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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dead Tone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what did Dead Tone teach me about the genre?

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

-All guys named Cal deserve bad, gory deaths.

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

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I don't know why, but Netflix really, REALLY doesn't want me to see Splatter University or Blood Song. So, while they make me wait another week, this week I'm watching Strangeland, a strange film starring(and written by) Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. Did it make me scream, "We're not gonna take it!"? Find out in SPOILER-Land!

The story begins in that magical, mysterious time the historians call "The Late Nineties". So right off the bat, you can assume that the film's version of technology is already outdated and ill-informed. This wouldn't be so bad, except that the film's killer uses the Internet to lure his victims to his lair. And no offense to Hollywood, but their view of things like the Internet is usually pretty damn stupid. Lawnmower Man, anyone?

Okay, enough editorializing. As the film begins, we see lots of chains, hooks and handcuffs during the opening credits. After they end, we hear something that actually made me nostalgic: a noisy modem hissing and beeping at a sluggish speed(probably 14.4 bps, given that this came out in 1998. Yeesh!). 2 girls log into a forum simply called Teen Chat, which means that everyone there besides them is probably a middle-aged man in stained underwear, with a massively receding hairline.

The girl typing, Genevieve, calls her friend Tiana over to her desktop. Together, they watch as a lobbyful of idiots all try to cyber with each other. Tiana sees that Gen is chatting up someone named Captain Howdy, and asks a number of questions about the chat that lead me to believe that she could very well have been raised Amish. Or maybe feral. Oh, and Gen's screenname is "MissXXX151"...REALLY? A high school girl wants anonymous guys to think that she's into triple-x rated porn? Okay, quick poll: who thinks I should shut this off and just wait a few days for a (hopefully) less-stupid movie?

Dammit, why was I the only vote in favor of that? Fine. But you guys have to chip in for my eventual mental healthcare costs. Geez, Tiana just asked what an "IM" was. Shoot me. The 2 girls arrange a private chat with Captain Howdy, then make plans to go meet him. Good. Masybe this'll turn out to be a 5-minute movie.

The next scene finds us in the presence of Mike, a hard-working detective on the trail of a serial killer. Gee, I wonder if it's Captain Howdy? His wife, Toni, points out that their daughter Genevieve didn't come home after going out the previous night with Tiana. Toni leaves to answer the phone, while Mike sits at his daughter's desk and accidentally boots up her computer, which is the size of a T-Rex, and even more of a dinosaur than the T-Rex ever was. Man, that rig is bigger than my last apartment!

Toni returns to report that the phone call was from Tiana's worried parents. She never came home either, which means that Mike now has some actual police work to do. Yay for him.

At Captain Howdy's house, night has fallen. He's working out in his own private gym as the camera sloooooowly pans to the front door. We see him chasing one of the girls, Genevieve, as she tries to leave, but then he knocks her down. When she regains consciousness, Gen discovers that Howdy has stitched her lips together, and filed his teeth down to fangs. Fun guy.

The very next day, Detective Mike reveals how limited his sleuthing skills are, as he repeatedly fails to solve the conundrum of how to feed a dollar bill into a vending machine. Boy, if Captain Howdy morphs into a vending machine, Genevieve is pretty much dead meat. A co-worker helps Mike solve The Case of the Dullard's Dollar and gets him his coffeea. Case solved! Now maybe Mike can find his daughter and her friend...

Mike bitches out the helpful cop, then goes home. There, he mopes around like a puppy, until relatives stop by to lend moral support. His niece Angela, played by Amy Smart, shows him how his daughter's computer works. Then she makes things worse by telling him that she sometimes uses it to meet strange men under aliases. Nice.

Captain Howdy rambles on about "rites of passage", then pierces his arm with a steel rod. This somehow segues to a scene where the cops find a car in a pond. Examining the car reveals Tiana's corpse in the trunk, also with her lips sewn shut. The helpful cop from earlier also discovers some evidence: a nosering that a paramedic identifies as being much larger than a normal one would be. He tells the detectives that the spike is part of the "body art" community, which includes tattoos, piercings and other forms of self-mutilation. He then tells them to check out a club called Xibalba, which is a hangout for the body art patrons.

At the club, Detectives Mike and Christian wander through a crowd of Marilyn Manson wanna-bes, while Captain Howdy is in a backroom, dying. He's hanging from hooks in his chest, suspended from the ceiling. A group of Goths revive him, and he tells them that he wanted to die, briefly, because he believed it would somehow transform him. Well, THAT makes sense.

So, Mike returns home and looks through his daughter's computer desk some more. At work, his superior tells him that the post mortem examination of Tiana revealed that Captain Howdy had performed numerous piercings and mutilations all over her body, while she had still been alive. Her cause of death was a heart attack, brought on by the torture.

Captain Howdy goes online, at the same time that Mike does. Mike can't figure out how the Internet works(again, a sign of how old this movie's concepts are, lol), so he calls his niece. She gets him into a chatroom, and tells him to type stuff like "Tinsel, buttmunch", which makes NO sense to me, and I've been online since 1995 or so.

While navigating omnline chat, the detectives get a call from a tech geek. He informs them that the online name and profile for Captain Howdy are both fake. The niece does an online search for Catain Howdy's screen name, and finds him in seconds. The detectives immediately start to plan how to lure him out into the open.

Captain Howdy ain't exactly a slouch, though. He's looking at each profile himself, to find his next victim. Using his profile, the detectives start asking the lobby about things he listed among his interests. He takes the bait, and the niece tells them what to type. Eventually, he invites them to his lair.

The cops quickly assemble a SWAT team to assault the address he lists, while Captain Howdy tortures a boy with a penile mutilation. OUCH! the cops march into the house, only to find that the owners are an elderly couple. Captain Howdy won again.

After the failed raid, Mike sits in his car pouting. As the rest of the officers clear out, Mike falls asleep in the car, waking the next morning because of a barking dog. He opens a laptop to see if he can find Captain Howdy again, and Howdy starts taunting him about the raid. Then Howdy makes his first mistake, by sending an audio file. Mike realizes that the audio file contains the sound of the barking dog that woke him up, and starts to scan the houses.

After replying to the message, Captain Howdy sends another audio file. This time, Mike is able to pinpoint the killer's location. Drawing his weapon, Mike finds trash bags filled with needles and other implements of torture. He enters Captain Howdy's home via the basement, and starts to look around.

On the main floor of the house, the sound of heavy metal music gets louder. Mike finds a door unlocked, and sees numerous teenagers, in various states of torture. One girl is bound in wire, another is hogtied on the floor, yet another is trapped in a stockade, etc. At the end of the room, his daughter Genevieve is trapped in a cage.

Excited to find her, Mike starts to work on freeing his daughter. When Gen sees Captain Howdy sneak in, she tries to warn her father, but with her lips still stitched shut, the most she can do is whimper. Captain Howdy strikes Mike on the back of the head, and he crumples to the floor.

Captain Howdy turns toward Gen, and Mike opens his eyes. As he tries to crawl in the direction of his gun, Captain Howdy hears him and turns. Howdy tries to drag Mike away, but he manages to get the gun, and shoots the psychopath in the leg. As Mike frees Gen from her cage, the killer tells them that he fears nothing. He rants and raves about death, until Mike stuffs a candle into his mouth to shut him up.

After freeing Gen, Mike manages to rescue 5 other teens. We learn through a montage that Captain Howdy went with an insanity plea, and that his real name is Carlton Hendricks. He went thnrough counseling and a lot of pills, and is a changed man. Oh, and he removed most of the piercings and covered his extensively tattooed face and body with makeup.

Not everyone buys his metamorphosis, of course. Mike and his cop buddies think it's all an act. And a mob of angry parents, led by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund(as Jack), want to destroy him. And then there's Genevieve, who is plagued by nightmares in which Captain Howdy stalks her.

When he comes home, Howdy is greeted by the angry parents, and a reporter. He tells theem that he's changed, but no one believes him. Later that night, Jack and his buddies decide to attack Captain Howdy directly. His daughter, who stayed out late, is mistakenly thought to be Howdy's latest victim, but she's been screwing around with her boyfriend all night. Oops.

The parents drag Howdy out of his house, while Mike sits in his car and watches. Then they drive him to a secluded location, tie a noose to a tree,and hang him. As he chokes, the limb starts to snap, then a thunderstorm starts up, making the lynch mob beat a hasty retreat, and running over the bottle of pills. As the rain reveals Howdy's tatto art once more, he wakes up and snaps back into his former persona.

The next night, Jack is watching porn and waiting for his wife to join him. Captain Howdy murders her in the bathroom, then walks her corpse out and lets Jack see that he slit her throat. Ow!

At the precinct, Mike gets an IM from Howdy, who then calls as well. He taunts the cops and dares them to find him, then hangs up before they can trace the call. He then pierces Jack's chest with large hooks, and sews his eyes and lips shut. The wife gets speared throughout her body, while Howdy describes the process to her. The agony makes her tear the stitches open on her lips, and she screams.

Mike gets a call from his wife, who asks him why he took Gen out of school. When he tells her he didn't, Mike rushes home and finds her staring at Captain Howdy's face on their PC monitor. Howdy makes them watch as he inserts one of his hooks into Gen's belly, and Mike vows to kill him. Then Howdy disconnects from the chat before it can be traced.

2 newbie-looking cops stumble upon Captain Howdy's lair. Inside, they find several torture victims: A crucified man; another bare-chested man hanging upside-down by shackled ankles; a naked girl who I can't exactly identify; Jack, hanging suspended by body-piercing hooks all over his torso; his wife, with wires and rods pulling at her skin so that she's standing upright in one spot while writhing; and Gen, who has numerous needles piercing her, as well as clamps and dangerous-looking wires wrapped around her.

EMT's arrive, as well as other cops. Mike and Christian find a matchbook from Club Xibalba, and Mike decides to take down Captain Howdy permanently. At the empty club, Captain Howdy teases Mike from the shadows, then emerges after Mike drops his gun. As the 2 men brawl, Christian arrives and tries to find an entrance.

Captain Howdy strangles Mike, then threatens him with a hook on a chain. Mike gets away by pulling out Howdy's nosering, then tries to use the candles in the room as a weapon. He eventually distracts Howdy enough to shove a chained hook into his shoulder, which makes Howdy start to swing back and forth. As Howdy watches, Mike douses him with candle wax, then lights him on fire. Captain Howdy goes up in flames, and Christian comes in to tell Mike that it's over. No shit, Sherlock! As the cops rush away, the room starts to become an inferno, and we get a nasty eyeful of the hunk of flesh that got torn from Howdy's shoulder when his body fell off of the hook.

Outside, Mike tells his buddy that he needs to see his family. As he walks away, a final shot of the burning house is shown, superimposed over an image of Captain Howdy. THE END, I guess...

Boy, this movie had so much potential, but it was kind of a dud. Very few characters actually died, which really doesn't make it much of a slasher film, and the pace was very uneven. Heck, even having a fun horror icon like Robert Englund in the film didn't really have much of a point. I hear there's a sequel coming out this year, so maybe it'll improve on the first one a bit. More storyline and carnage, less watching the killer make nonsensical speeches. 2 killer trees out of 5, mostly for the look of the film and the soundtrack.

And what did I get out of watching Strangeland?
-Well, there was some nudity...
-I learned that Dee Snider is even MORE psychotic when he's not in drag!
-There are still people(teens, no less!) who need to be told what "IM" means!

Next week? Well, I'd like to hope that it'll be Splatter University, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it. The next slasher flick on the list after that is something called Dead Tone, so they might send that instead, like what they pulled last week. We'll see....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another week, another glitch

Well, apparently Netflix doesn't want me to see the 2 slasher movies I moved up to the top of the list, because they didn't send either one. So, instead of watching Blood Song or the other film that was next in line, they're sending me Dee Snyder's Strangeland. It's one of the few slashers I haven't seen before, so here's hoping that it's a good one! I'll try to get the post up as soon as it arrives...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blood Harvest

How often can you say, "Hey, I just watched a slasher flick starring that goofy musician Tiny Tim? In my case, only once. The film is called Blood Harvest, and also has "Six Feet Under" star Peter Krause in a small role. Did it make me tiptoe through the tulips? Read my SPOILER-heavy experience to find out!

The film starts out with Tiny Tim's character, The Marvelous Mervo, singing in his high falsetto voice about Jack and Jill. Except that his version is about "Gary and Jill", and he is dressed as a clown. Great, another psycho-clown film. Fate, why do you hate me? As Mervo keeps singing, we see a dead guy getting hung upside down in what may be a barn of some sort.

In the rain, an ambulance arrives to take away the body. The next scene features an angry mob of farmers at a foreclosed home auction, then cuts back to the hung body, back when he was alive. A hand holding a knife draws the blade across the upside-down man's throat, and he dies. Y'know, showing these scenes in order might save some time...

Okay, so our story so far is largely nonexistent. That's always a good sign. The next random scene shows a woman walking along a lonely road. As she walks, we hear her have a phone conversation with her mother, concerning her returning from college to visit her hometown. She stops off at the bank to find her dad(apparently, he's a banker...gee, I wonder if he was the guy we saw getting killed earlier?), but is told that he hasn't been in. She then decides to walk to a nearby diner.

After another random change of scenery, we see Mervo watching the local news. As he hears about all of the local foreclosures, he puts his hands up to his face. At the diner, Jill sees an old friend, and gets spit on by a local who blames her father for the town's financial troubles. She wisely decides to head home.

The house she grew up in is covered in red graffiti("BITCH", "SCUM", stuff like that). Jill runs to the front door, but is greeted at the door by a scarecrow that resembles a charred corpse. She creeps around to look for intruders, and finds Merv in her kitchen, grinning creepily and holding flowers for her. Jill tries to question him, but he just blathers on and on about the friggin' flowers.

At that point, we meet Gary. Gary is Merv's brother, and he immediately tries to calm Jill by telling her that he spoke to her father earlier in the week. Merv interrupts to sing to Jill, shove the flowers at her, then make his grand exit. Gary tells Jill that Mervo is getting crazier every day, then he also leaves. Wait, wasn't Gary the other name in the song Pervy Mervy was singing when the film started? Hope he has his life insurance paid up...

Jill unpacks in her old bedroom, and gets a threatening phone call, followed by a brick thrown through her window. When she goes outside to investigate, Merv peeks out at her from a nearby barn. Others are watching her as well, presumably angry farmers who are hiding in the woods to frighten her. She sees one of them ahead of her, and tries to hide in the trees, and gets shot in the forehead!

Aw, it's only a paint gun. The people hiding in the woods turn out to be local teens playing military games, and one of them offers her a ride into town to have her head looked at by the town doctor. He asks Jill out, and when she refuses, he offers to settle for a one night stand instead. What a charmer.

At Sheriff Buckley's office, Jill tries to lodge a complaint against the teens, and also reports the phone call, brick and spray paint since she'd been home. Buckley has a softball game he'd rather be at, but Jill won't back down. He leaves the office with her to begin his investigation. He even straps his gun on over his softball uniform, making him the most lethal baseball player since Lou Gehrig(Oh, lighten up! You expect a guy who watches slasher flicks for fun to be politically correct?).

Mervo steps into a crudely built room, where we see a woman tied to a chair with a noose around her neck. Merv talks to her, and his hand begins shaking. At the same time, Jill brings Sheriff Buckley to her family's home. The spray paint on the outside of the house is entirely gone, and all of the vandalism inside is cleaned up as well, including the dummy that had frightened her. The sheriff laughs, and accuses her of making her story up for attention. Uh, who the heck was the lady Mervo was with in the previous scene?

Mervo goes into the local church to sing and pray while no one's around. Once again, he's crying his eyes out. He probably read the script. Hell, we're only 17 minutes in, and I'M bored to the brink of tears! I should watch something like Dr. Giggles or Blood Diner, just to have something batshit crazy to comment on. (Note to self: add those to my queue....)

Okay, so back at Jill's childhood home, she's putting some clothes away in a bureau. Opening the drawer gives us the cheapest of cheap thrills: a cat-scare. Seriously, someday I'm going to build a time machine, find the screenwriter who wrote the first horror movie cat-scare scene, and obliterate him 5 minutes after his birth.

After the random cat runs away, Gary shows up. He hugs Jill, then tells her that he was the person who cleaned up the house. He then tells her that it was the farmers who did it. Then he drags her outside to run through a field. While Gary and Jill are filming a feminine hygiene commercial, Mervo is crying to a priest in a way that looks an awful lot like a confession.

Gary takes Jill to a treehouse, apparently one that they shared as children. I hope they'll be very happy up in that tree, because I'm starting to think that this isn't a slasher film at all. The dialogue is like this:

GARY: Whose idea was it to build this treehouse anyway?
JILL: Oh yeah? Well who found the tree?
GARY: Who brought the wood?
JILL: Who brought the hammer?
ME: Who hid the gun? I really want to shoot myself, before I see another pointless minute of this soul-sucking, mediocre, crap-filled snoozefest!

(That last part wasn't in the case you were wondering. But the other stuff was almost verbatim, I shit you not.)

Gary tells Jill that he always had feelings for her. Then they discuss the fact that his parents died under strange circumstances. Oh, and they run through the freakin' flowers again. Jill tells Gary that she's engaged to her college boyfriend, and Gary leaves. As the scene ends, Mervo sings the "Gary and Jill" song again, twice. Yay. He starts talking to himself and singing, and none of it makes a damn bit of sense whatsoever. Man, why didn't I do drugs when I was younger? Killing a few thousand brain cells might have made this movie watchable.

Jill calls her aunt, but no one seems to know why her parents disappeared. She then gets naked, and something happens that shocks me: I actually start to pay attention to this terrible movie. In the basement, a mysterious figure tampers with the water, and makes it dangerously hot. Jill emerges from the scalding shower and reveals that women 25 years ago didn't believe in trimming, if you know what I mean.

She runs to the kitchen, and discovers that there's no water coming to the sink. The mystery stalker then fixes the pipes, so that a loud gush of water in the faucet startles her. Mervo watches Jill from outside the house, then enters her kitchen unannounced. She offers him some coffee, but Merv insists on making it for her.

He starts cackling, then tries to grope her. When Jill tries to refuse his advances, Mervo tells her that he has needs, just like any man. Then he leaves. We then see some random chair. Of course we do. And still no one dies a horrible death, unless you count my inner child.

That night, Jill wakes up due to strange noises coming from outside. She sees what looks like Mervo sitting on a swing on her front porch. She calls Sheriff Buckley, and he promises to stop by her house. The phone rings immediately after Jill hangs up, but it's not the stalker or Buckley: it's Scott, Jill's boyfriend. She begs Scott to help her, then panics when she thinks someone is trying to get in the house.

It's Buckley. I have no idea how he got there so fast, he must have the same teleportation technology that Jason Voorhees uses. Sheriff Buckley drags Mervo into view, and Jill doesn't press charges. Dumbass.

Later still, ANOTHER intruder shows up. He slips in through her bedroom window, and chloroforms her in her sleep. He starts to undress Jill and ties her to the bedposts, before photographing her body. He brings the photos to his "lair", and puts them on the wall.

The next morning, Jill is woken up by some dweeb in dark shades. she throws him to the floor, then realizes it's Scott. Really, movie? Scott, her boyfriend, is Max Headroom's stunt double? Seriously???

Apparently so. She and Scott start speaking the language of love, which sounds an awful lot like---well, whatever it sounds like, it's awful. Jill makes Scott chase her into the living room. Oh, by the way, we're 35 minutes into the movie at this point. In 35 minutes, we've seen 1(maybe 2) death scenes, several scenes of Tiny Tim being his usual weird self, a Massengill moment, and 2 scenes of partial nudity. If this thing doesn't start having a point soon, I'm mailing it back unfinished.

Jill lets Scott undress her on the living room floor, while Gary watches from a nearby window. It plays out like a cheesy porno(wait, isn't that redundant?), until the phone rings. It's me, asking where the killing scenes are.

Nope, it's not me, it's Jill's friend Sarah. Oh, and Scott turns out to be Peter Krause. He leaves after her phone call, and Jill starts dirty dancing by herself. Before Scott leaves, though, he spots someone running through the backyard. Scott gets out of the car and chases the figure into a barn. The killer whacks Scott in the face with a baseball bat, and Jill continues to do the world's most unchoreographed dancing scene.

Gary shows up at her front door. She tells him about her relationship with Scott over a cup of coffee. Why does every scene these 2 share end up looking like a commercial??? Mervo disrupts the conversation, and Gary drags him inside to apologize for scaring Jill. Another person shows up at the front door: Jill's friend, Sarah, who arrives to pad the film's running time a little more. God, this movie is annoying!

Jill and Sarah discuss boys, then Sarah realizes that she needs to go to work. Jill cranks up the radio, for the sole purpose of not hearing her friend getting attacked by the stalker. He chases her away from her car, then into the same barn that Scott was killed in earlier in the film. Sarah leans against a post to catch her breath, and the killer shoots an arrow at her, pinning her hand to the post. As Sarah screams, the killer rips her blouse open, hangs her upside down, then removes her pants. The killer then slits Sarah's throat while Jill plays with a stuffed animal.

After yet another brief scene where Mervo acts like a loon, Gary stops by to visit Jill. He tells her that Mervo has vanished, and she decides to call Sarah, who recently passed away. The film cuts to Nervy Mervy, who is feeling sorry for himself. Jill has no luck finding either Sarah or Scott, and Gary jokingly suggests that they ran off together. The he finally leaves. Alone at last, Jill cries herself to sleep.

Once Jill's finally asleep again, the stalker chloroforms her once more. Hey, I have an idea: how about, every time someone in the movie does something they already did in a previous scene, we take a drink! The killer brings Jill to the barn, and begins to undress her in front of Scott, who's dangling upside down about a foot above where she's sleeping. The sheriff's deputy arrives, and the killer quickly brings Jill back to the house. While the deputy looks around the yard to see if anything looks suspicious, the killer sneaks back to the barn and slits Scott's throat.

The following morning, Jill wakes up on the sofa, and staggers into the kitchen. She opens the fridge, and a bucket of blood spills on both her and the kitchen floor. Gary pops up in her kitchen to calm her down, and he carries Jill to the shower. Stripping Jill naked, Gary cleans her then begins rubbing her in other ways. He brings her back to the couch, where he proceeds to kiss every square inch of Jill's chest. Then he covers her with a blanket and watches her fall sleep. Oh, and he decides to remove his clothes while watching her, before eventually raping her in her. If you look up "sleazy" in the dictionary, I'll bet you'd find a picture of this movie.

Jill wakes up, and she immediately asks Gary to stop. He walks away, still naked as a jailbird. Then we see Mervo mumbling to himself, "I gotta do it, gotta do it...", while Gary sits in the dark and sobs like the bitch that we all know him to be. That's right Gary: yer a bitch. Deal with it.

Mervo enters Jill's house and asks her to go someplace with him. When she presses him for details, he merely tells Jill that he has something important to show her, and she actually goes with him. I think it's safe to say that my suspension of disbelief is long gone. Outside, Mervo takes Jill to a small house in the middle of nowhere. She reads a suicide note that her mother wrote, then finds several pictures of dead people. Mervo tells the horrified girl that his brother did all of the killing and stalking, and blackmailed him into silence by threatening to send him to a mental hospital for the rest of his life. When they both hear someone outside, Mervo covers Jill's mouth to keep her quiet.

It's Gary. He asks Mervo to release Jill, and the brothers start to fight. As Jill tries to find a weapon, Mervo gains the upper hand, so Jill finds a pistol and shoots him. Then Gary reveals that Mervo was telling the truth, and he reveals that his plan was to eliminate everyone she depended on, until he was the only person left for her to turn to. She pretends to want to be with Gary, but she gets upset and runs away when he doesn't seem to be buying it.

There's a brief chase, then Gary puts a stocking over his head and starts to go after Jill with a knife. He corners her in the barn, and Jill sees all of her dead friends and family hanging from the rafters like sides of beef. Gary corners Jill and reveals that he blames her for his feelings of loneliness and isolation. She tries to make him believe that she wants to run away with him, but when she starts to run away again, he kinda figures out that she was lying. She buys some time by pinning Gary to the floor with a pitchfork through his arm and starts to run away yet again. Isn't this like, what, the 3rd chase in as many minutes?

The chase is stupid. He manages to keep getting ahead of her, she screams and runs away, he pops up again. This happens several times, until he traps her in his lair. Jill gets cornered beneath a slaughtered pig, and it bleeds all over her face while Gary drones on and on. He holds his knife in his good hand, slowly circling her. then he leaps at Jill. They tussle in the hay, until Gary ties Jill up and brings her back to the corpses of those she loves.

He prepares to kill her, but Jill is rescued at the last second by Mervo, who shoots Gary with a shotgun. Mervo staggers over to Jill to untie her, and the pair leave the crime scene together to report the murders to the authorities. As the camera shows Gary one last time in the hay, his eyes open wide. THE END?

Eh. As painful as it was, I've seen worse. I guess. Still, every kill was more or less botched, and the pace was verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry draggy. Plus, we never saw all of the bodies: did the writers forget to add a scene showing what happened to Jill's mother? This movie could be improved a thousand times over by a gorier remake, with 99.999% less goofy musical numbers, so somebody who has experience writing scripts, get working!

And what did Blood Harvest teach me?
-It's impossible to create a good slasher flick involving a scary clown. Can't be done.

-If your former flame still has a treehouse, RUN! And don't have some twithead conversation about how the friggin' thing was built!

-Small-town lawmen take softball games very seriously. Crime can wait 'til after the game.

Next week, hopefully, either Blood Song or Splatter University will arrive in the mail. I had surgery Tuesday, so I'm still kind of playing my schedule by ear, until I can figure out how I'm really feeling. Hopefully, I keep feeling as good as I do today! Happy slashing!