"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't daddy's little boy no more."

Cheerleader Camp

tn_cheerleadercampslashersearch15CHEERLEADER CAMP was supposed to be called BLOODY POM POMS, which makes more sense. The title the distributors chose doesn’t get across that it’s a horror movie. I’m sure they rejected a million titles that would’ve worked, too. SCREAM SPIRIT, SKIRTS OF BLOOD, GO SCREAM GO, GIMME AN AAAAAAGGGGGH, etc.

Anyway, it’s a pretty routine slasher movie that takes itself seriously but with some of the ’80s sex comedy stuff the title implies used as comic relief. A van full of cheerleaders head to Camp Hurrah for a cheerleading outing and competition, the two males are super horny and trying to get laid all the time, etc.

It’s kind of an A-Team of B-actresses. Betsy Russell (AVENGING ANGEL) plays Alison, sort of the protagonist and probable Final Girl because she keeps having symbolic nightmares about death and cheerleading, including ones where she gets slashed by razor sharp pom poms, and one where she joins the squad in cheering her boyfriend Brent (disco star Leif Garrett) as he has sex with Teri Weigel (MARKED FOR DEATH, PREDATOR 2, lots of porn). And then you have Lorie Griffin (TEEN WOLF), Rebecca Ferratti (GOR, GOR II, CYBORG 3, HARD VICE), and most importantly Lucinda Dickey (NINJA III: THE DOMINATION) plays Cory, the team mascot. She doesn’t really fit in and the bitchy camp director Miss Tipton (Vickie Benson, doing a broad Troma or John Waters type acting style like she’s in a different movie than the others) has it in for her, forcing her to wear her alligator mask while she eats.
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candymanI’m still fond of my CANDYMAN review from almost exactly 10 years ago, but I’ve been wanting to go more in depth about its subtext, which I think is even more striking today. I know the character of Candyman is really well known, but honestly I don’t think the movie gets enough credit for how much it has to say. All these years later I think it might be the best horror movie of the ’90s.

So I decided to do a new piece on it for One Perfect Shot. I think it’s pretty good. Check it out and tell your friends. Click on this link five times in front of a mirror:


The Last Witch Hunter

tn_lastwitchhunterA tale has long been whispered of Vin Diesel – musclebound, gravel-voiced, meat-headed action star, professor of macho brotherhood and cinematic tributes to muscle cars and jumping from moving vehicles – and how he’s a huge nerd who loves playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s an unusual badass juxtaposition and although I always believed it I also knew it could’ve been exaggerated as a way to endear himself to the “Geek” sights who helped turn PITCH BLACK into a minor cult success and get two unlikely sequels off the ground even though it seemed like no one believed in them like he did.

But the proof is in the pudding, and in this flavor of pudding Diesel plays Kaulder, an 800 year old witch hunter aided by a Catholic secret society called The Axe and Cross in controlling the descendants of the monstrous Witch Queen who killed his wife and daughter and cursed him to be immortal even though he was real sad. He uses spells to travel into his memories, where he has a long beard like a Lord of the Rings dwarf and yells “IRON AND FIRE!” whenever leaping at someone with his sword (which he notes he does not have a name for but has heard it called Such-and-Such the Witch Killer by others). I should also mention that sometimes his sword is on fire. So yes, he plays Dungeons & Dragons. He lives his life a quarterstaff at a time. And I bet he gets really into doing voices and yelling out battle cry catch phrases and stuff.

Most of the movie takes place in present day Philadelphia Pittsburgh (or present day Unnamed City Filmed in Philadelphia Pittsburgh). Here Kaulder, like Dominic Torretto, enjoys wearing fitted black long sleeve button up shirts with the collar opened wide, but he drives a different type of fast car. (There’s one part in the movie where a car drifts, but it’s an FX shot and he’s not supposed to be the driver.)

Michael Caine (ON DEADLY GROUND) plays Dolan, his Alfred-like right hand man of 50 years, but since Kaulder is older than him he always calls him “kid.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Sweet Sixteen

tn_sweetsixteenslashersearch15“Now you listen to me, every one of ya, you listen damn close. Because if anybody in this town decides to take the law into their own hands, I’ll be on your ass like junebug on shit. I hope I make myself understood and pardon me ladies.”

SWEET SIXTEEN is a low budget 1983 slasher mystery shot in Texas. It seems promising at first because it has a certain level of filmmaking competence, an enjoyably corny theme balled called “Melissa,” sung by Frank Sparks, and a cool logo with a knife for a T.

That is not to say that it ever seems good. The aforementioned Melissa (Aleisa Shirley, SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE) is first seen during a long, sensuous, narratively (though not hygenically) gratuitous shower. From there we cut to a bunch of drunk rednecks (including Don Stroud) at a bar, play fighting and hugging their buddies until an elderly Native American man named Greyfeather (the final role of Henry Wilcoxon, CLEOPATRA, SAMSON AND DELILAH, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS) walks in. They immediately start racisting the shit out of him until young Native tough Jason Longshadow (Don Shanks, Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN 5) comes in to protect him with a knife.

Melissa, being the new girl in town, walks up to Longshadow in the parking lot and asks if he wants to “ditch the old man and go party.” As he bluntly rejects her a couple of the racists yell at him that he’s “into little girls.” He starts walking in their direction and they run away like they’re being chased by a bear. (read the rest of this shit…)


tn_moonstalkerslashersearch15“Oh, it’s just a harmless old guy.”

Part of why I love the slasher movies is the ritualistic repetition. Familiar elements presented, hopefully, in new ways. It’s like open source movie making: here is a simple, accessible code, do with it what you want. Do try this at home.

Of course, the danger with that type of democratic process is that there are gonna be alot of bad ones made either naively or opportunistically by people unable to do a good job. And the deeper I get into Slasher Searching the more of these I’m gonna be left with.

MOONSTALKER is, surprisingly, on DVD. But it’s an amateurish Jason-with-a-touch-of-Leatherface knockoff movie; any variations on the formula seem accidental. It’s one of those movies where the very first shot makes you realize you’re in for a chore. Actually it’s not a bad P.O.V. shot of a killer spying on some campers, but there are people dancing next to a fire and it is very clear that this is not how they dance. This is what some crew members do when the director says “go dance next to the fire” and there’s no music playing and they’re kinda embarrassed and trying to be sarcastic. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellraiser: Revelations

SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan as Pinhead

HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS, the final nail in the head of Pinhead, has the audacity to open as a fucking found footage movie. Two young bros named Nico (Jay Gillespie, ANDROID COP) and Steven (Nick Eversman, VAMPIRES SUCK and this week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD) make a video of their road trip from L.A. to Tijuana, (which they think is hilarious to say in a fake Mexican accent). Nico in particular is an obnoxious dick begging to be punched in the face and/or torn apart by hooks, very reminiscent of the guys that get killed in the opening of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. He smirks with pride as he blows your fuckin mind by talking excitedly about donkey shows and hookers. Get it.

Jump cut to Nico shirtless on the floor in a square of candles solving the famous Lament Configuration puzzle box. And then Pinhead is there asking for the box. Or, wait… who is that guy? If you’ve seen BLOODLINE you remember it because Pinhead was in space, if you’ve seen REVELATIONS you remember it because they dressed some other dude up as Pinhead. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellraiser: Hellworld

tn_hellworldThe penultimate HELLRAISER, Rick Bota #3, is not really better than the previous DTV entries, and definitely way worse than any of the theatrical releases, but after three pretty samey ones in a row it was briefly refreshing to see the series, for the first time, try to pander to dumb young people. Elements include: an addictive internet game, an exclusive invite-only theme party, teen suicide, masked orgies, cell phones. Coming only 3 months after DEADER and from the same director it’s nice that it’s crappy in a completely different way.

Whoah, it's like the Matrix
Whoah, it’s like The Matrix

In the interim, LAND OF THE DEAD and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS had come out. That’s about it. Impossible to detect a change in the horror landscape. Instead of sticking with the times I guess they wanted to pull a LAWNMOWER MAN or BRAINSCAN type deal and base it around computer technology, so that the movie would already seem laughably dated and out of touch by the time it was finished editing.

The story is about a group of twenty-something friends (and one ex-friend) whose buddy Adam has just died horribly. We don’t know how it happened, but it had some connection to their shared obsession with a video game called Hellworld.

Two years later they’re thrilled to solve a virtual Lament Configuration and get invited to “a Hellworld party!!!” at a mansion on “86 Hillbound Drive.” It’s hosted by the great Lance Henriksen, who has a collection of puzzle boxes and weird babies in jars and claims the mansion was designed by LeMarchand, all of which delights his guests. There are young people dancing, drinking, mingling, some of them topless or just having sex right out in the open like it’s EYES WIDE SHUT. The host gives them all a cell phone and a paper mache mask with the phone number on the forehead so people will call and proposition each other. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellraiser: Deader

tn_deaderHELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER director Rick Bota and writer Tim Day return for HELLRAISER: DEADER, rewriting from a completely unrelated script by Neal Marshall Stevens (THE CREEPS, CURSE OF THE PUPPETMASTER, THIR13EN GHOSTS). This is of course part 7 of 9 in the HELLRAISER nonology, part 3 of the DTV section and part 2 of the Bota Trilogy. It’s another one that follows the template of HELLRAISER: INFERNO more than the good HELLRAISER movies, doing another reality-bending is-this-real-oh-no-this-isn’t-real-am-I-alive-or-dead-wait-a-minute-Pinhead-is-here storyline.

It opens in a decrepit drug den piled high with passed out dopers and crack smokers and what not. One of them wakes up and starts taking photos, which is weird. I believe flash photography is prohibited in most havens of iniquity, or at least considered rude. But these guys seem pretty chill so nobody stops her and somebody even offers her some crack. She smiles and says she got what she needs, holding out a tape recorder.

still_deader3You see, she is Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer, THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE, BEASTMASTER 2, ANACONDA), edgy American literary journalist and chronicler of the lurid English underbelly. She returns victoriously to the offices of The London Underground newspaper, apparently excited about a long day of transcribing whatever junkie gibberish is on those tapes. Fun! She’s late for a meeting and she probly smells like tar and ass, but everybody’s congratulating her on the publication of her most recent opus, “How To Be a Crack Whore.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellraiser: Hellseeker

tn_h6So here I am on part six. Of nine. Two thirds of the way through the HELLRAISER saga. But that’s only two fifths of the way into the ones I haven’t seen. The DTV ones. The difficult ones. And the God’s honest truth is that spirits are low. Morale is low. Quality is low. Every reasonable part of my brain tells me to turn back. But I won’t do that – I can’t do that – because if I give in now then I’ve come all this way for nothing. I’ll have put myself through all this just to be able to say “I’ve seen most of the HELLRAISER movies.” Not even most of the DTV ones.

That’s not me. No retreat no surrender. I’ve come too far. I’m not a quitter. Did Frank give up and quit? No, he went all the way to Morocco to find that box, and he got it, and he solved it. Maybe that’s a bad example.

By the time this one comes out it is 2002. Alot of important horror business started in 2002: the American popularity of J-horror (remake of THE RING while JU-ON and DARK WATER are released), the short trend of fast zombies (28 DAYS LATER), the endless RESIDENT EVIL series, Neil Marshall (DOG SOLDIERS), Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER), Lucky McKee (MAY), and most importantly it was the year of BLADE II. The closest comparison to HELLSEEKER I guess would be HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, the 8th, last, and worst of a series started in 1978. But that was a theatrical release.

(DTV horror sequels that had come out since HELLRAISER: INFERNO:


HELLSEEKER is the first since part II (and the only DTV one) to bring back Ashley Laurence as Kirsty Cotton, stepdaughter of Julia, niece of Frank and Final Girl of the two good HELLRAISER movies. Now she’s married to Trevor (Dean Winters, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 30 Rock, insurance ads) and they’re driving somewhere but they suddenly plummet off a bridge, and Kirsty doesn’t escape. Well, thanks for coming back, anyway. (read the rest of this shit…)


tn_sicarioHere we go yo, here we go yo, so what’s a what’s a what’s a sicario? In Mexico, the onscreen text tells us, it’s a hitman. And the movie SICARIO is a nightmarish portrait of the byzantine conflict such a hitman would be in the middle of. Literally that would be the War On Drugs but metaphorically, it’s easy to think, it could be about the War On Terror, or any number of seemingly intractable cycles of violence. This is, after all, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (PRISONERS, ENEMY) making an American movie about Mexico. It’s international and cross-cultural.

Our guide into Hell is Emily Blunt (EDGE OF TOMORROW, LOOPER) as Kate Macer, a new but talented FBI agent who raids a drug house in Phoenix and accidentally finds where a cartel has been stashing bodies. Next thing you know a meeting room full of mysterious higher-ups recruits her to aid in a vaguely defined interagency mission they say will lead her to the people responsible. She finds herself at an Air Force base with a couple dozen macho CIA, Delta Force and US Marshal tough guys who all seem to go way back and know exactly what’s going on and do this kinda mission in their sleep. And next thing you know they’re cruising over the border meeting up with militarized Mexican police forces and God knows who else. Nobody tells Kate anything. She just has to stay quiet and keep up. (read the rest of this shit…)