny dip massacre.
  • Give her a hand… or arm!
  • Half-off tennis players.
  • Campus Stumped.
  • Franken-woman.
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Color this campus red!

8

blood

BREASTS

Topless option college. And a little something for the ladies.

7

beast

BEASTS

As if The Shadow with a chainsaw isn’t bad enough, you have to look our for Kung-Fu Professors and Willard.

8.3 OVERALL
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Sep

Blood Hook

Nothing quite like relaxing at the lake in your boat with your friends. That’s right; you, you’re friends and your Johnson… Anyone remember that? Anyone? Well anyway, it was all fun and games, until your pal (most likely nicknamed ‘Smitty’) drank one too many Milwaukee’s Best and then got snagged by a giant lure, dragged off the boat and murdered. Sound familiar? Then welcome to the world of Blood Hook, where someone has bigger fish to catch… like human!

After a traumatic scene of a boy watching his grandfather grip at his face and sink into the lake while disregarding the laws of science and sinking rather than floating (there’s your backstory, ladies and gents), we cut to seventeen years later as that boy, Peter (who delivers every line through a stuffy nose), his girlfriend Ann and a group of his friends are going to a cabin on the lake for some partying. Can’t say I’ve ever heard that plot before. I’m sure they will be fine and live full, healthy lives. But in all seriousness, they are there to do just more than party. This cabin use to be Peter’s grandfather’s and good ol’ salty Mr. Duerst has been keeping an eye on the place with the help of Evelyn (I didn’t know Evelyn was a man’s name), a porky Vietnam vet with post traumatic stress disorder. Just the kind of people you want hanging around on your property drinking cheap, watery American beer all day. Oh and let’s not forget about Mr. Leudke, who’s Bratwurst accent is so thick you would want to drizzle syrup all over it. It’s ripe for some MST3K style riffing…

bh_2The gang is in town just in time for Muskie Madness, a fishing competition to see who can catch the largest Muskie! Fishing competition? What is this, Wisconsin? Oh, it is. Families arrive for the festivities, like the unnamed dysfunctional family whose mother is obsessed with loons (the scene where she walks along the dock making loon noises is priceless). Anyway, Peter’s really annoying friend and music lover, Rodney, has been all over town irritating the locals and listening to the same song over and over… and over… and over. Get use to hearing that song, because it’s basically the only song you will hear the entire film. Finally, the movie can’t tolerate him anymore and decides he needs to die, sparing you and I another line of 80’s slang from his oily face. On a boat alone, he gets snagged by a foot long lure and dragged into the water never to be seen again. They find the boat the next day and Peter thinks he’s been murdered, probably because he was. But the Sheriff won’t hear about it since, “There ain’t been no murder in seventeen years!” The Sheriff can’t go screaming bloody murder and upsetting the 30,000 people there (the US’s entire Packers fan population) for Muski Madness, although you only see about 27 people at most and… really? 30,000 people show up in Middle-of-nowhere, Wisconsin for a fishing festival that only has a stage no larger than the back of a truck? Never mind that, Peter thinks it was Evelyn, due to him wanting to ‘blow things away’, but the chubby little schizo is innocent. But no more of that nonsense, the Sheriff has forms to fill out.

At the competition, we are introduced to Bev. She’s a single mom, obsessed with running and sit-ups and would fit in quite nicely with any ‘bro’ at Bally’s Total Fitness. I won’t go into her parenting skills, but let’s just say I wouldn’t trust her to watch paint dry. She crushes on Peter’s manic depressive friend Finner and she comments on his nice pole (fishing pole, you perv!). Inbetween all of the fishing, bad parenting and everything involving the Packers, you may have noticed that people are getting snagged by this killer lure when that song is playing. At first you may be thinking it was the only song they could afford, but they do manage to tie it in. It would seem our killer has a metal plate in his head, resonating all kinds of frequencies in his brain and making him go all Norman Bates. But let’s be real, after hearing that song a dozen times, even I wanted to kill someone. Peter discovers the identity of the killer after all of friends are already dead, but still may be able to save his girlfriend, so I guess you win some and you lose some. With the help of Evelyn (still can’t get over that) and Mr. Duerst, they set out to stop the madman and catch the largest Muskie Wisconsin could ever dream of. Now that’s a big Muskie.

bh_2It’s a unique little slasher film, substituting a fishing lure for a butcher knife. You get the feel that this film was written and directed by Wisconsin natives and are well aware off all of their oddball stereotypes and decided to have fun with it, without making it an obvious spoof. It does take itself semi-serious, especially in the final act. What it lacks in guts (literally, not a whole lot of gore), it makes up in heart and director Jim Mallon shows it… Wait a second. Fishing, Wisconsin, Jim Mallon… this is all beginning to add up. That’s right! Mystery Science Theater 3000 director Jim Mallon directed this film. And to add some more shock on top of that, Kevin Murphy, voice of Tom Servo, was a key grip. My mind… is… imploding right now. When watching Blood Hook, you can’t but help think how perfect of an MST3K episode this would have made. Now it all makes sense. So catch Muskie fever and watch this and if you feel up to it, tape a couple silhouettes in the bottom right corner of your TV.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Muskie Madness is bigger than Woodstock.
  • Good luck getting that song out of your head.
  • Master ‘baiter’!
  • Unlucky lure.
  • The sparrow song of the Loon Lady.
  • ‘Ears’ looking at you, kid!
  • Characters have slightly more dignity than those in Hobgoblins.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Tame amounts of blood, severed ear and corpses all strung together. Consider this ‘Troma-Light’.

3

blood

BREASTS

Ann shows off fan favorite ’side-boob’.

7

beast

BEASTS

I’d rather deal with the killer than Evelyn any day.

5 OVERALL
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Aug

posted by The Goon | August 17, 2013 | 80's movies, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, Sci-Fi, Slasher, Slasher films

the fog

It’s midnight and for you that may mean you’re half in the bag, working up the courage to talk to that girl you think has been checking you out all night at the bar or maybe you’re sitting on your couch in stained under-roos demolishing a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos flipping through Netflix, but not settling on anything to watch. For the folks in Antonio Bay, it means something ghostly. Something deadly.

As the small coastal Californian city gets ready to celebrate their centennial, odd and almost poltergeist like things begin to happen. Car alarms blare, payphones ring for no reason, dogs go crazy with barking (so basically, normal California now)… all with the sudden appearance of a fog. This ominous presence also very slightly upsets the mortar at the church, knocking lose a stone and uncovering a 100 year old diary of a teen girl. No, it’s from early settlers, but in their defense, it was cool for everyone to have diaries back then. Father Malone reads the journal, discovering that his grandfather along with five others purposely sank the ship the Elizabeth Dane and its crew of lepers, who only wished to develop a colony… but who would want to live near a bunch of icky lepers?

the fogThat evening, Nick (Tom Atkins who is MUSTACHLESS!) picks up a hitchhiking Jamie Lee Curtis, who must still be on the run from Michael Myers. On their way to nowhere, I guess, all of the car windows explode. Meanwhile, three fisherman drink beer on their boat as that fog rolls in. Ghastly, shadowed figures slaughter them and then vanish. The next morning, DJ Stevie Wayne (played by Adrienne Barbeau) is given a broken piece of drift wood from her son that only reads “Dane.” Later at the radio station (which she rocks in a lighthouse) her tapes play backwards, the wood bursts into flames and the words “6 MUST DIE” appear on the drift wood. Stevie just continues on about her day, which I assume is all you really can do.

Father Malone unveils the secret of the town’s founders to the mayor before the big ceremony: That they celebration would really be honoring murderers. Not to rain on his parade or anything, but didn’t English people murder a bunch of Native Americans to get the land we live on today? That’s beside the point.

The celebration goes on as planned as the fog rolls in, cutting power and phone lines. Bet you didn’t know fogs were were like the SWAT team of weather, did you? The specters in the fog claim a few more victims, including the weatherman Dan (Charles Cyphers) and Stevie’s son’s babysitter, who is some random old lady. Stevie gets on the radio and pleads for help for someone to help her son. Nick snaps into action and scoops the boy up before he becomes the sixth victim. You know, if all they want is six, that kid shouldn’t have been so selfish and let them kill him and the ghosts would have stopped terrorizing random, hard working people and causing a lot of money in property damage. Just saying.

the fogStevie then gives the worst advice, telling everyone to go to the church because it’s the safest place. She gives this information with absolutely no proof (guess her radio station is owned by FOX News. Zing). Father Malone is the only one to brave up and offer himself as a sacrifice, taking with him a gold cross. As he is being attacked by Blake, one of the ghosts that was murdered by his grandfather, it begins to glow because… it’s neat? No idea, but Nick manages to scoop up Father Malone and save him. The fog and the ghosts disappear, since they most likely have better things to do. The movie concludes with Father Malone pondering why he wasn’t killed, just as the fog rolls back in and the ghosts reappear.

In all honesty, The Fog isn’t John Carpenter’s best work, but it’s certainly not his worst. This film was after the success of Halloween, but right before the gory, special effects heavy The Thing, so it seems like good middle ground. It certainly showed how well director John Carpenter was developing as a filmmaker and storyteller. With roles from actors in previous John Carpenter’s, it’s interesting to see them all play different characters instead of being typecast. Also, the characters are all named after his friends, so it’s good if you like trivia. You could look at this as an experimental piece. What it lacks in violence and blood, like the previous mentioned films, it makes up in moody atmosphere, chilling darkness and a spooky story.

So tune in listeners, check out The Fog (now in a stunning restoration on Blu-ray from Scream! Factory) and keep them windows locked and doors bolted.

roadside attractions

  • Ghost Pirates!
  • Carpenter Cast Roll Call.
  • Somehow this movie feels like it should have Tom Waits singing sea shanties.
  • When Father Malone first opens the diary, pause it and see what it says on the page…
  • Take a shot every time Annie is a total B.
  • Janet Leigh, still foxy.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Not too much blood, but plenty of hooking and some eye gouging.

4

blood

BREASTS

Jamie Lee, covered by bed sheets. Bummer.

7

beast

BEASTS

Better hope you’re the seventh person in line of the ghosts of the Elizabeth Dane slaughter.

5.7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the official trailer!”

trailers

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About the Highway

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