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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Drive-In Massacre

Well, if you're watching today's movie while reading along(which is how this blog is designed), then I just want to apologize for the torture and mental cruelty you've endured. It's kind of a glass half/half empty situation: On one hand, you'll have to endure something that can never be unseen again. On the other, there's always the dim hope that it can only get better from here...

Yeah, I don't quite believe that one, either. Okay, SPOILERS blah blah blah, and let's get this one over with. Oh, and the sound quality of the copy that was mailed to me sucks more ass than the tail end of a human centipede, so I might have to do what I did when I watched The Forest, and just guess what's happening in the story. What fun!

Okay, so the basic gist of the film is summed up nicely in a little blurb on the screen. It informs us that, on the 10th of August, the infamous massacre began in a California drive-in. In a semi-clever touch, the film's title appears on a theatre marquee. As I mentioned before, the DVD sound quality is pretty horrible, but at least it spares us from getting the full effect of the lame 1970's theme song. This song is a great example of why disco died.

Anyway, we see a  guy with a flashlight, directing customers to parking spots, and also collecting the admission price. The manager, dressed in a cheap suit and wearing a permanent scowl on his face, says something to the guy with the flashlight, but it's pretty hard to make out any actual words. He gets pissed off at pretty much every customer, over little things like paying with a 20 dollar bill.

We see a white car find a spot, and the couple in the car say something that ends with the word "bed". Seriously, I'm not even kidding about how poor the audio is. It's easier to understand the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon than it is to hear the crap these folks are saying. "Wonk wonk wonk wonk wonk" would actually be an improvement to this thing.

Anyway, we see the guy with the flashlight wandering around in a playground near the refreshment stand, then we see the manager quietly entering another building. And we meet the couple in the white car, Alan and "Alan's Date", which is how she's credited. Nice. Alan and AD want to make out, but Alan also wants to see the opening of the film they're at, which he's seen multiple times already. AD protests, but Alan ignores her needs, because she doesn't even merit enough importance to be given an actual name.

Alan leans out of his window to reach the clunky speaker for the film, but he's parked too far way. Not deterred in the least, Alan leans the entire upper half of his body through the car window to grab the speaker. A samurai blade flashes, and Alan is now The Headless Car Man.

AD screams when she sees the bloody neck-stump, and then we see that the samurai sword of the killer has the magical ability to pass through glass with breaking it. See, AD's window is closed, and Alan's window is blocked by his large corpse, but she somehow gets the sword right through her throat...ergo, the sword must be imbued with some kind of magic. Movie logic is fun!

After AD's body falls out of the car, someone finds her and the cops are called. 2 beefy detectives, Ham and Cheese, answer the call. Just kidding, their names are Leary and Koch, but they look like a pair of Weebles that somehow were granted souls, then became homicide detectives. In all honesty, I'd love to see a gritty detective show about a pair of gruff Weebles.

They huff and puff their way to the drive-in, then question Austin Johnson, the guy who was getting pissed off at the customers earlier. One of the Weebles describes Austin as "the perfect asshole", which sounds kind of weirdly intimate, when you think about how exactly he might know how perfect it is. Then we see Austin angrily stacking buckets of popcorn, while Germy, his sidekick with the flashlight, is cleaning the parking area and taking out trash.

The pair of portly cops waddle in, and ask Austin for details about the crime scene, and the business itself. We learn that, although Austin manages the place, the actual owner lives in Hawaii, and rarely even makes an appearance. The drive-in was actually the second business venture that the owner tried out, as he had once started out an unsuccessful carnival on the same plot of land.

Then the detectives see Germy, and Austin calls him inside to answer their questions. Germy's not his real name, but even he insists that they call him by that moniker. his prior job was a being a carnival geek, where he would bite the heads off of snakes and chickens. Then he does a strange dance, and proclaims himself the greatest sword-swallower in the world. Uhhh...yeah, maybe we should all just quietly back out of the room now...

After Austin leaves, the cops ask Germy for more information. He says that he only found the bodies because their car was still sitting there long after everyone else had gone home. When asked if he had ever seen the couple before, he replies that he probably had, but that they were just a couple of the many young people who made the drive-in a regular spot for dates.

Then Germy gives them a tip. It seems that one customer in particular always came to the movies and took up 2 parking spaces in his car. The detectives ask Germy to write down his license plate if he comes back, and he promises to do so. Oh, and he also blurts out that the owner of the business, Mr. Van Houten, also has an impressive collection of knives and swords from around the world. Hmmm...

When asked about the weapon collection, Germy can only guess that it goes wherever the mysterious business owner goes. Then he gets sidetracked again, offering to tell them about another suspicious customer, a guy who never parks in the same space twice, and disguises himself to look younger than he really is. Boy, that Germy sure is helpful!

Austin orders Germy back to work, and he walks the cops out to the parking lot. They drive away, then Germy picks up some trash. That night, there's a smaller crowd at the movie, including a couple who are discussing an unplanned pregnancy. As they debate whether or not to keep the baby, or even if they should stay together, they kiss and make up.

A dirty old man in the next car starts to notice their intimacy, and he chooses to stop watching the movie. That's an unfortunate decision, because he leaves his car to get right up to their window. Why is that unfortunate? Because he gets a front row seat to their murder, as the swordsman impales the couple, leaving the sword at the crime scene.

The cops bring in Germy for another interview. They show him the sword, but he doesn't recognize it at all. Then he claims that Austin took over his sword-swallowing act after Germy retired. The detectives point out the unlikely odds that 2 sword-swallowers would just happen to work at a business where multiple victims would be eliminated by a sword-wielding maniac, but Germy sticks to his story. Then he "remembers" that one of the customers he snitched on earlier was parked next to the latest victims. Boy, can you believe the balls on this guy? I can't decide if he's an idiot or a genius, to keep going with these stories.

Germy then gives them his license plate number, so they decide to check it out. They track it to a guy name Orville, and find him at home. They follow him into his living room, where he has one wall devoted to porn. Guys, I think you caught your killer.

They get him to admit that he's been going to the drive-in quite a bit, and he stammers that he just really likes a particular movie that's been playing there. He admits that he's heard about the killings, yet denies that he even saw anything. When the cops tell him that he was seen sneaking around near the murder site, they also show him a rap sheet, revealing that our friend Orville has had a history of arrests. Then, while Detective Tweedle Dee sits with him, Detective Tweedle Dum searches for evidence.

Orville is asked about his porn collection, and he starts to get antsy. The search of the house turns up nothing, so they escort him outside to look at his car. He pretends that they're old friends paying him a visit(in case any of his neighbors are watching), then he loudly offers to let them open up the trunk. Ignoring his act, the cops look in the back seat, where they discover a pile of blood-soaked rags.

Orville runs down the sidewalk, and they chase him, with one of them going back for their car. They catch him, and he insists that the bloody rags were from a dog that he ran into the other night. The crime lab confirms that it is actually dog blood, and they reluctantly let Orville go back home. Dang, I was hoping it was going to end early!

Later that evening, a sting is set up at the theatre. The detectives see Orville there, despite his assurance earlier that he would stay away. Hilariously, one of the fat cops is in drag, to make them look like a couple. A guy named Jim is frustrated when his date wants to watch the movie instead of making out, so he eventually leaves her alone in the car.

Our meathead heroes watch Orville like a hawk, then the one in drag worries that they were spotted. He grabs his partner to pretend that they're making out, and the partner tells him to stay on his side of the car. Then we see Jim's girlfriend buttoning up her shirt. Further complicating the situation, Germy sees the cops and stops to chat, then Austin comes over to yell at him to get back to work. This is turning into a bad episode of Three's Company!

While all of these distracting bits of nonsense are happening, the killer strikes again. He takes advantage of the various distractions, then beheads Jim's date before he returns to the car. The cops immediately suspect that Orville did it, but then find him dead as well, with a bloody gash in his throat.

More interrogations, this time with both Germy and Austin brought into the precinct. Austin's only concern is for his profits, and he tries to intimidate the cops into letting him get back to the drive-in. When the cops threaten to get a court order to close it down, Austin tells them that he could care less how many victims the killer claims, as long as the drive-in keeps getting customers. The detectives eventually just tell him to leave, and Austin fires Germy on the way out the door.

Germy is also allowed to leave, and he finds a carnival that's open. As he wanders through the crowd, he flashes back to everything that's been said about him throughout the film, and he stares at the colorful rides with a sad expression. Could Germy be the killer, motivated by years of mental illness and abuse? Or could it  be Austin, angry that the drive-in is slowly going bankrupt? Or maybe the anonymous owner of the drive-in, gone mad after so many failed businesses? Really, does anyone really give a crap at this point?

Someone calls the cops to report that there was a man with a machete caught in a warehouse, and our investigators drag themselves over there to check it out. There is a madman in the warehouse, and he's holding a young girl hostage, gibbering nonsense at her and laughing. As he drags the captive through the warehouse, she manages to fight back, and then she runs away through the maze of tall shelves.

The maniac stalks her, trying to get the woman to reveal her location, and she continues to attempt to sneak toward an exit. He eventually sits on the floor and begins to stroke his weapon like a baby, finally shouting and screaming at his intended victim to come back. Her silence pisses him off, and he decides to resume the chase.

As they both sneak around the warehouse, the maniac finds himself in the aisle next to hers. He reaches out to grab her, but the arrival of police cars frighten him into letting her go. The detectives come into the warehouse with weapons drawn, and try to locate the guy using his ranting and raving to guide them. It ends in a brief shootout, and they kill him.

In the aftermath of the shootout, the young woman angrily demands to know why the cops shot him to death. When they tell her that they suspect that he was the Drive-In Killer, she scoffs at the idea, and they discover that she was the man's daughter. He was an escaped mental patient, but his escape took place earlier that day, meaning that he couldn't be their killer. D'oh!

While the cops commiserate over killing an innocent man, they both suddenly realize that either Germy or Austin could have easily killed any of the victims, during the reel change of the movies at the projection booth. Great, but how does that help them? It still means that they haven't narrowed out either man, and it doesn't help them if the killer is a perfect stranger. Wait, am I overthinking this, or are they underthinking it? This movie hurts my brain.

Anyway, now we see Germy at the theatre, probably to hug his boss and promise to keep in touch for years to come. Uh huh, that would make the most sense. Well, a young woman runs after Germy, trying to intercept him. She blocks his path, doing her best to convince Germy not to enter Austin's office. Germy keeps walking, and he reveals that Austin has actually been in possession of the oft-mentioned sword collection the entire time, but that now Germy wants it for himself.

Germy's desire to be paid and to take the blades home overrides his common sense. He enters nthe main building, and the woman just stands by and looks sad. Then she sees the cops come screeching into the parking lot. They pull their clunker into a space, just in time to see someone get murdered in silhouette form on the big screen, in front of the projector.

They ask the young woman, who is now crying who is in the office, then they hurry in to try to stop any more mayhem from happening. The projection room appears to contain Austin's dead body, so they start the search for Germy. They nearly stumble across the body of Germy as well in their search, the cause of death appearing to be a long fall down some kind of stairwell or shaft.

The movie then ends with a written blurb, explaining that the killer was never found, and that more drive-ins have been attacked by an assailant with a knife or sword. This is followed by a voice announcing that the killer has been seen entering this theatre, and to please try not to panic. THE END

Okay, first, a quick medical update: My uncle is slowly recovering after being given a blood transfusion, and it appears to be helping him regain  much of his strength again. He's still quite tired, but he sounds much better than he did.

All right, so back to the movie. It was pretty....ehhhh....1 or 2 good murders, surrounded by thick walls of bland, lifeless crapola. And the poor audio and video quality  made it seem much more terrible than it had to be. 1.5 out of 5 killer trees this week.

What did I learn from the Drive-In Massacre?

-Never hire a guy named Germy.
-When you investigate murders, you should rule out suspects, not let them pile up.
-Beware of carnival folk...they miss their swords.

And what did Santa bring me to watch next week? Well, it'll either be Dead Above Ground, or perhaps Asylum of the Damned. We'll see what happens. If I don't get that in by then, let me wish all of you a very happy new year. And if I get my hands on a Playstation 4, you may never see me again, as I plan to play the shit out of that thing!! Part-ayyyyy!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Children

Well, it's a little bit early this year(by a few days...), but this week's slasher is actually holiday-themed! I wish I could say that I planned it this way, but I had no idea. Serendipity, I guess. It's a British movie about killer kids, so we'll have to see how it goes. All I want for Christmas is a SPOILER warning!

The movie begins with some chilly-looking forest scenery. A car is driving through the woods, and a little girl named Miranda is being chastised for bothering her baby brother Paulie. There's a teen girl as well, but she's just staring out at the trees as they drive past them.

The car pulls up to a sizable-looking estate, and the parents honk their horn to announce that they've arrived. Another couple come out to greet them, along with a pair of screaming little girls. I could try to figure out everyone's names at this point, but with everyone speaking at the same time, it's just noise. The teenager is the only subdued one in the entire group, choosing to hang back and just observe.

The teen's name is Casey. She gets a hug from a guy named Uncle Robbie, and he tells her to drop the "uncle" part, which seems kind of creepy. His wife is Chloe, and she's trying to get a response from little Paulie, who looks like he'd rather be anywhere else in the world at that very moment. Poor kid.

The majority of the party people head inside, and Casey's mother tries to cheer her up. Apparently, she's upset because she wanted to go to a party with her friends instead of being out in the middle of nowhere. Her brother Paulie also lingers outside, staring intently into the forest. While mother and daughter argue, he pukes up a gooey pile of yellow slime.

Okay, so now that they're in the house, let's figure out who's who. The parents of Casey, Paulie and Miranda are Elaine and Jonah. We've already been introduced to their kids, as well as Uncle Robbie. His wife is Aunt Chloe, and their kids are Leah and Nicky. And  we're all caught up...for now...

As they all hang out in the cramped kitchen, Paulie impulsively decides that it would be smart to climb up on the furniture to get his mother's attention, and he nearly nosedives onto the floor. Luckily, Jonah is there to swoop in, and Paulie gives him a nice kick as thanks. Everyone laughs, except for Casey, who looks like she's bored out of her gourd.

After some more creepy shots of the woods, we see the party get broken up into smaller groups. Elaine and Chloe are gossiping as kids surround them; Casey tries to find a quiet place to get a good signal on her phone; and the guys are off somewhere else in the house, doing God-only-knows.

Elaine tries to coax little Paulie into brushing his teeth, but he only stares blankly at himself in the mirror. Casey has found Jonah and Rob in one of the bedrooms, and she complains to them about the phone reception. Miranda decides to be a little shit, by announcing that Casey's grounded from using her phone. Apparently, she's been having some problems with Jonah, who is her stepfather.

After Miranda and Casey stare each other down, Casey's phone inexplicably rings. She turns it off, then she torments Miranda by grabbing the cat to play with, after Miranda tries to call it over. Then Leah wanders in to say good night, and the young'uns all shuffle off to bed, leaving Casey and the adults to keep on yakking the night away.

In the bedroom that the kids are all in, Paulie is still sitting alone, just absently staring at a wall, while hitting a xylophone with his bare hand. Miranda and Nicky are throwing toys around and chatting up a storm, while Leah looks like she might be coming down with whatever Paulie has. She coughs up a loogie into her hand, looks at it, then wipes it off on a pillow.

Rob and Casey take a walk outside, and he turns up the Creepy Pervert Vibe to 11. He brings her to an isolated spot behind a pile of firewood, and it's the only place where she can get a reliable phone signal. Foreshadowing? He returns to the house, while Casey calls a friend named Lisa. Sadly, Lisa doesn't answer her phone, so it was a wasted trip.

As she disconnects, Casey hears Jinxie, the family cat, make a strange sound, like it's growling. She returns the way she came, and we hear another growl after she leaves. Maybe Jinxie has a booty call!

While Chloe is throwing out about a thousand or so empty beer bottles, Rob sneaks behind her to give her a good scare. They joke about having at least 10 more kids, and Casey brushes by them to get into the house. Rob is the last one to go inside, and the camera lingers on the little cat door built into the kitchen door. Geez, I feel like the cat's almost a main character, with all these references to it. Maybe they should have called the film The Cattening.

Jonah and Elaine, alone at last, decide to engage in some serious snuggling. Rob is making sure that the house is closed up tight, while Chloe is busy making sure that the kids are all asleep. After she gives her daughter a kiss, we see the spot where Leah wiped her hand. After the camera zooms in on the spot, we see what appear to be some kind of bacteria swimming around each other at a quick speed.

The shot of the bacteria turns into a shot of a snow globe. Everybody in the house is soon asleep, and the house is eerily silent. Wait, no, one of the kids is now awake. Paulie. He just stands there, in the middle of the dark house, staring off into space.

The following morning finds everybody, adults and kids, engaged in a massive snowball fight. Well, everyone except for Paulie. He's still staying out of the group, banging away on that xylophone. Rob takes some of the kids up a hill for some sledding, while Jonah tries to talk to Paulie. He fails to get the kid to stop playing with the toy, or even to respond to him, so he eventually gives up.

While the other adults have gone inside to warm up, Casey is behind the woodpile again, calling her pal Lisa. She hears all about the fun that her friends are having, and she arranges for them to pick her up at a secret rendezvous spot. Before they hang up, Lisa teases her about perverted Uncle Robbie lusting after her. See? I knew it wasn't just me who noticed that!

The younger kids have set up a tent in the snow, and they tell Casey that no adults are allowed to enter. At about the same time, Rob notices that Jinxie is suddenly missing. The cat's collar is then shown, hanging up inside the tent. I don't think the cat will be one of the survivors of this one...

Everyone spreads out again. Rob and Casey get some of the kids into another snowball fight, while Jonah tries to distract Rob with a scheme to invest in some kind of Chinese medicine venture; Elaine and Chloe talk about how hard parenting is; and the kids are doing "something" inside the tent.

During all of this mayhem, we do get a tidbit of information that might be important to the story. Jonah tells Rob about the numerous viruses that doctors are discovering every day, many with no known cures. Gee, is anyone in the group sick lately, maybe acting funny, coughing up strange substances? Could this be something worth looking into?

...and that's when something(finally) happens.

Nicky exchanges a glance with his sister, and we see Jonah looking at a book of model portraits. The faces of the models have all been drawn over with a magic marker. Then some of the kids create a distraction, allowing Paulie to send the heavy sled careening toward the adults, who have come back outside with hot cocoa. The sled knocks Chloe to the ground, sending the hot drinks spilling all over Jonah and his business proposal.

Jonah flies into a rage, and runs up the hill to spank Paulie, even as the other adults protest that they don't like to spank the kids. Jonah yells at Casey for not watching the younger kids, and everyone heads back inside. If the kids don't begin to kill off some of these creeps, can I volunteer?

As the children sit up in the bedroom for some "quiet time", Miranda tries to tell her mother about the strange way the other kids have been behaving. Elaine assumes that she's just being dramatic, and dismisses her story with a smile and some attempt at bribery. When she walks out of the room, Miranda sees the other three kids glaring at her, and tells them to stop.

Casey finds Rob smoking a joint in the greenhouse/toolshed/whatever, and she sits with him. She takes a puff, then reveals that she secretly had a tattoo done on her stomach. When Rob questions how rebellious she's become, Casey calls herself "the abortion that got away". Then Chloe arrives, so Rob backs off.

More random shots of snow, trees, the tent, and the cat collar. If you took all of the establishing shots out of the movie, it would probably be about 45 minutes long. It's like watching a nature screensaver, except with random moments of dialogue.

The entire group sits down for a New Year dinner feast, except for Leah. She's playing with a doll beneath the table. The dinner scene has random shots of the cat being murdered spliced in at various places, possibly to make sure that we didn't doze off.

As they all begin to eat, Leah is told to get back in her seat. She just giggles and crawls away, and they catch her trying to take a large knife with her. Casey tries to secretly text her friends with her phone in her lap, but Chloe then reveals her tattoo to the rest of the family, forcing Casey to show it off. Then more scenes from CSI: Jinxie.

All of the younger children start to throw tantrums. They cry, throw food, kick their's enough to make a single guy smile from ear-to-ear. When Chloe tries to use the bribery trick to make Miranda eat some peas, Miranda gives her a scratch on the forehead in response. Miranda is pulled away from the table by Jonah, kicking and screaming the whole time. Then Paulie gets up as well, taking the tablecloth with him. Awesome.

Now everyone is up and shouting, and Jonah drags Miranda into one of the bedrooms for a "time out", while Elaine treats Chloe's scratched head. Casey and Rob take the rest of the kids outside to give the rest of the adults a break. Oh, and Chloe blames Elaine for all of the problems with the kids, because her kids were ill.

As Rob is being kept busy being dragged up the hill by Leah, while also trying to drag Paulie uphill on the sled, Casey is trying to run away to reunite with her friends. Miranda's still screaming her head off, and Leah is trying to keep Rob from noticing that Paulie is doing something with the sled...

Then a number of things happen. First, Rob is conned into going downhill on the sled by himself. Then, Nicky pulls a wagon into the path of the sled, positioned in such a way that some sharp-looking prongs are aimed right at Rob. Thirdly, Casey's forest run is impeded when she trips and falls into a pile of debris.

Rob is on the ground, covered in blood, and the screams of the children get the attention of Elaine and Chloe. Casey also hears the commotion and comes back, while Jonah has finally quieted Miranda down, and he's just sitting there, rocking her in his lap. Casey gets him, and he rushes outside to see what's going on.

Jonah brings Paulie into the kitchen to lecture him, and Paulie knocks a container filled with knives onto the floor. One of the other kids then cuts Jonah's hand with one of the knives, and all of the kids rush outside to hide in the woods. Jonah treats the cut, then he and Elaine rush outside.

They find Chloe in tears, and realize that Rob has bled to death. Not really sure what else she can do to help, Elaine announces that she's going into the woods to find the children. Being useless characters in a horror film, no one offers to go with her. What a shock.

She tries to call their names, but gets no response. Casey then rushes at her from out of the blue, and they hug. She tries to ask Casey what caused the accident, but of course Casey can't exactly tell her. When pressed for details, Casey confesses that she was running away, so that Lisa could take her to the party. As punishment, Elaine makes Casey look for the children by herself, then she heads back to the house to check on Chloe.

Alone now, Casey realizes how vulnerable she is to being attacked by a pack of monstrous brats. She starts to cry, then her phone beeps, and she gets a text from Lisa. While reading it, she sees one of the kids dart by out of the corner of her eye. Yeah, you're dead, Casey.

She walks toward the position where she saw the figure, and assumes that it was Leah. She even finds Leah's hat, followed by hearing some coughing. Casey follows the sound to a tree, where she discovers that she was being lured into an ambush. She falls, sees something terrifying, then screams.

Jonah decides to conduct his own search from the house, but Miranda finds him first. She seems to be hiding a potential weapon in her sleeve, but we don't get to see it. She even gets an opportunity to kill him, as they hug, but Miranda lets Jonah live.

Elaine convinces Chloe to re-enter the house, and they leave Rob's body where it is. Though they don't realize it, 2 of the children have snuck back to the house, perhaps to plan another attack. While keeping herself busy with housework, Elaine sees something outside that compels her to go and take a closer look: a long, gory trail of blood, that goes from the woods right into the yard. Defying any sort of logic, Elaine walks outside to examine the messy trail.

She hears Leah laughing from inside the tent, and decides that it would be really smart to go check it out without any weapons or backup. After several attempts to call her name end in silence, Elaine STILL goes ahead with this stupid idea. She nearly opens the flap of the tent, but then Paulie calls her name. She stands up straight, then runs to the jungle gym, where he's sitting at the top of the structure.

As Elaine climbs up to get him, he backs away. Too late, she realizes that it's another trap, and she falls back in such a way that one of her legs breaks, causing the bone to break through the skin. As Elaine begins to slip into a state of shock, Casey finds her, and snaps her back to reality. Wait...Casey survived? How?

Casey pulls her injured mother into that dilapidated shed, then helps to set the broken bone into a makeshift sling. Then they both hear Paulie hitting that dumb xylophone again, followed by him throwing a projectile at one of the windows, showering them with shards of glass. These kids are little shits, man.

From the house, Jonah, Chloe and Miranda hear the screams. Then we see more rocks hitting windows, as Casey and Elaine realize that it's not Paulie doing it--he's inside with them. Casey tries to attack Paulie, but Elaine is convinced that he's innocent, and protects him. She instead orders Casey to go save Chloe, who has followed Leah to an almost-certain ambush.

Too late. Chloe's in the tent, trying to speak to Leah with a calm, loving tone of voice, while Leah's got her back to her mother. Leah giggles and runs outside again, leaving Chloe to find Rob's bloody corpse under a sheet. A closer examination reveals that the baby doll was shoved into Rob's gut, which was torn open for that purpose. As Chloe stares at the mutilation, Rob suddenly gasps and opens his eyes. Then the tent is attacked from the outside, with bladed weapons.

Casey stages a rescue, but Chloe's convinced that she was part of the attack as well. They run to the house, but Chloe locks the door on poor Casey. At the same  time, Paulie's playing a hiding game on his frightened mother. As he pops up to plunge a jagged shard of glass through her body, Casey trips him up, and he gets impaled on the way down, finally killing the kid.

Jonah steps in, and holds his stepson in his arms for a moment. Then they hustle back to the house, where they try to figure out what happened. After some fights and disagreements, the consensus is that Casey thought the kids posed a threat, so she attacked them in a fit of rage. Casey tries to get her mother to clarify things, but she's still not very coherent yet, so everyone else assumes the worst about the teen.

When they're alone for a moment, Casey tries to reason with Elaine. She tells her not to trust Leah or Nicky, then shares the theory that their sudden violent attitudes might be caused by the illness that the kids all seemed to be coming down with. When her mother silences her, Casey gets up to make sure that the door to the yard is shut, at the very least.

The radio starts to lose the signal of the nearest station, and we see Miranda looking like an extra in a Romero film, with large, dark bruises underneath her eyes. Not a good sign, either of those things. Everybody should start listening to Casey!

As Jonah and Chloe search the woods, they find a hat belonging to one of the children. Chloe freaks out, and wonders out loud what awful things that Casey might have done to the children, especially after having killed her own little brother. Jonah tries to calm down Chloe, then they intensify their search.

Back at the house, Casey is on a mad dash to lock the doors and windows in every room. As she returns to her mother's side, she wonders why the police haven't arrived yet. She goes to the kitchen to look for her phone, and Miranda suddenly pops up in the living room, looking even more zombie-ish around the eyes. She approaches Elaine in a menacing way...

Casey finds her, and promptly forgets about the phone, which we see just sitting on a countertop. She pulls Miranda off of Elaine, imploring her to help in the search for the phone. Wait, did Casey get struck by a sudden onset of blindness, or just stupidity? I mean, A.) the phone was just sitting right there, and B.) she just got finished realizing that the kids were all dangerous and untrustworthy, not even a full minute ago! Come ON, movie!

Out in the woods, Chloe finds Leah. Being a dumbass in a horror movie, she immediately hugs her. While Chloe is soothing her, she comments on how pale and cold Leah's skin seems to be. Then Leah lashes out at her with what appears to be a swift assault.

While Casey is walking through the hallway, she hears a meowing sound, followed by Miranda speaking to Jinxie. She walks toward the room at the far end of the hall, where she can hear the faint sound of purring. Oh, and another quick glimpse  at Chloe reveals that what looked like an attack, was merely Leah hugging her, followed by Nick also popping up to embrace her. Oh, this ain't gonna be good...

Casey enters the room,where she finds Miranda acting out what they did earlier to poor Jinxie. At the same time, Leah gets rough while hugging her mother, and Chloe tells her to stop. One of the kids then plunges a knife through her eye. And finally, Jonah appears at the back door, and he begs Elaine to unlock the door and let him inside. After she does, they both hear Miranda screaming.

Jonah runs upstairs, just in time to stop Casey from killing the little shi--Uh, I mean, dear, innocent Miranda. When Miranda starts to run away, Casey tries to grab her, so Jonah decks his stepdaughter in the head with a toy truck. It's amazing how quickly this movie keeps fluctuating from completely stupid, to batshit awesome, almost from minute to minute. More toy-related attack scenes, please!

Miranda runs away laughing, as Jonah locks poor, wounded Casey in the room. Then Miranda prepares to attack Elaine at the bottom of the stairs, but Jonah arrives, so she has to pretend to be a good girl. In another hilarious moment of cinematic genius, Jonah swing-drags his wife back to the couch, ignoring her howls of pain. Y'know, even if this movie is crap, it's at least FUN crap.

Jonah more or less tells his wife that she's a bitch, then he leaves to find Miranda. Miranda was just waiting for him to exit the room, so that she could make her move on poor Elaine. She hugs her, then tells her mother to be nice when Leah and Nicky arrive, before removing the sticks holding Elaine's wounded leg in place. Elaine gasps in agony, while Miranda runs off to take care of her stepdad.

Jonah picks Miranda up to get her winter jacket on her, too distracted to notice that she prevents the front door from shutting as he carries her to the car. Casey takes time out from screaming and hitting the locked bedroom door, to notice that he's driving away with Miranda. Casey drops down to the floor and begins to cry.

Leah and Nicky stand over Chloe's body, watching as her bloody hand twitches for a few, final seconds. Then they look at each other, laugh, and head back to the house. There's a shot of the sun,then we see a trail of blood in the snow, slowly being covered up by more falling snowflakes.

Casey stops crying, suddenly looking very nervous and intense. She turns toward the window, seeing both Nicky and Leah just standing in the snow, watching the house. She picks up an endtable, determined to bash the door down, and make her escape. Then she hears her mother scream her name, and we see that Elaine has managed to get up on her good leg, and is trying to escape as well. When Casey looks outside a second time, the little monsters are no longer in the yard.

Elaine hears her daughter warning her not to let the kids inside the house, then she sees them standing at one of the locked doors, peering in at her. She hops, then crawls, into the kitchen, barely managing to both close and lock the door. Then she crawls painfully back to the staircase, where she drags herself up to where her daughter is trapped.

The killer kids find the kitchen door locked, but then we see a closeup of the pet door. As Elaine reaches the top of the stairs, she hears the swinging pet door give out a squeak. She whispers to Casey to quiet down, then listens for any sign that they've managed to enter the house.

They have. As Casey tries to stay quiet and look through the keyhole of the door, Elaine works at dragging herself the rest of the way into the second floor hallway, then rounds a corner to climb ANOTHER friggin; staircase. Are you kidding me? Does this maze at least give her a piece of cheese if she gets to the exit?

As Elaine continues to drag her body through the house, she accidentally kicks a toy UFO down the stairs, where it makes enough noise to wake the dead. Worried that the banging and clanging means that her mother is in peril, Casey resumes pounding on the door.

From her side of the door, Elaine tells her daughter not to worry, then she also works on breaking the door down, clubbing it with a fireplace poker. When she turns to change her position, she finds herself facing down both Leah and Nicky, who are glaring at her from the bottom of the landing.

She begs them to stay away, waving the poker in front of her in the least-threatening way ever seen in the history of horror films. Realizing that she can't bring herself to kill the brats from Hell, Elaine begs Casey to forgive her for being so weak. She allows both of the children to reach her, and we see them brandishing a small knife and a crude, spear-like stick as weapons. Then they both begin to laugh at her.

In a sudden stroke of movie-luck, Casey breaks down a jagged gap in the door, and proceeds to jam Nicky's face down onto the broken piece of wood. Leah, unfortunately, rushes back down the stairs. Casey swoops down after her, but Elaine begs her to ignore Leah, and just help her escape instead. Damn. I was really wishing that Elaine would say something like, "No, don't kill her...I want to do it!"

They limp-run out of the house, then get into the other car. As they drive away, Casey gets a wide-eyed, far-off look on her face. Oh, crap. The radio goes into some kind of "Search Mode", but all of the radio stations appear to be gone. Double crap!

They drive back through the woods, and find the other car that Jonah and Miranda took blocking their path. Elaine gets ready to painfully limp over to the other vehicle, but Casey stops her and insists that she should check it out instead. Casey begins to trudge toward the car in the snow, while her mother watches from the driver's seat.

Casey spots a dark object in the snow a few feet from the abandoned car, and discovers that it's Jonah's, half-buried corpse. She stares at it as if in a trance, which allows Miranda to ambush her from a nearby hiding place. Elaine sees what's about to happen, and just barely manages to slam Miranda's body up against a tree, pinning her there. See what I meant earlier? Mediocrity...then batshit-classic. Mediocrity...then more batshit -classic. I still don't know if I love it or hate it.

Anyway, Casey leans against a tree, then pukes. Rut-roh! First the spaced-out eyes, now the puking...Elaine better rev up that engine and get the Hell out of Dodge! She doesn't though, not even when they both spot another creepy little boy watching them. Then another. Then about half a dozen more children appear. And yet, none of them attack. Gee, Elaine, I wonder why? Maybe because your own daughter is now on their side, hmmm???

Casey runs back to the car, but Elaine has locked the doors. After a second to think about it, Elaine decides to just completely give up on life, and lets her teen daughter back into the car. As they speed back down the road, you see Casey's eyes are getting glassier and more dazed by the moment, as the disease takes over. THE END

Wow,what a rollercoaster ride between hilariously over-the-top action, and plodding script decisions. Like I said, I really don't know how to rate this one. On the one hand, it was definitely a kooky movie, with several moments that had me actually howling with shocked laughter. But on the flip side, it's a story that's literally been done many, many times before(Just off the top of my head, in the killer-kid genre, I can name The Omen films, The original The Children, The Good Son, Devil Times Five, the Children of The Corn franchise, Wicked Little Things, Mikey, and the Pet Sematary films. Trust me, as kooky as it seems, this is not a new concept. Hell, I didn't even mention Village of the Damned, Case 39, It's Alive, or The Pit.

Still, I've seen worse. This one was sometimes great, but mostly mediocre. It gets 3.5 killer trees out of 5, because it was slightly better than the usual stuff in that kind of movie. Actually, you know what? Just because it implied that the infection was slowly spreading beyond just young kids, which suggests that it would probably have eventually made the entire human race extinct, I'll bump it up to a 4. Killing the entire world through a cold virus takes balls, and I'm filled with the spirit of Christmas. Or maybe I just don't give a crap. Either way. 4 out of 5.

And what did I learn from The Children?

-Kids are monsters.

-If you give your cat a name like Jinx, don't act all shocked when it has a run of bad luck.

-Toy trucks can really hurt the human skull.

The next movie is something from the grindhouse days, called Drive-In Massacre. Sounds like an epic bad slasher! Given that Christmas is less than a week away, I may wait a week to do this, until things have quieted down a little bit. We'll see how much free time I have this week. Happy holidays!

And hey, if I can be serious for a moment...the past couple of weeks, I've been dealing with some pretty brutal family stuff. Long story short, my uncle is having a lot of health issues, and he's probably not going to make it much longer. So...thanks. For reading this, for indulging me in my unabashed love of bottom-of-the barrel horror flicks, and mostly, just for letting me try to make you guys laugh a little bit each week with my silliness. Laughing is always good, even when you don't think that you can. My Uncle Irv taught me that one, and I've managed to turn that goofy side of myself into a pretty fun venture with this blog. I miss his dirty jokes already.

So just...Thanks for reading. And let's all keep on laughing as long as we can. All right, end of sappy rant. Peace out.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Well, I've been saying it since I started this blog, and now I have the proof: Slasher movies are destroying my brain! The movie that I was planning to watch this week, He Knows You're Alone, was one I had done already. Luckily, in a weird twist of fate, I was accidentally also sent Smiley, that movie that I never got around to watching last spring, when I was hospitalized. What comes around, goes around. So, back by no demand whatsoever, we get to finally watch Smiley this week. Settle in for SPOILERS...

So, this one begins with a fairly standard slasher premise: A young teen babysitter named Stacy is texting someone while on the job. A scary face suddenly appears in front of Stacy, but it's just the little girl she's watching, trying to scare her. Stacy puts down her phone to talk to the girl.

She discovers that the young girl is pretty Internet-savvy(What kid isn't these days?), as the kid shows her a Chat Roulette-type of website. Then the girl explains the legend of Smiley, the killer we're waiting for...Good, let's get in gear!

The legend is a basic rip-off of Candyman...You get onto any sort of online video chat. At any point during the chat, you type the phrase "I did it for the lulz", 3 times in a row. After the third time, a figure wearing a Smiley-face mask made out of flesh appears, then he kills you. Or the other person in the chat. Or something.

Believing the story to be nonsense, Stacy laughs it off. Then she gets jumped again! Oh, this time it's the little girl's father. He apologizes for being so late, then offers to write the babysitter a check. The entire time, he's also drooling over poor Stacy. Perv.

When she gets home, Stacy boots up her laptop. She signs on to one of those online chats, then browses through some of the possibilities. An angry-looking guy in thick glasses pops up, and his screen name is "Stranger", which seems kind of ominous. After a short introduction, Stacy tells Stranger that she likes his glasses. He replies that he's going to murder her.

A noise causes her to look over her shoulder, but the bedroom is still empty behind her. Stacy wanders down the hallway, finding a glass door slightly ajar. She creeps back to her room, still afraid that she might not be alone in the house.

She sits down to resume her chat with Stranger, then impulsively types "I did it for the lulz" 3 times. The bedroom door swings open, then Smiley grabs Stacy, stabbing her through the back. Stranger sees the murder, turns to a friend in the room, and starts to laugh. Then the opening credits roll.

Next, we meet Ashley, a cute young coed about to move into a house near her college. Her dad is nervous about her living off-campus, but she assures him that everything will be fine. After a quick hug, they part ways.

Inside the house, Ashley meets a girl with the unlikely name of Proxy. Proxy??? Not "Roxy", which would actually be a name, but PROXY? Really, movie, you want to irk me this early? What are the other characters called, Fallomba, Snik-snik, and Fartknockers? (By the way, if anyone who reads this wants to make a slasher flick with a character named "Fartknockers", I guarantee you at least ONE 5-star review.)

Anyway, Proxy sees Ashley as the stereotypical "innocent young woman trying too hard to fit in", and tries to ditch her by making plans to go to a party that evening. Ashley somehow misses the subtlety of her cold shoulder, and begs to go the party with her. Proxy gives in, and off they go!

They walk around the grounds of the campus, and Proxy reveals that she hasn't ever actually met most of the people at the party that they're going to. She knows them online, through the 4chan website. Ashley starts to get nervous about the party, so she and Proxy get a little bit buzzed on a joint along the way.

The party is pretty huge, and they soon meet a friendly guy by the name of Zane. He flirts with Ashley quite a bit, bragging that he's a bit of an expert on "The strange and retarded," whatever that means. Proxy says that it sounds like the title of a crappy soap opera.

Zane elaborates, explaining that he's fascinated by people who believe in myths that have no basis in reality, like Bigfoot or the Chupacabra. Then he makes a quick joke or two, and disappears to go get wasted, leaving the girls laughing over how strange he is. Or re...nah, too easy.

Proxy encourages Ashley to talk to another guy across the room, so she heads in that direction. His name is Binder, but Zane interrupts the conversation and dubs him "Pedobear". 2 other guys start to bully Binder, and one of them was the guy who laughed when Stacy was killed by Smiley in that online chat.

Speaking of that plays again, except now we realize that we're seeing it from his side of the chat. After Stacy is killed by Smiley, Ashley screams, and the group at the party just laugh. Proxy assures her that it's just a trick, and then repeats the legend of Smiley, and how to summon him.

The party gets wild and crazy, and so does Ashley. She gets plastered, and soon they're all just laughing and behaving like loons. At one point, she even starts to write stuff on a sleeping guy's face. I hope she doesn't have class the next day...

Ashley sleeps until past noon, and rushes to class. Heh. She gets to her first class just as the professor is giving his introduction, and she gets to the nearest seat. The class is called Intro to Reason and Ethics, and the instructor, Prof. Clayton, asks them why they think the class is a required course. Ashley gives him an answer that he likes, earning her some brown-nosing points. They talk after class, and he assures her that he won't hold her tardiness against her.

That night, Ashley and Proxy compare how their days went. Proxy teases her a little bit about how much she drank at the party. Then they see a video of the guy whose face Ashley drew on in that video chat site, and he viciously get attacked by Smiley. Ashley insists that they should bring the video to the police, but Proxy points out how silly the story would sound.

Ashley tries to laugh it off as well, but she still seems worried. Proxy offers to set her mind at ease by typing "I did it for the lulz" 3 times, just to prove that nothing would happen. They scroll through a bunch of random chats, before settling on some shirtless dweeb. Proxy then advises Ashley to envision Smiley in her mind before typing.

She tells the shirtless guy that he's going to die, and then types "I did it for the lulz" 3 times in a row. Nothing happens at first, so they relax. Then Smiley rises up and stabs the nerdy guy, and they scream.

Ashley declares that they need to go right to the police, but Proxy has a different take on the issue. She argues that going to the cops will bring them unwanted attention, and the killer could then learn who they are. The discussion is disrupted by a call from Ashley's father.

He can tell that she sounds tense, but she explains that she's just nervous about being away from home, and that she misses him. He buys it, then Proxy pops up, prompting Ashley to end the call. She goes back inside, and the matter of the video is dropped for the night.

In class the next day, Clayton gets the class into a discussion about how to prove a hypothesis. With her mind still on Smiley, Ashley asks the professor what you'd do if your hypothesis turned out to be so incorrect, that something seemingly impossible seemed to be the result. Clayton introduces her to the concept of ideology, the idea that you have complete confidence in something you THINK that you know. He lists guys like Hitler and Bin Laden as examples of people who followed their ideologies to extremes.

After class, Ashley decides to do some research at the campus library. While looking at various book titles, Ashley literally runs into Binder. They get friendly, and Ashley asks him if he believes in Smiley. Binder's theory is that some legends grow in strength as more people believe in them, and that Smiley is one such entity.

When Ashley asks him if that means that Smiley is real, he responds that, even if Smiley isn't real, the videos of him are. She likes that explanation, and they exchange phone numbers. Then she heads back to the house, just in time to be invited to another party hosted by Zane.

More crowds, more music, and more drinking. Proxy leaves Ashley to go find the bathroom, and Ashley overhears 2 girls talking about the latest video of Smiley. She spots Zane across the room, and decides to see what he knows about the urban legend.

Zane and his buddies laugh at her questions, but then Zane gets serious after his obnoxious friends leave. He asks Ashley what she knows about the murder of his friend, and accuses her of invoking the presence of Smiley. He admits that he even conjured up the killer, but assumed that it was all just a prank. Then he accuses Ashley of knowing more about what happened to his friend than what she's told him.

She staggers away, but not before Zane demands to know what she's going to do if Smiley comes after them next. She walks back to the house in a drunken stupor, then stop;s in the middle of the campus quad when she thinks that she spots Smiley. She shakes her head to clear her thoughts, and the killer looms right in front of her, so a chase begins.

Ashley runs the rest of the way to the house, but Smiley follows her. The killer lurks at the front door, so Ashley goes from room to room, desperate to find a good place to hide. Smiley finds a way to enter the house, and ambushes the frightened teen, so she screams for help.

The whole thing turns out to have been a dream. Proxy finds her in the bedroom, screaming in her sleep, and doesn't believe that the chase was anything more than a nightmare. Ashley shows her a part of her blouse that Smiley ripped, but Proxy still doesn't see how that proves anything. After all, if Smiley had been there, then why would he have left her alive? Proxy asks Ashley if she takes any medications for mental disorders, and that gives Ashley a reason to awkwardly pause. Uh oh...

Yeah, she takes anti-psychotic pills. Or, she DID take them, at one point. Ashley weaned herself off of the pills gradually, as she reveals to the school shrink, but perhaps she might want to get her prescription updated. Oh, and the school shrink resembles Maura Tierney a little bit, so, you know, "hubba".

She doesn't tell the shrink about Smiley, so the advice she gets is pretty iffy, at best. She merely admits that she's been on edge and frightened with some frequency, and the shrink thinks it might be because she's far from home, and probably missing her deceased mother. Ashley gets a prescription for something that will calm her nerves, then is sent home.

As Ashley is leaving, Proxy collides with her. Apparently, Zane has informed her of another murder that was posted online. They quickly make their way over to his place to figure out the reason behind the killings.

Zane is over the edge. He's got a gun, and he's ranting and raving about security. It turns out that he's not really a student, but an elite computer hacker; the sort of guy who just hacks into national banks when he needs money, and delves in the personal history of anyone he might want to use and abuse.

He points his gun at Ashley, and demands to know what connection she has to Smiley. Then he admits that his hacking might have brought him to the attention of any number of government superpowers, but that wouldn't explain the presence of Smiley. Ashley proposes that the killer is somehow weirder and more powerful than any of those things, and Zane admits that anything might be possible. He sends them away, then returns to hiding out with his gun.

Ashley has another nightmare, then she endures another class. The discussion in class this time concerns the very existence of life itself, and whether or not we exist because something else exists on a level above us, allowing us to have self-awareness. Or something like that. I don't know, maybe this would have been better if I had watched it while high. Certainly wouldn't have hurt.

After class, Ashley decides to do some research about Smiley on the school computers. She searches for more of his murder videos, as well as information about 4chan, and other hacker knowledge. Unbeknownst to her, a dark figure is approaching the computer, and he has a knife in one hand.

It's Binder. She jumps at the sight of him, and he shows her an employee ID card, revealing that he's in charge of the campus computer network. She tells him about her research into Smiley, and he remains skeptical, until she says that she caused a student to die by summoning the killer.

Binder's reaction is...odd. He claims that when he tried to summon Smiley, nothing happened. Ashley explains that you have to strongly desire the harm to inflict it, and that only seems to get Binder more excited. Ashley gets upset, and decides to return to the house.

She returns to the video chat from her bedroom PC, and scrolls through a handful of different subscribers. Then she sees Smiley himself in the last one, waiting for her. She asks him what he is exactly, and he threatens to pay her another visit. She asks him where he is, and he responds, "right behind you", which is freaky. To make matters worse, his screen has gone black all of a sudden, with no indication of where he might be.

Ashley turns around, and finds Proxy standing there, demanding to know what she's up to. They have a fight, and Proxy storms out of the house. Ashley decides to call her father, but something at the window scares her, and she drops her phone on the sidewalk below, smashing the phone to pieces. Proxy is standing there, and she assumes that Ashley was throwing the phone at her.

Ashley decides to pay another visit to the school shrink. She tearfully admits that she's having some kind of breakdown, and the shrink decides that they should meet on a daily basis...starting tomorrow. For now, she just wants Ashley to get some sleep. She prescribes a stronger pill, then sends the poor girl back home.

On her way across the quad, she texts a quick apology for her abrupt exit at the library to Binder. He lets her know that he's been upset about the recent events as well, and that seems to ease some of her tension. She decides to pay a visit to Professor Clayton's office, and he's there to greet her.

They discuss whether or not the human race is doomed to kill itself off, and Clayton offers her a stiff drink. She declines, but he pours himself one. Then he launches into a diatribe about how our instinct to survive at any cost, and to use up every planetary resource to further our own progress makes us all parasites.

Oh, and he starts to close all of the blinds in his office, in the most menacing way possible. Clayton then hovers over her, whispering all of his crazy, menacing crap about death, all while slowly getting drunk. Ashley finally decides that she's had enough, gets up, and leaves his office.

She returns to the library to work on a school assignment, but gets the unnerving sensation that she's being watched. A glance around reveals nothing, but then Smiley appears on her computer monitor. He waves at her in a mocking manner, and she overreacts, smashing the computer, and yelling and screaming. She collapses onto the floor in tears, then becomes aware that other students are watching and even filming her.

Ashley returns to the house, where she has a brief hallucination of Smiley. She takes a couple of the new pills that she was prescribed, looks at them, then decides not to ingest them. She cries, and heads to her bedroom.

Another nightmare or hallucination occurs. In this one, several versions of Smiley appear in the bedroom, and one of them starts to strangle her. Ashley screams, and a shadowy figure darts past her bed. It appears to be her deceased mother at first, but then it transforms into Smiley.

Ashley screams and wakes up yet again, only to find Proxy at her bedside, holding her hand over her own face. Apparently, she came into the room to check on Ashley, and was punched in the face for her efforts. Ashley apologizes to her, then places a call to the police, to tell them everything she knows.

She meets a weary detective named Diamond, and gives him her statement about the killing spree. After making her recount every detail, he informs her that they've never found a single shred of evidence that a crime was ever committed. No bodies, no crime scenes, no murder weapons, just a big, fat pile of nothing. Oh, but they do have one thing: a video of Ashley, showing her destroying a school laptop.

The cops tell Ashley to stop wasting their time, and just go home. Detective Diamond also suggests that perhaps Ashley should get help from a psychiatrist, to which she sobs that she already is. That doesn't go over too well.

After a brief chat with Proxy, Ashley keeps her next appointment with her doctor. She admits that her sense of reality might be a bit off, and is told that she's making progress toward recovery. The positive feedback gives Ashley a reason to smile.

She calls Binder, and he visits her to give her some advice on how to keep her computer information encrypted. He even goes a step further, giving Ashley an old laptop of his, complete with the latest security updates. She thanks him, and they share a few impulsive kisses. Proxy breaks up the intimacy, and we discover that she's going away for the weekend.

That night, Ashley assures her dad during a call, that she's doing much better. She gets a message from Proxy, and the roommate is in a tizzy because her boyfriend isn't returning her calls. Ashley offers to go check on him, and she takes her phone with her.

At the boyfriend's place, no one appears to be home. Ashley finds the front door open, but no Zane in sight. A room-by-room search reveals that Zane has been added to the list of Smiley victims. Ashley calls Diamond to report the crime, but he hangs up on her.

She returns to the house, but Proxy urges her to place another call to the police. Ashley has a different plan in motion. She locks herself into the house, then tells Proxy to type "I  did it for the lulz" 3 times, to lure Smiley to the bait.

It's a terrible plan. Not only does he now have her trapped inside, but now he can be anywhere he wants to be, and just take her right out of existence. As if to prove their point, all of the Smileys come at her at the same time.

Ashley backs away from the many killers, then dives out of the nearest window. She dies. and the killers watch her from the window. Then they congratulate one another for the way they all pulled it off. Binder, Zane, Stacy, all of them. The rest leave, and only Proxy and Zane remain behind to chat. They grin into their webcams, then Smiley attacks Proxy, mauling her in front of  Zane. During the credits, we get one final scene, showing that Ashley isn't quite dead yet, but that she is ready to get back at them. the end...?

Let's hope so! I hate watching a slasher flick where there aren't any victims. And they wasted what could have been an interesting concept on such a dull film. I can't imagine what I would have thought back in April, when I was felling sick and confused. Yuk. 1 out of 5, for at least the concept of Smiley. Now just place him in a better story.

And what did I learn from watching this?

-Never assume that your "clever twist" is actually that clever, because it probably isn't.

-Colleges are filled with insane people.

-Friends don't let old friends murder new friends, especially if it's just for "lulz", or whatever.

Up next, a heartwarming tale about killer kids, and the families that have to murder them to survive. Fun, lighthearted stuff!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pinata: Survival Island

At this point, there have been waaaay too many movies about inanimate objects killing people. Killer cars, killer dolls, killer laundry can pretty much just take any noun, add the word "killer" to the front of it, and you have a ready-made movie. But...a killer PINATA?

Yup. A pinata goes on a killing spree. That's the plot of today's SAW, Pinata: Survival Island. It's official: I'll watch pretty much anything. Grab a stick, put on a blindfold, and let's break open the SPOILERS!

The opening credits break through a clay shell before they appear. Yeesh. A narrator tells us that "many moons ago", a village in South America was facing a deadly drought. The "village" looks like it was built out of a Lego set. One of the village elders constructed a large clay pinata.  He killed a wild pig, then placed the animal's heart in the pinata. Oh, and then he built a second pinata, for shits 'n' giggles.

He gathered the villagers for a ceremony, where he proceeded to use magic to tear out the evil in their souls, and place it into the first pinata. After the ritual was completed, he then let them break open the second pinata, while the evil-filled one was sent downstream on a nearby river. The evil pinata was then undiscovered for centuries, but a prophecy warned that if it was found and opened, the evil would pour out of it and devour more human souls. Pfft, like THAT would ever happen!

Moving on...The flashback ends, and we meet a large group of college kids out on speeding boats. They're laughing, drinking, mooning each other...Is it wrong for me to wish that they were already being slaughtered? Eh. An Asian guy named Paul and a cute brunette named Monica are waiting for them on the beach. A nearby sign tells us that the island will soon be the site of something called the Franklin Oceanography Research Lab.

The students from the 2 boats start to unpack their gear, and we get some introductions. There's a jive-talking dude named Doug; his best buddy(and former Buffy co-star) Kyle; Kyle's recent ex-girlfriend Tina; a party animal named Jake; and assorted others. I'm sure that there will be tons of memorable character development in a movie about a clay pinata going on a murderous rampage. Oh yeah.

Anyway, Monica and Paul advise them to set up camp, and they briefly go over some rules. This is apparently some sort of Cinco de Mayo college scavenger hunt, and it looks like anything goes. First up is a drinking session, then we learn the rules of the scavenger hunt. Pieces of underwear are hidden all over the island, and the students will be paired up into teams, as well as handcuffed to each other. They have until a certain time of night to collect as many pairs of underwear as they can find. The prize is $20,000 to the players, and the same amount donated to a charity in their name.

Before the race begins, they have a trivia contest about the origins of Cinco de Mayo. Being idiots, they don't get too many correct answers. The students are then paired up, and we finally get more names on these soon-to-be corpses. Jake, the bandana-wearing bro, is paired up with an attractive girl named Julie; a shaggy-looking pothead named Larry is teamed up with a cute bookworm named Connie; Doug and Carmen, the only pair of black people in the movie, are handcuffed together(I wonder if the movie will be generic enough to kill them off first?); a cute couple of generic teens named Bob and Lisa are paired off; and, finally, Tina and Kyle, the exes, are forced to team up.

The competition begins, and all of the teams race away into the jungle, except for Kyle and Tina. They stand there in stunned silence, then Kyle knocks them both to the ground as he struggles to pry off his shackle. After a quick spat, they choose to just sit in the dirt and do nothing.

The rest of the teams keep busy running themselves ragged. Jake and Julie seem to have an early lead, mostly because Jake is running his ass off and snatching up every pair of underwear he sees. Poor Julie looks like she might get her shoulder dislocated by the big lummox.

The generic couple, Bob and Lisa, find a clearing where they seem to be alone. Bob reveals that he has a key to the handcuffs, then he and Lisa smoke a joint together. They get the giggles, then run offscreen. Now working in different areas, they temporarily lose track of each other. Uh oh...

As Lisa gathers up piles of underwear to horde, she stumbles across the clay pinata. It's not even hidden, it's pretty much just sitting out in the open, waiting to be found. Sheesh. She abandons the scavenger hunt to go examine it.

She stumbles while dragging the heavy clay pinata, and stops to make the sand equivalent of a "snow angel", which is as goofy-looking as it sounds. Then she calls over her partner. While they look it over, they decide to see what's inside.

Easier said than done. Using heavy tree branches, they don't even dent it. Then Lisa suggests that they use a large rock, so Bob gets the biggest one that he can carry. After several attempts, Bob makes a crack in the shell, and weird howling sounds seem to surround the drunk couple. The wind becomes fierce, then the eyes of the demonic pinata glow, and it grabs the large branch that Bob dropped next to it.

The pinata moves away from the spot where it was dragged, then it swoops in to bash Bob with the stick. After he's dead, the pinata snarls at Lisa, who runs away. A brief glimpse at Bob shows his soul being wrenched out of his body.

At the camp, Kyle proposes that he and Tina call a temporary truce. She refuses, but he stands up, forcing her to go along. As they try to play nice, we check in on Larry and Connie. She seems bored, but he's getting into the groove with the scavenger hunt. Then he hears a noise, and convinces Connie to hide behind a tree with him.

They wait a few seconds, then Lisa scares them by rushing to their hiding spot. She rambles on about Bob being killed, and then mentions that the killer was a pinata. They laugh at her, even after realizing that the blood on her is authentic. Lisa runs away again, and the couple decide to resume the scavenger hunt. Then we see the pinata wandering in their general direction.

As Larry and Connie mock Lisa, the killer pinata tracks them. It manages to hide in some bushes, and watches as they pass right by. Then they find one of the normal pinatas, and share the alcohol that was stored inside.

Lisa finds the tent where Paul and Monica are keeping an eye on the players. She tells them about the killer pinata's sudden attack, and neither of them laugh. They take it very seriously, probably because she's covered in blood.

Larry and Connie come across a shovel and some instructions, and follow the instructions to a specific area. After digging a small hole, they uncover a treasure trove of underwear. As they celebrate, the pinata looms behind them, using the shovel to bludgeon them both to death. This may be silly, but the kills are at least impressive.

Monica and Paul head to their ATV's. They debate over how much of Lisa's story might be true, but agree that the fact that she was covered in blood is not a good sign. They fervently hope that they will find Bob alive. Nope. Not gonna happen!

Kyle and Tina are working better as a team, with her straddling his shoulders to reach some panties up in a tree. As Tina tries to convince Kyle that she never cheated on him while they were dating(the apparent cause of the breakup), they meet up with Paul and Monica. The leaders only tell them in very general terms that a player was injured, and that the scavenger hunt is at an end. When Kyle offers to help them, he is politely told that his assistance won't be necessary. Instead, Kyle is instructed to return to the base camp, fire off a pistol to let the other teams know to come back, then wait.

As Paul and Monica ride around the island, they keep calling out Bob's name. Yeah, good idea while something is hunting down humans... They hear noises in the vicinity, but can't pinpoint where they're coming from. As they trudge through the jungle on foot for a minute, they stumble upon poor Bob--or his top half, at least. He's half the man he used to be.

Meanwhile, Jake and Julie have abandoned the contest, choosing to explore each other instead. The evil pinata sees them and gets royally pissed off. They stop smooching to gather up their stockpile of undies, and then spot the demonic pinata dangling from a tree. As soon as they get close to it, the pinata castrates Jake with one massive hand, then it attacks Julie with a machete.

Back at the camp, Lisa, Kyle and Tina are packing up the gear, while also searching for the pistol. Lisa starts having a flood of traumatic flashbacks, and tries to calm herself down by drinking some water. Kyle sees that she's having problems, then he apologizes to Tina for the bad way they broke up. They kiss, and are now un-broken-up-ish. I guess. *exasperated sigh*

Paul checks in on Kyle with his walkie-talkie, and urges him to take the women to the boat area. He describes the discovery of Bob's mangled corpse, and suggests that they'll gather the rest of the players, and get them off the island in the second boat. After the brief chat, Kyle asks Lisa for more details about the deadly attack on Bob.

Doug and Carmen are up next, but their scene is brief. It more or less shows that they've managed to get lost in the jungle. I don't know, I never thought a movie about a killer pinata would actually start to bore me. I'm sort of hoping that it will eventually hit somebody hard enough to make candy pour out of them. That'd be fun to see!

At the beach, oversized footprints reveal that the pinata has sabotaged the boats ahead of them. The sun begins to set, and we see Monica and Paul still riding around in the jungle. The pinata leaps up suddenly behind them, and a chase begins. As the pinata starts to charge at them faster and faster, the earth begins to shake.

An overturned tree bars Monica's vehicle, and she gets thrown into a clearing. The vehicle explodes, and Paul stops to run into the clearing to rescue Monica. On foot, the pinata easily catches up to them, and Paul gets his leg dislocated with a brutal yank. Then the monster finishes him off by bashing his head in with a stick. No candy, though.

Monica shrieks, and the pinata decides to shut her up. She briefly loses him as she rounds a bend, but she stumbles, and falls into a ditch. The pinata fails to see her as she crawls away, and it snarls out of sheer frustration.

Kyle, Lisa and Tina make a campfire, then wait on the beach for other survivors, or maybe even a boat, to discover them. Tina expresses disbelief in the concept of a killer pinata rampaging around on the island(You're preaching to the choir...), despite the story that Lisa told them. Then Kyle tells them both a legend about a possessed pinata, summarizing what we saw in the opening scenes of the movie.

Lisa believes that the pinata that she and Bob broke open must have been the same one from the legend, but Tina remains a skeptic. The pinata is seen thrashing through the jungle, then the trio hear noises coming from the trees. As they prepare to fight off a possible pinata attack, the noises turn out to be a visibly relieved Doug and Carmen. Doug asks them where the other teams are, and we see a montage of various body parts strung up in the trees by the pinata.

Early the next morning, they start to realize that they might be the only survivors of the pinata massacre. Man, I felt stupid just typing that out! Lisa is afraid of another encounter with the monster, so she suggests that they swim to the mainland. Kyle explains that another island search would be better, as the nearest land is 15 miles away from the beach.

A debate follows, and both sides of the argument have good and bad points. In the end, the vote is to remain on the island, as either the other survivors might show up, or a rescue boat might be sent to search for them. Lisa isn't thrilled, but the others are swayed by Kyle. They head back into the jungle to do some more investigating.

The pinata senses them, and decides to resume the hunt. The group makes a stop at another clearing, and they all detect a rather unpleasant smell in the area. It turns out to be an animal carcass, something that the pinata killed, then gutted for them to find. Lisa once again suggests that they return to the beach, but they continue deeper into the jungle instead.

Doug stops to tie his shoe, insisting that the others can continue on without him for a second. Predictably, the pinata decides to swoop in just as the others leave Doug behind. But then Kyle has a sudden outbreak of logic, and they decide to return to him.

Back on the hunt, they start to call out the names of the missing students. The pinata, hiding in a tree, pulls poor Doug up into the branches to kill him. Wait, is that irony, or just really bad luck? Either way, Carmen is the first member of the party to notice that Doug is gone. They wearily re-trace their steps.

They come to the spot where he was snatched up, unaware that the pinata is dangling him over their heads. Lisa's fear starts to work on Carmen, and now the group is split on whether to resume the search, or head back to the open beach. In the end, Carmen and Lisa turn back, and Kyle and Tina go their own way. Oh, and poor Doug gets his soul wrenched out of his body.

Kyle and Tina find more pinata tracks, suddenly realizing that the monster pinata is steadily tracking the other pair. Sure enough, the pinata is on the trail of the girls, and they are having some setbacks. Not only is their progress to the beach slow, but now Lisa is whining because she needs to pee. They stop, and Lisa ducks behind another fallen tree trunk.

While Lisa is squatting, Carmen stands guard. They both clearly hear the approach of the pinata, but can't see him just yet. He rushes up behind Carmen, and decapitates her while Lisa screams. Kyle and Tina are still trying to come to the rescue, but it doesn't look like they'll make it in time to save Lisa.

Huh. Guess I was wrong. They find Lisa before the monster does, and save the day. While Tina works on calming her nerves, Kyle decides to hunt for the pinata himself. A brilliant plan, worthy of a 4-star general. He doesn't find the pinata(Yet!), but he does discover more bloody remains.

Left alone, Lisa decides to abandon Tina, in the hopes that the pinata kills her first. Tina chases her, but not before leaving a clue for Kyle to follow them. He's still tracking the pinata, trying to be as discreet as possible. He sneaks up behind what he thinks is the monster, only to find a distraught Monica, dirty but very much alive.

Now at a full sprint, Tina is determined to reach Lisa. Lisa's back at the base camp, and sweat is rolling down her face in buckets. Some rustling motions from the nearby tent get her attention, and the pinata drags her inside by an ankle when she moves in for a closer look.

Tina detects a presence in the tent, but assumes that it must be Lisa. The pinata sticks its massive head out to roar at her, and ANOTHER chase begins. For a second or two, the pinata seems to transform into The Smoke Monster from Lost. Man, I would trade the worst episode of Lost for ANY 5 minutes of this movie any day of the week. If I ever see a movie dumber than this one, I might actually just give up.

Anyway, right in the middle of the action, we catch up with Kyle and Monica. Who are on a casual stroll. Terrific. When they return to the spot where he left the girls, he realizes that they've left. I think they took most of the film's energy with them. Oh, but they found the makeshift arrow that Tina left on the ground!

They all reunite, and duck behind a tree to hide from the pinata. It growls and spins around quite a bit, but the pinata can't seem to find the last of the students. When night comes, Kyle decides that he needs to figure out a way to distract the pinata, so that they can get to a better location. He picks up some stones, throwing them as far as he can, in order to make the pinata curious enough to check the noise out.

That somehow works, and the trio head the opposite way. Paul has another plan in the works, but he needs to calm Monica down in order for it to work. He asks her to try to remember where she and Paul crashed the vehicles, and they all take off into the jungle.

They find the one that didn't explode, and Kyle works on removing the fuel. He siphons as much as he can, but they hear the pinata rapidly approaching their position. As they get closer to the beach again, Monica asks them to stop for a moment, so that she can catch her breath.

A body suddenly falls out of a tree, and Monica's scream is heard by the pinata. The creature swoops in, and they reluctantly leave the body hanging where they found it. For a second, it looked like Monica was just going to stay there and let the pinata kill her.

The next sequence is right out of MacGyver: As a group, they start to rig up a booby-trap to kill the pinata. Wires are buried in sand, sticks are tied together, fuel is doused around the camp, fake walls are's silly, but I kind of get a kick out of how serious the tone is in this scene. Even the music is ridiculously melodramatic.

Some time later, the pinata arrives at the beach. We see Kyle sitting in front of a campfire, and one of the women is talking VERY LOUDLY, just saying random crap. The pinata, which has gradually gone from a big clay figure with large feet, to a worm-like flying monstrosity with a long tail, approaches the fire very, very slowly, growling the entire way.

As the pinata reaches Kyle, it suddenly decides that it doesn't want to be ignored. It reaches out with a massive claw, obliterating his head...which turns out to be a decoy head, a melon. As chunks of it go flying off in a million different directions, the real Kyle hoists on a rope, trapping the pinata in a net. As the trapped creature is lifted off of the ground, Lisa and Monica set the trap on fire with torches. They watch as the blaze consumes the pinata.

Then it shakes loose from the trap, knocking Monica to the ground, possibly killing her. The angry pinata goes for Tina next, but Kyle saves her by swinging by on the rope, kicking the killer pinata to the ground. While he fights it off with a torch, Tina goes into the tent for more gas.

While she prepares a hasty Molotov cocktail, Kyle gets his ass kicked around the beach. Literally. Tina emerges from the tent just as the killer pinata gains the upper hand, and she shoves the explosive into a crevice in the back of the pinata. She, Kyle and Monica(She lives!) run to a safe distance, and the pinata explodes. The freed souls all fly away, no longer trapped in the pinata.

The next day, several rescue boats arrive, filled with people wearing shirts that say CAMPUS POLICE. A couple of cops question them, then the pinata pops up for one final jump-scare. THE END

Well, that was either the best killer pinata movie ever made, or it was the worst. Since it's probably the only one, take your pick. At least it had several good actors in it, from shows like Buffy and My Name Is Earl, among others. But...a killer pinata? If they ever decide to do another one, I kind of want to see a big, bright generic-looking pinata go on a killing spree. That would be funny as Hell. 3 out of 5 killer trees, not the worst...but not nearly as fun as the concept sounded.

And what did I learn from my experience with Pinata: Survival Island?

-"Death by pinata" would be a dumb way to go.

-Nicholas Brendon somehow makes even dumb stuff kind of awesomely watchable. All hail Xander Harris!

-When the odds are against you, you can suddenly turn into a trap-building genius.

Next up is either something called Taboo, or the classic slasher He Knows You're Alone.