Directed by: Denis Devine
Starring: Meredith Mills, Eric Bunton, Joe Decker
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
When you take a look at some of slop that has populated the slasher genre since 1978, it’s not hard to see why so many entries are mocked for their ineptitude. Have you ever wondered what was the initial production plan behind movies like Night Divides the Day or Camp 139? Do you think that the distributors who picked them up were expecting extravagant success when they watched them through? Were they haunted by a delusion that prevented them from recognising the heinous level of their product’s quality? Keeping that in mind, it would take a brave man to take a gamble on a slasher movie that hasn’t – as of yet – been signed for any kind of distribution. Made way back in the year 2000, Bloodstream has yet to find a scheduled release anywhere across the globe. It was only because it had come from genre veterans Dennis Devine and Steve Jarvis (Dead Girls/Fatal Images/Club Dead) that I even bothered trying to track a copy down. I eventually managed to contact Jarvis, who was good enough to send me a DVD screener. Despite the experience of the filmmakers behind the project, I found it hard not to approach Bloodstream with expectations lowered. Surely if the movie was any good then it would have been snapped up moons ago, right? Well fortunately enough and not for the first time in my splatter-reviewing career, my preliminary expectations were off target with this one….
It kicks off in the unfamiliar settings of a chemical laboratory. A devious worker manages to trick a dim-witted security guard into letting her sneak out a small quantity of an unknown substance. The woman takes the vial to a remote warehouse, but she is brutally murdered by an unseen menace before she is able to receive payment for her pilfering! Next up we meet the likely body count material and massacre applicants at a Los Angeles ‘talent’ show. Pam has traveled from Arizona to watch her younger sister Sandy’s singing debut and she soon gets to meet her friends and colleagues. Unbeknownst to her and the guests, Sandy will not be performing tonight, which is due to the fact that she has been kidnapped by a nut job who may or may not be a vicious serial killer. The following morning when she doesn’t return, Pam and her new found friends begin searching for the youngster. It soon becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Sandy to be discovered, because members of the search party begin being kidnapped and then surgically dissected by a cackling masked psycho. Next we learn that the motive for the attacks is not as straight-forward as first expected and soon a mysterious link between the victims leads to an authentic conclusion…
Unlike traditional post-Scream slasher yarns, Bloodstream has an extremely complex and creative synopsis. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the screenwriters deliver an impressive number of sub-plots and branches without wrapping themselves up in an awkward knot. Despite a huge amount of interchanging activity in the story, ‘Stream manages to maintain its momentum, which is all down to some slick work from Jarvis and Devine. Even if the budget restrictions are visually obvious from the start, the sets are stylishly lighted and attempts at suspense are carried out with flair and panache. There are also a couple of bloody murders that liven up proceedings, which include a grisly eye-stabbing that reminded me of the terrific opening from Evil Dead Trap. Also watch out for a few surgical ‘torture’ scenes that manage to look credibly realistic, despite the miniscule budget. There’s an extra lick of gloss that comes from an engaging mystery and Bloodstream is a movie that stays in your head hours after the film has ended. That’s a very accomplished feat for a modern teen-slasher.
When reviewing a pre-screener, you have to ignore some of the continuity mishaps because they would likely be ironed out before the final print is submitted. I did pick up on a few blunders that really stood out though, like seeing the nozzle of a smoke machine bellowing fog into the moody night sky. Jarvis admits that the audio on the disc is not perfect; and in honesty, it is sketchy in places. What I found stood out more to me though was the cheesy level of the acting quality, which gives away the amateurism of the budget cast members. Still, there was enough in the story to overcome this and none of the issues were nearly bad enough to have kept the film from being released. It was apparently re-edited and streamlined twice to tweak the mystery elements and give the runtime a smoother flow. This left a couple of minor gaps in the plot, which don’t detract credit from the complexity of the story, but were likely explained in the footage that was later removed.
It isn’t far off a crime, when you consider the amount of schlock being released with regularity, that an authentic and ambitious title like Bloodstream hasn’t yet been given an opportunity at mass consumption. Perhaps it is not too late for a company to pick up the title and give it the exposure it deserves. I find it hard to explain why movies as contemptible as Paranoid and Head Cheerleader Dead Cheerleader managed to find distribution, whilst this looks set to suffer the fate that befell ‘The Legend Of Moated Manor’ before it. I just hope that this isn’t the case and one day you guys have the chance to see if you agree with my comments……
Killer Guise: √√
Final Girl √√
Dead 7 2000
Directed by: Garrett Clancy
Starring: Joe Myles, Matt Emery, Delia Copold
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I certainly wasn’t expecting much from Dead 7, especially after I learned that it was a Brain Damage films release. They are the production criminals that have unloaded excrement like Maniacal and the rancid Butchered on to unsuspecting movie fans for the past ten years. But with that said though I’m always open minded when it comes to low budget features, because for every twenty Camp 139s there’s always the chance that there could be a Killer Campout lurking amongst them somewhere. Surprisingly enough – Shock horror – Garret Clancy’s slasher opus was a damn site better than it had any right to be, and it has somewhat restored my faith (momentarily) in Brain Damage as a label.
Clancy opens proceedings with a neat collage of woodland wildlife shots that brought eighties schlock classic The Prey to mind. Next we cut to a girl named Venus who is searching for her younger brother in the dense forest. She is very protective of Harley as he is death and mute, which makes it harder for him to communicate and let people know if he needs help. The two had been playing hide and seek until Harley’s attention had been diverted by the mysterious station wagon that had parked just yards in front of him. Hidden behind the camouflage of the dense trees, the young boy watches on as two men climb out of the car and drag a struggling man out of the boot. Franky (Matt Emery) and Brownley (Joe Myles) are viscous drug dealing gangsters that are just about to enforce the consequences of messing with their clique. They drag the victim out to an abandoned mine shaft and decapitate him with an axe before throwing his body down the pit. They hurriedly leave and meet up with their girlfriends Julie (Tanya Dempsey) and Karen (Janet Keijser) and their co-ed friend Drusilla (Gina Zachory).
Franky suddenly realizes that he has left his wallet back at the shaft, and after consulting Brownley, the two decide that they’ll have to go and find it without arousing the suspicion of Drusilla. Despite having very bad taste in friends, ‘Silla doesn’t seem like the type to be a part of any immoral activities and that’s why they try to keep the corpse under wraps. All five of them head back to the scene, and leave Dru to join Harley playing Hide and Seek. Unfortunately whilst searching for a secluded place, Harley comes across the foursome in a criminal situation, which means that they have no option but to silence him…for good! So down the mineshaft he goes with no chance of ever escaping or calling for help. Poor old Drusilla has no idea that her buddies have just killed the youngster and she is dragged away without an explanation.
A couple of months down the line, everyone except Venus seems to have forgotten about Harley’s death. But the gangsters are given an ominous reminder when an unseen intruder throws some incriminating evidence through Franky’s window. This results in a chain of events that leads to the gang being stalked and gruesomely slaughtered one by one by a mysterious stranger. Brownley has already proved that he is a ruthless killer, but it looks like he may have met his match in this mystifying vigilante. But who could be behind this frenzy of retribution?
Even though it sounds like a textbook slasher by the numbers, Dead 7 is actually a fairly engaging and moderately authentic take on the genre. It makes a refreshing change to have a mystery that actually pays off the viewer with a satisfying conclusion, and Clancy has enough screen writing flair to keep you guessing through to the climax. He directs with a confidence that exceeds his lack of experience, and the photography is fluid, crisp and innovative all the way through. Kudos also to the editor who did an extremely credible job when compared with similar no-budget offerings. The decision to shoot all the horror scenes in broad daylight was a wise method of avoiding the frequent problems caused by insufficient illumination and even though the locations were those of the ‘take what you can get’ variety, they suit the desolate atmosphere of the feature. Modern day horror enthusiasts might be disappointed by the lack of any really convincing gore, but the murders are fairly imaginative all the same: Death by copious amounts of cocaine anybody? The acting is fairly shoddy and unconvincing, but it’s by no means the worst that I’ve seen. It’s perhaps ironic that the best performance happens to be the director’s cameo as a bent copper.
It goes without saying that Dead 7 does show it’s amateurism in places. Clancy’s script includes some inadvertently amusing dialogue that certainly wasn’t his initial intention and one or two of the bargain bucket death scenes are hilariously hokey. One guy gets his ears lopped off and spends the rest of his screen time covering them up with his hands so that we don’t see the wounds!. In all fairness though, the killer’s face make-up in the final scene was actually quite good and there’s also a gooey slashed throat among other grisly highlights.
The net result is a decent slasher with a supernatural sheen that manages to keep you watching from start to finish. And that’s a target that many other Brain Damage monstrosities couldn’t even dream of achieving. There’s some raw but worthwhile talent on display within Dead 7 and it warrants at least a viewing.
I say check it out…
Killer Guise: √
Final Girl √
Directed by: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Starring: Franka Potente, Benno Fürmann, Anna Loos
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Like most slasher fans of the thirty+ age bracket, I much prefer the eighties genre boom to the one that followed hot on the heels of Scream. There’s a type of veteran feeling attached to knowing that you were collecting big-box VHS during the glory years and even if Craven’s classic is nearly twenty-years old, it’s not quite retro yet.
Taking the sentimentality out of the equation though, there’s a strong case to say that the second peak was more beneficial for the category. Firstly, we received three times as many entries from 1996 to the current date than we did back then, and secondly, a lot more countries contributed to the rebirth. Anatomy was an early addition to be produced by Germany and its huge box office return opened the door for more European states to jump on the bandwagon. In the years that followed, we would see Cold Fear, School Killer and Haute Tension bring flair to the template and continue the category’s progression.
Young anatomy student Paula (Franka Potente) is one of the best young medics in her country. When she is offered a place on a course in Heidelberg taught by a famous professor she is clearly over the moon. However, her suspicions are aroused when one by one her fellow students go missing and the body of a young man she met only days earlier turns up on the dissecting table – dead. So is she just paranoid or is there something far more sinister behind the strange disappearances?
I watched Anatomy with my Mrs and after it had finished, she said, “That’s not a slasher film, it’s a thriller”. Now usually, I counter such claims from her with a knowing nod, as if to say, ‘let me be the critic, you’re just along for the ride’. In this instance (and in this one only), I must begrudgingly admit that she may have a point. You see, Anatomy does spend more time developing its mystery than it does underlining the clichés. Victims are kidnapped by a gloved assailant, but there’s no masked killer and very few of the references that Kevin Williamson’s screenplay underlined so confidently
The fact that we do have a scalpel clenching psychopath, a typical final girl and ingredients such as the ‘have sex and die’ rule mean that I’m not unsure about the film’s status upon this site. So with that cleared up, I’m free to tell you that what we have here is a superb addition to the cycle. There are some fine acting skills on display, especially from Benno Furmann who has gone on to become a great talent in his home country. Franka Potente gives us a smart and charming heroine that reminded me of Laurie Strode far more than many that I have seen of late. Director Stefan Ruzowitzky manages to pile on the suspense in a number of scenes. One of the most outstanding is when the butcher attempts to hide a freshly murdered corpse that he viciously slashed only moments earlier. He hears the cleaners coming down the corridor, so he blocks the door to the Morgue with a surgical trolley. Of course, the staff can’t understand why it’s been suddenly locked, so they call their superiors to assist with getting it open. The psycho has to race against the clock to put the body into the refrigerator and hide before he gets caught red handed. It’s real nail biting stuff and the tension doesn’t end there. We get a brutal chase sequence towards the end, which is reminiscent of Halloween II. The scalpel-wielding killer and he’s loyal accomplice stalk our likeable final girl through the basement of the University and create a harrowing atmosphere that is rarely seen to such a great effect in today’s horror movies.
As I’ve highlighted, this is pure whodunit for the most part and there are suspicious suspects everywhere to put you off of the real assassin’s identity. Take the somewhat unfriendly looking dissector who hangs around the students clenching a saw and asking if they’re ready for him to `…open the skull’. Ruzowitzky adds the odd touch of comedy to brighten things up in-between the kill scenes. In one bit Paula is talking on the phone to her friend who is an overweight middle-aged male. Out of the corner of her eye she catches her fancy man Caspar waiting for her. In an attempt to make him jealous, she states to to the male `…on your firm buttocks’ to which he mops his brow and wonders what the hell she’s going on about. It’s comedy gold.
After the victims have been injected with an anaesthetic and kidnapped by the madman, they wake up on a dissecting table with an uplifting piece of music playing while they’re being gutted. The merciless surgeons completely ignore their cries for help, which makes them seem all the more sadistic. I’ll tell you something else too, after watching this I’m going to do my best to keep out of medical centres for the foreseeable future. It successfully made me contemplate what sort of mind is on the other end of that sharp looking surgical saw.
In Anna Loos, the film has an amazing slice of eye-candy, and she flaunts her voluptuous figure in a wonderful seduction scene. The script succeeds in giving her and all the other background characters a unique personality and you do find that you what them to survive. The assailant’s identity is revealed quite early in the runtime, but there’s still some revelations before the final credits roll and the film’s unique structure is one of the biggest pluses.
Anatomy is a slickly directed, stylish horror film with brilliant dialogue and personalities that we care about. Make sure that you get the subtitled copy though as I’ve heard that it was weakly dubbed for global distribution. Still, I’m extremely pleased that I watched it again and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it too.
Killer Guise: √
Final Girl √√√√
Urban Legends: Final Cut 2000
Directed by: John Ottman
Starring: Jennifer Morrison, Eva Mendes, Hart Bochner
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
In a film packed to the brim with clichés, one character uses an equally common proverb at one point, ‘Those that can’t do teach’. Perhaps the more fitting one would have been, ‘An optician is no good when you have a toothache‘ but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The first Urban Legend was two things that the slasher genre needs, pretty darn good and very successful, so a sequel had to be on the cards. It’s never the best sign though when a second chapter doesn’t include the survivors from número uno, so instead they just brought back who they could and set it as an unrelated story in the same fictional universe. They even mention the earlier massacre, but by then it had also become an urban legend due to a cover up. Good gimmick.
At Alpine University or ‘the greatest film school in the world’ the students are each working on their own project to be entered in to ‘the Hitchcock awards’, which will give the winner a shot at Hollywood recognition. Junior director Amy Mayfield soon notices that her crew members are disappearing. Could it be that there’s a murderer on campus or is it all a prank?
The Final Cut looks the business with its high production values and expensive sets. Whilst some of the best slasher pictures of the category were either shot on unlicensed property or anywhere cheap that could be found, Ottman had a whole Bell Tower built at the same cost that was spent on the entire production of Honeymoon Horror, The Prey, Halloween and Friday the 13th. The film opens with a campy, fleetingly photographed sequence that unleashes some stylish strobe flashing lights and break-neck editing. Set aboard a plane, Ottman creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia, panic and desolation to great effect. It turns out that it’s a film within a film and even though that was supposed to be the first building block or an example of the director’s talents, unfortunately the picture had already peaked by that point.
It’s interesting nowadays to look back at these late nineties slashers and spot the fresh-faced newcomers who would go on to a big career (hey it’s Eva Mendes!) and there’s an extremely solid cast at work here. Whilst a slasher of old was really all about the director, these big financed tributes are credited with good dramatics from real performers. There was some nice bonding between the players and they were quite well-developed. I didn’t feel that I could relate to the good guys here so much, but that was more the fault of a lightweight script than bad acting.
I mentioned earlier about an optician doing nothing for a toothache and Ottman may well be a great editor and composer, but in the hot seat he doesn’t even get anywhere near his franchise predecessor, Jamie Blanks. There are numerous occasions that came so close to building suspense, but his framing is wasteful and his attempts are poorly delivered. Let’s take the first killing for example. A girl wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and notices she’s a kidney light. The killer is in the next room and unaware that she’s conscious. She accidentally slams the door shut, which alerts his attention and the boogeyman races after her and begins smashing through the paneling. Recipes for building suspense don’t come much easier to prepare than that, but the pace didn’t change at all.
There’s another great opportunity where a grim tone is built whilst the nut job is searching for our heroine, whilst she is hiding on a soundstage. Clearly frustrated, he begins playing low chords with one finger on a piano in order to unsettle his intended victim, which gives the sequence a morbid and pulsating atmosphere. It could have been really good from then on, but Ottman doesn’t really take it anywhere. Loretta Devine returns to the series as the characteristic campus security guard, but even after being stabbed and shot last time around for not believing the stories that there was a killer on the loose, she does exactly the same thing this time around and the implausibility of her actions is no less than infuriating. Ottman references Hitchcock with both the dialogue of his characters and again verbally in his final scene. For me, the best homage that he could have paid was by attempting to deliver a similar flair for suspense, which he never captures.
I couldn’t write a review of this feature without mentioning the fencing mask, which we’ve seen before in Graduation Day. Obviously, it looks better here, but I wonder if Ottman had intentionally borrowed it from that cheese feast from 1981 or it was just the recommendation of someone in wardrobe?
I guess that the mystery is good enough and it all ends with a Tarantino-esque multi-gun stand-off, which was fun; but it closes with an unshakeable feeling of hollowness. There’s too much missing here that made the first one a blast; the most obvious being the alluring sense of fun.There’s a big enough body count, some nice photography and the odd great idea that is commendable. Unfortunately, the punctured plot, lack of excitement and silly motive leave it being no more or no less than average. Not surprising that Ottman never directed again, but instead stuck to what he knows best.
Final Girl: √√
Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre 2000
Directed by: Tim Beckley
Starring: Debbie Rochon, Stephanie Hudson, DiDi
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
So here we have Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre. Let’s say that again, SANDY HOOK LINGERIE PARTY MASSACRE! What do you think of when you see that combination of words? What’s in a title anyway? Does it have a cryptic meaning? Who is Sandy Hook? What on earth am I writing about? Let’s move on…
Ok this is another of the many party-massacre flicks that includes the likes of: Bikini Party Massacre (Not to be confused with Bikini Girls on Ice), Bachelor Party Massacre, Rock Party Massacre, Pajama Party Massacre and the daddy of them all, Slumber Party Massacre.
Very hard to find on any format (I picked up mine in Moscow), Sandy Hook is another Debbie Rochon carried feature. Let me explain what I mean. Ms Rochon has built a successful career on being a half decent actress with an awesome pair of boobs. What she specialises in is attaching her name to modestly funded features, turning up for a second (usually to expose aforementioned ‘twin peaks’) and then disappearing with a healthy paycheque. Everyone’s a winner though, because she gets paid, the producers get a fairly experienced name to place above their title and her fans get to appreciate those two bad boys in all their bra-less glory. As she generally sticks to no-budget efforts, it’s fairly obvious that she has done her share of slashers. Check out: Final Examination, American Nightmare, Bleed, Bikini Bloodbath, Blood Relic and Santa Claws. Basically she’s the Linnea Quigley of the noughties.
I have a six hour train journey before me from London to Newcastle and on my fully charged iPad, I have Massacre at Rocky Ridge, Porn Shoot Massacre and this little beauty. These are three zero finance and totally obscure entries to our beloved grouping. Let’s see how I get on with the first…
Some strippers head off to a seaside resort for s break. They are told the legend of a lighthouse keeper whose reckless drinking caused a ship to crash, killing close to one hundred sailors. Soon after, he killed himself and was never brought to trial. Rumour has it that when a storm comes, he stalks the area looking for revenge and many people have disappeared. As night falls, the girls are chased and systematically slaughtered by a loon in a gimp suit.
Oh boy… Right, so I’ve had my say on lunch-money productions before, but just to recap I will tell you that as a critic, I appreciate that it’s hard to make a decent feature when you’ve got no money. I have kept this in mind and will only rate this on what I thought the crew did right and wrong. So we have our six (or seven?) strippers. They have the boobies for sure, but aside from Debbie Rochon, they also have the bellies to match. Here begins the film’s fundamental flaw.
It’s not just because these girls are awful actresses. We are used to that by now. It’s just that they’re incredibly unappealing and a runtime filled with them gets very long and very boring very quickly. To break it down: We get to watch fat chicks dancing on a bridge for ten minutes. Then we get fat chicks playing beach-ball for the same length of time. Then, said fatties go to an abandoned amusement park for a while and then we see them make dinner. By this point in the runtime, I was literally screaming: “F**king slaughter them already!” Perhaps the film’s kill shot in terms of a decent ranking comes during the lightweight lesbian scene, which could in effect be a sumo match. Yes, it’s poor; – astronomically so. Also, Dios mío, I didn’t mention the nipple and tongue piercing scene…errrrrghhhh!
After an hour (you read right – a full sixty minutes) the masked killer turns up (awesome mask btw) and we get down to business. Most of the murders are too dark to see but one of them is ok. There’s a twist that you couldn’t give a flying flip about and an open ending too. The maniac uses a hook-like weapon and stalks using typical POV. A film really has to be abysmal to get slated by me on this site, because I always hope to uncover a title that no one else has given time to. This however is most DEFINITELY not one of those.
So what did Mr.Creepo (The film’s producer and a guy so egotistical that he makes his characters discuss whether they would go to bed with him) – do wrong? Well, in the UK, they have the descriptive term ‘chav’. If that word is unfamiliar to you, then this explanation will not be. ‘Chavs’ are people generally aged between fifteen and thirty-five who don’t work, live off benefits, have minimal education, wear baseball caps, swear a lot and generally offer nothing except a tax burden to society. They reside in every country and are easier to find than you might think. I don’t like them, you don’t like them and we certainly don’t care to watch them in a movie. Now although I can’t say for sure that these girls are actually chavs; I can dislike their vulgar talk, lack of class and generally low-level conveyance. The plot could have instead tried to build personalities that we care about, but there’s not even one.
Every second word from their mouths is either about sex or their lady lumps, which to be fair is all that they have to offer. It’s perhaps worth noting that Hook is billed as a horror/comedy, but the only horror to be found here is the inane attempt every now and then to be humorous. These ‘jokes’ are so unevenly placed that they make little sense.
There is one, believe it or not, very good shot. It shows the killer creeping up behind our final girl, who as you may have already guessed happens to be Ms Rochon. One and only the one decent moment in a hundred and twenty-five minute flick is just not good enough and the film, like the aforementioned chav, has nothing left to redeem it.
A wiseman once said that the key to a good life is making the most of every minute because as each one passes, you never get them back. I urge you not to waste yours on Sandy Hook as it is without a shadow of a doubt as rancid as a night in a decaying concrete tomb. Forget it
Killer Guise: √√√√
Final Girl: √√
Directed by: Kimble Randall
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Napier, Erika Walters
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Funny how opinions change over the years, isn’t it? I wonder if critics like Ebert and the like watch movies for a second time and find something more that they missed initially? I saw Cut when it was released in 2000 and I was nineteen years old. I had followed its production and had hoped it would be as good as the snippets that I’d read had made it sound, because thanks to some brilliant marketing, it had been covered everywhere that I looked. When I received my copy however, the only feeling was one of disappointment. Was it my expectations being too high? I cant be sure, but this time around, some twelve years later, I had a totally different experience.
On the set of the eighties slasher movie, ‘Hot Blooded!’ director Hilary Jacobs gets tired of the constant mistakes from actor Brad and she fires him on the spot and embarrasses him in front of his colleagues. Later he heads over to ask for another chance, but she insults him even more, which makes him go berserk and he kills her. He is prevented from going on a further spree by the quick thinking instincts of Vanessa Turnbill, the lead actress, who gives him a rapid tracheotomy, which ends in Brad being seemingly electrocuted. It seems however that his death leaves a curse on Hot Blooded and all who try to watch or remake it.
Present day Australia, a group of drama pupils attempt to finish the film for their graduation. They bring back Vanessa Turnbill to co-star and put together a cast, ignoring the rumours of the hex. Almost as soon as they arrive on the secluded location, a masked killer begins to murder the members of the crew. But how can they kill something that’s already dead?
Interestingly enough, I watched this the day after Fright Flick and coincidentally the two features are quite similar. Both place their story on the production of a fictional slasher movie and they have the same smooth blend of graphic horror and witty scripting. Cut is generally considered as Australia’s attempt at creating an entry in to the catalogue of Scream inspired new age slasher flicks, but it actually takes a slightly different route in the delivery of its plot. Whereas Urban Legend, Cherry Falls – actually almost every slasher released since 1996 – aimed to imitate Kevin Williamson’s heavy use of mystery in working out the killer’s identity, David Warner’s screenplay owes more to its cousins of old by giving us a REAL bogeyman and one that we know about from the start. The killer is blessed with a strong presence, excellent guise and neat weapon of choice (a modified garden shear). He stalks and heavy breathes using the methods of old; the ones that Wes Craven didn’t reference when he relaunched the genre. There’s a great sequence when he attacks two characters that have locked themselves in a car and instead of the usual brick through the window technique or pitchfork through the roof, he just takes some gasoline and sets it on fire!
The film that they are shooting incorporates a maniac that wears the same guise and mask as the actual killer, so there are a few times when the characters mistake the psychopathic stalker for their buddy right up to the moment that he draws his weapon and swipes. This leads to an amusing scene when the two ‘bogeymen’ come face to face (or mask to mask) – Guess who comes off worse? In fact, the screenwriter showed a good flair for black humour, especially by doing something that many people with a dislike of corny pop music have wanted to do for years – cut out Kylie Minogue’s tongue. No, seriously! The few players that do live long enough to realise that they’re facing doom put up a really good fight and it makes the deaths more exciting. I thought Erika Waters’ pre-demise performance was great and I was disappointed that she was written out so quickly. She seemed to be a good actress and by far the most beautiful of the females, so it’s a surprise that she hasn’t done anything else since. The dramatics are slasher-standard, meaning they’re ok for this kind of film, but credit to the producer for getting a couple of big names involved, including of course the ten-minute cameo from Kylie. Jessica Napier was good as the brave final girl and Molly Ringwald shows her ability as the spunky anti-heroine, creating a persona that we wanted to survive despite her non-endearing arrogance.
The movie is slickly produced with a good score and neat soundtrack including classic Split Enz hit, ‘I Got You’. The attempt at maintaining a momentum is continuous and the director pulls off some good stuff. The deaths are numerous and creative, but I was disappointed that they didn’t do more with the make-up effects. Cut plays like a R rated feature and lacks the ambition to put on screen the initiative that had been dreamed up during the writing. There’s a decapitation and a neat death where a girl gets her head squished by a large power tool, but you don’t really see any of it and the effects amount too a gallon or so of fake blood. It also gets very silly toward the climax as a character that was presumed dead reappears despite having a pipe through his throat, but the way that they finally stop the maniac is intriguing and well conveyed.
I don’t expect to get scared by slasher films of modern times and I have said previously, they are a similar cinematic experience to chick flicks. Nowadays, We know what to expect and we realise that the acting won’t be great, but we still want to have some fun and see people get squished. Cut delivers as a good time popcorn flick and it does nothing wrong if that’s what you’re looking for. By no means a classic, but I have most definitely changed my first opinion.
Final Girl: √√√
Killer Instinct 2000
Directed by: Ken Barbet
Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Dee Wallace, Paige Moss
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Killer Instinct opens with a horde of vigilantes chasing a bloodied someone through some smartly lighted woodland. After stopping to stab an unfortunate fellow that has his back turned, the assailant is eventually caught and overpowered. He must’ve really upset these townsfolk because out comes the noose and the unidentified man is hung by the neck until the screen fades.
Clichés abound when the words 15 years later pop up on the screen and we’re introduced to a troupe of banal teens that discuss a massacre that occurred that many years earlier, which it seems was all the work of the aforementioned guy that we saw strung up in the pre-credits. (Explanation is not the film’s strong point) Meanwhile, we are given a sub-plot concerning a businesswoman (Dee Wallace Stone) who wants – or is trying to purchase – some property from a ‘desperate for the pay-cheque’ Corbin Bernsen. Anyway back to the teens, who are now talking about spending the night in the abandoned asylum where the slayings took place a decade and a half earlier. Their posse consists of the all the typical ingredients that are now solidly encrypted into the slasher movie guidebook: annoying guy, slut, randy couple, token (and first to be killed) black dude and girl that can sense the danger that lies ahead. Come on, by now you know the drill!
They finally make their way into the desolate building, which really looks a lot more like a normal house. It’s also worth noting that for a place that has been left to rot for fifteen years, it’s extremely well preserved. There are no light bulbs, so an unusually large amount of candles give us our illumination, but we don’t know where they got them from, because I didn’t see any of the gang with so much as a rucksack. Meanwhile unbeknownst to the youngsters, their chances of leaving have just taken a knock, due to the doors and windows being mysteriously locked.
After a while, it’s decided that a game is in order, preferably one that’ll split the group up so they can wander off to their doom. They choose to take off their underwear and put it in a bag so one of their number can hide them around the location before they all head off to find it. Imagine an Easter Egg hunt, but without the eggs… just grubby undies…hmmm. Ok… But before they leave, Wendy (Paige Moss) digs through the briefs and shows them to everyone so that they can all have a jolly good giggle. (I am not kidding, this actually happened). That makes these guys the first slasher victims that I’ve seen with underwear fetishes.
It’s hardly shocking when we learn that a masked killer seems to think that their numbers need trimming and sets up some death traps around the place so that they have to fight for survival
Killer Instinct boasts some competent photography and the darkened set locations look fairly spooky. The methods of murder are authentic and also a bit more creative than I was expecting. My favourite was when a guy lying on a bed was showered with broken glass from a trap door above him. One piece slices straight through his stomach and is next seen sticking to the floor below the mattress. There was also a smart decapitation and the use of a venomous snake, which is at least, a new one on me.
When the killer is unmasked at the end, you’ll be fairly surprised at the conclusion. I must admit that it wasn’t one that I’d have immediately guessed. Keeping that in mind though, it has to be said that it was rather impossible for him to commit the murders before changing clothes inexplicably quickly so as to keep up the appearance of innocence. Credit should be given to the director for taking out the most annoying character first. If we’d have had to suffer his painful gurning any longer, I’m sure pressing the eject switch would’ve become a more burning temptation.
‘Every cliché has a grain of truth in it’ mouths one dim-witted character, which could only have been included in the script as an attempt to excuse the director’s blatant thefts from previous genre pieces. Here it looks like he’s been watching the housebound slashers of yesteryear like House of Death and House on Sorority row, using them as subject matter for this obvious imitation.
The cast is just what you’ve come to expect from this grade of movie. You know, lame, untalented and completely uninspired. Paige Moss was probably the most convincing, but she was still weak, which left no one that we could really root for. Bernsen and Stone were equally mundane and were both really slumming it and adding yet another nail to their rapidly sinking career coffins.
Generally, I can live with average dramatics, but the film’s most unforgivable flaw is its horrendously slow pacing. The two separate plot lines seem as if they have very little in common with one another and I found it hard to keep track of the names of any of the characters, because they were so instantly forgettable. I really couldn’t find anything to be excited about in either the failed attempts at suspense or the leisurely paced showdown. At one point the house caught fire, which sparked some amusing shots of a scaled model burning that were so obviously fake, it was painful. All this adds up to a picture that will bore you to tears before the final credits have rolled and therefore, it’s not really worth checking out
I can’t really think of many pluses, except to say that at least this movie was more an out and out slasher than yet another ‘I know the rules’ semi-parody. I believe that director Ken Barbet was actually aware of the titles of the boom years and really wanted to make his own inclusion to line up alongside the old-skool heavyweights instead of just trying to be clever and mock them. But with that said, it’s offerings as mediocre as Killer Instinct that are killing off the stalk and slash genre. Although famous for its staggering repetition, the loveable sub-category needs ambition and reinvention if it’s going to survive many more years. I bought this because I read somewhere that it was gory with a healthy production budget. Neither of those comments are true though and it’s pretty forgettable.
Oh and don’t trust the cover picture. There are no skeletons here…
Final Girl √√