Deadly Friend (1986) review

Deadly Friend posterDirector: Wes Craven

Starring: Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, Anne Ramsey, Anne Twomey

“Wait, she’s dead? Hey, what the hell are you doing? You didn’t say anything about a dead body, we were supposed to save her life.” (Tom, Deadly Friend)

I never get tired of saying this, but God bless the 1980s. No other decade could give you a film with a plot that begins with “a boy, his mum and his robot move into a new house” and not have that be the oddest thing about it by the time the credits roll.

Deadly Friend is the work of director Wes Craven, fresh from finding new success with A Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s one of the oddest horror films you’ll see, but that’s perhaps not Craven’s fault. You see, he didn’t want to make a horror film at all. Continue reading “Deadly Friend (1986) review”

Evil Laugh (1986) review

Evil Laugh posterDirector: Dominick Brascia

Starring: Ashlyn Gere, Steven Baio, Jerold Pearson, Jody Gibson

“These things don’t happen in New York. I just hope a guy in a hockey mask named Jason doesn’t show up.” (Barney, Evil Laugh)

Sometimes when I’m in the mood to watch a completely random horror film, I tend to use two qualifying questions: 1) Is it from the ’80s? and 2) Does it have a weird name?

It was this vetting process that led to my discovery of Evil Laugh, a 1986 slasher that has somehow slipped between the horror cracks over the years. This surprised me because I found it pretty bloody entertaining.

In it, a group of medical students (all of whom look much older than they’re probably supposed to be) travel to a large secluded house to help their friend fix it up and turn it into a foster home.

Sadly, there’s a slight issue with the house: it used to be an orphanage. That’s not the problem, mind. The problem is that ten years ago, all the adults and children living in it were slaughtered by a madman who then set the house on fire, dying himself in the blaze. Continue reading “Evil Laugh (1986) review”

Jason X (2001) review

Jason X posterDirector: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Derwin Jordan, Melyssa Ade

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” (Professor Lowe, Jason X)

I can just imagine the conversation that potentially took place when Jason X was originally conceived.

“We need to make another Friday The 13th movie boss, but we’re running out of ideas.”

“Running out of ideas? Are you mad? It’s a slasher movie. Put gore and tits in it and you’re good.”

“Yes sir, but Friday The 13th fans expect something more, some sort of twist. We’ve already had a 3D one, a copycat killer one, a zombie one, one shot in New York and a possession one. What now?”

“I don’t care. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s fucking Jason In Space, just get tits and gore in it and have it ready by the summer.” Continue reading “Jason X (2001) review”

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review

Jason Goes To Hell posterDirector: Adam Marcus

Starring: Kane Hodder, Kari Keegan, John D LeMay, Steven Williams

STEVEN – “Duke! The part about being reborn through a Voorhees woman, does it have to be a living woman?”
DUKE – “No.”
STEVEN – “Duke, that thing is in the basement with Jessica’s dead mother.”
DUKE – “Mother of God.”

Here’s the story. After Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan died on its arse and drew the lowest ever box office in the series’ history, Paramount was done with it.

Step forward New Line Cinema, who owned A Nightmare On Elm Street. New Line had been itching to make a film pitting their own Freddy Krueger against Jason for a while, but the fact that they owned Freddy while Paramount owned Jason meant it was a logistical nightmare.

New Line’s solution was impeccable: buy Jason from Paramount at a low price while his name is mud at the studio, make him popular again then make the Freddy vs Jason film everyone wants to see. Continue reading “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review”

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review

Friday The 13th Part VIII posterDirector: Rob Hedden

Starring: Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Todd Caldecott, Tiffany Paulsen

“I think the time has come for your first swimming lesson. You don’t wanna end up drowning like that Voorhees boy, do you? He never learned how to swim, either. And he’s still at the bottom of this lake.” (Charles, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)

By the time the Friday The 13th series had reached its eighth incarnation it was clear ideas were running a bit thin on the ground.

After all, there’s only so many times you can recycle the whole ‘masked killer stalks horny teens through the woods’ routine without eventually jumping the shark.

By this point though, Friday The 13th had jumped more sharks than Evel Knievel at a poker tournament. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review”

The Attic (2013) review

The Attic posterDirector: Josh Stolberg

Starring: Raleigh Holmes, Steven Weber, Sterling Beaumon, Lori Laughlin, Jonathan Silverman, Paul James

Also known as: Crawlspace (US title)

TIM – “You don’t fuck with another man’s home.”
ALDON  – “I was about to say the same thing myself.”

There are a number of reasons I tend to watch indie horror films I’ve never heard of.

Part of it is down to the complete lack of knowledge of what’s coming next. I enjoy movies more when I don’t even know the basic plot.

It’s also because I like seeing what sort of ideas filmmakers can come up with when they only have a relatively small budget.

Best of all though, when you watch hundreds of films and most of them are shite, it’s even more satisfying than normal when you come across a hidden gem. Cue The Attic. Continue reading “The Attic (2013) review”

My Bloody Valentine (1981) review

My Bloody Valentine posterDirector: George Mihalka

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Alf Humphreys

“Roses are red, violets are blue, one is dead… and so are you.” (killer’s note, My Bloody Valentine)

Valentine’s Day can be a pain in the arse at the best of times.

If you’re single it can be a thoroughly depressing affair as you hear countless tales of lovebirds wooing each other with gifts and other tokens of their adoration.

Meanwhile, being one of said lovebirds is no picnic either, what with the stress of having to buy your partner a present and hoping it’s the right size, or the right colour, or the specific type they asked for.

All of this pales in comparison to the small rural American town of Valentine’s Bluff, though. There Valentine’s Day can be a real killer. Literally. Continue reading “My Bloody Valentine (1981) review”

Puppet Master (1989) review

Puppet Master posterDirector: David Schmoeller

Starring: Paul Le Mat, William Hickey, Irene Miracle, Jimmie F Skaggs, Robin Frates, Matt Roe

“Metaphysically speaking, I killed myself.” (Neil, Puppet Master)

Over the past few months many of my reviews have been dedicated to films by Full Moon, one of my favourite B-movie studios.

Full Moon were responsible for a raft of low-budget 80s and 90s horror films and while the majority were as atrocious as you’d expect (hence exhibits A, B, C, D and E here), every so often they’d come up trumps with a gem.

Puppet Master is one such film, one that proved so successful it spawned a total of nine sequels. Naturally, reviews of these will come in time but for now let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading “Puppet Master (1989) review”

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading “Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review”

The Burning (1981) (Video Nasty review #9)

The Burning posterDirector: Tony Maylam

Starring: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Jason Alexander

“They never found his body, but he survived. He lives on whatever he can catch. Eats them raw, alive. No longer human. Right now, he’s out there. Watching, waiting. Don’t look: he’ll see you. Don’t move: he’ll hear you. Don’t breathe: you’re dead!” (Todd, The Burning)

Although there were a number of slasher films before Friday The 13th (most notably Halloween and Black Christmas), it was that film’s success which led to the birth of a sub-genre that was by far the most oft-imitated during the ’80s: the camp slasher.

(Obviously, by that I mean slasher films set in a summer camp, as opposed to films where a killer prances around going “oo-er missus” before stabbing someone.)

One of the earliest imitations – and one of the best, actually – was The Burning, a film written and produced by the then-indie Weinstein brothers and their small studio Miramax. Continue reading “The Burning (1981) (Video Nasty review #9)”