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Archive for October, 2019

The Hills Have Eyes

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

THE HILLS HAVE EYES is not my favorite Wes Craven movie, but in a certain sense it’s one of his purest. It has that LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT maniac-college-professor vibe – another raw, seedy gut-punch of a drive-in movie layered with completely sincere themes and social commentary. And it’s a little more fantastical than LAST HOUSE, with less straight up degradation, so I don’t feel as ashamed for liking it.

Instead of a gang of criminals we have a literal tribe of modern primitives – the wicked spawn of Papa Jupiter (James Whitworth, THE CANDY SNATCHERS), born “40 pounds and hairy as a monkey” in Nevada, mutated by nuclear tests and the nearby Air Force gunnery range, grew to adult size too fast, burned down his parents’ home, his dad split his face open with a tire iron and left him in the desert to die, but he survived in the hills and kidnapped some poor prostitute (Cordy Clark) “to raise a passel of wild kids” with. They wear animal parts and pieces of junk as trophies, and like the buzzards in the sky they stay above, keeping watch below, waiting to see what the highway brings them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Patreon bonus: Walker, Texas Ranger Halloween episode

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Sorry, I never get trick-or-treaters at my apartment, so I didn’t get enough candy for everyone. But I do have a Halloween treat for Patreon people: an illustrated look at a 1998 Halloween episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

click here for WALKER, TEXAS RANGER: “THE CHILDREN OF HALLOWEEN”

Remember, for $1 a month (or more if you can afford it) you can read this as well as other exclusives like my in-depth reviews of each of the TWILIGHT movies, an episode of Rambo: The Force of Freedom, and some extra tie-ins to the HIGHLANDERLAND series. More importantly you get to feel like a hero for helping me to only work part time so I have more hours for writing the good shit (most of which will always be free right here on outlawvern.com).

Thanks everybody!

Ma

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

MA is a pretty simple little Blumhouse thriller that doesn’t go much deeper than what you see in the trailer, but I had fun with it. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (HALLOWEEN II) plays the titelistical matriarch, a.k.a. Sue Ann, a single veterinarian’s assistant in a small town in Ohio who is randomly approached one day by some high school kids who want her to buy them alcohol. Not only does she hook them up that one time, she becomes their regular buyer. And then she decides to let them use her basement as their party space. She’s like a cool, irresponsible aunt. She jokes around inappropriately sometimes, but tells them she’d rather they be here than out driving drunk or something. (Plan A was to party in a van.)

There are a couple obvious ways to play this. One would be to draw out the reveal of whether or not Ma is a psycho. I like that they immediately show her looking up the kids’ Facebook pages like a stalker. There are two other major escalations in craziness that happened so abruptly I got a big laugh and wished I’d seen this with an audience. The suspense is in how far she’s gonna take this. And there’s tension about things like “why is she so insistent that they not see the upstairs” and “will Maggie (Diana Silvers, BOOKSMART) be able to make her friends and her boyfriend Andy (Corey Fogelmanis, Girl Meets World) see that this lady is trouble?” (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellbent

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

HELLBENT (2004) opens with your traditional lovers lane murder, well shot with colorful tinting that seems to come from a light shining through a bouquet of helium balloons they have in the car. The two lovers are beheaded by a dude (Nick Name, who also provides some of the soundtrack with his band Nick Name and the Normals) with a scythe and devil mask/helmet thing. We’ve seen a million scenes like this, but there are two things unusual about this version:

1. the lovers are both men

2. the killer is shirtless

Well, mostly #1. The 2014 remaquel of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN had a male-male couple killed in a lovers lane, but this one takes place entirely in the gay community in West Hollywood, so it’s fair to call it a gay slasher movie. The hero – Final Boy? – is Eddie (Dylan Fergus), who works a desk job at the police station. He’s not an officer – an injury prevented him from finishing the training. He gets recruited to pass out flyers warning people in West Hollywood that there’s a murderer loose, and uses Halloween as an excuse to wear his dad’s old uniform when he does it. (Strangely he won’t get into any kind of impersonating-an-officer trouble while wearing it. But I guess it reminds him of the shoes he’s trying to fill.)

At night he goes to a Halloween carnival with some friends, where you have your typical slasher movie debauchery (except gay) while the devil mask guy follows them around looking for a window to behead them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shredder

Monday, October 28th, 2019

SHREDDER is a snowboarding-themed slasher movie that I never heard of until now, but apparently somebody had, because RoninFlix put it out on blu-ray with a nice painted cover by Devon Whitehead (designer of many fine t-shirts from Fright Rags and Cavity Colors). It’s from 2001 (shelved until 2003 in the U.S.), but seems late-‘80s in its “we know this is dumb, but we’ll take it seriously because that’s more fun” spirit. It’s clearly not made by a studio, and shows very little of the SCREAM-inspired postmodern attitude of its actual era.

It’s about a mysterious skier (disguised only by normal ski gear) who murders snowboarders who trespass in a closed pass where a fatal accident once happened. Like my other recent 2003 Slasher Search entry, SIMON SAYS, it has a vanload of young people on a trip, slathering the screen with unadulterated obnoxiousness. The stuck up/aggressive girl is trip-arranger Kimberly Van Arx (Lindsey McKeon, Saved by the Bell: The New Class), whose rich dad is buying the resort, and has a quick trigger finger when it comes to asserting “do you know who I am!?” privileges. Her boyfriend Cole (Scott Weinger) seems kind of square and has a has kind of a Steve-on-90210 older-out-of-place-guy vibe. I was excited to learn that he’s the guy who did the voice of Disney’s Aladdin! (read the rest of this shit…)

Satanic Panic

Friday, October 25th, 2019

In SATANIC PANIC – a new Fangoria Films release that came out on disc this week after film festival and VOD runs – Sam (Hayley Griffith) is working her first shift delivering pizzas. She’s completely broke and low on gas, and her skeevy co-workers stick her with deliveries to a notoriously stingy neighborhood. This would be shitty, but not disastrous, if only she didn’t get desperate and storm into a mansion to demand a tip… during a satanic sacrifice ritual to raise the demon Baphomet. See, it’s a time sensitive full moon thing, they’re short one virgin, and through contrived but humorous dialogue they figure out that Sam fits the bill. So she’s gonna have bigger problems than lack of gas money.

You know I’m a sucker for these class tension stories. Sam works for $2.30 an hour plus tips and these upper class assholes refuse to chip in – just as Lucifer would want it. Danica Ross (Rebecca Romijn, FEMME FATALE) leads the coven, a villainous type of role I’ve never seen her in, and she clearly has a fun time. Even better is her squeaky-voiced hippie-turbaned rival Gypsy Neumieir (Arden Myrin, Mad TV), whose disagreements with Danica’s blood sacrifice plans play like some drama at the planning committee for a pancake social. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lady Stay Dead

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

LADY STAY DEAD (1981) is a rare VHS I have considered and backed away from for many a Slasher Search because the dude on the cover… I don’t know what it is about him, but his picture suggests the slimiest and most unpleasant of backyard filth-wallowers. This year after checking IMDb ratings and plot summaries on the more obscure VHS available I decided to check it out, and then I discovered I could watch it on a Blu-Ray released by Code Red. They’ve put out some pretty seedy stuff, so it’s hard to know if that’s a good sign or not.

Turns out this is not at all the no budget regional sicko movie I pictured. It’s an Australian film, a pretty slick one with good production value, though with disturbing content. It opens in a beautiful beachfront villa (filmed in Palm Beach, Sydney), where 24 year old singing sensation Marie Colbie (Deborah Coulls, ROBBERY UNDER ARMS) – who just goes by her first name, like Tiffany – starts her morning with a naked dip in her pool that overlooks the actual water. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dolemite Is My Name

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME is a dream come true – topnotch director, writers and cast making a beautiful, warm, well produced triumph-of-the-underdog epic about Rudy Ray Moore, the small time club singer who reinvented himself by selling dirty comedy records out of the trunk of his car and then strutting his way into independent filmmaking. The script is by kings of the oddball biopic Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, MAN ON THE MOON, The People vs. O.J. Simpson) and it’s got a whole lot in common with their best film, ED WOOD. It’s another story about an L.A. misfit perceived as a failure who, through tenacity and lack of self consciousness, puts together a family of people to will their silly, awesome dreams into reality.

ED WOOD glorifies people whose work was and continues to be made fun of, arguing that the passion and personality behind these works imbues them with an artistic purity and value that they hadn’t previously been given credit for. Moore and friends work with a similar scrappily amateurish zeal, but they in fact made a hit movie that, at least in some parts, was intended to be laughed at. So the happy ending in this one is real! (read the rest of this shit…)

Simon Says

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

My original goal with Slasher Search was to find the ‘70s and ‘80s slasher gems that I (and maybe everybody) had been missing. That’s still my hope, but as the pickings get slimmer and the years move on I might as well open it up to a movie like this – it’s from 2006, but I never heard of it, and it seemed promising from the box. The premise sounded potentially fun (Crispin Glover killing campers in the woods with elaborate contraptions) and it was even by a known director, Bill Dear, the co-writer of T2.

Or that’s what I was thinking, but that’s William Wisher. Bill Dear is the director of HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, IF LOOKS COULD KILL and ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD. And in many ways this does live up to what you expect in a gory horror movie from a guy known for cheesy family movies. It’s about a vanload of horny youths going on a camping trip, and they’re about as broad as they come. They’re all complete assholes who are trying to cheat on their girlfriends or steal their friend’s boyfriends. They like to stick their junk in each others’ faces and trespass and act obnoxious to the locals. It seems like there’s a rule that any scene where the viewer went more than a minute without wanting to punch one of the characters in the face had to be excised. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Seventh Curse

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Let me try to explain this in pizza terms. You know how every once in a while you might get a pizza, and it’s not of the highest possible quality? They got all the ingredients there, but maybe the proportions are a little off, or it was cooked too much or too little or something, so it’s not the greatest, but at the same time it has crust and sauce and cheese and toppings and those ingredients together are always gonna taste pretty good? THE SEVENTH CURSE is like that. It’s kind of too gooey and falling apart but it has pineapple, fake ham and jalapenos, and that’s pretty much my favorite toppings. (I’ve come to prefer Mama Lil’s Peppers*, but this one needed more spice.)

It’s a supernatural action adventure with Chow Yun Fat playing the pipe-smoking occult expert Wisely (called Wesley on the subtitles of the DVD I rented), a character from a series of 156(!) novels. In this one he’s kind of a supporting character because it’s based on another book series centered on his colleague Dr. Yuen, here played by Chin Siu-ho (TAI CHI MASTER, FIST OF LEGEND). The books are by Ni Kuang, who in between writing enough novels to make Stephen King look like a lazy no good piece of shit also found the time to bang out screenplays for DIRTY HO, THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, HEROES OF THE EAST, THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER, and literally hundreds of other movies.

He didn’t write this one (that was Wong Jing [MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG] and Yuen Gai-chi [DRUNKEN MASTER II]), but would you believe he hosts it? It opens with him, playing himself, surrounded by women and talking to the camera.

(read the rest of this shit…)