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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Terror Train

Well, after last week's clunker, I'm hoping that Terror Train is a more professional effort. It's kind of a clever concept: a killer is on board a train with a group of partying college graduates, and everyone's in costume. As the killer walks among them, he kills a victim, then dons their costume as a sort of camouflage. Let's hope that the movie is as interesting as the premise makes it sound. SPOILERS apply, as always...

Our story begins at a bonfire. It's an outdoor kegger being held by a fraternity, or every guy there just decided to wear the same beanie cap. Oh, and it's New Year's Eve. Geez, how many reasons do they need for an excuse to start the film at a party? Is it someone's birthday too?

Anyway, the guys are pledging a fraternity called Sigma Phi Omega. A scrawny guy in glasses named Kenny is being pushed by his frat brothers to see if a cute sorority girl named Alana(played by a young, incredibly cute Jamie Lee Curtis) will have sex with him. Of course it's the set-up for a prank, and one of the planners of said prank is Mitchy, Alana's close friend(also female, despite the name).

Alana is shown into the bedroom where the prank will take place, just as Kenny ascends the stairs. There's something in the bed already, but the audience doesn't know yet what it might be. Mitchy waits outside the bedroom door, and shows Kenny in, where Alana is hiding behind a curtain. Kenny undresses while Alana tries not to laugh, and she whispers to him that she wants him to approach the bed and kiss "her".

Kenny does as he's told, and the dummy in the bed turns out to be a corpse stolen from the anatomy department. Kenny freaks out in the most melodramatic way possible, by standing on the bed and getting tangled up in the curtains around it. As the jerkoffs from the frat enter the room to enjoy Kenny's misery, Alana sees that the thing in the bed was a corpse and looks horrified for Kenny. Oh, and Kenny looks like a drag queen in this sequence. Yeesh.

And that's all pre-credits!!

The movie then picks up the story 4 years later. The members of the fraternity, as well as their girlfriends and closest friends, are celebrating their graduation from college by throwing a huge shindig on a train. Besides Jamie Lee, probably the biggest celebrity in the film is illusionist David Copperfield, who plays "The Magician". Boy, he's really stretching his acting muscles! Anyone want to bet that the guy with no actual name is the killer? The movie also has Hart Bochner, who was in the first sequel to Urban Legend; Sandee Currie, who was in the underrated slasher film Curtains; and Vanity, a singer-actress probably best known as the love interest in a 1980's action film, The Last Dragon.

Anyway, the train passes by under the credits, which nearly get swallowed up by all of the smoke coming from the train itself. Man, this looks like a sequel to The Fog! The movie helpfully tells us that it's 3 years later, then we see a busload of grads getting off of the bus to get on the train. Hey, why not just party on the bus, then go to Florida, dumbasses?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this is a combination graduation/costume party, but the majority of the "costumes" are pretty damn sad. You can more or less pick out who's going to be killed by the very fact that they have an elaborate costume or a mask big enough to cover their entire face. Everyone else is wearing simple "Lone Ranger"-style half-masks, with a few token feather boas or glittery clothes. Lame.

The one black guy in the film, Jackson, is the last to leave the bus. Their are so many offensive things in that last sentence, I'm not even sure where to start. Please tell me they didn't make him ride in the back. He opens a beer and proposes a toast to his classmates, and the crowd laughs and cheers when someone yanks a lizard mask over his head. Well, I guess he'll die too. Real creative, guys. Let me guess, did someone bring a cat along for the ride, just so it could leap out of a dark room at some point, or did the writers miss a few slasher film cliches?

The bus driver, or maybe he's a guy working as a train porter, helps the students to load their baggage onto the train, and falls for a few dumb pranks. A character named Ed (the class clown of the group) is dressed up as Groucho Marx, and cracks several jokes older than the Marx Brothers themselves(the only one I found moderately funny so far was made after he stepped off the bus and saw the train: "Has anyone seen my girlfriend? She's the one with the big caboose!" Since all of the promotional stuff for Terror Train shows the killer in Ed's costume, I think it's safe to say that we won't have to put up with his jokes for very long.)

Doc, dressed as a monk, starts throwing confetti and party favors around, while Ed keeps making asinine quips for anyone who'll listen. Then we get introduced to...The Magician! Ed tries to make a wisecrack at his expense, and The Magician just goes back to lugging his trunk of props onto the train.

The conductor, nicknamed "Winnebago", gets a weather report from an elderly woman named Maggie. They seem to be old flames, but she has a face like a foot and he looks like he might have graduated from high school with Moses and Noah. I hope they don't kiss...I had a big meal earlier.

The graduates finally start to board the train, with Ed staggering behind them. He's clutching a sword that seems to be stuck in his gut, and everyone assumes that he's just being goofy. Uh, how about saying, "Hey, the killer stabbed me! I need a doctor!" Ed? But no, he just staggers around with a sword sticking out of him, and then dies as the last few students climb aboard the train. The killer strips his costume off of poor Ed, quickly puts it on, then gets on the train as we see Ed's corpse roll directly in the path of one of the train's wheels. Man, if Ed were still alive, he'd be in a world of pain. We get to see and hear one of his arms get crushed by the train, and then I guess no one at the station notices his bloody corpse just sitting there on the tracks. Nice.

Alana and Mitchy are across the hall from each other, and a drunk girl in a bunny costume begs Mitchy to be her roommate at school before staggering away. So wait...this is a graduation trip/costume party...but only for some of the students? Then why the heck are the others going? The killer observes from a hiding place, while Mitchy and Alana get all weepy about going their seperate ways. Mitchy decides to find a bathroom so she can adjust her tear-stained makeup, and the killer decides to hide once more.

In the dining car, a girl named "Pet" asks a guy named "Prez"(who is dressed like Uncle Sam, just to be even more confusing) if he has seen Ed. He tells her to check the next car down, and off she goes. Then there's a short scene where the engineer, "Shovels", and Winnebago engage in a debate over whether or not trains are obsolete. *yawn*

As the students/graduates/whatevers dance to some cheesy disco music, The Magician watches them. He tells his female assistant how much he resents them, and she tries to lighten the mood. When she encourages him to mingle and show them some sleight-of-hand tricks, he just says ominously, "I'm not ready."

Okay, I finally have this whole party thing figured out. It's specific to members of Sigma Phi Omega and whatever sorority they're affiliated with, so that's why it's not just seniors in attendance. Doc and the other seniors have a private train car set up to party in, and one guy asks about the "legend" of the prank from 3 years earlier. Doc tells the story, and Alana interrupts by revealing that Kenny was hospitalized after the "prank" went wrong.

Doc asks the younger frat guys to leave, and gives them a few bottles of alcohol as compensation. When he, Alana and the remaining frat boys reveal that they have champagne to drink, Kenny stands outside the closed door in the Groucho disguise and gets himself into a nice, simmering rage.

As Shovels and Winnebago continue their debate about the decline of train travel, Kenny prepares to take his next victim. I think it's Mitchy, she's wearing a dress that looks like it might be the witch outfit. Anyway, Kenny shows her Ed's severed finger in a box, and she laughs, assuming it's just a gag like Ed pulled earlier. Kenny follows her as she walks down the narrow corridor, but Jackson interrupts the murder plan. Kenny gets annoyed by Jackson, so he decides to kill him instead.

Jackson offers Kenny a drink, so they sneak into the restroom together. A bathroom??? Seriously??? Ummmm, okay...As Jackson pours 2 drinks, Kenny yanks him up by his mask, and lets him have a good, close look at his face. Jackson panics when he realizes that "Ed" is really Kenny, then Kenny smashes the bathroom mirror to pieces with Jackson's face.

Alana, Doc, Mitchy and Doc's buddy Moe(who looks like Bill Maher....probably not, though, since I didn't see his name in the credits), in a parrot costume, are all smoking and drinking in the senior car. Doc pisses off Alana when he reveals that he lied about how the party was paid for. As if that's not bad enough, he also tells his friends that he spiked the alcohol that he gave to the younger frat boys. Doc just gets her madder when he says(in the most menacing way possible) that this is one party that she can't walk out on. Doc's a bit of a psycho himself, hmmm? Moe follows Alana, but first threatens Doc with revenge for being such a dick. Boy, wouldn't it be funny if one of these guys was the killer, instead of Kenny?

Alana and Moe hug and make up, then Alana sees something wrong outside the bathroom where Jackson was just killed, and assumes that a wine bottle was broken. After she and Moe leave, Kenny emerges from the cramped toilet and locks it from the outside with a key. Wait, where did he get a key for the train?

Winnebago's co-worker asks him if they should patrol a bit to check on the party, but Winnebago doesn't want to intrude on their celebration. That goes nowhere, so we switch back to the dining car, where the party is still going. They talk to a few of the guests, then decide to watch The Magician...

The Magician asks for a coin from Alana, and makes a cigarette stick to it. Then he twistsd the cigarette, and makes it pass through the quarter. Alana lights the cigarette, and The Magician smokles it for a second to show that it's still intact. He feeds the cigarette back through the quarter, shows that both are completely intact, then makes the quarter vanish.

The magic continues at the snack bar, where The Magician waves his hand over a coin-operated vending machine, and a handful of peanuts fall into Alana's open palm. He grins at the crowd, then walks away. I bet he kept the quarter, too. Winnebago tries to show the other conductor a card trick of his own, but the other man refuses to take part, saying that playing cards are sinful.

Pet complains about Ed disappearing. Then a girl named Merry(the one played by Vanity) adds that Jackson has also abandoned her. After they leave, Alana and Moe continue their earlier squabble. Alana tells him that he should stay far away from Doc, and that she still resents Doc for the prank that was played on Kenny 3 years ago.

Speaking of Doc, Winnebago meets him and his girlfriend outside of their berth, and shows them a card trick. He tells Doc to think of a card and concentrate on the deck. After counting down from 5, Winnebago asks them what card they thought of. The female says that she was thinking of the jack of clubs. Winnebago tells them that not only has it risen to the top of the deck, but that it became a jack of spades. Ha ha. They all notice the locked bathroom, but no one does anything about it.

The Magician is finally ready to put on his stage act. He does some playing card illusions, then brings out his assistant. They do a little dance number, then he levitates her. Doc finds Moe sitting in a room by himself, and when Moe says that everyone else is watching the magic show, Doc reveals that they never hired a magician. Oops. Did we just reveal the murderer? Doc finds out that Moe and Alana are still fighting, and Doc tells his friend that if he loses Alana, he could always fall back on Doc. Wait, what? So Doc is gay, and has a thing for Moe now?

The Magician is still levitating his assistant, and passes a hoop around her body to prove that there are no wires. He covers her in a red sheet, then pulls it away, and she's now gone. As the magic show ends, Alana asks Winnebago about Ed's disappearance, and he plants the idea in her head about the costume switching.

Pet and Merry tell Doc and Moe about the magic act, but Doc could care less. Moe tries to argue that Doc loves tricks, but his counter-argument is that he loves jokes, not tricks. Then he and Moe get the girls to go somewhere private with them. Mitchy sees them, and looks pretty upset. She doesn't tell Alana, but instead distracts her to keep her from finding the deceitful boyfriends.

As Kenny skulks around watching everyone, the movie catches up with Doc, Moe, Pet and Merry. Winnebago shows up just as one of the girls nearly pukes, so the foursome quickly beat a hasty retreat. Seeing that the bathroom is still locked, the conductor uses his passkey to investigate. He finds Jackson's corpse, checks for a pulse, then wipes the blood from his hand.

Alana dances with Prez(the guy in the Uncle Sam outfit), and sees Mitchy leave. Prez offers Alana an ear if she wants to talk, but she declines. Then The Magician comes to the dance floor, and gives Alana a strange glance. Meanwhile, Winnebago tells the other conductor about the dead body. They both agree that the best course of action is to notify the station, and see if they can turn back...oh, and Winnebago tells the other conductor to keep the death hush-hush around the passengers. After a quick chat with the engineer, they decide to continue on their current journey, because it's slightly closer.

Winnebago takes a walk, and finds himself alone in one of the party compartments. He walks through decorations and trash to take a seat, and eyes another door with suspicion. He meets up with the other conductor at the door to the crime scene, but they find it cleaned up, and the killer is on the floor pretending to be Jackson. Then Mitchy shows up, assumes that the person under the mask is Jackson, and walks away with him.

Doc and Moe continue to ply their dates with booze, and they find a yearbook. As the foursome read through it, they find a photo of Kenny, and quickly change the subject. Doc takes off then with Merry, leaving Moe with a very drunk and oversexed Pet to contend with.

In one of the berths, Mitchy flirts with the person she still assumes to be Jackson. They hear someone coming, so Mitchy and Kenny climb into an upper berth to hide behind the curtain. They hear Merry and Doc pass by, then Mitchy sets about trying to seduce "Jackson". Kenny removes one of his green gloves to fondle her, and reveals that it contained Jackson's severed hand. When Mitchy starts to scream, Kenny suffocates her.

Back in the still-crowded dining car, Alana has another encounter with The Magician. He gives her a rose by levitating it to her, then things get even weirder. He knows who she is. Before she can talk to him any further, he seems to vanish. Then Doc walks in. He apologizes to her, then asks if she has seen Mitchy. He also encourages Alana to find Moe, knowing that she'll walk in on him with Pet. This guy really is a dick.

In the very next scene Pet gets naked, even though Moe is trying to be faithful to his girlfriend. The conductors are alone, trying to figure out how the crime scene was cleaned up so fast. Good question. Better question: why did we leave Moe and Pet in the middle of a scene?

We jump right back to The Magician, who is performing yet another card trick for Doc, Prez, and a crowd of onlookers. His trick involves finding a specific card that Doc picked, even though the cards are all over the floor and covered by a sheet of paper. Doc calls it a trick for children, so The Magician pulls out a switchblade, and lets it land blade-down on the pile. The card that it stabbedby the knife is not only the correct card, but it also says "DOC" in bold letters. Everyone cheers and claps except Doc, who just sits there and looks pissed off.

Winnebago finds Mitchy's shoe, then her dead body. It's odd, because we saw her get strangled, yet there's a good amount of blood on her face. Winnebago closes and seals up the curtain again, then nearly has a heart attack when he runs into Alana. She identifies Mitchy's shoe, and after Winnebago checks the bathroom again for blood, he asks Alana to come with him.

Along the way, she stops to knock at Moe's door, but he's hiding with Pet. After Alana and the conductor move on, Moe leaves. Once they get to a deserted section of the train, Winnebago tells Alana that Mitchy is dead. She doesn't buy it, but she sees the corpse up close and breaks down in the conductor's arms.

Alas, there's another magic trick to watch. Wasn't this supposed to be a slasher flick? I mean, if they added Charo and Harvey Korman to this scene, it'd pass as a scene from "Love Boat". And where the Hell is the gore? Oops, I kinda forgot I was watching a magic trick! I better rewind a bit.

Okay, so The Magician gets covered in a cloth. Then he asks the girl covering him to hold up any number of fingers behind him, pull up the cloth, and supposedly he'll be holding the same amount. When she pulls off the cloth, the chair is empty, and The Magician is behind his audience, shouting out the correct number.

Alana and Winnebago try to reconstruct the events that ended with Mitchy's murder. That's when Winnebago realizes that the killer is switching costumes with his victims. Alas, we have to sit through more magic tricks. Boy, this movie has more filler than a guy named Filler McFillersteen. This trick also involves a sheet, as The Magician holds it over his head, then lowers it, only to reveal his assistant is now holding the curtain.

The conductor examines the bathroom thoroughly, finding a single towel with a bloody handprint on it. We zoom right back to the magic act's finale, where Doc discovers that Moe has died. He screams at the clapping audience for help, but everyone ignores him. He does what any intelligent med student would do...he drags Moe's corpse out of the room, screaming like a ninny as people laugh at him.

Doc encounters Alana and Winnebago, and together they work to get Moe lying down. They discover a bleeding chest wound, then a group of students ssee the body and get scared. Doc asks Alana where Mitchy is, and learns that she was also killed. That REALLY freaks him out, so he pulls the emergency brake, but nothing happens. That sends the conductor to see who might be operating the controls.

Turns out that no one is driving the train. Winnebago leaps into the driver's seat and slams on the brakes manually, sending every passenger careening off their feet. The other conductor stumbles in, and they work together to keep from derailing. When they come to a complete stop, Winnebago gives his co-worker a fire axe, and tells him to be wary. He finds a couple of porters and tells them to find weapons as well.

The 2 porters investigate the sleeping car, while the conductor evacuates the passengers, then tries to keep them calm as they stand around in the snow. One of the porters then finds another dead body. Alana and Doc find each other in the crowd, and Alana tells him that the killer is Kenny. Then we get some cool twists in the story.

It turns out that Alana tried to visit Kenny in the psych ward after the stunt that drove him batshit, but she wasn't allowed to see him. He went insane because the stunt with the corpse brought him flashbacks, from an incident in his teens that resulted in him killing someone ELSE. Doc grabs Alana's hand, and they take off running.

The conductor tells the frightened college kids that they all need to get back on the train, and that they will all be placed in a single passenger car, so as to discourage anyone from wandering off somewhere alone. Doc is already on the train again, and he has dragged Alana into an empty room with him. He even busted the lock, to ensure that the killer couldn't get in.

As Alana tries to reason with Doc, he shows her why he got so scared...a yearbook. To be specific, a page in the yearbook reveals that Kenny had a taste for...magic tricks. Doc smugly tells Alana thsat he plans to wait for Kenny to show up, then finish him off. I REALLY can't wait for Doc to die.

Alana forces her way out of the room, only to see Kenny marching toward her wearing a porter's outfit. As she starts to escape through a window, the person chasing her turns out to be an actual porter. Oops!! She asks him for help, and Doc relaxes when he overhears the conversation from the other side of the door. He sees another door that he forgot to check. It's a closet, and Doc gets scared when he stands in front of it.

He braces himself, then yanks the door open. It's an empty closet. He gets ready to open another door, and survives that one too. As Doc sits back down on the floor, he sees another potential hiding spot for the killer and gets up. That's when a hand under his seat darts out, grabbing his ankle. Doc shakes loose and pounds on the door, but a female-looking hand rests on his shoulder. When he assumes it to belong to Mitchy, Kenny takes the opportunity to yank his head backward and cut Doc's throat. Yay!

Alana finds Prez, and they go off to look for the conductor. Then we see The Magician running knives or swords through a box. He is disrupted by his assistant, who seems to have come out of the shower. She grabs a sword and playfully starts swinging it around, which seems to piss off The Magician.

While Prez and Alana look for Doc, they run into Winnebago, who happens to be on the phone. They telll him about their idea that The Magician is Kenny, and all 3 try to find him. Rut-roh, Raggy!! They get back to Doc's room to show Winnebago the yearbook page. Winnebago gets the door open, sees the blood and debris, and makes Prez and Alana wait outside with a porter while he searches the room for any signs of life.

He gets a faceful of corpse when he opens a closed berth, because Doc's body fall out. He comes face to face with Doc's severed head, then Alana bursts into the room and screams. But where did Kenny go, hmmmm?

With everyone back on the train, the journey resumes. The survivors all sit in the nightclub/lounge car, and Winnebago suggests that they all grab some food and coffee. The Magician's assistant comes out from behind the stage, and the conductor invites her to come with them. When she's right next to him, he asks her discreetly where The Magician is, and she tells him that The Magician(who finally has a name, Ken) is backstage. She calls out to Ken that she'll bring him a cup of coffee, but there's no response.

Between cars, Winnebago uses a chain to close up the lounge car. When the assistant asks for information, he only tells her that he's trying to keep her safe. Then a porter finds a deserted room for Alana to rest in. He supplies her with pillows and blankets, and promises to stand in the hallway to guard her. Once she's alone, Alana closes all of the shades on the windows, turns on all of the lights, opens the closets, and even checks out the ceiling. Satisfied that she is alone at last, Alana sits back down and clutches a pillow.

The other passengers form an angry mob, and a dumb jock demands to be let out, so that he can go after the killer by himself. Winnebago hands him an ax, then asks him to look at all of the dead bodies before he goes. They stare at each other, until the jock finally backs down. Winnebago makes it up to the kid by offering to go take a look himself.

Bad idea. The porter who was guarding Alana is now dead too. He has one of Ken's swords in his chest, and the killer reaches down next to the body to get the dead man's ax. Winnebago and a couple of porters re-enter the lounge, and ask Ken to step out and talk to them. When he still won't answer, Winnebago decides to look backstage for himself. He and the 2 porters find the dressing room deserted. Ken either jumped off the train, was killed, or is now somewhere else on the train. Yikes!

The killer is seen moving around the train, dragging the weapon at his side. Alana, still sleeping, has no idea that he's standing right outside the room she's in. He opens the door quietly, and this time he's wearing the "old" mask that Mitchy had earlier(I think...with so many costume changes, this one's tough to follow!), along with Doc's "monk" robe. He gets right next to the sleeping woman, then brings his ax down, and there's a squeak.

Ah, a decoy. As the killer keeps swinging, Alana bursts out of a closet behind him and stabs him in the back with a sword. Where the heck did Alana get her hands on one of the swords from the magic act??? Well, however she got her hands on the sword, she had it. As the killer tries to recover, Alana runs out of the room. As she breathlessly starts movind down the corridor, the killer blocks her from another door by thrusting his arm out in front of the frightened damsel. How the heck did he get ahead of her so damn fast?

Alana then runs into a small booth with a glass window and shuts it. The killer breaks the glass with his ax, and Alana runs through another door, into what looks like a maintenance compartment. The killer gets in too, and closes the door behind him as Alana struggles to open yet another door. He casually strolls toward her, grabs her head, then starts to strangle the poor girl. There's a brief struggle, until Alana manages to bite one of the killer's bloody hands.

He rips off her blouse, so Alana grabs a fire extinguisher off the floor and sprays his eyes with it. Then she runs again, back the way theyv came, and manages to jam it shut with what look like handcuffs. After the killer wastes some seconds hitting the mesh walls around Alana to scare her, he finds a sharp pole. Using the pole to smash the overhead light, the killer then shoves the pole through the wire at Alana, nearly impaling her with it.

As he destroys another light, Alana calls out his name. Kenny ignores her, so Alana looks around again for a weapon, and finds a large nail holding Post-It notes. She aims for Kenny's face, and the nail hits the skin underneath where the mask's ear is. Kenny clutches his face in agony, while Alana kicks the door open to escape.

Yet another chase sequence begins. I'm willing to bet that whoever invented Pac-Man was probably a big fan of slasher flicks, because that's what most of them are. You chase him, he chases you, blah blah blah. Anyway, Kenny catches up to Alana as she's trying to get a red gate opened, and she delivers several rough kicks to his midsection. He seemingly falls off of the train, then Winnebago and Prez find Alana and bring her back to the occupied sections of the train.

It's not quite over, though....a pair of bloody hands are clinging to the outside railing. The conductor checks on both Alana and Merry, but Alana is finally asleep again. After the conductor leaves, Merry also steps out to get some air. Behind Alana, outside a window, Kenny can be seen putting on his best Spider-Man imitation, and watching her from above the window. The killer creeps backward, and then we get a shot of an empty hallway.

The door opens, and Alana wakes up with a start, but it's only Merry again. She convinces Alana to go back with her into the lounge with all of the other survivors. As Alana gets out of bed, she hears a strange sound nearby. She moves quickly down some narrow, dark corridors and jumps when she sees a witch hat and broom. Then a figure moves out of the shadows and approaches her at a pretty good clip. AAAAAH!!! Oh, it's only Prez. He grabs her hand and they go to the lounge together.

The 2 conductors are driving the train, and they can see the lights of the station in the distance. Winnebago sends the other one back to tell everyone the good news, and he handles the controls by himself. At the same time, Alana is standing on an outer platform, freezing her butt off to watch scenery fly by. When she decides to head back inside, Alana starts looking through the luggage and props from The Magician's act. She finds a scrapbook, and starts flipping through it.

You'd think that this would be a scene where she starts reading scary newspaper clips about murders happening everywhere he performed, but you would be wrong. Instead, a box falls open, revealing the corpse of....The Magician! Dun Dun DUNNNNNNNNN!!! Yep, he was stabbed several times by his own swords. Ironic.

Alana screams her head off and starts running again. I'd love to watch a montage of her chase scenes done to the theme of "Benny Hill". So, where were we? Oh yeah. Alana. Running. Again. So, yeah, she runs out of the dressing room, she runs past concerned passengers, she runs out of the semi-crowded lounge. See Alana run. Run Alana, run.

She runs through a door with a big "N" on it(Nintendo? Nirvana? Ned Flanders?), and finds herself in a room belonging to someone named "Carne". Who the heck was Carne? Is she that chick who had the horrible talk show? Well, whoever she is(or was), Alana is in her room now. Alana leans wearily against a table and lowers her head, and a pair of hands hold hers. Uh oh...

It's the killer, dressed as a porter, in yet another mask. Kenny removes the mask to show her what we pretty knew already, then removes the porter hat, to reveal another surprise twist: Kenny was ALSO The Magician's assistant! Wow.

Alana tries to tell Kenny how sorry she is, but he doesn't buy it. He tells her that he was watching her flirt with The Magician, but she wants him to believe that she knew he was the better magician. Kenny forces Alana to kiss him, but then he recreates the night 3 years ago by freaking out in exactly the same way. What're the odds?

Kenny howls and twirls around the room, wrapping himself up in blankets and curtains and sheets, oh my. Winnebago then walks in with a shovel, which he uses to bash Kenny in the head with....yay, conductor! Winnebago hits him again, and Kenny goes flying out of the train, landing in a semi-frozen body of water many, many, many feet below. His body floats through the cold water, then disappears forever...or, until someone decides to remake this movie(and don't write to me about the recent movie Train...that started out as a Terror Train remake, yes, but then they changed it into an entirely different story.)or do a sequel.

The train keeps going, even though I should now be typing THE END...oops, no, that was it. THE END

Weird. And pretty abrupt. If any movie needed an extra surprise after or during the credits, it was Terror Train. I mean, the concept was a cool one, but there were more magic tricks than murders! Hell, they even botched the switching costumes idea, by giving only the main characters and victims full costumes. Geez, it was like Slasher Flicks For Dummies or something.

Still, there was some stuff to like here, too. I mean, there was a Young Jamie Lee Curtis. That was pretty sweet. The body was somewhat high, all things considered. And the concept of not knowing who was really who under the masks was also a good idea, at least in theory. Like I said earlier, this is one of the few times I'd LIKE too see a remake done. And the film did a good job of presenting a number of characters who could have been killers(Moe, Doc, The Magician, Alana herself)...the characters were pretty dark in this one!

Oh, and if you do a little looking on the internet, there's an interesting theory about this movie, that pretty much everything after the prank backfires is a dream that Alana has, because she feels remorse and guilt for being a part of Doc's scheme. The "clues" are in details like the way the bathroom and mirror were cleaned up after the conductor tried to show someone else the dead body; or the way that Kenny attacked Alana in one room, yet attacked her again by emerging from a door in front of her; or in the scene where Kenny appeared at Alana's window toward the end, but at an implausible position. Kind of far-fetched, but still fun to think about if you re-watch it.

Well, whatever the truth is, the film was better than most of the ones from the last decade or so, so I'm going to give it 3 and a half killer trees, out of 5 Oh, and what were this week's lessons learned from Terror Train?

-If you go to college, avoid fraternities and sororities like a plague, as well as guys named "Doc".

-Don't ever have sex with a magician's assistant...that ain't a wand in her pocket, but she IS happy to see you!

-Magic is fun...until you see 40 card tricks in a row.

No movie next week, and maybe not the week after either. I'm in the process of moving, and I'm not entirely sure how long packing, unpacking, and getting settled will take. I'm still watching at least 1 slasher a week though, so I'm watching Urban Legend next week, as well as Final Destination the following week, and maybe a few online. Next time we see each other, I'll be in my new apartment!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Greenskeeper

I'm not really a "sports guy", so my first reaction to seeing that John Rocker was starring in The Greenskeeper was, "Uhhh, who's John Rocker?" Well, thanks to Google, I can watch this week's slasher with at least a little more knowledge than usual. It won't make the movie any better, but at least I learned something! SPOILERS begin now, so be warned....

Okay, the first scene of this thing isn't very helpful...A guy named Allen is having a dream. He sees a beekeeper standing in his bedroom, then he follows the beekeeper out of the bedroom door. On the other side, Allen finds himself surrounded by gorgeous, smiling women. He moves past them, to an especially attractive one who seems to want him, but a masked assailant jumps her first, slashing her throat with gardening shears. Allen wakes up screaming, and a figure in bed with him leaps up to stab him. Then Allen wakes up yet AGAIN, and the credit sequence begins.

We get treated to several views of a country club, then meet Mr. Anderson, who has a reserved parking space. Before we find out anything else about the guy, the scene shifts to a poolside setting, where several attractive women are being ogled by a couple of obnoxiously happy male employees. There's a guy cheating at cards, a girl breaking the 4th wall by waving at the camera, a woman drinking from a bottle of wine and also smiling into the camera--geez, is this a slasher flick, or the opening credits for a lousy NBC sitcom?

After several more people smile and wave at me, the cheerfully cheesy music is replaced by cheesy scary music. A guy golfing by himself is oblivious to someone approaching him. Uhhh, never mind...the camera passed right over his head. Weird. It starts gaining speed, passing by pretty much every part of the grounds, until the guy in the beekeeper outfit from the first dream scene slams a door on the cameraman. Strange.

Okay, so after all of the baffling shit ends, I guess the movie really begins. There's a very well-endowed blond asking a schlub named Allen what she should wear. He suggests an outfit, and she gets offended. Oh, and her name is Mary Katherine. Mary starts bitching out Allen about his lack of ambition, lack of car, blah blah blah. Oh, and he's the assistant greenskeeper, so maybe that'll be the title of the sequel. And his stepfather owns the country club. Boy, this scene sure seems like an info-dump! Anyone taking notes?

The next scene seems symbolic of the entire film: it starts with a monitor showing static. A group of guys who look either hung over or half-dead are staring at it. Mary passes through, so I guess this is where Allen lives. A large chick named Paige wishes Allen a happy birthday, and her boyfriend(?), Styles(a reference to Teen Wolf, perhaps?) attempts to give him a bong as a present.

Allen tries to tell Styles about his nightmares, but Styles then goes off on a tangent about his own drugged-out dreams. So, based on Allen's rantings, I guess the beekeeper was his father. Wait, wasn't his father the owner of the country club? Oh wait, no, that was his stepdad. anyway...Allen feels like the dreams have a deeper meaning, but Styles doesn't get it. He gives up on trying to explain the dream to Styles, and asks him for a ride to work instead.

Now we get to the Summerisle Country Club. After getting out of the car, Allen spots an attractive employee who smiles at him. With the music playing, it's hard to tell if this is another fantasy or not. Allen stops near a lagoon to space out, and sees a rotting face staring back at him from the water, instead of his normal reflection. Y'know, this shit's getting really annoying! We're only about 11 minutes in(!), and I feel like it's been an hour. If something doesn't happen in the next 20 minutes, I'm sending this one back. I just got Terror Train in the mail, and I'd much rather see that one anyway.

Oh well, in the time it took me to decide that, Allen was nearly frightened to death by an older black man sneaking up on him. The old guy offers him a joint, and they both laugh. Then the movie decides to cut to a lifeguard yelling at a kid by the swimming pool. The movie thankfully leaves him behind, and we catch up with Mary and her fellow bimbo group. As they whine about cars, 2 guys saunter up to flirt with the ladies. One of the guys, Chet, wants to have a party that night, but the party might be cancelled. Chet asks Mary K.(so dubbed because one of the other girls is ALSO named Mary) to convince Allen to let them have the party after hours at the country club.

At this point, the group is interrupted by an older man with a ponytail. He tells them that staying at the country club at night is a bad idea, because the club has a scary past...A former groundskeeper(finally!) was burnt-up in some kind of accident, and swore revenge on whoever caused his accident. Oh, and he supposedly lives in a shack near the club.

It all started with a previous owner of the country club, Old Man Rivers.(Does anyone else hear Scooby-Doo music as they read this?) He was a terrible golfer, and one day, he lost a ball in the woods. When he found his golf ball, he also accidentally discovered The Greenskeeper's shack. Rivers decided to enter the shack, and found a bloody bag inside, containing a human head. As they all speculate about the fate of Old Man Rivers, a brief flashback shows that The Greenskeeper decapitated him with some razor-sharp gardening shears.

Back at the toolshed, Allen and the old black dude discuss whether or not rich chicks ever take a dump. Allen sees a picture of his father and asks the old guy, Otis, about a book he finds near the photo, titled "How To Communicate with the Dead". Otis tries to tell Allen something important about dear ol' dad, but their boss, not-so-dear-but-just-as-old-Stepdad walks in. He reminds Allen that he has a birthday dinner planned, and Otis clams right up. Allen waits for him to leave, then tells Otis that he hates his stepfather.

After a brief montage of Allen and Otis doing maintenance work, we get a conversation between 3 preppies about whether or not Bert and Ernie were gay. They see Allen and call him over. Oh, and their names are Chet, Chas, and Champ. After the 3 C's tease Allen a bit, another guy walks up. He's Chip. This is getting ch-annoying. Allen waves his shears in a threatening way, then walks off.

The next time we see Chip, he's golfing by himself. He knocks a ball into the woods, then goes in after it. An anonymous figure steps into view, dressed like a beekeeper. Gosh, I wonder who it could possibly be? The Greenskeeper throws the golf ball at Chip, then clubs him to death with his own golf club. (off-camera, unfortunately)

Back at the maintenance shed, Otis is quietly putting some supplies away, and Allen sneaks up on him, for once. Ironic. Anyway, the action shifts back to Chip's corpse, where a cop is assessing the condition of the body, and how he died. Allen's stepfather asks him to keep the police report quiet for a few days, and the cop agrees. Immediately after that, the stepfather goes looking for The Caretaker himself. He sees him chopping wood, and tries to strangle him from behind, but it's only Allen. The stepfather apologizes for frightening him, then gives him the rest of the day off.

All of the C's and Mary's drive up to the gate after the country club closes, and they snort some coke. Otis and Allen clean up after work, then Allen leaves to have his birthday dinner. His mother tries to give him his gift, but the stepdad interrupts with a present of his own: a pocket thesaurus. Cheapskate.

While everyone chats around him, Allen starts having another hallucination. He sees his father(I presume) emerge from a body of water, badly burnt. Allen jumps, and inadvertently spills a drink all over MaryK. When she storms off, he follows, trying to apologize. The cute waitress he fantasized about before walks by, and tells him he's whipped, which is true. Allen leaves MaryK alone to go argue with the waitress, who is named Elena.

Elena tells him her life story, until MaryK yells at him from the bathroom. Allen asks the waitress if they can talk again later, then leaves to take care of his psychotic girlfriend. On the way, he sees his mother and stepfather leave the restaurant, because his mother is drunk. As soon as they leave, MaryK asks Allen to let her friends party at the country club that night. Allen gives Elena a long stare, then gives in to his girlfriend. After MaryK runs off to tell her friends the good news, Allen decides to chat with Elena some more. He asks her to the party as his date, then gives Elena his number. Her sisters disapprove, but who cares?

Allen goes back to the maintenance area, and shows Otis the lame gift. Otis then shows Allen the lawnmower he's been fixing, and warns him away from touching the blade, which is razor-sharp. Foreshadowing...? Otis asks Allen to bring him a hammer, which is just a ruse so that Allen can find the bicycle Otis built for his birthday. Touched, Allen tries to ask the old man to come to the party, but Otis has his heart set on watching a scary movie at home, something about a milkman.

Riding his new bike home, Allen gets pulled over by the same cop who investigated the murder of Chip. As they talk, The Greenskeeper watches from a safe hiding place next to the road. Allen tells the cop that he's lousy at his job and corrupt, then just rides his bike home.

Well, I was wrong about The Milkman....The movie that Otis is watching turns out to be a porno. Maybe he has a blog, and watches a different porno flick every--uhhh, never mind. And I guess that the movie is a horror flick, after all...either that, or Otis invited the entire town to watch it with him.

Allen leaves Styles and his frat brothers to watch their movie, then he calls Elena. Uh, didn't he giver her HIS number? Why isn't she calling him instead? Several other characters call each other as well, but since it's just the C's and the various Mary's, I just. don't. care. At all.

Moving on...

Later that night, The Greenskeeper sharpens his weapons and prepares himself to go on a killing spree. Then we get that same shot of the guy emerging from his shack, as the camera flies backwards. Lame.

Allen arrives at the country club late, but then the festivities begin. Another montage starts up, and everyone seems to be drinking and partying EXCEPT Allen. As he sits alone by the pool, Elena shows up. They almost share a tender moment, but the C's show up too, and throw Allen into the pool.

The tennis pro brings a young woman to the tennis court, and she goes off to use the bathroom while he stretches. Meanwhile, all of the other partygoers are pretty much getting high and behaving like jackasses toward Allen. Allen gets another flashback about The Greenskeeper, then decides to break up with MaryK. She retaliates by telling him a lie about Elena, which he somehow believes. Elena is getting hit on by a guy named Stu, so she walks away. The Marys tell her that Allen left, so she decides to look for him. After Elena leaves, the snooty girls all make fun of her.

Chas, the tennis pro, fails to see The Greenskeeper sneak onto the court. The killer sees that the automated ball server is full, so he loads it with nails too, which get mixed in with the tennis balls. As Chas turns back to the machine and prepares to resume his practice session, a nail destroys his racket. Then another nail goes through his head and ricochets, sending blood spraying from his neck and the top of his head. Cool.

In the restroom, Chas' date is yanked off of her feet and dragged into the next stall, then the next. She emerges into the main area of the bathroom again, only to be killed when The Greenskepper rams her against the door, driving a coathanger hook through her neck. Then he just leaves her body on the door's hook and walks away.

Stu gets crazy on crack, and jumps into the pool with his clothes on, splashing the Marys and the cocaine. The girls devise a plan to get him back. One removes her bikini top, and uses it to blindfold Stu, then they get into the pool, so he can hear them in the water. While he shouts "Marco", the girls get out as quietly as possible, and yell "Polo" at him, making him think they're still with him.

Stu realizes that a prank was pulled, but by then the others have already left. The Greenskeeper has shown up though, and he watches Stu for a few moments before doing anything. Stu reaches the edge of the pool, just as a voice softly whispers, "Come to Papa...", then the Greenskeeper bursts out of the water behind Stu and holds him underwater until he drowns.

MaryK and one of the C-guys(Chet, I think) are screwing in a golf kart, and there's a closeup of her breasts. After they finish, he goes into the woods naked to pee, and she puts her bathing suit back on. While her back is turned, The Greenskeeper lifts Chet up in the air, and sit him down on the, ahem, ball-washer. The idiot's penis gets shredded, and he dies. Afterwards, I get my one genuine laugh so far, when MaryK can't find him and tells him to "quit dicking around".

There's a flash of thunder just then, and MaryK briefly sees The Greenskeeper looming behind her. She screams and runs away, but he chases her with the kart onto the golf course. As she puts some distance between them, The Greenskeeper holds his shears like a ninja throwing star, and they fly into her back. He pulls up next to her in the kart, takes the shears out of her, and she feigns being dead. When he drives away, she thinks she's safe, but he then backs the vehicle right into her...which, again, we don't get to see. This movie can't seem to decide whether it wants to be gory or tame, which is kind of weird for this genre.

Otis is sitting around in shorts and a t-shirt, still watching the dumb movie about the perverted milkman. He hears something scraping his shack, but when he goes outside, the movie cuts to another couple about to have sex on the golf course. As they begin, the female insists that her lover should use protection.

Guess who shows up? If you guessed "The Greenskeeper", you go to the bonus round!!! He sneaks up behind the couple, then shoves the divet-making device used to put holes on the course into the male's back. He shoves it until the device creates a hole in both of the lovers, spraying blood everywhere. A final shot of the corpses reveals that they were either directly next to a golf flag, or that the flag was re-planted through the hole the Greenskeeper made.

Back at the clubhouse, Elena has made her way to the swimming pool. She sees Stu's corpse in the lifeguard chair, and tries speaking with him. She finally spots the wound in his throat and tries to run away, but the Greenskeeper snatches her up. He carries her to his lair and slams the door yet again. I swear, this is the most-used sequence in the friggin' movie.

When Elena comes to her senses, she realizes that she's been abducted. She watches The Greenskeeper move around the shack, then sees him leave. She manages to get out the small area she was being kept in, and comes across a wall filled with newspaper articles that fill her in about The Greenskeeper's past. At that point the killer returns, and chases Elena back to her small prison.

Elena finds her cellphone and calls the police, but The Greenskeeper apparently tied up that gay cop and gagged him. Then we discover that he was tied up by some other gay dudes, as part of some sex game. She also tries calling her sister, Rosa, but she's ALSO engaged in some kinky game. Finally, she calls Allen's number, but the idiots watching that stupid milk man movie ignore the ringing, and Allen is ignoring the phone while he's on his computer. Allen eventually decides to pick up the phone, and Elena begs him to come to the country club and rescue her.

Elena backs away from the door, and we can clearly see him outside the shack behind her. He breaks down the wall to grab Elena, but she runs away. As she approaches the door to the shack, Elena smartly presses herself against the wall. Sure enough, The Greenskeeper opens the door to enter, and when he gets toward the middle of the room, Elena runs outside.

She runs through the swampy forest, then hides behind a large tree. The Greenskeeper passes by her hiding place at a brisk jog, and Elena tries crawling away as quietly as she can. She discovers one of the dead Mary's crucified to a tree, complete with wooden pegs driven into her skull.

Elena runs all the way back to the golf course, oblivious to the presence of The Greenskeeper right behind her in the woods. She then finds the other Mary, with half of her face gone after she was run over. Or maybe it's the chick who died in the bathroom. Does it really matter? Next up on the discovery list is Chet, still sitting in the ball-washer, followed by the couple who had gigantic holes(and possibly a flag) driven through them.

Finally, Elena arrives at the shack where Otis was watching his dumb movie. He comes out and stares at Elena, then falls over dead, with pruning shears sticking out of his lower back. She sees The Greenskeeper coming up fast, so Elena runs into the shack, and shuts the door. She looks around for either a weapon or a hiding place, just seconds before The Greenskeeper gets inside. The killer looks for Elena, who gets behind him and uses a rake as a weapon. A rake?!? Uh, did you miss seeing the sturdy baseball bat right NEXT TO YOU?

As the 2 fight, Allen bursts in, grabs the bat(THANK YOU!), and whacks The Greenskeeper in the back of the head. Allen and Elena hug, then Allen realizes that the killer is speaking to him. The Greenskeeper lifts up the net covering his face, tries to speak, then is shot by Allen's stepfather. As he asks if they're okay, Elena sees a strange wound on the old man's wrist, a bitemark that she distinctly remembered doing to The Greenskeeper when he attacked her in his shack.

Stepdad forces them at gunpoint to sit down, then explains why he killed everyone. See, the fabled Greenskeeper was not only Allen's father, but also his stepfather's brother. Stepdad caused the explosion that scarred him, then left him for dead. When Allen's mom married the old coot, he just wanted her to hand over the ownership of the country club to him. He plotted to kill Allen and his mother to get the club, and used the other murders as a diversion.

As the stepfather finishes the story, his brother wakes up and gets a hand on the handle of the rake. He plunges the rake through the real killer's foot, then the two old men have a tussle. Stepdad shoves a waterspout/sprinkler device into his brother's chest, and blood gets splashed all over him and the room. As Stepdad turns around to finish killing Allen and Elena, Otis starts up the defective lawnmower he was fixing, and the blade flies toward the stepfather, decapitating him. Wait, Otis survived???

Allen and Elena come out of hiding while Otis laughs, and Allen's father has enough strength to give him a message: He's sorry. Awwwww. Allen and Elena nearly kiss, but the spout in Dad's chest sprays them again, and they start giggling. Assholes. They help Otis outside, and the screen freezes on the 3 survivors. THE END

Well, as usual, this one's a mixed bag. The sitcom-like opening credits, the many botched kill scenes, the lame humor, the Scooby-Doo revelations....okay, so maybe it wasn't such a mixed bag. The Greenskeeper sucked ass. But some of the kills were pretty funny, and the bodies were fairly gory when they were discovered, so it wasn't all bad. I'd probably give it about 3 and a half killer trees out of 5, considering that it did pick up near the end.

Oh, and what did this movie teach me?

-Sitcoms and slasher films are a bad mix.

-Preppies like not being able to tell each other apart...Right Chaz, Chet, Chip, Charlie, Chad and Chewbacca?

-You can survive an explosion by being blasted into a swamp.

Next week's movie is an oldie starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Nope, not Halloween. Sorry. It's Terror Train instead...wait, didn't I tell you that already? Oh well, try to hide your disappointment....see you next week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Neon Maniacs

This week's movie is short on logic, but long on "WTF was THAT???" It's called Neon Maniacs, which is the first bizarre aspect of the film that never gets explained, and it's another "gem" from the mid-80's. It's sort of what The Monster Squad would have looked like if it had been R-rated. SPOILERS from here on out, so prepare yourself for a strange slasher this week....

The first scene more or less prepares us for the weirdness, by not really preparing us at all. For several seconds of narration, the screen is black, and a narrator says the following: "When the world is rule by violence and the soul of mankind fades, the children's' path shall be darkened by the shadows of...the Neon Maniacs." Well, that made everything perfectly clear, right? then we see some guy fishing at night. He picks up his gear to go home, then sees the skull of a steer in front of a door that's ajar. Curious, he lifts it up, and finds a small package inside the skull. It turns out to be a series of cards, each depicting a different "monster" posing for the world's lamest boudoir photo gallery. As the guy studies them, the door behind him opens wider, and an unseen person attacks the fisherman with an ax. Then we get the credits(complete with a New Age-y sounding theme song), featuring a cast so unknown, they might as well have been in Witness Protection rather than a movie!

Then we meet our schmucks, a group of teens in a van. There's Natalie, a cute blond celebrating her birthday; Lisa, an equally cute brunette; Steven, a nerdy schoolmate out walking his dog(named "Dog", according to him....until he calls it Elvis a minute later), and who seems to have a bit of a crush on Natalie; Ray, a curly-haired a-hole; and another couple who weren't introduced. They pretty much make fun of Steven, then drive away. Important stuff.

Up next, we meet a younger teen in a Dracula costume, a girl named Paula. She lives in a bedroom that Tommy Jarvis would've loved, filled with horror magazines, scary movie posters, and a zillion or so monster masks. She pretends that a werewolf mask is eating her hand. I think we've met the film's token virgin...

At a local park, the van full of teens disembark. A biker drives through their party, and we learn the name of that one anonymous girl is Sue. Her boyfriend, a dopey-looking guy in a denim vest, appears to be named Wally. While they flirt, Natalie and Lisa watch from the van. Oh, and this is kinda random, but Natalie in this scene looks a LOT like Ellie Cornell, the actress who played Rachel in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5. Weird, because in the previous scene, I didn't see it at all. Weird.

The 2 girls discuss birth control, which is as interesting as it sounds. *YAAAAWWWWN* Jim and Sue sit at a secluded picnic table in the dark, oblivious to the small army of monsters approaching. A firecracker goes off, scaring the couple, and one of the rubbery monsters sneaks up on them with a harpoon gun. Wally leaves Sue alone in the dark to find a spot where he can pee.

Natalie is revealed to be a virgin(2 virgins in 1 horror film? Crazy!), then we get a random shot of the Golden Gate Bridge and it apparently screams. Wally is still peeing, and Ray is about to get a blowjob. Boy, this thing is random. Natalie is still in the van, listening to the most laid-back deejay ever.

Wally decides to lie down near the tree he peed on(smart!), and is the first to die when a Maniac that resembles a big reptile plunges a hook into his face. Next to die is the girl going down on Ray, who is beheaded in the middle of the act right before Ray is killed also, by a Maniac dressed like a Samurai. The guy on the motorcycle gets it next, with a punch to the face by a biker Maniac. They brawl for a short time, while Samurai goes after the idiot with the firecrackers.

Confused yet? Wait, it gets even better. Dumbass firecracker guy plunges one into the Samurai's gut, which does absolutely nothing to him at all. The 2 bikers brawl some more, until the Maniac one grabs the ankle of the human biker dude and snaps it. Samurai also finishes off the firecracker guy by hacking off his arm, then stabbing him repeatedly.

Lisa and Ray stop making out long enough to notice that most of their friends have just been killed by monsters. Ray tosses his football at them, and Harpoon Maniac shoots it. Ray gets strangled by a noose, while Lisa is brought down by an arrow in her back. Natalie watches them die, then tries to escape in the van. A friggin' CAVEMAN leaps out of a tree to attack her. I shit you not. Being The Smartest Girl In The Movie, Natalie locks all of the doors, then climbs into the back of the van to hide. You read that right: Instead of getting out of there in THE VAN SHE COULD DRIVE AWAY IN, she climbs into the back. Awesome.

The Maniacs start to waddle in her direction, then try to get to Natalie by smashing the doors and windows. Then they just give up. Oh wait, no, they were just trying to sneak up on her. Gee movie, you sure had me fooled! As a group, the Maniacs decide to try to tip the van over. Then they stop again. And then the cops show up.

Oh, and this is only the first 15 minutes of the film.

At the police station, Natalie tries to explain what she saw, but no one buys her story. Well, almost no one--a detective named Wiley seems intrigued. The lieutenant, a cigar-chomping, smoke-blowing numbskull named Devin, suggests that they wait until morning to see if any evidence turns up. Uhhhhhh, say what now? You have several kids dead, and you don't want to secure the crime scene. What a douchebag. I hope he dies next.

Natalie gets a ride home from a chick who looks like Baby from Dirty Dancing. She hears a message from her mother on the answering machine...apparently, her folks are away on vacation. She nearly calls them, but changes her mind. Then Natalie does what any teen girl would do if she just saw her friends attacked by monsters: she undresses, and goes out to the family pool to swim in the middle of the night. Gotta love movie logic.

Once Natalie enters the pool, Neanderthal Man(iac) is seen watching her from the bushes. Before he can grab her, Nat dives under the water, and swims toward an inner tube. Oh, and she never sees or hears him during this scene, even after he growls in frustration. Oh, and did I mention that he resembles a shaggy version of comedian Daniel Tosh? Yup.

Natalie starts to fall asleep on the inner tube, until drops of blood hit her in the face. She opens her eyes and sees that it's raining blood. Horrified, she tries to get out of the pool, but gets pulled under. No was only a dream. How original. Natalie wakes up for real, and it really is raining this time. The scene just ends there.

The next day at the park, the cops are looking for evidence to either support or disprove Natalie's tale. Since it rained the night before, I seriously doubt they'll find anything. Damn, they heard me! Wiley finds a bunch of "gook", which he collects in an evidence bag. No bodies, though.

Paula, the girl with the monster fixation, is scolded by her mother for oversleeping. The phone rings, and Paula speaks to her friend Gary. He tells her about the kids who vanished in the park, and that there was also no blood.

At school that same day, Steven sees Natalie between classes, but doesn't get an opportunity to speak to her. Some generic girl asks Natalie about what happened, but she doesn't really say much about the previous night. Then Paula shows up, hoping to get all of the gruesome details of the incident. Steven watches the entire conversation, then goes to class.

At lunch, Steven continues to get all googly-eyed at Natalie. A friend of his named Gene tells him to ask her out, because every girl who just saw most of her friends killed would LOOOOOOVE to go out on a date right afterwards. Oh, and then we meet a pretty aggressive girl named Donna. She's pissed at Natalie because her brother, Ray, is among the missing. She demands answers, and attacks Natalie when she doesn't get the answers that she wants. Steven leaps up tp defend Natalie, who gathers her books up and leaves the cafeteria. The school then informs Natalie that she should stay home until the investigation is finished, so she walks home and locks herself inside.

After school, Paula and some of her geeky friends(John, Wendy and a kid who looks like a young Ron Howard) meet up at a graveyard. They're making a movie. About vampires. In broad freakin' daylight. Oh movie, how I love your sheer stupidity. Paula calls Natalie after the filming is done, but gets hung up on.

Steven is holed up in his room practicing on a guitar(for you young'uns, guitars are the things that you play REAL music on, as opposed to the plastic ones you get when you buy Guitar Hero. See? You just learned something!), when there's a knock on his door. It's his sister, telling him that his father needs him to fill in for an employee who didn't show up at the grocery store.

Natalie gets another phone call, this time from one of the distraught parents. Natalie gets upset, then throws a glass of milk. Very dramatic stuff. I bet she was nominated for Best Actress for this scene.

Paula decides to ride her bicycle over to the crime scene, to have a look around. She finds some green slime almost immediately and dips her fingers in it. Give this gal a Nobel Prize for overall intelligence! She gets back on her bike.

Steven looks over the list of groceries he has to deliver(wait, that's a real job?), and sees that Natalie is on the list. He puts on his coolest shades, some make-out music, then rings her doorbell. She's out in the backyard by the pool, so she doesn't hear him at the door. Something tells me that Stevie-boy doesn't mind making a special trip to see her in a bikini. Hell, he even insists on putting all of the groceries away for her. They talk, and he tells her that he believes her story. Then he strikes gold, getting her to agree to go to a movie that evening. Go Steve!

Then we return to Paula. She's found more slime(yellow this time), and tracked it to the mysterious door where the fisherman found the cards. She decides to look around the bridge, and follows a path to yet another mystery door, which is surrounded by dead birds. She gets snatched, but not by a Maniac...a cop finds her and questions her. He soon lets her go home, which she apparently can't do unless one hand is firmly holding her baseball cap onto her head. I want to like her character in this, but does she have to be a COMPLETE dork?? Another cop brings Paula her bicycle, and she heads home, only to be scolded by her parents before they go out to dinner.

The idiot cops from the previous scene are still at the bridge, when one gets attacked by the Maniac with the ropes. After he gets strangled to death, Paula approaches the squad car, only to find the other cop missing as well. She finds a good hiding spot, then watches the door underneath the bridge for any activity.Some of the Maniacs emerge, including 2 that I think were the police officers. Then it starts to rain, and we discover that water is their big makes 'em melt.

We briefly see a pointless scene with Lieutenant Devin listening to the recording of Natalie's interrogation session, then it switches back to Paula, who has run all the way home. She goes over the footage of the Maniacs that she just took, but nothing shows up.

Steven's van died, so he and Natalie take a subway for their big date. Paula, in the meantime, tries to make a plan to protect herself against the Maniacs. She lists their weaknesses as "garlic", "crucifix", and "mirrors", Paula? Didn't you just see what WATER did to them? It's kind of a good starting point, dipshit!

The Maniacs show up at the subway station, and use "magic" to enter. A guy in the ticket booth just watches the bizarre group as they pass him. Steven and Natalie find the subway platform deserted, so they pass the time by chatting. Natalie catches a brief glimpse of a Maniac wielding a spear, but Steven calms her down and they share a kiss.

Too bad Steven's kisses aren't magic, because the Maniacs arrive at the same time as the subway train does. Steve and Nat climb aboard, keeping an eye out for any Maniacs in the nearby vicinity. Except for the teens, all of the other compartments seem to be deserted. As Steven makes a remark about the engineer being normal like them, the Maniacs attack the engineer. Jinx!

While the teens try to figure out the reason the monsters keep attacking Natalie, the Maniacs appear in the next subway car. Steven suggests trying to get help from the engineer, but he's now a Maniac as well. The rest of the Maniacs closely pursue the teens, until Steven uses his belt to tie the next doors they pass through shut.

Sadly, they didn't plan on some of the Maniacs being in cars AHEAD of them as well. Samurai Maniac confronts them from the front, and the other Maniacs cut through the belt and emerge from the door behind the unhappy couple. Uh oh. As the Maniacs prepare to kill the teens, the emergency brakes operate, throwing everyone off-balance.

The exits open, allowing Steven and Natalie to escape. Most of the Maniacs chase them, with the exception of the one driving(I assume) and Samurai. I guess they just wanted to enjoy the ride. Steve and Nat get on a bus, make sure the driver's a human, then try to calm their nerves. In the least-surprising moment so far, a Maniac arm crashes through a bus window to put Steven in a headlock. The arm starts to smoke and dissolve(????), and after a brief struggle, Steven throws it out the window. A guy walking his dog sees it, and mutters that he needs to move out of the neighborhood. Hardy-har.

Devin calls Wiley to tell him that the key to the murders in the park is Natalie. After waking him up with this obvious fact, he tells Wiley to go back to sleep. Ass.

Paula, asleep in her bed, is woken by someone in the house. It's a Maniac. She feigns sleep until he gets near the bed, then she leaps up with a crucifix thrust out in front of her. When the monster just stares at it dumbly, she goes to her back-up plan: a squirt gun. She shoots water at the face of the thing, and it staggers backwards into a bathtub. Yeesh, these Maniacs are dumb! Paula fills the tub and watches the Maniac melt.

The next morning, Steven wakes up on Natalie's couch. He hears glass breaking, and runs into the kitchen to see if she's in trouble. Nope. She dropped a plate. Why can't this chick enter a kitchen without breaking stuff??? After some pleasantries, Natalie lets him take a shower. Rowr! I wonder if she joins him?

Paula arrives at Natalie's front door, and gets it slammed in her face....until she describes how the Maniacs came after her. She tells them about the way water damages the Maniacs, then all 3 take turns saying, "Water." I guess this movie was intended for the Sesame Street demographic. Water.

Paula brings them to the mystery door, where Detective Wiley just happens to be staking out the location from a safe distance, with his trusty binoculars. He then follows them as they drive around in Steven's delivery van. Together, Steven, Paula and Natalie hatch the dumbest plan in the history of dumb plans: As a group. they're going to go to a "Battle of the Bands" competition, and hand out squirt guns to the audience, thereby aming it "the safest place to be". Ummmm....okay, whatever. This movie hurts my brain.

At the competition, everyone is dressed in costumes for no discernible reason. Steven's in one of the bands, which is a pretty good gig for a guy who started the film as a social outcast. Paula's watching from a high vantage point above the crowd, and Natalie is near the front of the crowd with the friend who picked her up at the police station. The other band competing is a generic hair band.

The music is excruciating. Let's just leave it at that, mmm-kay?

The mystery door opens, and the Maniacs emerge, more than a dozen by now. Given how slow they move, I'm pretty sure no one will get hurt until the sequel arrives. Steven's band finishes torturing my ears with their awfulness, then the lights go out. When they come up again, the hair band plays a song that sounds like a roomful of cats being tortured.

Wiley's still keeping an eye on the teens from his car when the Maniacs make their way down the street. He somehow missed spotting them, because they get into the school by loudly smashing windows. They make their way through the school, until they spot an oblivious janitor or security guard watching a baseball game. A Doctor Maniac sneaks up on him with a rag dipped in ether, knocks him out, then performs "surgery" on him, ripping out his entrails.

The second band finishes at about the same time the guard gets his heart ripped out. Steven gets a lucky kiss from Natalie before he joins his band for their second song, then Nat decides to get some fresh air. She enters a restroom, unaware that there are Maniacs roaming nearby.

Steven's band plays a sappy ballad next, while a punk rocker gets mowed down and dragged away by the Motorcycle Maniac. Then Natalie is spooked when another girl enters the bathroom. Nat rejoins her friend to watch Steven sing. Then the Maniacs start to mingle with the crowd. Paula finally sees one start to drag Natalie's friend away, and she and Natalie get Steven's attention.

Steven tries to get the audience to arm their water pistols, but a Commando Maniac bursts in and starts shooting at the crowd. Detective Wiley hears the commotion, and grabs his gun. Sadly, no one in the audience does. They stampede like wild cattle, and many are either trampled or taken by Maniacs.

Wiley finally gets inside and faces down the Reptile Maniac. Before he can shoot it, Doctor Maniac slits his throat with a scalpel. Stephen helps another student tackle a Maniac, but Steven drops his gun in the process. Paula tries to grab it for him, but the crowd kicks it around the floor. Just as the Maniac gets up again and grabs an ax, Paula uses an emergency firehose to decapitate it with a rush of water.

In an interesting twist, Reptile Maniac uses the hook it carries to attack Samurai, dragging him across the floor. Paula takes down several more Maniacs with the hose, and Steven convinces Natalie that they should escape while they can. Nice friends. Within seconds, the auditorium is empty, making Paula realize that her "friends" left her behind.

On the stairwell, Steven pauses to break out another firehose. He drags it to the stairs, then turns on the water. Sure enough, a Maniac tries to come upstairs, and is swiftly zapped by the water. Steven and Natalie hide in a science classroom, and the Noose guy quickly catches up. He doesn't find them, and vents his anger by bashing lockers in the corridor. Our young couple decide to start making out.

After several shots establish just how empty the school is(hint: it's EMPTY) Paula emerges from the auditorium and leaves. The movie cuts back to the police station, where angry parents are demanding to know what happened to their missing children. Paula, Steven and Natalie give their story to Devlin, who clearly doesn't buy it. Then he makes a call, and gets a team of cops and firefighters to the building the Maniacs where they first appeared. All are armed with water pistols and firehoses.

They get the mystery door opened and enter the building, with Devlin in the lead. They get spooked by a bird, then Devlin suggests that they should all split into smaller groups. They find several abandoned vehicles and a lot of junk, but no Maniacs. Devlin clears everyone out, then has one of his men take the kids home.

Devlin goes back in alone, and stops next to an old truck. He wanders through the place again, and spots a light flashing from the back of a delivery truck. Opening the rear doors, he finds Lizard waiting for him, and it drags him inside. As Devlin screams, the doors to both the truck and the building close again. Driving home, Steven advises the girls to keep their squirt guns, in case they ever need to fight off Maniacs again. THE END.

Wow. It's a tough movie to rate. On the one hand, some of the Maniacs were well-designed, and there were several kills, making for a high body count. On the other hand, the movie was silly as Hell, and there's no really interesting backstory to explain where the Maniacs came from, or why they were so infatuated with Natalie. And why did the reptilian one change sides toward the end, only to go bad again? And what made them "neon" in any way, shape or form? Why not call the film Hydrophobic Maniacs? Or Teen Girl Stalker Maniacs? Or Golden Gate Bridge Maniacs, since they emerged from underneath it?

Well, despite the many, many dumb things that are in this movie, I still got a kick out of it. Goofy horror films were in their heyday in the 1980's, and this one fits right in with movies like Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad and Night of the Comet. I'll rate it about 3.5 killer trees out of 5. If I hadn't been left with so many questions at the end, it would've probably scored a point higher just for the sheer goofiness of it all.

And what did the Neon Maniacs teach me this week?

-Squirt guns are lethal to monsters.
-So is music from nearly 30 years ago.
-Any guy can win the affection of any girl, as long as they live in the 1980's.

Up next on my queue is a film called The Groundskeeper. Maybe it'll be good(he says with much doubt).Have a good week!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Final Curtain

Okay, so last week I mentioned that this week's DVD has 2 movies on it. Those movies are The Bonesetter Returns and Final Curtain, both of which are ultra-low-budget affairs. I more or less just flipped a coin, so you're going to suffer through Final Curtain with me, as I wasn't sure that I wanted to see a sequel to a movie about a killer I've never heard of before. I'll be SPOILING the entire film more than pretty much every film Ben Stiller's presence has ruined, so beware! (okay, to be fair, I enjoyed Mystery Men....but that was about it...)

The movie begins with someones Grampa trying to learn how to type on a computer, as music from a feminine hygiene ad plays at an ear-bleeding volume. Gramps pees into a drinking glass as he tries to figure out what all them tiny symbols on the cotton-pickin' screen do when you click on 'em(DAGNABBIT!!), then decides that suicide would be preferable to having to learn how to use Windows. He holds the gun barrel to his temple for so long, I actually started to wonder if he forgot what we was doing, and might wander away to watch "Matlock" or something.

Alas, Gramps does eventually pull the trigger. Before we go to opening credits, we see that he was typing "A MIRTH IN THE FAMILY BY VICTOR JAMESON". Wait, wasn't Mirth the name of the baby that Mork and Mindy had? Why the frickenfrack would he be writing a Mork fanfic? Well, at least it justifies the suicide...

SEVERAL YEARS LATER(as the movie tells us) a guy who looks like a roadie for Motley Crue approaches a building at night. Thrilling. He enters the building(which turns out to be a theatre) and then subjects us to a painfully awkward "reporter" talking into a black dildo. She tells the sex toy that A Mirth in the Family is a play, and that a disgraced director named Sanford Ash will be using the play as his comeback. Motley starts mopping the floor, then senses someone watching him. He shrugs it off, then stops a few more times to make a series of perplexingly goofy faces. After that he goes outside to have a smoke break, and an unseen stalker attacks him from behind. Oh, and a puddle of fruit punch "blood" flows onto the street from under the door. I guess our killer left his sippy cup in the dishwasher tonight.

Okay, I know we're less than 5 minutes into this thing, but I'm officially rooting for the killer.

We finally get to the credits. This thing has a cast of non-thousands, and the music starts getting to you after awhile as well. Not good signs. It actually gets sort of depressing, watching this huge font proudly declare the names of people I'll never see again.

Anyway, after the Bataan Death March of Obscurity ends, we see some building. It's supposed to be something called the Kanata Playhouse, where the previously mentioned play will be staged. It's being brought to the "playhouse" by someone with the unlikely name of Sanford Ash.

At the entrance we get to meet Heidi McMillan and Jim Miller, the young leads in the play. After a painful introduction, they step inside the theatre to meet everyone else in the cast and crew. There's Sanford Ash, whose voice and demeanor often reach Shatnerian proportions; Jen, Sanford's frazzled and overworked assistant; Natasha, a melodramatic stage actress with the worst fake accent I've ever heard; Barry, another actor who sounds like a snake-oil salesman; and a pair of female stagehands whose names I must have missed, because I couldn't tell you who they were if you paid me.

Once everyone has been introduced, Ash recites a speech that would make "Star Trek"'s Data seem warm and fuzzy. When he's finally done with his "robot voice", he and the others briefly discuss the supposed curse associated with the play: Apparently, the writer, before he killed himself, wrote in his suicide note that the play would never be performed. Since then, any time an attempt has been made to stage the thing, an accident or two have managed to close it down. Sounds like that "Spider-Man" musical...

Backstage, the 2 female workers complain about Sanford Ash and his attitude. As they open a closet to put away cleaning supplies, neither one sees the corpse of the scruffy guy just hanging there, in plain view. Yeah, that makes sense!

At 9 that evening, Natasha finds herself alone on the stage. There was supposed to be a read-through of the play, but she was the only one who showed up. Behind her, someone approaches while wielding a rather large blade. She begins talking into her hand, Barry tries to kill her, and it turns out that it's all part of the play.

They take a short break, and Jim seems bamboozled when Heidi mentions a granola bar. Once alone, Heidi nearly has a run-in with a black-clad figure I can only assume is the killer, but nothing happens. Then we find out that Natasha is wearing a wig due to cancer treatments, and that she and Sanford Ash shop at the same boutique for clothes. Oh, and we discover that Sanford and Natasha were once married, and that Jen and Jim used to date. I guess not all the daytime soaps were cancelled after all!

Jen goes upstairs to look for Heidi, and catches a glimpse of the killer. She then finds Heidi slumped in a chair, either dead or close to it. Barry rushes in when Jen screams, and he confirms that Heidi is, indeed, deader than a doornail. When the rest of the group enter, they see that Heidi's wrists are slashed, but the weapon is nowhere to be found. It's....MURDERRRR!!! Oh, and the phones are dead and the exits are all locked.

Another figure is seen lurking in the dark, this time dressed in white. The killer again, or someone new? Everyone splits up into pairs to double-check the exits, and Barry leaves Natasha alone to see if he can get the lights working. Then Jim and Jen split up to check the doors on opposite sides of the room they're in. Uhhhh, what happened to pairing off to remain safe?

While Natasha freaks out over Barry not coming back, he scares her half to death by actually returning. A masked figure is spotted, and Jim pursues him into the building's basement. Oh, and Natasha is almost killed by a falling light fixture, moments before Sanford rushes in. As everyone turns on each other to take turns at being accused of murder, Jen FINALLY realizes that Jim has vanished.

The figure that Jim is chasing somehow has time to change from a black costume to a red one. Nice continuity, movie. Oh wait, it's just the lighting. When Jim catches up to the guy, a fight breaks out. Jim gets kicked in the crotch, and the other guy runs away just as the others come to the rescue.

Barry offers Natasha a seat, then confesses that he loves her. As she tries to let him down easy, the killer is working backstage, trying to set up another murder. Another stage light comes swinging at Natasha, this time decapitating her. Jim runs after the stranger, this time catching up to him, but the stranger starts to get the upper hand. Then the others arrive, the stranger releases Jim, and Jim punches the guy so hard it knocks him out.

The stranger, who goes by the name Lawrence, wakes up. He tells them that he lives in the theatre, because his father used to be the caretaker of the place. Good logic there. After they question Lawrence about the killings, he turns the tables by claiming that they are more likely to be murder suspects. Then the lights go out. When they come on again, Sanford is missing.

Sanford has gone under the stage area, armed with a cigarette lighter. Jim and Jen decide to go looking for him, leaving Barry in charge of watching the prisoner. When the couple do find Sanford, he claims that he left to see if he could fix the lights. All 3 open the door leading to the circuit breakers, and the body of the Motley Crue dude falls out. Unfortunately, the control panel is also dead, and a quick check upstairs reveals that Barry and Lawrence are both missing now.

It turns out that Barry has taken Lawrence for a walk. Lawrence claims to have a set of keys for the doors, and Barry wants to get out of the building first. Lawrence convinces Barry to untie him, and the others catch up to them. After Barry tells them about the spare set of keys, the lights go out. Again. When they come up again, Jim has a gaping wound in his neck. Oh, and both Barry and Sanford have blood on their clothes.

Lawrence tries to throw suspicion their way, but no one believes him. The 4 survivors get to a door, but then a strange noise freaks them out. Sanford leaves the group, claiming that he wants to avenge Natasha's murder. Barry then goes after Sanford, leaving Jen alone with Lawrence. She stays with him at the door, ignoring the fact that everyone suspected him of murder about 5 minutes ago.

Sanford gets to the stage, and shouts for the killer to face him. The camera zooms in, then fades to black as we hear him say, "Ooooh-aaaah!" Geez, the guy can't even DIE without hamming it up! Shatner would be proud.

Lawrence tries all of his keys on the door, but none of them work. As a back-up plan, he tells Jen that he knows of a secret exit in the theatre. Unfortunately, it involves climbing around in the ceiling air ducts. They crawl around in the ducts for a short while, then the tunnel collapses under their weight. They "fall" into a back room, then hear Sanford scream.

A hand "stabs" Sanford, just before Jen and Lawrence find him. Barry then appears, covered in blood, and delivers a speech that seems cribbed from several episodes of Scooby-Doo and Murder, She Wrote. His motive was that he loved Natasha, but Sanford stole her from him. The usual jealousy thing, blah blah blah. Whatever.Lawrence and Jen take off, and Barry pursues them. Lawrence pushes Jen ahead, then turns around to fight Barry. Their fight is mostly in shadow, so it's pointless to try to figure out what's happening in this scene.

Jen, still running, decides to climb a ladder and hide above the stage. Lawrence comes looking for her, but Barry leaps at him, and they fight some more. Then Lawrence limps away to find himself a good hiding spot as well. Barry sees him, and throws a blade at him as he tries to get away, stabbing him in the back.

Jen peeks out from her hiding place, sees her shadow, and we get 6 more weeks of watching a dreary movie. Damn! She pokes her head out again, and Barry taunts her from an unknown position, promising to kill her quickly, because he likes her. Then he reveals an actual plot twist: he had a partner helping him? But who could it be???

A female hand grabs Jen, providing a big hint. It was Heidi, the starry-eyed young actress. Looking back at her death scene, it seems pretty obvious now...I mean, it was Barry who checked her pulse, after all. Oh, and that leads to ANOTHER twist I didn't see coming: Barry is Heidi's father. Boy, if the rest of the film had been written like this, the movie might have been almost watchable!

It also turns out that the play itself gave Barry a scheme for his revenge, due to it being "cursed" and all. Before they kill Jen, she wants to know one final detail...why did they bother killing the janitor at the start of the film? Both Barry and his daughter look perplexed, and claim that they didn't even know he was dead. Whodunnit???

A shower of electrical sparks fall from the ceiling, and the building starts shaking(my mind was aching, and we were faking it was YOU who shook me alllllll niiiight loooooong!), and a horribly fake explosion is seen from outside the theatre. When the dust settles, we get brief glimpses of Barry, Heidi and Jen, all dead. Then the credits roll. During the credits, we see the reporter with the weird eyes again, asking several people what they they think of Ash, and it's all pretty pointless and strange. Oh, and to add insult to injury, those 2 women who worked backstage weren't even given NAMES! No wonder I couldn't identify them....the freaking maker of the film didn't even do it. And don't get me started on the way he ripped off Sam Raimi in the credits...geez, this Brett Kelly guy has balls of TITANIUM instead of brass! And what about that ending! Did the play have some kind of demonic force behind it that killed the last few characters? Was it the ghost of the playwright, Victor Jameson? Was it just some freak earthquake? I mean, if you're going to try to give your MacGuffin some kind of cool backstory, SHOW it your audience!!!

Okay okay, I'm done venting. I'm not going to bother with the other film on the DVD...I learned my lesson about no-budget films, thanks! Just for making a film, I'll be generous and give it 1 killer tree out of 5, and that's a gift, considering that the film lacked any real gore, acting, or any semblance of a cool idea that was actually followed up in a satisfactory way. And what did this travesty teach me ths week?

-That you can have a high body count, and somehow botch nearly every kill in the film.

-All theatre people talk like the Master Thespian character that Jon Lovitz used to play. Google it, young'uns, it's totally worth it.

-Movies you make with your friends should stay private. Forever.

Okay, so now that I'm skipping that Bonesetter thing, my next slasher film will be an '80's horror flick called Neon Maniacs. Sounds great, see you next week!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cutting Class

As I've pointed out before, it's not uncommon to see famous actors in horror films--especially early in their careers. This week's slasher, Cutting Class, is no exception. It stars none other than Brad Pitt, caught up in a love triangle while a killer is on the loose. Was it a legend of the fall, or did it seem like it was written by twelve monkeys? Read this incredibly SPOILERY article to find out!

The film begins with a teen girl grabbing the morning paper, which has a headline on the front page about a local boy who is being released from a mental hospital, where doctors were trying to figure out whether or not he killed his father. I'll be completely honest, though: I'm much too busy staring at this hot chick. She's like a sex-kitten version of Winona Ryder, which is NEVER a bad thing, in my book! Anyway, her name is Paula, and her father(played by the always-funny Martin Mull) is about to embark on a week-long hunting trip. We also discover that her dad's a district attorney....I'll bet that becomes a plot point later...

At a bar near his hunting spot, Dad reveals that he's hunting bloodthirsty, ravenous, killer...ducks. All of this over some DUCKS??? An elderly man who hears about his goal smears some mud and worm-guts all over Dad's clothing, supposedly to mask the scent of the city. Uhhh, thanks?

Out in the middle of a bog, Mull misses a few ducks, then hears a young man calling to him from an undisclosed location. Although Mull doesn't realize it yet, the stranger is armed with a bow and some arrows. He fires one, and it lands in Mull's abdomen. He keels over, clutching the arrow's entry point as some fog rolls by.

Next, we get a VERY young-looking Brad Pitt putting some corny '80's pop music into his cassette player, then driving to school. He nearly hits another vehicle because he was distracted, then almost kills a kid riding a Big Wheel. Oh, and he then taunts the kid's mother before he drives away, which isn't particularly bright.

He arrives at the high school late, and enters his chemistry class while the teacher is demonstrating the danger of mixing certain chemicals together. The teacher asks him a question, and we find out that Pitt's name in this is "Dwight". Okay, Dwight it is. A nerd sitting near Dwight stage-whispers every answer to him, even the simple ones. The teacher makes a piece of sodium explode, and a boy in the back of the class seems pretty interested. Whee. Learning is fun, kids.

While Dwight is busy suffering through Chemistry 101, Paula is preparing her fine hot self for gym class. She knocks over an archery display on her way to the gym, and notices that one of the arrows has a wet leaf sticking to it. Gee, I wonder where it was recently used?

In the actual gymnasium, Paula gets up on a balance beam and starts walking in her shorts and tight shirt. Thank you, lord, for reading my mind. The quiet kid from the back of the chemistry class, Brian, stares at Paula(Get in line, dude!), so the coach tells him to climb a nearby rope until he reaches the top. Dwight(boy, that chemistry class must have been about a minute long...) gets under the rope and starts swinging it around.

Can you guess what happens next? If you guessed "Brian falls off of the rope, and miraculously escapes serious injury", you win! *DINGDINGDING* When Brian falls, the coach somehow blames HIM for the accident, and makes him do 30 push-ups. Luckily, Paula's still posing on her beam, so at least he has a nice distraction...

After school, which apparently consisted of just 2 classes, Paula, Dwight and another girl go to a local burger joint that looks like something from "Happy Days". Things go a bit sour when Brian appears and is confronted by Paula's top-heavy friend Colleen, until Dwight suggests to Paula that they party at her house. Colleen and Paula both pressure Dwight to give Paula his class ring, but Paula settles for a hot dog when Dwight starts getting nervous. The nanosecond he leaves, Brian pops up again, presenting her with a hot dog. Dwight returns, sees what Brian did, and yells at the girls to get in the car. Before they leave, Dwight threatens Brian.

At Paula's home, Dwight puts on some of Martin Mull's clothes. Then he makes a penis joke and tries to get Paula to have sex in her father's bed. She wisely refuses. Good, now her family won't have to pay for a shrink, when she inevitably represses the memory of screwing her boyfriend, who was dressed as her father.

The next scene is back at school, showing the principal sniffing what looks like a pair of panties while making morning announcements. Paula shows up a little bit tardy for an art class, where she'll be disrobing and posing...wait, did I just type that? And this is in high school? Where was this class when I was a teenager?

Dwight, of course, objects to Paula disrobing, but the teacher tells him to get to his own class. Yeah, Dwight...don't ruin this for me! Awwww, she's wearing a black leotard. Oh well, she still looks great. The art teacher has her bend over, which brings Brian out of hiding. He was crouched behind a statue, and he grabs it by the breasts when it accidentally tips over. *snicker*

The teacher calls Brian to the head of the class, and makes him pose next to Paula. They get dangerously close, and we get to see Brian's "Oh!" face.(if you don't know what that is, rent the movie Office Space. Trust me, it's worth it.)

Between classes, Paula is selling tickets to a basketball game. When a middle-aged portly student starts giving her the third degree about refunds, the principal arrives, probably to tell him to stop lurking in high schools. The principal then asks Paula to stop by his office after school. When she enters the office, he's hiding behind a coat rack. Um, okaaaaay...He has her pick up a cheerleading uniform off of the floor, just so he can stare up her skirt.

Brian walks past a bunch of lockers, hitting them with a stick, and looking like a zombie. Then the scene cuts to the art teacher, cleaning up. He has a series of fresh busts put away, and a kiln the size of a 7-11. When he enters the giant oven to move the last bust, he is pushed into the oven, and the door is slammed shut. Then the killer cranks up the temperature gauge, and we get a big serving of Teacher Steak. Well done, of course.

Paula gets in her car, and Dwight jumps up from the backseat. Lucky for her, he only plants a kiss on her cheek, as opposed to, you know, strangling her or something. Paula tells him about being put in charge of the new cheerleading uniforms, and Dwight suggests that they celebrate. When Paula tells him no, he vaguely threatens her by saying, "I don't get mad, I get even..."

Dwight exits her car, and tries to get back into the school to retrieve a textbook. The janitor, Shultz, taunts him, then walks away, leaving Dwight pounding on the front door. A couple of Dwight's friends show up, and all three decide to leave to get some beer and party.

Back inside the school, Shultz pushes his cart down the hall, then stops at a classroom and dons a pair of work gloves. He makes a comment about "dirty work", which makes me wonder: is he going into the art room? Hmmm....

At home, Paula gets up to answer the front door, but there's no one there. She looks around a bit, and sees someone across the street, lurking in the bushes. When she shuts the door, the figure steps out in the open a little bit. It looks like Brian, but I'm not 100% sure, so don't hold me to it.

There's another knock. It turns out to be Dwight, Colleen, and Colleen's boyfriend Background Extra #2. Dwight asks to borrow Paula's key to the school files, and she makes him exchange it for his beloved ring. After the exchange, Paula refuses to go with them, which seems kind of stupid, considering that she'll probably be held responsible for any mischief they create while in possession of her key. Also, what good is the key if they're still not able to enter the school in the first place? Seriously, does their plan even make sense???

As Dwight and his friends start to leave, they reveal that they took Paula's textbook with them. She sheepishly exits the house, and joins them on the adventure. As they take off down the road, Brian rides his little-girl bicycle in the opposite direction. seriously, the only thing it's missing is a big pink basket. The tassels on the handlebars are a nice touch, though.

At school, the kids break a window. Okay, I guess that answers my last question. Shultz hears them while he's buffing the floor, but doesn't catch them. They race down a few generic hallways, then enter the principal's office, where they look at their personal files. Dwight finds Brian's file, and they discover that he was heavily medicated, given shock treatments, and was diagnosed as a Nucking Futcase. Brian is watching them from behind a watercooler, which they somehow all fail to notice(Colleen even gets a cup of water, and remains oblivious!!)...

They leave the office without putting anything away(real smart!), and Background Extra #2 ducks into the teacher's lounge to photocopy some of the files. Dwight, who magically arrived before the other teen, watches him from a shadowy corner. He must be the son of Jason, with teleportation powers like that.

The next day in math class, Brian is handed a pair of electrodes, then Colleen mocks him by pretending to be electrocuted. Charming. Dwight is questioned by the teacher, who doesn't buy his story about the janitor refusing to let him get his math book. To make matters worse, Brian then gives the teacher the correct answer, which just serves to piss Dwight off even more.

Outside, the science teacher has the class identifying birds and plants and shit. He actually walks right over Paula's father, who gasps. Wow, he's still alive? He gasps again to try to get them to see or hear him, but the teacher claims that it was the mating call of a bullfrog. Dwight is the last to leave the swampy area, but he only stops to pick up a snake. Paula's father passes out. Or dies.

That night, everyone's at the big basketball game. Dwight meets a guy looking to give him a possible basketball scholarship, and nearly blows it by being late for practice. Something happened to get Dwight ejected from the game, but the DVD glitched up at that point. When it started playing normally again, Brian began lurching up the bleachers like Frankenstein's Monster, glaring at Paula. If anyone has a working DVD and can tell me what I missed, I'd appreciate it.

Anyway, Paula's friend Colleen is somehow dragged under the bleachers(she thinks it's her boyfriend, I guess, although the DVD once again stuttered and glitched up), and she sees her boyfriend get his throat slit. With her screams covered by the crowd noise, Colleen is then dragged into the shadows and killed.

Outside, Dwight is sitting in the car, with his head pressed against the steering wheel. He asks Paula who won the game, then they start to make out. That's exactly when Brian shows up next to the car. He makes a noise that scares Paula, but neither she nor Dwight ever see him. She asks Dwight to drive her home.

As he's mopping up after the game, Shultz finds a sticky puddle that looks like blood. He even smells it. Oh, and he mumbles something too, but the captions don't have it, and endless rewinding doesn't quite make it clear enough to make out. Hope it wasn't important...

The next day, a shop class is studying car brakes. As luck would have it, Brian is working under Dwight's car, and Dwight joins him to make sure that he doesn't try anything funny. Then the two boys actually have a somewhat wistful conversation about the days when they were still close friends. Brian implies that Dwight may have done something to alter his father's car, but the chat ends with both guys laughing. Weird.

Back in the swamp, Martin Mull has actually stayed alive, and is trying to limp his way back to civilization. He teeters once or twice, but remains standing. Wow, I guess he has 9 lives!

In math class, Paula tells Dwight about Colleen's disappearance, but he shrugs off her concern. During the chat, the teacher has been trying to get Dwight to answer a math problem, and confronts him in front of the entire class. Brian then tries to defend Dwight, and the teacher ejects both of them from his class.

In the hallway, Brian tries to make peace with Dwight, but doesn't get a friendly response. Dwight is called into the vice principal's office first(or maybe she's A guidance counselor, at this point could care less), and Paula arrives to sit with Brian. She sets his mind at ease, then Dwight ruins the moment by storming out of the office and taking off down the corridor.

Brian is called into the office, and he's told that none of his teachers like him. When she tries to tell him that they just want to help him, he swears at her(it's a great line that I won't ruin for you here) and is promptly suspended. So wait, if anyone else dies in school now, can we rule Brian out as the killer?

As Dwight and Paula cut through the gymnasium, Shultz yells at them about their shoes scuffing the floor that he just cleaned. He makes a dramatic exit, then ruins it by continuing to turn back to them and keep yammering mindless threats. Dwight leaves Paula at the door to the locker room, and tells her that he's going to study harder, now that whatever I missed during the basketball scene cost him a scholarship.

In the dark room with the copy machine, the woman who suspended Brian is assaulted. She is grabbed by her head, and her face is smashed into the copy machine, which creates several pictures of her various stages of death. It's actually kind of creative, considering that many of the early deaths were so bloodless.

In a school bathroom, Dwight has another run-in with Brian. This is going to sound weird, but they seem to be trying to compete at washing up. You have to see it to believe it....and even then, you'll be scratching your head in bewilderment.

Paula finds the body at the copy machine and screams, which brings Dwight, Brian and a small crowd of onlookers. As Dwight tries to check for any signs that the body might not be dead, he points at Brian and names him as the killer. Dwight chases him down the hall, and both boys end up in a storage area that resembles an S&M dungeon. Hilariously, Brian walks right past the exit while searching for it, and Dwight corners the principal, who is dressed like a cross between Carmen Miranda and Mozart. Dwight sees Brian escape the area, and continues the chase outside.

Somehow, out in a wide open area, Brian shakes off Dwight. The police get involved, and it's now a huge manhunt. Martin Mull shows up again, and is found by a police dog. In a scene that defies all logic and sense, he manages to scare off the dog and avoid any kind of rescue AGAIN.

The town holds a meeting at the high school, and angry parents arrive holding copies of the photocopied woman's dead face. Dwight's dad demands that the principal bring Brian to justice, and Dwight embellishes what he witnessed under pressure from his dad.

Behind the school, the janitor's busy trashing most of the photos in a dumpster. When he goes back inside, Brian emerges from underneath the trash, clinging to one of the pictures of the dead woman. He then rides his 10-speed Huffy to Paula's house, where she hears him in her driveway. She exits the house and finds no one there, then hears a weird noise as she goes from room to room. It turns out to be the little kid with the Big Wheel, who apparently has no curfew. Nice.

Upstairs Paula finds a recording of her father preparing his closing argument in Brian's criminal trial. He refers to Brian as "scum" and a "plague" on the tape. Boy, Brian's looking guiltier and guiltier. I hope there's some great plot twist coming up, because otherwise this is like Slasher Movies For Dummies thus far....

Ah, clarity! The next scene reveals that the dead woman, Mrs Knopf, WAS the vice principal after all. Paula finds Dwight in the auditorium, rehearsing lines for what I'm assuming is Drama Club. She hands him a pile of papers, which turn out to be documented transcripts from Brian's trial. As Brian watches from a hiding place, Paula reveals that Dwight was somewhat responsible for teaching Brian how to cut car brakes. Brian refused to name him in court, because he still wanted to believe that they were friends. Brian makes a noise that scares them off.

The next scene has tits. Nice ones. That is all.

In gym class, the teacher is helping Paula learn archery. Yeah, more like lechery, the way he's got her in his arms. Dwight shows up too, but is thrown out for not wearing his gym clothes. He also threatens to fail Dwight if he doesn't show up for a make-up class. Dwight starts to aim an arrow at the gym teacher when he walks away, but Paula calls his name, so he fires the arrow at a target instead. He gets a bull's-eye. A brief scene shows Paula's father still in the swamp, which is getting kind of dull at this point. Either escape or die, man.

Back at home, Paula finds Dwight at her front door. He's drunk as a skunk, and whining about his teachers. Paula gets him to leave, then prepares to strip down to her panties and wash her hair(!), but Brian walks in. He scares her, but then he begs her to help him find Mrs. Knopf's REAL killer. When Paula tries to get her hands on some scissors to defend herself with, Brian grabs them first.

In a surprise move, he tells her to stab him if she really believes that he killed his father. He then denies that he had anything to do with any of the other deaths and disappearances in the school. Paula starts to believe him.

Dwight's in a phone booth. He calls Paula to tell her that he's going after everyone who ruined his life. Then she discovers that Brian stayed in her room the entire night, apparently just to watch her sleep. He shows her the picture he was holding when he stepped out of the dumpster, and it clearly shows the killer wearing a class ring just like the one Dwight had. Wait, didn't he trade it to Paula for her key? I don't recall her giving it back to him. Weird. Anyway, both Paula and Brian agree that they need to find and help Dwight.

Dwight shows up at the gym to make up the class he "missed". He tells off his gym teacher then storms out, but promises to return. The gym teacher does what anyone in that situation would do--he gets on a trampoline. Meanwhile, Paula and Brian sneak back into the school, but the janitor finds them an attacks Brian with his mop. Paula runs away, and is nearly caught by Shulze. She makes her way to the second floor, then hides.

Back at the trampoline, the gym teacher fails to see the killer coming up behind him with a flagpole. In a scene that was apparently stolen several years later in the movie Grindhouse, the teacher is impaled when the pointy end of the flagpole is rammed through his crotch and ass. MAJOR ouch!!

Paula finds the bodies of both Colleen and her boyfriend tied together in a closet. Dwight then tracks her down, but she locks the door before he can open it. Paula escapes through a different door, only to run into the arms of one of her wacky teachers, the math teacher I think...boy, doesn't ANYONE skip school on a Saturday??? They hide in a classroom just seconds before Shultz shows up, holding his mop like a rifle. This movie is getting pretty damned crazy, isn't it?

Someone turns on the PA system and plays a goofy-sounding pop song that I guess was supposed to be scary somehow. Paula and the teacher run into a different class to try to escape via a window, but they all have bars on them. After doing this a few times, they wind up in a classroom where the killer has posted a word problem on the blackboard for them to solve. The math problem is this: "A train leaves Chicago at 8, heading east. Another train leaves Boston, heading west at 8. At what time will the trains collide? X equals 1 or 2." Oh, and did I mention that the exits are marked with a 1 and a 2? Because they are.

The math teacher decides to try and solve the problem, but has a meltdown when Paula tries to rush him. He eventually tells her that the answer is Door 1. He opens Door 1, then proudly looks at Paula, just before getting an axe planted in his face by Brian. After killing the math teacher, Brian starts bragging about how smart he is, then asks Paula to go out with him. Then he tells her his motives for the killing spree.

It boils down to this: Brian was hurt when Paula's father called him a murderer during the trial. But over the course of the 5 years he spent at the mental hospital, Brian decided to embrace the label, and make murdering his vocation. He then rambles on about being so good at murdering people that he can defy time and space to commit his evil acts. As he winds up his speech by threatening to kill Paula next, Brian is surprised by Dwight, who breaks the door open with an axe.

Dwight and Paula head straight for the nearest exit, but Brian chained it up tight. Then they break into the science lab, where Dwight formulates a plan. He has Paula get an overhead shower nozzle running while he desperately tries to find the huge chunk of sodium the science teacher used earlier in the week. He grabs the wrong rock and throws it at Brian, which does absolutely nothing.

They run away into the industrial arts department next, where they hide behind some equipment. Brian comes in after them, and turns on some of the equipment to cover the sound of him searching, and he surprises Dwight with a kick in the face. Both boys grab electric saws and start to duel, but Dwight has a malfunctioning one. He throws it at Brian, who then throws his at Dwight, using the distraction to hide.

Dwight waits for Brian to turn his back, then gets his neck in a stranglehold with a long rod that has a manacle-like device on it. Brian tells Dwight that he'll release him if he kills Paula. Dwight raises the saw, but flings it futilely at Brian instead. As Paula stands around like a ninny, Brian puts Dwight's head in a vise and starts twisting it tighter and tighter. Paula begs him to stop, and he leaves Brian flailing at the lever while he kisses Paula.

To buy Dwight more time, Paula starts to unbutton her blouse. She asks him to close his eyes while she undresses, and the bonehead actually complies! Okay, in his defense, he DOES open them again, to tell her not to hurt him, but still...and then he closes them again! Paula quickly grabs a nearby hammer and plants the sharp end into his forehead. She then pushes him into either a table saw or drill, which goes right into his back. There's blood EVERYWHERE!

Shultz shows up while Paula's easing the tight grip on Dwight's head. The janitor makes several attempts at sexual banter with Paula, which makes me wonder if maybe he was legally blind during the whole movie, and somehow I just never picked up on it. I mean, if I enter a room where one guy is dead, another guy is being tortured, and a chick is trying to escape, pick-up lines are probably pretty low on my list of priorities...

Paula and Dwight tell the cops how they solved the murders, and the only thing missing is a big cartoon dog making a hoagie in a marijuana-filled van. The couple leave the school, just as Martin Mull's character finally gets out of the damned swamp. He rolls down a pretty big hill at the same time that Dwight starts speeding up on the road, and that's when they discover that Brian DID manage to cut the brakes on the car. Thinking quickly, Dwight sends the car into a spin, and manages to stop it just before it hits Mull. Mull tells them that he can't wait to kill Brian for what he put him through, and they tell him that they already killed him. Then he yells at them for cutting class to go out joyriding. THE END

All in all, a pretty fun slasher flick. There were around 7-8 deaths, some of the gore was decent, and the lead was a pretty hot actress. I'm giving this one 4 and a half killer trees out of 5, with the hope that more movies from the late '80's/early '90's turn out to be this goofy and entertaining. Oh, and what did I learn from Cutting Class?

-Math kills

-So does salt.

-You can survive for a week after being shot by an arrow in a swamp. In fact, the longer you stay out there, the stronger you'll get!

The next DVD Netflix is sending me has 2 movies on it, so my movie next week is either The Bonesetter Returns or Final Curtain. Hopefully one of them will be as much fun to watch as this week's movie was. See you soon!