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sigma die! 2007

SIGMA DIE!

1 Stars  2007/76m

Director: Michael A. Hoffman / Writer: Meghan Jones / Cast: Reggie Bannister, Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Aly Hartman, Christian Anderson, Heather Zagone, Nikie Zambo, Katie Kiefel, Jeff Pride, Nick Bubb, Brian Parillo, Tony DeGuide, John Shumski.

Body Count: 12

Bigots Paradise: “If I ever decide to hire a woman, remind me to check between her legs first.”


A precursor to Spring Break Massacre, which may as well be the exact same film. So much so, I wondered if it had just been repackaged under a different name a year later. Sadly not the case.

Instead, this outdated piece of shit begins with a quick meta-slasher tour through a teen party, crashed by an alien-masked killer who quickly does away with several of them in the space of about ten minutes.

Then we skip back to ‘one day earlier’. Why, exactly? We already know what’s going to happen. There is no cleverly threaded twist going on in Sigma Die! that necessitates a flashback 24 hours. It also means we get to see much of the massacre scene again, evidence that the film probably clocked in at about 63 minutes before this stroke of editing genius came into the picture.

There’s a legend of a twenty-year-old (never nineteen, never twenty-one) murder mystery, after a frat boy was embarrassed to be found dressed in lingerie: “He’s a queer!” they all guffaw.

In the present, ‘he’ is revealed to be Brinke Stevens, back for revenge on the grown frat boys who humiliated her. They never moved away, of course. Any ‘sluts’ who happen to get in the way are fair game.

So in Reunion of Terror, HIV was dumbed down to a death sentence, in Sigma Die! gender dysmorphic issues equate to homicidal tendencies, and all girls are sluts who walk around with nothing on who are willing to have sex for a drag on a joint. It’s okay for hot girls to experiment with being gay, but boys throw around the word ‘fag’ at the drop of a hat.

Not to mention gutter-born production qualities, barely any comprehension of what a decent slasher film requires, this production group should just sidestep into exploitation porn, as that’s all they seem to give a fuck about. Seriously – fuck off.

Blurbs-of-shame: Bannister, Hartman, Anderson, Pride, and Shumski were all in Spring Break Massacre, and Anderson and Shumski were also in Reunion of Terror; Bannister was also in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Joe Estevez was in The CatcherScar, and Axe Giant; Brinke Stevens can be seen in American NightmareBleedBlood ReaperThe Cheerleader MassacreFatal GamesJack-O, and most importantly The Slumber Party Massacre.

Some films I frankly can’t be bothered to say much about

I’m just tired, okay?

butchered 2003 dvd

BUTCHERED

2 Stars  2003/18/76m

A.k.a. BludgeonThe Hazing

Director: Joe Castro / Writer: Eric Spudic / Cast: Susan Smythe, Elina Madison, Phoebe Dollar, Juliet Bradford, Ben Belack, Christopher Michaels, Adam Crone, Tracy Ray, David Alan Graf.

Body Count: 10


What did they do to the eyes of everyone on that cover?

The sophomoric slasher effort from the production group behind Maniacal. Although again shot on video, Butchered generally has slightly better production values and a better script.

Whereas the earlier film played like a student’s take on Halloween with a million and one references to other slasher pics, this time around Hell Night seems to be up for the Xerox treatment as college students Lynette and Barbara agree to spend the night in an old manor house to pledge their sorority (which only has two sisters anyway). We already know that a maniac hiding behind a creepy Darkness Falls­-like mask lurks in the walls of the house, which is due to be converted into a theme park ghost house, as a luckless derelict and the new owner find out.

The sorority sisters and their horny boyfriends turn up to scare the pair witless and end up as additional prey for the killer, who, according to an inexplicably well-informed pizza boy, is the mute daughter of the last owners. Andrew Garth she is not, but there are some amusing kills, including a machete in the mouth and a repetition of the bashed-in head as seen in Maniacal.

Cheap and cheerful with a definite love for its genre, just in need of a cash injection.

*

the driller killer 1979

THE DRILLER KILLER

2 Stars  1979/18/96m

“It will shatter you!”

Director: Abel Ferrara / Writer: N.G. St. John / Cast: Jimmy Laine, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, Rhodney Montreal.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “I’ll tell you what you know about: You know how to bitch, and how to eat, and how to bitch, and how to shit, and how to bitch!”


One of the grand daddies of the ‘Video Nasty’ saga in 80s Britain, this is a grimy study of a highly strung artist (played by director Ferrara under the pseudonym Jimmy Laine) living with his girlfriend and a permanently-wasted bimbo spiralling into insanity, as phone bills, abortion charges, his never-finished painting, and the crappy punk rock band rehearsing downstairs at all hours push him closer to the brink.

Acquiring a Porto-Pak, he takes a power drill to the homeless residents of New York City, boring holes into them to vent his fury at the world. Appearing shortly before the slasher movie outburst of 1980, The Driller Killer doesn’t adhere very closely to the genre rules that would soon make themselves known through popular examples: The main character is the killer, and there is no offbeat motive set deep in the past. Instead, irritations slowly build up until he boils over and runs around town offing eight hobo’s in one night!

The intact version of the film was eventually released on DVD in the UK in 2002 and, aside from maybe two of the drillings, isn’t the blood feast it was painted to be by hysterical moral guardians of the Whitehouse ilk. On the contrary, the scene in which the three roommates indulge in the world’s grossest pizza is far more stomach churning than anything the drill gets up to.

Unfortunately, the flippant scenes of essentially unrelated happenings serve only to annoy and steer the focus away from what could be an interesting character portrait.

*

freak out 2005

FREAK OUT

2.5 Stars  2005/15/99m

“It’s cheap n’ nasty!”

Director/Writer: Christian James / Writer: Dan Palmer / Cast: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer, Yazz Fetto, Nicola Connell, Chilli Gold, James Hicks, James King.

Body Count: 22-ish

Laughter Lines: “I don’t like horror films anymore, they’re for babies.”


A camp, vegetarian psychopath is adopted by horror loving nerd, Merv (Heathcote), and his slacker buddy Onkey (Palmer – who co-wrote). They attempt to turn him into a maniac killer of Jason proportions.

This film successfully skewers many genre clichés and turns them on their head, but is ultimately toppled by its inherent cheapness, which makes it look like a drawn out sketch show clip. The unrelenting satiric Brit humour is hit-and-miss and shares common ground with the fly-on-the-wall like approach that made the likes of The Office and Green Wing successful, albeit on a more juvenile level here.

The best laughs come courtesy of the killer himself, known only as Looney, who is never without his orange jumpsuit, potato sack headdress, hockey mask and carries a spatula as his weapon of choice – his polite observations (in a voice that sounds like Bungle the Bear from Rainbow) and apparent obsession with Larry Hagman supply ongoing chuckles.

Considering the 99 minute run time, the three secular killing sprees are over in seconds with little concern for convincing effects work although there is a high body count and plenty of sloppy gore.

Ultimately, Freak Out parodies the less obvious of slasher movie conventions with fair success, but Unmasked Part 25 did the job better. Worth the once over for some cheap laughs – most notably the scene with The Blair Witch Project stage play.

*

NEXT OF KINnext of kin 1982

3 Stars  1982/86m

“Some films take their audience to the brink of terror… This one crosses the border.”

Director/Writer: Tony Williams / Writer: Michael Heath / Cast: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott, Gerda Nicolson, Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Debra Lawrance.

Body Count: 8


Spooky goings on abound at the Montclare Retirement Home, a lush estate recently inherited by Linda (Kerin) after her mother passes away: A resident is found at the bottom of the bathtub, and our heroine keeps seeing a mysterious figure hanging about on the grounds, finding her taps have been left on in her sink and her bath, and in an especially eerie moment, someone breathing on a separate house telephone during a call… Is she going mad?

Some of her questions are answered in her late mother’s diaries that fear ‘something evil’ is lurking about the place and the local Doctor is being quite secretive about some of the past events that occurred. Drawing quite heavily from Black Christmas, the slashing in this film doesn’t kick in until the hour mark, instead substituting violence to build a respectable level of tension and define even the most ancillary characters enough to fear for their safety.

Moments familiar from Halloween, The Shining, and Psycho help with the somewhat rushed climax (where the sound of the running down the halls is used to great effect). The finale goes a bit awry although Linda finally kicks-ass, there are still several loose ends that are never made any tighter, but this is one little gem that has somehow remained out of circulation for a while.

Look out for a pre-Mick Taylor John Jarratt.

*

slaughter night sl8 n8 2006

SLAUGHTER NIGHT

2.5 Stars  2006/90m

A.k.a. SL8 N8 (Slacht Nacht)

Directors/Writers: Frank van Geloven & Edwin Visser / Cast: Victoria Koblenko, Kurt Rogiers, Jop Joris, Steve Hooi, Linda van der Steen, Carolina Dijkhuizen, Serge-Henri Valcke, Emiel Sandtke, Lara Toorop.

Body Count: 12


In the mid-1800s, a child murder named Andries Martiens terrorised a region of Holland, decapitating seven children in an attempt to utilise black magic that would help him enter and exit hell. He was caught before he could off his eighth and final victim.

In the present, Kristel and her father are involved in a car accident one night: She survives, he doesn’t. Guilt-ridden, Kristel volunteers to collect some of his belongings from his office in nearby Belgium and takes four college friends with her. She discovers her late dad was penning a book on Martiens and had become fixated with a local mine where the killer had been recruited as a sort-of working suicide bomber, to rid the mines of excess methane by going in with a live flame. Death row inmates who survived this task were pardoned, but not in his case and Martiens was duly executed.

Kristel is advised to ‘take the tour’ of the mine and drags her pals along with her. Spooky occurrences abound and the party are stranded below ground where they unwisely decide to tinker with the Ouija board that Kristel’s father owned. This dumbfounded act unleashes Martiens’ vengeful spirit, which snappily possesses one of the group and uses them to start offing the others, leaping to a new host if the poor schmuck is killed. There’s lots of blah about the occult, uncollected inheritance, treasure, and a few grisly kills sprinkled throughout.

The Netherlands isn’t famous for its horror output. Amsterdamned (which one of the cast members here was in) was passably entertaining, as is SL8 N8, which, in Dutch, translates to the English title and neatly ties in the need to eight victims etc…

A sort of Long Time Dead by way of My Bloody Valentine affair. In Dutch. Okay once.

Blurbs-of-interest: Butchered: Elina Madison was in Curse of the Forty-Niner; Joe Castro directed Maniacal and The Jackhammer MassacreFreak Out: Dan Palmer was in Small Town FolkNext of Kin: John Jarratt played Mick Taylor in the Wolf Creek movies and TV series, and was also in NeedleSlaughter Night: Serge-Henri Valcke was in Amsterdamned.

“Please stop this – it’s wrong!”

maniacal 2003

MANIACAL

1.5 Stars  2003/18/79m

“Gilbert Gill has come home to kill!”

Director: Joe Castro / Writer: Eric Spudic / Cast: Perrine Moore, Lee Webb, Carl Darchuk, Heather Ashley, Carol Rosecarver, Brannon Gould, Jon Prutow, David Ortega, Michael Nyman, Deborah Huber.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “Should we be watching all these slasher movies with my brother on the loose?”


A little extra merit for the sheer passion shown for the genre in this effort, which is about as retarded as its nominal madman, one Gilbert Gill, a ‘slow’ youngster who opens the film by murdering his kindly stepmother and attacking his abusive father and goody-two-shoes sister Janet.

In true Halloween style, a plinky-plonky piano score runs through the credits and we skip forward three years to the day Gilbert is to be allowed home for a day’s visit with dad and sis. Instead, he murders a few of the orderlies at his low security asylum and returns to town where Janet blows off seeing him for a slumber party with slutty bimbo friends DJ and Brooke.

The outcome can be seen rolling over the horizon for miles, but there are some cutesy references to such obscure slashers as Happy Hell Night, Cheerleader Camp and even Camp Blood as well as conversations about the irony of the situation.

Nevertheless, the characters are so stupid that they fail to call off their gathering, even upon learning Janet’s brother is back in town and has murdered several people! Meanwhile, dad and a singular law enforcement officer (also DJ’s father) drive all over the place looking for Gilbert while the local kids chant Freddy-style rhymes in the park.

With the obvious love for the slasher opus, Castro abundantly ladles on the gore on with some deaths so ridiculous it defies belief: A fork in the head is one thing, but heads that collapse into rubbery masses at the thrust of a palm, and the longest strangulation in history push the bar from campy extravagance to low-watt idiocy.

Good laugh: Janet’s reasoning with her brother after thirteen murders: “please stop this – it’s wrong.” Same thing should have been mentioned to the producers.

Blurbs-of-interest: Brannon Gould was in Final Stab; Castro also directed Butchered and The Jackhammer Massacre.

…Something beginning with overrated

my little eye dvd

MY LITTLE EYE

2 Stars  2002/18/92m

“Fear is not knowing. Terror is finding out.”

Director: Marc Evans / Writers: David Hilton & James Watkins / Cast: Laura Regan, Sean C.W. Johnson, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky, Stephen O’Reilly, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell.

Body Count: 4


Trailers for My Little Eye looked awesome back in the early 00s, and I went to see it around the same time that the similarly-themed Halloween: Resurrection floated to the surface.

Kind of an awkward marriage between parts of The Blair Witch Project and Big Brother – then at the peak of its popularity – five young hopefuls are plonked in a house in the middle of nowhere (a nowhere covered by an inescapable blanket of snow) for six months with the promise of a million dollars each if none of them leave before it’s over.

As they near the end of their stay, the shady producers begin sending stranger and stranger supplies to the house, such as bricks, a gun, a hammer. that prompt the residents to try and delve deeper into the agenda, amped up when a hiker happens by and claims he’s never heard of the show.

They discover they are guinea pigs to a secret circle of sadistic millionaires who want to see live murders and one of them turns out to be a well-placed psycho who’s happy to start doing the rest of them in until whiney heroine Emma takes him on.

my little eye 2002

In synch with hordes of other it’s-real-no-it’s-not slashers including Kolobos and Voyeur.com, a large spoonful of the film is presented via obscure camera angles as the slow build keeps the audience waiting for that mind-blowing revelation… There are a couple of suitably eerie moments on route, but instead of a huge twist, things just peter out with an annoying and bleak twist ending that succeeds only in cementing the hour-long build up as a waste of time.

Biggest mystery: If the whole thing was just an elaborate trap, why wait six months before killing everyone on the same day?

Blurbs-of-interest: Laura Regan was in Hollow Man II; Kris Lemche was in Final Destination 3; Nick Mennell was in the Friday the 13th reboot; apparently Bradley Cooper did a few films nobody ever heard of.

#NoSloMo

sledgehammer 1983

SLEDGEHAMMER

1 Stars  1983/85m

“Flesh tears. Bones shatter. The nightmare has begun.”

Director/Writer: David A. Prior / Cast: Ted Prior, Linda McGill, John Eastman, Jeanine Scheer, Steve Wright, Tim Aguilar, Sandy Brooke, Doug Matley.

Body Count: 7


The title pertains quite accurately to the implement of destruction you will want to attack the screen with after about ten minutes of Sledgehammer.

Another “I was the first! I was the first!” ranter about the oh-so-impressive feat of being shot-on-video. This film is approximately 88% slow-motion action.

Beginning with a static shot of a farmhouse that remains on screen for about forty seconds, we eventually go inside to find a slutty woman locking her kid in the closet so she can do the nudies with her lover. They’re interrupted by a sledgehammer-toting assailant who donks them into the next realm.

Ten years later – never nine, never eleven – a van load of ‘young’ ‘people’ come to the house to party. They whoop and cheer for everything:

  • “Let’s unload our bags.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah!”
  • “Let’s go inside.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah!”
  • “Let’s partake in some alcoholic refreshment.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah! America!!!”

Their optimism made me want them dead within seconds.

sh4The lead couple are made up of hunky Chuck and his moany girlfriend (Joan? Joni? Jenny?) who wah-wah-wahs on that he asked her to marry him and now can’t decide if it’s the right thing to do. He’s a dick anyway.

They go for a walk in the field. To flutey folk music. In slow-motion. It lasts two minutes and twenty seconds. That’s 140 seconds of nothing but watching two people walk along to flutey folk music.

Later the whole gang have a foodfight (“Woooo!”) then a seance (“Yeah!!!”) where Chuck tells the story of the sledgehammer murders and we are shown it all again. As if it wasn’t painful enough twenty minutes ago.

Telling the story seemingly resurrects the spirit of the kid-in-the-closet, now a twenty-foot giant with a plastic mask, who dons the titular object and sets about killing the ‘young people’. In slow-motion.

sh3

Standard tin-can sound and video-blur add to the pain of observing Sledgehammer. There’s no point commenting on any of the acting, writing, or characterisation. It all means nothing.

The film probably wrapped at about 28 minutes originally, hence the need to slow everything down to force it to feature length. I can’t say I’ve ever seen more use of slo-mo in any production, film or TV, ever.

Blurbs-of-interest: David A. Prior and Ted Prior respectively directed and starred in Aerobicide.

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