Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

U-Z

You Can't Kill Stephen King (2012)

Damien Ross

Ronnie Khalil

“I’m the only black guy in Maine!”

Z0YddT.jpg

Opening scene: A peaceful view of a lake is interrupted by the screams of a young woman covered in blood. She runs until being whacked in the face with a shovel. This scene really has nothing to do with the rest of the film.

Elsewhere, the real opening of the film: A group of friends, Lamont, Nicole, Hilary, Lori, Ronnie, and Monroe are on a road trip (Ronnie and Monroe are their real names and they wrote and directed this film together).

Character dynamic: Monroe is an Iraq veteran trying to win his ex, Lori, back. Ronnie is a Stephen King nerd who has a thing for Nicole. Nicole is the hot one, Hilary is Monroe’s sister, and Lamont is the token black guy.

They stop at a diner called Restaurant to get some food where they’re helped by an unfriendly, creepy, waitress. They ask where Stephen King lives and she tells them he doesn’t live here anymore. If they want to have fun they should head about 40 miles north. I can’t tell if she is trying to help them or lure them into a trap.

Monroe and Lori’s grandparents have a house at the lake. When they get there, they try to rent a boat, but the creepy attendant tells them they should go 40 miles north to Deer Lake. Once again, I can’t tell if he’s trying to help them or not.

Finally, they get a boat named Christine and Lamont goes to look for a gas station. Ronnie immediately gets seasick so they drop him off at the house.

Back on the lake, after a little waterskiing, it’s Nicole’s turn. As Hilary sets her up, Nicole rudely asks how her parents died. Seems it was a mysterious death and the only one who really knew the truth was the grandmother, who recently died. A boat cop pulls them over to advise them to slow it down and to lower their voices. Once again, I can’t tell if he’s being helpful or just creepy.

Eventually, Lamont finds the gas station, even though it’s only supposed to be a quarter mile away. He pumps some wicked gas. When he gets back into the car a figure slits his throat and the black guy dies first!

Over at the lake house, the white people decide to play a drinking game called Never Have I Ever. When I was a kid we just called it I Never. Basically, you say something you’ve never done and everyone who has done it takes a drink. But if someone can prove you have done it than you have to take like five drinks for lying.

Worried about Lamont, they head down to the marina, leaving Ronnie behind, where he discovers the basement and bookshelves loaded with Stephen King books. I didn’t know Stephen King made a pop-up book!?!

It’s getting dark now as the others are still headed to the marina to find Lamont. How fucking far away is the marina?! They talk to the attendant, which leads them to the gas station, where they see cops and ambulances. The racist cop informs them that Lamont was attacked by a wild animal and Monroe identifies the body, but he ain’t buying this story. It’s got holes in it big enough to drive a rental boat through.

They get back to the house, minus minivan, in no time at all, and actually mourn their dead friend, something you don’t see too often in horror films. But, Ronnie ruins everything by trying to kiss Nicole. She storms out of the room. Monroe tries to cheer her up, but she hears Ronnie coming so she audibly tells Monroe she loves him and starts making out with him so Ronnie can see. Ronnie immediately tells Lori and now we have a situation: You can’t battle if your group has turned on each other. Lori dumps Monroe once and for all, then storms off into the woods, alone, where She runs into a hooded figure, armed with a claw hammer. She’s still close enough that her friends can hear her scream, but the killer kills the shit out of her anyway.

The others find her, but it’s too late. Monroe cries like a bitch until he discovers the hammer. This was no accident or wild animal. He tells Nicole and Hilary to go back to the house. Okay, it’s not the claw hammer, he found a stick. After a cheesy little flashback montage, he carries her body back to the house. He gets Ronnie to help him bury Lori and confides in him that he thinks it was murder.

Afterward, Ronnie is acting weird and insensitive. And he thinks there’s a “Stephen King killer” on the loose copying deaths from Stephen King novels. Monroe notices that the town is quiet. The boat cop told them keep their voices down, the ambulance on the way to the gas station had the siren off, and Lamont probably had his music turned up....

Hilary comforts Nicole and tells her to take a shower. Out the shower window, she sees something outside that scares her so Monroe the war veteran goes out to investigate. He finds Ronnie, who by the way is already suspect #1, claims he was just taking a piss. Nicole thinks he was watching her shower. They go back in and he sniffs his fingers, like he does after he masturbates (Did I mention they caught him jerking off right before they hit the marina?). Monroe comforts Nicole as they all turn on Ronnie, oh, and Lamont’s head shows up.

Ronnie is the first to fall asleep. He dreams he is on a tricycle, like the kid in The Shining, watching a woman in a bathtub. At first she’s Lori, then Hilary, then Nicole, till he starts making out with her and she turns into Lamont dressed up as Pennywise from It.

They all wake up. Nicole is gone and the front door is open. Outside, the rental boat is gone, but they find Nicole’s body, with a mouth full of sand.

Back inside, they interrogate Ronnie cuz he is never around when the murders happen, but Monroe thinks he’s innocent. They devise a plan to set up a trap based on the Stephen King story, Last Rung on the Ladder. Once they have a plan they no longer need Ronnie so they tie him to a chair. Ronnie suggests that Stephen King is the killer.

Monroe and Hilary go to the barn and he tells her to climb the ladder. She climbs up, blasts music, and starts screaming. The killer pushes her off the loft and turns off the music. Monroe goes after him with a pitchfork and eventually knocks him down breaking his glasses, but then Ronnie shows up and hits him with a shovel. Apparently, they’re Stephen King’s glasses, and Ronnie can’t let Monroe kill Stephen King. Monroe goes into a war flashback. Now Monroe is the crazy one, PTSD, as Ronnie makes noises with an air horn and bubble wrap. Just as Monroe is about to do him in, the hooded killer is back and knocks him down.

Now we’re back at the diner, with a goofy new group wanting to know where Stephen King lives. Behind the creepy waitress, the cook is wearing taped up glasses. Meanwhile, Stephen King is finishing up his new novel, The Quiet, and Ronnie is now a cop in this town. We never find out what really happened to Monroe and Hilary’s parents, but fun fact: Their last name is Bachman. The End.

This coulda been better, although it probably is better if you’re a true Stephen King fan and have read all the books and seen all the movies, which I have not. Props to the writers for going after more obscure material rather than playing it safe with stuff I would know. It looked good for a lower budget film, it didn’t have that crappy high school media tech vibe.

1d008dee8bf72ba547e7f46ccd4db9c4-rcm0x1920u.jpg

The Badass Award goes to Monroe for fighting in a war, having a hot girlfriend, mysteriously losing his parents, then grandparents... Basically every exciting moment of his past, but nothing he actually did in this film.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Always check the backseat of your car, even in broad daylight!

2) Don’t storm off into the woods at night, especially just a few hours after you found out your friend was murdered.

3) Put personal differences aside if you believe your tribe is in danger.


Zombie High (1987)

Damien Ross

Frank Henenlotter

“If you give me potatoes, I’ll kill your whole family.”

zombie-high-1.png

Doesn’t naming a movie Zombie High gently imply that it takes place in a high school? It’s not a high school, and there are no zombies.

Barry is upset that his girlfriend, Andrea, is transferring to a prep school, Ettinger. A prep school, not Prep High. Still, Barry drives her up there and when they arrive, his car is overheating. Barry is wearing his high school letterman jacket while Andrea, played by Virginia Madsen, is every bit of 26 in this film (She is also the sister of Michael Madsen, who will always be Mr. Blonde to me). For some reason, in the 80’s, girls in their 20’s look 10 years older than they really were (Compare Geena Davis in The Fly to Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight) Going in, I assumed Virginia was going to play a teacher, they didn’t even try to make her look younger!

Barry pops the hood, treating the situation like an emergency, even though they’ve already arrived at their destination. Just leave it alone Barry and it’ll cool down, eventually. A teacher, Philo, walks up and offers his assistance. Barry shoos him away, not cuz he thinks the school is a bad idea, but because he’s got insecure teenage testosterone pulsing through his veins and he’s jealous. The last thing a guy like Barry needs is a long distance relationship.

This film was made in 1987 and it is 87’ as fuck. It’s like an episode of 21 Jumpstreet, season one, but without Johnny Depp. Collars up boys.

We soon meet Emerson, the nerdy comedy relief. Then John as his dad drops him off. Well, more like literally pushes him out of the car before it even stops moving. But his dad is the senator and John is a punker, this school is his last chance. He’s the bad boy. Barry is the jock. 80’s movies, just like boy bands, had to have the distinctive personas. Take The Breakfast Club for example, John Hughes wrote the formula: If you’re going to have five main characters, they each have to each have their own category. This film mirrors that formula almost identically, they’re just not all main characters, but it does give us the feeling that they all just met.

Next we meet Suzi, Andrea’s new roommate. Suzi is the Ally Sheedy to Andrea’s Molly Ringwald, but in this case, Suzi is the opposite of the weirdo. Eleven years later, The Faculty brought back the exact same character formula, but in this rendition, Suzi is the boy crazy friend in search of fun. The other “main” girl is usually the wildcard, over the top in one way or another.

Barry carries Andrea’s stuff up to her room. Not only did all of her personal belongings fit into his car, but they all fit inside a large Pampers box. Did her parents recently have a kid? He kisses her goodbye in the parking lot as Philo watches in the distance. Andrea spots him. For some reason, whenever she sees him, she has a hypnotic gaze.

That night, A body gets wheeled into the infirmary as Andrea and Suzi walk back to their dorm. Previously, this was an all boy school, this is the first year women attend, which excites Suzi. She can’t wait go out and meet some desperate boys. They notice a guy a couple floors up watching them from his window. It’s Philo. Instead of being creeped out, she encourages Andrea to go for him.

The Dean, Dr. Borig Eisner, gives a speech about Ettinger and how the students move on to become successful and even political figures. Meanwhile, half the dudes there come across as lobotomized zombies, but you know, not zombie zombies.

Andrea meets and hangs out with Emerson. She immediately friend-zones him, does that make him her Duckie? She goes to Biology class with him and Suzi and guess who the teacher is: Philo. Philo walks in, mullet and all, and Andrea is once again transfixed.

Class ends and an 80’s musical montage begins, starting with Emerson being shot down by chicks, then Barry’s unanswered phone calls to Andrea from a pay phone... Pan to the Dean changing a classical music cassette that gets played throughout the school.

Suzi is bummed because she is hot, but no guys will pay attention to her. Andrea walks in as the phone rings, Barry has finally gotten through! Why does he only call from a pay phone during football practice? And if he plays football, why is he smoking? He’s done some research. It turns out, the guy who started the place got kicked out of the US Calvary for scalping Indians in the 1800’s. He and his buddies started a group called the Brotherhood of Eternal Knowledge. Of course Andrea doesn’t believe him and for some reason he pronounces her name: Anne-Dre-Ya, even though everyone else, including herself, says Andrea. You’d think her boyfriend could say her name right, especially while he’s trying to win her back.

Forward to Philo’s room, where he sits alone sadly staring at an old picture of him and a woman who looks just like Andrea, like how vampires always have that love they lost on account of immortality.

The next day in class, John gets called on to read. He gets pissed off and walks out of class. Andrea takes a seat with him in the cafeteria and he acts like a dick. John is actually smart, he just hates school and doesn’t want to be there.

Andrea stays up to study and another 80’s musical montage begins. The song has something to to with fire and desire.

Andrea goes to Philo’s. It doesn’t take long for Philo to put the moves on her before she tells him she has to go. On the way back to her dorm, she runs into John and his bottle of liquor. He says he has to go, he’s gotta get out of this place. As he leaves, he’s followed by men in suits, the Illuminati? The Dean is watching, followed by a scream, and then a shot of the infirmary.

Back at Andrea’s, and I don’t know if this is the same night or not, but Marybeth, who I have not yet mentioned cuz she’s such a minimal character, is acting different. She leaves. Suzi is excited for the big dance and Emerson shows up. Suzi can’t stand Emerson so she goes into the bathroom and lets Andrea deal with him. They talk for a little and he mentions that maybe it’s true that this school changes people. It seems that everyone has become so dull and boring lately.

Andrea goes for a late night swim. Alone. While swimming, somebody steals her towel. It’s Philo. Apparently, he likes hanging out at the pool at night. It’s peaceful, and a great way to get new towels. She tells him she’s going to drop his class and he walks her back to her dorm where Barry is waiting for them, smoking and probably a little drunk. Definitely a lot jealous. Philo gets called away by the Dean who is worried that Philo’s feelings for Andrea are going to ruin everything. A serum cutback for Philo is in need if he won’t cooperate.

The next day, Andrea runs into Barry again, this time at the library. He and his mullet apologize, but she ain’t havin it cuz he’s been a dick ever since she started going to this school. Philo walks up, and suddenly Barry starts acting the same way he was just apologizing for. Barry punches Philo in the face, which has no effect, then storms off like a little kid. Philo goes home and breaks a mirror.

Andrea goes to Emerson’s and his roommate says he’s at the infirmary. She goes to the infirmary and overhears a top-secret argument right out front, for anyone to hear, about someone not making it through the procedure. She sneaks in and finds the lab. She finds Emerson’s body under a sheet and screams, but somehow nobody hears her. She climbs down a large vent into the infirmary wine cellar. On a shelf, she sees dozens of what looks like wine bottles. She grabs one and looks at the label, which just happens to read, “Emerson 1987.” She hears footsteps and hides. It’s one of the Dean’s henchmen with an armful of more bottles. Who’s in those bottles and where are the bodies if Emerson is still freshly upstairs? Behind cobwebs she discovers an old painting, it’s clearly the Dean. She finds a grate that leads outside back onto the campus. She effortlessly lifts and slides it over to escape. Are you telling me it’s that fucking easy to get in and out of the cellar that possesses the school’s biggest evil secret and nobody has figured it out yet?

In the next scene, I have no idea how much later, the Dean gives a speech letting the students know about Emerson’s death. A complication due to a medical condition that was not in his records. That’s kinda true, from a certain point of view. Andrea goes back to her dorm and calls Barry, but he’s not there. Well, well, well, look who was right all along and playing hard to get.

Sitting in her English lit class, Andrea is surrounded by men wearing the same suit who look zoned out and every bit of 30. The teacher calls on Andrea, but it is John who steps up and answers. He’s one of them! After class she catches up with him and has a bizarre very anti-John conversation. He’s definitely not the Judd Nelson anymore.

Back at the dorm, Suzi is getting ready for that goddamn dance. At the dance, Suzi sees Barry, who is still calling Andrea, Anne-Dre-Ya. Seems like that woulda been a red flag in the relationship from the beginning. You can’t say my name right, lose my number.

Andrea goes to Philo’s and confronts him about Colonel Ettinger. He actually levels with her, he’s tired of this life. He looks about 30, but he’s actually 102 years old and the Dean is actually Ettinger. When Ettinger was in the Calvary, he captured an Indian medicine man who showed him how to prolong life indefinitely. The catch is that after doing it once you have to do it everyday to maintain. Like heroin. The process involves mixing blood and brain tissue from a living person. Back in the day, they did it to the Indians because nobody cared enough to notice. They transferred electromagnetic waves into crystals they would then implant back into the victim’s cranium that substituted for brain tissue. The price of immortality was sacrificing, but not actually killing, the emotional range of your victims, like making people autistic. See, so Philo is not the bad guy. He then offers to let her join the immortal club, but she rejects him.

Outside, she runs into Barry. She takes him to the infirmary to show him the wine cellar (Why does this school have a wine cellar?), where all the bottles of people are kept, as if to convince him what was up when he was the one who fucking told her there was a problem in the first place! They run into a nurse who sets the alarm and now it’s time to run. They split up. Andrea hot-wires a car and gets away, but Barry does not. How the fuck did she know how to do that?!

Andrea goes to the cops. She explains what’s going on and of course they don’t believe her. One of the cops says, “Craziest thing I ever heard.” Not once, not twice... Four times! She pours a cup of coffee as she notices an old framed picture of familiar faces. Looks like the cops she confided in are part of the Dean’s group, one way or another. Why the fuck would they have that picture hanging there? She escapes the police station under the guise of using the bathroom, but they catch on and chase her, in cars. She crashes into a car and they both explode?

The Dean and the gang are getting ready to take another shot of their baby’s love. They have Barry, but still want Andrea. Philo wants Andrea to be unharmed, but the Dean’s not having it. She wakes up in the infirmary. Philo shows up in the nick of time to get rid of the other “doctors.” He tells her to just act like the others and meet him in the morning at 7am. Meanwhile, Dean and his crew are fixin to get rid of ol’ Philo while listening to classical music.

Andrea meets Philo in the morning. He instructs her that there is a cassette in his room under a bust and to take it to the transmitter room. Switch it with the classical music tape that's playing, which is an intonation that leads to the mind crystals and controls the students. This tape will destroy it all. Philo is officially retiring.

Philo meets with the Dean and his goons. They tie him to a chair as they prepare their shots. Upon taking their shots they feel nothing as they realize Philo has tampered with the dosage. Just then they hear the loud crash of Andrea pushing the wine rack over onto Barry and the sound of all the bottles breaking. They run, but it’s too late as they rapidly age down the stairs, which is kinda gruesome. Andrea escapes, but runs into the Dean, who was prepared for such a situation and has his own secret stash. He straps Andrea down as he prepares to make her his next serum. Barry to the rescue! Apparently, he was faking and takes her to Philo, who is aging and looks every bit of 102. He’s found peace and is no longer afraid of death.

But the Dean is still alive. He sounds an alarm, which sends all of his goon students after them. She takes Barry to the transmitter room only she doesn’t have the tape, but Barry has a tape of his own. Upon hearing Barry’s tape, I think everybody has an appropriate reaction to the Fight For Your Right To Party, Beastie Boys rip off. I honestly couldn’t tell who was a zombie and who just had better taste in music. The End.

Afterthought: Okay, so it was a prep school, and they were kind of zombies, just not typical zombies, but I guess zombies are usually a metaphor anyway so who cares if they crave human flesh or not? This film should’ve ended right after Andrea’s car accident, when she wakes up in the infirmary and they get her. That would have been the horrifying ending. What’s funny is how Philo is kind of a good guy. As far as the bad guys go, he’s the victim. Still, it’s bad enough to be in your 30’s chasing after high school chicks, but this motherfucker is 102! He’s just a greedy lame bastard and he sucks or else he’d have ended this shit a hundred years ago instead of waiting to impress some 18 year old heartthrob.

Zombie-High-still-17_08d89169-33a0-e511-9442-0ad9f5e1f797_lg.jpg

The Badass Award goes to Barry. Even though his contempt and urgency against the school was out of insecure jealousy, for a dumb jock, he did his research and stayed in the background knowing something was off all along and his shitty taste in music eventually wiped out the remaining “zombies.”

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Don’t have affairs with your teacher!

2) Always list any medical condition you are aware of on any kind of application you fill out, cover your ass!

3) There may be nuggets of truth hidden in jealousy.


Wrecker (2015)

Damien Ross

Michael Bafaro

“I walk like that after a night of heavy pounding.”

main_gekitotsu[1].jpg

Emily and Leslie are on a road trip and listening to terrible music. Emily is driving while Leslie is getting drunk and stoned. Immediately, we know who the good girl and bad girl is. They see a hitch- hiker, but don’t pick him up because this road is a magnet for serial killers, instead Leslie flashes her tits as if we needed further verification of whom the bad girl is. Did I use “whom” right?

Emily lied to her cheating boyfriend about where she was really going, but I never caught what the hell they were actually doing, other than going to Santa Barbara for some kinda party, alright so maybe I did. Nevertheless, it wasn't mentioned again. Emily takes a turn down Devil’s Pass as Leslie passes out. Leslie wakes up to find they’ve been slowed down by a tow-truck pulling the car from the opening of the film that I never mentioned. They pass him aaaand their gas light comes on. Luckily, there’s a gas station nearby, but the tow-truck needs gas too. While getting gas, Emily calls her boyfriend. Jill answers, the girl her boyfriend apparently didn’t cheat with, didn’t shoo away either, and now she’s at his house, possibly their house, answering the phone? Better not be his cell phone!

So far, these two girls are doing fine: They didn’t pick up the hitch-hiker, they weren’t dicks to the tow- truck driver as they passed, they were nice at the gas station, which happened to be nearby, but they’re low on oil in this brand new Ford Mustang. Instead of getting oil, they decide to bail so they can get away from the tow-truck.

The tow-truck driver watches them the whole time and has a huge pentagram and an upside down cross hanging from his rearview mirror. I think I went to high school with this guy.

Even though Emily maintains an average speed of 100 mph, the tow-truck driver always manages to catch up with them and cut them off. They try to report him, but there’s no cell service. Finally, they pass him and Leslie throws something at him and flips him the bird. She then goes back to sleep. What an asshole. She gets high and drunk right out of the gate so that Emily has to do all the driving, then she antagonizes situations and goes back to sleep?!

Suddenly, they’re in a residential area where they almost run over a couple of kids, then it’s off to a diner. Apparently, it’s about luchtime and after being waited on by a “charismatic” waitress, they notice the tow-truck outside. Is he in the diner with them? Emily confronts a man in the diner. She slaps his cheeseburger out of his hand while all the other patrons sit watching. The waitress kicks them all out, but they stay inside and watch him leave. He goes to a different truck or does he? The tow-truck starts up and they chase it off. Maybe he wasn’t in the diner after all? After driving undisturbed for awhile, they come across the car the tow-truck was hauling abandoned in the road so they stop and check it out.,

The Satanic tow-truck comes back and now it’s Leslie behind the wheel. Hopefully she has sobered up enough to save the day. They get a flat tire and the tow-truck just drives by. But then he comes back so they try to escape on foot through a nearby field. Emily trips and hits her head on a rock. When she awakens all she finds is Leslie’s shall/jacket thing, but no Leslie. Her tire is somehow fixed, I’d trust it. As she drives, she talks to herself as if someone else were driving. She finds the tow-truck and confronts it, but it drives away. It rolls back as she gets back into her car and now it’s chasing her. She escapes by hiding in a field with her car. She watches the tow-truck go by, and then, in the middle of nowhere, in a field, in 2015, she sees a phone booth! And now I’m starting to wonder what kind of Satanic Voodoo Emily is into. I’m calling it here, this is an Emily mindfuck! The phone doesn’t work. I don’t know who she woulda called or where she woulda said she was. She then falls asleep and has a nightmare about Leslie. When she wakes up it’s dark. Looks like she slept pretty good, all things considered.

She drives on into the night before hearing a siren, there’s a cop behind her. Finally, the police have come to her! She frantically tries to explain to him that a madman has killed her friend and is now after her, but all he cares about is her damn license and registration. Once she finally finds it and hands it over, the tow-truck takes out the cop. At 59:03 we have our first confirmed kill! She runs to the cop car and gets on the CB until she sees headlights approaching so she runs back to the downed officer and takes his gun. It’s the tow-truck. She just watches as the tow-truck scoops up the cop car and drives away, headlights, flashing lights and all. She drives away, leaving the dead cop in the road. Now she’s almost out of gas again. She finds a gas station, but it’s closed. She finds the attendant and makes him fill her up at gunpoint, then spots a working payphone. She calls the police, but the tow-truck shows up and crashes through the phone booth. What a dick. She drives away and the tow-truck is after her again. I’m still waiting for her to clean up her head wound. She loses him and it’s morning already, as her check engine light comes on. Remember that oil comment earlier?

The tow-truck finds her again! Realizing this could go on forever, she incites a game of Chicken. They both chicken out, but the tow-truck ends up almost halfway off a cliff. She walks over demanding to see Leslie, but no answer. She hears a cell phone ring from her car. She walks over, but it’s not her phone, it’s coming from the trunk. She opens the trunk. Found Leslie. We don’t get to see the corpse, but based on Emily’s reaction it’s not good, and it’s kinda disturbing that she’s been in there the whole time. She crashes into the tow-truck and knocks it off the cliff to its destruction.

Next scene: A woman goes to a junkyard where all the cars from this film are parked including the tow- truck. The End.

At the very end of the film you can see that there is a figure inside so it’s not just a haunted car like in that movie The Car, however we never get to meet the driver or hear him or discover any motive or closure. As I stated earlier, these two girls never did any typical horror movie shit to egg on his truck, he simply just had it out for them. How did he always know where Emily was? How did a tow-truck keep up with a sports car? Clearly the villain wanted something from Emily, but what? This film is reminiscent of Joy Ride, but not as good, probably in part of it taking place during the day, yet the cinematography wasn’t great. I love a good road movie. I did read on IMDb that this was a remake of Steven Spielberg’s classic Duel, which, brace yourself, I’ve never seen! I almost did, hey, I started it once....

The Badass Bitch Award  goes to Emily: For being the nice girl, and victim of an asshole boyfriend, then not being so nice when it was time to be mean: She flipped out on the wrong guy at the diner, she held a gas attendant at gunpoint, she took a pistol from a dead cop and left him at the scene, then finally crashed the  Wrecker  off the cliff, possibly killing him once and for all.

The Badass Bitch Award goes to Emily: For being the nice girl, and victim of an asshole boyfriend, then not being so nice when it was time to be mean: She flipped out on the wrong guy at the diner, she held a gas attendant at gunpoint, she took a pistol from a dead cop and left him at the scene, then finally crashed the Wrecker off the cliff, possibly killing him once and for all.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Make sure to get an oil change before going on a road trip.

2) Don’t procrastinate in an urgent situation: Find reception, get the cops, put oil in your fucking car....

3) If the friend you're taking on a road trip is too flaky to help with the actually driving, maybe bring a third friend.

When A Stranger Calls (2006)

Damien Ross

Simon West

“Jill, we've just traced the call... It’s coming from inside the house!”

z01.16090.4[1].jpg

This is a remake of a film that was based on an urban legend, yet they still fucked it up? Granted, it was made in 2006, right in the middle of the decade that remade every classic horror film and went completely over the top, thus losing the mystery of what made the originals so good.

This film opens over the backdrop of the fair along with overdubbed phone calls. A possible murder occurs as screams from a house drown throughout, blurred with screams of joy from the fair. In the morning, sirens. The police find a horrific corpse, off camera (I assumed the corpse was off camera to leave it up to the viewer's imagination, but I read they were really just trying to keep it PG-13). There was no murder weapon and the body was carried out in multiple bags.

125 miles away: We meet Jill Johnson as she runs laps in the gym above the basketball court. A little foreshadowing: Excellent cardio and shitty cell phone reception, which actually wound up not being foreshadowing at all because she was grounded from her phone and being a runner just explained why she had a stopwatch later in the film.

Jill is having relationship troubles. Her best friend kissed her boyfriend, and she’s grounded for going over her cell phone minutes by 800 minutes! So instead of going to the bonfire with her friends that night, she is babysitting to help pay the bill.

Later, her dad drops her off at the Mandrakis house. Jill is also grounded from her car so Dr. Mandrakis has agreed to drive her home at the end of the evening, which means she is trapped there. She is not completely alone. Rosa, the housekeeper, lives on the third floor and their son lives in the guest house, sort of. The house has an alarm system and apparently, the kids are already asleep although it’s still light outside.

The Mandrakis leave and suddenly, it’s now dark. Time has passed, but Jill is still wearing her jacket and scarf so it looks like all she’s done is pace this whole time because now for the first time she checks to see what each remote does. This film was obviously made before Netflix was available in every home. What do you do in a stranger’s house when you’re all alone? Snoop around! She tries on jewelry, till she hears noises. After investigating, it turns out to just be Rosa.

Phone Call #1: (Millennials are gonna wonder why I Hashtagged all these numbers. “Yo! Hashtags go in the front, not by the end!) Just a little breathing, then hangs up. I knew that cat (Chester, coincidently my first cat’s name), introduced earlier in this film that I failed to mention, would offer our first ridiculous jump-scare attempt. Jill then calls Scarlet, who is on her way to the school bonfire, and tells her to give Bobby the Mandrakis’s number. Then the alarm company calls, dun dun dun! But they all assume it’s just Rosa.

Phone Call #2: “Is everything okay?” Click. 30 minutes in and so far all we have is a paranoid girl pacing around a house, almost as if she knows she’s in a horror movie, but nothing has happened. The ringing of the phone sets up false jump-scares, which aren’t even threatening at this point. It’s the equivalent of a friend jumping out and yelling, “Boo!”

Suddenly, Tiffany is in the house-the garage door has been open this whole time! Tiffany is the best friend that kissed Bobby, the boyfriend. Jill shoos Tiffany away after awhile, then there’s a banging at the door, but no one is there. Bobby calls. Bad connection, she loses him.

Phone Call #3: She gets a call from Tiffany’s cell, but it’s not Tiffany, it’s a man! She calls Scarlet back, but the reception at the bonfire sucks. She calls her dad. She calls the doctor’s wife. She calls the doctor. She calls the police... No answers. She thought Rosa left, but her car is still outside, dun dun dun! She calls the police again. If a creepy dude calls from your friend’s cell phone, who by the way just left, and you’re already paranoid, that might be pertinent information to share with the police if you’ve already gone so far as to call them, but she doesn’t. She calls Rosa, no answer. She finds Rosa’s purse and phone, but no Rosa.

Phone call #4: And finally, “Have you checked the children?” Props to Jill because she then checks on the children whereas in the original, the babysitter never did.

Phone Call #5: “How’re the children?” She then closes all the curtains and calls the cops again, who’re kinda useless, but willing to help. Unfortunately, all they can do is try to trace the call, but she has to keep him on for at least a minute.

Phone Call #6: Silence. She tries to engage, but to no avail. Someone is in the guest house, but the son, Todd, doesn’t answer. She leaves a message. She can see a figure moving inside so she goes over?! And by the way, the guest house is quite the little jaunt from the main house. Inside, the guest house appears empty, and for some reason Jill seems less scared now that she actually has a reason to be scared!

Phone Call#7: She keeps him on the line for 60 seconds, but it’s the guest house phone, doh!

Phone Call #8: Back in the house, nothing but breathing. She set off the alarm getting back into the house so why not just let the alarm company people send somebody? “Your blood, all over me.” The voice replies when asked what he wants.

Finally, the cops call back and tell Jill that the calls are coming from inside the house. She stumbles across Tiffany’s body. The stranger dragged Tiffany back into the house? And why wasn’t Tiffany’s blood good enough? Jill makes her way to the children, but they are gone. She finds them hiding in a toy box, and coincidentally meets them for the first time. They escape out a window while the stranger watches. He stalks them. They hide.

Next, Jill discovers Rosa’s corpse, which seems to horrify her more than finding Tiffany’s, her best friend. The stranger tries to drown her, even though he wanted her blood. She has that Halloween dilemma of wanting to save her own ass while at the same time having two kids to protect.

The showdown with the stranger: After a struggle, she pins him to the floor with a poker through the hand then runs outside into a cop. They apprehend him and everybody else lives. Turns out, she woulda been his 16th victim, well 18th after Tiffany and Rosa.

End Scene, The Hospital: Final jump-scare. WTF?

The Badass Award goes to Officer Burroughs, who had the patients and belief in Jill’s accusations, despite not having enough evidence to do much about it. He held on, and saved the day, while Jill did the typical hit him once and runaway shit. For a cop in a horror flick, he did okay.

The take away, I guess would be smart phones today and the dominance they have in our daily lives now verses the convenience a cell phone provided just 12 years ago in 2006. Grounding your kid from their cell phone vs. having a homing device on your kid where you can contact them at all times. For me, my parents giving me a cell phone, giving me no excuse not to answer at all hours of the day would have been the punishment: I wouldn’t have gotten away with anything, or I’d have at least been too paranoid to try. Big Brother is watching.

There is also the danger of answering the phone, not knowing what evil lurks on the other end. It was a bigger risk in the days before Caller ID and the digitization of personal interactions, yet still not as widespread as say social media where anybody can creep into your life. We tend to not recognize people as strangers when we can look at their profiles and view their pictures and memes of how they want us to see them. It sugarcoats the risks of a stranger calling. Monsters look just like the rest of us.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) If you’re dropping your daughter off somewhere far till late into the night, give her a cell phone for her own safety.

2) Don’t be an asshole with your cell phone minutes if you’re on a shared plan, especially if you’re not the one paying for it.

3) Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. They had to have Caller ID on the landline, right?


Wind Chill (2007)

Damien Ross

Gregory Jacobs

“Im going to put a restraining order on you if we ever get out of this.”

504619-18246-clp-950[1].jpg

It’s December 23rd, shouldn’t college kids already be on winter break by now? Girl gets text messages from a friend at the end of class. It seemed weird to me that instead of a name on the text, there was just a number, like, “What kind of low budget shit am I watching that they couldn’t even cover that base?” I soon discovered that nobody in this film has a fuckin name! Even the credits say Girl-Emily Blunt, Guy-Ashton Holmes, Highway Patrolman-Martin Donovan, etc.

Girl needs a ride home to Delaware for Christmas. At the recommendation of her text buddy, she finds a ride on ride-share, which is nothing more than a bulletin board with tear off number strips that teenagers used to use to book babysitting gigs. They drive away leaving a bag behind. As the viewer, I didn’t even realize Girl and Driver didn’t know each other until they went out of their way to point it out along the first leg of the trip.

Even though it’s freezing out and the passenger window doesn’t roll up all the way, at one point Girl is painting her toenails with her bare feet on the dash.

Driver remembers her from a class they had together. She mentions wanting to get laser surgery, but he thinks she looks good in her glasses, however she’s never worn them outside of her dorm... Dun, dun, dun!

Her nails aren’t quite dry as they reach the restroom at the Gas station/restaurant. Somehow she gets locked in the bathroom. She bangs on the door and yells, but oddly enough, no one can hear her.

They head back out on the road, which seems clear of ice, but for some reason Driver decides to take the scenic route: Route 606, which is covered in snow. Sensing something is a little off, Girl pries and tests Driver about details of her hometown and proves he’s not really from Delaware, but before she can fully confront him, an oncoming car approaches, inadvertently running them off the road, knocking them both out. She comes to first.

So far, this film has painted him as a psycho who has gone out of his way to stalk her and trap her inside his car alone in the middle of nowhere-albeit, in the freezing cold-where he can have his way with her.

She gets out of the car and tries to call 911, but there is no signal. Driver suddenly appears and doesn’t own a cell phone. They notice that there are no tire tracks from the other car. He tries to push the car while she steers, but it’s stuck and she won’t let him back in. She thinks he’s a psycho. He leaves her there and walks back to the gas station.

A figure passes so she gets out of the car to flag him down, but he keeps walking and suddenly Driver is back. He walked all the way to the gas station and back already, but it was closed?

They get back into the car. He comes clean about who he is. Turns out, he sits behind her in class and read her text message from over her shoulder then quickly posted a flyer on the ride-wall shortly thereafter. He planned for it to be a romantic 6 hour trip where they got to know each other. He is not a psycho, just a socially awkward, insecure late-teen, although he still seems to know a little too much about her.

The bag left behind contained $60 worth of groceries so now they have no food. She thinks nothing of it as he names off her favorite foods he bought for her.

Girl has to pee again. She exits the vehicle as a small group of creepy people walk by. She and Driver go after them, splitting up in the process. Driver finds some sort of abandoned house with corpses around it. A figure passes Girl, but he is some sort of undead ghoul. Two undead teens appear. Driver comes back and neither give full disclosure of what either saw as they get back into the car.

Patrolman knocks on the window. He gets Girl out of the car and starts talking about all the accidents that have happened on that stretch of road. He wants Girl to get into his car. Driver attacks him then she wakes up in the back of his car. Is this a dream?

The newspaper they used to patch up the window has a story about the stretch of road they are stranded on. Girl finds a plastic bottle in the backseat. Driver never made it to the gas station. He turned back when he started spitting up blood and he’s been pissing blood since the crash (in said bottle).

Girl devises plan to get to a spot where she can get a signal on her phone. The ghosts only show up when Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree comes on the radio. It’s funny how Christmas songs sound fine and have a feel-good vibe to them but with just a slight twist, can feel eerie and malevolent. Maybe it’s the safety and nostalgia of a tradition that can so easily be ripped away.

She climbs a telephone pole to call 911, but the reception is too poor. The dispatch can’t understand her.

She gets back to the car and Driver is dead. I don’t know if she 100% knows he’s dead, but without hesitation, she pulls him out of the car and lays him down in the snow anyway.

A truck stops and picks her up. The truck driver begins to tell her about all the accidents that started in the 50’s. He sounds like Patrolman. A crooked cop killed two teens in a drunk driving accident. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree comes on the radio as an oncoming car approaches just like earlier. It’s Patrolman. They crash again.

Backstory: The townspeople let Patrolman burn to death in his car because they knew he was crooked. Now it is the ghost of Patrolman and he is still dangerous. He tries to kill Girl, but Driver is still alive and bashes Patrolman in the head then Girl wakes up in the backseat of the car again.

Finally, it is light out as she makes it back to the gas station. Help finally arrives and Driver really is dead??????????

So Route 606 is haunted, but instead of being haunted by the villain or the victims, it is haunted by both. There’s a killer who makes brief appearances while everyone else is a red herring designed to trick you into watching this film all the way through, just to reach a disappointing, inconclusive finale.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Don’t go on road trips with people you don’t know.

2) Don’t take shortcuts in the snow.

3) If you have a crush on a girl, just introduce yourself and see what happens.

Zombie Hunter (2013)

Damien Ross

Kevin King

th.jpg

Cause: A new drug has swept the nation, and it's worse than all other illegal drugs combined: It turns it's users into zombies and within a year the world has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Hunter drives down the desolate road battling zombies along the way until being shot in the arm, which causes him to black out and crash his car. When he awakens, he meets Allison, Fast Lane Debbie, Jesus, and a few others who have managed to survive the past year.

This wasn't really a horror movie, but it's about zombies so I'm throwing it in anyway. I guess the title was a play on words because the main character's name is Hunter, but nobody really hunted zombies, it was more like the other way around. This film is a throwback to the Grindhouse genre that made a comeback with Tarantino and Rodriguez, but this felt more like an excuse to put out a shitty script. Apparently all you need is a gritty looking movie and Danny Trejo peek interest.

Maybe they should have just gone for an all out comedy because this whole premise was stupid. Some of the kill scenes actually looked good, but the CGI sucked, which may have been deliberate. The ending looked like a setup for a sequel, hopefully not, considering it didn't make much sense (which is why they would need a sequel: to explain the shitty ending like Rest Stop 2 and the Ring 2). The sequel would have to be better, but hopefully they don't bother.

Hunter does not get the Badass Award even though they tried so hard to make him out to be one. To me he just looked like a weak version of Kyle Reese from The Terminator. Not even his lame backstory peppered in could make me give a shit about him.

Instead, Allison gets the Badass Bitch Award, mainly for the initial running over of the huge lame CGI'd zombie thing, but she sealed the deal when she put the truck in reverse and backed back over him. Somehow, that truck was enough to stop him. These were not your average zombies. They were somewhat smart, one of them wielded a chainsaw, and they were really strong, but they looked more like mutated monsters than zombies, which would've been fine if the movie weren't called ZOMBIE Hunter. I almost forgot, the score was terrible!

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Don't do unnatural drugs.

2) Don't take an ax to a zombie fight.

3) Don't get cocky, but didn't Luke Skywalker already teach us that in Star Wars?

 

 



 

You're Next (2011)

Damien Ross

Adam Wingard

"I'm the fastest, but I've got a fuckin arrow sticking in my back."

I think the less you know about this movie going in, the better. It opens with a couple, an older guy and a younger girl, having sex. Afterward, the man goes into the shower. The girl puts in a CD, makes herself a drink, and then gets murdered. The man gets out of the shower and notices the wall reads, "You're Next." Then he gets his.

The film has The Strangers feel to it: A creepy trio with odd masks and no clear motive killing people.

Crispian takes his girlfriend, Erin, to his parent's vacation house for you their 35th anniversary/family reunion. The rest of his siblings arrive the next day. It seems like the family get along well enough, except for Drake, nobody really seems to get along with him. A quarrel at dinner is interrupted when the little sister's boyfriend, Tariq, is shot in the head with an arrow.

Arrows keep coming into the house through the windows and eventually Drake takes one in the back. Their cell phones get no signal so they can't call out.

They decide that Aimee, the little sister who just lost her boyfriend, is probably the fastest. The plan is for her to run out the front door and find a phone. The killers won't be expecting her to be going full speed. Unfortunately, they had a throat-high wire waiting in the doorway and she in fact slit her throat.

Erin begins to take charge.

The mom, played by Barbara Crampton, who played the girlfriend in Re-Animator, and many other classics, still looks really good, but she gets killed.

Kelly, Drake's girlfriend, escapes and goes to the neighbor's house where she is greeted by one of the Killer 3 and the neighbor's corpse (The murdered couple at the beginning are the neighbors) and that's the end of Kelly.

Crispian can't take it anymore and he goes outside.

One of the Killer 3 get inside and Erin beats him in the head with a meat tenderizer, relentlessly.

The dad gets his throat slashed upstairs right in front of the youngest sibling, Felix, and his girlfriend Zee. This is where we lose The Strangers feel because this is when we find out that Felix and Zee are in on it. It loses a bit of the scary element once we discover a motive.

We then learn that Erin grew up in a survivalist compound and is really good at making traps. How bout that, a movie that actually gives a female character a little bit of a back story instead of her just magically displaying hidden talents. When she goes upstairs and discovers the dad's corpse she is startled by one of the Killer 3, I guess 2 now. Not only does she throw her weapon, she then jumps out the window! Her two dumbest moves of the movie. Now her leg is fucked up and she is unarmed. The window she jumped out of was not open so she has a large shard of glass in her leg, which makes it hard to walk.

Once she is back in the house she hides in some kind of small room where she can hear Felix admit that he planned the whole thing and was planning to share the inheritance with the remaining Killer 2.

Jumping ahead, Erin kills Felix and Zee then Felix's phone rings. It's Crispian, Erin's boyfriend we haven't seen in about the last 45 minutes. Erin answers the phone and wisely, instead of talking, she let's him do all the talking. It turns out he is the true mastermind behind this plot and basically confesses while walking back into the house.

She's a little more than pissed at the fact that he put her life in danger for money and that he's a sick fuck who tried to have his family killed while he was there. But he assures her that she was meant to survive and no harm would have come her way because they needed a witness. So his endgame after his whole family was killed in front of him was to cash out on a big payday then somehow act normal around Erin for the duration of their relationship while she has no idea? Erin stabs him in the neck and then in the eyeball, which probably took a lot of intestinal fortitude on her behalf because being the last survivors meant only having to share the money two ways. She could have let him live, cashed in, dumped his ass, and lived happily ever after. Instead she gets nothing. Then she gets shot by a cop who finally hit the scene. He calls for backup then proceeds to enter through the front door, the door that has the ax booby-trap on it. She tries to warn him, but it's too late. The end.

The Badass Bitch Award goes to Erin for keeping a cool head, knowing what to do, and killing six people, I think. Her only mistakes, which I mentioned before, were throwing away her tenderizer and jumping out the window. She's still a badass though and for some reason this movie really creeps me out, especially the first half. There's something about being targeted for no reason like in The Strangers or The Hitcher that's creepy. Once motive is established and we have rhyme and reason, it's not quite the same fear.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Stay away from windows if arrows are shooting into your house.

2) If you're trapped in a house with killers outside, stay inside.

3) Turn off your cell phone ringer.

4) Maybe leave your girl at home if you're planning to mass murder your family.

5) Don't leave your wife for a college student.

 

Wrong Turn (1-5)

Damien Ross

Wrong Turn (2003)

Rob Schmidt

One thing is for sure, Eliza Dushku is hot! They obviously have to kill her off in this first chapter because there is no way she is coming back for a sequel.

This movie was The Hills Have Eyes meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the woods. It pulls out a lot of horror movie cliches, but not as an homage, more like it was really trying to convince you that this was an original story.

Chris is driving through the backwoods of West Virginia when he crashes into Scott, Carly, Jessie, Evan, and Francine's car. Now they have no vehicle so the four of them look for help leaving Evan and Francine (to die) alone.

They come across a cabin and break in. The inbred owner comes home with Francine's corpse, so they hide. They run away and it turns out that there are more of these inbred mutants. Chris comes up with a plan and without thinking it through gets himself shot in the leg. Scott gets killed and by this point you can't help but find yourself rooting against them, especially Carly, who gets the Gilligan Award for always screaming at the wrong time and turning lights on to make it obvious where they are.

They wind up in a tower 80 ft off the ground and the mutants light it on fire. They jump to the nearest tree. The landing on the tree branches should have fucked them up, but they're fine. Carly gets axed in the face and Chris and Jessie get separated, but not before she told him that the reason her friends brought her out there in the first place was because her boyfriend just dumped her. Knowing she is single, he decides that he must go back to the cabin to rescue her.

Apparently, the inbred mutants are gay because they have her tied to the bed and at no point do they make any sexual advances toward her. Chris shows up, rescues Jessie and blows up the cabin. They drive off into the sunset and live happily ever after, the end.

The Badass Bitch Award goes to Jessie Burlingame, because she was a strong character, but mainly because she was hot.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Don't do outdoorsy shit.

2) Beware the creepy gas station attendants, I feel like I've said this before.

3) Keep your eyes on the road! And don't take long drives without a cell phone, although this film was made in 2003.

4) Don't break into other people's homes, at least wait and give them a chance to come home.

5) Don't have sex with members of your own family.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

Joe Lynch

"We're all gonna end up hillbilly barbecue."

Six contestants are chosen to be on a reality show where they must survive an apocalypse in the woods to win $100,000. What happens instead is they are in the Wrong Turn woods and they must battle to stay alive and not become dinner.

This was definitely better than the first one, more original too, until we get to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre styled dinner scene. Is it possible to make a movie with cannibals that does not rip off The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Granted, the premise of a reality TV show isn't all that original for a horror movie, but I'll give them a pass because there's a lot of different ways you can go with it.

These cannibals really have a lot stacked against them: Their drinking water is polluted, they're deformed, they're mutes, they fuck each other, and they're idiots. How do you not know that your drinking water is not supposed to be thick and dark? Apparently, they also can't read because all the big oil drums by the mill have warning signs on them that read: Warning, may cause birth defects. It should actually say: Warning: Will make you breed batches of quick-aging freaks with good throwing arms... Weren't we down to one cannibal at the end of the first one? Then at the end of this one we're down to one dude and a baby and there's three more movies?

The young cannibal that was jerking off in the woods looked like Carrot Top. This movie did have some really good kill scenes though and these cannibals know how to sharpen a blade!

The Badass Award goes to Dale Murphy because he's Henry fuckin Rollins and he had three kills, which was the most. He also kept his head, armed himself, and even sacrificed himself to save Jake and Nina. I was thinking about giving Nina the Badass Bitch Award, but decided she didn't deserve it: She attempted suicide when she caught her fiancée having sex with her best friend, and at the first sign of trouble she was gone. She did go back for Jake, but I really don’t think that was enough to make the list. If anything it would be Amber, but Amber didn't even kill anybody.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) If you are driving through the middle of nowhere and you hit someone, just keep driving. That person shouldn't have been there.

2) Don't make angry inbred chicks with knives jealous.

3) Don't fuck with Henry Rollins.

Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead (2009)

Declan O'Brien

Four white water rafters are greeted by Three Finger as they stop to set up camp. He kills all but one, Alex, who manages to escape.

Elsewhere, a prison is transporting some convicts. Along the way, Three Finger catches up to them, runs them off the road, and now the convicts are on the loose. As they try to escape they run into Alex, who warns them what they're up against. Oh, and they also find a shitload of money!

Chavez has made himself the leader, so it is up to Officer Nate and Alex to figure out a way to turn the situation around as the group is slowly being picked off by Three Finger in the distance.

Somehow, at the end of all these movies it seems all of these mutant cannibals get killed, but at least one lives and regenerates the whole family population. But there's no excuse for Wrong Turn 4 because the entire police department knows what's up and should have infiltrated the cabin and found one of their own dead inside, which reminds me, what a dumb idea to cut out the scene where Deputy Ally Lane gets abducted. Suddenly she is just naked and restrained inside. I didn't even know who she was at first. What was the point of her character? Also, why didn't Officer Nate have a cell phone? He could've at least had one and they show him get no signal. It makes no sense for him to have not had a cell phone. Still, I like this franchise. It's not my favorite, but I will definitely be picking up Wrong Turn 4&5 soon.

The Badass Award goes to Chavez even though he was a bad guy and if not for being a bad guy he'd have had the highest chance for survival plus he almost whooped Three Finger's ass.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Don't steal cars.

2) Don't leave sharp weapons laying around.

3) Never swerve to avoid hitting an object in the road, especially if it's the bad guy!

4) Get a cell phone.

 

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011)

Declan O'brien

"They're eating him like some fucked up fondue!"

A prequel, that's how they pulled this one off, sneaky fucks!

It starts out in a sanitarium in 1974, which is where we first meet young Three Finger, One Eye, and Saw Tooth. (I love how literal their names are). They escape from their cell and kill everyone except the other patients. Then surprisingly, we jump to 2003, which is when the first movie was made. Maybe this was just a way to make a story starring dead characters? I don't remember who actually helped Three Finger in the first one. A group of college kids take a wrong turn and find themselves at this sanitarium where the freaks still live. It's getting dark so they take refuge. But one by one... You know the rest.

Despite this movies flaws, I was on board for the first hour, but slowly too many things didn't add up, and there were too many fuckin characters. Had we been properly introduced to them it would have been okay, but they all kinda plopped on the screen at once. I had a hard time figuring out who was who until about halfway when some got killed off.

This movie actually makes it even more confusing as to where the hell all the hillbillies from Wrong Turn 2 came from. A prequel makes a good excuse for a new movie, but I expected the whole movie to take place in the 70's, not just the first five minutes. I was expecting worse from this movie because I read the reviews beforehand, but it wasn't that bad and definitely worth sticking around for the ending.

No Badass Award because you can't have a badass if none of the bad guys get killed, so there. But I am kind of wondering: Were the hillbillies trapped in the sanitarium all along? Because they had been there since the 70's then suddenly after killing these college kids they were free and started wandering around never to return.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) If you and a group of friends have to take refuge in an abandoned sanitarium, don't go exploring by yourself .

2) If someone is being hanged and strangled by barbwire, don't pull on their ankles to try to save them.

3) Don't volunteer to take first watch if you're sleepy.

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012)

Declan O'brien

"Are you so fuckin drunk you don't speak English?!"

Five college kids head to West Virginia on Halloween for the Mountain Man Festival. Along the way they encounter Maynard, and swerve into a tree to avoid hitting him. They're all okay, but it looks like they have hit Maynard, who is lying in the road. They go to check on him and Maynard slashes Billy with his knife. The cops show up just as the three college kids begin to kick the shit out of Maynard.

They get taken to the jail of this Mayberry-size town. Billy has a lot of drugs and takes the rap so his friends can be set free to go find a room in a shitty motel. Little do they know that Three-Finger is one of Maynard's boys and he is on his way.

This was probably the worst Wrong Turn movie. It was kind of cool that they got Doug Bradley (from Hellraiser) to play Maynard, and it was funny when he referred to Three-Finger and the gang as a bunch of pinheads, but it wasn't clear what his relation was to them, especially since he wasn't deformed. He wasn't quite old enough to be the father or grandfather, maybe it was the novelty. Also, Mountain Man was supposed to be a festival, yet the the whole town was a ghost town that looked fake, and the college kids were the only people there.

The kill scenes were unique, and there were more sex scenes in this one than the other four combined, but still, this movie fell short.

The Badass Bitch Award goes to Lita for attacking one of the hillbillies, even though she later got both of her eyes poked out by Maynard and will probably be the sperm recipient who continues the hillbilly bloodline, hence the title, Bloodlines.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Don't be a cunt!

2) Watch the road.

3) Never trust the killer.

4) Don't split up.

Wolf Creek (1-2)

Damien Ross

Wolf Creek (2005)

Greg McLean

"I was doing people a service really, by shooting them. There's kangaroos all over the place... like tourists."

What I like about this movie is that the first 35 minutes is just about three people, Ben, Liz, and Kristy, embarking on a backpacking trip through the Australian outback. It's best to know as little as possible going into this movie, but I am about to spoil it anyway. The only thing odder to me about how underrated this movie is, is how often I've found copies of it at the pawn shop (which is where I purchased my copy).

The film begins by showing statistics of how many backpackers go missing every year. Ben is an example of one.

Ben has a going away party the night before buying a used car and embarking on a road trip with Liz and Kristy. I don't remember if the movie showed how close he was to either of them, but he did appear to be closer to Kristy because when alone, Kristy let him know that Liz had a crush on him.

They were on their way to Wolf Creek Recreational Park to look at the remnants of a meteorite. They parked and backpacked up there. When they returned their car wouldn't start. It was night, in the middle of nowhere, so they decided to sleep in the car and hopefully someone would pass by before morning.

Hours passed, eventually headlights creeped up on them and they met the charismatic Mick Taylor. He was an outback man who knew a thing or two about cars, but there was nothing he could do at the scene. He towed them back to his shop, which took a few hours. They had a campfire and talked, it felt like a camping trip. Nothing had indicated that he would drug them, they went to sleep voluntarily, but when they woke up, they woke up in Hell. Ben was nowhere to be found. Liz's hands were zip-tied and she could hear screams. With a shard of glass, she was able to free herself from the zip-ties. She approached the screams that led her to the workshop where Kristy was tied to a beam and Mick was using her for target practice. Knowing she couldn't barge in and save the day, she came up with a plan B. She lit their car on fire. This got Mick out of the shop long enough to let Kristy know she was alive, but Mick returned too soon for her to actually free her.

Liz hid, but while Mick continued to harass Kristy, Liz was able to get his rifle and turn the tables. She shot him in the neck and he dropped like a sack of potatoes. Here's why she doesn't get the Badass Bitch Award: Because the movie doesn't end here! There were no more bullets so she hit him in the back a couple of times rather than caving his skull in. She and Kristy escaped in his truck, but guess who's still alive? And now he's on their tail.

They drive up to a cliff, and push his truck off, which was kinda weird, and then their hiding place is to hang off said cliff?! And of course he parks at their exact spot. He stands on the ledge directly above them, looks down and sees his destroyed truck. Somehow, he doesn't hear any rustling of them hanging, or the sounds of their heavy breathing. He goes back to his vehicle and drives away.

At this point, their only option is to sneak back to his shop and steal one of his cars. Kristy is too traumatized to go back so Liz goes alone. When she gets there, she discovers that she and her friends are not the first. She finds driver's licenses and video cameras of other victims. The creepiest part is when she finds Ben's camera and the video reveals Mick's truck in the background. He's been following them all along. He sabotaged their car so they would need his help. It was a clever form of foreshadowing because if you re-watch the movie you can see Mick's blue truck in the background, it just doesn't mean anything yet.

After the girls are killed, it turns out that Ben is still alive and manages to escape, however he is now a suspect. I was worried there was going to be a plot-twist: Ben was actually Mick all along, after all, Ben was Australian while both of the girls were from England. Thankfully, they didn't and it was a good movie.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Double-tap the killer, always make sure he is dead. If you're out of bullets, smash his head with the butt of the rifle.

2) Never split up.

3) Don't pick up hitchhikers.

Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

Greg McLean

“Oy! That really bloody hurt! I think you cracked me skull! I got claret coming out of me bloody scone all over the place and blood everywhere! Hope you're happy with yourself, mate!”

WolfCreek2.jpg

Mick Taylor is back and this time he is not sneaking around. He has a different MO this movie, which is good in terms of making the movie different. A lot of horror sequels tend to be carbon copies, especially when they are made several years after the first. This one is all Mick Taylor in the spotlight. He begins by killing two cops in the opening scene, just to remind us who he is, and he even somehow got his truck working again... You know, the one that blew up.

A young German couple, Katarina and Rutger, hitchhike their way across the outback to Wolf Creek. They decide to camp out nearby, which is when, rather early in the film, they are greeted by Mick Taylor who warns them to leave and even offers them a ride so they don't get a fine for camping on national property. Rutger is actually smart enough to turn down the offer, but that still gets him killed and Katarina captured.

While Mick is chopping up Rutger's body, Katarina escapes. She flags down a car. The two drive off, but it is only a matter of time before Mick is back on their asses. He forces them off the road and pulls out his rifle and tries to shoot Paul, the driver, but Paul ducks and Katarina's face suffers the consequences. It didn't sever the top of her head off like it did the cop's, but it still did the job. Now Paul is in the mix. He eventually loses Mick and ditches Katarina's body. He drives awhile longer, before deciding to pull over and flag down a car. The first car keeps going, the next is a semi and guess who's driving? Paul hurries back into his jeep just in time and now the chase is back on. This time Paul decides to stick to the road even though he had no problem going off road in their previous encounter when Mick could go off road too.

Mick decides he needs some music, which sets up the hilarious kangaroo scene. The Lion Sleeps Tonight will never sound the same to me again. Mick eventually runs Paul off a cliff, which is probably just as well since Paul was just about out of gas anyway. As a parting gift, Mick launches his semi down the cliff after Paul, totaling Paul's jeep once and for all.

Paul walks till he passes out. He awakens in a house. The house is owned by a weird elderly couple and it's hard to tell if Paul is safe or not, until we hear Mick at the door. The old man goes to his gun case, grabs one of two rifles, and goes outside. He fires a warning and tells Mick to leave so Mick turns around and starts walking. The old man goes back inside to his meal, but with lightning speed, Mick has taken the other rifle from the case. He kills the old man and the old woman then takes Paul captive.

Mick's shop has changed in the last 8 years. It's bigger, with tunnels and traps, skeletons, corpses... It turns out that Mick's big thing is that he hates tourists and is insulted when they come to his country. But he gets a bit of a soft spot for Paul because Paul has a thorough knowledge of the history of Australia so they play a trivia game. 10 questions, five right and he is free.

The ending of this movie was kind of weak, but for a sequel it was better than I expected. I almost felt like they had to throw in some humor to get away with some of the graphic violence, even though the funniest scene was the most graphic. John Jarrett does an awesome job as Mick Taylor. He has a nice balance of evil, creepy, and sometimes dumb. The faces he pulls crack me up.

In the first one he was omnipresent you just didn't know it. The villain seems to be less scary the more you see him, but sequels tend to be more about the villain than the victims. Wolf Creek 3? I wouldn't be surprised.

What did we learn? Survival tips:

1) Always gas up before going on a long drive through the middle of nowhere, especially if you've never been there before.

2) Don't let strangers into your house.

3) Here's a fucked up tip: Don't help people who appear to be in trouble.

 

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Damien Ross

Fred Walton

"Have you checked the children?"

This is an adaption of an urban legend and the first 20 minutes are awesome.

Jill takes a babysitting job for a doctor and his wife who are going out to dinner and possibly a movie. The kids are sick and already in bed so Jill never actually sees them. She begins to receive phone calls and the voice on the other end continually asks, "Have you checked the children?" Feeling like she's being watched, she locks the door, closes the curtains, and calls the cops... She does everything except check the children!

The cops tap the phone line only to find that the calls are coming from inside the house. When she tries to leave the cops are already there and we meet John Clifford for the first time. But it's too late, the children are already dead. Jill Johnson: Worst babysitter ever.

Seven years later, the killer, Curt Duncan, escapes from the state mental institute and this film turns from a suspenseful, eerie, 70's horror movie into a 70's prime time cop show.

Curt goes to a bar and tries to pick up on a woman, but she's having none of it. Somehow, he got himself some street clothes and some money prior. He persists till a local beats the shit out of him then he leaves. Tracy, the woman he was trying to pick up, leaves soon after. Curt follows her home. He knocks on her door and actually gets into her house. Eventually, she gets him out.

John Clifford is on the hunt for Curt. After searching and questioning, he ends up at Torchy's, the bar Curt was in the night before. He goes to Tracy's house and gets her to cooperate.

Clifford was hired by the parents of the two kids Curt murdered in the beginning of the movie. He is now obsessed, fuck the judicial system, he's planning to kill Curt. He waits at Tracy's. Curt shows up and after a long chase, he loses him.

This is when we catch back up with Jill, the original babysitter from the beginning of the movie. She's older now, has a husband and two kids of her own, a boy and a girl, like the two she babysat initially. She and her husband are going out to dinner, leaving the children with a babysitter.

Jill's picture was in the paper for a fundraiser, which is how Curt knew where she lived. At the restaurant she gets a phone call. She freaks out and she and her husband hurry home. The kids are alive, but Curt is in the house. Somehow Clifford is some kind of psychic lock picker with impeccable timing. He saves the day, but pusses out when it's time to finally put the bullet into Curt's head. The one thing he wanted to do.

Did Jill's husband die? How did Curt get him into the closet? Are insane people really capable of vendettas? They probably coulda shaved off a good 25 minutes of this film had they not tried to make it so suspenseful. The suspense turned to boredom and left me wondering if maybe they just didn't have enough content for a 90 minute movie.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Check the children.

2) Don't let strange men into your house that follow you home from the bar.

3) Get in shape if you're gonna be a private investigator. People are depending on you.

The Visit (2015)

Damien Ross

M. Night Shyamalan

“Great. Our Pop Pop has schizophrenia and our Nana becomes Michael Myers when the sun goes down.”

Loretta is the single mother of Becca, age 15, and Tyler, age 13. 15 years prior, she got into a huge fight with her parents about the man she was going to marry. She left and hasn't seen them since. Eight years later, her husband left her for another woman, but she still has not reconciled with her parents until her parents reached out over the internet and expressed interest in meeting their grandkids. Even though Loretta was against the idea, the kids insisted on going and Becca plans to make a documentary of the whole thing. That's right, this is a found-footage film, which I did not realize going in, and normally I'm not really a fan of found-footage, but this one works.

They take a train and their grandparents, Nana and Pop Pop, pick them up. They live far out so there is no cell signal, which is something horror movies have to point out nowadays because so many dangers could be avoided if your cell phone works. It inadvertently points out another way we are dependent on them.

Bedtime is 9:30PM. Becca sneaks out of their room and sees Nana walking and puking so she runs back into her room. The next day Becca asks Pop Pop about it, but he just makes excuses, and constantly points out that they are old. Nana does weird things at night because she has Sundown Syndrome.

Tyler and Becca are playing hide n' seek and Nana shows up and plays too. She has a creepy crawl that kinda reminded me of Regan climbing down the stairs in The Exorcist. She basically scares the shit out of them then says she is going to go make some food. She turns around to go inside and one of her butt cheeks is hanging out of her skirt.

Pop Pop takes the kid into town to show them around and then attacks a guy he thinks is following them. These grandparents are weird. Every time we think we're going to find a big clue it just turns out to be something weird, like Pop Pop's shitty diapers in the shed. Nana makes excuses for Pop Pop, Pop Pop, makes excuses for Nana, and Loretta makes excuses for both of them. Becca Googles Sundown Syndrome and discovers it's a legit condition so even she begins making excuses for them. Tyler is the only one who is 100% convinced that something is terribly wrong here.

That night, they hear a strange loud sound outside their bedroom door. They sneak to take a peak, it's Nana, naked and clawing the walls.

The next morning, Becca goes downstairs for breakfast where Nana tells her she accidentally spilled batter on her laptop. She tried to clean it, but couldn't get it all off. The Camera no longer works. Nana convinces Becca to crawl into the oven, but nothing happens.

Becca gets Nana to star in her documentary. She asks her questions and everything is fine until she asks about the day Loretta left, then Nana starts freaking out so they stop the interview.

Tyler wants to set up a hidden camera, but Becca strongly disagrees because it's unethical as a filmmaker. After more weirdness ensues, she gives in and they set it up. Nana creeps out of her bedroom and finds the camera, which legitimately scared the shit out of me. Usually jump scares don't get me, but this one caught me off-gaurd because I thought she was farther away. She takes the camera, grabs a butcher knife from the kitchen, and goes upstairs. She tries to get into their room, but it's locked. Eventually, she puts the camera back and goes to bed.

On their final day, they are ready to leave early. They wait for Nana and Pop Pop to go outside then skype Loretta. The camera on the laptop is working now and they try to convince Loretta that her parents are crazy. I know I spoil every movie, but if you haven't seen this movie, you need to stop reading right now because this reveal will ruin the whole movie if you haven't already figured it out.

Becca holds up he skype camera to the window to prove to her mom that Nana and Pop Pop are out in the backyard when Loretta says, “Those aren't your grandparents. You've been with those people all week?”

Nana and Pop Pop are counselors and it turns out that two of the crazy people they counsel heard their grandkids were coming to visit so they killed them and stashed their bodies, along with pictures and any other evidence of what they looked like, in the basement.

Here is where I make my confession, and this might prove that I'm lame or too stupid to figure out the plot-twist before it was revealed, but for some reason, this movie scared the shit out of me. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I used to spend the summers at my grandparent's as a kid, or maybe it's that moment of finding out someone isn't who you think they are like in Cape Fear when De Niro's character poses as the housekeeper, or in Freeway when Keifer Sutherland's character poses as the grandmother. Maybe I have trust issues, but this freaks me out more than anything.

Based on the trailer I was intrigued even though a lot of people shit on it, which led to my low expectations. I think it's fair to say we all gave up on M. Night Shyamalan along time ago. Movies like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable tricked us as far as what was going on plot-wise while movies like The Happening, The Village, and Signs tricked us into thinking we were going to see a good movie.

The Badass Award goes to Tyler, for knowing all along that something was up and then going Lethal Weapon 2 on Pop Pop's head with the refrigerator door.

What did we learn? Survival Tips:

1) Drop your kids off at their grandparent's house in person.

2) Don't go into ovens.

3) Stay away from wells. Granted, the well did not factor in, but the threat was alluded to.

 

    Video Dead (1987)

    Damien Ross

    Robert Scott

    "Yeah well, I forgot to brush my teeth so I gotta go."

    A haunted TV set gets delivered to the wrong house and kills the recipient. Three months later, two teenagers, Zoe and Jeff, whose parents are out of town, are living in the house and for some reason, the TV is still there. It's not so bad when it's Jennifer Miro popping out of it, but when the Garbage Man kills her, all that's left are zombies. Zombies come out of the TV and kidnap the girl next door, who Jeff was just starting to hit it off with, so it's up to him and the guy from Texas, who seems to know all about the TV, to get her back. This movie is a fun ride that takes a lot of weird turns and it'd be worth buying the DVD just for the cover.

     

    Vacancy (2007)

    Damien Ross

    Nimrod Antal

    Nothing brings a couple on the verge of divorce back together quite like being hunted down by homicidal motel managers. By the way, I love a good motel flick.

    This movie would have been better had they not given away the main plot-point in the trailer. I would have rather discovered that the murders on the snuff tapes were taking place in the motel room at the same time David did.

    The Badass Bitch Award goes to Amy, even though the two guys she killed seemed like an accident. What did we learn? Survival tips:

    1) I've said this before and I'll say it again, never trust small town gas station attendants.

    2) If you're going to walk a mile to get a new spark plug, don't bother leaving your hazard lights on because your battery will be dead by the time you return to your car. This didn't bite them in the ass, but it would've.

    They really didn't make a whole lot of mistakes. David even studied the game tape. If anything I would say:
    3) Never say, "Everything is going to be all right, I promise."

    4) Keep a charged cell phone on you at all times... This whole movie could have been avoided if one of them had just had a cell phone!

    Unfriended (2014)

    Damien Ross

    Leo Gabriadze

    "Well the glitch just typed."

    It is the one year anniversary of Laura Barnes's suicide, which we witness in the opening of this film.
    Blaire is skyping with her boyfriend Mitch until they are interrupted by several other friends, Jess, Ken, Adam, and Val. There also appears to be an anonymous visitor sitting in, billie227. No matter what they do, they can't disconnect billie227, and billie227 is signed in on Laura's account.

    billie227 knows things about the group and slowly turns them against each other. Mitch sends a link to Blaire that reads, "Do not answer 'Messages From The Dead,'" and shows a picture of someone hanged because apparently step 1 is to reply and step 2 is to kill yourself.

    Hopefully this movie was actually about a cyber demon who finds ways to possess people through the Internet and not the actual face value plot of Laura seeking revenge. Maybe the sequel will reveal that.

    Obviously, this was a joke gone too far. Why didn't the friends take the video down once they saw the damage it was doing? Also, I wasn't totally clear how close Claire and Laura were before the suicide. They seemed to have had a prior falling out. It didn't seem like Laura knew Claire's involvement in the incident until after she died and was haunting her from cyberspace, otherwise, you'd think she'd have at least told her off before she killed herself. Friends are supposed to keep each other in check, through insults, compliments, etc., but these people are all clearly assholes.

    A video of you shitting your pants after passing out doesn't really make a convincing argument for suicide especially when it was your friends who posted it. Can't anyone take a joke anymore?

    This movie looked like kind of a bitch to film. It's a found footage film, with skyping and Facebook, not all that groundbreaking though, considering The Den did the same thing about a year earlier. I can't imagine watching this in the theater, although it probably would've been a lot easier to read all the messaging that way. Somehow, I was still kind of on the edge of my seat. The characters were not all that likable, and judging by the way they treated each other before any of the shit went down, it didn't seem like it would have taken much to turn them against each other. The idea was good, the execution, not so much. Hopefully the sequel can do right all the things this film did wrong.

    What did we learn? Survival Tips:

    1) Don't answer messages from the dead.

    2) Don't play with guns while you're drunk.

    3) Don't sleep with your friend's girlfriend.

    4) Make decent friends.