Public Service Announcement

I’ve been giving some thought to the blog and I think it’s time for a slight change in format. I looked back at some of my older posts and most of the ones that I enjoy reading are for bad films. Nobody needs me to write 1000 words on why The Exorcist is a good movie.

Are there people out there who are thinking, “I wonder if Night of the Living Dead is worth 90 minutes of my time. I think I’ll cruise over to Dan’s blog and see if he has any sassy comments or not-so-clever puns about George A Romero’s genre-creating classic.”

I hope not.

So the point is, I’m going to focus on movies that most people have not seen, particularly in 3 groups:

  • New Horror Movies: I missed the boat on It Follows and Babadook, but these newer, big-name kinds of movies are still fair game.
  • Obscure Horror Movies: This is kind of a big tent. I’m including foreign, older/forgotten and underrated films.
  • Just Really Bad Horror Movies: This is the fun stuff. We’re looking for Rotten Tomatoes scores under 30. Or anything starring Nicholas Cage. Far be it from me to attack somebody’s art, but really, sometimes a movie just needs to be shat upon. And I’m just the guy to do it.

Also, I know I’ve been MIA for quite a while, but I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things. I hope the new format will make it more fun for me to write. As you can imagine, it’s easier and more entertaining to write a review of a terrible movie than to write the 9000th review just praising a great movie.

That is all.

Advertisements

Dracula Untold (2014) – Gary Shore

Dracula Untold Poster

So I recently got around to reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and as a result I’ve been on a bit of a vampire kick lately. I watched Nosferatu, which was incredible (I don’t know that I’ll write a review of this one; it’s a legend in the genre and my 500 words won’t do anything to add to the body of meaningful criticism out there). Anyway, this time I decided to go for the complete opposite film in terms of tone, motivation, and overall quality: Dracula Untold.

D U is not so much a horror movie as an action movie with a horror narrative as it’s adoptive parent. The film focuses on the 14th century Prince of Wallachia Vlad “The Impaler” Dracul, on whom the Dracula character is based. Vlad was a pretty interesting guy, and we’ll get back to that shortly. In the film, as in history, Vlad’s kingdom is being threatened by the incursion of Ottoman Turks into Europe. In the film, Vlad seeks out a legendary dark spirit from deep in the forests of Transylvania with in the hopes of gaining the strength he needs to defeat the Turks and protect Europe from a major invasion.

Dracula Untold bats

While it is rooted in traditional vampire lore, and based on an amazing passage* from Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula Untold is a whirlwind of clichés and inconsistencies that stack up to little more than a summer popcorn movie designed to fill seats with as little effort or thought as possible. There are such glaring plot holes and contradictions from scene to scene, that I’m sure this is as much a victim of it’s editing as of it’s screenplay.

In one scene, Prince Vlad uses his newfound powers to blow the clouds from in front of the sun and instantly incinerate some rival vampires who are surrounding him. They literally disintegrate into smoke and blood and ashes in seconds, while he has time to slowly turn around and look into the camera sexily while his hair slowly burns off and his skin peels a little. This level of carelessness plagues the film from the start, which is really unfortunate.

Dracula Untold Vampire

The “origin story”, if you will, of Dracula is one that we don’t really have much of in film. Usually, the Count just makes a deal with the Satan for immortality/vampire powers. In the passage below from Bram Stoker, we get an interesting take on how Dracula originated, which differs from the film. Stoker explains, through Dracula’s own narration, that the unholy vampire was born of the evolution from vicious conquering races from Europe, Asia, and Africa who came together in the haunted forests of eastern Europe and the Carpathian mountains and bred with witches, gypsies and other exiles. The literary figure of Dracula was born of viciousness and evil and dark magic and conquest.

Dracula Untold Impaled Soldiers

Anyway, I’m getting off topic but the point is the movie disregarded all that and went for the clichéd, simple deal with the devil. I think the biggest flaw of the movie is that they aim to humanize the monster. Dracula is a bad guy. We love him as the bad guy. We even root for him. And the historical figure Vlad the Impaler was among the most monstrous people in history. He held a serous grudge against the Turks and butchered and impaled tens of thousands of them. A real horror fan wants to see a monster, not a human. We shouldn’t root for him because of his admirable qualities and his nobility, we should root for him because he guzzled an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with the blood of his enemies.

  1. Is it scary? 2 – Like I said, It’s not a horror movie, It’s an action movie.
  2. Originality: 2 – It’s a dumbed-down origin of a very familiar story. Could have been very interesting and original but they went for the easy route.
  3. Blood: 3 – For a vampire movie with large battle scenes, this was disappointingly dry.
  4. Believability: 1 – Inconsistencies, plot holes and a shitty script. ‘Nuff Said
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 5 – I can’t fault them too much here. The setting was what you’d expect- Dark and creepy. The battle scenes were shot fairly well too. Nothing special though.

Final Score: 13/50

The Verdict: Don’t waste your time.

Dracula Untold Vampire 1

*From Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 1897 – Chapter 3, Jonathan Harker’s Journal

Midnight.–I have had a long talk with the Count. I asked him a few questions on Transylvania history, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In his speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, he spoke as if he had been present at them all. This he afterwards explained by saying that to a Boyar the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever he spoke of his house he always said “we”, and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking. I wish I could put down all he said exactly as he said it, for to me it was most fascinating. It seemed to have in it a whole history of the country. He grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength. One thing he said which I shall put down as nearly as I can, for it tells in its way the story of his race.

“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin game them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, aye, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the werewolves themselves had come. Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?” He held up his arms. “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back? Is it strange that when Arpad and his legions swept through the Hungarian fatherland he found us here when he reached the frontier, that the Honfoglalas was completed there?And when the Hungarian flood swept eastward, the Szekelys were claimed as kindred by the victorious Magyars, and to us for centuries was trusted the guarding of the frontier of Turkeyland. Aye, and more than that, endless duty of the frontier guard, for as the Turks say, `water sleeps, and the enemy is sleepless.’ Who more gladly than we throughout the Four Nations received the `bloody sword,’ or at its warlike call flocked quicker to the standard of the King? When was redeemed that great shame of my nation, the shame of Cassova, when the flags of the Wallach and the Magyar went down beneath the Crescent?Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkeyland, who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph! They said that he thought only of himself. Bah! What good are peasants without a leader? Where ends the war without a brain and heart to conduct it? Again, when, after the battle of Mohacs, we threw off the Hungarian yoke, we of the Dracula blood were amongst their leaders, for our spirit would not brook that we were not free. Ah, young sir, the Szekelys, and the Dracula as their heart’s blood, their brains, and their swords, can boast a record that mushroom growths like the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs can never reach. The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace, and the glories of the great races are as a tale that is told.”

Tusk (2014) Kevin Smith

Tusk Movie Poster

First, I’d like to make a quick apology to those loyal few followers of this blog. The blog has been pretty dead over the past few months. I’m living in Thailand, teaching English and I have another blog (that I’ve also been neglecting) so I’ve been pretty busy. Sorry for the hiatus. Not sure If I’ll keep up with this regularly but I felt like writing about this movie so here we are…

There are two types of people on this Earth: Those who love Kevin Smith and those who hate him. I am definitely one of them. That is, I’m not sure which group I fall into but I’m sure I’m in one of them. Traditionally, Smith has been rooted in the comedy/dramedy genre. Usually he’s at least a bit satirical. In his recent foray into horror (Red State and Tusk) he’s held on to his comedy and satire roots and against a horror backdrop.

Tusk Howard Howe

In Smith’s most recent installment, 2014’s Tusk, he makes a commentary on the direction our society is headed. And his prognosis is not good. The film is about a man named Wallace, a Howard Stern-type shock jock podcaster. In search of another weirdo to exploit and humiliate on his show, he meets a psychotic old man. The only problem is the old man has some ideas of his own and ends up doing most of the exploitation in the form of an extreme and unnecessary medical procedure.

Through the use of some flashbacks, we see that Wallace has sold out his nice-guy past and become a rude, cruel asshole with a microphone who is infamous for mocking strange or weird people on his show. Essentially we see this man, who has become a monster figuratively, becoming more and more like a literal monster. To Smith’s credit, we really dislike the guy at the beginning of the film and throughout his ordeal as he physically becomes more and more monstrous, his humanity is revealed and we begin to sympathize with him. It’s an interesting twist.

Tusk Wheelchair

Lets not get too sappy though. This is still a Kevin Smith movie. And a pretty serious body-horror nightmare. Even Smith’s comedies are – we’ll say unpleasant – so you can imagine how his horror movies are. This one is downright disturbing. If you can sit through this without squirming in your seat, you should probably get checked by a psychiatrist. To pull it all together, if the same film was made by another director, it would probably be a piece of shit. But we know its Kevin Smith. We know he’s making a statement about something rather than just making a scary movie. It’s not meant to be taken seriously or literally. This one sets out to be upsetting, and it achieves its goal in a big way.

Here’s a quick note: I really, really wanted to include some pictures of the “after the experiment” part of the movie, but it would really ruin the effect so just go watch it yourself.

  1. Is it scary? 6 – It’s not that scary but it’s definitely unsettling. If you showed it to a kid on Sunday night, you’d be getting a call from the guidance counselor pretty early Monday morning.
  2. Originality: 6 – Not sure what to say about this. It’s a bit like Human centipede meets Steve Irwin, but it’s done in an unfamiliar way. Definitely not something I’ve seen before
  3. Blood: 5 – There are some scenes that are pretty bloody, and the result of the ‘medical experiment’ is disgusting. Respectable score here.
  4. Believability: 3 – I don’t think I need to explain myself too much. The dialogue was clever (par for the course for KS) but the storyline isn’t realistic.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6 – Smith does a pretty good job here. The tone of the scary scenes is dark and that shows in the cinematography.

Final Score: 26/50

Tusk Dark

The ABC’s of Death (2012) – Various Directors

Image

Have you ever been to one of those little self-serve frozen yogurt places? You know, those “healthy”, “don’t worry, it’s fat-free yogurt” places. You pump out your own fro-yo from the soft serve machine and then you get to pick out your own toppings from the little candy-salad bar. Next thing you know your “fat-free” desert has gummy bears, Oreos, Butterfingers, peanut butter cups, skittles and little marshmallows on it. And you have a full blown case of diabetes. The point is, mixing too many good things together takes away from the whole. That cup of yogurt and candy is probably pretty good, but you would have done better to stick with one theme and do it really well.

That awkward metaphor, and this awkward transition, represents my thoughts on the 2012 horror anthology The ABC’s of Death. 26 letters in the alphabet, 26 horror films  created by 26 different directors from all around the world. I do have to give them props for ambition and for originality, but it’s very difficult to make 26 two-five-minute films work cohesively together. The only theme connecting them was that each film was about something from each letter in the alphabet, for example, “Z is for Zombie”. The cool part is that you don’t get the title until after each short is over.

Image

A few of these movies were really fantastic, either for being genuinely scary or just very clever and well-done short films. Some of them were funny, some were confusing, and some were really just pretty stupid. Obviously I can’t do a synopsis of each film, and quite a few of them have really great twist endings so I don’t even want to go too far into any. There were 3 films that stood out as my favorites though. There’s one about a kid who’s afraid to sit on the toilet, one about a man and a dog in a fight to the death, and one about the end of the world. Other less remarkable films include topics such as deadly farts that engulf a whole city, vampires, zombie clowns, a masturbation contest, and a piece of shit that just won’t flush.

A lot of the films are overly grotesque and shocking. We don’t have a lot of time for build up so we need to dive right into the good stuff. Most of them have subtitles. A few have no dialogue whatsoever.

Image

From what I understand, each director was assigned a letter and really given carte blanche to just make a film about something that starts with that letter. It was great to see 26 different answers to essentially the same question. The film as a whole is a tribute to ADHD and a not so gentle reminder that people from Japan are fucking crazy. Well actually people from all over the world are pretty crazy, but the ones from Japan are the best at it.  

To sum up, I think this was ambitious and it was a very cool experiment. We got a chance to see some of the best current horror directors show off their chops in a condensed format. I hear there’s another one in the works. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out. I think there is a lot to improve upon, but I really like the idea.

  1. Is it scary? 4 Overall, not that scary, there were a few films that got under my skin but mostly they went for cheap, gross-out stuff and bad humor.
  2. Originality: 10– I have to give them credit here. The whole project was pretty original and there were lots of very cool and original ideas throughout, regardless of how good each film was.
  3. Blood: 7- Some had lots and lots of blood, some had no blood, Most had at least some, so I think this is going to skew towards the high end of the score.
  4. Believability: 5-It’s very difficult to give a believability score here. Some of the films were intentionally over the top. I think we’ll stick with average and call it a day.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 7- Overall, we saw lots of cool settings and there was some amazing cinematography. One of my favorites (the one about the dogfight) was shot entirely in slow motion with some really cool close-ups.                                             

Final Score: 33/50

 Image

Under the Bed (2012) – Stephen C. Miller

Image

In 1989, something amazing happened- something that changed the course of history and forever altered the way we look at cinema, art and culture. Since then, it has stood as a pinnacle of the achievements of the western world. It’s basically the American Great Wall of China. I’m talking about the movie Little Monsters (by the way, this blog is not about that film). Not only could this movie stop a horde of screaming Mongol invaders, but you can actually see it from space (If equipped with a large enough scree pointed up into the sky.) It’s about a kid and his brother (Fred and Ben Savage) who get visited at night by a lovable, mischievous monster (Howie Mandel) who travels to their world from under the bed. They run into some trouble and have to try save each other, and there’s a great Talking Heads song at the end. If you’ve never seen this gem, I thoroughly recommend it. It might look like a kids movie (and I guess it is) but it holds up very, very well. 

Anyway, some time passed by and director Steven C. Miller decides he’s going to take this basic formula and change it from a late 80’s story about friendship, courage, sacrifice, etc. into a legit, serious horror movie: 2012’s Under the Bed. Miller boils down the framework of Little Monsters and adds in a traumatic back story, a little blood, and some psychological/ mysterious grit. Unfortunately, I don’t think he pulls it off. It’s almost like the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s heavy on the melodrama and it moves at a slow, brooding pace. Some of the plotlines were confusing and lead nowhere. Miller’s directing was strong though and it leads me to believe this one might have gotten ass-raped in the editing room. (Though it certainly has other issues). Overall, I wanted to like it, but they didn’t make it easy for me.

Image

The movie opens with our hero Neal, returning home after an extended time away. We find out that his mother died tragically and he was in some way involved. He comes home to a new step mom, a frustrated father and a relieved, but troubled younger brother Paulie. Turns out that something has been visiting Paulie from under his bed at night and that Neal used to have the same visitor before his undisclosed traumatic event. The bros decide to figure out what this thing is and why it comes to them at night. Their behavior is causing problems at school and at home and dad and stepmom are not putting up with it anymore. They decide that this thing is dangerous and needs to be killed. So they try to go in under the bed and defeat this thing on its own turf. (In broad strokes, this the exact plot of Little Monsters– even down to the un-understanding father (played by Daniel Stern in LM) The Stepmom even refers to Paulie and Neal  as “little monsters” at one point. This is not a coincidence.

Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much of either movie. Under the Bed is all slow, methodical build up for the first hour and ten, and then Boom- Payoff. The last 15 minutes or is balls to the wall. It gets pretty intense and even a little scary, and we finally see all the blood we’d been waiting for, but it’s really too little too late.  By this point I was literally fighting to keep my eyes open..

Image     

I think my biggest problem with the movie was how these events and plot points were revealed. I felt like they were holding a carrot out in front of us the whole time.  And the way it played out to me didn’t even make sense. It was like they gave 5 people an outline of a movie and had them each write 20 minutes of it in separate rooms without consulting each other.

Like I said, despite the structural issues, I think this movie was directed well and it had potential. I think another round of script revisions pre-filming to keep the pace more active would have done wonders for this film. You could basically watch the last 35 mins of the film and get the same experience. Not only did they wait till the end to give us all the action, they waited too long to give us the twist (for lack of a better word).

The basic flow of any story or movie is to have it basically look like a heartbeat monitor. Peaks and valleys of intensity that slowly progress into the big one. This movie would look like a dead guy who got one good jolt from the defibrillators after arriving, flat-lined in the ICU. And bad news, they couldn’t save him.

  1. Is it scary? 3There are some scary bits towards the end and a few creepy scenes throughout, but it just didn’t do it for me.
  2. Originality: 3– I mean, it was a crappy un-remake of a great movie. They tried to put a new spin on it. I’ll give them that.
  3. Blood: 4– There was definitely some surprise gore at the very end but it wasn’t enough to get a good score here.
  4. Believability: 5Though I was frequently distracted by some plot lines that went nowhere, I think this one was ok in this department.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6– Nothing amazing here. I like the idea of the sterile, cold, suburban house being set against this nightmare, though.                                                                                                                                   

Final Score: 21            

Image

Inside (À l’intérieur) (2007) – Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

Image

Well, you’ve done it again, France. You’ve come up with another twisted, brutal, gory movie in which the main character is literally soaked head to toe in blood by the time it’s over. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury teamed up to direct 2007 pre-natal nightmare, Inside. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl, boy bangs girl, girl gets pregnant, strange woman attempts to cut open girl with scissors and steal her unborn child. And in typical French horror fashion, this thing is goddamn vicious and disgusting from start to finish. I’m not one to turn up my nose at anything horror/blood related but you could make the argument that this movie was too bloody. It got to a point where it was just shock value. By the end of the movie, the guts and gore are the central focus, not the story.

That being said, it’s definitely a terrifying film. They get you right into this woman’s head and you can feel what she feels. Alone, defenseless, and at the mercy (or lack thereof) of a maniac who wants to cut her open and steal her kid. Now, I should mention, that they back away from this a bit in the second half of the film in order to introduce a few more characters/corpses, and to dump buckets of blood, brains onto everyone. Bustillo and Maury do a great job of getting us into this woman’s head though. Every other shot is her blood-soaked face screaming in terror. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I think they could have kept up with that angle towards the end and pumped the brakes on the guts by about 15%. I think that was what made the movie good, not the shock and awe of bodily fluids flooding an apartment.

Image

 So the opening scene of the movie is a head-on car crash. We see Sarah, our pregnant heroine, soaked in blood behind the wheel of a crumpled car with her dead husband in the passenger seat. Fast-forward 4 months and we see Sarah on the day before she will go to deliver her baby. We meet her mom and her new squeeze at work. Then she goes home to rest before her big day. When she’s about to go to bed, there’s a knock at the door. A woman starts harassing her and trying to get in the door. The woman eventually gets inside and stands over Sarah while she sleeps for a while being super creepy and sinister. Then all hell breaks loose. Homegirl grabs a big shiny pair of knitting scissors and tries to cut Sarah’s bulging belly open. They struggle for a while and Sarah locks herself in the bathroom.

A few visitors come over to check on Sarah, including the police, but most of them get dispatched in horrible and disgusting ways. Finally, Sarah learns very early that a mother’s work is never done. She determines that nobody is going to help her and she has to clean up this mess herself. Armed with a can of Lysol (weapon of choice for most moms according to TV commercials), a lighter and a big knife on a stick, she tries to defeat this crazy dark woman who wants to steal her baby.

Image

There’s something about blood and gore in a zombie movie or even an action movie that doesn’t seem real. When it’s in a movie like this where it’s 100% plausible and it’s happening to a real(ish) person, it hits a lot closer to home. That’s what this movie was aiming for. They want you to be upset. They want you to squirm and cover your eyes. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re desensitized to things that shocked and scared us even 20 or 30 years ago. But I don’t know that filling a bath tub with fake blood and having everyone in the movie splash around in it is the way to make a movie scary. I have nothing against it; I just think that that’s not the best way to make a film scary. That’s like the Howard Stern of horror movies.

Shock value aside, the movie is terrifying. You’re right in the house with these two women. Trapped in the dark and helpless. You have to give them credit for sticking to their guns though. They certainly pull no punches and they continue to ramp up the carnage until the bitter end.

Overall, it was a great, scary, modern horror movie. Though all the blood gave me a bit of a ‘style over substance’ kind of feeling.

  1. Is it scary? 6Intense and suspenseful throughout. The viscous scenes alone are enough to give you nightmares.  
  2. Originality: 5– There really wasn’t much to this one. The plot was simple and unique. It’s really a clever twist on the “home invasion” genre so no big points here.
  3. Blood: 10– I’m giving this one the rare 10 because I really don’t think you can go 3 minutes without seeing buckets of blood.  
  4. Believability: 5– At the beginning, it was so simple that it had to work. Then as new characters get introduced, things get a little out of hand, but for the most part, I bought what they were selling.  
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 7- The cinematography and lighting was one of the best parts of this movie. Everything is dark and gloomy and creepy. Then you have these shots of light and bright red blood on the pale, dark apartment. Visually, they did an amazing job.

 

Final Score: 26/50  

Image      

Sleepaway Camp (1983) – Robert Hiltzik

Image

If I was one of those toothless old miners who sift through muddy river water for gold pieces in the 1800s, I’d be yelling out, “Paydirt” right now. Robert Hiltzik’s 1983 slasher classic Sleepaway Camp is an 80’s B-movie gold mine. Even though it’s a flagrant knock off of the events at Camp Crystal Lake 3 years before (I’m talking about Friday the 13th), this film has its own charm and its own special place in our twisted little hearts. On paper, everything is just wrong with this movie. The writing and the acting are horrendous. And it feels like it was directed by a bar of soap with a learning disability. But like so many 80’s classics, this film works in spite of itself. And you have to give them credit for the final frame of the movie. For my money, it’s the scariest single moment/shot of the 1980’s. No other scene from a movie haunted me so much growing up.

I think the reason these terrible 80’s movies worked was that they were still inventing the mold that we just see on every horror movie today. They were still fumbling through it and creating the genre as we know it today. So even though this film was largely lifted from F13, it still felt genuine in a way. Hiltzik was still fumbling to figure it out what this whole slasher thing was going to be. Kind of reminds you of the award, pubescent kids in this movie trying to fumble around and figure out how to take off the bra of the girl from Bunk 15.

Image

In broad strokes, the plot is fairly familiar (even if you haven’t seen Friday the 13th). The movie opens with a boating accident in which a father and a young child are killed by some negligent and horny teens on a speed boat. Fast forward a few years. Cousins Angela and Ricky get sent off to summer camp by the world’s most insane and creepy mother. It’s unclear exactly how the 2 plotlines go together. So Angela is really shy and quiet at camp and her cousin Ricky has to constantly defend her from cruel camp bullies (and a hall-of-fame sexual predator/camp cook who whips his dick out to Angela after 5 seconds of alone time in the walk-in refrigerator.) This man also refers to the young campers as “baldies” and remarks that no age is too young for him. Basically people keep picking on Angela, then Ricky intervenes, swears, punches, etc. Then those people end up dead. We never get to see who the killer is until the very end. And even if you think you’ve figured it out, there’s a twist. Again, this is reminiscent of F13, but it’s not what you think.

Now, this movie is unapologetically 80’s (if 80’s can be used as an adjective-and I think it can.) The costumes worn by the characters are just ridiculous. I wasn’t very old in the 80’s but I find it hard to believe that people actually dressed like this.  The whole thing feels like a PG-13 attempt at a gay porno. In almost every scene in this movie, there are beefy, hunky, sweaty men in cut-off belly t-shirts and short shorts that would make the local Hooters Restaurant look like a monastery. I’m not joking, you can literally see dudes butt cheeks hanging out the bottom of their shorts. There’s a scene where the guys try to get the girls to to skinny dipping, but none of the girls want to go, SO ALL THE GUYS JUST GET NAKED AND JUMP IN TH E LAKE TOGETHER. Maybe we’re too uptight these days and that’s just how it was in the 80’s (and Ancient Greece).

Image

I think the point is that when Sleepaway Camp is doing horror movie stuff, it is excellent, but the minute we get into extraneous plotlines, the whole thing rapidly devolves into Elton John’s wet dream. If anything, I’ll say that they could have pushed the envelope a bit more in terms of the violence. Most of the violence happened just off camera, Like in a Hitchcock film. We saw shadows and hands and feet squuirming but very little direct violence. I guess it’s tough when the average age of your victim is like 15. People really don’t want to see that. Though the implied violence is definitely pretty intense.

Overall, I think Sleepaway Camp is one that we love for its flaws and its accidental success. By all rights it should have been a failure but it fit so well in its little place in time that any logical improvements would actually take away from the overall effect. This whole movie is a giant set up for the punch line at the end. And it’s totally worth it.

  1. Is it scary: 7- Up until the final scene I’d give it a 2. But that fucking thing scared the shit out of me the first time I saw it.  
  2. Originality: 4 – It’s like they weren’t even trying. The twist at the end is worth a point or two though.
  3. Blood: 3- There is a lot of implied violence but you see almost none of it. Even for that I have to give it something because some of the murders were particularly gruesome. Our minds still fill in the gaps.
  4. Believability: 3- Script and acting needed a lot of work. But like I said, we loved this one for how shitty it was.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 4- Nothing fancy here. Just some kids in the woods.  They could have made it scarier with some lighting.

 

Final Score: 21/50        

Image