Category Archives: Pure Eighties Cheese
Those that make you laugh as much (or more) than scream…
Savage Lust 1989
aka Deadly Manor
Directed by: José Ramón Larraz
Starring: Liz Hitchler, Claudia Franjul, Jerry Kernion
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
This total obscurity came from the hands of Jose Ramón Larraz, a Spanish filmmaker most famous for his exploitation work during the seventies. Amongst his back-catalogue is Vampyres, a gothic rarity that to this day remains a cult classic. He also made a very good stalk and slash mystery called, Edge of the Axe in 1987. Unlike Axe, which was mostly an European production, Lust saw him accept directorial duties on US soil during the cycle’s dying days.
Opinions that I’ve seen and heard on this are split, with some generally positive tributes being mixed with harsh negativity. Larraz’s previous achievements have allowed him to build something of a hero status amongst underground film fans and I wasn’t sure whether that had contributed to the praise that I had seen posted about on the web. Keeping that in mind, I decided to push my Spanish patriotic loyalties to one side and focus on the film as I would any other…
Six youngsters head out on a camping trip deep into the wilderness where one of them knows of a beautiful lake. On the drive through the long winding roads, the group lose their way and pick up a mysterious hitchhiker that says he knows how to get to the area that they’re seeking. As the warm summer day gives way to a stormy night sky, the gang decides that they better find some shelter for the night. As they search the woodland for a place to settle, they come across an eerie derelict mansion shrouded by the darkness of the surrounding trees. Curiosities arise when they discover a car-wreck statue in the front garden that looks like some kind of bizarre shrine. On closer exploration of the premises they discover coffins in the basement and an array of photos of a beautiful woman. Although they feel uneasy, the weather has become unbearable outside and they realise that the only option is to stay for the night. Before long a masked psycho begins to brutally murder the kids one by one. But what is the reason for these ruthless unprovoked murders?
I remember when Andrij Shevchenko signed for Chelsea FC for a massive fee and fans of rival teams like myself were quaking in our boots at the thought of the former European Footballer of the year being added to their ranks. Upon his arrival though, it soon became apparent that his days of glory were long behind him and it was almost painful to watch a former legend struggling to adapt to the quick pace of UK football. I mention this because I had trouble believing that Savage Lust was the work of a filmmaker that had previously been touted as one of the most creative in exploitation cinema. For the first twenty minutes we cut from one flat and boring long-range shot to the next and the camera literally doesn’t move at all. It got so bad that you could hear characters speaking before they walked past the lens and then they would just simply stroll out of shot before the obligatory cut. I mean, they didn’t even zoom in on anyone! By 1989, when this began production, even shot on video flicks were using a dolly track or steadicam; but here it felt like Larraz just couldn’t be bothered to do anything other than point the camera at the actors. He even seemed to perform that menial task from as far away as humanly possible and with the flair of a road sweeper with a hangover.
If there’s a total lack of energy in the photography, then hiring a cast that are so wooden that they could camouflage in a timber yard certainly wasn’t going to help. One girl yelps, “I saw a woman’s face in a white mask at the window” like she’s asking for more milk in her coffee. Did they even bother giving these guys auditions? They stroll around the dilapidated house spouting lines so ignorant that you want to flinch away from the screen in disgust and at one point, I caught myself reading the small print on a crisp packet, because I was so intensely bored by the antics going on in front of me. In the time that it took to order, wait for delivery and then demolish a large pizza with two cans of Tyskie, no one got killed and whilst I appreciate that a good amount of mystery was built around the contents of the spooky hacienda, it was done at the pace of a queue at a funeral.
The killer eventually gets to work and begins slashing his way through the youngsters, but any suspense is ruined by the fact that on the copy that I had, I could barely see anything. If you’ve ever been in a pitch black room and tried to locate a darkly coloured object, you will have probably had more success than trying to see what’s going on during the kill scenes here. Lighting rigs are expensive and it’s understandable that pictures like this that are made on tiny budgets may struggle to afford perfect illumination. The likes of Sledgehammer and City in Panic have managed to overcome this with a touch of creative thinking though, so I wonder why they couldn’t have done so here..?
I’m disappointed by Savage Lust because it had the chance to be a lot more. The killer’s motive is superb and there’s a really dark, gothic and mysterious tone running rampant throughout the picture. Chuck on top of that a couple of voluptuous chicas, some slick art-direction, a creepy killer guise and this should easily be a four-star picture. The lack of motivation from the filmmakers is too evident though and you’re left asking yourself why they even bothered. A job worth doing and all that, right?
There’s not too much left to say, except that I wondered if this had been jinxed by a troubled production? It felt like there were two screenwriters that had never met, because how else can you explain that in one moment we get awesome dialogue about houses being haunted by evil energy and then in the next we are given lines that would embarrass a ten year old? I’d be interested in hearing if anyone has any information on this. Oh and I just realised that I haven’t even mentioned the score, which seemed to have been put together freestyle on a Casio keyboard in thirty seconds flat.
Savage Lust does at least include a deep-rooted moral to its story. If ever you’re out in the woods and you discover an ‘abandoned’ house that has coffins in the basement, strange occult signatures garnishing the walls and human’s scalps lying around freely on the mantelpiece, then it’s a good idea NOT to just ignore these signs and think that they’re ‘inspired’ décor. Instead you should realise someone with a severe mental impediment must be nearby and it’s a good idea to get in your car and head for somewhere else… on the double!
I am afraid that I just can’t see where all that positivity on the WWW stems from. I gave up about forty-minutes in to this and slept uninterrupted for nine-hours. When I woke up fully refreshed in the morning, I put it on again and had to fight against nodding off for a second time. I recommend that you stick with Edge of the Axe…
Final Girl √
To All A Goodnight 1980
Directed by: David Hess
Starring: Jennifer Runyon, Forest Swanson, Linda Gentile
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
So 11 more sleeps to the big day! I am already stocking up on Vodka. My Mrs always nags at me for even having one beer (so I get shouted at all weekend), but she promised that I can have a drink during the festive period… Of course, she doesn’t realise that it’s like given a cat the key to the dairy and saying you can have one lick of milk As she is Polish, I am Spanish and we live in UK, we get to celebrate Wigila (the 24th), the big X (25th) and el Día de Reyes on the 6th of Jan. That’s an awful lot of alcohol haha – Anyway, I have set up some slasher action for the period and this entry is intriguing and collectible for two significant reasons. Número uno: It was the first slasher movie to include a Santa-suited psycho, before Silent Night-Deadly Night, Psycho Santa and Christmas Season Massacre et al took it beyond cool and into the realms of ‘please go invent something new’. Número dos: it was the directorial debut of David Hess – a man who was to the horror genre what Johan Cryuff was to football.
You’d most likely be surprised by Hess’ hugely impressive contributions to show business and the things that he achieved prior to his acting exploits. His professional career began as a singer-songwriter for the small label Shalimar Music in 1957. He penned ‘All Shook Up’ for The King shortly after and the song became a massive hit. In fact, it was just recently voted as one of the top 20 all time rockabilly classics.
Throughout the months that followed, Hess would see Conway Twitty, Andy Williams, Sal Mineo and Pat Boone take his tracks to the top end of the charts, before he settled for a career behind the scenes as head A&R man for Mercury Records. In 1972 his fortunes continued to improve when he was offered the lead role in Wes Craven’s cult classic ‘The Last House on the Left’. He gave such a nasty and memorable performance that would allow him to continue to play tormented characters in movies such as Autostop, Rosso Sangue and Ruggero Deodato’s Bodycount.
By the time 1980 came around, he was ready to broaden his horizons in the film industry and so he took to the director’s chair for this cheap and cheesy festive shocker.
The opening scene is conveyed so rapidly that it felt like my finger had brushed the FF button and it had remained playing on >>32. It is Christmas vacation at the Calvin Finishing School for girls and the co-eds are celebrating by chasing one female around the dormitory. She heads out onto the balcony, trips over a bizarrely placed plant pot and takes a tumble to the concrete floor below. We can only presume that the girl died, although we’re never given an explanation to the scene. We don’t even know who any of these characters are?
Two years later, Xmas; and a large amount of the youngsters are going home. A few eager chicks decide to hang around and prepare for their own on-site celebrations. The gang of fun-loving ladies includes a curvaceous man-eater called Melody (Linda Gentile), who spends her time being swapped among the guys like a football card. There’s a suspiciously accented English girl named Trisha (Angela Bath), and a traditional inadvertent comic relief character, Leia (Judith Bridges). Finally we meet the Jamie Lee Curtis-lite goody-two-shoes sure-to-be heroine by the name of Nancy (Jennifer Runyon). Their house is run by Ruth Jensen (Katherine Herrington) and Trina Ronsoni (Judy Hess), who judging by that surname must be related to the director – maybe his wife? She also shows a brilliant knack for comic timing, by quipping at one point, “I’ll stop off on my way back. That is if the grim reaper doesn’t come calling”. Like, really???
Anyway, Christmas alone for the girls wouldn’t be much fun, so they literally fly in a gang of randy would-be bed-sharers including a stereotypical geek, Alex (Forest Swanson). It doesn’t take long for the masked Santa-suited slasher to turn up and begin cutting his way through the revellers. He then buries their bodies in the backyard with the professionalism and speed of a gang of landscape gardeners. So who will survive this Christmas Massacre?
To all a Good Night isn’t as bad as its hideous reputation would lead you to believe. In fact it’s actually fairly watchable in a so bad it’s good kind of way. What makes it perhaps rise above its amateurism in the filmmaking department is the hilarity of some of the dialogue, which seems to have been written on a notepad at a Russian vodka buffet. For example, Trisha bumps in to the maniac in a secluded spot of the garden and goofs in her comical sub-Brit accent, “Oh Tom, take that bloody mask off and take me to bed!” She gets what she rightly deserves. It’s also worth noting that on planet eye test, all the guys here are captivated by the extremely dumb and slightly scary Leia. They then defy logic by completely ignoring the smart and decent Nancy. Leia, the aforementioned flat chested redhead, also provides most of the nudity, while the shapely Melody remains fully clothed throughout? Not being content with constantly ripping off her clothes, Leia also goes nuts towards the conclusion of the movie and spends the final third of the runtime singing and ballet dancing round the corpses of her chums. The killer, obviously realising that she’s a slice of cheese, bap and a burger short of a cheeseburger, doesn’t even give her the dignity of putting her out of her misery!
Mark Shostrum’s gore effects may well be the most spectacular ever filmed. We’ll never know if that’s true however, because the picture is just too dark. Day for night filters are used without any other form of lighting, and at times the lack of clear vision ruins the movie. The only good killing that I remember featured the maniac dressed in a suit of armour and it was thankfully filmed inside the house, so the lighting was at least passable.
Despite losing about six of their colleagues in the first thirty minutes, the remaining victims fail to acknowledge that there is a maniac stalking the campus. Instead they continue to mouth inept comments when each morning’s roll-call shows another disappearance, such as, “They must have gone to bed.” Even when the heavily-mutilated body of Ralph the albino gardener is discovered, they still refuse to accept that a maniac might be trying to cut down the guest list for their Xmas party. The utter stupidity of the youngsters destroys any sympathy for their eminent demise.
On the plus side, there is a humongous body count and as I said, it’s fairly amusing in an inadvertent kind of way. Whilst an abundance of time makes many slashers seem dated, in many ways, To All a Goodnight is helped by its age. The campy charm makes this one-star movie worthy of the two that I’ve given it below. It’s another fine example of intolerable rubbish-ness being salvaged by 80s ‘did they really’ nostalgia.
Unfortunately, Hess passed away two-years ago, but before he did, he said that filmmaking was something that he’d like to try again, although he admitted that he had neither the time nor the cash flow to apply such focus. It is a shame that he never got round to it, because modern slashers lack the goofy charm of this one.
Final Girl √
Directed by: David A. Prior
Starring: Ted Prior, Sandy Brooke, John Eastman
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
During the eighties, the entertainment industry was rocked by the explosion of Sledgehammer’s unexpected success. Combining styles from the sixties, seventies and its own period to create something unique and fresh, it is still to this day remembered as a trend innovator and receives global recognition. Oh, yeah, and I guess that I should also mention that aside from Peter Gabriel’s classic 1986 hit, there was also a DTV slasher flick released three years earlier under the same name that was barely noticed and sunk without trace. That would be the one that I’m reviewing for you today.
People often forget that filmmaker David Prior didn’t only bless the genre one time with that notorious slasher/fitness-vid crossbreed. His first film was also a Halloween knock-off, which is somewhat less renowned. I enjoyed Killer Workout wholeheartedly and felt that it had been a fantastic advertisement for all that was ‘memorable’ about the eighties. Prior should have been eligible for an award of some kind for putting spandex, silicone, sweatbands, cheese-ball pop and a hooded killer all on one VHS cassette. I uncovered his debut a couple of years later and was generally excited to watch it. The only way that a movie can make up for being totally rubbish is by being totally rubbish in a funny way and I was hopeful that this flick had the strengths in that area that its older brother boasted so brazenly
It starts with a mind numbingly long shot of the outside of a country house. We are awoken by the camera panning inside and we see a mother struggling to silence a young child who doesn’t look too interested by the fact he’s in a movie. The alarm bells in my head were already screaming ‘abusive parent alert’ by that point; and the woman proved that I was right by locking the boy in a closet for the evening. She then returns downstairs to her boyfriend and tells him, “Don’t worry about the kid, I took care of that little b*stard, he won’t be bothering us again tonight.” This means that the couple can start getting jiggy, which leaves them blissfully unaware that the little b*stard has escaped and is creeping up behind them with a sledgehammer, looking all menacing and stuff. Before you can say ‘by the book’, the unsuspecting lover gets cracked on the back of the head with the aforementioned tool – great gore scene by the way. After the mother is also measured up for a body bag, the screen fades to black…
Fast-forward fifteen years and a van pulls up outside of that same now-abandoned abode. Out pops a gang of outrageously mulleted muscle bound jocks and their scrawny girlfriends, who have presumably turned up only to party-party-PARTY! So they begin doing all the things you attribute with a good fiesta, including throwing food at each-other, jumping around like headless chickens and then having deep discussions about relationships. What a party! If that wasn’t enough, they decide that the beer is flowing so of course it is time for a… séance. Eventually, this proves to be a silly ides as the customary killer turns up and a battle for survival begins….
In all honesty, I can think of no finer example of something that when stripped down to its bare components doesn’t look ideal, but taken as a whole is surprisingly efficient. You see, Sledgehammer doesn’t boast many of the core ingredients that you would consider to make up a good movie, but I kind of enjoyed watching it all the same. It all takes place in a large empty house that is exactly that: a large empty house. There’s no set design at all and the backgrounds are pale with a bed here or a cupboard there just so that we don’t mistake the location for a padded cell. They didn’t even bother to decorate the walls with the usual fake cobwebs, candles and clichés, which was likely because the art director quit pre-shoot as he was offered some work in a bar or something. I mean the house was supposed to be derelict for fifteen-years, but looks like it was vacuumed and feather-dusted just that morning. Did Prior and co book a viewing of an abode that was up for sale and secretly get a key cut so that they could film their picture there on the sly? That could well be the case. You have to love zero budgets!
Anyway the action commences after the usual sloppy dialogue and padding and we eventually get to see some slasher shenanigans. There’s a blessing in disguise, because the dull and misty photography on the print gives the movie a surreal, almost dream-like vibe, which was surely unintentional but worked quite well. To be fair the tone switches effortlessly from inadvertently cheesy to actually pretty creepy and the psychopath’s large and hulking frame compliments the narrow lens to make some claustrophobic scenes. At first glance, a transparent plastic clown mask and lumberjack shirt seem suspiciously cheapskate, but the more that we see of the assailant, the more threatening he becomes. Prior demonstrates some neat flourishes to maintain the tone of apprehension, including a great slowmo door-opening sequence that is unpredictable and genuinely effective. He showed a much stronger flair for horror direction here than he did three-years later when he made Killer Workout. It’s also worth noting that he drew some surprisingly credible performances from a couple of the inexperienced actors. Sandy Brooke, who I I remember mentioning in my review of Terror on Alcatraz, offers another good charecterisation and Ted Prior and Linda McGill overcome their weak parts by being believable when it matters most. It’s a shame that Brooke didn’t do more genre movies, as I feel that she always made the most out of the material and it would have been nice to see her play the ‘final girl’ just once. Chuck on top of all that a couple of decent gore scenes from Robin Beauchesne and we have slasher movie that’s miles better than anyone would have imagined it to be.
Perhaps the only attempt at any originality was allowing the killer to appear and disappear as if he were being beamed up by Scottie every time that he needed a rapid escape from a set piece. This could have worked really well if utilised in the right places, but Prior’s decision making left a lot to be desired and he ended up overdoing it to the point of, ‘enough already!‘. As per my example in the paragraph above, slow-motion at the right time can really make the most of a tense moment, but using it in almost every kill scene is just too much. Also look out for the ‘cardboard’ sex scene, which reminded me of those puppets that used to be seen in the likes of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and more recently Team America: World Police. I mean I’m guessing that was two humans playing the lovers, but I can imagine more enthusiasm from a pair of mannequins. It begs the question, why include it in the first place?
Sledgehammer is as clichéd as an Elvis look-alike contest and makes no attempt to conceal what it wants to be. Nowadays you can find a million films that have exactly the same setup as this, but the fact that it was one of the first gives it a retro feel and sometimes that’s all you need. Whilst It is certainly not good enough to be up there with the classics of the golden years, it could sit quite comfortably with Graduation Day, Embalmed, Scalps and the rest of that second tier.
Killer Guise: √√√√
Final Girl: √
Directed by: Christopher Reynolds
Starring: Loretta Leigh, Tobe Sexton, Jerry Brewer
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Halloween was such a great movie. Seriously, it was just amazing. Stylishly shot, perfectly acted for the material and scary as hell. I used to enjoy judging the amount that later slasher films ‘borrowed’ from that masterpiece, but the ones I liked most were those that took the least. Curtains, The Prowler, Friday the 13th Part II and My Bloody Valentine were all influenced by Carpenter’s baby, but because they went about it the right way, no one really paid attention. There are a few however that took the pilfering just a little bit too far.
You see it’s ok to pay homage to a brilliant film. Scorsese has done it, Almodovar too and hell even Carpenter got his lead from Señor Hitchcock. But when does highlighting your inspirations begin to look like blatant theft? I watched Offerings well over a decade ago and I remember thinking that it was a turgid rip-off that added nothing new to those ideas. Now that I’m a bit older, I was wondering if my analysis from back then was spot on or if I had been suffering from one of those temporary cases of movie bipolar? Let’s see…
After mute child John Radley is pushed down a well by a gang of bullies, he is sent to an asylum for the rest of his life. Eighteen years later he escapes and heads back to his town to cause problems once again…
If John Carpenter ever finds that he is short of a few quid, I recommend that he hunt out one of those no win no fee lawyer types and gets to work on a case against the production team behind Offerings. Instead of just nicking the odd idea – hulking killer, final girl, heavy breath etc – Christopher Reynolds has duplicated entire scenes shot for shot. I’ll pick one of the many just for an example. Remember when Sam Loomis visited the grave of Judith Myers to see if Michael had gone there after escaping? Well here, some psychiatrist (can’t recall his name, although he may as well have also been Sam Loomis) does exactly the same thing. It’s like WTF? The film feels like a picture that gets photocopied and then reproduced a thousand times. The quality has been degraded, but the content is still exactly the same. I remember reading about how much effort Carpenter and his team had put into making the ‘Haddonfield’ streets of the backdrops look like it was the 31st of October and not the middle of Spring. This crew have put a similar level of work into making some random US neighborhood look like it was identical to Haddonfield. But why? What kicks would a filmmaker get out of completely ripping something off? What came first, the second bottle of vodka or the blind drunkenness whilst I was watching? These are all questions that I just can’t answer.
Anyway you all will be aware of this already, it’s been written in tonnes of reviews tonnes of times and I need to take notice of my own criticism on lack of originality. So what else happens? Well in fairness, not much. We know the story by now. One thing that I will say is that there is one decidedly nasty killing. Radley ties up some poorly acted dweeb, turns on a chainsaw and then it stops working. He reaches for a power drill and the same thing happens. The victim musters up all 2% of his acting ability to say something like, ‘So now you won’t kill me?’ It’s not his lucky day however and he gets his cabeza squished in a vice. It’s surprisingly well done to be fair. There was also a smart self-depreciating scene, where two girls are shown watching a zero budget (slasher?) movie. They hurl insults at the characters and show signs of mimicking the genre eight years before Wes Craven’s Scream. See Kevin Williamson, eat your heart out
One perhaps slightly more original aspect of the story is that the nutjob makes ‘offerings’ to Gretchen, our final girl. These turn out to be stuff like chopped up body pieces (a nose, an ear, some ‘sausage shaped’ human parts, which have been placed on top of their pizza – ooh err misses!) and he leaves them on the doorstep for her to collect; or for her dog to chew upon. Whilst I’m sure that there’s some Freudian meaning to all this, we don’t really get an explanation as to why it happens. Well if you’re looking for logic peeps, go read an encyclopaedia. One question though; what the hell happened to the pizza delivery guy? We also learn that Radley murdered his mama before he got sent away to the looney bin. It’s great that they tell us this, because they sure didn’t think that it was something important enough to demonstrate to us on the screen. You know, there’s no real point in showing us why we should fear the antagonist in a horror film at all. Oh and by the way, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE F**KING PIZZA DELIVERY GUY?
So that leaves us to deal with our heroine with the authentic name. Well the best way to describe young Gretchen is like going out on a date with a semi-hottie that sits opposite you and looks at the floor all night. You would get bored pretty quickly, eh? Fill your film with rubbish actors Mr Reynolds and this is what will happen. And whilst we are on the subject of rubbish actors, I must mention the waistband-edly challenged buffoon that wins the ‘idiot cop of the year award’. He achieves this because he knows full well that John Radley is on the loose, but when young Gretch and her scrawny buddy call him because they have found a dismembered ear in a pool of blood on their porch, he tells them to go upstairs and go to sleep whilst he does a big pile of NADA. I’m reminded of Grandma Carpenter from the film, House of Death, when she says the unforgettable line, “If brains were dynamite, he couldn’t muster a good fart!” Also, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE F**KING PIZZA DELIVERY GUY?
It is what it is, and what it is is not an Academy Award winner. It’s basicallyHalloween with all the good parts left out. They even ripped off the score! So should you go out and buy Offerings? Well there are worse things that you could do, but don’t expect anything that’s going to make you search your pizza box for ‘sausage shaped’ body parts. Silly dialogue, bad acting, amateur directing, basic script, ripped off scoring, scruffy sound, yawn-inducing editing and blurry cinematography aside, it was an almost perfect piece of filmmaking. Just one thing remains, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE F**KING PIZZA DELIVERY GUY?
Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell 1989
Directed by: John McBrearty
Starring: Deborah Dutch, BJ Davis, Dori Courtney
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Although I have to confess that’s it a real honour supplying y’all with a weekly dose of slasher trash to chew through, the constraints of time and the pressure of the everyday hustle and bustle of a young Spaniard in the United Kingdom do take their toll. Especially when you have a Mrs like mine who would much rather watch ‘Zakochani’ for the hundred-millionth time than anything with masked killers and screaming chicks in it.
Anyway it also helps a great deal when you guys and gals recommend me slasher pictures to post, because with a collection of so many titles, sometimes it’s hard to pick out just the one to go to work on. Funnily enough though, I got the strangest of emails recently. It was strange because it came from the address ‘free email service – do not reply’ and I have no idea who sent it. He/she recommended that I review Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell and it’s one that to be honest, I had left at the bottom of my VHS pile and completely forgotten about. So thanks anonymous mailer…. This is just for you…
These late eighties slasher movies are usually a giggle because filmmakers would always try to spice up the formula with a supernatural twist or an ambitious synopsis. The censorship uproar that had left patchworks of earlier entries meant that producers could no longer utilise gory effects as a marketing gimmick and so instead they went for big-breasted bimbos and that’s just fine by me.
It kicks off with a haze of cheesy action. We are introduced to a guy who spends his time uncovering Native American artifacts in a secluded cave (he should’ve known better – hasn’t he seen Scalps?). At the same time a group of prisoners are driven out to do manual labour in some woodland. The benefit of this work is not really clarified, because they seem to just be digging pointless holes amongst some trees. (Were they preparing their own graves? Wow what a great plot twist that would have been). But seriously, couldn’t they have painted a church, worked on a construction site or done something that helped local society? Who knows? Anyway, the guards are momentarily disrupted by a sorority girl with a boob-tube and a push bike, which gives the jailbirds the opportunity to launch a violent, but successful escape attempt and they sprint off in separate directions.
A large number of the escapees are shot and killed or captured soon after by a sheriff with a machine gun that sounds like a GI Joe toy, but a villain called Gerome Disenso, who brings to mind a poor man’s Richard Marx, manages to flee into the forest. I guess by the search that’s made thereafter, he must be a dangerous criminal; however we never really find out why we should fear him. I mean, perhaps he was just a run of the mill down on his luck kinda guy that was doing a week in jail for jaywalking or something? It would have been nice to be told such things.
So next up, we meet a gang of sorority jocks (that look about 38) and some free and easy bunnies that are on their way to a party at the cabin that belongs to the archaeologist from the beginning. Unfortunately for them, and him, his relentless digging has uncovered an ancient demonic relic that has possessed him and sent him out to murder anyone that he bumps into. So with a bloodthirsty killer, a secluded location AND an escaped convict, these guys are in for the party of their lives… (Most likely the last)
By the first thirty minutes of SGATCFH, you would never tell that this is a slasher film and instead you’d probably be under the impression that you were set for a First Blood rip-off. We seem to be focused mainly on the jailbreak storyline and it’s only later that things fall back into the traditional set up. It’s been said that back in the glory days of the cycle, producers would pride themselves on the amount of helicopter shots that they could afford to put in to their pictures. The Burning had a good one and Maniac borrowed a few from Dario Argento’s Inferno. Well these guys managed to get a full military chopper out for the hunt for their man on the run, but I’m convinced that it had more to do with John McBrearty knowing a guy that owned one rather than him having a healthy budget to play with.
Why do I have this opinion? Well the film is filled with a cast that may be the worst ever put together in a barrel-bottom ensemble and that can only be because they couldn’t scrape together what was needed to fund anyone better. These guys greet things like the uncovering of a freshly mutilated corpse with the same emotional oomph that a normal person puts into changing the TV channel. I have grown accustomed to over or under-acting through the years, but completely non-acting is a new one for me. The killer, who has a cheesier than cheesy black and white heavy breath POV, is rarely seen under any kind of light, which is obviously because the make-up effects (or rubber mask) for him were so shoddy. Saying that though, I was impressed with the screenplay for the first 45 minutes or so, because it split the characters into separate groups and gave each of them a story that eventually threw them together in the cabin for the grand finale. Whilst this showed an impressive flair for structure from first-timer McBrearty, he didn’t give us any kind of central protagonist and so the final pair felt more like they’d literally been picked out of a hat than built up to battle the demonized assailant. We were introduced to a geeky virginal type in the early scenes and I felt sure that she would be the one that would end up being the heroine, but instead she was one of the first of the troupe to get splattered.
Despite the problems with the feature in terms of the poor quality of the dramatics and the lack of gooey effects, I still thought that it was actually a fun flick to sit through. It’s just so incredibly cheesy and dumb that I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone that wouldn’t enjoy it. The ancient artifact that possesses the unfortunate excavator and sends him on a kill spree, speaks flawless English with a New York accent, which is impressive for something that’s been entombed in a cave since the days of the Native American tribes. We never get to find out why it needs the blood of those dead bodies in the first place and I was guessing for why it could be. Will it bring him back from beyond the grave so that he can cause havoc again? Is it a plan to rid the world of heinous acting? Your guess is as good as mine. Don’t you just love a villain with a clear motivation? Also could someone tell me the point of the prison break-out part of the story? Maybe I missed it or something, because from what I saw, it went absolutely nowhere, changed absolutely nothing and affected absolutely no one. Confused? I most definitely was.
Sorority Girls and The Creature From Hell mixes a kaleidoscope score (very similar in fact to the one from Ruggero Deodato’s BodyCount), some fun characters, loads of big boobs and a laughable story to make a cheese-drenched treat that a SLASH above readers will most definitely enjoy watching. It’s basically Scalps with an overdose of inadvertent stupidity and that my friends is surely a good thing. I loved it.
Final Girl: √√
aka The Bleeder
Directed by: Han Hatwig
Starring: Ake Eriksson, Sussi Ax, Eva Danielsson
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Although American cinema was the key player during the slasher cycle’s heyday, many other countries also provided a considerable contribution to the fledgling category. Whilst Spain’s Bloody Moon and South Africa’s City of Blood would never rival the audience revenue achieved by their US genre compatriots, the popularity of titles such as Prom Night and My Bloody Valentine proved that the formula had truly become a global cash-cow for ambitious producers.
By 1984 almost everywhere where there was a buzzing cinematic market had churned out at least one attempt at imitating the success of Halloween and its brethren; and Blödaren was Sweden’s entry. Han’s Hatwig’s low-budget rarity was not only the first slasher flick to be released directly for the Swedish market; it was in fact the first horror film that the country had ever self-produced. As of yet it has not been made available for global audiences, which has allowed it to achieve something of an obscure cult status amongst category enthusiasts.
The plot focuses on a female pop group called The Rock Cats. Whilst touring across the country, their mini-bus breaks down on a secluded road, leaving them stranded in the wilderness. They head out on foot to find assistance and are relieved when they discover a seemingly abandoned mansion in the depths of the woodland. Unbeknownst to the hapless women, they are sharing the location with a recently escaped lunatic who has a facial disfigurement, which means that blood constantly streams from his eyes. Before long they are fighting for their lives as they are stalked and ruthlessly slaughtered by ‘The Bleeder’.
The first thing that struck me about Blödaren is that it is surprisingly well-financed for such a small-scale project. Slasher movies often fall prey to a lack of funding, but I have read that this was shot on video and it is really hard, in fact; it is almost impossible to tell from what we see on the screen. Unfortunately that’s pretty much the only real positive that I took down in my notepad and it soon becomes apparent exactly why this has never been subtitled for worldwide consumption.
The methodology of horror is fairly simple and it’s not something that you need to be a genius to figure out. Audiences check out the genre because they want to be engulfed in a temporary feeling of dread. Yeah sure, a bit of cheesiness or black humour doesn’t hurt, but generally people watch horror movies to be scared. Fear is by far the hardest mood to create cinematically and the stats back this up. Of the horror films that you have seen, how many have actually terrified you? How many have made you check under your bed when you are alone at night and the lights are low? Although as an entertainment medium cinema has successfully portrayed moments of pathos and intense drama, fear has seldom been conveyed accurately and it takes a master director to make a competent horror film. Whilst it is totally acceptable that not everyone has the ability to pull off the next Rosemary’s Baby, the problem with Blödaren is that it doesn’t even try. Not even a little bit.
What we are really missing here is any kind of a threatening antagonist. Watching ‘The Bleeder’ shuffle around the woodland pushing a pram is not a scary sight, and his bizarre gimmick of sticking out his tongue like a spoiled child before he commits each murder is laughable…and not in a good way. We are offered absolutely zero dramatic credibility from the cast and it’s shot with the flair of a TV soap, which means that there is literally no effort to energise the cinematography, framing, blocking or placement of the characters on the screen. The sound is awful too and is mostly filled with long drawn out high-pitched whining tones that end up making you want to headbutt the screen…aaaaaah!!!
Any chance of tension evaporates when we realise that the victims are excessively dumb and the plot offers nothing more than one character wandering off to find a missing friend and being confronted by the hilariously inept killer. The score is a total rip-off of Halloween’s notorious theme and you’ll most likely be reading the small print of the vodka label on the 2 litre bottle you had to drink rather than watching the screen.
Blödaren is something of a cult-classic in Sweden as it launched a market that has delivered titles such as the gory Death Academy, Camp Slaughter, Evil Ed, Drowning Ghost and Blood Tracks. Whilst it may be remembered as a novelty for being the first, it really shouldn’t be recognised for anything more. Funnily enough, I watched this before going to see The Place Beyond the Pines at the cinema. I felt that Derek Cianfrance’s opus was as close to being a perfectly put together picture as possible. It boasted rich well-acted characters, superb cinematography, perfect sound and editing and a story that kept us hooked throughout. Whilst it is unfair of course to compare something as mundane as Blödaren to a brilliant character study, I always believe that there is no excuse, no matter what the level, to not do the basics right. The truth of the matter is that there are shorts on YouTube, shot on not much more than an iPhone that offer better movie making professionalism than this turkey. I’m sorry, but it’s true. One for the trash can.
*I don’t speak Swedish by the way so thanks to the gorgeous Monica for watching the film with me and explaining everything. Spending an hour and twenty minutes in front of this in itself must’ve been hard enough. Thank you xx
Final Girl: √
Directed by: Terrence O’Hara
Starring: Loren Winters, Shepherd Sanders, Jeff Morris
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Sorry for the late post this week, I woke up with one helluva hangover…. Anyway, B-movie stalwart, Nico Mastorakis produced this late entry to the category and surprisingly enough, it was his first true effort at a slasher film. After Island of Death built him a career in exploitation cinema, Nico remained in the kingdom of low-budget thrillers with a solid track-record from the projects that he was involved with. I really enjoyed The Zero Boys from 1986 and people have often citied that it could sit alongside Friday the 13 et al as a traditional killer in the woods yarn. I believe however that this later effort plays it much truer to the archetypal template and that’s why I have posted it here for your perusal.
Janet (Jill Pierce) returns home to her family farm in order to spend more time with her boyfriend Steve (Jeffrey Alan Arbaugh). Unbeknownst to the youngster, a maniac killer is stalking the vicinity, dressed in a bright yellow rain coat. This is an artistic psychopath because after he butchers his victims, he takes pictures of them and develops them in the darkroom of the title. As more and more people die, it looks like Janet is his main target.
Lack of originality is a criticism that’s hard to level at the slasher as the genre’s familiarity is what has given it an unique style of its own and a cinematic personality. However this lazily delivered and lackadaisical offering really feels like it omits even the slightest amount of effort from those involved and has pretty much nothing in terms of suspense, pace or excitement.
The plot concentrates on the mystery element and the development of the characters to help build a good puzzle for audience sleuths. Unfortunately for director Terrence O’Hara, the marketing team working on the picture must have been missing from the pre-production meetings when the whodunit aspect was discussed, because the killer is shown not only on the back cover of most prints in circulation, but also in the trailer for the feature. O’Hara must’ve been furious when he found out… It’s like, HELLO! I’m making a mystery thriller guys!!!!
There are a few themes running throughout the movie that show some ambition from the screenwriters, but sadly, they are poorly handled and not properly developed. Since the proto-slasher, Eyeball, I like seeing killers in rain coats and armed with an axe, this dude is pretty cool. He’s also quite brutal, which means that some of the killings are surprisingly menacing if not graphically appealing. In fact, gore hounds will be disappointed with the lack of any gooey effects (almost everyone is murdered off-screen) and despite the endless scenes of stalking, the director struggles to build any trepidation or atmosphere at all.
The cast come across as amateur throughout and the porn-level delivery of banal dialogue soon begins to claw at the strings of your patience. There were also some serious casting miscalculations that seemed obvious to me, but surprisingly not to the decision makers behind the scenes here. I mean, Sarah Lee Wade played Cindy really well and her bubbly character was conveyed with a flamboyance that was hard to dislike. I would have felt an allure towards her if she had played the role of the final girl, but that job went to Jill Pierce who came across as arrogant, cold and stone-like. She did get more work in pictures after this, but for me she was the weakest link and couldn’t raise the runtime from the grasp of tedium.
And there we have the real problem with Darkroom. It’s basically twenty-five minutes of story stretched in to an hour on a half of screen time and it really feels like the director was struggling to fill scenes with the empty script that he had. I guess that if they had hired better actors, the character development and family feuds could have added a bit of depth to the plot. As it stood, we were given a tiresome expedition of monotonous waiting around for the psychopath to turn up. By the time that he finally did, I was expecting something, anything, to lift me from a near-catatonic state. Unfortunately it remained totally B-O-R-I-N-G
This was the debut movie of TV director Terrence O’Hara and I was guessing that with it being his first shot and all, we could have expected him to show that urge and hunger that’s usually tough to hide. Career best cinematography from David Makin was wasted however and technically the film was as inflated as a puncture. Chuck into the mix some bizarre and random dialogue (“I don’t trust air I can’t see?”) and you’re left with a pretty low grade excuse for a horror yarn.
It’s a shame, because this was the breakout movie for so many of the people involved in it, so with a fairly good budget, it could have been SO much more. It’s a real mystery as to why it has come across so heartless and it feels like no one was motivated to turn up
Perhaps it may be rather interesting to genre enthusiasts for the Nico Mastorakis links and the photography aspect of the murderer’s methodology, but aside from that it’s best left in obscurity. Hey, maybe in the corner of a darkroom
Killer Guise: √√
Final Girl:√ √
Freeway Maniac 1988
Directed by: Paul Winters
Starring: Loren Winters, Shepherd Sanders, Jeff Morris
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
The cover for Freeway Maniac proudly states that it’s a ‘cult-thriller in the tradition of such splatter hits as The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. After reading, I was indeed intrigued as to exactly what that bold statement actually meant? Did it mean that Freeway Maniac was a seminal movie that went on to define an entire genre? Did it mean that there had been hundreds of low-budget Freeway Maniac clones desperately trying to follow in its footsteps? If so, where were they and why hadn’t I seen them? The questions were flowing through my mind like the alcohol at a Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan ‘patch up our differences’ convention.
Released at a time when the slasher genre had shredded its final hopes of any credibility, Freeway Maniac was certainly one of the last entries of the eighties to be given considerable funding by a mid- studio. I struggled to track down any information about the film at all and it is rarely mentioned alongside the more familiar slasher hits.
It kicks off gratuitously with a couple making out on a kitchen table. Little do the lovers know that they are not alone and are being observed by the woman’s junior son. A sound alerts the couple to his presence and his mother pursues him into his bedroom, where she shouts at him for being such a perverted voyeur. The kid reacts angrily and brutally butchers his mother and her unsuspecting lover with a large kitchen knife. The screen then fades to black and the credits (accompanied by a jazzed-up re-hash of Halloween’s theme-tune) begin to roll.
Skip a few years and Arthur is still locked up in an asylum for his vicious act from the pre-credits. A new member of staff has joined the complex and his colleague gives him a guided tour of the corridors and their most notorious inmates. On approaching one cell, the orderly informs the new-starter that the guy inside, Arthur – the killer from the opening scene, is by far the most dangerous and vicious patient in the hospital. This fact is proved when he violently assaults the pair and makes a daring escape from the complex, murdering various staff-members on his way.
Next up we meet Linda Kinney, a young actress who is just launching her career in Hollywood. Her agent manages to convince her to accept an offer of a casting session with a studio that is producing a low-budget sci-fi flick. Whilst on her way to the location, her automobile breaks down and she heads off in search of help. She eventually finds a remote auto-garage, but unfortunately, instead of uncovering a competent mechanic, she bumps into Arthur on another maniacal rampage. After a lacklustre battle, she manages to defeat the psychopath and her victory sends him back to the security of his institution. Against the odds, she decides to head to the casting for the feature and her choice proves to be a resounding success. Once the producers notice that she is the same Linda that was attacked by Arthur, the David-Hasslehoff-alike psycho from earlier, they decide that her notoriety would make her a bankable cast-member.
Some time later, shooting on-site in the dessert begins with typical enthusiasm. Unfortunately, little do the cast and crew know that Arthur has once again escaped and is looking to get even with the actress that he considers to be his nemesis.
Don’t you just love shoddy low-budget features that attempt in their plot-line to mock the production of shoddy low-budget features? In the case of Freeway Maniac it’s not so much the pot calling the kettle black as the pot calling the pot a pot! This effort is criminally bad and lacks everything that makes a horror film even passable. Suspense – zero, gore – zero, shocks – zero, creativity – zero and hope – zero. It’s a wayward addition and I just couldn’t understand what the producers had in mind when they decided to finance it. Extremely low budget entries can be forgiven for their lack of credibility as they are usually produced on the kind of funds that Cameron Diaz spends on weekly hairdressers. This means that their chances of competing with the more competently budgeted features are resoundingly small. But Freeway Maniac looks to have been quite highly financed, which makes its failure bizarre and totally unforgivable.
It boasts one of the biggest body counts that I can remember in slasher cinema, but of the multitude of characters that appear on the screen, I think that only 4 or 5 were given characterisation. The killer is from the Freddy Krueger School of wise-cracking, meaning that he often murders his victims with a sarcastic remark and a cheeky smirk. Whereas Michael Myers looked terrifying in his boiler suit and mask, Arthur sports a hilarious plaid suit combination and boasts a mullet that would shame Richard Marx. The film is comfortably shot and the dessert makes for an exquisite location, but that can’t stop Freeway Maniac from feeling like an uninspired mess.
All the way through the feature, I just couldn’t be sure if this was supposed to be a serious stab at horror or a semi-parody of the lovable genre that it frequents. One thing’s for certain however, the next time I see the words ‘in the tradition of…’ on a box-cover, I’ll know that it translates from marketing speak to rip-off
Final Girl: √√
Hollow Gate 1988
Directed by: Ray Di Zazzo
Starring: Addison Randall, Katrina Alexy, Richard Dry
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I delayed posting a review of Hollow Gate for quite a while, because I was convinced that it had been produced sometime earlier than 1988 and I wanted to do some research in order to find out the truth. In the end, I discovered that it was mostly shot in ’86 and spent longer than expected in the transition from the editing suite to VHS cassette. It was a launch film from Richard Pepin and Joseph Toufik Merhi who would go on to start the PM Entertainment Group. PM were a production company that began life as a smaller version of Cannon films and then went on to circulate a whole heap of low budget schlock busters right up until the new millennium when they finally sold off the brand and its 150+ catalogue of titles.
I must confess that the reason that I believed that this had been put together earlier, was simply because by ’88 the genre had adapted from the initial rip-off Halloween plan that was the standard at the start of the decade. It was an evolution that led from strong silent antagonists to wise-cracking killers and then we ended up with altogether more supernatural villains like those from Maniac Cop, Child’s Play or even Demon Warrior.
Like most ’86 entries, Hollow Gate includes a quick-witted bogeyman, only this one has been turned to the ‘dark side’ by the age-old slasher cliche of an abusive parent. We see in the opening that his dad is disappointed with his apple bobbin’ skills at a Halloween party, so he gets humiliated in front of all of his friends. Obviously that’s a bad move in slasher land, so a few years later, the kid has grown into a maniacal murderer. Four teens that are on their way to a party are about to find out the extent of his insanity because they get abandoned on the grounds of his house. Guess what happens next…
When the screen lights up, we see a china doll sitting in a window and a magnificent childlike score begins playing as the camera slowly pans in a downward trajectory. Underneath the figurine is a creepy jack-o-lantern and as soon as it appears in our view, we hear the chime of a low chord as the musical accompaniment becomes darker and more suited to the horror that we are expecting. I was seriously impressed by this credit sequence, because I felt that without saying anything it had given us so much. Could the obvious collision of the two tones signify the ‘taking over’ of the young child that turned his innocence into psychotic delusion after the abuse of his father? Or was it a reference to the innocent teenagers being stalked by the ruthless assailant? With such a stylistic opening, I was really thinking that I could be in for a treat with this flick. On recollection though, I now believe that the credits were made by someone otherwise uninvolved with the production and the director most probably disliked or completely failed to understand the idea. What makes me so sure that this is the case? Well there are a few reasons…
Most of us know that all good horror films need a central character, otherwise known as a protagonist. Someone like a Laurie Strode, Ginny Fields, R.J. MacCready or Reiko Asakawa. As this is a slasher film that’s based on the 31st of October, we can use Laurie Strode as a perfect example. She was shy, fairly withdrawn, insecure about her popularity with the opposite sex but devoted to those around her. In other words she is someone that most people can bond with. In a film that has superhuman killers, screaming victims and gruesome terror, it is important to include one person that is far more ‘normal’. They can then act as our own personal avatar and can guide us through to the end, which creates drama and tension because we want them to survive
It takes thirty minutes of Hollow Gate, before we meet four youngsters that are on their way to a party and I just can’t think of anything that I can tell you about their personalities. I could find very little that made any of them even the slightest bit appealing or memorable. No style of speech, unique characteristic, catchphrase, gimmick or information on their relationships or where they were from. They were just four young people that we learned absolutely nothing about. The problem is that when a movie is populated with cardboard cut-outs then it’s almost impossible to give a damn about what happens to them. So we are left with a guy who is nothing more than a total loony stalking four kids that are complete strangers. It could of course be argued that the psycho is the main player, but not much time is spent on him either.
This is probably one of the most important things in filmmaking and you’d think that anyone with even the slightest intention of developing a motion picture would recognise that. But hold on a minute, what is this? An hour into the story, two cops join the party. We see them sitting in a cafe where they discuss their backgrounds, how long they’ve been on the force and why they decided to sign up. Their banter shows some warmth in their friendship (didn’t like the racist joke though) and because of this, we become drawn to their part of the goings on. So lets get to grips with Hollow Gate logic then. The characters that we should care about get zilch backstory, whilst two police officers that feature for ten-minutes tops tell us about their entire lives??? #HollowGateLogic
The director doesn’t even attempt to build any pizazz in the framing and most shots are long, wide and boring. It’s no surprise that Ray Di Zazzo is not the first name on anyone’s lips when discussing icons of horror and this was to be his first and last attempt at movie creation. On top of that there are pacing issues because it is so poorly edited and the flow is plagued by serious flaws in continuity. Alfred Hitchcock once said that there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation. Those words are totally lost in a film that not only lacks the anticipation part but also the bang.
There was an early discussion featured amongst lawyers and legal men about the nutjob’s psychotic state after he had become a concern, but not yet committed the massacre. Obviously hinting at President Reagan’s budget cuts of the eighties, the group agreed that he should be locked away, but hinted that it would be tough to do so in the current climate. It was a smart snippet of social reference and I could barely believe that it was from the same hand that let an unarmed teen hiding in a bush from the deranged madman state that he, ‘had the advantage’ over his assailant. Eh? It’s like the film has two seconds of credibility and then absolutely massacres them with fifty minutes of asininity.
Despite much amateurism spread throughout, there were a couple of things that I quite liked. The bogeyman changes costume for each killing, and not only does he don a different disguise, he also performs for each role. For example as a cowboy he offers an off-kilter John Wayne and then he becomes something of an evil quipping doctor a bit later. Perhaps it was because I had my serious horror head on when I was watching Hollow Gate that i disliked it so much and maybe I should’ve given it a chance as an inadvertent comedy. There’s enough rubbish dialogue, horrendous acting and the like for it to satisfy cheese fans, but for me it was irredeemable. The bad news is that I’m not prepared to watch it again and see if my opinion can be swayed. In fact, I’d rather place my hand in a vat of acid.
Alexander Pushkin once wrote that there is no bigger tragedy than wasted love or wasted talent. I’d like to add ‘wasted time’ on top of that and blame Hollow Gate for me doing so. With no blood, suspense or action, I really can’t see why or how you’d enjoy it
Killer Guise: √√
Posed for Murder 1988
Directed by: Brian Thomas Jones
Starring: Charlotte J. Helmkamp, Laura Flanagan, Charles Kuhune
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I was crazily in love once, you know? We moved in together and she was so special that I even watched slasher films with her… including Cards of Death. Then she left me for a richer guy and I was stuck with my collection of tatty VHS and a bottle of vodka. Serious. Rumours that I have kidnapped her and she’s locked in the basement with Savage Water on continuous play are totally false and erroneous and I refuse to entertain them. (Ignore those screams btw, the neighbors have a noisy kid…))
Anyway, moving on. Love is a powerful emotion and the perfect motive for a cheesy slasher picture and in Posed for Murder that’s exactly what we have. Now this is a late late entry to the cycle that I really should have posted ages ago, before it got released on DVD. If I had done that, I could have called it an a SLASH above exclusive because it was incredibly rare. Nowadays though, it can be picked up on Amazon on a shiny disc that includes two other delightful features at a budget cost. Should you click buy it now and add it to your collection? Well allow me to answer that for you in fine detail…
Laura is a topless model and a wannabe scream queen with dozens of sleazy male admirers. Her popularity is not solving her issues however and she’s feeling a little down in the dumps. It certainly not helping matters that a psycho with breathing difficulty is making things tougher for her. Can she find a way to stop the marauding maniac…???
Suspense. Intrigue. Gore. Tension and Terror… are all the things that you won’t find whilst watching Posed for Murder. That’s ok though because the mahoosive amount of liquified cheese that is poured all over the screen instead kind of makes up for that. Well, kinda. I mean, it takes 32 mins for the killer to actually get going, but somehow the picture manages to hold itself together and keep you interested through to the end.
The best way for me to describe the script to you is that it comes across a lot like it was written by someone that speaks English as a second language. Everything is discussed in the most basic of sentence structures and the dialogue literally gets you from A to C without even a hint that B exists. Despite this, director Brian Thomas Jones does an intriguing job of keeping each shot interesting, by setting up distinct backdrops and camera movements. They don’t always work of course, but they help to keep up the level of momentum.
There’s a scene where our final girl has an audition with a pair of seedy filmmakers and I had to wonder if it was included to poke fun at the lead actress. They barely check if she can speak a line of dialogue before they offer her the part and I think that in reality the procedure for this production was very similar. Why bother worrying if Charlotte Helmkamp can act when she has breasts like pineapples in stockings? In fact these subtle in-jokes became something of an ongoing thing for the rest of the runtime. They can be the only logical explanation as to why her in-film director, Serge La Rue, called her a ‘method actor’. Or what about when her friend asked how she managed to perform with ‘such emotion’. Bwahahaha! Oh how we laughed. It was brilliant. Say what you want about our buxom scream queen, buy you can’t deny that she knows how to take a joke at her own expense. Oh. Oh, ok. Sorry, I didn’t now that she didn’t realise… Oh in that case, I take it all back….
There was one thing though that I actually found quite interesting. Every single guy that she meets ends up flirting with her and looking down her top. I thought about this and felt how hard it must be for an attractive woman (or guy) when most men always think with head number two. What kind of opinion would you have of the male gender if all that they ever did was hit on you? Is it really like that girls? Man, I need to change my approach.
So there’s not a great deal left to say. The soundtrack sums up all that was bad about eighties music and hums along over shots of spandex bound jocks working out in a gymnasium. This activity breaks up the ‘intense drama’ of our cycolina’s quest to discover the identity of the psycho maniac. Thinking about it, I guess that this could be a slasher sister of kind to Killer Workout in that sense. Chuck in a handful of diluted killings and a twist that turns out to be exactly what you thought it was all along and what you have is a fondue festival that’s cunningly disguised as a DVD. In other words, if you like ‘em trashy you should give this a whirl. Just don’t bring your brain.
…Oh and about my ex-fianceé and her being locked in the cellar… I was actually joking about all that. It was four years ago now and I was lucky enough to meet my soul mate (Hi Żaneta xx) and I’m on my way to see her now. Damn. Where did I put the key to the padlock on the door to the basement…?
Final Girl: √√√