a.k.a. AN EYE FOR AN EYE
In my experience as a slasher searcher I’ve found that unknown movies from the ’70s are the biggest risk because 1) it’s mathematically less likely that there’s a great one you’ve never heard of and 2) they were made before the slasher formula really set in. I didn’t realize when renting THE PSYCHOPATH that it was from 1973, too early to be influenced by THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, let alone HALLOWEEN. It feels more like a BAD RONALD or WILLARD type of ’70s-TV-looking weirdo movie, but it does have some of the slasher elements: a freaky killer, a gimmicky motive, one-dimensional victims.
It didn’t take long for the movie to throw me a what-the-hell!?. The title comes up over ominous sounds and a scary closeup of an eye. The sort of thing you’d expect. But then the happy music comes on and the credits use a font similar to My Three Sons. Throughout the movie the soundtrack, credited to “Country Al Ross,” alternates between very upbeat country jams and straight up funk (which I’m guessing is library music).
The titleistical psychopath is children’s TV star Mr. Rabbey (Tom Basham, COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT), who figures out some of the children from his studio audience and hospital visits are being abused, and decides to murder their parents. He bashes a woman’s face in with a baseball bat, for example. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been a little stressed lately by the wave of bad vibes in everything from the putrid state of American politics to current events in film criticism to me being deluged by Trump devotees after foolishly getting myself retweeted by Seagal. But I’m gonna take a deep breath and stand strong and positive and pour it all into outlawvern.com. I’m very excited about all the horror movies I’ve been watching and writing about and I know we’re gonna have alot of fun here this month. (read the rest of this shit…)
FENDER BENDER is a new slasher movie that I believe is the first original production by the great releasers-of-horror-classics-on-blu-ray Shout! Factory. The high concept is that there’s a killer who intentionally gets in small car collisions, exchanges contact information, and then comes after the person.
Hillary (Makenzie Vega, the little girl who Mystique turns into on the prison truck in X-MEN THE LAST STAND!) is a responsible teenager in New Mexico, an aspiring ballet dancer, under way too much pressure from her strict parents. Shortly after getting her driver’s license this shades-wearing cool guy (Bill Sage, AMERICAN PSYCHO) rear ends her, and her dad (Steven Michael Quezada, THE CONDEMNED 2) blames it on her and won’t let her go with them on a long-planned vacation to see a show in Vegas.
We know that this guy is a serial killer, but we watch helplessly as she writes down all her information, just as she was taught in driver’s ed. Then of course while she’s home alone she starts getting text messages from this guy, going from “this is uncomfortable but I guess he’s just trying to be polite” to “this is totally inappropriate.” Can she trust the apology cake she finds on her doorstep that might come from the guy in the accident, or from her dumb jock boyfriend Andy (Harrison Sim) who she just caught cheating and dumped?
I mean, of course not. We know that. But there’s no reason for her to. She doesn’t know she’s in a horror movie.
(read the rest of this shit…)
I still intend to review all of Michael Mann’s movies in chronological order. I haven’t gotten very far, but the one I’m on, THE KEEP, happens to be Halloween appropriate.
Other than its beautiful craftsmanship, this is completely unlike what we associate with a Mann film. Usually he looks for a higher level of realism than most movies, and to be very up-to-date with the technology and trends of the time. THE KEEP doesn’t do any of those things because it’s a weird, atmospheric horror movie set during WWII.
It concerns a group of German soldiers occupying an ancient stone fortress in Romania that seems to be haunted or something. Father Fonescu (Robert Prosky, LAST ACTION HERO, EYE SEE YOU), the priest and caretaker, warns them not to touch the nickel and silver crosses inlayed in the walls, but a couple of them try to steal one anyway. Behind it is a hole and when one of the looters peeks his head into the dark void something takes away the top half of his body. (read the rest of this shit…)
PHANTASM RAVAGER is the apparent conclusion to Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM saga, now available on VOD and very limited theatrical release. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it has to be the last one, but they probly wouldn’t want to continue without Tall Man Angus Scrimm, who passed away after filming.
This one focuses entirely on Reggie (Reggie Bannister), the ice cream man/singer-songwriter turned four-barrel-shotgun-toting warrior drifter who started as the adult friend to the young protagonist, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin). We first find him falling through a portal back to earth in a stretch of desert somewhere. The badass opening sequence recalls MAD MAX as he scavenges wreckage in a seemingly unpopulated area, has to get back his missing Barracuda and then is involved in a high speed chase with the famous silver balls that fly around trying to stab or drill people’s heads. While this chapter does suffer from some phony digital gore, that’s thankfully not the case with the many incidents of balls digging into people’s skulls and spewing geysers of grue out their exhaust valves like water out the back of a jet ski. (read the rest of this shit…)
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN takes place in a quirky, goth-y world of young outcast monsters, a story for young people who enjoy the macabre, a premise that sounds like X-MEN but plays more like THE ADDAMS FAMILY. It seems tailor made for a Tim Burton comeback film. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe he needs to find something off the rack that looks good on him. No, actually that’s probly what he did here. Maybe he needs to sew something himself. I don’t know. This metaphor got away from me.
Asa Butterfield (HUGO) plays Jake, our protagonist and first person narrator, who lives a boring life in a Scissorhandsian Florida suburb until one day he finds his Grandpa (Terence Stamp, ELEKTRA, THE PHANTOM MENACE) dead in the woods with his fucking eyeballs plucked out. (The police soothe him by explaining that dogs ate ’em.) Also he sees a giant.
Kinda like BIG FISH, he finds himself tracing the seemingly-fantastical tales Grandpa told him and left behind in letters, journals, photos and maps. (Burton has been past his prime long enough that he’s harkening back to movies from past his prime.) He convinces his dad (Chris O’Dowd, CALVARY) to bring him to Wales to see this children’s home where Grandpa once lived. (read the rest of this shit…)
Welcome to SLASHER SEARCH ’16. Every October I try to watch a bunch of obscure, uncelebrated slasher movies I haven’t seen before in hopes of finding good ones. It doesn’t always work out.
TRAPPED ALIVE is not the type of precious ore I’m digging for in my annual Slasher Search. I say that because #1 it’s not very good and #2 it takes place mostly in an abandoned mine. So you can see how clever I am there, working those two things together. Anyway, it’s not the worst kick-off to a Slasher Search either, because it’s not without its goofy charms. This is a strength of the horror and action genres: you’re looking for a good one, but you might enjoy a bad one. It’s usually gonna be more fun than a bad drama, comedy or western or something.
This one starts as a hostage thriller, too cheesy and amateurish to be LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT gritty, but sexual-assault-threateningy enough to make you feel gross. Robin and Monica (Sullivan Hester and Laura Kallison, both one-time-only actors) are two young women in poofy ’80s glam fashion who are driving to a Christmas party when they’re carjacked by three prison escapees. You have the Krug-like ringleader Louis “Face” Napoleon (Alex Kubik, BAD GIRLS, BE COOL), the bushy-bearded, simple-minded oaf Mongo (Michael Nash, THE COLOR OF MONEY), and Randy (Mark Witsken), the young driver who looks kinda like the guy from 7th Heaven, has misgivings about the kidnapping and is obviously supposed to be the nice, dreamy escaped convict. Not even like a James Dean bad boy anti-hero, just the straight-up nice kid who happens to have just escaped from prison. It’s weird. (read the rest of this shit…)
VAMPIRES is a cocky asshole of a horror-western strutting into John Carpenter’s filmography late, not giving a shit, rubbing everybody the wrong way. I’ve always dug it, though, and I think these days it’s more widely appreciated than it used to be.
The premise, taken from the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley, is that a team of vampire hunters funded by the Vatican travels the southwest tracking nests of vampires and exterminating them with professional grade equipment. James Woods (THE GETAWAY) plays the leader of the team, Jack Crow, maybe the only time he gets to be the leather-jacket-wearing asskicker. The Kurt Russell. The guy who struts around and shoots crossbows and punches people and never once wears a suit.
We see how their job works as the team raids a boarded up old house somewhere in the sunny desert, busting in like a SWAT team, sweeping it room by room to find the bloodsuckers, using a spear and pulley system to drag them out into the sunlight where they flare up and explode (all practical fire effects, from the looks of it). Montoya (Daniel Baldwin, KING OF THE ANTS, PAPARAZZI) mans the Jeep and winch, using a hunting knife to pull the charred skulls out of their kills and line them up on the hood as trophies. (read the rest of this shit…)
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS takes the world of photorealistic animated humanoid amphibian vigilantes established in part 1 off in more fantastical directions. “The Shadows” of the subtitle are the levels of secrecy they require, fighting New York City ninja crime from their secret sewer home, hiding their existence by giving credit for part 1’s heroics to local news cameraman Vern (no relation) (Will Arnett, announcer voice for the DON’T trailer in GRINDHOUSE). But they get alot of teenage mutant ninja angst about having to watch the Knicks game from inside the Jumbotron like a bunch of lepers.
(note: it actually looks like amazing seats)
The turtles’ armored ninja ringleader arch-nemesis Shredder (now played by Brian Tee from TOKYO DRIFT) gets busted out during a prison transfer in a cool vehicle stunt sequence that totally would’ve existed without DARK KNIGHT, it’s only a coincidence. But the beauty of it is that
1) It’s arranged by a scientist in goofy “nerd” glasses and bow tie played by Tyler Perry (ALEX CROSS)
2) Shredder accidentally gets teleported to another dimension and is assigned a mission by a talking brain monster with robot body (read the rest of this shit…)