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Hatchet III

The DVD Shelf

hatchet 3 dvd 001I really enjoy horror films made by those who are fans of the genre so make the type of horror films that they enjoy. This is the third of director/writer Adam Green’s Hatchet series which his tribute to slasher horrors of the 80s such the Friday 13th series. These films don’t have symbolism or character: they just have victims and an excuse to get them into the kill box and I have great time watching and seeing all the new ways the special effects guys can kill them off.

Danielle Harris is back as Marybeth a young woman who was looking for her father and brother in the first film and looking vengeance for their deaths in the second film.  This one starts with her killing the deformed undead maniac Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) even though he was already dead she actually kills him twice in very gory manners and thinks she’s finished him for good but that is unlikely since this the start of the film and this film is not told in flashback.

Marybeth drags herself to police station where the gore plastered all over her and the shotgun causes a full-scale panic. Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) wants to know what happened and sends a patrol car to check it out while he interviews Marybeth who basically summarizes the events of the first two films. I like a film that can laugh at itself and when Fowler describes her story as ridiculous and contrived he’s talking about those films. Of course he doesn’t believe her story and locks her in cell.

Fowler gets a call from the deputy on the scene and is told about the grotesque collections of body parts everywhere. Fowler tells the deputy to call in cops, paramedics and fire crew to assist finding all the bits and it isn’t difficult to figure how that is going to turn out.  The emergency crews start appearing and one is a paramedics called Andrew (Parry Shen) who is played by the same actor that played two brothers that died in the earlier films. When someone comments on a body looking like him he remarks on the casual racism but it’s actually a reference to the brothers.

Back the station Fowler leaves Deputy Winslow (Robert Diago DoQui) in charge as he heads out to the scene narrowly avoiding having to deal with his ex-wife Amanda (Caroline Williams) who has heard all about the murders over police radio frequency and has connected them to Victor Crowley. She is a reporter whose obsession with the Crowley legend has made her a laughing-stock. Now Amanda has a chance prove she is right. Winslow is soon bullied into letting Amanda talk to Marybeth and telling her that she knows how to kill Crowley permanently.

At the swamp they have Crowley’s body ready for examination by a paramedic in an ambulance boat and the scene is reminiscent of so many slasher films where they have a killer’s body about to undergo an autopsy but he comes back to life. The film doesn’t bother giving us much detail of the symphony of blood and pain Crowley plays with these background characters but we get the picture. Fortunately the deputy gets a call in to alert Fowler and Winslow before he gets cut off.

The report from the swamp convinces Marybeth that Crowley is still active but doesn’t persuade her to go back even if Amanda insists that she’s essential. Winslow just cuffs her and puts her in back of his patrol car. Amanda needs to make a stop at the house of Abbot McMullen (Sid Haig) a crazy old racist who keeps insulting Winslow. It is an amusing scene but I just wanted to get back to action in the swamp which is fortunately where Amada and Winslow are going with Marybeth as their prisoner.

Sheriff Fowler gets to the swamp with his deputies and the place is covered in fresh remains of the first team. A SWAT team has also arrived led by Tyler Hawes  (Derek Mearswho is a patronising arrogant tool and he puts himself in charge. Among the deputies is Schneiderman (Cody Blue Snider) a young deputy who is crapping himself because he totally believes in Victor Crowley and he’s brought a bag full of big guns. He is freaking out at the slaughter around him but the sight of testicles hanging from a tree puts him over the edge and he wants to walk off the job even when total prick Hawes has him against a tree. They get distracted by discovering Andrew who seems to be the only survivor and like Scheiderman he is appalled by the suicidal recklessness of Hawes. Now all the significant characters are in the swamp the films goes the same way as the others with all living flesh just meat for the grinder as Crowley chops, tears and rips his way through the cast until the he is ended for this film by the plot device.

I really enjoyed this film just as did the others. They are self-consciously contrived and ridiculous just like the Sherriff said with an incredible body count brought about by killer and a variety of weapons. The make-up and special effects used are the old style physical effects so the blood looks real and injuries look painful but the whole thing is pushed to cartoonish extremes reminiscent of Evil Dead or Brain Dead.  Though the cast play it straight there is a strong streak of dark humour through film. This film is strongly recommended to those who enjoy old-school slasher films and strong keep away for anyone who likes more grounded cerebral horror.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Smiley

The DVD Pile

Smiley DVD 001There have been a few films that have played around with the story concepts in this thriller but even naming them would probably be a spoiler. I have been very unimpressed by attempts by film-makers to tackle internet culture and social media and despite a few accurate sounding name-drops and cultural references this film doesn’t really buck that trend. It starts out quite well but I got a bit fed up by the middle and the ending was a total face palm.

Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) is just starting college but her father is not sure if she is ready because she has been getting treatment for bipolar disorder after her mother died. She is sharing a house with another student called Proxy (Melanie Papalia) and that name is little on the nose. Proxy is pushy and brash and talks Ashley into coming to a party.

This party is for people who met on-line on a message board and Proxy drops the names 4chan and Anonymous when she explains it to Ashley but Ashley is unfamiliar with those names. The host is a real sleaze called Zane (Andrew James Allen) and the other guests are bunch of self-centered nasty little pricks except one guy called Binder (Shane Dawson) who gets kicked out of the party for having some moral standards. There are people on a computer using some anonymised chatroom application and talking about Smiley. This is a highly derivative urban legend where someone is chatting with someone else and they type “I did it for the lulz,” three times then Smiley appears and kills the other person and we see this apparently happening. Proxy actually lampshades the original Bloody Mary legend when describing it.

Everyone else is laughing it off but Ashley thinks it might be real. Later back their house after convincing themselves that it can’t be Proxy and Ashley decide to test it out to see if it is true. They choose some sleazy guy who insists on baring his flesh to the camera and wants them to do the same. Ashley types the words three times and they giggle at his reaction. Their giggles come to abrupt halt when a masked figure kills the man and leers at them. They are freaked out and though there is still room for some doubt they are convinced the guy was really killed.

Ashley wants to go to the police or the FBI but Proxy convinces her that they have no evidence. The anonymous protection on the chatroom means they don’t know who was killed or where. Ashley agrees not to tell anyone but she has nightmares about Smiley.

Ashley visits a psychiatrist and tells her about her anxiety but avoids telling her the details of what is making her anxious. She also talks to Binder who has some strange ideas about what Smiley is. At least he seems to believe her.

Zane contacts Proxy and Ashley and it turns it he is just as scared as they are since he can’t get in touch with many of the hackers in their group. They think Smiley is coming for them and Ashley tries turning to the police but just as Proxy had said earlier they have no bodies and no evidence any crimes were committed.

The climax of the film is the most disappointing part of the film and I really hoped they wouldn’t go with the ending that they used. I really wanted to see something different instead we get a twist that wasn’t too surprising. The film didn’t have lot of big budget effects but the deaths looked real enough. This film reinforces exaggerated fears about the internet and social media rather than offering any real insight into it and It’s just another schlocky thriller.

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Hellraiser – Hellworld

Hellraiser Reviews

hellworld 001

Look at this crude photoshop job with the head of Pinhead and the green Matrix text you can tell from the cover how much writing effort was put in

I don’t think I’d have bothered with this film if not to complete my reviews of all the Hellraiser films. It is the film that’s furthest from the original film, being little more than a slasher film tarted up in Hellraiser trappings and fused with a thin veneer of cliché computer gamer. The direction is okay, the acting variable but good enough but what really lets it down is the story. I never felt involved in the story because it never felt like a Hellraiser film and the Hellraiser trappings were a constant reminder of that.

The film opens with a teenager digging a hole in a cellar. This is Adam () and although he is central to the story we don’t get much insight into his character apart from flash backs to this scene where he kills himself by pouring petrol over himself and burning himself to death.

At Adam’s funeral we learn from his buddies that Adam killed himself because he was obsessed with a computer game called Hellworld. I have no idea how that is supposed to work but the film will not be exploring this deadly game in any way at all. Hellworld seems to be this film’s introduction the Hellraiser mythos, showing that film is flirting with fourth wall. Adam’s friends are the usual gang of five clichés of the genre: there’s the pretty jock Mike (Henry Cavill in a pre-Superman role), the perky punky Allison (Anna Tolputt), the cheerful asthmatic joker Derrick (Khary Payton), walking cloud of depression Jake (Christopher Jacot) and last of course Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) the nice girl destined to be the last one standing. None of Adam’s family is present because his mother is in a mental hospital after finding his body while his father has never been around is constantly abroad on business. And that’s it for Adam’s backstory. The friends are all feeling guilty for not intervening to prevent Adam from killing himself but it’s difficult to justify blaming them even if they were all playing the Hellworld game too. Unfortunately the theme of guilt and blame are going to be central to the story. The funeral scene ends with Chelsea opening the coffin and getting grabbed by the corpse before waking up because she was having a nightmare.

Forward two years and Chelsea is studying in her when Mike comes to her door to try to scare her with a Cenobite mask. He’s really there to show her a Hellworld website with a game whose prize is an invitation to party at somewhere called Leviathan House, a reference so obvious it gets lampshaded by Chelsea rolling her eyes. Mike tries to talk Chelsea into going but she really doesn’t and remarks that Derrick and Allison wouldn’t be interested. Cut to Derrick and Allison who are eagerly playing the game at their computer to win themselves invitations. This means that only Chelsea doesn’t want to go but on the day of the party she shows up in her SUV to drive them up there.

They get to the very large Leviathan House and inside the party is in full swing. The place is decorated with Lament boxes and bright neon signs and there are several bars for the partygoers. By an amazing coincidence Jake arrives just behind them to open contempt from Allison and fake friendliness from the others.

The host of the party (Lance Henriksen) bursts out a pair of double doors and greets the five, identifying them as newbies and after seeing their invitations he invites them in for drinks and an introductory tour of the house. Only Jake and Chelsea turn down the offer of drink, Jake because he doesn’t drink and Chelsea because she’s driving. His office is full of Hellraiser paraphernalia and busy hands are soon picking things up and playing with them. Allison quickly regrets spraying herself with perfume from a bottle and Mike finds his fingers stained with ink from the Cenobite design tarot cards he plays with. There’s a sense of significance about these events.

As he takes them down to the basement he tells stories about the house’s past as a convent and then later as a mental hospital with the tragedies involved in both periods. The basement basically looks like a pathology lab with shelves full of specimens of deformed foetuses and body parts and surgical tools lying around. Allison, Mike and Derrick seem impressed but Chelsea needs a bit more than theatrical props to scare her. She gets it when the host grabs her arm and sticks a pin deep into it. Chelsea feels strange she has a sudden vision of Pinhead pulling the pin out. It only lasts for a moment then everything’s back to normal but she’s very wary of the host and tells him to stay away from her.

The host takes them back upstairs to enjoy the party and introduces them to some fairly pointless scheme where everyone has a numbered mask and a mobile phone and if you fancy someone you call their number. It sounds something from a middle class middle aged swingers party and not really something for college students. While on the subject of the party goers the whole thing seems very tame and vanilla and the crowd are a bit plain and boring despite the sex and gratuitous bare breasts. There is no difference between this crowd and that of any other nightclub and they don’t seem like Hellraiser fans. This might be justified by later revelations but it goes unnoticed by the friends.

They split up at the party so of course this is when they start dying off. Aliison sees a room with a large “Keep Out” sign on the door so she enters because she’s naughty. She finds a torture chair and sits on it and suddenly it locks her in place and a nasty looking pair of rotating saw blades lock in place in front of her face. The host appears and engages the motor for the blades which slowly come towards Allison’s throat and slices it open. Pinhead appears and tells her Adam was right

This is followed by a scene where Jake meets the host who gives him a puzzle box made by Adam. When Jake examines it nails spring out and pierce his fingers. This is a bit strange because it seems this scene should have come earlier.

Derrick is dancing with a woman when he loses in inhaler and it falls down a grate into the basement. He wheezes down stairs and recovers his inhaler in the pathology lab. He takes a puff and lies down to recover. Pinhead appears and chops off his head.

Mike got together with a woman who gives him a blowjob. Afterwards she takes him down to the basement with promises of more sex but when they get to pathology lab she locks him in and leaves. Mike tries to pretend he’s not freaked out by the props and by the headless corpse dressed in Derek’s clothes but they unsettle him then he sees Derrick’s head in a jar and freaks. A Cenobite enters the room an operates a winch that drives a huge hook into Mike’s back and drags him around until he dies and then Pinhead appears and tells us that it just beginning.

This just leaves Jake and Chelsea among the friends and the film changes pace. Jake goes to bar to try to get a drink but everyone ignores like he’s not there. He follows a woman into an upper gallery area and they make love but she turns out to be a ghost of a nun. Chelsea was following someone who looks like Adam and ended up locked in a room. She tries to call the police but when they arrive the host convinces them that one of his guests is drunk and playing joke. Chelsea tries calling them and telling them to look up at the window she is watching them from but they can’t see her and eventually leave.

I’ve talked about this long enough and this film’s last act has a fairly uninteresting series of chases and fake outs around the house by Chelsea and Jake as they figure out what’s going on. Jake realises that whole thing was set-up to get them there and what they are experiencing has stopped being real some time ago. Chelsea has discovered that their host is actually Adam’s father and he blames them for Adam’s death. The whole thing was a very elaborate murder plot but the host wanted to make them suffer using the Hellword he blames for the death of his son. He drugged them with some kind of magic drug that can somehow fully create a convincing reality with help of subliminal suggestions. All five have been buried in coffins since their visit to the basement and everything since was created by suggestions delivered through the phones left in the coffins. It just seems too elaborate and would only ever work because it is written that way in the script. Anyway Chelsea and Jake are both rescued by the police who got phone call from this place, probably from Adam’s ghost since the house is empty and the host has fled.

All the earlier appearances of Pinhead and the Cenobites in the film were just from the imagination of the victims, explaining their out of character behaviour but as the host sits in hotel examining the puzzle box he brought with him it turns out to the genuine article and it opens. Pinhead and the Cenobites arrive and introduce the host to hell with an impressive blade on a chain and one of those CGI effects of a body falling to bits after a cartoonish delay. It is far too little and far too late.

I think the problem with this film is that it was thrown together with a low-budget and a script that was barely more than an outline. It was made back-to-back with Deader but instead of incorporating the Romanian location into the script this tried to pretend it was somewhere in America.Overall is it is just a run-of-the-mill slasher film and Pinhead and the Cenobites are reduced to a mere cameo

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review – Cornered

I like shopping for DVDs and I have ended up with several films I’ve not got around to watching and then they get lost in the pile and I forget what interested me when I bought them. I have no idea how long this languished in that pile but I finally watched it and like of most the films I recently dragged out of the pile this is a pretty good watch. It is a slasher film but without the pretty teens that make up the usual victims who have instead been replaced with cast that can act a bit.

At a run-down convenience store one of the workers Donny (Peter Story) is outside trying help a local prostitute Jess (Elizabeth Nicole) who is having trouble with a customer and the cheery chirpy delivery man Morty (Steve Guttenberg) comes to the rescue but the shop’s front door gets smashed in. Since it’s nearly closing time Donny secures the door by nailing wood across it and blocking it off. Morty chats with Steve the store owner and the other two employees Mona (Ellia English) and Steve’s nephew Jimmy (James Duval).

The big news they are talking about is the serial killer that is slaughtering convenience store workers across the city and the reward being offered of $500,000. They first talk about what they would do with the reward money, then talk about what they would do to the killer before the police got there. Steve, Jimmy and Mona really get into creating a sadistic fantasy, but Jess doesn’t like it. No-one notices another customer who is hiding in the shadows and runs off when he gets spotted by Steve who chases him off with a baseball bat.

After Morty leaves Steve locks the door and everyone goes to the apartment above the store to play poker and we get to more about the characters. Jimmy is a drug addict who is just out of rehab and has been caught earlier by Steve calling his dealer. Steve tells Jimmy he’s going to be staying all night so Steve can keep an eye on him. Mona has another job operating a sex chat-line from her mobile phone and she has several calls as they play. Donny sits all night shoving doughnuts into his face while lusting after Jess, Steve downs beer after beer and Jimmy gets increasingly strung out and certain that the cockroaches are after him.

Introductions over its finally time for the killing to begin. The killer gets two of them before anyone realises what’s going on. I thought the killings were okay but there is not really very much shown directly on screen. To be honest this film actually does better at setting up the characters than it does killing them off.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Tucker and Dale versus Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

 Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are a couple of good friends who buy themselves a rundown cabin by a lake in the West Virginia mountains for holiday home where they can go fishing. At a gas station they meet up with bunch of rude obnoxious college kids whose ideas of country people come from watching too much Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The college kids flee in panic after misunderstanding Dale’s clumsy attempt at a friendly greeting. Misunderstandings continue when Tucker and Dale come across the college kids skinny dipping in the lake by their cabin while they are out fishing. One girl, Alison (Katrina Bowden), is startled when she sees them and slips on a rock and bangs her head. Dale rescues her from drowning but when they attempt to alert  the other college kids to the accident they flee in panic, believing their friend has been captured. Unaware of this Tucker and Dale return to cabin with Alison to tend to her injuries

The following day while Alison realises how they have misjudged the situation and gets friendly with Dale, her friends are outside planning to rescue her spurred on by her hillbilly hating boyfriend Chad (Jesse Moss). This leads to a series of hilarious gory fatal accidents caused by stupidity and panic. Tucker and Dale just can’t seem to stop these idiots killing themselves.

This is film is a lot of fun. It is definitely playing with tropes of the backwoods slasher genre, where the college kids are so conditioned by prejudices based on ideas of country people from  these slasher films that they behave like they are in one and cause their own deaths by reactions based on their biased assumptions. It is a great piece of black comedy and that is down to believable performances from Tudyk and Labine as well a really funny script.

Rating 7/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1465522/

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Hatchet II

Synopsis: Spoiler Alert – any discussion of this film’s story cannot avoid a major spoiler of the first movie so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want the plot spoiled then go see it first.
Now that they’re gone let’s be frank, this film gleefully follows the formula of the slasher film so closely that it’s hardly much of a surprise that there is only one survivor from the boat trip in the Louisiana swamps in the first film and this last girl standing, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) is out for revenge on Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) – the vengeful ghostly deformed mutant from the first film. She enlists the help of Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd ) who assembles a team of victims a group of hunters to go back into the swamp to kill Victor Crowley.

In a gory slasher film the plot is just an excuse to set-up a series of grisly physical effects death scenes. This film does it with such a deliberate knowingness that it teeters on the edge between pastiche and parody (and crosses right into parody in a scene involving an unfeasibly long chainsaw). Each pair of characters get their bit of a set-up before being slaughtered in some bloody gruesome way.

There is a lot of humour in this film and that really is what carries it through. Kane Hodder does his job well but it’s Tony Todd who really stands out here as a great big ham. I enjoyed the ride even if there was little in the way of scares, just gore and gore and more gore and of course a few gratuitous naked titties.  I just wish the market for naked dick shots was a strong as the one for naked titties.

Rating comedy horror  7/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0051ZH40S

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270835/

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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