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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Babysitter Wanted

The old saying, "Never judge a book by its' cover" should also apply to DVD'S. Based on the title and the lurid image on the cover, I was expecting Babysitter Wanted to be another "mock-buster" by The Asylum, in the vein of When a Stranger Calls. What I got was a weird, wild and unexpectedly scary horror flick. The usual warning about major SPOILERS applies, so if you don't want to read a blog where a guy gives you a detailed play-by-play of a horror film, stop now!!!

SPOILERS IN 3.....2....1......

The first scene shows a girl about to be murdered by an unseen killer. He lays out a series of sharp implements onto a table, then grabs a hammer. Before it strikes the girl's skull, the scene ends. And that's about it for scares until around, ohhh, let's say the 40-minute mark.

It starts out to be a very, verrrrrrry tame movie, so much so that I was worried that maybe I had rented a religion-propaganda film instead of a horror flick. We meet Angie, a cute girl with a wholesome, sunny disposition and a deeply spiritual upbringing. She's going to college, away from home for the first time, and she feels like the proverbial fish out of water. Her roommate seems nice enough, but is a major flake with a rebellious streak, so she doesn't exactly help Angie adjust well to her new surroundings. Also, Angie has other new faces to get used to: Matt, a fellow student who seems interested in her---OR IS HE???; and a mysterious, scarred stalker who wears a hood and some heavy boots. In fact, most of the male characters in the film wear the same boots. For "suspense". Gosh, who could the stalker be?

Anyway, to get some time away from her crazy, nympho roomie, Angie answers an ad looking for a weekend-evening babysitter. The house itself is in a scary, remote location, and Angie's car breaks down on the way there. Luckily, the local hunk, Matt, drives by and offers her a ride to her babysitting job. In fact, he goes a step further, and makes her a human shishkabob....NAHHHH, just messin' with ya. Matt offers to drive her to the house, AND fix her car. Could I be wrong about his intentions? As if that wasn't nice enough, he even offers to pick her up IN her car, after fixing it. Maybe I misjudged you, man. Sorry.

So Angie arrives at the home of Violet and Jim Stanton, a nice-enough couple new to the area themselves. How new? Well, their house isn't even fully built yet, with entire rooms blocked off, ceilings exposed, you name it. Their son, Sam, is a quiet little boy going through a "cowboy" phase. Oh, and he has "special" food that is marked with his name in the fridge. Okay, so he's part Gremlin, gotcha. Don't feed him after midnight.

Okay, let's talk: up to this point, I was ready to give up on this thing. There was a heavy "religious movie" vibe, with all the blandly inoffensive characters and morality dialogue. *YAWN* Even the stalker guy seemed pretty innocuous by this time in the film. What kept me watching? Well, for one thing the film was recommended by my first bona-fide reader, so I woulda felt bad about not finishing it. Also, there were a few familiar faces in the cast...the guy playing Matt was on a scifi-ish show a few years ago, called Kyle XY, and Angie is played by Sarah Thompson, a stunning actress I used to salivate over while watching the TV series Angel; oh, and the cast also features genre favorites Bill (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) Moseley and Nana (Friday the 13th, Star Trek DS9) Visitor in key supporting roles.

Back to the movie: So the parents are going away for 3-4 hours, the kid barely talks, we have a scary bald guy stalking our cute-as-hell babysitter, who has no way to escape thanks to her car trouble. Oh, and when the scary guy isn't calling her, Matt is, to give her updates on her car repair. Now what could possibly make this night any worse?

The kid wakes up, and he decides he's hungry. VERY hungry. Angie fetches one of his food containers and opens it up. It contains diced meat that would disgust even Fear Factor's chefs. She nukes it for about a minute, then serves it to him with a fork. No go. The creepiest kid since Damien Thorn starts picking up chunks of meat with his fingers and chews each piece verrrrrry slowwwwwly. As he's chowing down, Angie gets another phone call from the creep outside. She's had enough. Time to call the local cops.

The cops take down her info, and that's about it. Oh, and Matt calls to let her know the car is fixed...except that he has someone following his car, and his call is abruptly cut off. And the parents call, just to piss her off by calling. Yay. What ELSE could possibly happen?

Well, Scarface manages to get into the house. Sweet. So we have Angie looking for the kid, Scarface looking for Angie, and me looking for the remote. Nah, just kidding. Up to this point it was a little on the slow side, but at least it had some okay suspense. She eventually finds the kid, and manages to let him know that someone has broken in. They sneak around a bit to avoid the intruder, long enough for Angie to get behind the attacker and injure him first.

Okay, so MAAAAAJOR SPOILERS now! This is where the movie goes completely apeshit crazy and wins me over. Angie knocks out the guy, while he's trying to choke Sam, and 2 things happen to change my mind about this movie:

1. The guy's coat falls open, revealing a priest's collar.
2. Sam's cowboy hat falls off, revealing FREAKING HORNS on his head!!!!!

Yup, this went from a Lifetime Sunday Night Movie to The Omen in about a nanosecond. Sam's a devil, and the priest was following Angie around for her safety, not to harm her. And the "meat" Sam was eating? Babysitters. Yup.

Violet and Jim return home, see the priest on the floor, and proceed to finish him off. Apparently, Jim thought they had killed him before, and is surprised to see him in their house. Before Jim knocks Angie unconscious, she sees him bring in the bodies of another girl and Matt. Then she passes out.

When Angie wakes up again, Vi and Jim have tied her down int he barn/garage next to the house. Jim tells her that when they first realized that Sam was the child of The Devil, he and Vi weren't sure of what to do. He rejected every kind of food they gave him, and they were afraid he would eventually starve to death.(and that would be a BAD thing???) They discovered at some point that he craved human flesh and blood. But not just any flesh and blood would do. No, what Sam REALLY finds tasty is the flesh and blood of innocent virgin females. Hey, we have something in common! Neato!

Jim, while telling Angie all of this, is diagramming the other girl's body with a Sharpie marker, like a chart in a butcher shop. He explains to Angie that he doesn't consider himself evil just because he slaughters young woman and feeds them to his demonic offspring. Um, okayyyy. He claims that he tries to make the process as painless as possible for the victim, and demonstrates his idea of mercy with his hammer. He bashes the poor unknown girl's head with the hammer, because she theoretically will be unable to feel pain as she is being cut up. This guy deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

As Angie watches, Jim shoves a hook through the girl's feet, and suspends her upside-down from the ceiling. He then begins to cut her apart, section by section, in painstakingly graphic detail. He rips out her innards, tears apart huge sections of her flesh, saws apart large sections of bone, and comes very close to making me a vegetarian for the rest of my life. Very gory. Awesome.

Before he can start on Angie and Matt, Vi comes in to check on his progress. She yells at Jim for being too nice to his victims, but before either of them can start killing Angie, the cop she called earlier drives up to the house. They quickly wipe the blood off their hands, change out of his bloody clothes, and go outside to greet and get him out of the way before he discovers what they're doing.

Angie grabs something sharp and begins cutting through the bindings on her wrists. She also manages to make some noises through the tape over her mouth. The cop hears her, but Vi and Jim do too, and convince him that it's nothing, so he starts to head back to his vehicle. Luckily for her, Angie is able to emit a muffled scream through her gag that the cop hears. Again he is told that it's nothing, and he does leave this time--but not before his car headlights show a strange car parked on their property. He notes the license plate and calls it in.

Angry over having their little scheme almost unravel, Vi and Jim realize it's time to move on to another city. She heads into the house to pack and fetch her li'l Hellspawn, while Jim goes back to the barn/garage/butcher shop to finish killing Angie. He yells at her for nearly getting them caught and viciously shoves the ceiling-hook deep into her ankle and out the other side of her foot. OW!!

She hasn't been just waiting to die, because now she has cut the wrist-bindings. Her hands free, Angie swings the arm holding the spear that she found on the scarred priest and stabs Jim. She then finds both the priest and Matt: The priest is dead, but Matt has a head wound and is quickly revived. Before escaping with the police chief and Matt, Angie drives the meathook into Jim's foot. but Vi pops up out of the blue to try to kill everyone. When they finally get the upper hand on Vi as well, they try to escape in the police car, but Sam slits the cop's throat and escapes back to the barn.

Angie decides enough is enough(oddly enough, I'm kinda jazzed for more of this weirdness). She follows Sam into the barn, where we are led to believe that she kills him. While attempting to drive away, she passes out. When she wakes up again, she is in a hospital, with Matt, her mother, and a local cop by her bedside. She is told that every corpse was found except Sam's. She grabs Matt's hand as well as her mother's, and insists that they all pray. She starts reciting a "Hail Mary", but the director forgot to yell "Cut!", because she just stops after the first verse and the scene runs a few seconds longer. Nice. You've been attacked by Hellspawn and forgot how to pray?!?

Now that would have been an okay ending, but the movie decides to add some extra bits at the end. We see SOMEONE has been caring for Sam, but we never see their face. Another BABYSITTER WANTED post goes up on another bulletin board. Finally, we see Sam and Matt move in together. Now maybe it's just me, but WTF is this? Did another character find Sam? Did Angie and Matt adopt Sam to start a satanic family? Did the college roommate ever get a new bed? According to Wikipedia, Angie and Matt recovered the priest's weapon to continue to hunt for Sam, but it still looks like it's open to interpretation the way they filmed it. Oh some, lose some.

Despite the Hallmark-card beginning and the weird ending, I liked this one. The gore was pretty gruesome, the lead actress was still cute after not seeing her in much since Angel was cancelled, and the plot twist was pretty nifty. The religious stuff was a bit overdone, but the movie did have some genuine scares, so it didn't feel TOO sanitized. I'd give it 4 killer trees out of 5. I've definitely seen worse religion-disguised-as-horror films than this...Thr3e and The Haunting of Molly Whateverthehellhernamewas(Dodd? Ringwald?) both come to mind. But the gore and surprises in this one won me over, even if it was a bit too much like another recent movie(House of the Devil, which delivers a better tension level and scares, with almost the exact same plot concept...there, I just saved you from having to rent TWO movies! I accept blank checks in lieu of thank you's), and had a slow start. But not too shabby.

So what did I learn after watching Babysitter Wanted?
-Bill Moseley is quickly catching up to Kevin Bacon in the 6 Degrees game. And in general weirdness...
-Again, you can't always judge a DVD by its' title.
-Babysitters are scrum-dilly-umptious!! Gonna get me some babysitters with some fried taters, mmm-hmmm! Seriously, man, she was incredibly cute.

Next up, according to Netflix: Five Across the Eyes. Sounds like the feel-good film of the year. Can't wait.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Caretaker

After last week's fiasco, I had a few setbacks: First, my laptop went bonkers on me, to the point where I had to use a System Restore Point to get it working again. Then, many of the movies I had on my Netflix queue suddenly became "Long Wait"'s or the dreaded "VERY LONG WAIT"'s. So, after some movie-list finagling, I decided to order The Caretaker next. As always, it's SPOILER-PALOOZA time!!!

The Caretaker "stars" Judd Nelson(why Judd, whyyyyy? Weren't those 2 Cabin by the Lake movies a low-enough low-point for your career???) and Jennifer Tilly(oddly enough, I kind of feel that this is pretty appropriate for this point in HER career...I mean, she did play a killer doll TWICE! Wait, was I reviewing something? Oh, yeah....), and a cast of pretty much nobody else.

It goes a little something like this: Some high school buddies want to show their girlfriends a good time on Halloween night. Unfortunately, the girls are pretty much bored by the average run-of-the-mill costume party ideas, so the guy plan something MUCH more elaborate to impress them. It seems that their town has its very own urban legend anti-hero(don't the towns in these movies ALWAYS have a local legend about a killer?), a disfigured farmer(sorry, Caretaker) who was so obsessed with his wife's beauty that he kept her chained up like an animal in their farmhouse. When she tried to escape, he killed her and his legend became a DVD movie that I rented. *sigh*

The teens are pretty generic: we have Topher and Ricky, the typical dumb-jock types; their nerdy but resourceful friend, Snail; Sonya and Chloe, the girlfriends of the jocks; Ella, the new girl in school(invited as a date for Snail); a couple seen at the beginning setting up the farmhouse for the party, Missy and uh, WhatsHisFace(?); Miss Perry(Tilly), a teacher who shows up because she wants to be famous for having sex with her students(seriously, because look how great it turned out for Pamela Smart...???); and Judd Nelson as Ella's creepy dad. Oh, and a limo driver who is a weirdo as well. Phew! That's quite a list!

Right off the bat, there's a problem here: too many possible killers! Judd Nelson is obvious, because of how many of these dumb things he stars in. But how about the limo driver? Why's he so damned weird-acting? Or Jen Tilly, who usually comes off as a psycho even on her BEST days? Or Snail, the guy who doesn't quite fit in with his buddies? Hell, most of these movies have trouble convincing me there's ONE killer--with this thing, I need a friggin' pie chart to keep track of all the damn suspects!

This kind of leads into my second gripe about this movie: if you have a movie with around a dozen or so possible moving targets, why is it SO DAMN CLEAN??!!?? Seriously, this is what it would look like if Walt Disney had attempted to make Halloween. So many characters die offscreen, I began to suspect that the movie was pulling a Cry_Wolf, or an April Fool's Day. There are a handful of murders actually shown, but the vast majority are never seen clearly by the audience. It almost makes me wonder if this was originally meant for television.

Anyway, the first 2 to die right up front are the couple setting up the farmhouse for the night's festivities. The guy goes outside to see if he can make scary noises, while his girlfriend(Missy, I guess) decides to start stripping. Hey, even if the violence sucks, they got SOMETHING right! Anyway, she hears him die outside, but thinks he's just fooling around. Until the Farmer shows up to kill her as well.

Oh, and a few notes about the Farmer: I know it's called The Caretaker, but he's a farmer. Shoulda called it The Farmer. We never really get to see his face, because of the hat he wears to cover up. The flashback scenes explain that he was much less attractive than the wife, and as he aged he obsessed over her beauty. Also, his weapon of choice is sort of cool, in that it's not something you'd expect. See, he has a fruit orchard(specifically grapefruits, I think) and his weapon is a basket that he uses to harvest the fruit from the trees. It resembles a rake with a basket attached to it, except that the "rake" tines are razor-sharp. Neat.

Next, we get some scenes involving the limo driver and the blonde girl. For most of the film, my money was on him being the killer. He just gets creepier and creepier as the movie progresses. For instance, he tells the story of the Farmer and Tansy(the Farmer's wife) to the lone girl at the same time the story is being related inside the house. Apparently, as his fixation on his wife's beauty increased, he became less of a husband, and more of a prison guard, chaining her up in her room.

As time passed, Tansy began to lose hope. She realized how insane her husband had truly become after her mother found her, and the Farmer dragged her away from Tansy, presumably to kill her in a wood chipper, and use her remains as mulch...which we never get to see a second of And supposedly her entire family, as well. I guess he likes his in-laws as much as we all do, huh?

Desperate and alone, Tansy tried to formulate an escape plan. She seduced her husband with sex, and he seemed to become more rational again. Reassured by the change, Tansy stayed and got pregnant. She had the baby, and everything went great, until she suggested letting a doctor examine both her and the baby. In another jealous rage, the Farmer took away the baby and locked Tansy up again.

Tansy could hear her baby crying so she worked once again on an escape plan. She cut off her own thumb, and managed to slip the chain off of her hand. Between the blood loss and the extended confinement, Tansy got herself lost in the orchard. and freaked out. The Farmer found her, and took back the baby. He also violently pushed Tansy to the ground, where she sustained a head injury and died.

At this point, the limo driver starts making creepy comments, about how much the freshman girl reminds him of his daughter, and how "family" is the most important thing in life. How his daughter is his whole world... Okay, if he's NOT the Farmer, then he walked in from ANOTHER slasher film, because the dude is nucking futs!

So, back to our 3-or-so couples. They finish hearing the story of the Farmer and his gorgeous wife Tansy, and the girls scoff at the tale. The guys, eager to get the girls "in the spirit", break the tension by suggesting a sort of murder scavenger hunt, to find any evidence that might still exist of the crime scene. Even though the crime took place a looooong time ago, in the '80's. Or possibly the '90's. Uh huh, funny joke, movie. Can we get back to the killing please? The new girl, Ella, sees the driver skulking about outside the house, and tells the others. When they hear scary noises, they assume it's him.

Too bad no one told him. He's been outside taking a leak. When he gets back to the limo, he finds Ella gone, and gets freaked out by a grapefruit hitting his window. He sees the Farmer, who comes at him with his picker aimed right at the driver's face. The movie once again cuts away before we actually get to see him die. Thanks,'s like watching a porno starring a cast of people wearing chastity rings.

Before long, they've all split off into groups, and started exploring. They find the body of the guy who was murdered at the start of the movie, and begin horsing around. One girl even gets on the floor next to his corpse(Chloe, I think), and starts making fun of how cheesy the body looks. Until she realizes that his blood is all over the floor, and now is on her dress. It dawns on them that the body is actually, you know, a dead body!

They decide to high-tail it outta there, but of course the limo isn't where they left it. The jocks, Topher and Ricky, go off into the darkness to find the limo and the driver. They manage to find it, but the engine's been torn apart and strewn around the lawn. Oh, and the driver has deep gouges in his face, so there goes my theory about his potential as a killer.

Topher wusses out, and Ricky delivers the type of speech that usually leads right into the speech-maker's immediate death(think Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea, or the bitchy blonde in the first Final Destination). When they find that the driver's CB radio is broken, Ricky and Topher agree to keep the guy's death to themselves, to avoid scaring the girls. Or Snail. Geez, is this movie still going on?

As they reunite with the others, the group agree that it's a good idea to arm themselves. This leads to a genuinely funny scene where everyone gets their hands on crazy weapons: a chainsaw, a pickaxe, gigantic gardening shears, a rake, a friggin' spear... They all line up, just in time...someone's coming, and they move fast!!! Everyone assumes a battle stance, as they face an onslaught from.....

Snail. Armed with wood for the fire. If this were a sitcom, the scene would end with one of those "wonk-woooooooooooooonk" noises. They all mock Snail for being a pacifist, then moan and gripe over their own individual weapon choices. Eventually the scene ends with everyone abandoning their weapons and Chloe, the blonde from the limo, announcing that she's going to walk home. As the remaining group decide what to do next, they hear a car coming and hurry back into the house.

The mystery car drives right by Chloe, and stops at the farmhouse, as everyone inside tries not to have a shit-fit. The mystery driver is.....Jennifer Tilly. She's horny, and wants to seduce one of the boys into having a sex tape made, so she can leak it onto the Internet for notoriety. Yeah sure, why not? Makes as much sense as anything else so far....Um, does anyone remember the part where this is supposed to be a SLASHER MOVIE???

Her sudden appearance does serve ONE purpose: it turns out that she knows the Farmer quite well. They went to high school together, and apparently she had a thing for him way back when. So, when Topher refuses her offer of skank-sex, Miss Perry(see? I DID pay attention!) goes out to the orchard to try to hook up with Adam, aka the Farmer. Oh and a big close-up of her car reveals her license plate to be "HOT4TCHR". Ha! Oh movie, you ad me at generic and tedious!

The remaining kids find the Farmer, and they all scatter. The two jocks die first, leaving us with the 3 girls(well okay, 2 girls, since Ella decided to try walking home), Miss Perry and the Farmer. One girl hops onto a mountain bike and rides off, but is killed when she flies off the bike. Miss Perry dies after failing to seduce "Adam", with a grapefruit smothering her face and severe stab wounds to the throat. AMEN.

Snail and Ella(she came back) run back to the house, and Snail proposes the dumbest idea in the history of slasher films: he wants Ella to chain herself to the floor, so that they can fool Adam into believing that she's actually Tansy, and spare her life. Uhhhhh, say WHA--?

Snail forces the chain onto her wrist, and then the movie drops into "WTF???" territory. Ella finds her mother's earring on the floor, and picks it up, thinking it was one she wore for the Homecoming dance. Adam walks in, sees Ella sobbing, and spins around to grab Snail instead. As Ella watches, Snail is thrown to the floor and dragged away to be murdered offscreen(deja vu, anyone?). Ella forces the metal handcuff off of her wrist, and escapes while Snail is being killed.

Rushing outside, Ella gets into Miss Perry's car and tries to find the keys. No luck. The minute she exits the car and starts running again, the keys fall out of the sun-visor flap above the front seat. Oh well. She finds a few corpses before starting the long walk back to the dance.

A group of masked teens moon her along the way, but Ella does get back safely to the dance. She arrives, in fact, exactly as her father pulls up. She tries telling him that she and her friends were attacked, but he is eerily calm. As he tells Ella that no one is ever going to harm or take her away(he must be related to the limo driver...), she starts to put the earring she picked up off the Farmer's floor back into her ear. Problem is, she still has both of her earrings in. OH NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! As she starts to realize that her mother WAS Tansy, her dad drives away, with her screaming the entire time...He probably made her watch The Caretaker on the backseat television.

Not bad, considering the low budget and lack of good kills. The humor was well-placed, the atmosphere was generally good, and the twist was pretty decent. I'd give The Caretaker 3 killer trees out of 5. It loses a point for botching almost every kill; I mean, Gutterballs may have sucked ass, but at least it delivered in the effects department.

So what was this week's lesson?
-Judd Nelson and Jennifer Tilly both need work. Desperately.
-You can kill around 10 people and still make a boring movie.
-Grapefruit pickers make awesome murder weapons!
-There should be a movie called The Farmer.

No clue what my next slasher movie will be. I have season 4 of Dexter coming in, but if anyone who reads this hasn't seen the previous seasons, it won't make a whole helluva lot of sense. Maybe I'll go finish watching Bones and do that one. Meh. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Piranha 3D!!!

Okay, not even close to a full, spoileriffic review, but go see Piranha 3D. It stars Jerry O'Connell(Sliders), Elisabeth Shue(Leaving Las Vegas, and still amazing looking!), Christopher Lloyd(Back to the Future) and Richard Dreyfuss(whose brief scene is all kinds of awesome, if you're a Jaws fan), and is one of the most funny, violent, crazy "popcorn" flicks I've seen in a loooong time. And see it in 3D, but don't bring a date. Trust me, it's the kind of movie you want to see with a group of rowdy friends. I really hope they follow up the last scene in it with a sequel, because it was a great punchline to the whole experience.

Now go!!! And shell out the extra buckos to see it in 3D. Trust me, you'll be laughing, jumping and having a total blast. For a 4th movie in a franchise(the original, Piranha 2: The Spawning, and a Showtime remake of the original all came first), it had a surprising amount of stuff going for it. And for fans of Alex Aja's films, it lives up to the gore he delivers in those. Sweet!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I don't think I've ever had such mixed feelings about a horror film, until seeing Gutterballs. On the one hand, it IS a gory, over-the-top slasher flick with a ton of kills and incredibly vivid special effects, and will linger in my thoughts for some time for how effective the imagery was. But the flip side of that is that it was a genuinely annoying, grating unpleasant experience. I'm really torn over whether to recommend it or not. As always, plenty of SPOILERS for the entire movie, so continue reading at your own risk.

I knew I was in over my head the very second the DVD started up. There was about a half-hours' worth of trailers for ONE movie, a slasher flick about a group of kids in the Middle East. Hell's Ground, I think was the title. Every time the trailer ended, ANOTHER ONE would start right up...for the SAME DAMN MOVIE. Geez, way to annoy your target audience, guys!

Then there's the studio's annoying logo...Watching this screeching, shaking logo EVERY time a new trailer would start really got on my nerves. First time, it was sort of funny. 23rd time? Not so much. And we haven't even reached the movie yet. Not a good way to begin this experience.

When the movie finally DID begin, the first 10-15 minutes were very difficult to understand, until I fiddled with the audio a bit. Basically though, the idea is something like this: 3 groups of losers are in a bowling alley. One group consists of "Preppie-Nerds-Frat Boys", the second is made up of "Girl Power!" types, with a cross-dresser among them. The 3rd group is a bunch of guys who stick up for the girls when the nerdy frat boys bother them. Whatever. They're all losers, so the 3 groups should have a lot in common. There's a friendly rivalry going on, but it quickly escalates, until the 3 groups start brawling. The guy who runs the alley stops the fight, and offers them all a chance to settle their differences non-violently: if they come back the following night, after hours, he will let them settle their differences with a bowl-off. Yeah, okay.

Later that night, a few things happen: First, we meet BBK, the Bowling Bag Killer, so named because of the bowling ball bag worn over their head as a mask. Yeah, nothing weird about THAT. BBK is shown sharpening bowling pins down to stakes, polishing bowling balls as weapons, etc.

Next, we see one of the girls in the "Female" group, Lisa, go back into the bowling alley. She apparently forgot her purse, and needed to give the movie a reason for existing. Inside, Lisa encounters the "Preppie-Nerds", and they decide to rape her. Yup, you read that right: a group of guys in a bowling alley gang-rape a chick for the hell of it. Well, not all of them: Patrick, the voice of reason in the group, refuses to go along.

So, there they are, raping away like the rapingest rapists in Rapetown, and it's pretty unpleasant. She gets thrown around, beaten up, shoved onto tables, you name it. One of the nerds even reveals that he's a bodybuilder. Uh, yeah. But when they all finish with her, they turn to Patrick. He refuses to take part in this, until the leader, Steve, pulls out a knife and threatens him with it. Patrick goes along with it, but then Steve reveals another stipulation in his plan: he wants Patrick to rape Lisa with a bowling pin. Grossed out yet? I was.

Patrick picks up the pin, prepares to insert it, but Steve insists he use the "wide" end. As expected, this severely mutilates the girl, and there is much blood. Leaving Lisa to suffer from her many injuries, the nerds high-tail it out of there.

The following night, the 2 rival groups(the prep-jocks and the "cool rebel" nicer guys return to bowl, with the girls there mostly to watch. They bowl in different rooms, and keep track of each other by way of the electronic scoreboard overhead. Also, a third name shows up on the scoreboard: BBK. Hmmmmm......

To be fair, BBK is a pretty cool killer. The bowling bag mask seems kind of stupid at first, but it is creepy. And the way he kills victims has a cool twist: every time he murders someone in the film, it shows up as a strike on the scoreboard. And the strike looks like a skull and crossbones. Funny, and original.

Now, any reasonable viewer of horror films would assume, at this point, that the killer would focus on the rapists, and maybe 1 or 2 of the "heroes" for flavor. Nope. There isn't any real rhyme or reason to the way victims are chosen. They exist merely to be killed in explicit ways. The first couple who die, for example, are killed while in the "69" position. The tranny is killed while on a toilet, then has his/her penis mutilated post-mortem. We aren't really able to develop any feelings for these characters, because we meet them and then they just die. And since many are killed during explicit sex acts, it almost feels like they were making a porno, ran out of money, and rewrote it as a horror film to get more cash-flow to finish the film.

The other problem is the dialogue. Every other word is "fuck". Seriously. I almost have to wonder if there actually WAS a script, or if they were just an improv group who decided to bring a camera to a bowling alley. It reminded me of the classic George Carlin bit where he imagines what it would sound like if we replaced the word "kill" with the F word in everyday cliches. Funny stuff. Funnier than this movie, at least.

Not that some of the deaths aren't clever: one in particular, involves bowling balls as murder weapons. The killer is holding 2 bowling balls, and brings both down on either side of his victim's head, crushing the skull. Another one, involving a talking ball-polisher, is impressive as well. I just wish there had been more of an emotional component to the plot, because most of the victims were people who didn't seem to deserve to die at the hands of BTK.

But die they do. People have their skulls caved in, their faces melted and polished off, they get stabbed with those bowling pin stakes(up the ass, no less!)--the effects are incredibly realistic, which is more than I can say about the acting. By the time the carnage is almost over, there's a very small group left: Lisa, the girl who was raped; Jamie, her boyfriend(who has a comb-pick thingy stuck in his hair during the entire movie...I was sorta hoping that his death would be some kind of "combing" accident); Patrick, the guy who tried to stick up for Lisa before she was raped; and the f-word spewing guy who runs the bowling alley.

Then we get the dumbest plot twist revelation scene since Scream: BBK is actually THREE people!!! Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!Wow, dramatic huh? Yup, BBK is: Lisa, getting revenge for the rape(which should have landed her in a hospital--how the hell is she walking around that night???; Patrick, one of the rapists(but it's okay, because he was the "nice" one...); and the guy who owns the place, because LISA'S DAD!!!!!! Dun dun DUNNNNNN, again.

Yeah, this girl who was there with all of her friends(and enemies) has apparently never introduced another living soul to her father, because no one knew who he was. Riiiight, and I own the Brooklyn Bridge. Anyway, she kills her dad as well as Patrick, and she and Jamie are the only survivors. Happy to be alive and well, they leave the bowling alley. But WAIT!! Lisa lets Jamie get a short distance ahead of her, before we see that she was concealing a gun. Before we see Jamie die as well, the movie fades to black.

The violence was impressive, on a technical level, but this was a pretty miserable movie experience otherwise. The only thing missing from this movie was the Troma logo. Oh, and the kitchen sink. 1 tree, for the torture I endured waiting for a good movie to appear. No strikes on this scoreboard.

So what do I walk away from Gutterballs with?
-Well, apparently "fuck" can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, a--
-There's a ton of potential in setting up a slasher flick in a bowling alley. Too bad this movie didn't get the memo.
-The best lines of dialogue can come from inanimate objects. (I wish I was kidding.)
-You can judge a movie by its production logo. God, that thing was annoying!

Next week: The Caretaker and Babysitter Wanted are coming in. If I see a single bowling ball in either one, I'm turning it off and mailing it right back!.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mountaintop Motel Massacre

I had a feeling that Mountaintop Motel Massacre was going to be a fun one...the trailer for the film has a montage of people just saying character names. So you get, like, 3 minutes of "Bobby?...Cindy?...Mr. Crenshaw?...Cujo?" Comedy gold, I tell ya. Plus, the Netflix sleeve describes it as a "drive-in gem". Works for me! Anyway, here it is: my recap of Mountaintop Motel Massacre. As always, SPOILERS ahoy, matey!

Right up front, I was pretty jazzed--we get a logo for New World Pictures. They were like the go-to guys for fun horror movies on home video in the '80's. Pin, House, Piranha(can't WAIT to see the remake!!!), CHUD, Dead Heat, was B-movie Heaven! They even had some pretty impressive cult classics under their belt, like Heathers and the first couple of Hellraiser films! Neat.

As usual, the credits are a "Who's Who?" of obscure nobodies. Best actor name award goes to "Major Brock". He's right up there with Private Embarassment, Colonel O'Corn, and General Disaster. They couldn't even do a Mindhunters and hire someone famous to do a glorified cameo. Dang.

The movie introduces us to its main character, Evelyn Chambers, right off the bat. A brief blurb of text tells us that she was committed to a mental hospital in 1978, but released 3 years later. Based on the genre, I'm a-gonna guess that was a bad decision. In the opening scene Evelyn is tending to a small garden, next to a weird, gruesome scarecrow. She freaks out when one of her daughter's pets gets into the garden, and kills it. The thing sprays more blood than Orson Welles' autopsy.

Lorrie, the daughter is every bit as nutty as her mother. As Mama is killing her pets, Lorrie is having a tea party with her dead daddy and her remaining pets, telling him that she thinks Evelyn needs to go back to the asylum. Evelyn catches her trying to summon her dead father via witchcraft and goes bonkers, destroying both the basement and her daughter in the process with a scythe.

She is horrified by what she's done, and drags her daughter upstairs to wrap her corpse up in a rug. Then she drops it off in the kitchen, makes it look like a suicide, and calls 911. A sheriff, 2 paramedics, and a local preacher(he apparently lives at the motel) all arrive at the scene. Everyone except the sheriff buys Evelyn's remorseful act. He waits until the day of Lorrie's funeral service to sneak around the motel and house, looking for signs of foul play. He doesn't find anything definitive, and decides to go get smashed.

We then meet our cast of oddball victims, all brought to the motel under weird circumstances: the preacher who was introduced in the previous scene befriends a handyman who needs a room for the night; a nervous young couple who eloped stop at the motel; and 2 teenaged girls who had car trouble are picked up by a sleazy smooth-talker(who looks like the love-child of Harry Anderson and "Gopher" from The Love Boat) on his way to the motel after the road is blocked by a fallen tree. I know NONE of their names, though I'm pretty sure they were all mentioned in that dumb scene in the trailer.

Using a series of trapdoors and underground tunnels, Evelyn brings each guest her own brand of "room service". In the eloped couple's room, for example, she leaves a sack containing a poisonous snake; in the room shared by the preacher and the black handyman, she delivers a swarm of insects; and in the room shared by the "record producer" and the 2 girls, she simply emerges through the trapdoor into their bathroom, where she stabs one of the girls to death and then drags away the body.

When she fails to join the planned 3-way, her friend and Gopher(who admits he just wanted a 3-way, to the shock and surprise of NOBODY) enter the bathroom and find that she has decided to re-decorate the room with her own blood. No sign of her, though.

At the same time, the newlyweds are planning their own night of debauchery, interrupted by the husband getting bitten by that gosh-darn snake. As his cheek starts swelling the size of a rhino, the wife panics and runs out to get help. She finds the menage a duh couple, and they all agree that this movie would be a great double feature with Motel Hell.

That brings us back to the 2 old guys. First, the preacher. He's passed out, drunk on his own brand of "holy water"(I never knew "Johnny Walker" was the 13th apostle...) when Evelyn comes up through the floor. With maniacal glee, she releases a small army of rats into the room, before ducking back down into her tunnel. The preacher is pretty oblivious, until one of the rats gives him a small nip. He wakes up, freaks out, then does the most awesome thing yet in this movie--he kills the rats by bashing them with his bible. Fan-friggin'-tastic.

The handyman is then subjected to Evelyn's NEXT gross-out: bugs. The guy wakes up after they begin crawling all over his body and face. He freaks the hell out, and meets everyone else. The sleazy non-producer of music, meanwhile, reaches Evelyn's office and searches for her. He finds the place empty, of course, but is creeped out by the feeling that he has walked into the wrong porno. Smart guy. If he plays his cards right, maybe Evelyn can help him out with his 3-way.

While Gopher's playing detective, the preacher is attacked by Evelyn. She basically was hiding in his room, waiting for the handyman and Gopher to leave them alone. She stabs him through the chest, but seems remorseful. Weird.

Gopher goes back to Menage a Duh, and tries to make her feel better by revealing that he's in advertising, not showbiz. Big shock. While he's baring his soul, the newlyweds discover that the snake bite is getting worse: his vision's going downhill, and he's not very clear-headed. I'd say that makes him an excellent candidate for re-writing the script.

The handyman decides to get outta Dodge, but not before taking a massive dump. As he's sitting there trying to squeeze a loaf out, he sees one of Evelyn's trapdoors start to open. Thinking quickly, he slams it shut and uses his tools to nail it shut. FINALLY, someone has a good idea!

He pays a visit to the reverend's room, but finds only a blood-stained rat in there. Next, he knocks on Gopher's door, to show him the trapdoors. They decide that the best course of action would be to find and nail down the ones in all the other units., which freaks Menage a Duh out. She agrees to lock the door and wait for them to return, though, so she can't be THAT freaked out.

The guys go to Evelyn's office to take a look around, and find that, like most of the motel units, the walls are a shrine to the dead daughter, Lorrie. They also find all of the cages and jars the creepy critters have come from. After nailing most of the trapdoors shut, the Einstein brothers decide that they should leave one open, so that they can go in after her. Yeah. Whatever. They check back in with the newlyweds to make sure he hasn't died yet, then leave to re-open one of the trapdoors.

The NANOSECOND they leave, Evelyn pops up in the honeymoon suite. She stabs her scythe through the bride's face, then yanks it out of her to attack the husband. He tries to fight back, but is no match for her in his weak state. She plunges her blade through his heart and sneaks away before the Clue Crew can return. (that's pretty funny, by the way: when the 2 guys burst back in, Gopher makes this goofy-as-heck face and starts waving his flashlight around at random. I almost want to assume it's from some blooper reel, and someone just added it in by mistake)

The Dorknamic Duo agree that their best plan is to go down into the tunnels after Evelyn. Gopher goes back to his room first, to put on his bulletproof sweater and tell Menage a Duh to lock herself in his car, the car with the World's Bulkiest Phone. Feeling safer with his lucky sweater on, Gopher descends into the tunnel. The plan is simple: He goes in on his side of the tunnel, the handyman goes in on his side, and they try to trap Evelyn between them. For a 3-way. Excuse me, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

While Menage a Duh hides out in the car, Gopher and the handyman start out on their mission. The black guy, in a long-standing slasher tradition, is the next to die. Don't ask why, it's just how it's done, dagnabbit! Anyway, Evelyn chops off the black guy's hand. This reveals the first major plot twist: the black guy was a ZOMBIE! How else do you explain the fact tht his severed hand is GREY?

The sheriff finds the girl in the car and "rescues" her, by which I mean he removes her from the relative safety of the car and forces her to lead him back to her room. She shows him the hatch in her floor, and down he goes. In under 2 minutes he manages to crack the case, finding the room with all of the bodies. Excellent work, Columbo. Interestingly, there are also numerous pictures of evil pig-heads, making me wonder once again about the similarities between this and Motel Hell.

Trying to avoid capture, Evelyn hides behind a wall in a secret room. The room is filled with her daughter's "art", and Lorrie's ghost even shows up for a visit. Unfortunately the sheriff breaks up the reunion, and Evelyn tries to kill him. In the process, she gets her blade stuck in a ceiling plank. Taking advantage of her distraction, the sheriff tries to grab her arms but she fights back, and during their fight, she slams into a wall. This loosens up the wooden beams, and she winds up getting slashed across the throat by her own weapon. Evelyn dies, but not before a final "jump" scare.

The movie ends with an odd final scene: After rejoining the young couple, the sheriff needlessly upsets Menage a Duh by telling them that they are the only survivors of the MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE!!! As they all get into the police car, we see someone running through the woods, just an unknown pair of feet. It turns out to be Lorrie's ghost. She shows up before they drive off, and seems to make the car get stuck in a muddy pothole...but they get unstuck and drive off anyway. Effective use of ghost-powers, Lorrie!

Anyway, as they drive past the motel, the "Vacancy" sign turns on. For some reason, this got me snickering. I mean, the sheriff didn't exactly call for back-up or rope off the crime scene. Can you imagine what the reaction's going to be for the next tired motorist who decides to stop there??? Plus, who the heck is left to check anyone in, Lorrie's ghost? She can't even stop the previous 3 dingbats from leaving!

So, there you have it: a strange ending to a strange movie, and my sanity (mostly) remains intact! 4 killer trees out of 5, just for the weirdness. Mountaintop Motel Massacre taught me:

-That I can watch a movie 2x, and STILL barely recall anyone's names afterwards! Guess I should've paid more attention to the trailer, huh?
-Ghosts just want to fulfill their dreams of being small-business owners.
-Gopher and Harry Anderson had a love child!
-I need to see Motel Hell again, and soon! Hell yeah!

Next up: A slasher movie set in a bowling alley. Gutterballs, here I come!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Watcher

There are some actors who should never, ever do horror films: Keanu Reeves is one of those. Consider the sampling of his work in Dracula he was silly and his accent kept wavering between "Englishman" and "Surfer Dude"; in River's Edge he was bland and bored-looking; and in this week's disaster, he just looks like he walked into the wrong audition. The disaster is called The Watcher.

We have James Spader as the hero, a washed-up profiler who is obsessed with catching Reeves, the killer. Spader's sometimes pretty good in this one, as it was made before his eyes started falling out of their sockets on The Practice. The dude has NOT aged well, is all I'm saying. Anyway, Reeves likes to observe and study his victims meticulously before the kill, even to the point of befriending them. He then sends pictures of them to Spader's character, just to yank his chain.

Right off the bat, this movie doesn't scare me. The first time we see Ted "Theodore" Logan--errr, I mean "Keanu", he's dancing around, prancing and shimmying in a way that made me double-check the Netflix sleeve, to verify that it wasn't a comedy. Thanks to this scene, I will now never be able to enjoy the song "Dragula". Thanks, Keanu. He's just not scary. Whenever he's onscreen, I expect Alex Winter to show up, so they can toss around a few "Excellent!"'s. I haven't found him scary since he tried Shakespeare. Geez.

And Spader's good, when he's subtle. But in some scenes, the guy is so busy chewing the scenery, I can see the bite-marks on the walls. As the profiler, he's certainly no William Petersen in Manhunter. Heck, he's not even up to par with LL Cool J in Mindhunters. Oh, and to round out the cast, we have Ernie "I was the black guy in Ghostbusters" Hudson as Spader's boss, and Marissa Tomei(an actress I usually find appealing, but she looks sickly in the early scenes in this role...maybe she WAS sick?) as Spader's shrink. See, Spader sees a shrink because the killer just keeps following him from city to city, sending him pictures and messages designed to keep him on the case. Spader's girlfriend/wife/whatever-who-cares was one of Keanu's victims, and it left Spader deeply troubled.

Reeves' first victim(in the film, at least) is a young clerk in an electronics store. He takes several pictures of her, which he then sends to Spader as clues. I wish every killer could be so thoughtful! Of course, by the time Spader sees the pictures, the girl is already captured by Keanu and murdered. He even calls Spader's 500-ton-looking cell phone when Spader examines the crime scene.

Oh, and that's the other thing: He's in constant contact with Spader. Always calls him to chat, follows him everywhere he goes--heck, they even nearly capture him at a Chinese restaurant, because Spader "senses" that he's outside watching.

The script is as generic as they get: we see scenes where Spader "views" the killer in visions; we get the obligatory "we know Spader is single and a workaholic, because his fridge has one vegetable, a can of beer, and a box of Arm & Hammer in it" scene(seriously, I'm a single guy, and I never have a problem remembering to buy basic groceries...Hollywood, can we PLEASE retire this dumb cliche?); there's even a scene where the cop inadvertantly comes face to face with his prey without ever realizing it. Not even 45 minutes in, I feel like I've seen this movie about a million times before!

*deep breath* So Keanu begins stalking his next victim, a homeless chick whom he charms by "waltzing" with her on the sidewalk. Um yeah, nothing abnormal about THAT. She seems to buy his act as a nice guy, and he sends several pics of her to Spader to re-motivate him. But the night of the planned murder, she decks Keanu and makes a run for safety. While she's trying not to get killed by Neo, Spader is canvassing the streets with her picture, asking for help in locating her.

Spader finally finds a guy who knows the girl, but he apparently wants her to die, because he runs away when he recognizes her in the photo. After a generic foot chase, Spader makes the guy take him to her "spot", the place she sleeps at nght. Of course, she's been running all this time, so she wouldn't necessarily still be RIGHT where he left her, but eh, whatever. Keanu has found her in her hiding place and strangled her with piano wire(another serial killer cliche...piano players must be the most dangerous guys alive), so it's a pretty moot point.

Spader and Reeves then engage in the most tedious foot- and car-chase in the history of films. They climb stairs, they run across rooftops, they ride around in stolen cars---when did this become Grand Theft Auto??? Someday I hope somebody takes this chase scene and sets it to "Yakkety Sax", that song used in "The Benny Hill Show". Get on that, YouTube!

This all culminates in an explosion at a gas station. Reeves escapes, but Spader goes home and suffers from one of his crippling migraines or something, because his boss finds him passed out in front of his neglected fridge. He's rushed into the hospital, where Marisa visits him, and we discover that Keanu has planted a hidden microphone on her. He listens to the recording of the hospital visit and decides to plan his endgame.

He abducts Marisa and the kidnapping is featured on the news. Spader then realizes how much she resembles the woman who was burnt to death previously. Checking himself out of the hospital, Spader goes to the cemetary the woman was buried at, and meets Keanu there. They discuss their past, and Keanu agrees to take Spader to see his damsel in distress.

He has her tied up in a warehouse, surrounded by fuel and explosives. Spader sits through the usual, long-winded exposition scene, then wounds Keanu. Of course this sets off a chain reaction of fire, sparks and the usual fireworks show, and as Keanu burns alive, Spader and Tomei escape by breaking a window and jumping. All 3 fall into the harbor these factories are always built near(in movies, at least), and as our heroes are fished out of the water, Keanu's corpse also is fetched, depriving me of even a half-assed attempt at a final scare. BOO! HISS!

Despite the simplistic approach, The Watcherwasn't as awful as most of the crap I watch. There was at least 1 cute victim(Jessie, the homeless chick), some good actors(Tomei and Hudson, mostly), and an average-ish body count(around 5, that we actually see--Keanu included--though supposedly Keanu killed many more as he moved from city to city). Not the best by far, but there are many that could be worse. 3 killer trees out of 5.

What has The Watcher left me with?
-Keanu should be a serial killer...he's so hard to take seriously, he'd probably get more victims than Jason and Freddy combined.\
-Marisa Tomei is like the girl in that one Seinfeld episode, the one where she looked super hot in some lighting, and a crone the rest of the time.
-Both Reeves and Spader went to the Shatner School of Dramatic Emoting. Ugh.
-Some homeless chicks are majorly HOT!

Next movie up is Mountaintop Motel Massacre, sometime in the middle of the week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Forest

Well, after the fiasco of dealing with The Sorority's crappy DVD, I was a little apprehensive about getting another low-budget slasher. However, The Forest at least PLAYED on my laptop, so there's already 1 point in its' favor. The bad news? No sound. *(see footnote after the recap)
SPOILERS follow, possibly...but only if I'm the world's luckiest guesser...

Okay, so I'm going to have to GUESS what's going on.....ready? The silent movie begins with a couple at what looks like a national park, hiking. The credits are shown as they hike. Exciting. Oh, the movie stars such luminaries as Stafford Morgan(wasn't he a savings & loan?), Tony Gee(I hope he married Louise Whiz!), and Corky Pigeon. I shit you not, that's someone's actual name. Dear god, this one may destroy my fragile mind.

The woman hears a noise. Lucky for her. I never get to! We get a few POV shots of the killer watching the couple. Again, the woman hears "something", or maybe her Spidey sense is tingling. Who knows? As they (hilariously!) decide to hike faster, the killer runs behind them from one hiding spot to another. Looking constipated, the woman freaks out. The guy tells her to go behind tree and use a pine cone to wipe with I guess. She begs him for HIS feminine hygiene products and he agrees. She stomps off, and he gets a knife to the gut THE SECOND she goes offscreen. Or maybe the crotch. He's wearing so much friggin' denim, it's hard to tell.

Debbie Downer comes back, and finds the body. Increasing the frown to Chloe-on-24-like proportions, she panics and begins running. The killer apparently has very little depth perception, as he stabs a tree instead of her. Then, in a move that would have impressed Houdini, our killer grabs her from behind a tree, while showing her the knife IN FRONT OF the tree. And she couldn't outrun this rocket scientist WHY??? He shows her the knife before stabbing her to death.

The movie then switches to a montage of traffic jams. Again, no joke. We get to watch scene after endless scene of cars bumper-to-bumper in heavy traffic. Fun times. 2 guys who look like Robert Reed(the dad on The Brady Bunch) and Rick Springfield(has-been rockstar) or maybe Adrian Zmed(T.J. Hooker) are sitting in the traffic jam. Mike Brady has his arm on the back of pseudo-Zmed's seat, making me wonder if it actually IS Reed(although he played the family man on Brady, Reed was gay in real-life). The guys are apparently NOT them, because they pick up their wives and take them to Papa Gino's.

At the restaurant, no one notices Mike Brady's head smoking. They're too busy pretending to give a crap about something one of the girls is saying. She looks like a cross between Kirsten Dunst and a Muppet. The other girl tries flirting with Mike Brady, and he just tells her "something suddenly came up". Hey, no sound and it's my recap: they say what I tell 'em to. The girls get really drunk, probably after realizing this movie will bring their acting careers to a grinding halt, and Mike Brady demonstrates how he used to put Bobby to bed.

Breaking your date's ribs is apparently not a good idea, because the next scene shows the girls packing their suitcases to try their luck as showgirls instead of Hollywood starlets. ZmedHead kisses Muppet-girl, and the other one stares dreamily into Brady's eyes while reminding herself to get a blood test done the minute she gets home. The SECOND the girls leave, the 2 guys hold hands and plan a trip together. Geez, what the hell kinda movie did I rent? They have the most boring car-chase in history, which ends with the guys giving up the chase to stop at a gas station. It's probably the gas station most of them ended up working at after making this movie.

At the gas station the guys run into Andy Richter's dad. He agrees to look over their job applications if the whole "movie star" thing doesn't pan out. While the guys are re-thinking their future, the girls(let's call 'em Thelma and Louise....Thelma can be the Muppet.) arrive at THE FOREST! Louise puts on a vest made out of Leslie Nielsen's back-hair, and off they go. As the guys are FINALLY finishing their job interviews, Thelma and Louise walk past the tree that the Keebler elves all live in. They climb rocks, they jump over logs--hey, I guess all those feminine hygiene ads were right! Although I can't hear the dialogue, I'm willing to bet it went something like:

THELMA: Where the hell are we?????
LOUISE: i dunno, the film crew left about 3 hours ago. If cell phones ever get invented, maybe we can call a cab.

The guys end up on one of those narrow, winding roads that only ever seem to exist in this type of movie. They somehow find the girls' vehicle and park next to it, as the girls are setting up camp waaaaay the eff away. The guys put on backpacks and pretend to be David Naughton and Griffin Dunne in An American Werewolf In London. They meet the poor man's Burt Reynolds, moonlighting as a State Trooper, and he looks about as useless as the REAL Burt. Having no trail to follow or way to let the girls know they've arrived, the guys decide to just start walking in a random direction. That works out about as well as you'd imagine.

Cue nightfall. The girls are discussing the possibility of becoming lesbian cave hermits, if their boyfriends don't arrive soon. While they dreamily contemplate throwing each other into the fire they built, 2 ghost-children, a boy and a girl, show up. Again, I'm not screwing with your minds, this actually happens. They look like refugees from the Little House On the Prairie set. Who are they? Beats me. The boy apparently wants to have a little camp-orgy, but the ghost-girl doesn't seem into it. He tells her about his blue balls, and Thelma and Louise figure out that they're not alone.

ANOTHER ghost shows up, this time a woman. She has a scratch where Bill Clinton's desk apparently hit her forehead. Wow, what a crappy way to die. She warns Thelma and Louise about accepting internships in Washington and POOF! she vanishes. The girls decide to start attending AA meetings and try to leave their campsite, but are blocked by a moth. Oooooh, scary!

The guys get tired of wandering around in the dark, and decide to just let the killer get the girls. At the same time, the ghost-kids go talk to their dad, who turns out to be Will Sasso's version of Kenny Rogers. He picks up a knife and decides to take care of the girls, all while singing "Kill the Wabbit" under his whiskey-strong breath. After holding a knife above one of the girls for about a fortnight, she FINALLY wakes up and sees...the ghost-kids again. Damn. They warned Thelma and Louise, dagnabbit!! No fair!

Thelma and Louise decide the best course of action would be to stand up and just look around like the 2 useless meatbags they are. Louise runs off after a Shatneresque scene of emoting and rubbing ghost-blood off her forehead. Give that gal an Oscar....Mayer weiner.

Kenny chases one girl, but she outwits him with her knack for general stupidity. He goes after the one who stayed behind instead, making no attempt to hide or sneak up on her. She somehow STILL manages to miss seeing him approach RIGHT BESIDE HER. She does finally notice the crazy old man holding the knife, and reacts by just standing there. Dingbat. He stabs AT her several times, but I guess we have to use our imaginations, because other than a few fake blood-stains, there doesn't seem to be a mark on her. Even while slitting her throat the camera switches to a different angle. Laaaaame.

Louise sees her die and decides to run around, in the dark, in THE FOREST the killer knows like the back of his hand. Smart. Kenny chases her, and the chase is so long, they go from night to day. Rather than let him get her, Louise jumps down a waterfall and makes a swim for the opposite embankment. Kenny watches her for a minute, then chooses to go back to fetch Thelma before pursuing her.

The guys(remember them?) are still standing in the middle of nowhere, ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over a compass. A COMPASS. Dumbasses. It starts raining, and I pause to wonder if the movie heard me wish bad luck upon them. The dingleberries find shelter in a cave, and it's the cave Kenny lives in. OF COURSE. They briefly grope each other's chests, only to find the ghost-kids watching them. Before they can traumatize the kids too much, Kenny comes back. He decides to invite them to dinner, apparently forgetting that he's in a slasher movie.

While chowing down on Thelma's ribs, Kenny tells them about his plan to open a chain of restaurants, and call them Kenny Roger's Roasters, using campers as the main course. Wisely, the guys decide to turn down his offer and refuse to invest in his business plan. In a weirdly placed flashback scene, Kenny is shown walking in on his wife and her lover, a repairman of some kind. They were having an affair, and had been forcing his kids into the bedroom closet while they screwed each others' brains out.

He chokes the wife to death, and knocks her forehead into the bedside table, which explains the blood on her forehead as a ghost. He then goes to stab the lover to death, but they end up brawling instead. In a chase scene that defies logic, the boyfriend keeps escaping the killer, only to find the killer has somehow managed to get ahead of him again, each time brandishing a new weapon. HUH???

Whatever. The killer eventually corners the wife's lover and forces him up against a circular saw, imbedding the teeth of it into the guy's chest. The kids watch him bury the bodies, and then he drags them away, presumably to kill them as well. Hey, I'm doing pretty damn good for a guy with no sound.

The Idiot Brothers decide to spend the night. Because no one would refuse shelter from a guy who just told them that he murdered his family and then became a cannibal. Yeah, pull the OTHER leg, movie. Further solidifying my belief that they are Robert Reed and Adrian Zmed, the 2 doofuses (doofii?) sleep together on the floor in adjoining sleeping bags. They even have a very "Brady" talk before bed. Yeesh.

They somehow survive the night, and pack up early the next morning to leave. Ol' Whatsherface also wakes up the next morning, after having slept under a rock. Good hiding place, soon-to-be-dead-chick!

The guys waste more screentime searching the rocks for the girls. Why the rocks? Who knows? Who cares? They eventually find the campsite, with no sign of Thelma or Louise. They backtrack to Kenny's cave, which is also now empty. Louise, while aimlessly wandering around in THE FOREST!!!!!!, sees the ghost kids again. They distract her long enough for Kenny to catch up, because that just makes no effing sense in the least. (At this point, my laptop still didn't give me the movie's volume, but an annoying whistle started up. Great.)

Anyway, Louise slides down a hill. She hides just as Kenny shows up, and she chooses rocks and trees that don't conceal her very much at all. I say let Kenny kill the chick. Do the world a favor, Kenny. Kill a dumbass, and save us from this cheap-ass movie. The movie then grinds to a halt so we can watch the guys do laundry. I swear.

The killer has found Louise, and while she's hiding under some rocks, he's sitting above them, waiting for her to emerge. She must've made a sound or something, because he stops gnawing on her friend's flesh to look around a bit. Dude, you got some Thelma stuck in yer teeth.

Mike Brady leaves, probably to get help, and leaves Zmed-for-brains at the campsite. In case the girls come back, I guess. Oh, and ZmedHead now has a headband. ZmedHead, I dub thee Rambozo!

Brady injures himself in the dumbest way possible and has a piece of bone poking up through his leg. He ain't going anywhere. The ghost-kids meet up with Louise, probably to discuss why late '70's/early '80's fashion sucked so much. Kenny hears them and decides to keep tracking his prey.

Brady stops hop-limping away, so that he can have himself a good, manly cry. Night falls, and Rambozo waits for someone to find him. "Someone" turns out to be the killer's wife. She freaks out Rambozo before vanishing. Rambozo is further unsettled by the approach of the killer, even though they appear to be in different time zones(Rambozo's scenes are at night, by the fire; Kenny's scenes are in daylight.)

Kenny does exactly what he did before: he walks out in plain view, and waits for his victim to miss seeing him. Luckily, our guy is(barely) smarter than Thelma was. They scuffle, and both men drop their weapons. Rambozo seems to have the upper hand, until they both fall in the water. The cannibal drowns him.

While wandering around, Louise encounters the kids again. She lets them lead her to safety, and instead they take her right to the spot where the killer is preparing to cut up Rambozo. Nice kids. She freaks out, and the killer hears her. Before he can kill her though, the kids manage to stop him. They then help her to get away, hopefully to find Cryin' Mike Brady.

Using a heavy tree branch as a makeshift crutch, Brady eventually falls down. The killer sees him fall, and begins making his approach. They have a showdown, but Brady is caught off-balance and the killer tries to focus his attacks on the injured leg. With Brady helpless on the ground, the killer swoops in for the finishing move, but Brady rolls away at the last second. Quick recap:A guy evades a mass-murdering hillbilly cannibal by ROLLING SLOWLY AWAY. Then we see Louise grab one of the dropped knives. She lunges at the killer, who sees her as his dead wife and panics. She plunges the knife into his chest, killing him and ending his cannibal murder spree.

The kids show up one last time to say goodbye to the couple. Then the ghost-Mom shows up. Geez, this is turning into Scooby-friggin'-Doo. They tell her the kids are gone, and she whooshes back to the killer's cave. As she watches, he hugs the 2 kids and they all vanish. THE END. During the credits, they show the now-deserted cave, then a scene out in a field. Wow. 1 and a half trees out of 5. The 1's a gift, as thanks for the lack of audio. I can only imagine how dumb this shit would've been if I had to have the full experience....

So, what has this week's crapfest taught me?
-Deafness can be a blessing.
-A movie about a cannibal who slaughters and eats about 8 people can somehow be boring as hell, and almost completely devoid of good kills.
-Adrian Zmed and Robert Reed reallllllly dug each other. Yikes!

I think the next movie coming in is The Watcher, but I'm not going through the hassle of my crappy wireless signal to double-check, so don't hold me to that. See you next week!

*(a quick footnote---towards the end, my laptop overheated and shut down. When I rebooted, the sound on the movie worked again, so I rewatched this thing. While I messed up some of the story with my guesswork---Brady and the "Louise" are married and on the brink of a divorce---frankly, my guesses were more fun than the actual film...Some of the other stuff I got wrong as well, obviously...The kids died of "sadness"? The guy WASN'T their father?? If this POS ever gets remade, they need to re-write most of the "plot", and make the kills more interesting.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Sorority

Well, the latest slasher flick to cross my path is The Sorority, and "wow". Just "wow". My laptop's DVD player didn't even want to load it up. I shoulda taken that as a sign from God. This was bad, man. Reeeeeeeeeeeeal bad. And only about 5 minutes long.

Filmed on what looks like someone's cell phone (this is one SERIOUSLY filmy, gauzy image...did they film it through a box of tissues?), this monstrosity makes Troma films look epic in their grandeur. We open on a law enforcement standoff or raid, I dunno. Everyone looks like they're playing "Cops & Robbers". They find a charred corpse, and we get the opening credits that look like they were done on a Windows 95 movie making program. After that, we open on a scene where a woman is stumbling around the Temple of Doom. We even get to see 2 cult members in CVS-budget Halloween robes at an altar. There's some silly cartoony lightning, and the pair of figures reveal that they're both somewhat-attractive-in-a-bad-porno-kinda way. The woman we saw earlier takes out a switchblade and cuts loose another girl who was some kind of sacrifice, I'm assuming.

After making the laziest attempt at an escape EVER, they just sort of stop so that the "victim" can reveal that they all duped the rescuer, so that SHE could be captured instead. Riiiiiiiight. Anyway, the screen turned yellow, then blue, then crapped out on me. I tried the Windows Media Player, the Interactual DVD player, a Quicktime Player, and 1 or 2 other freeware DVD players before finally giving up. Zero trees, just for wasting my time. If anyone out there has ever actually seen this, let me know what I missed, will ya?

I re-configured my Netflix queue so that I don't have to worry if I get a random dud DVD every now and then. So, my next SAW should be The Forest, barring any glitches. If not, I have 3 other immediately following it on my list: The Watcher, Season of the Hunted, and Gutterballs. We'll play it by ear, mmmmm'kay?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don't Go In the House

Remember the double-feature movie Grindhouse? Great movie get 2 hysterically cheesy movies spoofing the kinds of crap films you'd see at a drive-in, plus several ridiculous movie trailer spoofs. Well, the reason I bring up Grindhouse is because one of the trailers, Don't..., is a direct spoof of the horror genre of "Don't" movies. You know, like Don't Look in the Basement, Don't Answer the Phone, and today's cinematic "gem", Don't Go In the House.

The story is about young, crazy Donny. He's a troubled loner who is obsessed with fire. As the movie starts, Donny is at work(some kind of factory job), and he inserts a flammable can of spray into a furnace. A co-worker opens the furnace door, and BOOM--he lights up like a Roman candle. While others come to the man's aid, Donny just stands back and watches. Later, when confronted about the "accident", a supervisor asks him directly why he didn't cover the guy in something to douse the flames, and Donny's reply is, "I did...I covered him in fire." Nice guy.

From here, we start getting into a pretty blatant Psycho rip-off: Donny hears the voice of "Mother" telling him what to do. As Donny grew up, Mother apparently punished him by burning him on their stove, usually for sex-related "crimes". (sound familiar?) When he gets home, he even offers to make her some tea. Just like Norman Bates. In one of the funniest scenes I've ever witnessed, he "finds" her dead and has a reaction that even William Shatner would call hammy acting. (I'm still not entirely convinced he didn't kill her himself)After failing to revive her, Donny hears another voice, which informs him that he is now free to do anything he wants. His first major act of freedom is to listen to shitty Disco music at full blast, smoke a cigarette, lounge around...and hear his mother's voice screaming at him. Just like Norman, his mother haunts him.

He calls in sick to work and buys himself a flame-retardant suit. Then he reels in his first victim, a young florist. He buys flowers from her just as she's closing her shop, then offers her a ride when she misses her bus. Of course, instead of driving her home or to the next bus stop, he takes her to his house. Didn't she see the title? DON'T GO IN THE HOUUUUUUSE!!!!! Well, she does. Dumbass. As she wanders around the house getting progressively more and more freaked out, Donny tries to persuade her to stay. When she resists he knocks her out, strips her naked, and chains her up inside a fireproof room. Throw in a rose ceremony, and it looks like a standard episode of The Bachelor. (nice body, btw...I guess in the 70's there were far fewer "No nudity" clauses for movie starlets...) Donny splashes her with gas and sets her on fire. As Paris Hilton would say, "That's hot!"

His next victim is a woman stranded by the side of the road. We never even get to know her name. After he picks her up, her next scene is as a burnt-up corpse. Immediately following her murder, he kidnaps a woman at a convenience store and brings her home to "meet mother" and the other victims. At least this one has a name: Linda.

Before he can finish off Linda, Donny gets a call from Bobby, a co-worker. Bobby tells him that if he keeps missing work, his ass is grass. He must have killed Linda offscreen, because we see a LOT of scenes of Donny having nightmares of his victims coming after him, hallucinations of them appearing on stairwells and in doorways, and, of course, more scenes of Mother' s corpse being all corpse-y. Feeling lost and confused(join the party, Donald!), Donny goes to church. He shows the local priest what his mother did to his arms as a child, and the priest shows genuine concern for his health, both physical and mental. He even offers to hear Donny's confession.

Feeling better than he has in a looooong time, Donny goes home and asks his mother's corpse for forgiveness. Donny calls his ol' pal Bobby. Bobby is at home and surrounded by family, so of course he proposes that Donny meet up with him later to have a group-grope with some easy chicks. OF COURSE! Donny agrees to meet them...BAD idea!!

First, Donny goes out and buys himself a 3-piece suit and new shoes. Looking like Juan Epstein(any Welcome Back, Kotter fans?), Donny shows up at the Disco to meet Bobby and their "dates". While Bobby is dancing with his, Donny is having the MACE(Most Awkward Conversation Ever!)...or he was, until his date left to go dance with another guy. Having flashbacks of what his mother did to his arms, Donny accidentally burns a woman who wants to dance with him. He flees the nightclub and picks up 2 drunk women.

He tells the 2 drunks that he was mugged by, and he beat up, 3 tough guys. He suggests the girls come back to his house, and they idiotically agree. He then lures one of the girls into his "burn room"...

Meanwhile, Bobby tracks down the priest Donny talked to earlier. He tells him about the nightclub fire, and asks the Father to go with him to Donny's house to reason with him. Worried, they both agree that it would be best to find Donny before anything else happens. DUH.

The other girl that came home with Donny begins to worry when she can't find her friend, Suzanne. She wanders through the house, calling her name, unaware that Donny is right behind her. When she finds the room with all the bodies, Donny grabs her before she can scream. *gulp*

By this time, Bobby and the priest have arrived. They knock, but of course Donny is upstairs yelling at his corpse-harem. While Donny is changing his clothes, they break down the front door and hear a woman screaming. They follow the sound and find both Suzanne and the other girl in the fire-proof room, still very much alive. The manage to untie the frightened women, and start to lead them to safety, but the priest hears a noise upstairs and decides to stay behind. Sloooowly creeping up the stairs(another scene reminiscent of Psycho), he encounters Donny, dressed in his asbestos suit. Donny introduces the poor guy to his flamethrower, and makes Chicken Fried Father.

Bobby manages to throw a blanket over the priest to try to put him out, and now Donny is like a man on a mission: he moves from room to room, flamethrower in hand, until he reaches the Smoking Room(heh, sorry, I couldn't resist). All the while, his mother is shadowing him, but he barely seems to register her ghostly presence. He instead tells all of the voices, mother and others, that he's done listening to them. Of course, he coulda realized this epiphany BEFORE he decided to start setting fire to the house, but hey, he's the expert here.

Anyway, the grand finale is completely gonzo-crackers-bananas: Mom, his victims and the "friendly" voices all rebel against him. Seriously. The corpses all rise, Mom included, and kill Donny in the most mundane way possible. The movie then gives us an "epilogue", where we see another little boy being abused by his parent. Ooh, do I smell a sequel? Nope, that's just Donny becoming a Crispy Critter. 3 trees out of 5, for the ho-hum presentation of what SHOULD HAVE been the most crazy-ass movie ever seen by human eyes.

What have I learned from Don't Go In the House?
-Not to go in the house...see? I paid attention!
-The '70's had the worst music and fashions EVER.
-You can keep multiple charred and/or decomposed bodies in your house without EVER noticing the smell. I swear, scout's honor!

Next time: something called The Sorority. Don't tell Donny!