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Click: The Calendar Girl Killer 1989 Review

Click: The Calendar Girl Killer 1989

Directed by: Joe Stewart, Ross Hagen

Starring: Ross Hagen, Gregory Scott Cummins, Troy Donahue

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Review by Luis Joaquín González

I picked up a VHS copy of Click The Calendar Girl Killer for $1 on Amazon back in the early noughties and I’ve wanted to post a review of it for ages, because it is indeed 434565768798876654545something of a slasher obscurity. I’ve never managed to get past the thirty-minute mark in previous attempts at watching, but I was determined to make a go of it this time around after receiving an enquiry from one of you lovely peeps via my Facebook page.4343456576878787877676

As far as I could make out, it leisurely tells the tale of an up and coming fashion photographer that enjoys snapping hot chicas in bizarre situations. Think Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Chicks that love Guns’ short from Jackie Brown and it should give you an idea of his artistic tendencies. Anyway, he invites a group of hopefuls away to a spot in the wilderness to complete an important shoot, but it seems there’s a psychopathic drag-queen-masked-killer on the loose that is determined to ruin the party.

This time last year, pretty much everyone I knew was getting soaked from the 76376387628729829820922#icebucketchallenge phenomenon, which was a great idea to raise some funds for good causes. I’m thinking of launching my own charitable event soon, with the task being, ‘Try watching Click: The Calendar Girl Killer for a whole hour without: yawning, checking your phone, fast-forwarding or poking your eyes out with cocktail sticks.’ I tell you, it’s nigh on impossible. The film rolls through its first sixty-minutes like a collection of personal videos from a weirdo’s iPhone gallery. Characters appear and then disappear at the drop of a hat and scenes merge together in a row without a lick of sense between them. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a runtime that’s so incomprehensibly disjointed and it makes for a tiresome viewing experience. The girl that I was watching it with was so disgruntled that she begged me to turn it off and put on something else. For 4565768789988776766the love of my a SLASH above readers, I continued (alone), and I’m not sure if even I’ve recovered yet.

If there was an award for the length of time it takes for a killer to turn up in a slasher movie, Click would be in the running to win hands-down. After an hour of mindless tedium, the pace does perk up slightly when the maniac (dressed in drag) begins slicing his way through the models and their beaus. There’s one ok-ish death scene in a bath tub, but it barely makes up for the boredom that we’ve suffered whilst getting there. Many sites have this flick listed as a thriller but it’s definitely a slasher movie. It includes everything from a (very bad) whodunit aspect to heavy breath 657687879887766576POVs and a smidgen of nudity.

Like many of its eighties genre buddies, Click suffered one hell of a bemusing development, which certainly aided in the creation of the barely logical structure that we’re left with today. I have found out that the project was pitched around to agencies as a Union backed feature and a cast was hired under the impression that their contracts were secured by a regulatory body. When the SAG became aware seventeen-days into the shoot that there actually wasn’t any Union supporting the production, they pulled most of their members from the site, which left a host of scenes unfinished. This of course explains the disappearance of so many characters without rhyme or reason. Now I’m only speculating, but after the loss of those experienced faces, it could be that Hagen threatened to walk too unless he could take more of a lead on the development. The credits list him as producer, co-screenwriter (there’s ‘six’ of them) and co-director and the film does play like something of a vanity product for the veteran actor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because he delivers an interesting performance, but it does feel like it’s entirely focussed on him and him only.43456576877665454545

There are rumours rumbling around the internet that former Friday the 13th babe Juliette Cummings gave up on horror movies after such an unsettling experience with this production. I’ve also read an interview within which she states that she doesn’t know anything about Click: The Calendar Girl Killer and her scenes were taken from a clip show for the promotional reel of a mid-eighties feature that she thought nothing became of. It’s her belief that someone purchased those parts that she’d completed previously and then spliced them into the current version of this feature. She went on to say, “Amazing! You 434565879898877665can shoot something and never know what it’s going to be used for!” Her statement creates more questions than it does answers, because she is clearly seen in scenes with Hagen, another Friday the 13th babe: Susan Jennifer Sullivan, and co-star Gregory Scott Cummins (from Hack-O-Lantern fame). This can only mean either that: a) She was extremely bitter to the crew behind Click (She was left uncredited), so when she said she had no idea about its existence, that wasn’t the truth. Or b) It’s a film that was shot in about 1985 then left in a vault until some new footage was spliced in towards the end of the decade and it was patched up and released as is. I mean that certainly explains the mess that we’re left with, but I’ve searched and searched on the Internet and that’s all the information that I could uncover. I was having an email 43465768798989878766conversation with someone who was involved with the film, but they didn’t respond when I asked about the date that it was shot. So the mystery remains open to interpretation

What we’re left with is a jumbled picture that there’s really no reason for anyone to sit through. The potential was certainly there for an eighties cheese-fest, what with all those models and mullets, but aside from a couple of energetic performances, it’s mostly a boring knot of badness that’s impossible to enjoy. It’s probably the most mixed-up slasher that I’ve ever sat through and that really is saying something. 

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√

Gore:√

Final Girl:√

RATING:

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Girls Schools Screamers 1985 Review

Girls School Screamers 1986

Directed by: John P Finnegan

Starring: Molly O’ Mara,Sharon Christopher, Mari Butler

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Imagine taking a film, any film in fact, and bolting on top scenes that would turn it into a slasher movie. You could have, say, a psychopathic mobster trimming the cast list of The Godfather. It’d be something like Cleaver from The Sopranos. Just remove the current deaths of Moe Green, Luca Brasi and Sonny 6644322133445576Corleone and splice in footage of a masked menace doing the deeds with a pitchfork. It makes me wonder how Casablanca might look with an extended chase sequence that sees Inga Berman pursued by a maniac in a burlap sack? Do you think it could work? CGI is pretty good nowadays. 7555764444

Whilst that does of course sound somewhat far fetched, Troma, the studio responsible for a number of cinematic curiosities, did exactly that when they picked up budget haunted house flick, The Portrait in late 1985. John P Finnegan had set out with absolutely no experience to make himself a motion picture. He pencilled a script and sourced funding independently in order to realise his dream. With $100,000 to play with, he called the University of New York and asked if they had any students that may be interested in his project. Within a couple of months, he had secured a cast of 18, a full crew and a superb location. His original intention had been to create a Hitchcockian tale of the ghosts of an incestuous relationship returning home. Troma agreed to distribute his work only if they could call it Girls School Screamers and shoehorn in some slasher action. The net result is an entry that can best be described as, well, something of a curiosity.

Seven fresh faced college girls have just found out that they’re going to be spending four days cleaning up an old Victorian mansion. It had been left to the school in the will of a recently deceased entrepreneur who stated that they could renovate or sell it. 5332445679The youngsters pack their bags and head to the location, but soon learn that they could be in for more than they bargained for.

Look, I’ll give it to you straight, I’m not a massive fan of the supernatural/slasher hybrids that I’ve come across. Whilst there are a couple that have taken parts of each sub-genre and created a passable combination, more often than not, the strength of one style brings out the weaknesses in the other. I guess that in the same way I wouldn’t like a possessed child turning up during the conclusion of Halloween, I wouldn’t feel great about Michael Myers slashing his way through The Exorcist either. The glaring possibilities for creative expression make it seem strange that we haven’t yet been treated to a truly credible crossbreed, but of the ones that are currently available, none do a good job of selling the concept. Girls School Screamers is an interesting case in point though, because it’s a ghost flick that has been Godfrey Ho’d by its distributor. Watching it now, after learning of Troma’s tampering does give it something of an extra allure.54366794

GSS, for all intents and purposes, is not a film that’s ashamed of its minimal budget. This fact is emphasised at the start of the credits where the words ‘introducing’ are placed before the entire cast, as if to helpfully inform us that none of the names that follow have done anything else before this at all. This is clearly evident in everything that we witness thereafter, from the plodding direction to the amateurish performances. Dialogue and story scenes are conveyed as if they’re filmed on a soundstage and it’s rare that we get any camera movement at all. Finnegan’s script, which Is certainly ambitious, spends a long time building its background and giving its characters the chance to make an impression. They’re all written to be pretty much interchangeable though, so the first hour, while we are waiting for the maniac to turn up, struggles to hold your attention and quickly becomes sluggish. It can’t have 876557733233helped to have so many debutants throughout the cast, because they had no one to turn to when in need of some guidance.

If you haven’t nodded off by the time that the action starts, we finally get to see what Troma’s input brought to the production. The killings are rather random in how they’re staged, because one or two are shown to be committed by a traditional unseen maniac, whilst the rest come courtesy of an invisible ‘force’. This has an effect on the story, because we have no central villain to fear. Whist the same actors were used and the footage doesn’t stand out as if it’s been bolted-on, it does leave obvious plot holes. It also make classifying Girls School Screamers as a slasher movie something of a harder task. Whilst we see meat cleavers, pitchforks and electrocutions with regularity in the genre, there are things here that are alien to the template. I want a SLASH above to be the truest stalk and slash catalogue on the web, but if I haven’t yet posted The Superstition or The Incubus here as entries, is it fair of me to include Screamers? I guess that you could call it a slasher-esque, what was that word again? Oh yes, 52445229875curiosity.

John Finnegan has never shied away from the fact that he believes that Troma’s intervention ruined his initial ideas for the template. It’s easy of course to point the finger somewhere else for failings, but does he have a point? Yes and no is the answer, because without the added gore scenes, we would be left with a hideously boring travesty. At least now, the film does have moderate cult appeal, but it comes at the cost of a bewildering effect on the continuity. We see a silly intro involving a child that never gets resolved and the motivation of the antagonist is left up to the imagination. There’s the odd atmospheric moment that comes courtesy of a truly superb score and it’s funny to see college girls played by actresses the wrong side of their thirties, but is it enough? I really wanted to like Girls School Screamers and find a defence for it, but it is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess. A curiosity type mess? Well, yes funnily enough…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√

Gore √

Final Girl

RATING:a-slash-above-logo11

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Jack O 1995 Review

Jack-O 1995

aka Jack-o-Lantern

Directed by: Steve Latham

Starring: Linnea Quigley, Cameron Mitchell, Ryan Lathshaw

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

It’s the second birthday of a SLASH above and almost October the 31st, so I thought I’d post this Halloween related feature 🙂 Now, any film that has horror veterans Linnea Quigley, Cameron Mitchell and 84378467476764John Carradine all in the same cast list must surely be worth a watch, right?

Jack-O was the second to last movie to include a role for Mr. Carradine senior. He died in 1988 and this was released in 1995, which means that his performance must have been lifted from stock-footage. It’s actually quite ingenious how director Steve Lathshaw made it work so well. It was also the swan song for cheesy slasher regular Cameron Mitchell, before his death in 1994. The screenplay was adapted from a story by Fred Olen Ray, whom we all know exceedingly well from his previous ‘videomatic’ misdemeanors. He was behind slashers,Scalps and Final Examination and is still847854764784 chucking out B-movies at a rate that Lance Armstrong on a whole bag of his performance enhancing drugs couldn’t keep up with. Lathshaw went on after this to direct a couple more flicks, including the interesting Death Mask, before switching to screen-writing and churning out scripts for twenty-eight movies. Unlike most American direct to video/cable horror films from the mid-nineties, this actually secured a global distribution and I have VHS versions from England, Poland and Spain. The UK’s Midnight Movies label released so few copies that originals have now become somewhat of a rarity and sell for fairly good money on eBay. Is it one that deserves the hunt?

Many years ago, the families of Oakmoor Crossing tracked down a vicious murderer named Walter Machen (Carradine) and lynched him. He was a powerful warlock and just before he died, he summoned a demon from the depths of hell to seek revenge on the townsfolk. The maniac attacked and butchered lots of people, until a man called Arthur Kelly found a way to stop him for good. Now, present day, three rowdy teens 9848757645764accidentally revive the pumpkin headed fiend, much to their dismay. Armed with a scythe, he heads back to the same town to continue where he left off his killing spree. He couldn’t have picked a better night for murder, because it happens to be October the 31st, or in other words, Halloween. Arthur’s great, great Grandson, Sean Kelly (Ryan Lathshaw) is only a young boy, but little does he know, that he is the only person alive with the power to stop the 847854764764bloodthirsty killer. Will he realise his potential before the demon reaches his parents, or will he be too late?

Make no mistake about it, they certainly don’t come much cheesier than this fierce example of dairy produce in a videomatic format. Everything from the killer’s laughable Jack O’ Lantern head to the way that his urban legend is spread through rhymes that my six-year old daughter could have written (Mr Jack will break your back and chop off your head with a whack whack whack!) is the cinematic equivalent of a fondue festival. Olen Ray has once again rushed out a nonsensical screenplay, which is overflowing with make believe characters, impossible situations and basically poor screenwriting. I especially enjoyed the woefully out of date ‘cool dude’ guy, who, dressed in a leather jacket, jeans and quiff whilst perched on a motorbike, couldn’t have been more cliche if he’d had ‘cool character’ written on his forehead. Over the years, since her debut in Psycho from Texas and inclusion in tonnes of cheapo flicks including Graduation Day and Fatal Games, Linnea Quigley has gained herself a devoted cult following. She 784764764doesn’t disappoint fans here and takes a long gratuitous shower just to display her lady lumps for at least two minutes in her first scene. Just do your thing, baby…

Unfortunately, the lesser-known faces are all good actors in a dimension that’s totally the opposite to this one. Gary Doles was the only human in a 100-mile radius that even attempted to add a little life to his character and the rest really didn’t look bothered. If you blink, you’ll miss Cameron Mitchell’s brief cameo. He plays Dr.Cadaver, a creepy TV presenter that hosts a show filled with all things horror. His inclusion in flicks ranging from The Toolbox Murders to Memorial Valley Massacre made it a part that was perfect for him. There were two 874784365363anti-establishment toffs who I guess were there to supply the comic relief bits. That really wasn’t necessary though, because the whole thing was little more than a bad joke in the first place.

Jack O’ chucks in some supernatural elements, but the special FX for these gimmicks are poorly conceived, which is a shame, because other titles produced on similar budgets have delivered much more. The lightening, for example, looked like it had been drawn onto the negatives with a felt tip pen and the killer’s lantern-head was pretty much a dime-store mask. A cool one mind, but hardly ‘convincing’. The production team at least manage to chuck in some gooey red-stuff and a fairly well modeled decapitation, which is surprisingly gory. Even if Lathshaw didn’t get much from his amateur cast, he planned a few interesting camera angles and the woodland scenes are all well lighted. You won’t get bored whilst watching and it doesn’t hang around to introduce cheesy horror as the central characteristic, so really you can’t complain too much. I don’t know, it just feels like amateur night at the local karaoke bar and if that’s what tickles your fancy, then you’re in luck. By the way, keep a look out for the director’s son, Ryan in a 8478474764starring role. You can’t deny that he’s an ‘authentic’ actor, if nothing else.

What did you actually expect from a movie called ‘Jack-O’ with a pumpkin-headed killer on the cover and Linnea Quigley in the cast? Yeah, yeah; I was also expecting a trip to the Oscars – damn it. Thankfully, it’s bad in a good way and fans of mature cheddar circumstances will find more than enough to fill their hunger. It’s better than that other Halloween-based throwaway, Hack-o-Lantern, but go in with the right frame of mind to avoid disappointment. Come October the 31st, don’t you dare forget that Mr. Jack will snap your spine and cut you in half with a scaly vine…! Oooooooh!

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√√

Gore: √√

Final Girl:

RATING:

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Freeway Maniac 1988 Review

Freeway Maniac 1988

Directed by: Paul Winters

Starring: Loren Winters, Shepherd Sanders, Jeff Morris

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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 636367267272872872872822Eyes, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. After reading, I was indeed intrigued as to exactly what that bold statement 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 they7387387387487483983983983983 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 74743873873838398489498389398393into 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 783738738728298298398349839822inside, 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 67367367372387287287289222head 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.783487373764674873873983983

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 874784387387398298298298292means 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 78387437487438739839839439849430933often 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 in marketing speak that translates to rip-off

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore: √

Final Girl: √√

RATING:

6736736723872872829822

Hollow Gate 1988

Hollow Gate 1988

Directed by: Ray Di Zazzo

Starring: Addison Randall, Katrina Alexy, Richard Dry

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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. I eventually 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 895t875984894984093093093093093093090933to 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.984785r8948948958598498489498494333

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 736738728729820920922bobbin’ 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 to witness. 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 87236732872872872982opening, 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 87547848949839839030930933opposite 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’ to the everyday Joe or Joanna. They can then act as our own personal avatar of the story and 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 them at all. 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 873762782982982092092kids that are complete strangers. It could of course be argued that the psycho is the main player, but not much time is spent on his background either.

Character development is probably one of the most important things in filmmaking and you’d think that anyone with even the slightest intention of creating 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 histories, 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 we984578498439839839390390390409403033 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 in the movies. On top of that there are pacing issues because the runtime 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 8589598459040940949049858958949849844the 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 demolishes them with fifty minutes of asininity.

Despite much amateurism spread throughout, there were a couple of things that I quite liked. The boogeyman 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 8947847858948948933was 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

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√

Gore: √

Final Girl:√

RATING:

764r778478438738939783893893983893893

Moon in Scorpio 1987 Review

Moon In Scorpio 1987

Directed by: Gary Graver

Starring: Britt Eckland, John Phillip Law, William Smith

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

If you judged every director on only the one title, then your DVD shelf would be a very lonely place. Coppola, Spielberg, Stone, hell even Scorsese – they have all made slight ‘miscalculations’ 873673673673throughout their respective careers. Keeping that in mind though, the last film that I saw from Gary Graver was the abysmal ‘slasher’ Trick or Treats, which in all honesty made Carnage Road look almost as good as Halloween, so I didn’t expect much from Moon in Scorpio. With junk movie titan Fred Olen Ray on board, there’s no way of ever knowing what you could be in for though, and a cast of Britt Eckland, William Smith, John Phillip Law AND Don Scribner surely meant cheesiness by the bucket load. I was just scratching my head as to why they didn’t get Charles Nappier too?

Making sure that there is absolutely no attempt to break new ground, we begin with the oldest of all slasher clichés. Yep you guessed it; an unseen nut-nut makes a break from the least secure mental hospital imaginable, killing an unfortunate orderly on the way. Once outside the complex, the psycho makes short work of a cheery pharmaceutical salesman and then flees the scene in the dead guy’s car. For some inexplicable reason, the head psychiatrist doesn’t bother informing the Police that they have a murderous maniac on the loose. Instead he calls in Private Detective Richard 983873873873983Vargas who is described by one shrink as being, “Almost crazy enough to be a patient here himself.” Next we fast-forward two weeks and Vargas is seen boarding an abandoned-looking boat that is adrift in the middle of the sea. Once on board he finds Linda (Britt Eckland) sprawled across the floor in a heap. Whilst attempting to wake her up, she stabs him in the stomach with a bizarre spear like device. The (unconvincingly) hysterical Linda is then dragged off of the boat by two orderlies who don’t seem at all concerned by the fact that Vargas has just been fatally impaled on the huge spike. They even push him out of the way whilst he is dying. It was a pretty cold act by his colleagues and leads you to believe that he couldn’t have been much liked.

A few days later, Linda is fit to be interviewed by the head psychiatrist and he asks her what exactly happened out in the middle of the sea. We soon learn that she had been on a honeymoon with her husband, two of his war buddies 878948746748743and their girlfriends. The plan was to sail to Acapulco and spend a couple of weeks lapping up the sun on the beaches. Unfortunately along with the suitcases and sangria, the gang had inadvertently brought along a maniacal killer who had his own reasons to want to be stranded in the ocean with the holidaymakers. For the rest of the runtime, we see through flashbacks exactly what happened aboard the cursed death ship. Just who was responsible for these viscous murders?

According to many reports that I’ve read over the web, this feature was continually re-edited by third-parties post-completion and was eventually released without any of the supernatural elements that had originally featured in Olen Ray’s script. Gary Graver had set out to make a unique movie that 9838736737823982982incorporated everything from ghosts to vampires, but rumour has it that his financiers got cold feet and chopped his work to oblivion once he’d handed in the finished footage. Graver was no stranger to such events though as in 1979 he had competed a drama called ‘The Boys’ that was reputedly powerful enough for Cameron Mitchell (!) to call it a masterpiece in an interview at the time. For reasons that have been lost to time, the producer tried turning in into a comedy at the last minute and it is that average as you like version that you can pick up under the title, ‘Texas Lightening’. In the case of Moon in Scorpio, the print that we have been left with plays like a traditional hack and slasher, albeit a diluted one with an elder group of victims as the body count material.

98373673873983Even if we could blame the snip-happy post-production team for ruining the initial concept, this is still something of a lackadaisical entry, which lacks suspense, creativity and effort from any of the big name cast members. Eckland was laughable as she struggled to look even slightly motivated, whilst hard man character actor William Smith was totally wasted in an undemanding role. These faults could not have been improved upon by simply adding the extra footage, so I am not sure if its fair to completely blame everything on outside intervention. Film distribution is a competitive market and one that you either sink or swim within. I just couldn’t see why a company would ruin a perfectly good feature without a plausible reason for doing so. By what I see here, I would assume that the net result was deemed to be poorer than the set expectations, so they they decided to just unleash it as a straight up slasher and get at least a small chance of making a profit on VHS. Keep in mind that in 1987, slasher films will still turning a few bucks on the video rental market.

The story is conveyed through flashback narration, but it seems to run illogically beside what we are seeing on the screen, which must be due to the stuff that was deleted. We are never offered a credible reason for the killer’s motive and it is impossible not to recognise that some pages were missing from the script. At a guess, I’d say that the 873873673673873maniac became a vampire post-death in the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor. At one point in the runtime there’s a slight hint as a character drinks her partner’s blood after he accidentally cuts his finger whilst dicing carrots. There’s also a sub-plot involving a link between the three male cast members, who fought in Vietnam together. But these few scenes, which amusingly look more like they were filmed in a park down the road from Gary Graver’s house 83873873873984than anywhere near ‘Nam, never amount to anything either. If you don’t manage to work out the unseen killer’s identity by the half hour mark then you shouldn’t be watching anything that’s not PG-13 rated. It all results in an anemic showdown between the survivor and the film’s antagonist couldn’t have been any less entertaining if it were filmed in slow motion.

Perhaps one day we will be able to see what Graver really intended with Moon in Scorpio. But as it stands I’m afraid that there is very little to recommend. Don’t bother hunting this one down.

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

Gore √√

Final Girl √√

RATING: securedownload (1)

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Home Sick 2007 Review

Home Sick 2007

Directed by: Adam Wingard

Starring: Forest Pitts, Bill Mosely, Tom Towels

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Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Wow it’s Christmas already! Where the hell did 2012 go? Unbelievable. On recollection, this time last year on a SLASH above, I made a huge mistake. For the build up to the big day, I reviewed Attractive in a crack den kind of waysix of the most well known Xmas themed slashers. I got a lot of hits from readers and so that justified it as being a good idea at the time. The thing is, moving forward, I will have a tough job to seek out more periodic films for the festive season that I haven’t already covered. Damn…

Luckily, however, you don’t spend 20+ years watching these movies without having a few tricks up your sleeve and I happen to own a couple of the lesser known stocking fillers in my collection. Released in 2007, Home Sick is set at the jolliest time of year, but it is not a Christmas slasher per se. If it wasn’t for the odd flash of tinsel, it could Seriously a freaky scenehave taken place in March, August or any other day of the year. Still, due to the odd pointer that this is a story that’s based during the advent calendar countdown, I decided to post it up here for you guys and gals to enjoy during your festive alcohol and food overindulgence. It came out at the time when DTV slashers were hitting shelves faster than a Juan Manuel Marquez combo and so it didn’t really whip up much of ripple in the rivers of post-millennium horror. Checking it out more recently though, some collectors have began to notice that it is actually a lot more than just another cheap and cheesy stalk and slash flick.

A creepy weirdo (superbly portrayed by Bill Moseley) gatecrashes a party in a small Southern town. He opens up a suitcase full of razorblades and asks each of the people in the room to tell him the name of a person that they hate. Scared by the freakishness of the situation and also because the nutjob has one of their number within slashing distance, they are all forced to offer up an acquaintance that’s not on their Christmas card list. In an effort to mock and disobey the demands of the stranger, one of the guests foolishly says that he hates everyone in the room. The loon then gets up and leaves the group wondering what the hell just happened. Before long, bodies begin turning up and we learn that a super human killer has been unleashed. Now they need to stick together to fight off the maniac and save their own lives.

HS kicks off with an abundance of energy and jumps out of the screen like an aggressive Rottweiler that’s just seen a cat with a steak in its mouth stroll by. We get hookers, black comedy, grimly intense photography, a lesbian clench and excessive gore all in the first five minutes. What makes things really impressive is how director, Adam Wingard manages to convey The best deadpan actor in the movie... Brilliant scenethe interchanging moods of these moments with a unique simplicity and command. I especially liked a scene that immediately sets the standard and was included to give us a bit of early Is that One Direction playing?Aaaaaaaaaaaghhhhhumour. It’s nothing more than a man (and soon to be victim) buying cigarettes in a store. But the camera shots, editing, dialogue and the way that Wingard manages the two actors; – their eyes and body movements – is seriously a different class of filmamking.  Keeping in mind that he was only nineteen when he began working on this only adds to the credit he deserves. Home Sick began shooting late in 2003 and was completed early the following year. Quite why it took so long to get a full release is beyond me, because it’s good. Unexpectedly so.

This is most definitely a slasher movie. It’s also a monster movie. You could call it a torture porn flick too. Or even a surrealist nightmare. The script encourages simple clarification only to deny it at the final hurdle, which makes for an interesting synopsis. There is a masked killer roaming around, but this is not really a whodunit and instead the ambiguity is maintained by zany situations for the unique characters. The majority of them are too perverted to be liked, but I did want the Mark guy to The Demon Killersurvive and was surprised to see that the actor playing him has no other film credits. The dramtics arent as awful as I’d expected, which is a real plus and the two ‘bigger name’ cameos from Towley and Mosely are each good in their own different way.

Since the torture-porn explosion, modern day horror films are becoming more and more gratuitous and Home Sick does come close to traipsing in to Gutterballs territory at times with its sleaziness. This is proven in one scene where a coked up slapper comes home to find her mum’s corpse in the kitchen. What follows is truly bizarre as she begins rolling about in the puddles of blood, stripping to her undies and then vomiting at Cigarettes, hookers, alcohol and then a knife through the throat! Not a bad way to gothe same time. For me it was quite hard to watch, but it has found praise on some other sites. It’s not something that I enjoyed though. 

The motivation of the guy with the suitcase and the identity of the demon killer don’t really get explained, but I’m sure that was a deliberate ploy from screenwriter E.L Katz. The film takes the David Lynch route and plays like you’re experiencing a gory dream, or in effect, a nightmare, which shows real talent from the junior director. There’s no Single girl who likes rolling in puke and the blood of her deceased mother looking for hot guy to share interestsshying away when it comes to the kill scenes here. Home Sick is as visceral as any of the features that got banned in the early eighties and the goo is very well done. I especially liked the murder of the ‘bathing in blood’ girl I mentioned earlier. She gets her foot cut in half and her skull pounded to a pulp! Gruesome.

Regular readers of a SLASH above will know that I’m not the biggest fan of vulgarity in pictures and even if HS is not the worst, as I alluded too earlier, it does push the exploitation stuff to the limits in places. This does somewhat bring down the idea that I had in mind for a rating. Great movies of old like Deliverance, Badlands or Straw Dogs managed to deliver creepy inbred characters perfectly without having to revert to foul language. It’s something that I don’t feel is necessary and a tad of ‘less is more’ would have improved the movie no end.

Still, what we have here is a decent example of modification on the slasher template and despite not being overly Christmassy, it’s a good enough flick to roll out this time of year. Whilst taken notes during watching, I wrote, ‘Really enjoying so far’ – so I think you will too. Track it down…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√

Gore: √√√√

Final Girl: √

RATING: a-slash-above-logo-211

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Zombie Island Massacre 1982 Review

Zombie Island Massacre 1984

Directed by: John N. Carter

Starring: David Broadnax, Rita Jenrette, Tom Cantrell

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

You know, choosing a title for a motion picture is not always such a tough task. Peter North has starred in a plethora of films with names like, ‘Anal Addicts’ or ‘Perverted Passions’ and from those combinations of words, you don’t need much of an imagination to predict the, ahem, ‘plot’. Keeping that in mind, when you pick up Troma’s ZOMBIE ISLAND MASSACRE, it could be easy for you 7837643764to follow that same logical thought process. I mean, It certainly sounds like there’s going to be a massacre; its obviously going to take place on an island – and it looks to me like a gang of Romero-like zombies are sure to be the culprits. Why else would you choose a title like that?

Well only director John Carter knows the answer to that conundrum, because he alone turned out to be the only zombie that was present on the set of this eighties miss match. Yes folks, for some unknown reason, what we have hear is an eighties slasher that’s branded as a living dead marathon. But even stalk and slash addicts will feel cheated because we swap genres once again towards the climax, but we’ll get to that later…

Things launch with the oldest and most common of slasher movie chestnuts. The camera pans in on the exceptionally well-endowed Sandy (Rita Jenrette) as she washes off the suds in a shower. She must’ve just finished mud wrestling in a sewer judging by the way she’s scrubbing those bazookas. Before you have the chance to say ‘hackneyed’, a masked intruder is on the scene creeping up on the unsuspecting female. Fortunately for Sandy, it’s only her husband Joe (Ian McMillan) playing a prank. As a consolation the two head off to the bedroom so Jenrette can give us one last flash of her fantastic lady lumps. Next up we learn that the couple are currently in the Caribbean enjoying a pleasure trip with a group of tourists that for once aren’t teenagers. Along with Sandy and Joe we have an elderly couple, a pair of newly weds, two stoners, a mysterious photographer and a single guy and gal who look certain to join the couple’s list any time soon.

Part of their holiday package includes a trip to the remote isle of San Marie and they will be transported to the location aboard a coach that looks fit only for the scrap yard. Upon arrival they witness a voodoo mass, which sees a priest bring a corpse back to life using only goats blood and a few bizarre chants. The gruesome sacrificial sights are too much for one young madame to handle, so she and her hubby head off to the deep forest for a kiss and cuddle under the moonlight. That cues the arrival of an unseen menace with a spiked club, a murderous intent and heavy breath that sounds like a pig grunting over its chow. The maniac slaughters the two lovers before disappearing into the depths of the forest. Meanwhile, the rest of the holiday makers head back to their coach only to find that their driver is missing and so is the distributor cap, making the vehicle about as much use as a glass hammer. Luckily one of the travelers knows of a house that is situated nearby and the troupe decides to head over and bed down until morning. Little do they know that a psychopath is stalking them and it doesn’t take long for him to start slashing the tourists…

Zombie Island Massacre is a bit of a let down in every respect really. As a Living Dead flick, the lack of any actual zombies is a bit of a poo-poo, don’t you think? As a slasher it starts promisingly with a few tense shocks and creative use of the clichés, but soon withers in to an unnecessary climax that involves everything from Colombian drugs cartel to spear chucking Zulu assassins. No really. Finally, as a gore film it looks about as gruesome as an episode of Sesame Street. The early woodland stalking scenes are fairly atmospheric mainly due to the decent musical accompaniment from Harry Manfredini. But he proves once again that he can only modify and pretty much reuse the same old melodies that we’ve heard before (Friday the 13th/Slaughter High etc).78347643767845

To be fair the acting is passable and you’ll never ever guess who it is that’s behind the maniacal murders. Shooting things in a Caribbean setting gives the film an added vibe of seclusion for the victims and the sub-reggae soundtrack is somewhat refreshing for a flick of this genre. The maniac’s disguise is also worth a look; imagine a ninja that’s been covered in feathers and dragged backwards through forty yards of forest and you’ll almost have a mental picture. I couldn’t get a clear snap of him for you unfortunately, despite the fact that I did try numerous times.

Interesting killer guises and a fabulous setup don’t cover up the fact that it feels like John Carter set out to make three different movies and ended up chucking elements from all of them into one confused runtime. The net result is a frizzy mop of ineptitude with too many rough edges that cannot be smoothed out by the bizarre plot sprouts and Rita Jenrette’s amazing cleavage. The drugs cartel idea had – and still has – great potential and could be used to excellent effect in a larger budgeted thriller. The reason that I can’t give it credit here is because Zombie Island Massacre plays mostly like a stalk and slash flick. Well, actually, it’s a semi-stalk and slash flick that’s been marketed as a zombie gore extravaganza and that my friends is a bit of a faux pas. Earlier on, I mentioned Peter North and his specific kind of adult ‘entertainment’. If you’re a fan of this work and you purchase one of his features only to see Mike Tyson’s greatest knockouts when you hit the play button, you are going to be pretty disappointed. It’s not that you don’t like Tyson of course, but it takes something absolutely earth shattering to change human expectations. There were a few elements here that I felt were really well put together, but the fact that it’s been falsely advertised and erroneously marketed kind of leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

So I can’t really find much to recommend about this one then, which is best described as the living dead flick where the only zombie was the guy in the director’s chair. It really had the chance to be a great little slasher flick, but tried to be too many things all at the same time. Even Jenrette’s stupendous breasts couldn’t save it. What a waste. Perhaps she would have been more exciting in one of the Peter North titles I mentioned above? Hmmm…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√

Gore: √

Final Girl: √√

RATING:

awesome-mask-shame-that-its-not-the-killers

 

Phantom Brother 1988 Review

Phantom Brother 1988

Directed by: William Szarka

Starring: John Gigante, John Hammer, Cheryl Hendricks

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

Woo-wee!!! You know those times when you have a few beers too many and your head pounds like a bass drum? Well Phantom Brother is the stalk and slash equivalent of that feeling. Allow me to catch my breath… One second. Ok right, let me attempt to explain…Mahoosive :)))

I have owned the VHS of this one for literally ages and its been peering at me from my shelf for as long as I can remember. There has been many a time that I’ve stumbled home late and been in the mood for some slasher action and I’ve picked up this cover only to put it back down and watch something else. I can’t explain exactly why I never had the urge to see it, but I guess that I had the feeling that it was another Splatter Farm or Death Nurse quality hunk of junkola. How wrong I was.

Four ‘young adults’ head off in to the forest, where there’s an old abandoned house that is perfect for a spot of rumpy pumpy. One of the girls senses danger, so she wants to wait outside with her beau, whilst the other couple head on upstairs. The guy shouts all the time with an obvious Brooklyn accent and has a hairstyle that looks like someone has skinned a wolf and put the fur coat on his head. His partner could most definitely do with discovering a washing machine, but has arguably the most fantastic natural boobs that I have ever seen. Seriously, they’re amazing. Anyway, they’re not at it for long, when a loon in a great mask/hood combo 851251544jumps out and kills them both with a kitchen blade. The guy downstairs hears a scream and shoots off to check it out, but he also meets his end via a bloody tracheotomy.

The last remaining chica decides against following them to their doom and instead runs off to look for help. She bumps in to Abel, who promises to go and take a look, but seems to know more than he cares to let on about the dilapidated abode. We learn that it used to belong to his family, before they were all killed in a car accident in which Abel was the only survivor. The remaining spirits of Amazing boobies!his mother and sister haunt the woodland along with his ‘Phantom Brother’ who enjoys nothing more than murdering trespassers with his trusty blade.

Abel is disgusted with the antics of his family, but there’s very little he can do except clean up after them. He does however have feelings for the unfortunate surviving girl who is curious about what happened to her friends. They partake in an ‘awkward’ getting to know you scene that goes something like: Girl: (Jill) You’re very nice. Guy: (Abel) You’re groovy. Jill: You’re sweet. Abel: You’re happening. Jill: You’re interesting. Abel: You’re pretty. Jill: You’re bleeding. Abel: You’re observant. And on and on and Ariston… Can he protect her from his murderous hermano whilst at the same time cleaning up the blood from the multitude of victims?Oh my! That's a haircut...!

Phantom Brother is in many ways a really authentic piece of slasher hokum. Much like Evil Laugh, it’s a parody of the genre it frequents, but it’s also one of the VERY few horror comedies that actually works. There’s a good example of the cheeky humour about halfway through that I have to tell you about. Abel has arranged to meet Jill at the horror house that is frequented by the murderous trio. He informs us over narration (the vocal story guidance is another unique aspect) that he is running late because he stopped off to purchase some condoms, ‘just in case’. When he gets there, his date is nowhere to be seen because unbeknownst to him, she’s been tied up by his 2323548maniacal bro. The voice over continues, ‘I hoped that nothing bad had happened to her and also wondered if the chemist would give me the money back for the condoms if it had’. Brilliant.

 It’s not that there are loads of hilarious lines throughout the picture, it’s just that it is totally weird and if it had have taken a more serious approach, I don’t think things would’ve worked. There’s so much going on that in order to tell you everything I’d need to buy a new server to handle the amount of paragraphs, so I will try to keep it as condensed as possible. Suffice to say that various plot-branches pop-up that are arranged solely to give us more victims to kill off. The special effects are really bargain basement and are pretty much just a few lashings of corn syrup and dismembered body parts. There was one seriously good throat-slashing though and there is a fairly humongous body count. People could have thought that maybe it was too 684589562156supernatural to be a typical stalk and slash movie, but that isn’t the case at all. It also includes a really good twist that I was not expecting and it ties things together nicely.

The mystery-aspect helps to keep things rolling at a great pace and some of the cinematography is really impressive. The score is a bit manic. Almost like Jan Hammer had sniffed a gram of pure cocaine and then attempted to do a cover version of the Halloween medley, but I guess it suits the film’s atmosphere. The bad acting also helps the cheesiness and it’s one of those mega rare occasions where the overall amateurism works to the film’s favour. Professional crews don’t make 8785262154movies like this and so it’s nice to find one that’s not exactly ‘so bad it’s good’, but more ‘quite bad but at the same time pretty good’, if you get what I mean.

It was shot by a gang of acquaintances who really wanted to jump aboard the SOV horror bandwagon. Director William Szarka has previously worked on the godawful Plutonium Baby, but had walked off set after a disagreement with his camera operator. Here they get it just about right by giving us a cheesy dose of slasher trash with enough ingenuity for it to stand out from the crowd. It’s an interesting movie that packs in bundles of strange situations and a superb guise for its psycho killer. High alcohol intake aside, I really enjoyed it and am surprised that I haven’t seen it before. The corny attempts at humour are not as despicable as usual because the movie is not trying to be two things at the same time and it Great Killer Guisesets the goofy tone early on. Whilst I have never been a fan of stupid comedy mixed with slasher shenanigans, this one somehow managed to get the blend spot on.

It’s not often that I will tell you to track down an obscurity here on a SLASH above, but this one’s well worth a punt. I had a great time watching it and I am sure that you will too. It’s incredibly hard to find, but if you can grab a copy for a couple of quid, then by all means add it to your collection. I think that  because I was expecting something really awful, I was really surprised with what I got. If you like ’em cheap and quirky, you should feel the same. Cheryl Hendricks’ breats alone are worth the purchase price…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise: √√√√

Gore:

Final Girl: √√

RATING:

2561546518

Horror House On Highway 5 1985 Review

Horror House On Highway Five 1985

Directed by: Richard Casey

Starring: Phil Terrien, Max Manthey, Susan Leslie

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

To be labelled as the most bizarrely bewildering title of all slasher movies may not seem like much of a memorable claim. Then, if you consider the fact that the forerunner is up against such twisted beasts as Blood Harvest, Don’t Open ’til Christmas, Blood Beat and the almost extra terrestrial A Day of Judgement, then you begin to realise how tough a challenge it really is.

When it comes to leaving you dumbfounded and gasping at the screen – jaw dropped quicker than if you just received a shattering right hook from Mike Tyson – then Horror House on Highway Five has crossed the finish line while the others are still tying up their shoe-laces. A true, true masterpiece of brain-numbing confusion, Highway Five is about as otherworldly as any movie could ever possibly achieve to be inside this solar system.

Some of the strange images that will appear on your screen over the 90 minute runtime include: A homicidal maniac in a Richard Nixon mask that may well be a dead scientist and is played by an actor named Ronald Reagan (seriously!). Along for the ride are two demented kidnappers that act equally like the mushrooms that they ate with their fried breakfasts were certainly those of the ‘magic’ variety. And how could I forget the gang of college half wits who have the intelligence of a bullfrog on crack. We also get a wacky soundtrack that includes everything from St Pepper’s-era Beatles style psychedelic-rock to Dion and the Belmonts-type doo-wop?

A college class investigating the creation of the V2 rocket head out to a small town (brilliantly titled ‘Little Town’) where it was believed that the German scientist behind the invention spent his final days in America. Legend dictates that before his disappearance, Frederick Bartholomew became a murderous psychopath and began killing off the people that he worked with. One young student – Sally Smith – is given the task of interviewing two of the scientist’s former associates, the crazed Dr. Mabuser and his stuttering sidekick Gary. Meanwhile a maniac dressed as Tricky Dicky is 83y353heading along Highway 5 bumping off anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with him. Will the classmates escape the secluded town alive? Is that really Richard Nixon trying to murder his way back into the White House? All the answers lie behind the front door of the Horror house on Highway 5…

If anything, Richard Casey’s début certainly proves that there are some strange people inhabiting this planet and a fair majority of them were working on the set of this feature circa 1985. You’d think that at some point during the months of pre-production, at least one member of the cast or crew would have stood back and said, “Hold on a second, isn’t this all just a little far-fetched? ” But no, it seems that the copious amounts of LSD that were handed out as inspirational materials throughout the writing of the screenplay were still in abundance during the shoot. There’s really no other way to explain occurrences such as: The second victim throwing herself through a glass coffee table for *no* reason whatsoever, whilst the killer was hot on his heels behind her. It was only moments earlier that she had been pulling strange faces at herself in the mirror; – the kind of thing that you do if you have swallowed some shrooms. It may also be the real truth behind Mike and Louise’s cool attitude when they find a disembowelled cat mysteriously dumped in the back of their van. It’s logical that if you’re hallucinating, you expect to see that kind of thing, surely? Oh and before I forget, Dr. Mabuser seems to believe that his brain is being munched by maggots – need I say more?!? 87252Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and all that…

The dramatics are exactly what you’ve come to expect from zero budget slasher movies. You know, the kind of performances that make your children’s high school play look like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest part deux. There’s one starlet that really gave new meaning to the phrase ‘timber-esque). The highlight of her brief appearance came as she was being murdered by the former president and with the enthusiasm of a dry roasted peanut she yelped, “Relax just try to put your mind at ease…” Yeah right! Don’t expect to see her popping up in any other motion pictures soon.

In fairness, Highway does at least try to add a little spice to the hack and slash cycle. Alongside the traditional masked maniac, we get at least three other nut jobs to keep you interested and there’s 836353even a hint at the supernatural that’s never completely followed through. Oh yeah and a word of advice to all T&A fans, there’s nothing but dungarees and fluffy jumpers going on here. You’ve more chance of seeing forbidden flesh on an episode of sesame street than you have anywhere in this fully wrapped slasher flick.

My conclusion is that Highway Five was either invaded by otherworldly beings on set, was intended as a spoof, or is simply a misunderstood masterpiece. One thing is for certain however; for all its nonsensical frolics and wayward attempts at terror, it sure makes a fine advertisement for rolling over and going to sleep…

Actually, to make things clearer, the advert ends with the classic line, “Watch this film or die!” Believe me that’s not the easiest of choices…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore:√

Final Girl: √√

RATING: