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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dead Tone

Have you ever seen a slasher film where, at the start of the film, a group of kids accidentally prank-call a killer? Yeah, so have I...about a thousand times. Sadly, Dead Tone(also called 7eventy-5ive, according to the IMDB) is one thousand and one. Let's see if it offers anything new in the storyline department...the usual SPOILER warning applies. Ready?

Okay, so the very first scene is some sort of nonsense involving Flavor Flav dressed in a Dracula costume. He offers up some generic evil banter, then teleports away in a small fog cloud. Um, what was the point of that? Is the movie an anthology flick? Is the killer a vampire hiding among humans?

Apparently that scene was just pointless time-filler, because the next scene involves an entirely different scenario. This group of young teens is having a slumber party, while their parents are downstairs having a drunken shindig of their own. The kids decide to make a series of prank phone calls, until one person threatens to call the police. This upsets one of the kids, a nerdy-looking boy named William, who threatens to get them all in trouble. His twin brother, Stephen, stops William from leaving, and the kids all feign sleep when one of the adults checks on them. Seeing the cordless phone on the floor, Dad picks it up, leaves the room, and puts the phone back on the charger before rejoining the party.

In the middle of the night, long after everyone has either fallen asleep or passed out drunk, the phone rings. William wakes up and answers it. It's the guy they pissed off earlier, and he sounds like he's had sufficient time to get his rage on. William apologizes and explains that he wasn't in on the prank, but the guy doesn't care. He bursts through an upstairs door, where he was hiding, and scares the holy heck out of William. Wearing a tank top, a black ski mask, and holding an axe, the maniac tries to chop up the boy, but his father gets in the way and is killed instead. The crazed killer then hacks up the remaining adults, either dismembering or beheading them as the frightened children hide under the bed upstairs.

The killer prepares to leave, then hears the children whimpering upstairs. Dragging the axe behind him the killer finds the bedroom, but William and Stephen's mother survived, and tries to tackle the guy to the floor. He strangles her to death, then exits the room. Stephen runs over to her, and he exchanges a look with his brother. The police arrive, and no sign of the killer is found. Oh, and the detective in charge of the investigation is played by the original Hitcher, Rutger Hauer! Neat!

10 years later, we find ourselves at a ramshackle dwelling in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of the squalor, a greasy-haired, chain-smoking, tattooed redneck is masturbating to bondage porn. His phone rings, and the redneck tries to get the caller to hang up. His caller taunts him though, claiming to be someone he's VERY familiar with. Oh, and the voice also implies that he's in the redneck's house, watching his every move. The redneck starts checking all of the doors and windows, then picks up a kitchen knife. The scene ends when a cat outside scares the guy, and it turns out that the phone call was a prank after all.

The pranksters are a group of college kids, and the prank call is part of a game they play called Seventy-Five. They apparently play the game for cash, and the crowd seems to think that the game is better than sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Schmucks. The big winner, Marcus, makes his way through the crowd, until a cute little waif named Jody flirts with him. He turns her down, apparently because he thinks her parents would disapprove of them as a couple.

Next, Marcus chats up a couple, Roxy and Kareem. Through this conversation, we get to learn the rules of Seventy-Five: You make a prank call, and it has to be somebody random. Then, once they answer the phone, you have to keep them on the line for 75 seconds. Any less, and you lose the game. Supposedly, Marcus is the only player who has never lost the game. Yeah, riiiiight.

Oops, back to the redneck, I guess. Great, the dipshit's still masturbating. Couldn't we have arrived 5 minutes later??? I guess not, because someone dressed in black sneaks into his house. The stranger disconnects the guy's porno, then plants a blade in his forehead when he leans back. As blood spatters cover the monitor, the porn movie comes back on.

Back on campus, we learn that the school is called Brattman College. Sounds like the world's most annoying superhero--excluding Son of the Mask, of course. A cute blond, named Karina tells her mother during a cell phone conversation that she did well on her latest exam. A goofy-looking guy named Brandon congratulates her, and she brushes off his praise. Turns out, Karina thinks that Brandon has been cheating on her, and her friends all back that story up. Brandon's friends also arrive, as does an unseen watcher. Hmmm...The only pointless character missing from this scene is freaking Waldo!

Brandon wants some alone time with Karina, but she invites both groups of friends to tag along. Wow, Brandon looks pissed! Dude needs to work on his poker face, if you know what I mean.

Faster than you can say "abrupt scene change", we wind up at the police station. Rutger Hauer, sporting the same haircut as the Quaker Oats guy, wants to re-open the unsolved massacre from a decade ago. His boss disagrees, calling it a waste of resources. Rutger claims that the redneck who was murdered was somehow connected to that earlier slaughter, but his boss doesn't see it. He orders Rutger to drop the investigation, then throws him out of his office.

Back on campus, Karina brags that she thinks she has a 4.0 for the semester, and one of her friends, Jody, brags about acing an exam as well. Karina's gay friend, Shawn, tells everyone that Jody's grade was the result of a fling with her teacher, and everyone laughs at the idea of her sleeping around. Nice friends.

The unseen stalker from 2 scenes ago watches the group from a nearby vantage point, and sees Brandon get up to use the bathroom. While he's gone, a guy named Kareem sneaks up on one of the girls to scare her, but he seems harmless. Brandon, on the other hand, feels a weird presence in the bathroom, but shrugs it off. With headphones on, he fails to see a hooded figure walk toward him with a hunting knife raised in a threatening manner. Before the killer can make his move, another guy walks in. The killer quickly puts the knife away, and walks out of the bathroom. Damn!

The girls all get together to pick out clothes for the impromptu party and talk about boys. Kareem and Shawn more or less do the same thing. The group meets outside and everyone loads their luggage into a vehicle that pulls up. Luggage? For a party that was only thought up 2 scenes ago? In all my years of going to parties with friends, I never once needed luggage.

Back at the police station, Rutger(whose character finally gets a name, "John") talks to a very pretty Asian cop about his theory regarding the redneck murder. She gives him the idea to look up the juvie records for all of the kids. Since they all had parents murdered that night, several were put into foster homes. Inspired, John sends her to look up their various adoption records.

Back at the Body Bag party, they all pull over to pee and stretch their legs at a gas station. A werewolf boy scares them, then a zombie clerk gives them the restroom key. Swear to god....would I lie to you? (well, okay, I would...) The girl whose name I completely forget decides to use a toilet that would make Stinky McStinkbag gag a maggot. Someone enters the restroom, and she calls out every name she can think of, with no response. False alarm--it's the little bastard with the werewolf mask. Nope, wait--it was Marcus!

The gas station owner sees a news item about the killer on tv, and tries to warn the kids, but they speed away. John, by the way, gets the files he needed. He and the hot Asian detective start looking through about a gazillion files. Exciting. Every horror film needs a montage showing people reading. They find the file of the redneck, but nothing else.

Meanwhile, a cop pulls the van over. He and his partner scare the kids, and we find out that Brandon's dad is an influential politician. The cops let them go, after busting some balls. The place they're partying at turns out to be a mansion. Sweeeeet.

Inside, the party's already started. We meet "Crazy Cal", an obnoxious fat guy who better die next. He takes them on a tour of the estate, and interrupts a couple mid-coitus. Please kill Cal. Please. NOW.

Outside, at the pool, 2 of the guys ogle a babe, while Karina and her friends gossip over the alcohol. Blah, blah, this a slasher flick or a CW show? Detective John and Jacklyn Chan interrupt with a scene of their own, where they corner a scary guy in a chair. Oooooh, he might sit you to death! SCARY!!! They discover that the guy is a corpse, right before stumbling into his girlfriend's body. Turns out that she was one of the kids.

Back at the party, everyone's playing a drinking game. Marcus calls their game stupid, then introduces the party goers to Seventy-Five. He explains the rules(AGAIN...?), then lets Cal start. He's followed by Jody, then the rest of the main characters. They all make successful calls,then Spazzy Jazzy gets a turn. He accidentally calls the killer. What are the odds? Oh, and the killer calls back, so they can hear him kill a girl!

After the call ends, Scott and Marcus have an argument. Then the killer calls again, and talks to Marcus, who loses his cool. The killer suggests that he's coming after them, then the party resumes. Yeah, you heard me....after a killer they pissed off a decade ago finds them, these idiots decide to ignore the danger they're in. Sheesh.

Everyone then pairs off. The phone keeps ringing, but everyone at the party ignores it. As the crowd dwindles down to about a dozen or so people, a ditzy blond answers the phone. It's the killer, so being blond, she basically gives him the address, directions, and a 40-page description of everyone he wants to kill. Dumbass. Everyone freaks out, but no one else leaves.

John and Jacklyn Chan drive up to a murder scene. It's another one of the kids, the dorky kid who made the first call. The partiers dim the lights, and the dumb blond wanders off alone. Yay! The killer made my wish come true! She goes to the front door, and the killer knocks her head off with an ax.

The killer crashes through a glass wall next, while chasing a girl who saw him, Julie. Instead of getting her, though, he kills 2 drunken idiots. One gets the axe in the chest, while the other guy hides. The killer hears him, and finds him hiding behind some barrels. The doofus trips,and the killer pins his head down with his foot, before snapping his neck with the heel. Then he slams him onto a counter top and dismembers the corpse.

The scared girl who was being chased in the first place makes a noise, and the killer tracks her down as well. He slams the axe through the door of the cabinet where she hid, and her dead, bloody body falls at his feet. A couple screwing in the pool are next: He gets decapitated while she's underwater going down on him, then she dies after seeing his bloody neck-stump. The killer dunks her head under the water until she drowns.

Okay, so now that most of the generic characters are gone, Kareem sees the corpse of the girl in the jacuzzi. He and his girlfriend find Marcus and Anna, and even though her body is gone, Marcus agrees to help him search the house for the rest of their friends. They find 2 naked partiers while looking for Jody, then step in some blood. Anna somehow vanishes, and the nimrods start whispering her name. Her corpse is flung at them by the killer, and a chase ensues.

Marcus, Jody and Cal all run down the hall, screaming like rabid jackals, and the hallway dead-ends at a locked door. As the killer finds them, he start throwing a fit. and Karina opens the door from the other side, just in time. they lock the door, which is metal, and the killer leaves after failing to get in.

Trapped, Cal finds Brandon brandishing a baseball bat. He gets the bat, then they let in 3 more survivors. Everyone decides to blame each other for the predicament that they're in, and Karina makes them all see that they need to work together to survive.

After half an hour passes with no further attacks, they asks Brandon to find the keys and see if Shawn is still alive somewhere in in the mansion. Brandon steps quietly into the hall and finds the hiding spot where the keys are kept, but misses them.As he reaches again, Karina sneaks up on the poor guy, and he nearly has a heart attack. As he finally grabs the keys, the killer arrives, and Brandon gets an axe to the back. Karina tries to escape over a balcony, and the killer sends her plunging into the bushes, alive but injured.

The remaining survivors start bickering again, and Cal tries to calm them all down. He decides to exit the room to see if he can hot wire a car. Good riddance, Fat Boy. Kareem and Marcus hear someone screaming for help, and come running down the stairs at the same time that Jody finds a hiding place. Karina finds a wall of security monitors and watches everyone move around the mansion.

Kareem, Marcus and someone whose name I already forgot find Roxy dead, just as Cal gets a car started. From the backseat, the killer punches Cal so hard that his head hits the windshield, sending blood flying. The killer repeatedly bashes him in the head, while an operator at OnStar offers to help. Comedy gold!

Marcus fights the killer. As the killer starts to get the upper hand, Kareem attacks the maniac from behind. The killer drops his weapon, which Scott picks up. He swings it, and kills Kareem! While Marcus asks"What the fuck did you do?" 5000 times in a row, it becomes clearer that the killer and Scott are working together.

Marcus makes his way back to Karina, and tells her what Scott did. As they watch the monitors, they see Scott kill Shawn. Then he finds them, and they demand to know why he did it. He reveals that he and the killer are actually Stephen and the weirdo gas station guy. They met as children in a place called Farley, where both were either in a mental hospital or a foster home. They made a pact to kill all of the other kids who had survived the massacre 10 years ago. Stephen then kills the gas station guy, and he and Marcus start to brawl. Karina tries to fight Stephen as well, but he throws her off. She stabs his hand, pinning him to the floor, and he manages to pry the blade off of his hand.

Before he can finish Marcus off, John bursts in and shoots Marcus. Karina dies too, and Stephen manages to fool them into thinking he was a victim, not the killer. As they tell him to take it easy, the gas station guy rises up behind the cops and kills them as the scene fades to black. THE END

Boy, this one was all over the place! I mean, most of these newer slashers suffer from a lack of kills, but this one seemed to kill a 10-page section of the freakin' phonebook! Despite the stupidity of some of it, I'd give it 4 killer trees outta 5.

And what did Dead Tone teach me about the genre?

-Don't EVER make prank calls! If you tell me my fridge is running, it better be wearing Nikes!

-All guys named Cal deserve bad, gory deaths.

-Guys who run gas stations always want to harm their customers. It's great for business.

Okay, so next up is a classic slasher oldie, Visiting Hours. Later, fellow Slasher fans!