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Porkchop 2010 Review

PorkChop 2010

Directed by: Eamon Hardiman

Starring: Derek Rydall, Jonathan Goldsmith, Kari Whi 

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

Whilst slasher directors are regularly mocked by critics, I wonder if they really get the appreciation that they deserve. I mean, let’s examine this a little more closely. With 1,000+ titles in existence, do you know how hard it must be to choose a unique mask for your antagonist? Let’s be thankful 784874984984894984904949040404004for those that just keep their killer off-screen throughout the runtime, because if not, there would be no masks left for up and coming filmmakers to choose from.7857887498498498494900939030930333

Eamon Hardiman found the solution for that conundrum by going for a pig headpiece. I can hazard a guess at how he came up with the idea, it likely went something like, ‘hmmm what guise should I use for my slasher? Perhaps a dog? No – they’re man’s best friend, so not shocking enough. A bull? Hmmm well, they’re pretty threatening, but they remind me of a burger. No, we can’t have a killer Big Mac. A pig? Well Evilspeak had hogs in it. Ok, that’ll do, let’s move along. Now l know that pigs get killed in slaughterhouses (but so do cows, chickens, sheep etc) and slaughterhouses are scary, so there’s more to this idea than just animal lovin’. In fairness to Hardiman, whatever the reason for his choice, Porkchop certainly led the way in creative killer garbs for the year two-o-one-zero…

A gang of dweebs head off to a campsite in the woods for a spot of the usual antics. They fail to take heed of the legend of Porkchop – a 78578578894984940940940449904pig-masked killer that is rumoured to stalk the local vicinity. Before long he’s after the campers with a chainsaw and a sledgehammer…

One thing that we all know about the slasher genre is that originality is rarely found amongst titles. Halloween was indeed so iconic that many of its cinematic inventions are duplicated even today. In modern times, there’s a common element that we see more and more in post-Scream productions that makes no sense to me at all. It’s the process of filling a story with totally unlikeable characters. I have hurt my head thinking about this and I cannot uncover any logic in the approach or why we see it so often. On a basic psychological level, fear derives from the threat of something that could happen to you or someone that you care about. Whilst films are obviously just fantasy, there’s a big difference between how we feel towards a character like Laurie Stroud or how we feel about ‘forgot what her name is girl’ from Porkchop. It’s a trend in recent times for slasher movies to pack their casts with boring, loutish idiots and it’s amazing in many respects how many crews stick with this methodology76457647847848383893893893983989833

In Hardiman’s slasher, we get a stereotypical punk rocker(?) with an awful English accent (I thought he was Australian at first), a guy who is cheating on his girlfriend with a ditsy teenager, a porn obsessed geek, two foul-mouthed sluts and a robot (?) voiced by Dan Hicks as the source of comic relief. R2D2 and C3PO were perfect humour providers in the original Star Wars pictures and that may have been the idea here. I don’t remember seeing a prop made of yoghurt pots taking a chick from behind in any Star Wars movie though and they could’ve ripped off Jar Jar Binks (cringe) and it would’ve made the same nonsensical 7857857848489489390309390303003333impact. We look on for an hour as these poorly acted, heinously scripted jerks make jokes that progressively become more vomit inducing whilst we are left begging for the killer to turn up and put us out or misery.

When ‘Pig-Head’ finally gets to slashing, the first couple of campers are butchered off screen, which is a huge disappointment because the pre credits murder was explicitly gory and promised so much. In fact, I have to ask whether that opening sequence was bolted on later, presumably after a distributor gave them more money to inject some pizazz. The scene builds up so well, with the killer’s boots traipsing through some undergrowth whilst a stunning chica whips off her top to unveil a lovely pair of jubblies. We get a superb machete through head effect and then what follows is a ski slope to ineptsville as the film leisurely strolls through its clichéd footpath. I can give credit for the eighties references (a hideously acted guy screams ‘you’re doomed’ ala Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th), the chicks are hotter than usual and the part where Deb uncovers the bodies of her chums is stylish with its red-ish tint and creepy scoring. 76575784874894939393939033My main gripe is with the characters, which are as appealing as having your appendix removed by Cropsy. Without anaesthetic.

All this leaves me wondering, what if Hardiman had scripted his cast to be likeable youngsters that we see bond over an hour’s build up? They wouldn’t have had to be good natured, we could’ve had an insecure slutty type like Donna from Humongous for example. The group could’ve grown as friends as normal people do and then when the psychopath makes 767547848758949898493493903093903an appearance, we might have rooted for them to overcome the evil, just like in any film with a well-developed protagonist. Instead, we get an overlong, poorly directed bore that I’d forgotten about moments after it’d finished.

It’s worth mentioning that Hardiman’s entry was successful enough to have a follow-up and a remake of sort that was filmed in 3D. I haven’t seen either so can’t really comment on whether the level of quality had improved, but I am mystified by Porkchop’s popularity. It offers little more than either Blood Reaper or Memorial Day and should really be thought of with the same amount of adulation. I’d go as far as to say that Camp Blood was better. Even Carnage Roa…. Ok, ok… that’s going too far…

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Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√√

Gore:√√√

Final Girl:√√

RATING:

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Blood Junkie 2010 Review

Blood Junkie 2010

aka Rocky Trails

Directed by: Drew Rosas

Starring: Nick Sommer, Emily Treolo, Ross Bachhuber

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Over the past couple of days, I’ve watched Bloody Moon and Do You Wanna Know a Secret one after the other. 98876765566767Despite being similar films in terms of their genre and content, the most obvious difference between the two is one that I have highlighted previously: charm. Is Bloody Moon a better example of filmmaking than Secret? No; but at least it doesn’t have a cast full of unlikeable 89876556678789898and egotistical cliches that we can’t relate to. Eighties slasher movies, no matter how bad that they may have been, were successful in giving us characters that we liked. There’s no bigger or better drama in cinema than hoping a hero or heroine that we’ve invested in prevails against an evil force.

Director Drew Rosas understands this and has given us a slasher movie that has stolen the keys to Dr Emmet Brown’s time-travelling DeLorean and taken us back to the category’s past glories.

Four beer loving teens decide to take a weekend’s camping trip on some secluded woodland. Due to the fact that one of them was babysitting and can’t leave her kid brother alone, they decide to take him along. During their hike 9887676567878989809through the woodland, they uncover an abandoned factory, which has various legends of a disfigured loon that dwells within. They soon begin to discover that those stories may be true.

I must confess that it’s been a while since I’ve seen a picture distributed by Troma. Whilst I have never been a fan of their love of toilet humour, they must take some credit for their part in helping to populate the slasher cycle with some good and bad additions. These include Blood Hook, The Creeper, Angel Negro and Girls School Screamers. Blood Junkie is arguably the cannon of their arsenal, which I87876767677898989do mean as a compliment.

What we have here is a feature that’s hard to take a swipe at. Having seen as much DTV crap as I have over the years, it’s nice to finally get an entry where the amount of effort is so visually obvious that it radiates. Unlike The Sleeper, the eighties continuity here is OTT, but consistent. We see cassette tapes, moustaches, boob tubes and luminous tops; but what amused me the most was the Hair Metal posters that were shown on one guy’s wall. I lived through those times, listened to those tracks and it seems like light years away nowadays. The energetic score is better than any actual synthesiser accompaniment that I recall from the period and the dialogue is comical without being overtly obvious in its attempts. Each shot is planned to be more inventive than the last and the runtime becomes a livewire of 876756787987989809809creative ideas. For reasons that I can’t disclose here, Junkie is also a film that warrants a second viewing to really bring the best out of the unexpected ending.

What I thought was especially effective, was the director’s ability to change the tone successfully and with minimal effort. Time spent with the characters is campy and fun, whilst scenes that involve the killer often border on being quite creepy. His costume is a gas mask, which is anything but original, but it is ok because his motive is fairly unique. Much like a vampire, he has a taste for human blood and he knocks victims unconscious and drains them in a secluded room. This leads to an ingenious use of the aforementioned headpiece, because the nutjob inserts the protruding hose into a victim and then sucks through it 898776566567879898to give himself a warm hemoglobin smoothie!

Despite the novelty of the blood draining part, the abduction, instead of slaughter of teens, does lead to a lack of slashing. The first couple of murders are committed off screen and it’s only later that the maniac begins to attack with brutality. There’s a gooey throat slashing that serves 878656567878789only to inform us of what we could have been in for had Rosas structured his antagonist’s MO more typically. The less is more approach doesn’t necessarily work in low budget slashers.

Still, Blood Junkie was a pleasure to sit through and there’s enough here to prove that Rosas is an exquisite horror filmmaker. His audacious directive style makes him something of a B-movie Wes Anderson and I am eagerly awaiting Billy Club, which should be released shortly.

At 72 minutes, Junkie could never be accused of outstaying its welcome and it’s a film that I feel deserves some of your time.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√

Gore: √√

Final Girl:

RATING:securedownload (1)a-slash-above-logo11a-slash-above-logo11

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Sawblade 2010 Review

Sawblade 2010

Directed by: Dennis Devine

Starring: Reggie Bannister, Mark Alan, Jed Rowen

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Well dear readers, here I have a bit of an exclusive for you. Sawblade has yet to secure a release globally and seeing as it was completed in 2010, chances are now that it never will be sitting on your shelf on any purchasable format.

Another of the many David Sterling productions, it was directed by Dennis Devine. Now if you know your slasher movies, then that name should ring a bell. He was involved with the development of titles such as Fatal Images, Dead Girls, Club Dead and Bloodstream on the decent indie label Cinematrix along with Steve Jarvis and Mike Bowler. ‘Matrix is no longer releasing flicks, so in order to carry on working, Devine has linked up with Sterling and kept busy ever since. Something of a slasher movie heavyweight, he has been on the crew or in the chair on eight or so genre pieces. His career has been varied in terms of output quality. In 2007, his psychological thriller, Caregiver was one of the best B-movies of that year and the light hearted Dewitt and Maria from 2010 displayed a previously unseen ability for creating warmth and positivity in a screenplay. Whatever your opinion on his filmography, it must be said that he makes the most of the resources that are given to him. It’s always an argument that possibly even someone like David Lynch would struggle on a budget of $20,000.

Perhaps his most recognised piece is Dead Girls from 1989. Not only is it a noted stalk and slash flick, but it is also one of the few heavy metal horrors from the peak period. Sawblade also has a plot that incorporates a hard rock group in to its synopsis and therefore I was keen to see how well Devine would handle a return to the neighborhood that brought him his biggest success.

Up and coming rockers Sawblade are offered the chance to shoot their début video in a recently opened studio. Their manager has the idea of locking them in overnight and having the press awaiting in the morning when the doors first open. Unbeknownst to them, they are recording on the site where vicious killer Elliot Benson was entombed some 25 years earlier. Without a key, the youngsters are left alone until the break of dawn with the menace who returns from the grave to cause havoc with a few trusty blades…

Chemistry is such a beautiful thing. You can’t touch it but you can feel it. You can’t see it, but it’s there and uncannily obvious. It’s absolutely unmistakeable. It exists in all walks of life, but is very rarely mentioned. Let me describe an example that most of you have most probably experienced if you’ve been fortunate enough. You go out on a date. After the initial getting to know you period and perhaps a few drinks you both feel this uncontrollable urge to begin cuddling and kissing. Your head will be reminding you of that unwritten rule that your folks told you about and those words echo in your head: ‘it’s too early’, ‘we hardly know each other’. You just can’t control yourself though and the magical feeling draws you closer as your heart says ‘ignore your head.‘ There are those (me included) that are spontaneous enough to pick future partners on the strength of such chemistry and it’s an occurrence that most definitely does not strike many times in one lifetime. Such nights usually don’t end up where you initially expected them to and are a big slap in the face of traditional values. But hey; you only live once, right? A wise man once said that you don’t remember when you grow older about the reports that you had to get done before eight on Monday morning, which you spent hours working on. But you never forget or regret those times of amazing passion like I have described.

Chemistry can be discovered in cinema too if you look hard enough. Take for example that wonderful scene from Tony Scott’s True Romance. Heavyweights Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken sit opposite each other to deliver a master class in acting during the Sicilian history lesson sequence. The way that they both bounce off of each other with such a natural connection is flawless and it must have been partly due to the vibe in the air that day between them. Sawblade also has a kind of chemistry, but unfortunately it’s on completely the opposite side of the scale. There is no worse sight in cinema than a few appalling actors on screen at the same time and here it feels as if they are trying to out perform each other with the levels of their ineptitude.

Calling them ‘actors’ is in itself a fallacy. I mean, surely if you logically planned for a career in the movies, you would have at some point at least been to an audition or a rehearsal where it would have been proven early on what we, the viewer, have to discover during this exercise in restraint? I work in sales. Now sales is a tough racket, which not everyone can succeed in. Many firms will hire graduates fresh from Uni with the idea of seeing if they can cut it or not. Most of them don’t. However, at least the people on the sales-floor try a bit. There’s a scene in Sawblade that’s supposed to be quite aggressive. It’s like a typical confrontation that looks set to go to fisticuffs, but the four players speak like a group of elderly buddies that are about to have a muffin and a cup of tea. Any suspense or atmosphere is totally destroyed by the obvious lack of effort from the performers and the film becomes almost comedic very quickly.

The characters are also laughably developed to the point of being infuriating. Each one is conceited, shallow and it doesn’t help that they are given dialogue that seems to have been written by a rebellious fourteen year-old. There’s a lot of vulgar swear words and talk about ‘ass kicking’ and gags that only the aforementioned teenager would find amusing. The killer reminds me of the nut job from Honeymoon Horror in terms of his appearance, but even that forgettable entry from the early eighties would wipe the floor in terms of entertainment levels with this half-hearted throwaway. As fans of slasher cinema, we are used to experiencing poor continuity and silly plot devices, because let’s be honest, usually that’s the most fun that there is to be had. One thing that is totally unforgivable however is that Sawblade feels like its been pushed together and rushed out the door with minimal effort from those involved and it doesn’t even make an attempt to cover up the fact. Towards the end of the runtime there’s not just one, but two silly twists and although the first is totally predictable, the second is mind boggling and laughable. The killer works his was through a large number of victims, but the obvious lack of budget means that the effects are expectedly cruddy. On the plus side, things move along quite quickly and you’ll never get bored. I am just not sure whether you will have the paciencia to sit through the inane scripting and annoying personas that adorn the screen from start to finish.

I don’t blame Dennis Devine, as he was most likely given a 7 day shoot time and $15k to make a slasher flick. Some of his photography is quite audacious (watch out for a couple of Argento-esque shock attempts) and the movie certainly doesn’t look too bad. From what I have heard, he’s a really nice guy and passionate about the genre, so it’d be nice to see him get back to working with Jarvis and putting out some more of the type of titles that he unleashed during the nineties. You know, I would like nothing better than to sing the praises of a film that has not yet been released and start a campaign to get it out on the shelves. I am a fan of the little guys and always defend my favourite horror genre. There’s just no way that I can do that with Sawblade though as it is a feature devoid of quality. I’m glad that I watched it, but I wouldn’t want to have to sit through it again.

If you really want to see an unreleased flick that deserves a stab at recognition, try and check out Bloodstream from the same director, but Sawblade should be left in the vaults of Allied Entertainment.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:

Final Girl: √

RATING:

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Los Ojos De Julia 2010 Review

Los Ojos De Julia 2010

Directed by: Guillem Morales

Starring: Belén Rueda, Pablo Derqui, Lluis Homar

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

I had been long anticipating the release of this one, as on paper it looked like exactly my kind of flick. Shot in my home 78657647546country, by a director that had received rave reviews for his thriller, The Uninvited Guest and with links to Guillermo Del Toro, it sounded like a combination of the highest quality. Spain has enjoyed glorious recognition recently for our cinematic conquests under the likes of Almodovar, but I have always felt that we have been authentic with our style of drama, even when it was confined within Spanish borders. Although I’d be wrong to say never, I must admit that there’s rarely a middle-ground with our unique methodology. It’s either Oscar worthy or very, very bad.675675467467373737822

Of late, I don’t read reviews before seeing a film myself, because I like to have a mind completely free of pre-judgement. Whilst waiting for my DVD to arrive however I had a quick browse at a write-up that started with, ‘Spanish filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (he’s Mexican), returns to the horror genre with his next script (he didn’t write it). Oh the joys of researching your subject! After that, I read no more. Del Toro is at the stage now that he is so successful that anything related to him builds excitement. His work is deserving of such accolades, but it could be either a good or bad thing for an up and coming director like Guillem Morales. He would have to pull out all the stops to deal with the gargantuan expectations set by that reference and he may struggle to get the recognition that he could deserve in the aftermath.

After Julia’s twin-sister Sara commits suicide in her basement, her sibling suspects that she was actually murdered. They shared a degenerative problem in their eyes, which means that at any moment, they can lose sight if put under 6746746738732782828282extreme stress. The Police believe that Sara had lost the will to live when an operation failed and therefore she had to come to terms with the fact that she could never see again. Julia decides to explore her sister’s private life, because she can’t shake the belief that a more sinister force is at work. She soon begins being stalked by an unseen menace and decides to prove alone that she is right before she completely loses her vision.

Ok so let’s clear up a few home truths. This is not a slasher movie per-say; it’s a thriller that utilises elements from the genre. Morales is gleefully aware of the trappings and proves it by including obvious references, such as a heavy-breath POV shot and some typical use of shadow play. Like most Spanish films, the plot here is brought alive through strong realistic performances and the ability to place the viewer in the shoes of the protagonist. Belén Rueda is superb as the ‘final girl’ and her portrayal is honest, heartfelt, colourful and note-perfect. The film touches on a juxtaposition of emotions from cheesy romance to teeth-clenching suspense and the simple transition is all down to the pedigree of the actors.

What makes up an adept Giallo? Well for me, it’s a compelling mystery, a dose of suspense and most importantly some panache in the photography. Los Ojos de Julia ticks all those boxes and excels in its capability to generate momentum. There are some great set pieces here, including a chase sequence through a corridor that makes good use of its lighting and there’s a terrifically creepy moment in a room filled with blind 89667856people that is startling in its delivery. Morales shows the flair of a young Argento and the technical knowhow to pull it off. Seasoned veterans may work out the mystery (I did), but there’s enough red-herrings to keep you transfixed.

At 105 minutes, this is no quickie, but it makes up for its possessiveness with runtime, by keeping you on the edge of your seat. I found it easy to keep track of the characters and I enjoyed the multiple moments of tenderness that break-up the suspense. Where Ojos does struggle is with its overuse of cliché in the final third. After such a great opening, the script seems to run up blind alleys quite a bit and an intelligent heroine is reduced to the usual run upstairs instead of out of the door antics. It has the cheesiest ending that I remember for some time, but for an old romantic like me, it was totally acceptable. The lack of a humongous body count (six killings) may be 64674673737823872872872872a deterrent for my regular readers, but this does include enough slasher moments in its wallet so that you won’t be that disappointed. There’s a couple of macabre killings and an unwatchable scene involving a syringe and an eyeball.

Los Ojos De Julia is a stylish modern return to the Giallo with a couple of decent murders and some neat suspense. It utilises some of the best parts of Spanish drama to keep the plot rolling and chucks in some nice sequences, camera tricks and even a few scares. It’s not perfect by any means, but as good as any of the Hollywood thrillers that have been chucked out recently. If anything, take a gander for the brilliant performance from the gorgeous Belén Rueda.

Kick the slasher genre as much as you want, but this proves that there’s still life in the old dog yet.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore:√

Final Girl: √√√√√

RATING:  

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