Tag Archives: giallo

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part II: #90-81

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

Thus, remember that this isn’t just another countdown of the ‘best’ or most influential films the genre has to offer. If it were, the same old titles would crowd the top end and who wants that?

#100 to #91 can be found here.

90: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

An intensely creepy TV-movie made at the peak of the slasher craze: A quartet of big fish in a small town murder slow Bubba after mistakenly accusing him of killing a young girl. Soon after, the men fall victim to a series of weird ‘accidents’, the only connection between which is the eerie scarecrow that appears all over town prior to each death.

Crowning moment: The super-eerie murder at the mill.

89: Madman (1981)

Another of the many Friday the 13th summer camp clones, this time with a camp for ‘gifted children’ (all six of them) crashed by a legendary psycho-farmer who murdered his family and was unsuccessfully hanged by the local townsfolk and, if you call his name, he will ‘come for you’. Good job it was a horror and not a porno.

Crowning moment: Frizzy-haired counsellor finds a decapitated head under the hood, sees her boyfriend murdered, gets chased through the woods, and has to hide from the killer in a fridge… and it’s still NOT enough to save her.

88: Child’s Play 2 (1990)

One of just two appearances from our plastic buddy in this countdown; the Chucky doll is resurrected and, along with it, the soul of Charles Lee Ray trapped within. He manages to get himself sent to the foster home where little Andy Barclay has been sent and reaps more havoc on all the Doubting Thomases who cross his path. This represented the peak of the comedy-horror formula that ushered in the 90s.

Crowning moment: Chucky realises every school kid’s dream and reaps a ruler-tastic revenge on a strict schoolteacher.

87: Camping Del Terrore (1986)

More sexy campers up against another forest legend in Ruggero Deodato’s (Cannibal Holocaust) entry in the teenie-kill canon. The Italian-pretending-to-be-American production values are diverting and the mid-80s Euro-fashions colorfully amusing. But it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense.

Crowning moment: 80s-tastic aerobics – complete with headbands.

86: Final Exam (1981)

An anonymous and motive-free killer stalks the campus of a small college in this unimaginative and dry Halloween wannabe. But it’s charm lies in its purity: Everything that happens is 100% predictable but there’s a likeability to Final Exam and its characters often absent in the genre.

Crowning moment: Camp almost-hero Radish discovers a body and does his best to raise the alarm and rescue the girl. But fails.

85: Club Dread (2004)

Whatever happened to Broken Lizard? Their sophomore outing came in the shape of this amusing but self-indulgent slasher parody, which has a killer running around a Caribbean island resort machete-ing the employees and some of the guests. Bill Paxton is fun as good-time stoner Coconut Pete and there’s adequate bloodletting, even if it does grind on 25 minutes longer than it should.

Crowning moment: A fleeing victim tries to make her escape in a golf buggy, finding it futile when the killer manages to out-walk her.

84: Boogeyman 2 (2007)

A sequel to the goddamn awful 2005 PG-13 horror that wasn’t really a slasher flick… A girl who lived through the murder of her parents as a child is admitted to an institution alongside several other youngsters with quirky phobias. Natch, they’re done in by a masked killer twisting their fears into reality…

Crowning moment: An anorexic beauty queen is pumped full of fat until she, well, bursts.

83: Wishcraft (2001)

Michael Weston is a high school nobody who receives an enchanted bull’s penis that grants three wishes. While he toys with what to use it for, somebody is murdering the unpleasant kids from his high school. An amusing mix of paranormal slashenings and comedy, plus Meatloaf is in it.

82: Opera (1987)

The outcome of Michele Soavi’s Stagefright was Dario Argento’s sticky tale of a young stage ingenue who is repeatedly kidnapped and forced to watch a series of murders by a killer who tapes needles under her eyes to ensure she witnesses his slayings… The usual flair and flourishes make this a little better than the film that influenced it.

Crowning moment: Casanova William McNamara’s gruesome demise, courtesy of a grinding pole through the chin into the roof of the mouth. During sex. Ouch.

81: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

One of the nominal fan favourites of the series, this was the last of the original Paramount films I saw and so I’ve never loved it as much as some others do. Anyway, Jason rises from the ‘dead’ and returns to Crystal Lake to kill more vacationing teenagers, only this time he’s met his match in the form of 12-year-old horror nut Tommy…

Crowning moment: Jason’s grisly denouement, cut from UK versions for years, with the infamous ‘machete slide’ courtesy of Tom Savini.

Friday the 1st


4 Stars  1971/18/81m

“They came to play, they stayed to die…”

A.k.a. Reazione a Catena [Chain Reaction]; Twitch of the Death Nerve; Bloodbath; Bloodbath Bay of Death; Carnage; The Ecology of a CrimeLast House on the Left Part II (!); New House on the Left (!!)

Director/Writer: Mario Bava / Writers: Joseph McLee, Filippo Otoni, Dardano Sacchetti, Franco Barberi / Cast: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Volonte, Chris Avram, Anna M. Rosati, Leopoldo Trieste, Laura Betti, Isa Miranda, Giovanni Nuvoletti, Brigitte Skay, Paola Rubens, Guido Boccaccini, Roberto Bonanni.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “Can’t you sense the rattled breathing of death?”

Before The Texas Chain Saw Massacre… before Halloween… before Friday the 13th… but way after Psycho came this seldom appreciated (outside the horror community) massively influential unsung classic, that contains scenes that could be easily switched out with various Jason sequels and not raise suspicion.

Countess Donati is rolling around her fat ass mansion in her wheelchair when, totally out of the blue, a noose is flung around her neck and her chair kicked out from beneath her… The camera surprises us (those of us who’d seen other slasher films before this one anyway) by panning up and showing us the killer’s face. As he plants a suicide note and begins to tidy the scene, HE is knifed in the back by a different killer!

The “suicide” of the Countess and the disappearance of her husband (the first killer) attracts several interested parties to the bay; a developer, relatives, some bouncy teenage daytrippers – actually they happen by randomly – and the carnage soon begins. Everyone wants the bay, the house, the inheritance, whatever… and it seems that everyone is quite content to kill for it.

Undoubtedly the film peaks in terms of both fun and its proto-slasher sensibilities with the scene concerning the quartet of youths who come to the bay for a grand day out; two guys and their respective French and German dates. They find an old dance hall, lark about, then make themselves at home in a nearby house while one of them, the fabulous Brunhilda in her green dress and ribbons, opts to go skinny dipping. She happens upon the dumped corpse of the missing fellow and is murdered before she can alert the others.

Here, a scene that clearly inspired the infamous – and still unseen for 32 years – bunk-double-impaling from Friday the 13th Part 2 occurs. While the spare guy has his face split by a blade, the other couple are going for it in the bedroom next door. The killer picks up a spear and, from his POV, floats in and skewers the two of them. The Jason film recreated this moment almost shot for shot ten years later.

More people die, including innocent witnesses to the crimes. Suspects are narrowed to cranky fisherman Simon, son of the Countess, money-grabbing couple Renata and Albert, Frank Ventura the lawyer/developer/man-with-plans dude… But Bava is toying with our expectations. As per the original Italian title, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and by the time 81 minutes have clocked up, 13 people are dead and the bay is under new ownership.

Despite the never ending spectre of death haunting everyone who is unfortunate enough to be there, there’s a decent wad of humour present and the almost laughable lack of humanity on show from the cast. It’s gory, but not ridiculously, typical in its visual cues with plenty of bright colours, dark shadows, and focus pulling.

Shockingly, it’s yet to be remade and modern audiences probably won’t be able to appreciate the influence carried, but Bay of Blood is essential viewing regardless and worth seeing more than once, evidenced by the fact that I upped it by a whole star on my second foray (about a decade after the first).

A delightful fixture of Italian horror: the bizarre psychic lady

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