Tag Archives: weird-ass twist


alone2 Stars  2001/15/89m

“Hear the fear.”

Director: Phil Claydon / Writers: David Ball, Phil Claydon, John Davies, Mark Loughman & Paul Hart Wilden / Cast: John Shrapnel, Isabel Brook, Laurel Holloman, Miriam Margolyes, Caroline Carever, Claudia Harrison.

Body Count: 4

Dire-logue: “So…you’ve got Freddy Krueger as an admirer…”

There’s some real ambition in this arty Brit-flick, which toured European festivals for a full year before it was given a straight-to-video release. Made up largely of point-of-view photography that identifies us to/with the character of Alex: a compulsively clean outpatient who likes to write letters to, and then kill, young women whom Alex perceives to be lonely.

Beginning as a gritty detective drama mixed with the POV work of Alex’s strange existence and visits to caseworker Margolyes, whose advice is to try and romance a girl who is soon after found murdered. However it is her pretty American assistant Charlotte who eventually becomes the heroine when the entire thing morphs into a pedestrian clone of Halloween II as Alex tracks Charlotte down to a local hospital.

The most effective scene is when a girl returns home to find all of her kitchen has been cleaned, her fridge magnets neatly lined up and her spice rack contents faced up. All very Sleeping with the Enemy! We’re never granted a look at our killer, only Alex’s hands make it into the frame.

Alone doesn’t try to be a slasher film, with its miserable, colourless photography and the stupid twist ending that isn’t really a twist at all given the first-person voice used to thread things together. Actually, the ending downright sucks, yanking the rug out so violently that it tears as it goes! Director Claydon later helmed the Horne/Corden “comedy” Lesbian Vampire Killers.


tunonegro3 Stars  2001/103m

“Ignorance kills.”

A.k.a. Tuno Negro (Dark Minstrel)

Directors/Writers: Pedro L. Barbero & Vincente J. Martin / Cast: Silke, Jorge Sanz, Fele Martinez, Patxi Freytez, Enrique Villen, Rebeca Cobos, Eusebio Poncela, Maribel Verdu.

Body Count: 18

Dire-logue: “It was a question of survival: my dick or my life.”

The reverse of the DVD of Black Serenade details the general plot of students and death and then states that the heroine will “have to use her knowledge of Art History” to solve the mystery. Art History? What is this, the Dan Brown slasher flick? Heart sinks like stone.

In the actuality of actualness, this handsome looking Spanish film has more in common with Urban Legend than anything else, which, for me is a good thing. Beginning with ‘The Barrymore Trick’ of killing a pretty girl before the credits, we learn of a Spanish myth (which may or may not have been invented for the sake of the film) about The Dark Minstel (Tuno Negro), a kampus kruising killer who murders the poorest performing students at colleges across the country. And also newlyweds for reasons unclear.


The yarn stems from the Minstels of the 1600s who played music to pay their education fees and, when more privileged students began getting in on the act, the original Minstels struck back and murdered them before being burned by the townspeople. This prompts the present day killer in their quest to rid the world of the failing students at Salamanca University…

Our prissy heroine Alex attracts the killer’s attention (beside being a brainiac) and her less academically gifted friends begin to fall victim to the loon, who dresses as a traditional Minstel, which conveniently fits in with the fratb0y-like students who appear at all manner of campus hootenanny’s to sing and strum banjos, then get drunk and have sex with girls.

A love triangle develops between Alex, a legend-obsessed cop Victor and I’ll-fuck-anyone-to-pass-my-exams Minstel Eduardo. At this point things became slow moving and confusing. The amount of time the film takes place over is not exactly clear and some murders seem to go totally unnoticed. Alex does indeed turn to Art History (zzzzz…) to piece the puzzle together.


I was forced to take a module of Art History during my first semester at college and have retained approximately 0.00% of what I learnt. I’m not sure mixing high-end art theory with “low-end” stalk n’ slash chills is a winner. I’m defensive of slasher flicks so won’t be referring to them as low-end again but for the sake of accurate comparative analysis it’s the best way to make a point. This was a huge obstacle in Black Serenade, something other collegiate slashers managed to avoid: Urban Legend used a topic we’re all interested in; Ripper had the useful backdrop of criminology and most people know enough about biology so that Anatomy‘s med-students in peril didn’t confuse them. But 17th Century Art… Really?

Okay so the primary concern is the killin’. There’s a high enough body count to make the film interesting and the scene where Eduardo guides Alex and another of her admirers (called Trout…!?) around campus as the killer sends real-time video footage of him stalking his next intended victim to a computer is hair raising, but once the fiend is unmasked there are enough loose threads to sew a blanket out of. The killer’s identity is practically an impossible equation that even Alex could not solve. Maybe we’ll get a mathematical-slasher film to aide us next. Perhaps something was lost in translation or the guy or guyette typing the subs just got bored and decided to make it up (though I wish they’d stricken “c**t-struck” from the script when Victor is challenged about his devotion to Alex). I don’t know. I’ve seen the film twice now and was as confused the second time as I was the first.

Not a failure of a film but often vulnerable to the stalkings of a Dark Minstel all the same!


thehillsrunreddvd3 Stars  2009/18/81m

Director: Dave Parker / Writers: John Dombrow, John Carchietta & David J. Schow / Cast: Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrinck, Janet Montgomery, Alex Wyndham, William Sadler, Raicho Vasilev.

Body Count: at least 19

Dire-logue: “The characters always head out to the middle of nowhere, right? Suddenly their cars, their cell phones, their technology can’t save them and nobody ever brings a fucking gun!”

Mucho hype surrounded this film before it was unveiled at various horror festivals, it’s ‘back to basics,’ ‘gives horror fans what they want,’ blah blah best thing since sliced cheerleaders la la la…

It’s a slasher film about a 1982 slasher film, The Hills Run Red, which was withdrawn soon after its release and never seen again, along with the director and most of the cast. Horror geek Tyler is obsessed with finding the original reels and making a documentary about it, so after tracking down bit-parter and director’s daughter Alexa, now a heroin junkie lapdancer, he and his girlfriend Serina and best bud Lalo (who are secretly screwing), drive off in search of the house where the film was originally shot.


No sooner than setting up camp, the killer from the film – Babyface – appears and saves the kids from a trio of rednecks who happened by to torment them and kidnaps Alexa, prompting the others to give chase to try and save her. Here, things twist off in to a place that sees the wings splinter off this flight, which sends it into a long nosedive from an altitude of intense slasherama to indulgent torture-porn-lite with a disatisfying conclusion. This also means that character expectations are switched and those we thought would most certainly survive or die…might not.

Until the twist is made evident, The Hills Run Red flirts with four-star truimphance: it’s slick, well-paced, bloody without being stupidly gory and engaging, a straight-up stalk n’ slasher from the days of yore, precisely what the mission statement appeared to be. It becomes another Texas Chainsaw wannabe with an overabundance of psychos, sleaze, unimpressive motives and a downbeat twist ending. And so it ends up in three-star land, a respectable showing for any B-movie of the stomp-and-kill ilk, perhaps a bit of a disappointment for genre aficionados who were hoping for the mooted next great horror icon…who looks a bit like the loon from Dark Ride to me.


Blurbs-of-interest: bizarrely, the last new slasher flick I watched, Wrong Turn 3, not only starred Janet Montgomery, but was also shot in the same locale of Bulgaria and featured a horde of British actors doing American accents. Alex Wyndham was also in Red Mist.


welcometospringbrak3 Stars  1988/91m

A.k.a. Nightmare Beach

Director: Harry Kirkpatrick / Writers: Umberto Lenzi & Vittorio Rambaldi / Cast: Nicholas De Toth, Sarah Buxton, John Saxon, Rawley Valverde, Lance Le Gault, Michael Parks, Fred Buck, Luis Valderama, Yamilet Hildago.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Welcome to spring break: the annual migration of the idiot.”

The leader of a biker gang is sent to the electric chair in the same week than 100,000 students descend on Venice Beach for their annual Spring Break knees up, sparking a series of intertwined events that begins with the electrocution of a pretty hitcher by a dark-visored biker…

Best buds Skip and Ronnie, meanwhile, have arrived for the week and start it off by upsetting The Demons, the biker gang to whom the recently departed (?) belonged, while pervert cop John Saxon skulks about threatening to send everyone to prison. Electrocutions continue with the leather-clad killer doing away with young vacationers and the odd local who gets in the way, including a girl who’s using her room to earn some college cash by screwing older men and the slasher movie fixture, the prankster, who pretends he’s dead one too many times…

Ronnie gets himself burnt beyond recognition and Skip teams up with waitress Gail, twin sister of dead biker’s victim, and they discover that the Mayor, Saxon’s ropey cop and a local doctor are covering up the truth and will do whatever they can to prevent the feisty duo from bringing it out into the open.

Lenzi, was actually fired from the movie at the start of production but stuck around as an advisor for his replacement, Kirkpatrick. Sadly, this leaves only a hell of a lot of unanswered questions and should-be victims who simply disappear from the story when, by rights, they should be frazzled to DEATH!!! There is, however, a sense of Nancy Drew fun to it all that doesn’t appear in contemporary mystery-slashers, marred only by the ridiculous outcome of the plot secrets and some cheesy 80’s music to top it off.

Blurbs-of-interest: B-movie fixture John Saxon was also in Elm Streets 1 and 3 and the New Nightmare; Tenebrae, The Baby Doll Murders and Black Christmas; Nicholas De Toth became a film editor who worked on some big Hollywood productions such as X Men Origins: Wolverine, Die Hard 4.0 and Terminator 3; Umberto Lenzi directed giallo gem Eyeball.

“All my troubles seemed so far away…”

Yesterday I found some much-needed me-time and settled down with a few films. But in some karmic revelation, my choice of cinema seemed cursed. Cursed to tell me I’d have been better off at work! This is evidently my fault for watching SyFy ‘originals’…

First up was OPEN GRAVES


2 Stars  2009/85m

Director: Álvaro de Arminán / Writers: Bruce A. Taylor & Roderick Taylor / Cast: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Ethan Rains, Lindsay Caroline Robba, Naike Rivelli, Ander Pardo, Boris Martinez, Alex O’Dogherty, Gary Piquer.

Body Count: 7

There was a trailer hanging around for this at least a year ago. It looked pretty good. It started pretty good with American surfer buddies Jason and Tomas trying to pick up Eliza Dushku, whilst on an extended break in Spain.

They and four others sit down to play a board game called Mamba, which is, of course, cursed. They roll the dice, pick cards, cards have cryptic messages about their fate. They’re out. The eventual winner will be granted whatever he/she most desires… Once the game is over, those who were ‘killed’ start dying for real.

Naturally, the non-Americans all die first: one guy falls over a cliff edge (after sliding down barbed wire – ouch!), lands on the rocks and is immobilised so that the resident crabs scamper over and start eating him. The next guy is chased by ten-dozen Black Mamba snakes and resolves that climbing a stack of logs will save him until he falls back into them.

A model turns old over night and another chick dies in a fiery car crash. It’s all kinds of Final Destination-lite with a fraction of the flair and imagination and it’s down to leads Mike Vogel and Dushku to play the game till the end in order to win it and wish everything un-happened.

Open Graves was tolerable enough but just doesn’t go anywhere… The CGI effects are dreadful and the ending is naff, plus the cheating guy never really gets his just desserts, which is all we’ve been waiting for.

With that done, I turned to the sorta-remake, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, alleging a ‘proper’ screen treatment of Stephen King’s tale.


1 Stars  2009/92m

Director/Writer: Donald P. Borchers / Cast: David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Daniel Newman, Preston Bailey.

Body Count: 8

King apparently disliked the cheesecake 1984 attempt to make his short opus into a horror film. Christ knows what he’d make of this shite.

David Anders and Kandyse McClure are married couple Burt and Vicki, driving through Nebraska in 1975, arguing about everything when they mow down a kid in the road. They end up stranded in the deserted town of Gatlin where the children have slain all the adults in tribute to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a god living in the corn field.

Unlike the ’84 film, there are no good kids, no flashbacks to the murders and zero sympathy for anyone involved. Anders does alright with Burt but McClure is cast as such an unpleasant bitch that it’s impossible to care at all when she is killed by the army of brats.

Afterwards, Burt runs around the corn for ages (but gets to slay a couple of the corn-sprogs), the kids murmur endlessly about dreams in their stupid, forced accents. Little Preston Bailey – stepson of Dexter – not only drowns in his ridiculously oversized hat but also under the weight of the role of Isaac, apparent preacher of adult-icide. Henchman Malichai is also pretty lame, not a patch on Courtney Gains’ take in the original.

Burt dies too but we don’t see how or know why and the credits roll. I stared open-mouthed questioning why the last 90 minutes existed and there was a two-minute coda after the credits showing some of the kids blah-ing on about the corn some more but still nothing happened.

If King’s story is this boring, it’s no wonder they tried to spruce it up back in the 80’s. All of the straight-to-video sequels are better than this crap. Check out Final Girl for some other reviews on this pinnacle of filmmaking.

I’d class neither of these flicks as slasher films per se, although both shared some turf.

This summarises my Thursday, hereafter referred to as Black Thursday. Actually, I watched Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (with Christina Milian!) as well but that doesn’t really belong here…

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