Final Destination 3 (2006)

James Wong

Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Wendy Christensen
Ryan Merriman - Kevin Fischer
Kris Lemche - Ian McKinley
Amanda Crew - Julie Christensen
Sam Easton - Frankie Cheeks
Texas Battle - Lewis Romero
Alexz Johnson - Erin Ulmer
Chelan Simmons - Ashley Freund
Crystal Lowe - Ashlyn Halperin

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural

Running Time - 93 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

Being afraid of heights and losing control of what's going on, it's hard to enjoy going to a theme park or a carnival. Sure they're a lot of fun once I warm up to them, but I dread it when someone drags me to a Ferris Wheel or a roller coaster. Don't get me wrong - I love the rush that comes with riding these awesome contraptions. But getting stuck at the top of the wheel or that long suspenseful buildup to the top of the tracks that only leads right back down don't make me feel at ease.

I couldn't imagine living the roller coaster experience in FINAL DESTINATION 3 though. It's bad enough feeling like I'm gonna have a heart attack knowing I'm gonna be riding through loop after loop after loop. But to watch my friends fly out of their seats and get cut in half by steel? Yeah, not something I want to live through any time soon. But watching this scenerio happen and its aftermath happens to be fun, making FINAL DESTINATION 3 a threequel that's worth a look.

During Graduation Night at the local carnival, yearbook photographer Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) snaps away digital photos of her classmates, including her boyfriend Jason (Jesse Moss) and their friends Kevin (Ryan Merriman) and Carrie (Gina Holden). As they make their way to Devil's Flight, the main roller coaster attraction of the carnival with its 200-foot corkscrew coaster, Wendy starts having a bad feeling about getting on it. When she finally sits in the coaster, Wendy has a premonition of everyone dying mid-ride. Freaking out, she's escorted off the ride along with Kevin and several other classmates. Since this is a FINAL DESTINATION film, the premonition comes true - killing those still on the coaster including Jason and Carrie.

Struggling with her grief and guilt over the deaths, Wendy builds a wall around herself. Kevin, wanting to help, tells Wendy about Flight 180 and how that story ended [see: FINAL DESTINATION]. Wendy tries to shake that off, but once she looks through the photos she has taken, she notices that they seem to display the fates of those whose lives she saved on the rollercoaster. Using these hints, Wendy and Kevin try to intervene and ruin Death's design before Deaths starts to collect what he's been owed.

The threequel is usually a sequel too many in many franchises. These [in]famous threequels either end that franchise or question the makers behind that franchise whether the proverbial milk has indeed dried up. FINAL DESTINATION 3, in all likelihood, should have joined this club. After all, how many times can one watch the same film with the same exact concept only with different characters and different death sequences, only reaching to pretty much the same conclusion? But FINAL DESTINATION 3 actually works better than it should and better than probably anyone would expect. Yes, it's the same crap fed to us with FINAL DESTINATION and FINAL DESTINATION 2. Yes, the story isn't as strong as it should be. Yes, the deaths are as ridiculous and over-the-top as ever. But like its slasher brethren, these films continue to be entertaining even when the components that the original established have been dumbed down. Horror is a weird genre, as the same movie can be made 12 times and we'll still watch them, love them, talk about them, and debate which installment was better even when they all do the same exact thing. Go figure.

Like with FINAL DESTINATION 2, the story is what brings the film down. It's pretty much all style and not enough substance. In fact, FINAL DESTINATION 3 is pretty much the same film as FINAL DESTINATION. Just replace the airplane with the rollercoaster and interchange the deep characters with more shallow ones and you got yourself a film. FINAL DESTINATION 3 also isn't as funny or as ironic [tongue-in-cheek] as the first two films, taking itself more seriously than the others [although the film has its moments]. It's one of those sequels that plays it pretty safe rather than bringing anything new to the surface. We still don't know why certain people get these premonitions. We still don't know what's the deal with Death's design. Hell at this point, no one even really brings it up anymore. Does anyone even care? I did enjoy the idea of how science plays when it comes to life and death though, with each action having a counter action. I know a lot of people like the mystery, but by the third film, you sort of want answers to these things.

While the characters are pretty paper thin like the ones in FINAL DESTINATION 2, at least I enjoyed watching these stereotypical idiots. From the stubborn jock, to the ditzy blonde Paris Hilton wannabes, to the player who's obviously a virgin, you enjoyed watching them get killed. And you actually kind of cared because at least with their stereotypes, there was some sort of personality that came with them. They were cannon fodder but they were cannon fodder that never bored me. And the lead characters were actually engaging to watch because I could understand their grief and their pain knowing that Death is on their ass. Can't say the same with the first sequel.

The gore in FINAL DESTINATION 3 satisfies the horror need. The opening sequence with the rollercoaster is just so damn brutal and it's like one of my biggest fears when I'm ever on a rollercoaster. Plane crashes and highway turmoil is nothing really new, but to have such horror on a fun ride makes the sequence creepier to me. I think more could have been done with the sequence but it's cool as it is. And the rest of the deaths are pretty fun. The tanning bed scene is cool. The nail gun scene is pretty messed up. We get the one with the weights machine crushing some dude's head [always fun]. We get THE OMEN's impaled by a long rod. Someone gets crushed from above, with the guy in half still twitching after the fact. And that last subway scene hits me hard because I ride the train ALL THE TIME. The second film is probably gorier but the third film doesn't make me complain either.

The direction by FINAL DESTINATION director James Wong is very good. Some of the shots have a lot of style [that rollercoaster scene especially with mini-cameras that worked with remote control to capture the real life movements of the coaster to create a more realistic experience] and there was some nice suspense during the death sequences. I also liked that Wong used the real actors in the actual death scenes instead of having some sort of stunt double replace them. It helped maintain an authenticity in a surreal world. The cinematography looked great and the film flowed at a nice, quick pace. The visuals will never bore you, even when the CGI is evident at times. It's a great looking flick that would have benefited from a deeper script. But you can't have it all, can you?

The acting is definitely a step above FINAL DESTINATION 2 [even if it's not as good as the first one]. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who starred in DEATH PROOF, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, and other stuff, does extremely well as the lead character. Her reactions to the premonitions and the deaths that occur around her are strikingly believable and you actually feel bad for her for going through this. She's a really credible young actress and she carried this film well I thought. Ryan Merriman, who was in the horrible HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, also did a really nice job as Kevin, playing the "straight man" and giving really believable support for Winstead. Texas Battle played a one-dimensional asshole jock well as Lewis. The guy had no substance at all but that gym scene cracks me up. So I can't hate the guy. Kris Lemche was cool as the dark-ish Ian, being an unstable smartass pretty well. The other actors played their roles as best as they could given the material. And it's always nice hearing Tony Todd's voice as both Satan at the carnival and as the train operator at the end.


- Ashley and Ashlyn had a lot of slutty fun playing that game where you shoot the water gun into the clown's mouth to fill a balloon, winning the prize at the end. Being on the receiving end of long things shooting towards their mouths, I'm not surprised they were pros at this game.

- You should never get on a rollercoaster hosted by Satan called Devil's Flight, where skulls and skeletons are the decor and the only gate you can step through involves any form of the number 6. If you ain't Regan, Emily Rose, Damien Thorn, or Spencer Pratt - GET THE FUCK OFF!!!

- Never bring a camera on to a rollercoaster. Pictures may last long, but getting killed lasts longer. No matter what Kodak or Polaroid has told you, remember: memories are overrated.

- Ashley and Ashlyn got fried in their tanning booths. Judging by recent events, George Hamilton has yet to see FINAL DESTINATION 3.

- Don't ever portray yourself as the consummate ladies' man. Being your own biggest fan can inflate your big head. Or that big fan could ground it into pieces. Neither one is good for anyone.

- Erin got drilled by a nail gun to death. Those 30 seconds were more exciting than the 80 minutes I spent watching THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE. Ugh...

- Only douchebags would light firecrackers near a horse. Here's hoping their horse dick cellmates fire inside their cracks in prison!

While the first FINAL DESTINATION is still the best, FINAL DESTINATION 3 proves that not all threequels suck hard. It's a fun film with funny death scenes that's not gonna harm anyone. It's a thrill ride, plain and simple. If you've seen the others, you know what you're getting with this one. Generic and hollow, sure, but it still entertains the hell out of me. Sometimes, that's all you want.


Final Destination 2 (2003)

David R. Ellis

A.J. Cook - Kimberly Corman
Michael Landes - Officer Burke
Ali Larter - Clear Rivers
T.C. Carson - Eugene
Jonathan Cherry - Rory
Justina Machado - Isabelle Hudson
Tony Todd - Bludworth

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural

Running Time - 91 Minutes

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

Death never takes a vacation. I mean, how can he when there's so much work to be done each and every second of the day? I really don't know how he does it without breaking a sweat. You would think he's kind of frustrated at this point, wanting a break of not killing anyone for a couple of hours. Maybe that's why he tries to kill the characters in these FINAL DESTINATION movies in one fell swoop, annihilating them at once so he can have a smoke and booze break for a half hour or so.

But then again, someone just has to screw it up by having a premonition of their death, cheating Death's plan and surviving longer than they should have due to selfishness. No wonder Death is so pissed off. Especially in 2003's FINAL DESTINATION 2, where the deaths are more gruesome and in-your-face than the previous installment. While this is all fine and dandy, it seems Death killed some of the screenplay in the process. Oh well, at least this sequel is still a fun time for the most part.

On the one-year-anniversary of Flight 180's explosion [from the original film], Kimberly (A.J. Cook) and her friends decide to head to Daytona for some Spring Break action. Once they make it on to the freeway, Kimberly is suddenly hit with a vision of an insane car pile-up that will kill her, her friends, and countless others in the span of 2 minutes. Freaked out by her premonition, Kimberly stalls and blocks the vehicles of those who died in her vision. Officer Burke (Michael Landes) thinks that Kimberly just had a bad dream, but is corrected when the accident does happen - saving the lives of everyone but Kimberly's friends, who end up dying anyway.

During the interrogation at the police station, Kimberly explains that what she sensed was similar to what happened with Flight 180 - knowing that she and the lives she saved will end up being picked off one by one. The survivors, besides Officer Burke, don't believe Kimberly and just continue with their lives. However, when the survivors start having really weird deaths, the premonition doesn't seem so unbelievable. With the help of an institutionalized Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the only survivor of Flight 180, Kimberly and Officer Burke decide to figure out Death's design in order to take themselves off the list.

Sequels are an iffy thing. Most of them are hardly needed, but it's a common fact that once a film makes a ton of money or has cult success, a follow-up will be made to continue the story. Some sequels actually exceed the original [THE GODFATHER PART II, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, SPIDER-MAN 2, X2: X-MEN UNITED, THE DARK KNIGHT] while most of the time, they don't live up to the original's standards. FINAL DESTINATION 2 falls in the latter. Yes, it's a fun flick. Yes, it's gorier and more over-the-top than the original. Yes, it's more fast paced and action packed. But there's something missing from this sequel that makes it lesser in comparison to the original.

I think the culprit is really the story of FINAL DESTINATION 2. A number of factors comes into play here:

- The originality is gone. Now that we know what these FINAL DESTINATION films are all about, we know what to expect. What was once a complex and clever idea starts to grow a bit stale because we pretty much know how these characters are gonna die. In the original FINAL DESTINATION, the deaths had so many twist and turns that when you thought a character would die one way, he or she would die with another. In FINAL DESTINATION 2, it's the complete opposite. We are given hints as to how these characters will die and it takes away from the chase getting there. So the unpredictability factor is now gone and we're left with a regular slasher flick, but with a killer no one can stop. This sort of thing was gonna happen, but try and do something creative with an old trick to make it new again.

- The characters aren't that interesting really. I'm not saying that they're horrible, but I could have really cared less if Kimberly had saved them or not. They're not developed at all. Hell, they're not even stereotypes I can really relate to in some fashion. They're pretty much cookie cutter characters without depth. Hell, even Kimberly isn't all that developed and she's the main character! I knew nothing about her life, who she is, and why she even received this premonition. All I really knew is that she didn't want to die. The only ones I thought had depth were obvious Clear Rivers [just for the simple fact that we knew her from the first one and her transformation here is believable], the drug addict Rory, and the skeptic Eugene. Those characters I actually cared about because they had signs of personality. The other characters were just shallow. And when shallow characters die on my television screen, the impact is lessened because I don't feel bad for them. I'm actually glad they bit it.

- This film gives more questions than answers due to lack of explaining things. Why do people have premonitions of their deaths just so they can stop it? Why would Death allow people to change their set destinies in such a way? How does a new life reset Death's plan? Why would anyone put their arm through a sink that's wearing a watch, knowing their dumbass is gonna get stuck inside the hole? And since these characters already cheated death before, why did Death design a new plan for them where they would just cheat it all over again? There is a lot going on underneath the surface in FINAL DESTINATION 2 but the film doesn't really tell us anything that we want to know. I know people don't watch these films for some kind of message or information, but it helps keep my interest in a film. Cool gory scenes are great but even they get old after a while if there's no substance behind them.

I will give the story some credit. At least there was an attempt to steer away from the usual teen stereotypes, bringing aboard characters of all ages - that happened to be somewhat stereotypical. Also, the way this film is connected to the original is actually pretty well done considering the lack of depth involved. I wish that exposition scene on how these characters are related according to Death's design was a bit more fleshed out, maybe with visual flashbacks and such. But at least I understood why they were grouped together like this. And I gotta admit that some of the deaths are pretty clever and wicked. So it wasn't totally bad. It just needed a little work, that's all.

I think what FINAL DESTINATION 2 is really known for is its death sequences. As of now, this film [to me] has the best deaths in the franchise. The opening sequence with the accident on the highway is still an awesome and well-directed sequence where people get killed in vicious ways and explosions just add on to the fun. I also love the glass panel death from above [try watching it in slow motion - yes, I can be sick like that but it's so freakin' cool] and the airbag death [ouch]. I still find the Evan death ridiculous just because he was such a dumbass, but the final result with the fire escape ladder through the eye is such nice frosting on that cupcake. The visual effects team really did a beautiful job here and these demises, while predictable, still make the film a lot of fun to watch.

Director David R. Ellis, who is a stunt coordinator and a second unit AD for tons of stuff, does a great job creating an effective thrill ride. The film is quickly paced so you never get bored. The cinematography is beautiful at times, with the gloomy tones and colors that create a creepy and downbeat mood most of the time. The composition of his shots are wonderful, as the set pieces really look great on film and keep you stimulated the entire time. The only thing he needed to work on here was telling a better story because I was never sure who was supposed to die when and where like the first FINAL DESTINATION. I think if he cleared this up a bit, the film would have been a bit better. But other than that, I had no problems with the direction here.

The actors are good for the most part. A.J. Cook is very cute and I liked her performance as Kimberly. She cried on cue and looked scared believably. I just wish I liked her character more or knew more about her. But Cook makes the most of what she has and does a good job by giving the character more depth than what was put on paper. Ali Larter is great again as Clear Rivers, bringing a more gloomy aura to her previous performance in FINAL DESTINATION. T.C. Carson as the tightass skeptic Eugene brings depth to a role that probably didn't deserve it. Carson makes you believe why Eugene's full of disbelief, as well as bringing out the denial and fear of a man who constantly needs to be in control and is afraid of losing it. Jonathan Cherry was also pretty funny as the junkie, Rory. The rest of the actors didn't really impress me as much, but that was because they really didn't have much to work with.


- Kimberly knows how to drive stick shift. In that case, she drive my stick - and shift it until it explodes!

- A huge log cut loose and flew into the windshield of Burke's police car, smashing his face in. That explains the obvious plastic surgery on Jenna Jameson's face after so many years in porn.

- Cheating death is like having that Diff'rent Strokes curse. Ya know - doing porn, killing yourself, doing bad reality shows, and getting abused by your much taller wife? Yeah...I'll take death, thanks.

- Evan is a bad cook. He spills oil all over the place, doesn't check to see if there is a magnet in his microwavable food, and then lets his food burn while his arm is stuck inside the sink's drain due to his watch. If he were on Iron Chef America, his secret ingredient would be Chop Suey!

- Kimberly was offended by Clear's lack of enthusiasm to help her, calling her a coward and giving her the middle finger. I wouldn't mess with Clear. She used to have superstrength, she can freeze people at times, and she whooped Beyonce's ass. This bitch don't play!

- At the dentist's office, Tim said that if he's given the gas and his pants are unbuttoned when he wakes up, then he's not paying. Oh Tim, the sexual favor will cover all the costs of the appointment. Unless she's a female dentist. Then there could be a possible debt within 9 months. Oooh baby!

- Nora got killed when the Jaws of Life tried to free her from being trapped inside a car, unleashing the airbag which impaled her skull into a sharp object sticking out behind her on impact. So you're saying her face was between a white sack while she was impaled by a white stick? Didn't the same thing happen at her prom?

- Don't ever barbecue after someone saved your life from certain death. Your second chance at life may blow up in your face. Literally.

While flawed compared to the original, FINAL DESTINATION 2 is still a fun flick to watch every once in a while. It's quick, the set pieces are well done, and the gore is top notch. If you're looking for substance, this is not your film. But if you're looking for death sequences you'll want to watch over and over again, make a stop at FINAL DESTINATION 2.


The Prowler (1981)

Joseph Zito

Vicky Lawson - Pam MacDonald
Christopher Goutman - Deputy Mark London
Lawrence Tierney - Major Chatham
Farley Granger - Sheriff George Fraser
Cindy Weintraub - Lisa
Lisa Dunsheath - Sherry
David Sederholm - Carl

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 89 Minutes

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

Getting dumped sucks. You've given so much time and attention to that special person that you love that it's literally heartbreaking when this person decides it isn't enough and leaves you for whoever and/or whatever. It hurts more when the person doesn't have the guts to do it right in your face. I mean really - a text message? An e-mail? A phone call? What about catching your girlfriend making out with another guy the day before your High School Graduation?

Yeah I know it's been ten years but I still hate your guts, you slut! I hope you're suffering with the chronic case of herpes and that neverending yeast infection I wished for on my 19th and 20th birthdays, you whore!!

Soooo...what does this have to do with the film I'm reviewing today? Well in 1981's underrated slasher flick, THE PROWLER, the killer started his murder spree over a broken heart. And where do broken hearts go? If it was Whitney Houston, it'd probably be up her left and right nostril. But for THE PROWLER, it's through your heart and throat with a mighty big pitchfork and dagger. Yeah, I'll take that over any drug any day.

In 1945 at the end of World War II, a soldier about to return home from duty receives a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend back home named Rosemary (Joy Glaccum). Apparently this slut can't keep her legs closed enough to wait for him and decides to move on, hoping they remain friends when he returns. Psh. Bitch. Anyway, the letter changes the guy and he decides to respond to the letter - by killing Rosemary and her new boyfriend while they're making out on the night of the Graduation Dance with a pitchfork.

We skip ahead to 1981 where Pam (Vicky Lawson) decides to bring back the infamous Graduation Dance, with not many of the townspeople too happy about it. Especially since the killer from 1945 was never caught. But that doesn't stop the killer from making a reappearance in his World War II army uniform, pitchfork, and a sweet dagger. With The Prowler back in the game killing graduating college students and Sheriff Fraser (Farley Granger) taking his annual fishing trip, it's up to Deputy Mark London (Christopher Goutman) and Pam to catch The Prowler and figure out who he is and why he's killing again.

is a slasher film not many people know or talk about. Stuck in the shadows of HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and even THE BURNING and MY BLOODY VALENTINE [where it shares many of its similarities], it wasn't until recently that THE PROWLER started getting more attention. But I can see why the film isn't talked about all that much. While the gore by FX master Tom Savini is incredible, THE PROWLER lacks in other aspects.

I think the worst culprit with THE PROWLER is the pretty dull story. Now I know slasher films aren't known for their incredible well-written screenplays and narratives. But when I start getting a bit bored with a slasher, something's not quite right. I'm not saying that the story itself is terrible. As a matter of fact, the premise is actually good enough to carry a film like this. The beginning alone, for me, is the best part of the film storywise. Rosemary breaks up with the killer for another man. And the killer takes revenge by killing the both of them. That's a great setup to the rest of the film.

However, when the killer comes back years later for another Graduation Dance massacre, what are his motives? Is the guy still nuts over Rosemary's betrayal? Is he continuing a tradition he started back in 1945? Does the dance bring back bad memories? We never really know why the killer returns to murder these innocent college graduates. And while it shouldn't bug me, it does. I mean we know why Michael Myers, The Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger did what they did. The Prowler got his revenge in 1945 and remained at large for 36 years. Why screw that up just to murder one-dimensional personalities? Yeah, there wouldn't be a movie called THE PROWLER if logic was intact, but I'm a logical person. Sue me.

And yeah, the characters weren't really all that interesting. All they do is walk around aimlessly and scream. I honestly couldn't have cared less if any of these people lived or died for the most part. I like to root for someone other than the killer in these slasher films, but there was no one here that deserved my support. Not even Pam or Mark, who as the protagonist leads, were as captivating as watching paint dry. I know slasher film characters are supposed to be stereotypical and lacking depth for the most part, but there was no depth to these characters at all. If Pam and Mark had more personality, the story would have worked better for me. The Prowler had more personality just in his murder weapons. That's pretty sad.

And I also guessed who The Prowler was within the first half hour. Maybe I've seen too many of these slashers but it wasn't hard to guess who the killer was. Still, at least the attempt at mystery was decent.

And I gotta mention the ending of the film - really, really lame. I don't even understand why the final sequence was even left in THE PROWLER. It didn't add anything to the story. If this sequence was placed in the middle of the film, it would have worked a whole lot better and would have added tension. But it just falls flat as an ending. I was left sitting there going, "That's it?" Hell, I saw this movie many years ago and I actually forgot this was the ending to the film. No wonder I couldn't remember. It sucked!

So while the narrative is flat, what really makes THE PROWLER worth watching is the gore. Tom Savini does probably his best work here, really making the murder scenes stand out and cringe-worthy. Especially in Uncut form, where you really see the destruction The Prowler does to his victims. From the scene where The Prowler impales some horny dude with his long dagger from the top of his head to the point where the end of the blade sticks out from under his chin, to the pitchfork scene in the shower, to the chaperone getting impaled right through her throat, to the AWESOME head explosion scene at the end, Tom Savini really works his FX magic to make this film stand out amongst the rest.

The direction by FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER director Joseph Zito is very good. Zito uses the chase sequences extremely well, creating lots of suspense and tension as The Prowler stalks his victims. We always know that The Prowler is lurking around before he strikes, really keeping you watching to see when the payoff will happen. There's also a dark atmosphere throughout the film. It's rarely upbeat which I liked. The editing is fantastic and the cinematography looks pretty good. My only issue was during the middle portion of the film, which was really slow and almost put me to sleep. So the pacing was a bit off because the beginning had action and the ending had action, while the middle just involved a lot of walking and searching. But other than that, Zito did a very nice job to make the dull story more exciting than it should have been.

The acting won't win any awards but no one was horrible. No one really stands out, even though Vicky Lawson and Christopher Goutman did what they could with paper-thin characters. THE PROWLER isn't an acting showcase nor is it treated as such. The actors did what they were supposed to do and it worked out fine. So no complaints here.


- Some guy asked Rosemary if she wanted a "slug" to get her in the mood. Chris Brown was known to give Rihanna a "slug" every once in a while, although Brown's "slug" had a different connotation than the one in 1945.

- Lisa flashed the wheelchair ridden Major Chatham from her window across the street, saying he wouldn't be able stand up after the sight. Oh he's standing, Lisa. He's standing at attention while it counts.

- The Prowler rammed his dagger through the top of Carl's head out of his throat. Talk about getting skull fucked!

- The Prowler wiped the blood off of his dagger before using it on someone else. He'll kill them with violence but not with AIDS - gotta respect that on some level.

- Pam got upset when Mark was stolen by Lisa for a dance while she served punch. I have a feeling this homewrecker will be served a big cup of it by the end of the night - and it won't be fruity or spiked!

- The band at the dance sang about making some girl bleed because they want to see blood on the floor. You're at the wrong dance, guys. Carrie White's prom is two miles down the road. It may have been a good thing that you missed it.

- Miss Allison got impaled by the dagger through the neck. Talk about deep throat!

- Pam found a skeleton hanging inside a chimney peeking out in the fireplace. And that's why, kids, there's no [more] such thing as Santa Claus.

- If you're fooling around with a pretty lady, don't let her play with your gun. She'll make your head explode, and I don't mind that one in your pants either.

While cliche and a bit boring and slow at times due to a pretty weak story and characterization, THE PROWLER is still a more than decent slasher flick worthy of your time. Tom Savini saves the day with this film, bringing gore that will be remembered for quite some time. While not the greatest slasher film out there, there's still alot to like about THE PROWLER and it definitely deserves its cult following. Slasher freaks will probably buy this one, but everyone else should rent and watch before they decide on a buy.

Now where's my pitchfork? I need a bit of closure on someone...I mean, something.


Scarred (2005)

Jon Hoffman
Dave Rock

Julian Berlin - Kim Hansen
Jonny Mack - Ben Hansen
Charity Shea - Alex
David Austin - Jesse
Maxine Bahns - Heather
Hannah Leigh - The Killer

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Independent

Running Time - 87 Minutes

Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - The Hansen family go on a camping trip to the woods. The trip isn't as peppy as it should be since daughter Kim (Julian Berlin) can't stand her new step-mom Heather (Maxine Bahns), who's half her father's age - believing Heather is only after the money. Her brother Ben (Jonny Mack) and Kim's best friend Alex (Charity Shea) want her to get over it, but Kim struggles with it - setting camp away from the married couple.

That very night, a good-looking park ranger named Jesse (David Austin) shows up and quickly tells the family some ghost story about a faceless woman who roams those very woods, murdering women to steal their pretty faces. Apparently this woman's mom had an affair with a dude with a skin disorder and she was born with the same one. The scorned husband, reminded by the affair whenever he looked at her, cut her face off before offing her mother and himself. Yeah, this is something every camper should hear the first night they're out there. Anyway, the family doesn't buy the story. Since this is a horror film, that means that the story is real and this faceless girl begins slaughtering the family one-by-one. Yawn.


STORY - SCARRED is pretty much a modern take on the 80s slasher. It has the crazy old guy who warns the campers about the danger of the woods. It has the run down shack in the middle of the woods that belongs to the killer, which happens to look like a shrine. You have the ghost story by campfire. And you have the indestructible killer who won't die.

So then you ask yourself: how did this all go wrong?

Well for starters, there's no nudity or sex in this film. Every slasher flick has to have at least ONE sex scene. We get a couple of dry humping stuff but no one gets to go all the way. Boo and hiss to that. Also, we don't even get to see any decent gore for the most part. Yeah there's blood and there's violence with a knife, but it's pretty tame for modern horror standards. I would think you would want to go gangbusters on a DVD feature. Apparently not!

Also, the narrative is pretty flimsy. For starters, the first act involves Kim hating her step-mother and pretty much ruining the morale of the family due to her inability to accept her into the family. Now I don't mind this sub-plot at all because it has the ability to create character amongst the participants. Especially the Kim character, who [as the main character] could have been probed and have a revelation that her anger towards Heather is due to the fact that she's feeling replaced by her dad. The writers could have gone a bit psychological with this, really creating depth that slashers are not usually known for. But instead, it's pretty much thrown out there out of nowhere and pretty much tossed away once Kim and Heather quickly get along. Not like it would have mattered anyway since Kim's dad and Heather get killed in the first act. Sometimes I wonder why this sub-plot was brought into the film to begin with when it has nothing to do with the rest of the film.

Also, Kim and the park ranger quickly have relations. Can we say "slut"? Also, Alex and Ben have relations as well. While the two are likable together, it just seemed forced - as if these two were single and automatically had to be thrusted [no pun intended] together. So things just randomly happened and there was nothing to really latch on to when it concerned the characters. That's not to say the characters were horrible. As a matter of fact, I actually dug them for the most part. It's just that they weren't really all that interesting. Even the writers/directors, Jon Hoffman and Dave Rock, admitted that they wished the characters were stronger. Well I'm glad they're honest with their product. That's why I'm not ripping this one a new one out of respect.

Also, the tale of how The Killer [which is her name - how clever] became a murderous mountain woman psycho is done through flashback and narration by Jesse. Instead of letting us watch for ourselves what happened, we have to be TOLD what happened as well. I just find that really annoying. My eyes and brains work fine, thank you. I think I can put two and two together and make four. I don't need a play-by-play.

And the last act is just ridiculous. Screaming, stupid character decisions, and an ending that made me roll my eyes and shake my head. It's so cliched that even cliches find it insulting.

DIRECTION - Hoffman and Rock do an okay job. It's pretty much a point and shoot affair as usual. The editing is decent but the pacing is off [that middle portion just dragged]. There's no tension. There's no suspense. The cinematography looks great though but it just lacked in the horror department. They were thisclose to making SCARRED work because I actually like the premise. But they just couldn't get there for whatever reason.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - Well we do get some face peeling via a knife by The Killer on some chicks. And Ben's legs and smashed by a rock. But besides that, pretty tame flick. Barely any sex [just dry humping and make out scenes] and the language doesn't really go further than "bitch". Eh.

ACTING - Not the greatest thespian work I've seen but I didn't think it was totally horrible. I thought Jonny Mack and Charity Shea were the top actors in the film as Ben and Alex respectively. They seemed more natural and they had sweet chemistry with each other. Julian Berlin was on-and-off as Kim. She seemed fine one minute and then really underact or overact the next. She really threw me off at times, at the point that I would kind of chuckle at her performance. David Austin pretty much used his looks to get him by as the park ranger. He wasn't terrible though, just not all that interesting to watch. And I thought Hannah Leigh did her best with The Killer character. All she did was kill people, dry hump Jonny Mack, and grunt. Alrighty then.

MUSIC - Pretty much your typical indie generic rock/metal soundtrack. It really wasn't all that great because I don't remember any of it.

is a film that could have been so much better than it actually is. Having a killer want to steal faces from pretty girls sounds a bit TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-ish, but I dig the premise anyway. Unfortunately the execution wasn't there at all. It's not WTF? material but it's not a film I can honestly recommend or say I would watch again.


Savage Streets (1984)

Danny Steinmann

Linda Blair - Brenda
Linnea Quigley - Heather
John Vernon - Principal Underwood
Robert Dryer - Jake
Johnny Venocur - Vince
Sal Landi - Fargo
Scott Mayer - Red
Lisa Freeman - Francine
Luisa Leschin - Maria

Genre - Action/Exploitation/Rape/Vigilante

Running Time - 93 Minutes

Score - 4 Howls Outta 4

Living in New York City automatically makes you tough. I've seen a lot of things that most people would be shocked to see. I've seen drug dealing. I've been caught in a crossfire. I've seen assholes beat up on an innocent blind person. These things don't happen every day thankfully, but when they do, they open up your eyes and make you realize that the world isn't always a safe and innocent place.

Brenda and her friends in SAVAGE STREETS know this first hand, as they have to deal with a demented gang who sexually harass them, abuse them both verbally and physically, as well as forcing themselves on a helpless deaf-mute girl out of revenge. I've never had that problem personally, but then again I was never possessed by a demon more than once or had to share a prison shower with Sybil Danning either. When you mess with a chick like that, you-know-what hits the fan, ya hear? And I wouldn't have it any other way, since SAVAGE STREETS is an awesome vigilante B-movie that'll shoot Cinema Cupid's arrow straight to your heart - or your leg. Whichever comes first, I guess.

Badass Brenda (Linda Blair) and her equally badass friends enjoy roaming the tough nights of Los Angeles. While these girls may look and act like a group of hot bitches, they're more concerned about male genitalia and taking care of Brenda's deaf-mute little sister, Heather (Linnea Quigley). The concern intensifies when a gang of thugs called The Scars, led by creep-o Jake (Robert Dryer), almost runs Heather down with their car. Brenda, not taking shit like this likely, decides to get back at them by stealing this very car and joy riding it until they crash into some garbage. The Scars are not very happy about them and plot their revenge over this harmless prank.

The next day, The Scars go to Brenda's high school to initiate their revenge. While Brenda is preoccupied by some snobby blonde cheerleader named Cindy (Rebecca Perle) - who has her name on her outfit just in case you forget it...or she does - in the girl's locker room [SHOWER FIGHT!], Jake and The Scars corner Heather in the gymnasium while she waits for Brenda. They beat Heather up and drag her into the boy's bathroom, where Heather gets raped mercilessly. Brenda and her friends find Heather pretty much left for dead, making Brenda feel guilty for not being there to stop this. When The Scars take it up a level by murdering Brenda's best friend, Francine (Lisa Freeman), things then start getting really bad. Having enough, Brenda decides to take matters in her own hands and deliver hard justice to those who messed with her family. Once she starts doing that spider walk, you know you're fucked!!

SAVAGE STREETS is a film I had never seen before until now and I'm really ashamed by that because it rocked my socks off. Obviously a DEATH WISH ripoff, SAVAGE STREETS is perfect 80s exploitation, with nudity, over-the-top acting and dialogue, and plot elements that aren't subtle and are quite disturbing on paper. This is the kind of film that a lot of stuck up people would probably turn their nose at because it looks and sounds like trash. Well SAVAGE STREETS is trash - GREAT trash that's fun to watch from beginning to end, knowing exactly what it is and using everything in its disposal so you don't forget it.

The story for SAVAGE STREETS isn't complicated at all.

Brenda pulls a prank on The Scars.

The Scars take revenge by killing Brenda's best friend and raping her sister.

Brenda goes to a weapons store, buys a bunch of arrows and crossbow, and plays William Tell with The Scars.

Not so hard to understand, right? And that's why the film works so well. We don't get some bullshit romantic subplot [besides the fake one between Heather and Scars member, Fargo - which leads into the rape]. We don't get some message that what these people are doing is wrong. We get Point A, which leads to Point B, which concludes with Point C without something added in the way to complicate this vigilante story. With a B-movie like this, that's all you want.

Danny Steinmann and Norman Yonemoto also take a thin plot and really deepen it with character development one wouldn't expect from a film like this. I really understand each character completely and I actually had genuine feelings towards all of them. I hated The Scars characters, not because they annoyed me, but because they were a bunch of assholes who treated women like shit and raped a girl who couldn't hear or express herself verbally so someone could help her. That's some really low crap right there. And I wanted these guys to get hurt for that for all the right reasons. It also helped that each member of The Scars had a different personality you can sort of relate to, making your hate for them more justified. And Brenda and her friends were also very different and you can understand why they were the way they were and why Brenda had to do what she had to do to The Scars. This kind of "just enough" character development may sound easy, but a lot of films either don't bother or don't balance it out as well as it should have been. SAVAGE STREETS gets it right and you care about these people, hero or villain.

And the dialogue is good for this type of film. It's mostly cheeseball and funny, but I wasn't expecting anything less. There are some classic quotes here that I still remember after a week of watching this. Here are some examples:

Principal Underwood: "Go fuck an iceberg!"

Who in the hell says that!? It's so stupid, yet brilliantly hilarious!

Principal Underwood: "Now I'm sorry about your sister, Brenda. The police are doing everything they can. But she shouldn't have been there in the first place."

Brenda: "Fuck you!"

Principal Underwood: "You're a tough little bitch, aren't you? I like that. But I don't give second warnings. So consider yourself suspended."

A principal calling a student a "tough little bitch"...classy.

Fargo: "The game's over, bitch. This time you're dead for sure. First I'm gonna fuck you. Then I'm gonna slice you into little pieces."

Brenda: "Sounds nice and kinky to me. Too bad you're not double jointed."

Fargo: "Why?"

Brenda: "Because if you were, you'd be able to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye!"

I love that one. And there are so many others that will stick in your head for days. When you can quote lines from any movie, you know the screenwriters did something right.

The most memorable scene in the film has to be the rape scene. It could have been executed in a really sleazy way, but Steinmann instead treats it tastefully. It's never treated as an erotic act [and it shouldn't be treated as such] and it's actually quite ugly and disturbing to watch. I think the scene really works for a number of reasons. One, it has a very tense build up. You know it's gonna go down but the leading up to it really cements the horrific act. The Scars taunt Heather and pretty much take advantage of the fact that she can't hear or speak, which makes the rape more foul than it already is. Another reason why it works is because Steinmann doesn't focus totally on the rape. While this act happens, Brenda is fighting with cheerleader Cindy in the showers over a misunderstanding. Not only does the viewer get time to digest the whole rape situation so they're not totally turned off, but the commentary between the two scenes is clear: violence has power, but sound has more. The power of words trumps the power of physicality, showing how vulnerable and weak Heather is compared to everyone around her.

Speaking of Steinmann, he really does a great job behind the camera. A former porn director who would later direct FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING [ugh], Steinmann really put his heart and soul into this picture. He wasn't even the first director chosen for this project [Tom DeSimone was] and he pretty much rewrote the entire script every day throughout the film shoot, never really satisfied with the narrative. And it pays off because Steinmann really lets the characters shine through and uses the camera to explore the emotional states of each of them. The scene where Brenda sits in her bathtub, exposing her breasts, is visually exploitative. But if you read between the lines, this moment [which takes place after the rape and Francine's death] reveals alot about Brenda. She has nothing left to lose and doesn't care about being judged for what she has planned. She's comfortable in her own skin and she knows exactly what she has to do. Steinmann also insisted that the actors improvise, which really helped craft their individual characters. That's great directing right there. Steinmann also uses the setting as a character as well, creating a really gritty and dangerous atmosphere where anything goes. We also get stylish shots that definitely reflect the 1980s. We get the slo-mo shot when Heather dances in the gym. We also get a few montages with a soundtrack in the background that will pump you up and get you ready for the next act. And we can't forget the 80s style, with neon colors, big hair, and overall cheesiness. Just a great directorial job here - probably a lot better than a film of this ilk deserves.

The acting in SAVAGE STREETS is actually very good. Linda Blair does an incredible job as Brenda. In fact, I think this may be her finest work as an actress. It took me a while to be convinced that she could be this tough broad getting revenge on gang members, but I bought it. I also bought her vulnerability, her pain, and her struggle to do the "right" thing even when her friends thought otherwise. Plus she got to say "bitch", "cunt", and a whole bunch of stuff that made me laugh. Blair, I have always felt, is an underrated actress who was unfortunately typecast due to her work in THE EXORCIST. But Blair carries this film on her back and really makes it work better than it should have. Her performance is a real guilty pleasure.

Linnea Quigley as Heather doesn't do a whole lot for much of the film. But I'm sure playing a mute helped with her performance because let's be honest - Quigley isn't the greatest actress in the world. But she's convincing as a teenager in this film and she's quite endearing as a deaf-mute girl. It's weird seeing her dressed like she's from the 1950s though. John Vernon has a cameo-ish appearance as the sleazy Principal Underwood. Besides the "iceberg" comment, Vernon pretty much flirts with Blair the entire time he's on-screen. Not much of a part but memorable nonetheless. And Robert Dryer as Scars leader, Jake, looks older than one should be in High School. But he brings the creepiness and the sleaziness down to a tee. I really hated the character, but that's because Dryer played him so well. It's not the best acting performances in the world but hell, SAVAGE STREETS benefited from them anyway. Fun, fun, fun times for all.

And I gotta mention the awesome pop-metal soundtrack. It's so 80s that I can't help but love it. I need to find this soundtrack STAT!


- Back in the 1980s, you were allowed to drive while drinking beer. Lindsay Lohan was definitely born a bit too late for her type of DUI fun.

- "Anything over 10 inches is a waste." Well, I don't have that problem. I mean...hell...if she can't handle my foot long, screw that bitch! Yeah, now where's my Extenze pills?

- Today's gym class exercise: "Lift those knees. Suck in that gut. Tuck in those butts under." Funny, I heard that's the same exercise Richard Simmons uses in his personal time. Burn those calories and sweat to them oldies!!

- Jake had a razor blade as an earring. Talk about looking sharp!

- Principal Underwood told The Scars to "Go fuck an iceberg." Not a good idea. You may think you're big and strong going in there. But once you're inside, you'll sink and your heart will [not] go on!

- Some jock named Wes liked to get the ladies' attention by "seducing them" with his jeans zipper down, revealing his tucked in shirt. That's pretty [open] fly for a white guy!

- Don't rape Linnea Quigley. She'll have Linda Blair on your ass, ready to kill you. Or worse yet, she'll turn into a zombie and eat your brains. Or perhaps you want a piece of lipstick shoved in places it doesn't belong. Either way, leave Linnea alone!!

- After she got raped, the girls took Heather to Doctor's Hospital. Gee, I'm glad they took her there because this hospital obviously has doctors working there, unlike the other hospitals in town! (rolls eyes)

- Brenda gave up believing in God after her father died. That explains the pea soup vomit, the head spinning, and telling people that their mothers suck cock in Hell. Or maybe it was just her time of the month. Menstrual cycles...demonic possessions...same thing, right?

- The Scars liked to grope each other and kiss on the lips every chance they could get. I had no idea The Village People were trying a new edgier and gayer image back in the 1980s.

- The English teacher actually gave her students permission to discuss the act of "giving head". Isn't this subject what got Mary Kay Letourneau in big trouble to begin with?

- The Scars threw Francine over a bridge, killing her and her unborn baby. While this is a horrific crime, at least the troll will appreciate the human sacrifice as a toll.

- The Scars wanted to play "Hide the Salami" with Brenda. Let's hope there's no "cream cheese" around her "buns" region...

SAVAGE STREETS wasn't made to please everyone. It's trash. It's exploitative. It's a DEATH WISH wannabe in the greatest B-movie sense. And that's what makes the film so great, because it doesn't hide what it really is. Great performances, a skillfull directorial job by Danny Steinmann, and much better script that any film like this deserves - SAVAGE STREETS deserves a watch, a rental, and a buy because it's that damn great. And if you don't believe me, then you better kiss your ass goodbye. And I hope you're double jointed.


The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)

Peter Cornwell

Virginia Madsen - Sara Campbell
Kyle Gallner - Matt Campbell
Martin Donovan - Peter Campbell
Amanda Crew - Wendy Campbell
Elias Koteas - Reverend Nicholas Popescu
Erik J. Berg - Jonah Aickman

Genre - Horror/Supernatural

Running Time - 102 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner) is dying of cancer and his mother Sara (Virginia Madsen) has been driving him miles away from home to be treated at a specialty hospital in Connecticut. Feeling that the constant two-way driving is hurting Matt more than it is helping him, Sara decides to find a house in Connecticut where the family can stay while Matt gets treated. While Matt's younger siblings and his cousin Wendy (Amanda Crew) move in, his alcoholic father Peter (Martin Donovan) shows up time to time because of his job.

As the Campbells stay in their new home, weird things begin to occur. There are old photos of the previous family that used to live there. There are weird sounds and doors in the basement. And Matt starts having dreams and visions of things that happened to the people who used to live in the house. Helped by a cancer-stricken reverend (Elias Koteas), Matt and eventually his family learn about the history of the house and hoping to calm the spirits that are haunting them.


STORY - Supposedly based on a "true story" [aren't they all?], THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT would be a fresh haunted house film if THE EXORCIST, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE HAUNTING, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, POLTERGEIST, and so many others didn't arrive on the scene first. So while the script isn't a whole hell original, at least it's decently written and tells a simple story with good pacing from beginning to end. Too bad a bunch of ideas had to be introduced in order to keep the film interesting. Why?

I just wish these "based on a true story" films would actually narrate the ACTUAL events instead of changing things in order to capture the audience's interest. If the real story wasn't interesting enough as it was, what's the point in spending cash to make a film about it? And even with the changes, the film still isn't creepy or scary enough to really recommend it to those who may be interested.

The characters are developed fairly enough, I guess. Sara and Matt are really the two main characters and get the most screen time, while the others don't really have enough presence or personality for viewers to really give a crap about. My main beef was with the father character. Why was he even added to the film? All he did was get drunk and break a few light bulbs. Other than that, he just wasted my time. As a matter of fact, his whole alcoholism sub-plot didn't mean all that much to the story anyway because it just happened and then it ended really quickly. And why do these people STAY in the house knowing that spirits want to harm them? C'mon! That new dining room set from The Price Is Right can't be that luxurious!

I did like the whole aspect about those who are dying being able to see both planes of existence, meaning life and death. Having Matt and the cancer-stricken reverend being able to see the ghosts and understand their motives is a very interesting concept that totally made sense. Only those who border on death can see these spirits - that's pretty cool. What's not cool is that everyone started seeing these ghosts in the final act after this sub-plot was introduced. Sara can see the ghosts. Wendy can see the ghosts. The siblings can see the ghosts. Stevie Wonder can see the ghosts. I mean, it got ridiculous because what the narrative was telling us at first didn't matter at the end. Big continuity error right there.

All in all, there was just too much drama in this horror film. The ideas were good but they just dragged the experience down. People want to be scared by a ghost story, not confused and borderline bored by it. THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT could have been a lot better if the story was trimmed down a bit.

DIRECTION - Peter Cornwell did an okay job directing the film for the most part. He displayed a lot of stylish shots and had a good eye for telling the story that kept your interest somewhat. Too bad the script wasn't better because he had to resort in ripping off other genre classics, like THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE EXORCIST. Also, the film wasn't scary, creepy, or all that suspenseful. A film like this needs tension. There was some but not enough for this type of film. But the cinematography was beautiful and the CGI was done well. I don't really blame Cornwell for the mediocrity of this movie. The screenwriters didn't really give the guy a lot to work with here.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - If you count a teen with messages carved into his skin, ectoplasm coming out a medium's mouth, and the shadow of a naked girl getting smothered by a shower curtain edgy, then I guess you'll be satisfied. Otherwise, this film is very tame. No sex, hardly bad language, and minimal violence.

ACTING - Virginia Madsen was on-and-off as Sara. At times she would hit the emotional cues perfectly. But most of the time, she just sleepwalks through the role. The woman can act, but this film didn't really let her use her range. Oh well. Kyle Gallner, who's probably best known for his roles on Veronica Mars and Smallville, does a fantastic job as the cancer-stricken Matt. He's really the main focus of the film and he delivered hands down. His character really wasn't all that interesting on paper, but Gallner fleshed him out and made watching him enjoyable. I really liked him here and I hope his star continues to rise. Elias Koteas also rocked it as Reverend Popescu. I've always liked this guy since his Casey Jones days and I liked him here. He should be in better films. Amanda Crew looked pretty hot as usual but she wasn't given much to do here. And Martin Donovan - well he cashed a nice check for not doing anything but smashing a light bulb or two. And it was phenomenal light bulb smashing, I must say!

MUSIC - The score pretty much set the mood of the film. I don't really remember it but I didn't hate it. I think it actually improved the film.

is nothing more than your average ghost flick. There's nothing you haven't seen here that you could probably see in better ghost films. But at least it was better than I was expecting it to be and it kept me entertained throughout. If interested, a watch wouldn't hurt. Otherwise, this film won't haunt you if you skip it.

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