"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Posts Tagged ‘slashers’

Stepfather 3

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

On June 3, 1992, historians will tell you, Bill Clinton played saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show. Arsenio made his usual big entrance, and sitting in with his house band The Posse was the former Arkansas governor, then presidential candidate, wearing sunglasses, taking a solo on “Heartbreak Hotel” and later “God Bless the Child.” Whatever you think of his playing (or politics, or whatever), Clinton’s willingness to campaign outside of the accepted outlets and methods may have helped end 12 shitty years of Republican rule.

Have you considered, though, that a more important factor might’ve been STEPFATHER 3, which premiered on HBO the very next day, June 4, 1992? Maybe its trashy mockery of phony Reaganite assholes gave the pendulum that extra push it needed. And by maybe I mean definitely, I bet. Citation needed.

Part 3 is from yet another set of filmmakers – writer/director Guy Magar (a veteran of TV shows like The Powers of Matthew Star, The A-Team and Hardcastle and McCormick) and co-writer Marc B. Ray (Lidsville, New Zoo Revue, SCREAM BLOODY MURDER, Kids Incorporated) – but this time Terry O’Quinn did not return. Accordingly, there is an escalation in tawdriness. It’s supposed to be the same character, but now he’s played a little more broadly by Robert Wightman (AMERICAN GIGOLO), the guy who took over as John-Boy for the last two seasons of The Waltons. That’s a reference I remember people making when I was a kid but honestly I never saw the show to verify my hunch that it’s pretty good stunt casting to have him play this corrupted version of a family sitcom character. (read the rest of this shit…)

Stepfather II

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

“You will NEVER find a better family man than me, Pumpkin!”


This is a flashback within my current retrospective series. STEPFATHER II: MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY was a theatrical release in November of ’89 that got itself a made-for-cable sequel in ’92. I reviewed the original THE STEPFATHER way back in 2005, but I hadn’t revisited part II since around the time it came out on video, so I thought I should do that before part 3.

THE STEPFATHER is (like POISON IVY) the template for about forty thousand made-for-cable domestic suspense thrillers, but it’s a damn good movie. Terry O’Quinn (SILVER BULLET) is outstandingly creepy as the family values loving psycho who serially creates new identities, marries suburban single mothers, loses his shit when life isn’t perfect, massacres the family and starts over.

This first sequel comes from different filmmakers. It’s actually the first sequel by director Jeff Burr (FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM), who would go on to direct LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III, PUPPET MASTER 4 and 5, and PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS. It’s produced by Darin Scott (who later produced TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, FEAR OF A BLACK HAT, MENACE II SOCIETY and TALES FROM THE HOOD) and written by John Auerbach (sound editor on Jim Jarmusch’s STRANGER THAN PARADISE and DOWN BY LAW?). (read the rest of this shit…)

X

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

X is the new horror picture from writer/director Ti West, his first movie since the 2016 western IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE. The fastest way I know to describe it is “what if THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was BOOGIE NIGHTS?” It takes place in 1979 and it’s about a group of people from Houston who decide to make their first porno movie, and rent a small house on a remote farm to film it. In the process, their strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language is met with strong bloody violence and gore.

That’s from the actual MPAA rating, but it’s misleading. Though X is hardly tame, it doesn’t strike me as particularly extreme either. You gotta say this in hushed tones in these parts, but this is West’s first collaboration with A24, and I would consider him one of the pioneers of the style of 21st century slow burn horror that has become one of that company’s trademarks. I enjoyed his movies THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS, from 2009 and 2011, before A24 existed. This is in a similar vein, but being a slasher movie it’s a little more generous in its pay off, so I enjoyed it too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Deadly Games

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

DEADLY GAMES (1982) – not to be confused with the much better DEADLY GAMES (1989) a.k.a. DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS – is a slasher movie that I guess was very rare on video until now. I never came across it during my Slasher Searches, but now Arrow put it out on a nice blu-ray.

This is hardly one of the greats, but you know me, I’m a scholar, and I like seeing all the different variations and permutations of the formula. This one is interesting in that it takes place in a little bit more of a world of adults than most of them. And it’s not one of those crude regional movies – for the most part the production values and acting are slick and professional. And Steve Railsback is in it! If Steve Railsback is in it it’s a real movie.

The deadly games begin when Linda Lawrence (Alexandra Morgan, THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD) is alone in her fancy hillside house and gets creepy phone calls from a strange man (calling from a phone booth improbably located in sight of her isolated home). She’s scared, then convinces herself she’s fine. She talks to a boyfriend on the phone and tells him, “No, I don’t look like Janet Leigh” before getting in the shower. Always the PSYCHO shower scene references in these things. Anyway, a guy in a ski mask attacks her and she falls out the window. (read the rest of this shit…)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Monday, February 21st, 2022

“He needs special care, he doesn’t do well outside, you understand.”


TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2022) – not to be confused with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003) – is the new TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE movie released on (but not made by) Netflix. Like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986), LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (1990), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1995) and TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013) it’s a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece, seeming to ignore all the other installments.

As in the original film, we have a group of young people driving from Austin to a remote Texas town where they don’t fit in. But instead of a pretty casual day trip it’s for a business venture: chefs Dante (Jacob Latimore, SLEIGHT, DETROIT) and Melody (Sarah Yarkin, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U) purchased a small ghost town at a bank auction, with plans to open a restaurant and turn the town into some kind of hipster enclave. Along for the ride are Melody’s younger sister Lila (Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE) and Dante’s girlfriend Ruth (Nell Hudson). (read the rest of this shit…)

Scream (2022)

Monday, January 17th, 2022

We interrupt this Sam Raimi series so I can have a semi-timely review of the new SCREAM movie.


I have some bad news. SCREAM – a teen horror movie that came out when I was older than a teen but I enjoyed it along with the younger people anyway – is 25 fucking years old! And you remember how it was a trilogy and we assumed that was it, but a little while back kind of out of the blue they made a way late part 4? Well, I’m sorry to say that even that happened eleven god damn years ago. How is that possible? It’s not. But it happened. We are old, my friends. Very, very old.

But some of us still like SCREAM and the i.p. gods or whoever decided that the time has come for another one in another era. Many things have changed since the last one. Obviously horror has changed, as it always does. But more importantly the director of the original four, Wes Craven, has passed away, and (in better news) the Weinstein Company has died and gone to Hell, so this is the first time the series has been continued by a new set of people. The rights were picked up by Spyglass Media Group, James Vanderbilt (THE RUNDOWN, ZODIAC) & Guy Busick (READY OR NOT, Castle Rock) wrote the script, and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (the team behind READY OR NOT) directed it, in the Craven spirit but not trying to be a throwback or anything. (There’s even a joke about overlit ‘90s movies.) Original writer Kevin Williamson did give his blessing and sign on as executive producer, and has given many interviews (such as on Mick Garris’ podcast Post-Mortem) verifying that he really was involved and is excited about the movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

To All a Goodnight

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Programming note: This will most likely be my last review until some time after Christmas. My MATRIX RESURRECTIONS review is in-progress but I don’t want to rush it and I’m hoping I can get in a second viewing soon. For now please enjoy this perhaps overly detailed assessment of a lesser known killer Santa movie. Happy holidays, friends!

 

David Hess was a singer and songwriter in the 1950s. Under the stage name David Hill he recorded a version of “All Shook Up” before Elvis did, and later wrote some lesser known Presley songs including “Come Along” (from the movie FRANKIE AND JOHNNY) and “Sand Castles” (from PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE). He also penned songs for Pat Boone and Sal Mineo.

In 1972, like The King before him, Hess took his talents to the big screen, starring in a movie and recording the soundtrack for it. But this was pretty different from LOVE ME TENDER; it was Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and he played the despicable villain Krug. It kicked off an acting career in American and Italian exploitation, episodes of Knight Rider, The A-Team, etc., often, I’m afraid, playing criminals and rapists. He was in THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, Craven’s SWAMP THING, and even Mark L. Lester’s John Candy movie ARMED AND DANGEROUS (as Gunman #4). Since he was reportedly a Method actor, I’m sure he was fun to be around.

And he directed exactly one feature, the Christmas slasher movie TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, given a limited release in January of 1980 before going to video in ’83. (Yes, it’s surprising that a Christmas movie didn’t catch on a month after Christmas.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Trick

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

I figured I should see another Halloween-set film this season, and I knew this one was from director Patrick Lussier (DRACULA 2000) and writer Todd Farmer (JASON X), the team that brought us MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D and DRIVE ANGRY 3D, so I’d been wanting to see it even though it was filmed in a pathetic 2 (two) dimensions.

TRICK is a mystery slasher set not just on Halloween, but on multiple Halloweens from 2015-2019. It begins at a high school party during a game of spin the bottle. Well, spin the knife. The camera focuses on the reactions of Cheryl (Kristina Reyes, Blindspot), who seems uncomfortable with a guy in a pumpkin mask (Thom Niemann, The Deuce) who is not speaking or responding to anyone. When it’s his turn she calls him “Trick,” which does turn out to be his name. He spins and it ends up on a boy and he tries to re-spin but they tease him and tell him he has to kiss the boy. As he leans in to do it, suddenly he grabs the knife and stabs the guy.

(Though this inciting incident implies some sort of homophobia-related motive, that does not turn out to be a theme of the film.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Macabre (Rumah Dara)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

MACABRE (RUMAH DARA) is a 2009 Indonesian cannibal movie. It’s the first feature directed by “The Mo Brothers,” a.k.a. Kimo Stamboel (THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC) and Timo Tjahjanto (THE NIGHT COMES FOR US). It starts out confident and unassuming and by the end has accumulated a DIE HARD level of injury and a nearly EVIL DEAD amount of blood.

In the grand horror tradition, a group of young people get stranded somewhere bad and have to escape. It goes down when Adjie (Ario Bayu, GUNDALA) and his pregnant wife Astrid (Sigi Wimala, SATRIA DEWA: GATOTKACA) take a road trip with their doofus friends. Jimmy (Daniel Mananta, A MAN CALLED AHOK) is pretty straight-laced, but Eko (Dendy Subangil, SANG DEWI) is the horny loud mouth who embarrasses them and makes them uncomfortable, and Alam is kind of the crazy one. That’s established when he threatens some guys at a bar for sexually harassing their waitress, Adjie’s sister Ladya (Julie Estelle, “Hammer Girl” from THE RAID 2!). It seems like a very successful stare down until he turns around and gets a bottle smashed over his head. So for the whole movie he’s wearing a large bandage on his head that’s completely unrelated to the horror movie stuff that happens. (read the rest of this shit…)

There’s Someone Inside Your House

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE (2021) is a horror movie that played Fantastic Fest this year and then came to Netflix. It’s a solid teen whodunit slasher very much in the post-SCREAM vein, but with some 2021 themes and concerns. I like that because it shows that this is a worthwhile format even when it’s not a remake, a sequel or a retro-styled throwback.

The title doesn’t describe the premise (unless in some poetic way that I’m not picking up on), but it does apply to a few of the suspense sequences, including the first one. It’s a SCREAM-like cold open but with a macho football player named Jackson (Markian Tarasiuk, CHRISTMAS JARS), talking to his friend on the phone and noticing odd things that make him think someone else is in the house. At first it’s things subtle enough to dismiss (what is this doing on the table?), but they escalate until he finds a trail of photos of himself punching someone bloody in a possibly homophobic bullying incident. Then he comes face to face with his killer – who is wearing a mask of his face. Yes, the killer wears 3D-printed masks of his victims, a technology invented by Darkman, but given new meaning here as the killer seems to want people to face their ugly selves. A very cool masked slasher gimmick because it has meaning, hasn’t really been done before, and looks creepy as fuck. Wouldn’t that freak you out even more than seeing Ghostface? As soon as you see it you know that you are the target and that some serious prep time has already gone into it. (read the rest of this shit…)