Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

“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…


slaughterhigh1.5 Stars  1986/18/86m

“Marty majored in cutting classmates!”

Directors/Writers: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra & Peter Litten / Cast: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannaccone, Kelly Baker, Donna Yeager, Billy Hartman, Gary Martin, Sally Cross, Josephine Scandi, Michael Saffran, John Segal.

Body Count: 12 – or not…

Dire-logue: “We’ll take my car…it starts every time.”

Another one for the filmclub de lá Final Girl

I saw this film a long, long time ago on a date. Said date frowned and shot questioning looks my way throughout, wondering if there was actually something wrong with me. Explanations that “they’re [slasher films] not all this bad, I promise!” notwithstanding, that was possibly the beginning of the end of that relationship.

Curiously, being that Slaughter High was a UK-US combo project shot in Surrey (albeit pretending to be America), it’s never been given a DVD release here and, due to the bitter memories emanating from my VHS copy, I’ve not seen it again. It took three guys to write and direct this bizarro Friday the 13th pretender, which was scored by Harry Manfredini, thereby allowing those who write things on poster art to state that it was “from the makers of” that film.

Slaughter High sports the now classic revenge opus with a clique of popular kids at Doddsville High School, led by a then 34-year-old Caroline Munro (it was apparently shot in ’84), playing pranks on cookie cutter nerd Marty Rantzen, one of which ends with him being horrifically burned by acid. Caroline is sorry, the others aren’t really.


“Let’s get physic-aaaaarrgghhh!!!”

A decade on, all ten are invited back to a bogus reunion at the now abandoned school where they are quickly locked inside and picked off by the jester-masked Marty, who does them in creatively with acid-laced beer, a pit of sludge and the usual array of axes and knives. He also manages to ensure one chick – spattered in blood – takes a bath in acid, melting off her skin in all of twenty seconds.

Grisly and gory where it counts but entirely inept in almost every other department, the characters of Slaughter High make time to stray for sex after they’ve witnessed several friends DIE! DIE! DIE! Said horny couple are electrocuted during the act, whilst another guy is crushed by the tractor he’s trying to fix (!?), which has a convenient spinning rotor on its underside…

Sooner or later, it’s down to Marty and Caroline. It climaxes slightly differently than one might expect but then there’s the twist. Jesus Wept, there’s that twist! If the inexplicable behaviour of most of the cast had you scratching your head earlier on, you’ll want to dig your fingernails through your skull and into your brain at the end proper.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan. But plenty are and the film has garnered a weird following over the years, partly due to Scuddamore’s subsequent suicide and the presence of bad-horror fixture Munro and the sometimes uncomfortable vibe the film has on parade, from seeing Marty full-frontally nude to the often sadistic deaths (deserved, I guess…), the film suffers from some of the lesser elements of British 80’s productions: grainy and drained of colour, it’s like a horror episode of Dempsey & Makepeace or a Bucks Fizz video that went askew! But they got it right with the jester mask –  it’s damn creepy.

Though it sucks, it’s kind of a crap-classic that I’ll give another spin one day should I require another date to make a quick exit…

Blurbs-of-interest: Munro and Baker both appeared in the even worse Don’t Open Til Christmas; Munro was also in Maniac and it’s sort-of sequel The Last Horror Film. And check out the pair of covers below, IMDb trivia states Cutting Class is a spin-off. Eww.



silentscream1.5 Stars  2005/15/86m

“When the hood appears…friends disappear!”

A.k.a. Silent Scream (DVD title)

Directors/Writers: Matt Cantu & Lance K.R. Lawas / Writer: Bob Brown / Cast: Melissa Schuman, Scott Vickaryous, Shanti Lowry, Michael McKiddy, Walter Harris, Peter Carey, Cheryl Campbell, Lance Croy, Roger Bergeron, Chrissy Lawver, Courtney Kling, Mike Kinney, Carey Shawn, David Craze, Rick Lundgren.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “Death and lust just don’t go together.”

Look! One of the directors names has ‘can’t’ in it! That’s strange…isn’t it?

In another handsome looking but horribly scripted video slashfest, dim-witted psyche majors celebrate the end of their course with a weekend at their professor’s isolated cabin in snowy Michigan, where they are stalked and slain by a Parka-clad maniac who should probably pay damages to the fiend from Urban Legend.

In a structural anomaly, half of the class travel up on one night and all but two are killed in the first twenty minutes. The rest of them drive up the next day to meet an identical fate, albeit drawn out for the remainder of the running time. High body count notwithstanding, the film drags along at painfully drab rate with acting so dire it makes Eldorado look like a Stanislavsky masterclass.

Too much time is wasted on the dreadful dialogue between are-they/aren’t-they couple Nicole and Mark, who, unfortunately, are the nominal leads. Both of them amass zero sympathy; he intended to cheat on her with two sexy classmates, while she is in an unrelenting bad mood, which would likely make any guy want to skip off for the chance of a menage a trois. However, even during the chase scenes they pause to discuss getting back together.

Once everyone is mercifully laid to waste, the film flicks the twist switch with a trick only marginally less offensive than the ‘it was all a dream’ ending, which makes you want to kick the screen in. Actually, it’s not marginally less offensive, it amounts to the same thing. Kick it!!!

This travesty of Horror 101 accounted for, The Retreat looks like it was written by a couple of twelve-year-olds who’ve just seen their first Friday the 13th movie and think they can do better by chucking in ‘inventive’ deaths (that were evidently too expensive to be shown on screen), pointless girl-on-girl action, that stupid fucking twist, and somehow been lucky enough to land a competent photographer to make it look a thousand times better than it has a right to and a cover designer who probably never watched it and decided it sounded enough like Saw to provide rip-off art.

If you happen across this, beat your own retreat!

Blurb-of-interest: Melissa Schuman (moody cow) was in The Hollow.

Amount of sense? Nun.


2 Stars  2005/15/102m

“Not all water is holy…”

Director: Luis de la Madrid / Writers: Jaume Balaguero & Manu Diaz / Cast: Anita Briem, Belen Blanco, Manu Fullola, Alistair Freeland, Cristina Piaget, Paulina Galvez, Natalia Dicenta, Oriana Bonet, Tete Delgado, Lola Marcelli.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “So let me get this straight: are you trying to tell me that all this is some sort of I Know What You Did Eighteen Summers Ago or something?”

Some filmmakers must want to tear their own ears off with frustration when studio executives meddle with their creativity. In some cases it might make the film better, but in others it’s sure to render the production a lost cause. Such is the case of The Nun, a handsome looking Spanglish production, which, for 95 of it’s 102 minutes is an interesting, kinda creepy little supernatural slasher – and then comes that twist.

nun1Six naughty Catholic school girls accidentally murder the sadistic Sister Ursula after she goes too far abusing one of them. Eighteen years later, the grown women are falling victim to her ghost, who manifests from water, usually from overflowing baths or sinks. When young Eve witnesses the death of her mother by the nun and then the outcome of another tragic ‘accident’, she agrees to tag along to Spain with her friends Julia and Joel and pick up where her mom left off, meeting the other surviving girls to figure out why they started dying… Eve gets on the trail with her pals and a sexy young wannabe-priest and they all end up at the condemned convent with the final two women in a bid to put an end to spectre-nun for good.

The first third of The Nun is a professional looking mix of Darkness Falls and Final Destination with a sprinkling of J-horror conventions, showing off some good demises and competent CGI work. However, once the action shifts to Spain (despite the fact it’s all evidently been shot there) and the main characters make their way to the old school, things start to drag… There’s a mini-twist about the deaths reflecting those of the girls’ patron saints and if things had ended with the destruction of the nun all would be well.

nun2But no.

The twist that is ‘suddenly’ revealed is so crap and reveals so many glaring inconsistencies that you could fly a Boeing 747 through the plot holes, absolutely shattering what credence the film had amassed unto this point. Given the explanation provided, what they propose to be the truth could not have even happened at all. It will make you want to die your own grisly death because it sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks!

You want to know? Seriously? OK…


There is no nun, Eve is the killer. So explains a miraculously clued-in Joel at the end, a “traumatic event” made her the killer, i.e. her mom’s death, but wait – according to earlier dialogue, mom was the second victim as the first burned to death in London a few days earlier. Did Eve fly to London and kill her then? If so, she also has the power to walk through walls and manages to oversee the elevator death before she even arrives at the hotel! It’s also apparently possible to impale oneself with a speargun.

Honestly, did they think everyone watching had Alzheimers?

You’re screwed.

loverslanedvdLOVERS LANE

2.5 Stars  1999/18/89m

“You’re screwed.”

A.k.a. I’m Still Waiting For You (U.K. DVD)

Director: Jon Ward / Writers: Rory Veal & Geof Miller / Cast: Erin J. Dean, Riley Smith, Sarah Lancaster, Anna Faris, Billy O, Matt Reidy, Suzanne Bouchard, Richard Sanders, Ben Indra, Megan Victoria Hunt, Collin F. Peacock.

Body Count: 14

Dire-logue: “You are gonna fuck me right now, or I’m gonna kill your faggot ass!”

Back in the late nineties when everyone and their grandma decided that slasher films were the way to go all over again, there were a lot of attempts to take what worked on the big screen and smallify it for the straight-to-video market, ‘cos, remember, DVD was still a bizarro pipedream which none of us could afford.

Lovers Lane is a mid-level combo of a blender sludge made up of three parts I Know What You Did Last Summer, one part Urban Legend and one part of the then-incoming Cherry Falls. Picking out Valentine’s Day for its calendar-day-to-dread, a couple of horny teens are tormented by a hook-handed fiend and, in a little twist to what we expect will happen, successfully escape to raise the alarm and then stumble on two dead bodies. The psycho is duly picked up by the cops and all is well again.

Thirteen years later, hook-handy bloke escapes from his asylum, leaving the overly personal insult of “Prison Food Sucks” written on the wall in blood. Now, his shrink is half-brother to the Sheriff/widower of the female victim from years ago, and father to bitchy school queen bee Chloe, who is thus cousin to Sheriff/widower’s lonely daughter Mandy. Male victim from years ago was husband to the school principal, who is mom to Michael, Chloe’s long suffering boyfriend – and he and Mandy avoid one another. Naturally, there’s awkwardness between Sheriff and Principal as it’s believed their spouses were having it away when they got slaughtified.

lovers lane 1999 anna faris

The teens have some dramas: Michael dumps Chloe, who has serious anger management issues, and she hatches a plan to win him back via the olde jealousy schtick of taking his buddy Brad up to ‘Lovers Lane’ where they’ll be caught by Michael blah blah blah… Mandy is invited ‘to party’ with the others, including Janelle (Anna Faris) who wears nothing but her cheerleader uniform for the whole film, Billy O as Mandy’s horny date and another couple we don’t really care about.

Hook-dude kills a store clerk and a cop and then goes after the teens, stalking them to a deserted farmhouse and offing them one by one until Michael and Mandy put aside their differences and face “THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PAST”, which is quite different from what we’ve been led to believe. To its credit, Lovers Lane has an almost-smart twist. I say almost because it’s difficult to follow and you have to pay attention to the Scoobying of Sheriff and Principal in their scenes to understand some stuff about incest, jealousy n’ shit. Principal becomes slightly annoying; when there’s violence unfolding before her, she stands there and watches, not helping, not even when her own son is in danger!

lovers lane 1999

There’s not much bloodshed and the budgetary limitations make the scenes set in the dark (i.e. most of them) difficult to see, possibly as an homage to all the no-cash productions of the 80s where minutes would tick by without being able to tell what the hell was happening. And what’s with the UK title? I’m Still Waiting for You? Who is? Hook-guy? Waiting for who? The teens who were four-year-olds at the start? No, no, no – it’s a stupid attempt to fool people into renting it. The box even says “in the tradition of I Know What You Did Last Summer! There are no Last Summer-style letters sent to anyone here, it’s purely the hook-myth thing.

If you want to watch it, I’ll not stop you (like I could!?) But try to appreciate it’s unintentional sense of mirth: the scrawling of hook-guy on the wall not being enough, Janelle snatches four knives from the block to defend herself when she believes the killer is after her… Inoffensive slasherama that is not easy to hate, you’ll be like “aww…they tried”, even though at times they clearly didn’t. You could do worse.

Blurbs-of-interest: the fab Faris later married co-star Indra (who played Brad) and then divorced him, but she also starred in Scary Movie and it’s increasingly dire sequels and also May; Billy O was later in Shredder.

1 20 21 22 23