Sunday, 13 December 2009
DVD: IAN'S SLASHFEST 2009
(No photos because for some reason my right mouse button has stopped working.)
Three slasher movies in three days. Having read a variet of reviews the consensus seems to be that they are all deserving of a decent reputation. Note that I use the word consensus and not uniformity of opinion. They are looked at in viewing order.
First off is The House on Sorority Row (1983). The DVD is a cheapo no frills, no subtitles, region 0 edition.
Plot in a nutshell: 20 years earlier baby experiments go wrong; sorority house end of year; party planned; house mistress horrible and dies when a prank goes wrong; killer kills at the their party; final girl kills him/her/it; last scene, 'dead' killer opens eyes. Very formulaic.
What I liked: generally okay but nothing worth singling out.
What I didn't like: there are no twists, not a one. Is the house mistress dead or not? Answer: dead and stays that way. Is the killer one of the girls? No. Is the killer the final girl's blind date? Can't be, too obvious, must be a red herring. He's a red herring. Is the killer anyone we've met? No. he's the house mistress's deformed locked up son. Decent gore: no, relatively tame and despite mild nudity the 18 rating is unwarranted.
Friday 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). Trailer, subtitles.
Plot in a nutshell: you mean you don't know? Okay. Idiot who killed Jason years ago digs him up to burn the body; resurrects Jason; spends rest of movie evading the police who think he's pretending to be Jason; real Jason kills lots of people at camp.
What I liked: the first part which is a horror-comedy. "I've seen too many horror movies not to know that a man in a mask is not going to be friendly," says a soon to be victim. The gravedigger on seeing Jason's dug up grave turns to the camera and says, "The things that some people consider entertainment." Jason's encounter with a group of screwy paint-ballers, where he acquires a nice shiny machete to replace the spear-like cemetery railing he'd been using, is very funny. The sight-gag of the camera panning over sleeping pre-teens clutching teddies, picture books, and one bespectacled girl with an arm over a novel by John Paul Sartre.
What I didn't like: very little, it's just the rest is the usual unimaginative stalk and slash. Sometimes something like an unexpected severed head will raise the game a little but otherwise it's nothing you haven't seen before. The worst thing is a room lacking a body but absolutely drenched in blood leaving you to shudder at what might have happened there. Most of the killing is done in a cut-away shot which reduces the impact.
The Burning (1981). No frills DVD, no subs.
Plot in nutshell: Hideously scarred after a camp prank went wrong and finally released from hospital after five years, Cropsy heads back and begins killing the current group of campers.
What I liked about it: pretty much everything. This is it! This is what a slasher should be. The director piles on the tension, so much so that for the first in ages I was peeping nervously around the corner of a DVD case. Explicit graphic gore, but not really vilely hideous but bad enough, courtesy of Tom Savini. Good cast who portray believable varied interesting shaded characters. Kids act like kids. These aren't formula stereotypes but people you can believe in and care about. It is genuinely scary and for the first time in ages I was actually scared rather than amused by a horror film. I'd nearly forgotten what that was like. I'm keeping this one and will be watching it again.
What I didn't like about it: missing Holly Hunter. Apparently it was her first movie and I was looking out for her but never noticed her. Darn. Oh and maybe they could have shown the hideously scarred killer more than the one brief glimpse near the end.
And so ends my slasher infatuation. If they were all as good as The Burning, I'd be digging out more of this genre but they aren't and so it's back to monster horror movies (see recent posts). However before I leave you, there's this.
Frightmare (1974, UK, dir.Pete Walker). DVD: commentary, trailers, subs.
This is part of a cheapo 4-DVD pack of British exploitation maestro director Pete Walker's early 1970's efforts. All his movies were cheaply and quickly done using good, but mostly then-minor, British actors. They boasted lurid titles -Frightmare means absolutely nothing in the context of this film. It is, however, a genuinely grim and disturbing piece of work. Released after 15 years in a mental hospital, Sheila Keith soon reverts to her homicidal cannibalistic ways, unknown to her loyal husband Rupert Davies. His daughter by a previous marriage lives in London with the couple's tearaway daughter who believes them dead. When the former's boyfriend starts investigating it builds to one of the most fucked-up vile conclusions to a movie that I've ever seen. This has more genuine emotional impact than the three previous movies put together. There is gore but it's more emotionally horrifying that anything else.
All I can say it that I hope the other three in the pack aren't this grim.