David A. Hess - Krug
Fred Lincoln - Weasel
Gaylord St. James - Dr. John Collingwood
Marc Sheffler - Junior
Sandra Cassell - Mari Collingwood
Lucy Grantham - Phyllis Stone
Jeramie Rain - Sadie
Cynthia Carr - Estelle Collingwood
Marshall Anker - Sheriff
Martin Kove - Deputy Harry
Genre - Horror/Revenge Flick/Backwoods
Running Time - 84 Minutes
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
I'm glad to have been raised in a big metropolis. Sure I may have to deal with rapists, murderers, sexual deviants, and that one girl who wants to get in my pants although I'm allergic to crabs. But I'm happy as hell that I'm away from that backwoods region where spouses are related to each other and possums are scared to travel. After watching movies like DELIVERANCE, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, and especially THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, I'm literally afraid to stumble into some town miles away from civilization, sweating that I'll be someone's dinner.
Add Wes Craven's debut directorial film, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, to that list. Having not seen this film in many years, time has given me a new perspective on this classic cult film. It's not as good as I remembered it to be but it's still a very uneasy piece of cinema. With a remake on the horizon in a few months, let's put out the welcome mat and see if it's worth catching the original 1972 version again.
Mari Collingwood (Sandra Cassel) is a free spirit, refusing to wear bras [I see raisins] and getting ready to go with her friend Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham) to some rock concert being played by a band called Blood Lust. Her parents (Gaylord St. James and Cynthia Carr) are worried about Mari, afraid she'll end up in some bad neighborhood and around some bad people. Mari goes anyway, as she and Phyllis explore their surroundings before heading to the concert.
Unfortunately Phyllis is a pothead and needs her daily blunt to listen to Blood Lust [they're not much of a band, are they?]. Phyllis and Mari meet some stoned kid named Junior (Marc Sheffler), who promises hem drugs but instead takes them to his criminal father's apartment. The girls realize they've been tricked, totally humilated and abused in every way by Junior's father, Krug (David A. Hess), his girlfriend Sadie (Jeramie Rain), and their friend Weasel (Fred Lincoln). The vicious gang are heading to Canada to escape from the police, taking Mari and Phyllis hostage.
On the way to Canada, the villains' car breaks down and they're stuck in the wilderness. Apparently bored and having no idea of time management skills, the group decide to rape, torture, and even murder the two girls. Cleaning themselves up, Krug and his crew head towards the nearest house they see for shelter, not knowing it's really Mari's house. Her parents take them in, not knowing what happened to Mari. However, they do find out eventually, seeking revenge for their daughter. Some crazy shit is gonna occur at THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT!
While DELIVERANCE really turned backwoods horror on its head back in 1971, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT took it a bit further, giving an unsuspecting audience a taste of realism when it comes to horror movies. I don't think THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is as great as a lot of people make it out to be. There are obvious flaws with this film technically. But where it does succeed at is how intense and in-your-face the scenes of torture and sexual abuse are. The tagline wanted the audience to remember that "It's only a movie". But things like this really do happen in real life, yet we barely hear anything about these sadistic crimes. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is just a reminder of how ugly humanity can be.
The story in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a great one. Loosely based on Ingmar Bergman's VIRGIN SPRING, it's really simple, but there's also social commentary hidden deeply between the lines if one really looks close enough. Wes Craven really wanted to use the film as his reflection on his feelings towards issues at the time, such as The Vietnam War, the disillusion of the government, and the rise of feminism. The fact that Mari doesn't wear a bra, Sadie is pretty equal to the men in Krug's crew by holding her own [she's never a sex object and refuses to be treated as such], and the cops being bumbling idiots illustrates these things. The last one is pretty important, as the cops' lack of protection causes the parents to take the law into their own hands. In older flicks, the police were the law and the carriers of justice. But the 1970s were different times and the police weren't seen in this light anymore. So the parents had to be the police, dishing out justice in their own sadistic way. It blurs the lines between the victims and the killers, switching roles very quickly. Are the parents justified in their actions? Or are they just as bad as the killers themselves? Is this adaptation at its finest or at its worst? The changing political and social climate of the times began changing the cinema climate as well, unfolding a revolution that not many were able to handle until years later.
The story wouldn't be memorable if it weren't for those scenes where the violence takes place. Alot of people considered THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT a gory film, but that could not be further from the truth. There's actually little gore here. But the violence is so brutal and harshly implied that one could imagine the horrible events that happened to many of the characters involved here. From the rape sequences, to the "pee on yourself" scene, to the stabbings and shootings and castrations and chainsaw slicing - this is one violent film. The fact that it's also raw and unpolished also raises the film's effectiveness and power. It's a hard film to sit through because of these scenes. Sometimes reality is a bit too real for some. Definitely not an entertaining story in any sense of the word.
However THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT has its flaws. The main gripe for me was the soundtrack by David A. Hess. Now, it wasn't bad at all. As a matter of fact, Hess sounds great singing folky songs and it fits with the times. It just doesn't fit at all with this movie. I don't want to hear some John Denver-like twangy music while people are getting tortured. And what was up with that ballad after Mari gets raped? I'm not sure if this soundtrack was done to give the film a sense of surrealism or to give a striking contrast with the actual tone of the film. But it didn't work for me at all. I couldn't stop laughing at how silly it was listening to really upbeat music while bad shit is going down. Totally takes much of the power of the scenes away for me and if the film isn't as effective as it should be, I start to lose my level of likeability for it.
I also thought the cop characters didn't add all that much to the story. I understand it was part of the social commentary, but they were such idiots that it felt like I was watching a comedy instead of a thriller. It reminds me of HALLOWEEN 5 and those idiot cops with the clown music. I didn't find the humor in these scenes at all. No wonder one of the cops [Marvin Kove] became an evil karate teacher in the 1980s [a KARATE KID reference for you guys out there]. I would have accepted these characters as assholes rather than morons. I'm surprised people survived as long in this town as they did with those bozos running the show. Yeesh.
Wes Craven, who would later create some classics like THE HILLS HAVE EYES, SCREAM, THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, and the undeniable A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, is a different director here than he would be later on. Some will say the direction is horrible. I mean, it's just shot in a really uncoordinated way. The pacing is off at times. The editing is rough. The voice dubbing is pretty visible. It's just a very ugly film to watch at times. But then again, that's probably the point. Craven shoots this film as if it's a documentary, giving us a raw protrayal of this horrible crime and its aftermath. Sometimes [when that stupid soundtrack wasn't playing], I would forget that I'm actually watching a film here. It actually looks like a snuff film. So while not Craven's best work, the visual style actually benefits the film in making it more effective as a product.
The acting is good here, fortunately. This film wouldn't have worked if it wasn't. David Hess is probably the best actor here as the unforgettable Krug. Here's an actor so believable in his role that if I ever met him in real life, I'd probably stay away. He plays Krug so ruthlessly and viciously that it's actually quite scary how much he got into the role. He also plays Krug as this suave and almost charming individual that borders on imtimidation. It's just an unsettling performance and I have to believe that Krug is one of the best villains in the history of horror cinema - maybe in all of cinema. This pretty much typecasted Hess in these kind of roles, but that's because he's that good in the role.
The other actors are good as well. Sandra Cassel as poor Mari gives a perfect performance of a young woman who's innocence has been gone through the ringer. Her fear and her hysteria got to me. I can't really say the same for Lucy Grantham as Phyllis. I thought she was okay but for a woman who's been raped and humilated, she was pretty calm about the whole ordeal. It was like she had been through this before. I guess people have different ways of dealing with things, but I wasn't totally convinced by her performance. Fred J. Lincoln as Weasel was pretty funny at times. Totally charming and he actually looked kind of like a weasel. Even though he was a sleaze, I still felt bad about his blowjob scene with Mari's mom. As a man, I have to sympathize with that revenge tactic. Lincoln did a nice job. Jeramie Rain was also very cool and sexy in an ugly and vicious sort of way. This was not a broad to be messed with and I'm sure Rain would appreciate that. Marc Sheffer was good as Junior. I was convinced he was stoned with his performance. Gaylord St. James and Cynthia Carr were okay as the parents. I thought St. James was the better of the two and I could feel his pain when he found out about Mari. Carr was a bit more of a sleepwalker when it came to her acting but she didn't bother me really. Less said about Marshall Anker and Martin Kove here, the better.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE NEVER GOING TO A BLOOD LUST CONCERT EVER AGAIN
- Mari claims no one wears bras anymore. If I had a nipple for every tramp who has said the exact same thing, I'd be rich. Or poor, depending on how much I would have to pay for her services. Not that I have ever done that or anything...
- Mari and Phyllis plan on seeing a band called Blood Lust who dismantles chickens on stage. That's horrible. I find more pleasure in choking my chicken than hurting it.
- The girls are looking for drugs and are enticed by the Columbian "good stuff". I know that from experience. Everytime I see Shakira shake her hips, I know that the "good stuff" is from Columbia.
- Sadie can't look at the Grand Canyon anymore without the need to close her legs, due to Sigmund Freud. Paris Hilton doesn't have that problem since her "Grand Canyon" is constantly being invaded by "tourists".
- The killers forced Phyllis to pee her pants in the middle of the woods. Well golden showers do bring May flowers...
- The killers showed what was left of Phyllis to Mari, limb by limb. Man, that girl was a real cut up!
- Some lady was driving with a bunch of caged chickens. I don't think there's been so many cocks at one place since Clay Aiken's coming out party!
- Men don't like their penises being called "little fella". It'll just destroy them to the point where they become a joke and a mess. Just ask Chyna all about that one.
- Krug tried to lean against a wooden door so Mr. Collingwood couldn't kill him with a chainsaw. Yeah, because a metal chainsaw surely can't cut through wood!
::slaps self on the forehead::
THE FINAL HOWL
While I can't praise this film as highly as some, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is still a pretty effective film that fails to entertain, which is the point. If you're willing to see a brutal and violent film that brings realism to a whole new level, then by all means check this out before [I'm sure] the tamer remake. This is a film that'll leave you feeling something after it's done. And that's exactly what a film should do when it ends. So take a trip to THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. I just hope you survive the experience.
"High school student Debbie Dicky (Rachel Castillo) is having a bad year. Not only did she discover her father AND her boyfriend (Paul Rust) are both deranged serial killers, but her out-of-touch mom (Lenore Cutler) decided to uproot them and move to Murderton [how freakin' clever! - hardy har har!], California. With a background like that, Debbie's having some trouble making friends. All that changes, however, when the most popular girls in school (Emilia Richeson, Ariel Teals Toombs, Frankie Frain) unexpectedly invite her to a wild and crazy sleepover party. Thanks to a group of horny boys, escaped mental patients, and plenty of sex and drugs, this is one sleepover that Debbie will not forget... unless she gets amnesia or something."
Click Here To Participate In A Pillow Fight
Rebekah Brandes - Bridget
Daniel Bonjour - Josh
Mandell Maughan - Samantha
Greg Cirulnick - Mario
Stan Ellsworth - Harley
Jon Briddell - Det. Doug Barrons
Brea Grant - Rachael
Michael Schwartz - Sully
Carol Stanzione - Mother
Michael Swan - Dr. Wayne
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 84 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - In MIDNIGHT MOVIE, there seems to be a film that makes people disappear and get them killed. Suprisingly, it's not called ANKLE BITERS. Hmmm... Anyway, the dude behind the film is locked in some asylum and the doctors, who are mildly retarded, decide it's a fuckin' great idea to show the movie to him. The one smart doctor (Michael Swan) who actually has a brain tries to stop this "therapy session", but only finds blood and no patient.
Five years later, some theater has possession of the film, called "The Dark Beneath", and decide to show it at midnight. Here we meet the main characters: Bridget (Rebekah Brandes), her boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), their friends Samantha (Mandell Maughan) and Mario (Greg Cirulnick), some dorky kid (Michael Schwartz), a biker couple, a couple of Bridget's co-workers, and of course the smart doctor and a police officer (Jon Briddell). The film starts out okay until strange things begin to happen. Slowly, the people in the theater end up being part of the actual film, watching themselves get killed by the man who disappeared from that asylum years ago and his mother. I've always wanted to be in the movies but this is just ridiculous!
STORY - MIDNIGHT MOVIE, written by director Jack Messitt and co-writer Mark Garbett, isn't a totally original horror flick but its premise makes it stand out quite a bit from the rest. This story had a bit from other films, such as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [apparently your go-to film when it comes to slasher flicks], POPCORN, DEMONS, and the film-within-a-film aspect of LAST ACTION HERO and WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE. I liked it alot actually. I think the film-within-a-film concept is very cool if done right and MIDNIGHT MOVIE mostly does it justice. I found the whole idea of what's reality and what's not excellent, because at times, I wasn't sure until the reveal that these characters were actually part of the movie and now cannon fodder for the killer. I do think the reasons behind how this ONE film can actually do this was pretty lame because no explanation was really given. If it had made the film scary, I wouldn't question it. But MIDNIGHT MOVIE never goes for scares and the whole supernatural aspect is never unveiled for the results to be satisfying. I know some people are okay with "what ever happens happens", but I like more meat on my bones.
The characters, while stereotypical, were pretty cool. I disliked the jerks and wanted them dead. I liked the heroes and rooted for them. They weren't overly developed character-wise, but I knew enough about their personalities to relate to them. I do think some of the backstories for these characters, especially Bridget and her little brother's talk about being abused when they were younger, was a bit lame and forced. I understood it was used to give these two characters a reason for their reactions, but it just felt like it came out of left field for me. If the killer was their dad or something, I probably would have accepted it more. I didn't think it really added much to the story as a whole.
I also thought the killer wasn't as interesting as I would have liked. He seemed like a lame hybrid of Leatherface and Jason Voorhees to me. And why did he only use one damn weapon? This is a slasher flick! Use something else in your arsenal! And if the same weapon had to be used, use it in different ways that it doesn't start getting old after a while. It doesn't really hurt the film because MIDNIGHT MOVIE isn't really about the actual killer anyway. I'm just saying that variety when it comes to murder would have been appreciated.
DIRECTION - Jack Messitt directed a fine movie here. I thought the editing between the film and the actual reality of the situation was handled well to the point that it took me a while to guess what was real and what wasn't. The pacing was excellent and there were nice uses of style, such as angles, black-and-white, and such. There was some tension and suspense, though it never became scary. For a low budget flick, MIDNIGHT MOVIE felt like it cost more to make than it actually was. No complaints about the visuals at all.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The sex and the language was pretty tame for the most part. The violence wasn't too bad. We have a lot of stabbings and some throats getting sliced. Nothing too major here but enough to satisfy some.
ACTING - MIDNIGHT MOVIE had some excellent actors that made these characters more watchable than they probably should have been. In particular Rebekah Brandes, who play Bridget. She was the perfect Final Girl - tough, brave, smart, and pretty too. I thought she did a great job carrying the film. Daniel Bonjour as Josh was great too. I thought he and Brandes had some nice chemistry and Bonjour made you root for his character. Greg Cirulnick was cool as Mario, that friend that you hang out with even though he's an asshole. Unfortunately in a situation like this, he'd probably play the part of "lamb sent to the slaughter for my own personal survival", but that's what friends are for, right? Yeah, Cirulnick made me dislike this guy and that was the point. I thought Stan Ellsworth was cool as Harley. Who knew biker dudes enjoy taking their girl to the movies? The guy was pretty charming and he had a hot girlfriend too who looked like Meredith Brooks. And Brea Grant was okay as Rachael. She doesn't do much but act bitchy here but she's more than capable looking at her work on Heroes. Too bad she didn't have her "flash" abilities to run away from the killer. Bummer. Great cast.
MUSIC - Some generic metal music here. I thought it was pretty decent actually. And we have some creepy score during the film.
THE FINAL HOWL
MIDNIGHT MOVIE isn't original but it's entertaining for 80 minutes. The story could have been a bit stronger but other than that, MIDNIGHT MOVIE is worthy of a cult following. It's just sad that crappy remakes get wide releases while great horror films like this one get a limited release until their release on DVD. If you want to see something that isn't too brutal, a remake, or a horrible sequel, MIDNIGHT MOVIE deserves your eyes and ears. Check it out.
Robert De Niro - Turk
Al Pacino - Rooster
Carla Gugino - Karen Corelli
Donnie Wahlberg - Detective Riley
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson - Marcus "Spider" Smith
John Leguizamo - Detective Perez
Brian Dennehy - Lieutenant Hingus
Frank John Hughes - Charles Randall
Rob Dyrdek - Robert Milton Bradley
Genre - Crime/Drama
Running Time - 101 Minutes
Score - 2 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - In RIGHTEOUS KILL, Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) are two veteran cops working for the NYPD who are pretty much bordering on retirement. Turk and Rooster have been partners pretty much since day one, knowing each other extremely well both personally and professionally. During one of their final cases together, they deal with a serial killer who has a knack for leaving poetry after the murders. As more victims begin to surface and seem to have a connection with each other, it's believed that the killer is none other than a fellow police officer. A younger team of cops, Perez (John Leguizamo) and Riley (Donnie Wahlberg), suspect Turk as the killer and are doing everything they can to prove it, including making deals with a club-owning drug dealer, Spider (Curtis Jackson). Turk claims he's innocent and Rooster believes Turk's innocence. But is there more to what meets the eye?
STORY - It pains me to write this review because I'm a fan of both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. You would think that putting the two together for the majority of the film for the first time ever [they were never in the same scene in 1978's THE GODFATHER II and they shared like 2 scenes in 1995's HEAT] would be genius and maybe even talk of Oscar buzz. But RIGHTEOUS KILL pretty much murders that idea and ends up being just a mediocre crime drama/mystery that one will probably figure out five minutes into the actual mystery. This is pretty sad since screenwriter Russell Gewirtz wrote the pretty cool INSIDE MAN, which this film is far from being. RIGHTEOUS KILL feels like a joke of a crime drama most of the time. The dialogue is pretty ridiculous. I mean, do cops actually talk like this? Hell, their characters were dispicable. Am I supposed to care about any of these people? They were all pretty much jerks and sexual deviants. I find that appealing in some people, but not in this film. Also, the film takes too long to really get going and for me to really care. It was like a feeling of "going through the motions" with this one, never really building up to anything substantial or important. And the identity of the killer could be seen a mile away, which is pretty pathetic since the point of RIGHTEOUS KILL is the mystery aspect. And even then, the explanation at the end took like 10 minutes to explain the whole reveal and it still really didn't make any sense. I have a feeling Gewirtz was aiming for SOMETHING but he never got there for whatever reason.
Still, the crappy screenwriting didn't bore me all the way and I did find some of it laughable at how predictable and dumb this film was. It was like the B-movie of all crime-dramas. Personally, if I wanted to watch a crime-drama about a police officer who also happens to be a serial killer, I'd watch Dexter. It's 100 times better in terms of story, direction, and acting. I'm just saying.
DIRECTION - Even though a massive improvement over the extremely horrible 88 MINUTES [which is 89 more than it deserves], Jon Avnet is still a hack. This dude has no idea of suspense, mystery, or direction action on screen that could thrill an audience. The pacing was REALLY off in this movie too. It was all over the place for me. How this dude continues to get jobs is beyond me. Still, I will say that his work is tighter than it is in 88 MINUTES as his choices of setting and editing seems more thought out. But I honestly don't think crime-dramas are this dude's niche and he needs to direct something in a totally different genre. He did good with that chick flick, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Stick with that, Avnet.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - If you seen other R-Rated crime-dramas, you probably already know what to expect here. We have the usual cop violence, meaning guns and physical attacks. As for the sex, we have De Niro banging Gugino from behind rough. There's also some skin from Gugino but SIN CITY had more. Alot of sexual innuendos too. And we have the usual foul/racial slurred language we have come to expect from a film like this.
ACTING - RIGHTEOUS KILL doesn't have the worst acting in the world, but nothing that's gonna win any awards. Robert De Niro has done a lot better work [a LOT better], but he still tries to make the most of it. He really begins to show his age in this film, giving Turk a level of maturity and frustration a younger actor probably wouldn't have been capable of. Al Pacino is the total opposite, chewing up the scenery but being really calm and subtle. The short time they had in HEAT is more exciting than all the time they spend in RIGHTEOUS KILL, but it's cool to see two acting legends together. I just wish the script and their motivation for being in this film were better. Carla Gugino is pretty bad here though. Not only was her character really written horribly, but it seemed as if she didn't really give a shit about acting here and took it like a joke. Yeah, I felt the same way watching it but at least convince me that you give a fuck. Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo were actually pretty decent as the younger cops, never really being overshadowed by the presence of De Niro and Pacino. They held their own admirably. And Curtis Jackson was okay too, even though he was the weaker of the all the actors besides Gugino. At least he never embarrasses himself here. Decent cast for a horrible script. Shame.
MUSIC - We have the usual hip-hop music and thrilling score we usually get in these type of genre films. Nothing really sticks out.
THE FINAL HOWL
RIGHTEOUS KILL is an improvement over 88 MINUTES, but is that really saying alot? It's really disappointing for a De Niro and Pacino fan since this movie never reaches the caliber of what they two are truly capable of. I dunno if they have anything left in their tanks anymore at this point. Watching two legends aimlessly act in a mediocre film just for the paycheck is worse than watching bad actors actually attempt to make you care about their characters and the film they're in. It's a decent 101 minute time waster but besides that, I wouldn't bother watching RIGHTEOUS KILL again. Truly disappointing work.
Jensen Ackles - Tom Hanniger
Jaime King - Sarah Palmer
Kerr Smith - Axel Palmer
Edi Gathegi - Deputy Martin
Tom Atkins - Burke
Betsy Rue - Irene
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 101 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Dimensional Howls Outta 4
Although I watch them, and although I review them, I'm personally am not a big fan of the whole remake trend Hollywood seems to be coasting on in recent years - especially when it comes to the horror genre. It's not that I hate the idea of a remake. In fact, there are a lot of crappy films out there with "great ideas but poor execution" that deserve either an update or a re-interpretation of the original concept. The issue the public has with remakes is that Hollywood is picking films that DON'T NEED a remake, using the brand name as a way to milk more money on a franchise that's all dried up. We didn't need remakes for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, HALLOWEEN, THE HITCHER, or any foreign language film that we could read subtitles from that would reprsent the film's ideas better than any Hollywood screenwriter could muster up for an Americanization. Those films were fine the way they were, and personally, I would have accepted a sequel to the major franchises over a "reimagining" anyway. Even before watching the film I'm about to review, I saw trailers for both remakes of FRIDAY THE 13TH and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. When is it time to say "enough is enough"?
However, there are remakes that are actually warranted because the original film wasn't all that spectacular to begin with. The 1981 slasher flick MY BLOODY VALENTINE was definitely one of these films that needed an update. The original film was boring, horribly acted, and missed the three components that make a slasher flick to begin with: tits, ass, and gore. What's the point if you don't have that? Damn MPAA! So when I heard Lionsgate was updating this "classic", I didn't mind because the original needed it badly anyway. I wasn't even going to watch this in the theater until I read the film was in three dimensions. If you know me, I'm a sucker for gimmicks like that. I was pretty much sold at that point, even though the previews helped since they were pretty good. So I marked January 16, 2008 on my calendar and made sure I was gonna be available to watch this.
So in a packed house [the film was pretty much sold out - well, the 3D version anyway], I finally got to watch the first major R Rated horror film of 2009. And what I got was not only one of the better remakes in the history of horror remakes, but a really fuckin' awesome film in the process. Put on those 3D glasses and watch body parts, weapons, and T, A, and V [!] pop out towards you while you throw a boner for the revival of the slasher film. Screw chocolate and flowers! This is my kind of Valentine!
The remake is pretty much faithful to the original. Tom (Jensen Ackles) and his girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King) hang out with their friends Axel (Kerr Smith) and his girl Irene (Betsy Rue) at some party at the local mines. However, some worker/wackjob Harry Warden begins killing the partiers one by one with his pick-axe. Sarah, Axel, and Irene get away, but Tom is stuck dealing with Harry. Harry is stopped by Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins!), but Tom is left alone to deal with his brush with death.
Ten years pass since that Valentine's Day. The town is still haunted by the events that took place and Harry has become some sort of legend. Tom, after leaving right after the incident, returns to the town to sell the mine [his late father left it to him]. Tom also catches up with Axel and with Sarah, learning the two are now married and have a kid together. Can anyone say "love triangle"? Anyway, everything's fine until people end up getting killed by some dude dressed like a coal miner. Strangely enough, all the victims seem to be close to the core group of survivors of Harry's rampage ten years before. Is Harry back to finish what he started? Is it Tom, who's trauma has caused him to kill? Is it Axel, who's now a Sheriff and wants to make sure Tom is seen as the killer? Is it Tom Atkins, who went nuts after hearing that "Silver Shamrock" song more than one should? Who is it, dammit??
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D isn't a perfect horror film [what is these days], but it's the most fun I've had in a movie theater in a really long time. It does what a remake should: improve on the story and direction, get better actors, and make it gory as hell to push that R rating as hard as possible. Add a 3D gimmick to the proceedings and you have a winner at your hands. Or a human heart in your heart-shaped box. Whichever floats your boat, I guess.
The story for MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is pretty similar to the original and I appreciated that alot. I really had no major issue with the story of Harry Warden killing people and scaring a town for years with his infamous legend. But screenwriter Todd Farmer [who also wrote JASON X, which I'm probably the only one who actually likes that sequel] really makes the whole thing tighter and stronger. The love triangle aspect, for example, never really interested me in the original version. It just seemed so hokey to me. But in this version, I got a real sense of the whole love ordeal and it worked very well. It helps when you have good actors to tell it visually, but that wouldn't be possible if the material wasn't strong in itself. We get the human hearts inside the chocolate heart-shaped boxes of course. We also have the mine setting and the killer in the coal miner outfit with his trusty pick-axe. Farmer took the good things about the original and just completed them in his vision, which the screenwriter of the original wasn't able to do, I felt.
I also liked that Farmer made this more of an adult horror film instead of the usual teen films that Hollywood seems to love shoving down people's throats. It starts out like a teen horror flick but the film matures a bit with the romance sub-plot and how straight up it becomes. It never plays out like a satire, or a really tongue-in-cheek sort of horror flick like the modern wave of horror has been on since SCREAM in 1996. Nah, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D plays like an actual slasher flick and uses what makes them great to begin with very well. Hell, I thought the middle portion of the flick played like a psychological thriller more than it did a slasher film, with the mystery of the killer and all the red herrings that were planted to throw people off. For a remake, it was actually quite smart and there was an attempt to actually make a great horror film that wasn't totally about the money.
I thought the film had more character development than I was actually expecting. Farmer actually keeps stereotypes in check but fleshes them out a bit to give us people we can relate to. Wouldn't we traumatized like Tom if we were almost killed? I understood why he needed to get away and sell the one thing he associates with that horrible event. What about Sarah, who is torn between the love of her life and the man who saved her from almost getting killed? Her husband cheats on her and she still stays with him. Would any of you ladies reading this do the same if you loved your man? And Axel is a jerk and a cheater, but I'd be a prick too if I felt insecure not only about my wife and marriage, but the level of respect I hold within a small community. These issues of depth aren't needed in a slasher film, but I appreciate it when they're there because I see these characters as people rather than cannon fodder. Who knew horror still cared about having protagonists being just as interesting as the antagonist? Thanks to whoever remembered!
I think the one thing that ruined the story a bit was the way the mystery unraveled. Now I didn't hate the whole whodunit thing or even its reveal. I actually liked seeing the twists and turns, as well as the characters pointing fingers at each other when they had credible points. But maybe it's just me, but I found it all a bit too predictable. As a matter of fact, I guessed the mystery pretty early. So I wasn't surprised when the truth was revealed at the end of the film. But even with that, I still thought it was the best way to go and it totally made sense. I just wish it was a bit tighter as to how it all went down.
I think the gore in MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D was absolutely sick in the bestest of ways I can think of. We get a girl who gets a shovel impaled through her face to the point where her jaw and everything below it slides down and away from the top half of her face. We get the FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3D "eye towards the audience" trick, but it's done a lot cooler here. We get some jaws getting ripped off. A ton of people get impaled by the pick-axe. We get shots of victims who were gutted in order to see that their hearts have been taken out. There's a whole bunch of stuff here really and I loved every bit of it. And plus - it's in THREE DIMENSIONS! Do you have any idea how cool it was to watch these deaths pop out at you as if you were right there when they were happening? It was like being on a rollercoaster ride that you did not want to get off of. The SFX team really did a bang up job here and I'm surprised the MPAA actually let the filmmakers get away with the deaths scenes here. I can't imagine what an Unrated version of this film would look like. I thought I was actually watching that version. I'm very excited about the DVD for this film.
The direction by Patrick Lussier was awesome. The cinematography was excellent. The editing was perfect. Tons of suspense and tension. I actually jumped a few times during this film. Lussier never turned the visuals away from the terror employed by the killer. Lussier wanted us to see it all and by God did he ever? Plus the handling of the 3D aspect was perfect and a slice of genius. Lussier takes full advantage of the Real D 3D technology, filming MY BLOODY VALENTINE from the Lionsgate logo [which was very cool seeing in 3D] to the very end of the end credits in 3D. It honestly never really felt like a gimmick after the first ten minutes. Once you got used to the visuals and how certain things popped out and how others didn't, it felt natural. My eyes never hurt. I never felt dizzy. It was visually impressive. I really loved Lussier's work on this.
The acting in MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D was a lot better than it probably should have been. Jensen Ackles from Supernatural was good as Tom. With his good looks and acting abilities, he definitely has what it takes to be a leading man. Plus with him being on horror sets all the time for his television show, he was right at home here. I bought his fear and trauma and felt bad for him. He broods with the best of them. No complaints. Jaime King, who's probably best known for SIN CITY, was also good as Sarah. I think the part was a bit underwritten but King made the most of it. I bought the whole "torn between two lovers" act with her. And she looked pretty hot as a brunette. Kerr Smith, of Dawson's Creek and FINAL DESTINATION fame, rocked it as Axel Palmer. He was the stereotypical jealous prick character who treated people like shit because of his insecurities. Normally in these slasher flicks, you'd have a reason to hate his guts and wish for the killer to kill him. But Smith brings depth to the role, as he shows that Axel is just as badly messed up as Tom is over the whole Harry thing except he handled it differently by becoming a cop and trying to stop something like that from happening again. Plus he knew his wife was in love with someone else and he dealt with that by cheating, like she was "cheating" on him. I always been a fan of Kerr Smith and he did not disappoint here. We also have Tom FUCKIN' Atkins back in a major horror flick and playing an important character in Burke. Atkins is fantastic in anything he does and it's no different here. For me, I think he brought the whole "old school" and "class" to this film as he's a veteran of the genre. Whoever casted him deserves a raise. And last but not least, Betsy Rue shows us everything she was born with - for five minutes straight - in 3D. I was in love. Call me!
THE FINAL HOWL
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D exceeded my expectations and I had a blast watching this one with other horror fans who cringed and cheered as gore and sharp weapons flew at us from a movie screen. This film wasn't made to change the genre in any way. It was done and made for horror fans who were tired of watching these PG-13 remakes that left bad tastes in our mouths and were hungry for the old days where gore and nudity put a smile on our sick and demented faces. And by God, I left that theater wearing a smile. I'm not looking for perfection. I'm looking to be entertained. And MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D did that. I couldn't imagine how this would be in 2D. If you haven't seen this and you want to, see it in 3D. That's really the whole point of the film. Hopefully the DVD will keep that in mind. Finally...a great modern horror remake that I can highly recommend. And I mean that from the bottom of my carved out heart.
Amelia Kinkaid - Angela
Jennifer Rhodes - Sister Gloria
Christine Taylor - Terri
Merle Kennedy - Melissa
Bobby Jacoby - Perry
Zoe Trilling - Shirley
Christi Harris - BB
Johnny Moran - Johnny
Rod McCary - Father Bob
Genre - Horror/Demons/Possession
Running Time - 96 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
I'm so glad I did not end up in Catholic School. If you think I'm bad now, could you just imagine how I would have turned out being under the tutelege of nuns? I probably would have become an abusive bastard after getting whipped by wooden rulers by disgruntled sisters. I probably would have starred on Dateline's To Catch A Predator due to after-school lessons with Father Ikindaliketopokeya. And I probably would have conjured up demonic spirits after being told getting to First Base with a girl is a sin before marriage. Look at the existence of Ann Coulter. Do you think she was born naturally? Nah...some pissed off Catholic School dropout created her to torture us all. Damn you!!
I guess it's not all bad though. At least we have NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 to watch because of these hijinks. While not as fun as the original 1988 cult horror flick, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 still fits the bill almost as much as the first part. A 1990's horror sequel that actually rocks? Yep, this is the work of Hell alright.
A few Catholic High School students become disgruntled before their annual Halloween dance because they're forbidden to fornicate in a house of God. I don't remember that being a Commandment, so I don't see the big deal. Anyway, Sister Gloria (Jennifer Rhodes) bans these students from the party after catching some of them getting a bit too frisky with each other. Bitter, the teens sneak out and decide to have a party at Hull House, where a bunch of stupid teens died in 1988 [watch NIGHT OF THE DEMONS for that].
Anyway once they arrive there, they all split up to pull some pranks and find some privacy - ya know, for "prayer"? However, they just end up conjuring up our beloved Angela (Amelia Kinkade), who returns to reunite with her scared sister (Merle Kennedy) and bring her over to the dark side. As these teens get butchered and possessed by Angela's evil magic, it'll take a badass nun, a demonology expert, and a couple of fearless teens to stop Angela's tricks once and for all.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS really didn't need a sequel, as that film was great on its own merit. But the sequel is no slouch - while it's not as fun as the original film, the acting and special effects are better. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 shows us what a great sequel is - keeping the quality consistent that the film before it left behind by changing it up a bit. I can definitely respect that.
The story is pretty strong in NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2. The whole Catholic High School situation is a great set up for these kids to rebel against authority and mess with things they have no business messing with. These teens are horny as hell and want to get laid. It's human nature. Yet they're told that it's wrong and have to wait until marriage. I'd break out of there and dabble in some dark magic myself. The characters are pretty developed because of the Catholic School scenes as we see who's the bitch, the cool dudes who act like jackasses but are alright on the inside, the girl who has history with the demons, the demonology expert, and the nice slutty girls who enjoy wearing clothes that display their nice ample bosoms. These characters are nothing new in the genre but they all work really well due to nice dialogue and good acting. So instead of wanting most of these teens dead, you actually can relate to them somewhat and root for them to survive this thing. I think the best character is actually Sister Gloria, who has a lot of spunk, has great dialogue, and can kick some demon ass with just her ruler and Holy Water. Her and that priest from DEAD ALIVE would make a formidable team as they kick ass for the Lord.
I also liked the humorous aspects to NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2. The first one was pretty silly, so why not keep it going in the second? Sure, it's not as funny or as entertaining as the original but the whole experience of the film is pretty goofy regardless. And some of the exchanges between characters will definitely make you chuckle more than once. For a horror sequel, the script is pretty smart and written well.
I think the best parts of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 are the special effects and the gore. I thought the demon makeup looked pretty good and the actors did a great job pulling it off. I also thought the deaths were pretty insane in this film. I loved that kill involving a pair of demonic breasts that pretty much burnt some dude alive. It has to be seen to be appreciated really. It stands out completely as an original. I also loved the decapitation scene that leads to the dead guy [now a demon] using his head as a basketball and as a weapon. Of course we get that demonic lipstick again, but this time it turns into some kind of eel creature and crawls up inside some chick's vagina. That was probably the best sex she ever had. There's a lot of blood going on here, as well as some nice boobies being shown [when they're fake, they're considered special effects]. I think the gore here was a lot better than in the original [besides the lipstick through the breast trick from the original].
The direction by Brian Trenchard-Smith is pretty similar to Kevin Tenney's work on the original. There's great pacing, great editing, decent suspense, and nice work of that Sam Raimi EVIL DEAD P.O.V. subjective shot where the demons are released and quickly travel through the house. It's not the visually most stunning horror flick out there, but it does the job very well. No complaints.
The acting is actually better here than in the original, but I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. I guess it depends on your tastes. The most famous person in the film would probably be Christine Taylor, who's now married to Ben Stiller. I always found her to be pretty smokin' and talented and she doesn't disappoint here. Taylor doesn't do much in the film but she didn't bother me one bit. Amelia Kinkade returns as Angela and she's great here as well. She seems to be enjoying herself playing an evil demon here. I think she's pretty cool. Billy Jayne was cool as the demonology expert. I was on his side the whole time because I believe in that stuff but no one would listen. That truth vs. authority set up always gets at me. The best actor here though was Jennifer Rhodes as Sister Gloria. She knew this wasn't a serious film but she took charge of it anyway, outclassing all the other actors around here. From her disciplinarian dialogue, to her caring for the missing teens, and to her kicking demon ass - I bought it all. Who knew rulers could be so dangerous?
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE SAVING ROOM FOR THE HOLY GHOST
- If you're spreading the word of God from door-to-door, don't enter a house whose door opens by itself. The Bible won't save you from a foreclosure on your life.
- Three girls talked about Angela, joking that she's riding Satan's spike in Hell. That's not funny. Satan only saves his spike for Saddam Hussein. Don't these babes watch South Park?
- "Kissing is a sin when it's an upper persuasion for a lower invasion." If that's the case, then I know why my body temperature seems to be higher than most. I'm burning with sin...WHOOO!!
- Mr. "King Snake" really has an "inch worm". That explains why Cobra Commander wears a mask. Poor guy.
- Out of all the people he just met, Rich gave Christine Taylor's character the most attention inside of his car. Geez...why is it always "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"?
- Some bitch made out with two guys at once. I don't think she's a virgin - in the front or in the back. Not sure if I find that arousing or not...
- There was a demonic head peeking out of the toilet bowl. Damn, what did the last person to take a dump eat!?
- Don't ever use lipstick you find in a haunted house. If you were a virgin, you won't be after applying that color. And you won't be straight anymore either.
You know what? All the ladies can use any type of lipstick they want. The men can leave the stuff alone though.
- Don't touch a she-demon's breasts. They'll burn your hands during your "exam". I heard breast implants could be dangerous but that's just ridiculous.
- Demons like to make out, give handjobs, get screwed, and perform lesbian activities. I'm convinced Jenna Jameson was possessed by a demon during her years as a porn star.
- Someone died from a sharp baseball bat to the head. I don't understand how that happened. Paris Hilton gets hit with bats to the face all the time and she still lives. Weird.
- Angela exploded after getting burned by the sun. Next time, use sunblock.
THE FINAL HOWL
One of the few horror sequels that actually matches the quality of the original, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 is a fun flick if you're looking for your demon fix. It's gory. It's funny. And it's good for a late night horror movie party with your friends over some popcorn and beer.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to finish my pentagram with a tube of haunted lipstick. I'm in the mood for a handjob. Hey, I don't care what she looks like. A man's got to sin!
Linnea Quigley - Spider
Andras Jones - Calvin
Robin Rochelle - Babs
Carla Baron - Frankie
Kathi O'Brecht - Rhonda
John Stewart Wildman - Keith
Hal Havens - Jimmie
Brinke Stevens - Taffy
Michelle Bauer - Lisa
Michael Soneye (aka Dukey Flyswatter) - The Imp
George "Buck" Flower - Janitor
Genre - Horror/Comedy/Demons/B-Movies
Running Time - 79 Minutes
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
I honestly have never seen the point of joining a fraternity or a sorority. Sure, it's cool to be part of a supposedly honorable group that will help you with room and board, plus your back when you need it. But the initiations and hazings would just be embarrassing. I mean, does anyone get off getting their bare ass paddled?
If you're raising your hands and you're female, send me your digits. We need to...talk.
Anyway, joining a fraternity and a sorority is nothing but trouble. Who wants a sore ass? Who wants to eat and drink weird things that may have come out of a human body? Who wants feel confused about their sexuality? Who wants to break into a bowling alley to steal a trophy that holds a jive-talkin' Imp who'll give you nothing but pain for 79 minutes? If you're the characters in the cult classic, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIME BOWL-O-RAMA, then there's definitely a strike in your future.
Three geeky dudes (Andras Jones, John Stewart Wildman, and Hal Havens) decide to sneak into some sorority called Tri Delta to watch two girls, Taffy and Lisa (Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer), get spanked during their initiation. Once they're discovered by the leaders of the sorority (Robin Rochelle, Kathi O'Brecht, and Carla Baron), the geeks are forced to join Lisa and Taffy to steal a trophy at the local bowling alley at the Plaza Camino Mall in order to become full-fledged members of Tri Delta. After they break into the bowling alley, they encounter the rough and tough Spider (Linnea Quigley), who's busy robbing the place herself. The group finds the trophy but accidentally knock it over, releasing a demonic imp that was trapped inside for years. Offering wishes, the imp messes with the gang's lives one by one, making certain people regretting that they should have been careful for what they wished for.
I remember watching SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA many years ago when USA Network's Up All Night show was still on the air. I loved the film back then and after watching it again since the early 1990s, I still really like SBITSBOR. Just by reading that really long movie title, this is not a film that is meant to be taken seriously. It helps that the film barely takes itself seriously as well. It's a horror film. It's a pretty witty comedy. It's an exploitation film in a way. SBITSBOR is that rare feature whose bad qualities make up for an endearing guilty pleasure.
SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA has everything one would want in an 80s B-movie.
Cheesy special effects? Check.
Awesome glam metal soundtrack? Check.
Horrible acting? Check.
Bad 80s fashion and hairstyles? Check and check.
Female nudity? Double D check.
This is not a film where we study the screenplay. But the story is simple enough and works well for 80 minutes. The characters are actually pretty well-developed for this kind of film, where each character has a different look and personality that differentiates them from each other. The dialogue is pretty silly and won't win any awards, but it's silly to the point where you just shake your head and just laugh at how dumb the whole situation is and how the characters react to it and to each other. Unlike BIKINI BLOODBATH, the characters' lines get right to the point and then we move on to the next scenerio. Also, the nudity has a purpose here, even if it is still gratuitous. Not all the jokes work of course, but the screenplay has its purpose and does it well enough to make this type of movie work.
The special effects in SBITSBOR are cheesy and definitely low-budget, but they're still entertaining to watch because of it. The Imp character himself is nothing but a rubber puppet that makes Chucky look as human as you and me. But it's funny to watch him speak and just say really bad puns that just make you chuckle. And the demon make-up was pretty good too. I dug it.
The death scenes are also pretty cool. I loved the bowling ball to the face death where a demon gets killed. Someone gets decapitated. We also get someone getting murdered by a ball polisher. None of it will scare you or make you cringe with disgust, but they're a nice distraction from the comedy surrounding them.
And of course, we get boobs, boobs, and more boobs here. Especially by Michelle Bauer, who takes off her top any chance she can get and I'm thankful to her for that. Unfortunately, Linnea Quigley does not get naked like she usually does in her other films. But she looked hot in her tight pants and ripped shirt. Hey, I'll take what I can get.
The direction by David DeCoteau isn't really memorable. He's just there to shoot at Bauer's boobs, Bauer's ass, and the closeup of the Imp. But the pacing's great and the editing is tight. It visually does its job for 80 minutes. Can't complain too much about that.
The acting is pretty bad, but that's pretty much the whole point I think. Linnea Quigley is far from the greatest actress of all time. Her dry delivery and lack of enthusiasm reciting lines would probably make some people wonder why she had a job for so long [she has an all-nudity clause, dumbasses]. But I find the whole thing sort of endearing about her. Her sarcastic wit and tough chick act is winner for me and I rather liked her alot in this film. Sure, she doesn't get naked which sucks. But she looked hot in her outfit, so it's cool. Andras Jones as Calvin was pretty funny. The nerd act worked for me alot and his drunk act made me laugh. How does a guy get drunk from a can of beer? I liked his chemistry with Quigley. They made a cute couple. The other actors were all good [or bad] in what they did, especially Michelle Bauer who did not mind showing off her assets. Thank you, Michelle! My boner was very happy with your performance. And Dukey Flyswatter as the Imp had me rollin'. It might be a bit racist and stereotypical to have the villain sound like an extra from some 70s blaxploitation flick, but I thought it worked. Sure the one liners were pretty crummy, but the delivery had my stomach hurting. A good looking cast of bad actors - isn't that like most mainstream horror films these days anyway?
TRIVIA: Both Andras Jones and Linnea Quigley would star in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 4: THE DREAM MASTER later the same year. Jones played the KARATE KID wannabe, Rick Johnson, while Quigley was an extra playing one of the lost souls inside Freddy Krueger's body.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WAXING THE TWO BOWLING BALLS BETWEEN MY LEGS
- Babs, the paddle spanker, feels it's better to give than to receive. That's my motto too. Unfortunately, I haven't been giving or receiving much of anything lately. My little friend has become more depressed than I am. :(
- Girls initiated to sororities get spanked and covered in whipped cream, which leads them to shower together. Damn, is it too late to join one? I have something I'd like to spank these girls with. No wonder "Bush" was elected more than once.
- When the fat dude, Jimmie, got his wish of gold to come true by the Imp, the first thing he wanted was to do his hair and nails BEFORE buying a car. I had no idea that inside every fat man, there's a skinny conceited bitch dying to come out.
- Some guy said he was "stuffed tighter than a large cock". I'm sure Madonna and Paris Hilton know all about that from experience. Maybe they should trade notes!
- Don't ever attempt to escape an evil imp's presence. It'll lead to one of the many shocks of your life. Literally.
- A decapitated head doesn't make a good bowling ball. That's why men have TWO balls. We can spare one. Hell, it might help us get laid. Look at Lance Armstrong!
- A she-demon got killed by a fast moving bowling ball to her face. Who knew that what she enjoyed the most in her social life would be the death of her?
- Calvin hates she-demons. I know where he is coming from. My ex-girlfriend was a hellish pain in the ass too. If I had used Holy Water on her, I could have saved myself months of trouble.
- Every hot girl loves a cocktail. Unless it's a molotov. It'll just light a fire under her demonic ass.
THE FINAL HOWL
For a bad movie, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA is a lot of a fun to watch. Hot naked chicks, cheesy SFX and dialogue, Linnea Quigley, and a Jive-taking Imp - yep, this is my kind of film. If you're looking for a deep horror-comedy, then you're looking at the wrong film. But if you just want to experience cheese for 80 minutes with a satisfied look on your face, SBITSBOR is your movie. It's not always about the quality, people. Sometimes the ride there is good enough. Check it out if you can SPARE the time. Get it? SPARE the time? Spare is a bowling reference?
Ugh...where's that Imp? I knew I should have wished for better material...
Thomas Edward Seymour
Debbie Rochon - Miss Johnson
Thomas Edward Seymour - Phil
Russ Russo - Mike M.
Leah Ford - Jenny
Margaret Rose Champagne - Eve
Carmine Capobianco - Coach Smith
Robert Cosgrove Jr. - The Chef
Dana Fay Ensalata - Pam
Anna-Karin Eskilsson - Sharon
Olja Hrustic - Ginger
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 72 Minutes
Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - BIKINI BLOODBATH is about a girl named Jenny (Leah Ford) and her busty High School friends who decide to have a party at Jenny's house since her parents are away. After a game of volleyball, picking on some awkward girl, and clawing off their horny lesbian gym teacher, Miss Johnson (Debbie Rochon), the girls decide to head to Jenny's to talk about boys, play Twister, and flaunt their bazongas for us to drool over. The party gets more interesting as some football players [they have "FOOTBALL PLAYER" written on their white shirts - that's how I know they play football] decide to drop by. Things go okay until some serial killer named Chef Death (Robert Cosgrove Jr.) decides to invite himself and his cleaver to do some damage and kill some stupid teens. And I use the word "stupid" very loosely here. What will these boneheads do to stop Chef Death?
STORY - I guess BIKINI BLOODBATH is supposed to be a spoof or a satire on slasher flicks. It's extremely cheesy. The dialogue is badly written. The characters are just too mentally challenged for words [they made alcoholic drinks knowing the killer was in the house - HUH?]. I couldn't even root for anyone here. Not even the killer! The football players wear "FOOTBALL PLAYER" on their shirts, while the gym teacher and football coach had "GYM TEACHER" and "FOOTBALL COACH" on their shirts respectively. Chef Death is barely a presence. Hell, I had no idea who this dude was and why people just walked by him in this neighborhood when he was covered in blood and had a sharp weapon in his hand. I suppose BIKINI BLOODBATH is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and be silly with the entire premise. But after the first twenty minutes, the cheesiness of the film just became totally mundane and extremely annoying to watch. Sure, I love looking at nice breasts any chance I get. But soon, all of them just start to look the same if there's nothing interesting behind the show. When jokes start to fall flat [that DAZED AND CONFUSED moment just made me roll my eyes but the CITIZEN KANE one was pretty funny], characters start to make you want to pull your hair out, and there's no horror at all in this film, there's not much here. Compensating a horrible script with a bunch of boobs only works in porn. When I watch a horror flick, I want to see characters that at least have a drop of personality and actually make me feel something towards them. At least I did laugh at some things and there seemed to be a sign of a beginning, a middle, and an end to BIKINI BLOODBATH [although that ending was seven minutes too long - geez!]. It's still a pretty weak script though, but I'm not sure if that was intentional. Is that even an excuse?
DIRECTION - Thomas Edward Seymour and Jonathan Gorman didn't really do much visually for me. It was your typical point and shoot fest here, with the POV of the killer intact and decent editing to compensate the lack of a budget the two had for this flick. At least the film looked nice. As a B-movie, I guess the two succeeded somewhat. But as a horror flick, they totally failed. No tension. No suspense. Just boobs and more boobs. My boner thanks you, but my brain is very sad right now.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - We get some low budget horror violence here. That means we get the usual slit throat, stabbings, and death by a rake. Nothing too gory here at all. The language is also pretty usual for this type of film. Decent amount of cussing here and there so BIKINI BLOODBATH could look "cool". As for the sex, we get tons of T & A here. And I can't complain about it one bit. Very very nice. We also get a ton of homoeroticism amongst the football players, who like to caress each other, playing Twister, and do anything but take each other's clothes and molest each other. Plus some football player had a big boner in his boxers for like two minutes straight. So I guess there's something for everybody.
ACTING - Really bad here. But that was the point really. And the cast looked like they were having fun. And I rather see bad actors have fun on camera than great actors go through the motions for a paycheck. So while annoying, at least they were sort of charming to watch.
MUSIC - They are some cover versions of Kenny Loggins' "Footloose", Aerosmith's "Walk This Way", and some cross dressing band named White Liger. Yeah, it was alright for what it was.
THE FINAL HOWL
I knew BIKINI BLOODBATH wasn't gonna be good and that's exactly what I got here. I don't mind low-budget horror flicks that want to parody their big-budget counterparts. But when all you got is a ton of breasts and homosexual jokes and not much else, what is the point? Oh yeah - to promote the sequel, BIKINI BLOODBATH CARWASH. Apparently BIKINI BLOODBATH is the start of a new franchise. Boy, I can't wait...
Paprika Steen - Ulla
Ulrich Thomsen - Jesper
Jonas Wandschneider - Carl
Nikolaj Falkenberg-Klok - Phillip
Emma Juel Justesen - Rikke
Mollie Maria Gilmartin - Lotte
Josephine Gents - Camilla
Emma Claudia Sondergaard - Laura
Jakob Fals Nygaard - Albert
Genre - Science Fiction/Horror
Running Time - 93 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - THE SUBSTITUTE [a.k.a. VIKAREN] is about a Danish group of sixth-graders who receive a substitute teacher who is out of this world. Troublesome children, they get a rude awakening when they meet Ms. Ulla Harms (Paprika Sheen), who insults these children and puts them through physical tests that would make any Olympic Gymnastic Coach blush. Not only is Ulla a tough bitch, but she can also read minds and know your entire personal history just by looking at you. A woman who knows it all - my worst fear come true.
Anyway, Carl (Jonas Wandschneider) is still mourning the death of his mother and has no time for Ulla's tricks. Knowing that something is not quite right about his new teacher, Carl convinces his classmates to help him find out the truth while Ulla endears herself to the entire neighborhood. What the kids find out is that Ulla is really an alien and she has really messed up plans for the kids that involve chickens for some reason.
STORY - THE SUBSTITUTE is an interesting sci-fi/horror hybrid. The story is always interesting, even when you know what's pretty much going to happen. From Ulla's arrival [killing a chicken no less] to Carl's struggle with blaming himself for his mother's death to Ulla integrating herself not only into the neighborhood but Carl's personal life as well, the story always esculates and keeps you glued to see how things will play out. I think the characters here are exceptionally strong, especially the characters of Carl and the rest of the students. It's great to see someone writing kids as kids instead of adults trapped in a kid's body. They all have distinct personalities and are extremely likeable. I thought Carl was a character who was written great, as his guilt and his stance to sort of remain an outsider while playing leader at the same time was refreshing to watch.
I also dug the black comedy aspect of the film. Ulla has to be one of the meanest and nuttiest bitches in movie history next to Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in MOMMIE DEAREST. Her schizophrenic mannerisms and her outbursts towards children had me laughing. Talk about verbal child abuse.
The dialogue was outstanding too. It was extremely credible and believable, even though the circumstances were anything but. You understand who the characters are. You get a cohesive narrative. Sure there were some plot holes here and there but I didn't really think about them until a few days after watching the film. So the screenplay was pretty strong, I thought.
I, however, didn't understand the concept of the chickens in this film. I dunno, maybe I missed that part during one of my many "blonde moments", but the whole thing didn't really work for me. Unless they were zombie chickens, but I didn't see Lloyd Kaufman around anywhere. Hmmm...
DIRECTION - Ole Bornedal knows how to direct a flick. The cinematography was absolutely stunning, as everything seemed to be very dim or grey in color. Sort of depressing, but I thought it added to the doom and gloom of the situation, as well as to Carl's feelings about his guilt. Very metaphorical. I also loved the slow motion scenes and the editing style. It created a ton of suspense and tension. Even the CGI special effects weren't too bad here either. I liked the visuals here alot.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - Unless you count violence on chickens to be "The Good Stuff", then you're out of luck. Pretty tame film for the most part.
ACTING - Fantastic! Paprika Steen was awesome as Ulla. She was funny and I loved her body language during certain scenes where her mood would change out of the blue. She had that bitchy evil stare down to a tee. I really dug her alot. Ulrich Thomsen, who was fantastic in another film from Denmark called BRODRE [BROTHERS], was cool here too. Very subtle and low key performance. And while all the children actors were great [they were never annoying - how rare!], Jonas Wandschneider as Carl was incredible. I bought his grief. I bought his confusion. Shit, I was mourning along with him. He was so damn convincing and I rarely see any child actors grab a viewer as Wandschneider did me. What an incredible cast.
MUSIC - Marco Beltrami created a killer score here. Kind of eerie. Kind of sorrowful. It fit the film very well.
THE FINAL HOWL
THE SUBSTITUTE [VIKAREN] was a pleasant surprise. I really was not expecting much with this one but I really enjoyed this film a great deal. I have a soft spot for films where young people gang together to solve a mystery [eg. THE GOONIES, THE MONSTER SQUAD]. Great acting. Great direction. Cool CGI. And a better than good story that wasn't perfect but did it's job well. I suggest watching this film in its original Danish language because the dubbing was terrible for this one - although you'll probably laugh at the adult dubbers posing as children. Either way, I recommend this one. Pretty cool sci-fi flick.