Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Angry Psycho Thoughts: Nutbag (2001)

Nutbag (2001)
Rating: *
Starring: Mack Hail, Renee Baio, Jenesses Kenney

The lines between serial killer flicks and slashers often gets blurred; while many may argue whether titles like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Maniac, and Crawlspace are considered slasher flicks or just really bodycount-friendly character studies of a horror movie, there's very little doubt how influenced these movies are when it comes to their bloodletting.

What makes these films likable is that, despite focusing on the monsters and their crimes, we get to see some sides on said monsters that can either be likable or sympathetic; Henry Lucas in Portrait is portrayed as a morally absent man that somewhat has his own sense of limit for the carnage he creates, Frank Zito in Maniac is mentally disturbed and wishes nothing more than to stop his own madness, and Gunther in Crawlspace is a Neo-Nazi with a quirky sense of madness that borders on the cheesy side. 

Basically speaking, villain-centered slashers normally work if said villain itself have a redeeming feature. Now if we have one that's completely out of his own head and hates everyone  everything just for the sake of hating, well, we are in for a long night...

The titular nutbag in this film is a nameless serial killer who spends the entire film bickering about other people regardless of gender, race, and social status, and killing them off anytime he wanted to. 

And that is simply it. Two days of this guy's twisted life packed in a measly low budget movie like this. As much as I want to respect the director's effort in making this film, I kinda wonder myself if he is simply trying too hard to shock us with as many taboo breaking as possible, or if he really has nothing else going on with his mind to fully flesh out this villain?

I mean yes, we get to see some flashbacks concerning him as a youngster being abused by his father, but that is old hat! We get hundred of horror villains abused as a kid during their childhood so what makes this guy any different from them? Not much, really, save maybe more racist and sexist? Ironically, he isn't targeting abusive fathers which would have made more sense but, again, I really have no idea what is going on with the brains behind this dreck.

So unimaginative story aside, the slasher element in this film is still present but done in a manner closer similar to those August Underground movies; they're demeaning, raw, and often cruel, sad to say mostly to the killer's female victims. The male victims gets murdered off tamely, a fact that really bothers me since the production claims this is a throwback to early 80s slashers. Yeah, not sure what kind of films the eggheads behind this movie saw and considered slashers, but the early 80s entries always have a balanced ratio of female and male victims. Nutbag is simply exploited sexism.

Acting is weak, the kills are unimaginative and tries too hard to be shocking, and the low budget really shine through from the sets, to the audio, to special and make-up effects (if any was used). The fact that this film was made is the only thing terrifying about it, and this is coming from a guy who lived through nasties like The Human Centipede trilogy, A Serbian Film, and Angst (1983).

Bottom line, we are better off watching the original Maniac or Henry, Nutbag is just too full of itself.

1 female had her throat cut with a cleaver
1 female murdered, method unknown
1 female seen murdered, covered in blood
1 female drowned in a bathtub
1 male murdered off camera with a knife
1 female knifed to death
1 female sodomized with a knife
1 female knifed to death (flashback)
1 female knifed on the gut
1 male nearly beheaded with a kukri
1 female knifed on the groin
Total: 11

Monday, July 27, 2015

Two Women, Six Dudes, One Psycho: Murder Weapon (1989)

Murder Weapon (1989)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Lyle Waggoner, Linnea Quigley, Karen Russell

I wanted to hate this film. I really do. But I can't cuz it pushes what I usually expect in a slasher movie and it did just that in the oddest manner possible.

We open with Linnea Quigley's character Dawn going home from...school(?) where she finds her sister making love with a boy. She acts quite casually about this until she strips and decided to murder both her sister and the boyfriend.

This turns out to be a flashback as we now see Dawn being treated by her psychiatrist inside an awfully blackened mental hospital. (budget restrains?) While there, she forms a friendship with another mentally disturbed gal named Amy and the two plots a way to escape their captivity by either sleeping with their doctor blackmail them to be released, or simply have the most incompetent psychiatrist treating them.

The plan worked (somehow) and the two are now enjoying life outside the wall and, I guess out of sheer boredom, decided to invite six of their exes to their new humble abode to party with them, which turns out to be a terrible idea seeing someone is crazy enough to start murdering the odd bunch.

It is not hard to point out where Murder Weapon fails and succeeds as it is simply all over the place; editing is shoddy and the pacing is muddled, plus the story just failed to make any kind of point. We got all of these red herrings about exes, mental states, and even some inheritance issue that may or may not be the motive of the murders but the way they are incorporated into the story lacked style and simply became nothing more than lines that needs to be spewed out in hopes that some viewers might buy it. Interestingly, the actual slasher portion of the movie noticeably only have male victims, making the mystery of who's doing the kills a more the obvious.

Seeing how flawed the actual story is, you think this film would be terrible. Obviously it is, but what it lacked in sense and time inside the cutting room, it makes up with entertaining cheese and impressive make-up and practical effects. Quigley role as one of the potential killers is rather high in camp value and I can't help but simply love her for it. There's a sense of zaniness and fun in her effort that, despite most of the male casts being dumb bollocks lined up for the firing squad, she makes the film all that bearable to watch. (then again, she did produced this. I guess if you're partially responsible for a crime against cinematic standards, you might as well have fun doing it!) The dialogue is so silly it's almost surreal and the direction can be amusing when the time calls for it.

Of course, there's the murders which is, hands down, the film's biggest highlight; the make-up effects are simply spot on when it comes to the gory details. One victim had his face shot off with a shotgun and we see it in gruesome detail, peppered cheeks and tongue hanging out! Some murders may had gone too over the top, like the one involving some guy's heart effortlessly pushed out of his chest from the back, but I believe this is where Murder Weapon's cheesy charm made workable.

It shouldn't be a surprise how rare this film is; the VHS box it came with features the two leading ladies brandishing guns, undoubtedly confusing some viewers into thinking they're up to see one of those girls-gone-tough exploitation. Nope, what we have here is a cheesy and gory slasher film with men victims, realistic looking grue, and an ending so wide open it felt dangling in mid-air. If you think curiosity killed the cat, then you may need to prepare mittens as an offering, Murder Weapon is just too weird to pass up and left alone!

1 female killed offscreen
1 male knifed to death
1 female gets a throat cut (dream)
1 male had his head flattened with a sledgehammer
1 male had his heart pushed out from his chest
1 male stabbed on the neck with a broken bottle
1 male shot on the face with a shotgun
1 male strangled
Total: 8

Russia's finest Mess-up: Botched (2007)

Botched (2007, United Kingdom)
rating: ***
starring: David Heap, Alan Smyth and Stephen Dorff

In Russia, if you messed up a crime, you'll get a second chance to prove yourself to prove yourself as the best thief there is. That was the case given to Ritchie, a professional thief who, after a diamond heist gone wrong, is hired by a mob boss to steal a priceless antique cross from a skyscraper penthouse in Moscow. Things almost went as planned until one of his accomplices had gone trigger happy and shot a hostage along the way, forcing one mess up to another that leads them trapped in the unused 13th floor of the building with seven others.

Forced to take matters in their own hands, the thieves tries to find a way to leave the floor without further casualties while the hostages plots to fight off their captors. Unfortunately, somebody else is in the floor with them; a deranged maniac with a habit of beheading and skinning victims under a sacred ritual. As the death toll rises, enemies become allies, allies become enemies, and booby traps takes a limb or two.

A low-key splatter comedy, Botched is a cheap yet creatively funny slasher flick that features a competent casts, brutal gore and some funny direction to an obscure story. It starts out quite similar to a familiarly themed backwoods slasher The Cottage (2006), with a planned crime going sour after a crazy mistake, only to go down a gory path that is outrageous as much as it is funny, though compared to that film, Botched does not shy away on a decent onscreen killcount and silliness that's quite workable in a level.

I believe what made this film work as a comedy is the wide array of characters; while Stephen Dorff's character Ritchie maintains a straight serious face through out the ordeal, the other sets include gentle God fearing women, a wimpy thug and his sociopathic brother, an army enthusiast turned cop, just to name a few; in a way, you don't usually get these kind of meat in a slasher film so how they react to the dangers that both surrounds and hunting them is quite a treat to watch. Better yet is that they're portrayed rather comically well, with odd developments and surprises that kept me watching for more, even if I kinda already saw what fate awaits to some of them. (Read. Some!)

While not giving us the casual funnies, Botched caters to the horror crowd with some decent looking gore, though I have to admit that some of these kills lacked any sense of build or timing. The way I see it, the movie's gore scenes are closer to that of a slasher film with a hint of comedy, instead of that of splatstick classics like Evil Dead II or Dead Alive. They're played straight instead of for laughs, which I can't really complain much as it is still pretty neat in a gorehound's eye candy sort of way.

I guess the only flaws I see here is that the budget sometimes show and not all of the comic timing works; the killer's over the top nature can be a bit distracting and the ending felt rushed. If anything, Botched is like a live action take on a 70s Scooby-Doo cartoon with loads of gore; it is really nothing more than a fun film to rent if you're thirsty for some onscreen carnage all the while poking at how cheesy it is. That being said, this unheard little number deserves a viewing or two just for the laughs and limbs being hacked off!

1 male crashed through windshield
1 male killed in car crash
1 female shot offscreen
1 male decapitated with a garden shear
1 female brained with a medieval mace, bled to death
1 male falls into spikes
1 male sliced in half with a sword
1 female shot to death
1 male ran through with a sword
1 female stabbed to death with a nail file
1 male set ablaze, dies from wounds
Total: 11

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hell Yeah, Bra!: Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)

Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)
Rating: ****
Starring:  Alec Owen, Patton Oswalt, Paul Prado

As of the last few decades, spoof films are getting a little out of hand; with drecks like the near entire Scary Movie franchise (Except Scary Movie III. I love that for some unexplained but rubbishly hilarious reason), Epic Movie, and Breaking Wind destroying the good fun films like the Naked Gun series, the Hot Shots pair, Mel Brooks masterpieces, and the ever lovable Airplane! worked hard for, it's no surprise many people nowadays groan at the fact that every year, we are likely to get three to five spoof titles, and probably more to be released ala video.

Still, among my guilty pleasures like Meet The Spartans, Haunted House, and Vampires Suck!, I am able to find some other worthy spoof attempts to make me chuckle for a worthy while. One of them is this strange concoction.

Taking cues from other films like Thankskilling 3 and The Pick-axe Murders part 3, Dude Bro Party Massacre III is the supposed third chapter of a slasher franchise centered on an all-dude sorority being massacred by a deformed femme-fatale called Motherface.

The film begins with one of the two survivor of the massacres, Brock Chirino, in a session with the school psychiatrist; as he gorily (with much accuracy and detail) explains the events of the first two massacres, he came to believe Motherface is still out there to get him and the rest of the bros. And unfortunately for him, said psychiatrist may have been in kahootz with the killer he fears so much as she ends their session by slicing Brock's neck open.

So after that 6 minutes of double digit killings and a quick opening title, we now follows Brock's identical twin brother Brent Chirino, out to investigate his brother's death. One way he believes to accomplish this is to join the same sorority his brother was on and, being a legacy, he was taken in quite warmly by most of the dudes. But to properly initiate him to the brotherhood, he must take part on an elaborately expensive prank that soon goes horribly wrong when it leads to a private jet crashing to an orphanage, killing 250. (Summer of Massacre (2011), eat your heart out!)

Turns out this isn't the first time the bros had done something this stupid as their last prank cost the lives of nearly everyone in an entire town of 3000, drowned in a dam incident(!); understandably tired of their shenanigans, the campus head decided to send them up to an old cabin in the woods, unknown to them that she, along with the local police, are working with Motherface in officially ridding them all since, remember, their pranks are killing more innocent people than Motherface to drunk and partying frat boys.

To inquire enough strength in her mission to rid the boys, Motherface needs to be empowered by a ritual that requires a virgin sacrifice. This is where the cops come in, more precisely the dimwitted yet well-meaning Officer Sminkle. Persuaded under the belief that the frat boys are actually bags of oranges and  they can be restored back to their original form by bopping them on the nose, Sminkle is sent on a trip to the same cabin the boys are staying where he will be killed. But when his supposed backstabber-slash-partner, Officer Buttiker is starting to feel guilty over the lovable buffoon who sleeps with his eyes open, things may not be as easy.

Without giving out more into the plot, the boys reaches their cabin and set it up a party there with Andrew W.K (?!), Brent further investigates his brother's death with weird flashbacks and conveniently placed clues, and Motherface kills most of the boys in every gory and outlandish manner imaginable. Things couldn't get any crazier!

Now, if you'd seen the 80s slasher spoof trio Student bodies (1981), Wacko! (1982) and Pandemonium (1982), you can expect the same kind of zany craziness and bizarre hookum in Dude Bro, only with the silliness dial turned up to a ten and packing a copious amount of gore. I am simply lost for words on how crazy the plot is and how much energy it had in delivering these silly scenes. The same energy lost from most of the spook flicks being crapped out of Hollywood big wigs recently.

The jokes hit fast and are cleverly executed, acting is just spot on with the zanny nature of the film, and some of the kills are the best I'd seen in years; hell, I even wished they did made those other two films for real just for the kick of it! While things did got rocky with the Sminkles and Buttiker sub-plot, and I can tell from my end that this is going to be a film of selected (or at least open-minded) taste, the pay off of the entire film was well worth the wait and the laughs along the way. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise how good the comedy was for this film since the production behind it, 5 Second Films, had been doing comedy for years now and kind of experience can help hone the craft.

This being all said, Dude Bro Party Massacre III is a spoof that deserved to be respected and admired among the bad seeds, may you be a horror fanatic, a parody enthusiast, or someone who's partying with their bros while aimlessly drunk in beer. (Most likely the latter!) They did say the third film in a franchise is always the cheesiest (Friday the 13th part 3-D), the oddest (Scream 3), and the wildest (Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence), and this film made that claim all clear with its own whacky style!

1 male beheaded by the mouth with a thrown buzzsaw
1 male his groin shot through with a harpoon gun
1 female had her head mouth through with a harpoon gun
1 male gets a thrown spear to the gut
1 male slashed to death with a machete
1 male gets a thrown javelin through the mouth
1 male beheaded with a machete
1 male had his head explode...from solving a rubix cube apparently
1 female gutted with a chainsaw
1 male had his throat slashed with a knife
6 females electrocuted with a live wire
1 male electrocuted via current
1 male killed, blood splash seen
2 males electrocuted and burnt via rigged arcade game
1 male and 1 female killed in car crash
1 male hacked on the neck with a sign post
1 male forced face first to an electric juicer
1 female set on fire
1 male had his throat cut with a pair of scissors, disemboweled
250 killed in "plane prank"
3000 killed in "dam prank" (flashback)
1 female stabbed to death with a letter opener
1 male shot himself on the mouth
1 male ran over by a van
1 male pushed to a fuse box, electrocuted
1 male stabbed on the head with a beer keg coupier
1 male stabbed on the head with a katana, dismembered
1 male crushed by a tree, pulled in half with a rope
1 male drove off a cliff, immolated (commercial)
1 male beheaded, head thrown
1 male forced to tear out his tongue, drowned in a lake
1 male gut slashed with a knife, had his guts pulled out and flushed down a toilet
1 male shot himself on the head
1 female ran through and sliced in half with a fire poker
1 male found disemboweled
1 male found in half
1 male hacked on the head with a thrown hatchet
1 female beaten to death
1 male explodes...for some reason
Total: 3294

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday StickyRed!!!

Wow, four years of dead bodies piling up, masked maniacs on the prowl, and me sitting through them all, from the best to the worst.

I would first like to apologize for skipping the blog's birthday last year; I was in transition to another client on my job and a lot of my focus went there. It was hard but things sort of got easier when they transferred me to the Email department of this new product. It was less stressful and I finally got most of my energy back into reviewing these films.

Apart from this, I was also preoccupied with a lot of art related stuff, mostly starting my own gag webcomic which is really nothing more than a fun way to pass my time and practice my writing and artistic skills at the same time. If you are into furries lame comedy then please give my work a try and tell me what do you think.

So, horror oriented topics? Apart from the fact that I hadn't grown an inch four years ago and I am currently re-writing most of my earlier reviews (I cannot believe my grammar then. Me fail english?! That's unpossible!) I am glad to say 2015 is looking quite good for genre flicks; the slashers are getting more respectable entries from indies and I am tempted to do a sequel post to my 101 Maniacs, titled 101 Maniacs 2, where I'll post top 202 to 102 titles, including some of the more recent gems I'd seen such as Girlhouse (2014), and Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015), as well as other obscure titles like Coda 1987 and Graverobbers (1990) that I just found out this year.

I also get to see other non-bodycounter horror flicks like It Follows and The Babadook, two films that are now high on my list for one of the horror flick to see before dying. Adventure/Action flicks like Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys and Mad Max had also hopped up my interest in non-horror genre flicks as well, which means I'm kinda hyped for the upcoming animated films Disney's Zootopia and Sly Cooper's first movie, both promising some interesting ideas and stories.

With my film life getting pretty busy and colorful, I guess I would like to thank you guys for putting up with me and my not so plentiful updates and posts. I have to admit, it's not as much as I post when I first opened this blog but I guess when priorities change, this shit happens! (a-hyuk!) So, I would like to thank my blog buddies, Maynard, Michelle, Craig, "Lord Crayak", Hudson Lee and Luisito for dropping by once in a while to say hello. (And apologies if my eccentric nature might freak you out. ^^;)

And, of course, you, the random reader who may have stumbled into my dark side of the web by accident or out of curiosity. I will try to keep up with the times and my growing number of films to review (which is nearing to end it's second log book as of writing this) so here's to another year of bodycounting and more to come!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Rockabilly bye-bye: The Backlot Murders (2002)

The Backlot Murders (2002)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Priscilla Barnes, Corey Haim, Charles Fleischer

Let's be frank here; we never watch slasher movies expecting high class entertainment, believable stories, or well developed characters. While these are options that can make a slasher film more workable or likable, in the end it's all about bodycounts, imaginative (if not inventive) deaths, and dumb characters getting their just desserts. The Backlot Murders offered most of these with a side of cheddar.

Much like the title suggests, the film is shot at Universal studio's backlot where a terrible rock band gets their lucky break when their lead singer's girlfriend, the daughter of a record dealer, begged her daddy to help them shoot their first music video. Now with a crew and juggalicious groupies, these hapless singers never would had thought that their gay director and bitchy agent are their only problems; turns out someone in a trench coat and a red-eyed Elvis mask is out stalking and killing everyone in the set one by one. Could it be that one band member that they reasonably fired for being too sociopathic? Or perhaps somebody else with a grudge against these wannabe rock legends?

With cheesy acting, overly simplistic plot, and an abundance of hammy characters, The Backlot Murders is a sort of tribute for late 80s slasher flicks. True enough, while it is not the most intelligent of scripts and likable cast of characters (I will not say they're prude. Just slightly pruder. And dumb.) the film charmed its way to my liking thanks to its unintentionally funny direction and overall quirkiness.

There's also some tiny highlights that I enjoyed personally, like the location of the film itself which made a few prop and premise cameos such as Psycho's Bates house and what I believe is the trailer from The Lost World: Jurassic Park II. Apart from premise cameos, we also have a few good names to shine among the would-be turd of a production; while the film advertises Corey Haim, he's only in a minor role, what I instead enjoyed the most was Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit) as the bitchy-flamboyant video director and Priscilla Barnes as the bitchy-stern agent. These two sassed their way through the film with so much silliness on their part that I actually find it hard to unlike. Interestingly, we also got Ken Sagoes (Kincaid from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) in a cameo as a handyman, but unfortunately he didn't last long.

As a slasher, the kills are okay; not overly gory but bloody enough to be fun, but what I really like about these scenes is they they're committed by a loon sporting an odd combination of leather trenchcoat and an evil Elvis Mask, with a behavior that comes like a cross between Halloween's Michael Myers and the killer from Urban Legend. At an hour mark, we get an early revelation to who this killer is and without spoiling much, it would have been obvious if it wasn't for a few twists and turns.

There is very little to say about this film save that it is a campy horror flick. The rest of the production is mediocre but, again, so long as the movie is fun all around, I can overlook any flaws this film is guilty of. The Backlot Murders is bad, but watchable enough for cheese purist.

1 male bashed with a mallet
1 female pushed to a broken board, impaled
1 male knifed on the face
1 male crushed by a car lift
1 female had her neck snapped
1 male hit on the chest with a thrown buzzsaw
1 male and 1 female skewered with a spear
1 male stabbed on the back with a thrown punji stick
1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 male garroted
1 male knifed to death
1 male had her throat cut with a knife, tongue pulled out from the wound
1 male knifed on the back
1 female knifed to death
1 female hacked on the gut with an axe
Total: 16
Seriously, Ken Sagoes? Why are you here?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Noir Ala Bored: Lasermoon (1993)

Lasermoon (1993)
Rating: *
Starring: Traci Lords, Crystal Shaw, Harrison Le Duke

A serial killer is breaking into houses of lonesome women during night with a full moon, murdering them by burning their temples with a high-powered surgical laser. Detectives are baffled by the nature of the crime but got their first lead when a local DJ got himself a suspicious caller who may or may not be responsible for the "lasermoon" killings.

The title itself sounds cool but it doesn't strike anything of a slasher movie and this is because the film is more of a cop-thriller than a teen-kill bodycounter flick. While scenes involving the killer are very slasher film inspired, Lasermoon focuses more on the characters and the exploits of the police as they try to catch the maniac out frying victims' brains; the problem with this is that neither of these two sub-genres are handled properly.

The pacing is slow and the direction had us listening to one character to the next jabber enough uninteresting exposition to the point I was tempted to fast forward to the next murder. And wouldn't you know it, we have to go through 5 or so scenes of the casts yakking their mouth off before we actually see another kill. Unfortunately, even the murders aren't that good; given that the killer's weapon of choice was pretty unique, the attacks were never exciting and the build up to them were sloppy. Worse than this was the film's climax and ending, which not only seems farfetched but annoyingly anticlimactic and needlessly open that fails to be anything but confusing.

Tone is dull all through out and the story is really out of focus; one minute we have detectives snooping around for potential suspects, next thing we know we're sucked to a bland DJ's life and hilariously "serious" mental monologues. (I never knew choosing paper or plastic bags during groceries is a metaphor for troubled existence!)

It's never a bad idea to mix mystery-thrillers with slasher film tropes, especially with movies like Hot Fuzz (2007), Night School (1981) and even Maniac Cop (1988); the trick here is to know the story, set the tone, pace the film properly, and most of all, skills. The brains behind Lasermoon clearly had missed one or two of these helpful reminders and as much as I hate being harsh, the resulting dreck is as boring as watching not only paint dry and grass grow, but both combined with reading the FBI disclaimer at the beginning of those VHS tapes and listen to your Great Grand Pappy ramble about his imaginary wife.

On second thought, maybe listening to your elderly relative rant about a spouse that never existed may sounded more entertaining than this piece of shit. Yeah, better go listen to a Grampa with dementia than waste a single minute with Lasermoon.

1 female had her temple burnt with a surgical laser
1 female mentioned burnt with a surgical laser
1 female burnt with a surgical laser
1 male shot to death
1 female mentioned killed
Total: 5