Friday, September 12, 2014

Threesome Terrors: Murder University (2012)

Murder University (2012)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Samantha Acampora, David Adams Murphy, Dave Almeida

Some of the box art for this film shows us a rather grim and serious shot of a victim cowering before somebody with an axe; little do some suckers know that, though there is a maniac with an axe (actually, three maniacs!), Murder University is anything but serious and grim, that is until the final half hour.

Taking place in a fictional Greensboro College in 1983, Josh is a freshman who just couldn't fit in with the weird and hockey people in campus, especially since he's the son of somebody with a history around there. But all things have gone for the worse when he gets captured by a trio of masked cult murderers.

Witnessing some slayings and almost a victim of one, Josh survived and was forcefully teamed-up with a detective who's on this case for quite some time now, and his daughter, who obviously had taken quite a liking to Josh the moment they met. As the kill count rises to double digits, it's only a matter of time before this trio of unlikely company find the truth behind these killings, and a twist that comes rather offbeat and dark.

Murder University resembles a Troma movie minus the crude gross-outs and more on the weird; Jamie DuFault's character Josh may as well be the only normal guy around and he's getting into a lot of trouble just for being one. His roommate's a dorky looking ladiesman who wears "I'm a Virgin" shirts and works in stripper bars, his professor profanes as a part of his teaching regime, and we all can't help but feel that every student and staff in this university is out to get our lead guy, even if some of them are meant to help him. More or less, the lack of any serious character here did kinda help us root for our lead as he is the only one with some real sense around, which also makes the sudden grim turn in the last third of the movie quite effective.

In fact, while I'm not too keen with the kind of humor Murder University was approaching, I love the fact they kept the slasher/horror elements as straight as possible, even delving into the thrill once in a while thanks to the healthy helping of chase scenes. The kills are sort of repetitive, unfortunately, limited to a series of axe hackings and beheading, with only a slight chance for the killers to get creative and pick something else as a murder weapon. (and when they did, it disappointingly shown as a black and white video shown to taunt our leads) Still, the lack of CG in these murders is a nice touch, staying true to the 80s heydays that this movie is taking tribute to.

Then there's the technical aspects; camera work and lighting had this giallo-esque take with candy tinting and editing done away with grainy detail. It's picturesque and fitting to the supposed decade the story takes place in, remarkable seeing how fair the budget was.

But what really impressed me about Murder University is its unpredictability; right in the beginning we're treated to something we didn't quite see coming from your classic a group of opening victims, and these unusual twists venture further into the movie as unexpected character deaths and changes swarmed crucial moments with enough shock factor to keep this low-budget gem memorable in its best.

May it fail to provide a workable comedy element, the movie still have a fair amount of pros to at least make a satisfying viewing. It could have been worthier should the directing kept the entire thing a "straight" 80s slasher tribute but, as even the dumbest flick out there would have their own following, Murder University will definitely have its own.

1 male knifed on the gut
1 male head found
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 female hacked on the chest with an axe
1 female decapitated with an axe
1 male murdered offcamera, heart cut out
1 female had her throat cut until beheaded with a knife
1 female decapitated with an axe
1 female ran over by a truck, hacked with axes
1 male gets a throat cut with a knife (flashback)
1 female slashed to death with a knife (flashback)
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 male scalped with a kitchen knife
1 male had his crown sliced off with an axe
1 male killed offcamera
1 male found mutilated
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 female shot
1 male found gutted
1 female knifed on the gut (film)
1 female shot on the head (film)
1 male smothered with a plastic bag (film)
1 male neck broken
1 male neck broken
1 male axed on the gut
1 male gets an axe-pick to the head
1 male axed on the gut
1 male shot
Total: 28

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Go and see: The Movie House Massacre (1984)

The Movie House Massacre (1984) (AKA "Blood Theatre")
Rating: *
Starring: Mary Woronov, Jenny Cunningham, Jonathan Blakely

From the mastermind who soon brought us the atrocious Hobgoblins (1988) comes this unlikely 80s slasher entry, which may as well be a fine example of how the sub-genre was losing its cool in the latter part of that decade.

Opening act; some sweaty looking theater manager goes around searching where his lover at and eventually finds her cuddling with another guy. Distraught of what he just saw, sweaty guy sets one of the film reels on fire backstage and, well, gassed his patrons to death. (you would think a roll of film (which is mostly nitrate) would ignite at this point and set the building ablaze, but no, all we see is a theater smoking up in a minute and a bunch of people lying on the floor, supposedly dead, in the next. Also, sweaty theater manager knifed the ticket lady to death just for the heck of it.)

Fast forward some years later, the seedy manager of the equally seedy Spotlite Theaters decides to expand to their eleventh location, which so happens to be the same movie house where the opening massacre occurred (of all the places), and sends out three of his employees to spiffy up the place and have it ready for the grand opening night without pretty much telling them of the place's history.

Don't ask why he didn't. I was busy chanting a mantra to myself to finish the film and do a fair review here just for you blokes and gals, so I may have missed it but all I know is that there was a promised $1000 bonus on their paycheck, so a projectionist, his girlfriend and some random guy who barely did anything (all of them teenagers) agreed to help but as soon as they step in to the place, spooky things started happening; doors suddenly lock up by themselves, stuffs are flipped over, smoke keeps coming out of nowhere, and there's an old guy in a tux and a knife killing random teens that goes inside the theater for God knows what reason. (That last statement goes for both the loon and the kids.)

This is as far as the plot goes for clarity and kinda much all there is too it; the actual execution of the movie have more "random unfunnies" that fails miserably, inexcusably and outrageously cheesy characters, blood-dry death scenes (one guy gets beheaded and there's hardly any blood spurting out of those stumps) and countless plot holes that it goes to a point you don't really know what exactly is this movie trying to do.

There are scenes here that could have been (or was) intentionally hilarious but the overall tone of the movie, plus the badly acted parts, yeah, nothing kills a gut-busting laugh more than overcooked (or undercooked) performances sided with a zero budgeted production. Heck, you can tell how desperate this movie was to top whatever slasher title was popular back then when they decided to suddenly give our killer supernatural powers even if the opening act barely made any indication for such a thing; for all we know it could be the ghosts of his victims haunting the place but they appear to be assisting their killer so I'm not too hot for that explanation myself, but even with this "development", The Movie House Massacre still failed to live by its title, with most of the murdering happened offcamera (or hardly seen due to the lighting. Again, zero budget) and, well, too silly to satisfy a blood crave. (one of them died sliding down against a wall while some supernatural wind blew at her. Must be death by ghostly orgasm.)

Incompetent, unsatisfying and simply shit, much like Sloane's other films, The Movie House Massacre is that one kind of movie that you just had to see to know how bad is it. So bad that many tried to keep their sanity by pretending this is a slasher spoof; might have worked a lot better for the film that way but, again, it's not even "so-bad-it's-funny" funny. With no shred of excitement, originality and at least a single working element to go by, just take our word for it and leave this slob alone unless you're to poke fun at it.

1 female knifed to death
A number of people seen dead (by fire, smoke or whatever explanation you can come up with)
1 female knifed
1 female knifed to death
1 female killed offscreen
1 female knifed to death
1 female cooked inside a popcorn machine (dream)
1 female killed offcamera
1 male electrocuted against a projector
1 male beheaded
1 female killed (by sliding down against a wall)
1 male knifed on the back
Total: 11+
Least I could use this screencap for something...

Monday, September 1, 2014

The One Boll Didn't Direct: Seed 2: The New Breed (2014)

Seed 2: The New Breed (US/Canada, 2014) (AKA "Blood Valley: Seed's Revenge")
Rating: **
Starring: Natalie Scheetz, Nick Principe, Caroline Williams

Why on Earth would anyone be interested in doing this? I mean come on, did Uwe Boll's film Seed really needed a follow-up? With almost little to no horror junkies out there supporting that movie, where is the point of marketing a franchise surrounding a film so utterly unlikable and pathetic even for a trashy horror film?

I guess if someone else would direct it, the film could work, so let's all thank the gods then that this was the case; Boll only acted as the producer for Seed 2: The New Breed and handed the directorial job to Marcel Walz, a German director who apparently had done a lot of horror films which I've never seen or heard of before. (Not that I'm ashamed of that fact. I do have a life outside horror!)

Here, we follow four bachelorettes driving through the dessert after their party last night but only to meet some strange fellows along the way before being stranded due to a dead engine. Around this time, a mysterious police woman offered her help to them but unknown to the girls, she's simply leading them to meet a good friend of hers: Max Seed, the star murderer of our prior movie.

I will say that the only good thing these Seed films seem to do is that they come up with some pretty shocking (and sometimes disturbing) scenes; the first did this by showing us real black-and-white footages of a fox hunters abusing and skinning foxes alive, had a part where a baby is starved to death and, perhaps its most notorious, show us a lengthy scene where a chair-tied woman was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. (which is, as unflinchingly mean-spirited it is, done away in CG) Sadly, as shocking as these scenes are, the empty plot vouched nothing for the first movie, making it a rather pointless bodycounter which sole purpose is to upset us blood, gore and violence. Seed 2 is nothing different; it's still a messy, plotless dreck that seems to be a mix of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2006's The Hills Have Eyes reboots, only it does the tension play a little better and it's hardly boring.

Perhaps the interesting bit about Seed 2 is that it had taken a non-linear plot flow similar to Tarantino's classic crime thriller Pulp Fiction, where, starting from the second act, scenes are jumbled as we see victims killed, injured or left alive in one moment but seen later otherwise. It's like a huge puzzle where we get to piece things together and once we do...uh,well not much really.

As mentioned before, Seed 2 is still generically plotless, with its gimmicky time-jump story-telling the only thing that made the tension working for it. It's no different from the other misogynistic new age slasher/torture porn hybrids out there, with a "big" reveal that, while it ties this film with the first, isn't really all that amazing. (Honestly, the movie could still function without this twist) There's grit in its kills and torture awaits for each victim (thanks to the effects work of Ryan "Gutterballs (2008)" Nicholson), but some of the elements just don't go too well. (There's some religious mumbo going on with our killers, which is strange considering there's no hint of Max Seed being a religious nut in the first.)

Not gonna lie, this is "sort-of" an improvement from the first, but I'm not too hot for this franchise yet. Maybe if they try something a little deeper without boring us to death (or, as I like to put it in my own terms, "Boll-ing it"), I might give consider another Seed movie a go. For now, Seed 2 is trash, but its a considerably watchable trash.

Bodycount: (in chronological order)
1 female had her neck crushed
1 male stabbed on the neck with a rail spike
1 male disemboweled with a kitchen knife, strangled with his own innards
1 female shot on the groin
1 female shot on the head
1 male bludgeoned with a hammer
1 female gets a broken neck
1 male throat cut with a machete
Total: 8

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Random Art Post: Today I Love...

Guardians of The Galaxy. (Especially Rocket Raccoon)
Is it Blasphemy to say I think this movie is SUPERIOR to The Avengers? Well, maybe. I'll probably get stoned for saying that but meh, I LOVE this movie! Best Marvel Movie Since the first The Amazing Spiderman!

Art (c) Mine. No Stealy Please!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

O.D. phone home: Brain Damage (1988)

Brain Damage (1988)
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry

Are we to consider a movie revolving around an alien brain-eater that looks like a talking turd a slasher? Well, even in my book I'm questioning the credibility of this film to be reviewed here but nevertheless, said alien is sentient enough to know what he is doing and that's a fitting factor to a classic horror killer so, what the heck!? Least the little guy knew how to give us a splashing good time!

Written and directed by the obscure body horror aficionado Frank Henenlotter (of the Basket Case trilogy), Brain Damage starts inside a New York apartment where a middle age couple gleefully prepares some fresh animal brains for someone-or something- named Aylmer. However, they discover that whatever was supposed to be feeding on these brains had now escaped their apartment, putting the couple to a storm of a fit thrashing their place as they search for it.

One floor below them lies Brian, a young man who just recently lets go of his date since he's feeling a little under the weather. By the time he is all alone in his apartment, he suddenly went through an acid trip that sort of improved his condition and soon discovers that Aylmer, a smooth talking, John Zacherle-voiced alien slug, had just injected him on the nape with a highly-addictive blue juice that heightened Brian's senses and just chose him to be his new companion. Now hooked on the juice, Brian willingly lets Aylmer hang around and inject his strange liquid again before storming out into the streets, experiencing his own personal the light and sound show.

But all is not without its price; Aylmer eats brains to survive and the fresher it is, the better, and with Brian's addiction for the juice taking over his life, he now has no choice but to provide this alien his much preferred food source in exchange for a fix.

Not much of a slasher channeling the likes of Friday the 13th or Halloween(1978) but more of Henenlotter's own first Basket Case film only with a more outrageous yet thought-provoking plot, Brain Damage is a horror film morality tale showing the dangers of drug use and addiction. Aylmer's first conversation with Brian was one of the first few hints of this theme as the slug's inviting voice and promises of a worry-free life sounds too good to be true for something without any form of drawback, and this further escalates to a full parallel when Brian tries to withdraw from the juice, only for him to end up so distressed and twitchy that he started to see things and grows weak, physically, mentally and emotionally. It's really uneasy and the comparison works so well that, even an intellectual person might appreciate the message.

The great thing about this film is that it is not that preachy with the subject and it doesn't forget that it is still a cheesy horror movie; gore is delightfully red in true Henenlotter fashion, mixed in with a good amount of weirdness and sexual undertones that one phallic kill becomes so memorable for its unusual and unexpected nature. The city is yet again shown to be the perfect backdrop for a plot revolving around unhealthy addiction, a similar taste done for the first Basket Case film and his horror-comedy Frankenhooker. Acting is variable, which is uncommon for low budget films like this but Rick Hearst certainly did well on portraying our troubled addict, showing a range of emotions and acting from the silliest to the deeply unsettling. Of course, there's also the movie's main attraction, Aylmer, portrayed as an animatronic puppet with an impressive design and mechanism with Zacherle's voice acting that gave this creature the life and (infamous) fame he is known for around the hardcore horror community,  a quite likable character of flair despite the threat that he poses once we accept his little offer.

Perhaps the director's best horror movie by my experience and enjoyment, coming from the fact that with so little budget, he managed to pull off something this weird yet complexly deep, Brain Damage is a must see and own for not only slasher addicts who are open to accept the more curious types of maniacs out there, but also horror fanatics in general. Nothing does a good scare and a few laughs than this 80s gem, especially if you're the clean type!

1 male had his brains eaten by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten from her mouth by an alien slug
1 male had his brains eaten by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten from her mouth by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten by an alien slug
1 male dies from his head wound
1 alien slug crushed to death
1 male shot on the head
Total: 8
A man with a Wicker Basket. Seems familiar?

Beware The Clowns: The Camp Blood Trilogy Review

Camp Blood (1999)
Rating: **
Starring:  Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young

No, we are not gonna talk about Camp Crystal Lake's nickname here. Instead, We're gonna look into another killer-in-the-woods type with a low budget, bad acting and a murderer with a suit that really stands out in a backwoods slasher. Seriously, why the heck is he wearing a clown mask? That ain't outdoors-esque!

Well, whatever the gimmick this maniac have in mind, it sure works quite well as a campfire tale for four campers and their butch lesbian guide out on a camping trip, and too to a doomsayer they met along the way who claims that legend is real. Right, we've been down this road for a couple of times so it's no shock that one of their friends was found cooked on the bonfire the next morning. How nobody noticed the smell of burnt meat is beyond me but no sooner after they decided to run into the woods for dear life, the infamous clown arrives to make butcheries out of them.

Camp Blood could work as a cheesy fondue of everything you know about slashers (mostly backwoods like the obvious inspiration Friday the 13th) without making much of an effort. The acting is horrible for everybody and the camerawork is amateur at its near fullest, this title might come off as insulting for many (and I completely understand them) but the pros would be the even pacing and the nostalgia-inducing low quality might do good for the right type of viewer as a mean of  "so-bad-it's effin-hilarious" charm.

Though I'm no fan of the film, I do come to appreciate the movie's attempts to be a simple and fun slasher which very existence is to entertain the trashy folks. Obviously not for just anyone so watch at your own risk!

1 male ran through the chest with a machete
1 female hacked to death with a machete
1 male beheaded with a machete
1 male slaughtered with a machete offscreen
1 male had his shoulder chopped with a machete (flashback)
1 female slashed with a machete (flashback)
1 male hacked on the head with a machete
1 female stabbed on the gut with a hunting knife
1 male had his neck broken
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 female ran over by a car
Total: 11

Camp Blood 2 (2000)
Rating: **
Starring: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Garrett Clancy, Missy Rae Hansen

Following up the unfortunate events of the previous installment, fate of our lone survivor now hangs on her in retracing everything that happened in the massacre that took place prior so she can prove herself completely sane and wasn't responsible for the death of nine victims. All the while, she shares these events with a low-budget director who's planning to do a movie based on the killings and finds a gimmick on using the possible murder suspect as a guide of sorts to make sure this film is as accurate as possible. What they didn't expect is that the clown, or someone donning as the clown have returned to do more killings, targeting staffs and actors alike.

No means any better but I do saw some improvements; for starters, the story has a nice touch of complexity, straying a bit away from the bare-bone "kids go to the wood then die" set-up to create at least some depth and situation for some of its characters. Of course, this being a cheap direct-to-video concoction, the rest of the cast are one-dimensional and are simply there for meat, and the plot is tainted with enough hamminess and holes to start someone's boiling point.

Still, I could give further points up from the fact that this sequel feels like a parody of low-budget production, stabbing at the cliches, troubles and joys of making a home-made horror film. It's this take on the plot that got me following, but not entirely enjoying, this franchise, hoping to see further improvements in each film.

Gore-wise, Camp Blood 2 didn't shy away from the machete kills and it is bloodier in comparison. The killer still dons the cheap black gear and mask combo, but though the clown mold is noticeably different. (Not that it matters anyway) Apart from these pros, there's nothing else to say for the rest except that it's pretty much your average garden-grown SOV horror.

Still lacking any real sense of dread but fluidly paced, Camp Blood 2 is a sequel nobody asked for but exists anyway to satisfy whatever number of fans the first gathered with it's cheapness and cheesy production. Again, not for everyone but if you're willing to waste a good hour and minutes to watch a horror movie set being terrorized by a wanker in a clown mask, be my guest!

1 female found with throat cut
1 male ran through the chest with a machete
1 female knifed to death
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 female ran through the head with a machete
1 male gets a machete to the head
1 male gets his throat cut with a machete
1 male hacked on the back with a machete, stabbed on the eye with a broken bottle
1 female hacked to death with a machete
Total: 10

Within the Woods (2005)
Rating: **
Starring: Athena Demos, Alex Gordon, Janelle Herrera

More of a retelling of the first with a new set of characters and with a much more fluid modern look, Within The Woods follows a reality show producer who plans to use the legend of the Camp Blood Clown as motif. And as of his cue was called in, the Clown, or someone donning the clown, pops up to do bodily dismemberment to each and everyone involved in the set. The thing about this is that it took quite a bit before the clown shows up to butcher the contestants (a few deadly casualties did got in the way for an added kill count) and we did have yet again some feeble attempts to deepen this entry's line of meat as well as re-tell the story of the Camp Blood Clown (and the events of the two prior entries for the unfamiliar ones) over a camp fire. Once these kids woke up for the next morning, they discover some of their friends are missing and/or dead, and soon we repeat the run-stalk-kill last third of the first movie with a familiar twist.

So it's nothing more but the same old stuff, Within The woods' only improvement is that it looks a little better, there were some plot direction and some better talent. It's still bad but watchable as a campy slasher that, like the first, was made to entertain the simple folks with a standard horror story, some awfully big plot holes and really cheap kills.

Not much else to say, Within The Woods is quite forgettable but a fair swing nevertheless. See it if you want but you're not gonna lose much either if you skip this.

1 male has his throat cut with a machete
1 female hacked with a machete
1 female slashed with a machete
1 male pushed to an upright branch, impaled through the head
1 female murdered, later found with throat cut (story)
1 male slashed with a machete (story)
1 male stabbed to death with a buck knife
1 female seen dead at the foot of a cliff (?)
1 male gets a thrown machete through the gut
1 female slashed with a machete
1 female electrocuted via current
Total: 11 (?)

"Do it": Cassandra (1986)

Cassandra (Australia, 1986)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Tegan Charles, Tessa Humphries, Dylan O'Neill 

Ozploitation slashers are awfully little in number but arguably most of the outcomes are quite favorable; the best examples of this is the amazing Wolf Creek franchise but among many others, we also have the evil genius-themed Dead Kids (1981) (AKA Strange Behavior), the theatre-motif Stagefright (1980), the made for TV Coda (1987) and the Post-90s teen kill Cut.

Now, we will be reviewing an exceptionally rare Cassandra, a gothic thriller that literally starts with a bang as we watch an apparent suicide-by-shotgun of a woman as a creepy boy coaxes her to "do it". (in an equally creepy voice, no less) We soon see that this is all but a dream of a teenager named Cassandra, one that she is constantly having to the point she wonders if this is a repressed memory from her childhood. Whenever she shares this with her parents, they simply brush this off, even if they later hinted with each other that they may know a thing or two regarding these events. Nevertheless, all are bound for the worse when Cassandra discovers her father, a photographer, is having an affair and probably impregnated one of his models and soon escalates further when said model was killed later the following night.

The cops turn up and started questioning everybody who could be involved but stranger things are at play when we find out that Cassandra saw the murder through an unexplained psychic link with the killer. Now it's up to her to figure out what's really going on and uncover the horrible truth of her past, in an attempt to stop the killer before they strike again.

What I really love about Cassandra is that it has style; take for granted that the story isn't all that amazing, even more if you could take the time to notice the number of slasher influences it had to work with, the execution for the most of its parts are impressive nonetheless and I like the way they utilize heavy editing to create an atmospheric movie. Colored lenses and wild camera angles expresses varying tones befitting a particular scene, often using the dream-like take again and again that it's almost supernatural, and a practical use of landscape shots to give some sort of isolated feeling which kinda suits the situation our lead ends up being in as she goes on to discover her dark past alone.

Sadly, this film isn't perfect; other downs that a viewer might go through apart from the unoriginal story is that the performances are varying save Tessa Humphies who did an fine job as our titular character. The others are quite questionable in regards to their talent but thankfully, the atmosphere of the film lessens these blows, even if the cheesiness of their parts reeks from time to time. I also have to point out the soap-opera subplots were rarely effective and it kinda dragged the film to a snail pace in the middle before catching up once more in the last act. Until then, we get a few murders, not entirely exceptional save a cool looking beheading, but since the movie is story-driven, I can overlook the lack of blood in favor of stylistics. 

You could call it an art film in the same likeness of other slasher titles like Spain's Anguish (1987) and the British Thriller/bodycounter hybrid White of The Eye (1987) with its "style over substance characteristics", something that may have put Cassandra in the obscurities in the first place but let not this issue hinder you from seeing this rare gem as for the right audience, this can be a classy trash well deserved to be enjoyed!

1 female shot her face off with a shotgun
1 female knifed on the neck
1 male stabbed and decapitated with a shovel
1 male stabbed offscreen and bled to death
1 male repeatedly shot and set on fire
Total: 5