WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mid Life Crisis With A Side Of Slasher: The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

The Ice Cream Truck (2017)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Deanna Russo, Emil Johnsen, John Redlinger

Wow, is it just me? Or is every slasher film made that had something to do with ice cream so...weird?

Mary is a 30 plus year old house wife, mother and struggling writer rolled into one, moving from the big city to a surburban neighborhood for a fresh start. The best she could describe her new abode is quaint, perhaps a bit too quaint as the most excitement she could get out of it while waiting for her husband and children to arrive are her nosy neighbors and an odd ice cream man creepily driving around town.

Initially bored out of her noggin, Mary soon gets the attention of Max, the teenage son of one of the neighbors, and what started as a friendly flirting between the two eventually develops into an affair that Mary herself is unsure whether to proceed to or not. But whatever decision she has to make, she better do it quick as the soft spoken aforementioned ice cream man turns out to be a maniac hunting down teenagers to mix in his ice cream and it appears Mary might be next on his chopping block.

To call The Ice Cream Truck a slasher is only a small portion of the truth. In fact, it's so damn small that I swear I forgot I was watching a slasher and instead watching an altogether different kind of horror flick: a drama.

It's strange, really, but the direction done for The Ice Cream Truck was more of a situational study than a narrative focusing on bringing bloody horror and exploitative fun, as the plot focuses more on what our protagonist is willing to do just to kill time, no matter how flawed it is morally. It doesn't make her your typical goodie-goodie horror flick final girl, nor can we really defend her all the way due to her actions, in turn, but I guess the point of this drama was to create a sort of realistic portrayal for us to observe, revolving around someone who gave up their youthful freedom early in their life, only to try to get it back in what I could be considered as a premature mid-life crisis where they should have surpassed such desires. It's an intriguing notion and  Deanna Russo's performance was pretty spot-on with the kind of character she is portraying, but I can't help but feel that the commentary lacks any real substance as the inclusion of the slasher elements often distract and hinder any further development of this situation realistically.

On the horror spectrum of all things, Emil Johnsen plays our killer ice cream man and all I can say about him is that he gave the character a mysterious mellow personality. We don't have much to go with in terms of this character's motive except to kill teenagers to seemingly mix in with his ice cream for flavor (something that was already done in another ice cream-themed slasher back at 1995, Ice Cream Man), but I got a soft spot for mysterious killers and I have a feeling this guy wasn't given enough treatment to show what he is really capable of.

He, along with whatever slasher elements Ice Cream Truck have to offer, are more or less pushed to the side as a sub-plot, one that was only brought up every after a third of the running time. Whenever we do get these scenes though, I am pretty impressed with their bloody and cheesy executions, a fair reason why I'm a bit down with the fact that we don't get enough of them in the entire film. There's also the matter that the story seems to be building up to what could be a life-changing encounter between Mary and our homicidal ice cream man, but an odd twist ending not only renders this pointless, but opens more questions as to what really happened in the entire movie. ( I have my theories, though...)

In practice, a drama/slasher hybrid is not impossible if you get a chance to see the obscure slasher "Some Guy Who Kills People"; in that film, we watch a possible vengeful man kill his way through high school bullies, only to have his killing spree halted by the arrival of his runaway daughter. This odd plot warmly balances bodycount thrills, offbeat dark humor and a situational study about an antagonistic lead trying to change his way for the better, thus resulting to a good set of likable characters with chemistry and a story that we can comfortably follow both for its drama and horror elements. Ice Cream Truck, unfortunately, misses its mark to even out and amalgamate its commentaries with hack'n slash action, resulting to a mixed bag of good drama and underwhelming  horror. If anything, I personally believe this film will benefit better as a straight drama, ditching the slasher and his flesh-flavored ice cream altogether, in favor of continuing with its in-depth look of maternal and spousal crisis.

With a splendid looking production, Ice Cream Truck is far from a terrible movie, but it is partially misguided in terms of what it really wanted to be. If you happen to like independent drama with a strange twist of bloodshed, or just have an acquired taste for structure-breaking horror flicks (with varying level of success), then why not give this sweet deal a try?

Bodycount:
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male stabbed on the gut with an ice cream scooper
1 female repeatedly stabbed on the head with an ice cream scooper
1 male knifed to death
1 male lobotomized with an electronic shake mixer
Total: 5

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The 22.5th Day of Spring: Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Stan Shaw, Gabrielle Haugh, Brandon Smith

Every 23rd Spring, for 23 days, a flesh-eating flying humanoid simply known as The Creeper goes to hunt, kill and eat the victims it frightens for parts that it likes.

This is a key lore established within the first Jeepers Creepers movie back at 2001 and it was meant to discourage any sequels from ever happening. The sleeper success of this slasher/monster hybrid, however, meant bending the rules or at least finding some loopholes, thus comes Jeepers Creepers II two years later, wherein most of the plot takes place within the 23rd day of the monster's feeding cycle. This on its own also meant seeing The Creeper up and murdering folks for yummy bloody nibblets in another movie will be a further stretch, which again should have killed off any more chances of another follow-ups from being developed. (Unless, of course, some producer and/or director will be patient enough to wait exactly 23 years later to bring back The Creeper. If that is true, Hollywood probably ran out of ideas by then...)

Talks about a third film, however, still persisted with ideas ranging from it being a possible prequel taking place in the Old West (which in itself sounds awesome) to a possible time jump 23 years later wherein the surviving girl from the first movie is now a grown adult plotting revenge against The Creeper. Fourteen years later, we somehow did get a Jeepers Creepers 3 and it's a pretty long time itself to follow-up a movie last seen back at 2003, but looking back at films like Psycho II (1983) or, in a meta kind of way, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), there is a chance that it will be great, if not just good, right? Right?

Right?

...Yeah, why the hell would it?

Jeepers Creepers 3 is a film that's probably quite difficult to follow unless you've seen the first two in the franchise as it takes place slab-dab in the middle of both in terms of continuity. It starts just minutes or hours after the ending of the original with a responding SWAT team surrounding The Creeper's infamous BEATINGU truck and painfully learning that it's rigged to the teeth with traps. In shock of what just and still transpiring that night is Sgt Tubbs (Brandon Smith) who will soon find out that he is roped into something that's have been going on for years when Sheriff Tashtego (Stan Shaw) and his group of Anti-Creeper hunters show up and basically gave our sergeant a crash course of what they know about the creature so far. (Which can be easily summed up to "it eats people, it's not human and it has done this before")

As Tubbs and Tashtego join forces and plan on killing The Creeper for good the following morning, said monster busies itself by hunting down some teenagers to eat. Eventually added to its little hoard of abducted organ donors is young local horse rider Addison (Gabrielle Haugh), whose grandmother, Gaylen Brandon (Meg Foster), had a son that The Creeper murdered many years ago. Why is this little tidbit important? Well, apart from Gramma Brandon being a part of Tashtego's team and that she's sortah driven insane (or haunted, whichever one works) by a ghostly vision resembling her late boy, she also just uncovered something her son buried in their property before he got taken away. Something that might just explain what The Creeper is and she is ready to use it against our flesh-eating monster.

Seeing I am a fan of the first two films, I guess it's only fair that I start with what I enjoyed about this movie in my sincerest. First of which will be Jonathan Breck returning to don the winged monster make-up for the third time and his performance here as our humanoid hell bat-thingie is still spot-on with his takes from the previous two films, though less creeping in the shadows, less "playful", and seemingly more hands-on with its weapons. Apart from this, I also like the fact that the creature's truck kinda became its own villain as it is shown to have a level of sentience, capable of moving or defending its own via traps that are just otherwordly, unless harpoons can be installed to shoot out of working exhaust pipes, or metal spikes can drop down from truck doors out of nowhere.

Sadly, actual scenes involving the creature quickly became an issue for me as the movie's low budget and odd choice to film it in the day meant every little time we get to see The Creeper in action, we would also be constantly looking at the awfully cheap make-up effects, so much so that I can actually see how rushed and flaky it is during close-up scenes. Whatever CG done for the creature's more monstrous features (as in scenes where its wings are shown and in use, or that awkward looking "third nostril") also horribly resembles those from the worst SYFY TV movies due to the budget, much more to my further disappointment that same can be said to the BEATINGU truck's would-be wonderful cavalcade of traps, leaving many scenes that would have been pretty awesome terribly cartoonish and wrongfully hilarious. Sadly, this is only the tip of the problematic iceberg that is Jeepers Creepers 3 as the more I dwell into the movie, the further the issues I have with this sequel get sourer.

With so much going on from a gang of anti-Creeper hunters lead by a sheriff who clearly have dealt with this thing before to a nearly-insane woman finding out that her late son buried *spoiler alert* one of The Creeper's dismembered hand that apparently has the ability to feed information about the Creeper to another individual just by touching it, clearly this third entry was trying to set us up with the origins of our monster. After all of that scaling and planning, though, not only are we not- I repeat, NOT- shown or at least hinted to what our villain is, but our supposed protagonists seemingly did little to whatever information they gained and more or less just went on attacking the monster with machine guns that we all already know will do little to the creature nor to its suddenly bulletproof truck. Now, I say "seemingly" because one of them did try to do something about what they learned and it is perhaps the dumbest shit you could ever do: leave The Creeper's dismembered hand (y'know the hand that can feed secrets about its previous owner to just about anyone via touch) on an open field, above a letter that basically says "we know what you are", for the Creeper to find and read.

Can you guess what happened next? Well, now angered that someone knows its secrets, our monster does its own impression of Star Wars Episode III Darth Vader going "Noooooo!!!!" after breaking the hand apart, leaving the rest of the world back to square one and the only idiot that perhaps knows how to kill this thing is the town loonie. So, again, instead of keeping the hand to have it pass its knowledge to more competent hunters to prepare for this thing's return 23 years later, the idiot decided to leave it in the open for the monster to find and destroy. Oh, what's that? This action serves as our protagonists' way of warning The Creeper to stay away from them since they are now armed with the knowledge on how exactly they can finish it for good? Well, what fucking worth is that because from what I just saw, The Creeper have no problem killing off those who just learned its secrets as it easily just battle axed one of them in the face and it is hinted that our Brandon boy knew and, hell, he's dead. So, yeah, let this sink in. Let all of this fucking sink in.

This utter garbage of a finale is so hard to forgive since the rest of the movie is mostly mediocre, if not embarrassing to watch. The actors and actresses involved are okay but I couldn't ground myself to their cookie cutter personalities and flat portrayal no matter how much they flap their mouths about killing The Creeper, talking about The Creeper or even them simply talking about their daily lives before being victimized by this monster. You can only do so much exposition from one character or a group before it gets tiring. Does anything these people would matter in the end, even? I mean, this is a fucking midquel, you know damn well it's gonna fail coz that flying bat-thingie they're trying to destroy is up and stalking around in Jeepers Creepers II! (And speaking of which, really movie? You have the audacity to tie one of your characters with the group victimized by The Creeper in the second? Well that's fine and dandy except for one issue: if he had seen all of this before, why the flying fucking hell was he not doing or saying anything in the Jeepers Creepers II?!

The least this film could do is give us some good scares, monster scenes or even kills but, no. The film couldn't even afford that, nor do they have the capable brain cells to spare for at least that. Even if these Creeper movies weren't really all that focused on gory deaths, they instead try their best to work with the creep factor or otherworldly imagery, something that Jeepers Creepers 3 lacks as its tone felt rushed as if they weren't really prepared what to do in this entry. It lacks proper blood works, scares and the kills are hardly inventive and drier than a bag of month-old trail mix.

I guess I'm being critical because I really wanted this movie to work. The first two Jeepers Creepers have a special place in my entire person as one of the few monster movies I get to grow up with. (Hell, the DVD of the first film my dad brought home one day during my grade school years still sits among my horror collection. And the best part is, it still works!...I think...I need to check up on that) Jeepers Creepers 3, unfortunately, missed a lot of marks and its overall production have this nagging feeling that they simply did this to pander to its fans but lacking a real heart and dedication to it. It's movies like this that hammers my beliefs that no franchise can ever be perfect as there will always be that one black sheep among the flock that someone will try to avoid. To the folks behind Jeepers Creepers 3? Please stay down and don't come back until 23 years later. That'll give you enough time to think about this piece of celluloid trash before you jump in to that hinted Jeepers Creepers 4 you squeezed in the end...

Bodycount:
1 male snatched, killed offcamera
1 male snatched, killed offcamera
1 male found killed, method unknown
2 males skewered by a thrown spear
1 male snatched, killed offscreen
1 male killed, seen bloodied
1 male impaled through the head by a projected spike
1 male seen killed
1 victim stabbed with a dagger
2 males shot dead by bounced bullets
1 male gets a battle axe to the face
1 male attacked, killed offscreen
Total: 14

Friday, November 24, 2017

Preying For A Good Home Invasion: The Strangers: Prey At Night Trailer Thoughts


So, it took ten years for The Strangers to come up and finish a sequel. Well, basing my experience with other sequels and meta-sequels that took their sweet time following up a movie (Psycho II, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Phantasm V: Oblivion and Jeepers Creepers 3) I'm both excited and rightfully nervous, if not terrified of the notion of it flopping. (The latter thanks to the latter two movies mentioned. Worst. Sequels. Ever.)

So far, I can tell that The Strangers: Prey At Night may do more slasher-lite stalking and killing. I could be wrong, of course, since the trailer for the first The Strangers (2008) did made itself look like one, but unlike that film, this entry seems to have more characters in play so here's hoping to a considerable bodycount and more hack'n slashing action.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Filipino Maniac: Basag Ang Pula (1984)

Basag ang Pula (Philippines, 1984)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Ace Vergel, Snooky Serna, Liza Lorena

(Before I start, I would like to give a big shout out to Jenny Lo for helping me finally see a copy of this surpringly hard-to-find film! It's people like her why I'm proud to be one with the horror community!)

It's quite a shame my home country, the Philippines, never have that much of a demand for gory slasher flicks because rare cheesy gems like Basag Ang Pula shows that, if we really put a lot of effort to it, we could do a fun and messy bodycounter.

Basag starts with a treat by taking a varying stab on a well-known Filipino urban legend; a father drives to a party to pick up his teenage daughter only for their car to run out of gas while enroute back home. The father decided to get out to find fuel, leaving his daughter inside the car to have someone guard it. This eventually proves to be a terrible idea when a crazed man suddenly attacks the car, frightening the girl into hysterics. The cherry on top? The man slowly reveals that he just freshly decapitated her father and he has the keys...

Another offscreen death and an opening credit later, the crime scene is now swarmed by cops, reporters and curious cats alike, and though they are baffled by the lack of motive for the killings, they are certain this is the work of the same maniac who apparently have been murdering folks around the city recently.

The following morning comes with us watching our killer, Fernando, living his day catching and torturing rats while experiencing horrid childhood flashbacks. Later that very night, he ventures off to do some more human hunting, this time cock-blocking a horny pair of teenagers before fatally stabbing the boy and chasing the girl into the streets when she escapes. The screaming and struggles draw the attention of patrolling officials, however, prompting Fernando to back off and hide inside a school bus where he murders the driver after the man threatens to tell on the cops.

In a stroke of luck, the bus turns out to be a hired transport for a large group of high school girls attending a retreat and Fernando seizes the opportunity to pretend as the murdered driver's nephew to drive all the way to another city, escaping possible capture. Of course, it wasn't long before he can't hold back his murderous impulses once he and the class reach the retreat and the need to start another killing spree catches up to him soon.

While not necessarily a great movie per se, Basag ang Pula does work as a cheesy exploitation flick, somewhat bringing an amount of grit and teeth to an otherwise cheddar-tainted story of an opportunistic murderer slaying his way through a class full of party and/or sex-hungry teenagers. (And teachers) It could have been nothing but hokey hamminess comparable to some late 80s American school girl-in-peril slashers such as School Girl Screamers (1986), Blood Sisters (1987) and The Last Slumber Party (1988), with some scenes actually looking like it was going for that kind of mess (An Ouija board scene between the girls and their recently murdered classmate, anyone? How about a bonfire dance-off between the class goof and the local retard?), but Basag found a way to present itself as this dirty and grim looking creature for over most of the movie's entire run, mainly thanks to our villain's unsettling character and the sheer relentlessness of his attacks, elements played the straightest and grounded Basag in place as a genuine horror movie.

Though our villain is nothing anywhere as remarkable and noteworthy as many masked slashers reigning the box offices of their time, his seemingly unprovoked killing streak and often robotic personality (courtesy of actor, Ace Vergel) gave him an unpredictable edge, resulting to a rather sizable killcount consisting of often brutal dispatches without being that gory or inventive. (our killer only wielded two murder weapons: a hunting knife and, later, an automatic rifle) Two notable occasions Basag showed some worth for shock value were the beheading reveal at its opening scene and one part in the middle of the movie where a mentally handicapped man found himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time and at the bad end of the blade.

If there's anything that doesn't really help our antagonist stand above other slashers villains, it would be the climactic reveal of how exactly Fernando became this unhinged wherein his reasons and accompanying flashbacks reveal a tragic romance gone fatal, a cliche nearly as overused as the abusive parental figure when it comes to past traumas. This did lead to a minor mystery whether one girl in the retreat may or may not be Fernando's tragic lover who mysteriously disappeared from his life, but the lack of focus on this supposed sub-plot made it pretty weak and corny, succeeding only to give our killer a reason to hold back on committing a complete stab-a-thon.

Oddly, too, is that Basag's also one of the few slasher titles that spent a good amount on writing and building up a possible final girl among its characters, only for her to be tossed aside in the last act and have the movie stretch 20 minutes more to switch from "horror" to "action thriller", with Fernando arming himself with a semi-automatic and shooting down armed cops on pursuit. It's certainly a curveball I never saw coming from this film (though it is nothing really new for me. Gotta blame Severance (2003) and The Majorettes (1987) for that one), but I overly enjoy its sheer silliness and macho-inducing reek, a kind of nostalgic grandeur of over-the-top entertainment that only vintage Filipino exploitation flicks can induce.

A rough little gem of a rare slasher, Basag Ang Pula was a challenge to find but I can honestly say that the hunt was well worth it. Cheesy and grim in the right balance, this is one foreign entry that deserves a quick look for all slasher completists and horror purists.

Bodycount:
1 male head seen
1 female murdered offscreen
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 male had his chest dragged open with a knife
1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 female killed, blood spill seen
1 female stabbed with a knife
1 male stabbed in the gut with a knife
1 female stabbed in the head with a knife
1 male knifed in the nape
1 female stabbed on the gut with a knife
1 female mentioned killed
1 male stabbed to death with a knife
1 male stabbed to death with a knife
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
Total: 17

Monday, November 20, 2017

Short Shear Terror: Chainsaw (2015)

Chainsaw (2015)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  James Frey, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Logan Paul

Eight and a half minutes long. Produced by Eli Roth of the Hostel franchise. Yep. This is gonna be a fun one.

At a seaside funfair, a man with a chainsaw nonchalantly walks to the backroom of a haunted house attraction, apparently to work as a hired spook. Of course, with the man's quite demeanor (and this being a short horror flick), we all can tell something's not right and dismemberment soon happens left and right.

Originally made as a sort of sneak peek for a possible feature film, Chainsaw has quite a simple premise that harks back to classic horror stories of dark rides with deadly little secrets. It's pretty straightforward to what it wanted to do and we can easily tell this with the killer's quick succession of murdering five victims in such a short running time. Some may find this predictable and I will not argue with that fact, but this little devil packed enough blood and guts to satisfy bloodthirsty gorehounds and I like the fact that they went on with it in gruesome flair and a bit of dark humor.

It's a quick slice of gory horror pie so there's also very little to argue about in terms of writing and characterization. The victims are victims, the unknowing bystanders are just unknowing bystanders, and our nameless killer is just a nameless killer, though we are shown that he likes to eat raw meat from his victims and that this little thrill kill might not be his last. Special effects are undoubtedly the short's key player as juicy red corn syrup and chunky latex parts are everywhere once the climactic slaughtering begins and even when it ends, having an artsy touch to them with nasty slow-mo close-ups that kinda reminds me of a dismemberment scene from the cheesy cult classic slasher Pieces (1982).

As of writing this, it's been two years since Chainsaw was posted at Crypt TV, a website Eli Roth co-founded. Whether the attempt to make something out of this short failed or it's taking its sweet sweet time fermenting into a genuine feature flick, I will say that this tiny terror ticked every box in making a good fun slasher. If you need quick fix of blood and body parts, then try giving this Chainsaw a gander and see the small buzz it made for itself.

Bodycount:
1 male decapitated with a chainsaw
1 male bisected on the shoulder with a chainsaw
1 female sliced in half with a chainsaw
1 female seen killed with a chainsaw
1 male seen dismembered
Total: 5

Monday, October 30, 2017

Militant Bodycounter: The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)
Rating: ****
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

One would remember Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett as the filmmaking duo responsible for the stylish and devilishly fun home invasion/slasher melting pot You're Next (2011), as well as the slow burning yet hypnotizing serial killer thriller A Horrible Way to Die (2009) and a couple of better entries for the first two V/H/S/ anthology horror movies. Now, we'll look into their 2014 hit The Guest, which is far from the standard horror flick you would expect in a slasher blog like this, but it has enough intrigue, kill count and even a few shoutouts to horror flicks to earn a warm welcome here in StickyRed.

Still mourning over the loss of their son Caleb who died in action back at Afghanistan, the Petersons get an unexpected visitor named David one early morning, claiming to be Caleb's marine buddy. He is there to look after them because their late son "asked him to", a promise our titular guest is determined to make good of and a proposition the Petersons were quick to accept.

Well, most of the Petersons: a bit suspicious of this is Anna, the only daughter of the family and now the remaining eldest. She believes there's more to David's near-perfection as a house guest than what he is showing and her suspicions are later proven pin-point, unfortunately, as David has a secret worth killing over and anybody (and I mean anybody) in the way is fair game once he believes he's compromised.

Being frank, The Guest's core plot isn't entirely new if you look back at movies like The Stepfather (1987) and its sequels (and underrated remake), as well as Mikey (1992), Orphan (2009) and many other horror flicks involving suspicious and/or murderous adoptive/adopting family members. It's quite easy to tell that something is up with David's boy-next-door persona and we are eventually made aware of this once he starts talking about acquiring guns in one scene and nonchalantly killing off the suppliers in another. Basically, we are more or less watching a ticking time bomb of a narrative that's scheduled to go off once the climactic curveball is upon us, only the wait is just as fun as the last act it is building to.

What The Guest does that not a lot of its ilk seems to grasp perfectly (or attempted at all) is create a worthwhile diversion to an otherwise predictable scenario. By this I meant that most of the time, movies like The Stepfather or Orphan gave more focus on uncovering the dark secrets of the painfully obvious offending party, molding said offending party into a much more obvious threat that needs to be stopped. In The Guest, however, even after we are made aware of David's potential murder-happy persona, we are still shown a more acceptable side of him as a man looking out for a family and doing a good job at it.

For a good mulch of the time, we see David help Laura, the mother, with the chores, taught the family's youngest Luke how to stand up against his bullies (beating a good number of them up in the process), and may have done something to have Spencer, the father, suddenly climb the corpotate ladder at his job, all of these with an uncomfortably eerie yet somewhat genuine smile and soft spoken persona only Downtown Abbey's Dan Stevens can muster with good looks and charm. It's these awesome moments that made the David character quite a likable chap, thus adding tension and mystery to the plot as we are never solidly sure what he is capable of, what he really is and/or his actual purpose being there until the hour mark. By then, The Guest turns the table against us and kinda recalls its horror elements, bringing forth an odd mix of slasher flick killing spree and action movie shoot'em up.

This transition is far from perfect as we were never given a clear explanation as to why David suddenly goes 360 from his protective big brother mode and go Terminator on everybody's arses. Yes, they did explain he is programmed by something shady and there was supposed to be a scene that go into this in more details, but Wingard and Barrett decided to cut it out to make David more mysterious. So what exactly this programming does or what it is for werenever brought up and this is understandably upsetting for some as it made the David character lazily transformed from a potential anti-hero to something of a slasher villain packing heat (And a box cutter), throwing away all of the development made just for a more explosive and exploitative final act.

Personally, the sudden transformation of both David and the subtle tone of the movie would have been upsetting for me, but seeing the layout of the story was already familiar to me genre-wise, the impact is forseen and though I do wished they planned this twist a bit better, the resulting product is still entertainingly fun and impressive.

What I personally love about The Guest, apart from Steven's portrayal as a first-likable-then-homicidal human weapon, is that it has a grooving retro feel to it from its editing to its soundtrack despite having a modernized setting, giving the entire movie a timeless feel. There's offerings for both thriller and horror enthusiasts in the later carnage as we are given a chance to see David in gunheld action, as well as him delivering some decent kills in both combustive and slicing manner, two in particular (my favorites) involve an unsettling scene where live grenades were tossed at a diner full of innocent bystanders and another at a highschool horror maze in which the film went full slasher movie on us.

Now, if there is anything that I could point as flaws that really bugged me, it'll be the Peterson parent's quick approval of having David around just because he showed little proofs that could have meant anything else. (I mean, did David really got those dog tags from Caleb the way he explained it?) It's a typical horror cliche of "useless/clueless adults" which mostly sets grown ups as deserving meat for the slaughter for being blind of the danger they are getting into and though I get that Mrs. Peterson might be this easily persuaded as she is still greiving over the loss of her boy, I find it too easy for Papa Peterson to be just as easily welcoming after one scene of skepticism. I guess it is a good thing that most of the focus of (kinder) David interactions were on Laura and her son Luke as they were the easiest to relate to and work the best with the kind of plotting The Guest was going for.

A fun genre film that molds the thrilling and the horrifying in one antihero-centered package, I can honestly say that The Guest is a winner in my book, whether its last act works for a lot of folks or not. If you love your good thrillers with a side of horror and character, then this one's a guaranteed definite keeper!

Bodycount:
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 male shot on the face with an automatic rifle
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 female knifed on the chest
1 male shot dead
1 male mangled in car collision, shot
1 victim implied shot, blood splatter seen
1 female shot
A number of people presumably killed in grenade explosion
1 male had this throat sliced with a box cutter
1 male had his wrist sliced open with a box cutter, bled to death
1 male implied murdered, uniform seen
Total: 15+

Monday, October 23, 2017

New Blogger Blog is a Webcomic...

So yeah, I decided to expand my next project here in Blogger for more exposure. It'll be a gag webcomic series about a demoness named Cass and her often unusual adventures living in the mortal world.

Well, try living in the mortal world...

Hope you guys will give this one a try!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dream Girls Can Be A Nightmare: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter (2017)
Rating: ****
Starring: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell

By this time, we all know babysitting's a doomed profession should you ever find yourself living in a horror film: if you're not being stalked by a maniac in a William Shatner mask, you're probably being taunted by a creepy voice on the other end of a phone call, or finding out that the kid you are looking after is really the son of the devil. Or not really a kid at all! Yep, babysitters sure get the bad end of the tooth-and-nail trappings as a horror cliche quite a lot, don't they? But what if we turn things around a bit? What if the babysitter is the bad end?

Twelve-year old Cole (Judah Lewis) is, in his and everybody else's word, a pussy. He is afraid of needles, spiders, driving a car on his own and a very dorky bully who I'm sure wouldn't last 30 seconds in a real fight. As timid as he is, Cole is still lucky as he does have a few peeps looking out for him, mainly his adorkable parents, his best (girl) friend Melanie, and Bee (Samara Weaving), his family's got-to babysitter.

Now, let's discuss Bee; of all the babysitters you'd wish be real, she is definitely one of them! Sexy, pretty, witty, blonde, hardass and badass, yet just as big of a scifi nerd as Cole is, Bee's undoubtedly too cool to hang around with a little dork like Cole but by the luck of the heavens, here she is, again happily looking after him while his parents go out for the night. (probably to have sex)

As the two have the time of their lives discussing their dream "galactic team-up", baking pizzas, watching old Westerns and talking about that cute neighbor girl who Cole may have a bit of crush on, it wasn't long before Bee temps our boy his first beer and, suspecting his babysitter's trying to get him drunk and drowzy to have her own private time, Cole feigns being sleepy so he can sneak a peek at what happens whenever he clocks out. Oh, how he wished he hadn't done that.

True enough, Bee invited some friends over for a PG-rated game of Spin the Bottle, mainly consisting of bitchy cheerleader Allison (Bella Thorne), uber jock Max (Robbie Amell), intense goth Sonya (Hana Mae Lee), the quip-ready John (Andrew Bachelor) and, an apparent new addition to the crew, dorkus magnus Samuel (Doug Haley). What should have been a hot kiss-a-thon between these slasher victim stereotypes, however, Cole instead saw them murder Samuel for a blood ritual and it seems they'll be needing one more thing to complete it: the blood of an innocent. AKA Cole's.

From there, The Babysitter transforms from a dorky coming-of-age story for the millennial youth nerd to something I like to call a "reverse slasher", wherein Bee's group of atypical (and mostly stupid) maniacs hunts down Cole after he is made aware of their secret blood pact with the underworld and it is up to the kid to stop them with any means necessary, apparently including blowing one up with a fat firecracker. It's a twist on the old bodycount flick that, though isn't new (see Hunter's Blood (1987), Psympatico (2014) and, at some extent, You're Next (2011)), still delivers all the gooey red fun and thrilling chases a by-the-book slasher could, with a bonus genuine Edgar Wright/John Hughes-inspired comedy that a bit of a rarity nowadays.

A fun thing about The Babysitter is that, early on, it has the makings of a loud, brash and obnoxious teen horror flick that could have tried too hard that it'll flop. Infested with pop songs and psuedo-referential preteen dialogue, dragging along some crazy visuals and camera effects for the sake of being hip and fun, one would have assume it would go downhill after 10 to 30 minutes but, quite surprisingly, not only did this film found a way to maintain the sarcastic self-referencing nature of the plot and keep it enjoyable thanks to its strangely upbeat direction, skillful writing and wonderful talents involved, but it also found a way to have a bit of a heart with it and slows down whenever it is needed to.

The comedy and exploitation elements are fun and all (Damn, that girl-on-girl kiss! Damn that Andrew Bachelor is friggin hilarious! Damn, why is Max shirtless for the rest of the film?!), and one can always find something exciting from a good stalk-and-stab especially if you're as big of a fan of slasher flicks as I am and have a good appreciation for (mostly) practical effects (keep an "eye" on a fire poker kill. It's "mind" bogglingly brutal!), but what made The Babysitter much more memorable is the chemistry between Cole and Bee. It's difficult to explain, but the way they're both written shows a genuine friendship between the two characters and that they really do care with one another even if shit hits the fan. It's this kind of characterization that kept me glued until the end of the film, just rooting to see how much both Cole and Bee grew up in this situation, and I have no one else to thanks but Weaving and Lewis' performances as their respective roles. These two are gonna go places!

Marvelous as The Babysitter is as a wittily-scribed bloody teen horror comedy, it is not without its tiny flaws which mostly consists on how too obscure and strange the villains can get (stop in the middle of murdering your victim just to teach them how to stand up against a bully? As funny as that is, I'm still a bit confused what the point of that was.) and a few moments that are too outrageous even for a movie involving Satanic blood rituals. (car crash without a seat belt not equals dead driver?) They're little nitpicks, easily looked over for the sake of being fun and funny while actually getting results so it's still all good!

It's for the best to experience The Babysitter on its freshest, which means it's time to get off your butt (or don't since it is available on Netflix as of writing this) and see one of this year's best horror comedy! A perfect midnight movie for your warm popcorn and chugs of soda!

Bodycount:
1 male stabbed on the head with daggers
1 male had his throat cut with a dagger
1 male gets a fire poker thrown through his head, torn open
1 male falls and impaled neck-first through a trophy
1 female immolated by a firework (twice)
1 male had his neck tangled on a rope, hanged
1 female had her head shot off with a shotgun
1 male attacked with a knife, presumably killed
Total: 8

Therapy Doll Charles: Cult of Chucky (2017)

Cult of Chucky (2017)
Ratings: **1/2
Starring: Allison Dawn Doiron, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif

Last we have heard of Chucky cinematic-wise, our pint-sized possessed slasher doll went back to being "straight scary" in 2013's Curse of Chucky, the franchise's 5th sequel doubling as its first direct to video entry. The movie was okay for most parts despite a few "restrictions" the production's considerably smaller budget lead to: Chucky often looks different from one shot to another and his animatronics doesn't look as fluid as the first five films he starred at. There's also the matter that entire film mostly takes place in a single location, showing the budget limits, and its writing and acting could have been better.

Now, I can appreciate a movie for just being fun and Curse thankfully manages to be that despite its flaws. It seems a lot of people thought so too, so it's not so surprising that another sequel is expected and that leaves me wondering: will lightning strike twice? Will this Cult of Chucky work better than Curse? Or worse?

Set a few months after the last film wherein Chucky murdered almost all of her family, paraplegic Mia is now being institutionalized into believing that she herself committed the killing spree out of spite. As a way to better herself, she is moved to another psychiatric clinic where she is to socialize with other recovering nut jobs suffering from different cases of trauma or schizophrenic tendencies.

Rightfully bitter about the murders, Mia's troubles are about to get more unsettling when her group's psychiatrist decided to buy a Good Guy doll (Apparently now available at Hot Topic!) for their sessions as a mean for her and the others to vent out their frustrations or act out fantasies. Adding devastating salt to Mia's wounds, she also gets a visit from a "Miss Valentine" the following day, who claims to be the new (and last) guardian looking after Mia's niece Alice, orphaned after the murders. She's there to (nonchalantly) break the news that Alice "died of a broken heart" sometime after Mia got thrown into intensive care and she's there to hand over Alice's Good Guy Doll as way to remember her by. (Did I mentioned Miss Valentine look awfully a lot like Jennifer Tilly?...wait.)

Eventually, a new wave of deaths makes slim pickings out of Mia's circle of troubled individuals, forcing her to try and convince everyone that Chucky's back and killing them all one by one. In the meantime, certain that a killer doll is indeed behind Mia's family's massacre, a now-adult gun-totting Andy Barclay, the franchise's three-time final boy, keeps an eye on Mia's confinement, all the while being taunted by something, or someone that puts the recent deaths on a stranger note: Chucky's decapitated yet still living head!

Looking at it with a critical eye, Cult of Chucky can be seen as a mixed bag of ideas being shuffled around with no clear thought on which one it really wanted to be, or at least what to focus on. At one end, it appears Cult wanted to do a serious psychological slasher flick as we get to follow a lot on Mia's confinement, depression and possible paranoia as a wrongfully accused individual, with a few scenes made to look like as if she might be in fact losing her head and could be the one ending people left and right thanks to Chucky's influence. If given the chance, this would have been a bold new direction the franchise could have gone to, something that was actually suggested in the early drafts of the original Child's Play wherein Young Andy was suspected of the murders a bit longer before the reveal was made.

Sadly, whatever attempts Cult tried with this horror-of-the-mind approach are inevitably underwhelmed by the fact that it is, of course, a Chucky film. One with an even stronger connection to the entire Child's Play franchise with references to events and characters from the previous six films. With that, it's not hard to imagine that our infamous Lake Shore Strangler is, no doubt, back in action and out doing what he does best. The only catch this time is that there's a suspected twist that I wouldn't really count as a spoiler since the film itself practically gave it away "as a playful suspicion" about halfway into the movie (or, heck, if you're smart enough, around the first act of the whole friggin movie), but I am just gonna hint that it does explains why lil' Chucky is out killing people at a nuthouse while his still living (and horribly tortured) head is hanging out with Andy at the same time.

This brand of craziness shows Cult remembers its supernatural slasher roots, and it gladly still delivers the familiar grue and voodoo mayhem the franchise is known for, but only after juggling the bodycounting elements with artsy psycho thriller shenanigans for about 2/3rds of the movie. It's this cluttered direction that, personally, made Cult of Chucky uneven in its tone and may have missed a few opportunities to better itself, like the re-introduction of Andy Barclay as a potential secondary protagonist or workable side character who, unfortunately, spent doing almost nothing here but torture Chucky and just sounding badass. ("Almost" since, at the near end, he did gut out a Chucky with nothing but his bare hands to retrieve a hidden gun, which is pretty cool.) But much like the flawed yet passable Curse of Chucky that came before this, as messy as its direction and tone are, I can't say that I didn't enjoy Cult.

There's a lot of room to improve on, this is true, but I do appreciate Cult's efforts to try something entirely different for the franchise like the introduction of (sort of) strong psychological elements into the fray as well as breaking the rules of its own mythos and hints the return of the new age black comedy started by Bride of Chucky. As any good slasher, the killings have a range of being subtle to downright brutal, packing good old-fashioned practical gore effects, and some of the dialogue by our quip-friendly killer doll have a unsettling creepiness to them as we get to see (or hear) more of his sociopathic tendencies. (Though, this doesn't mean we don't get to see Chucky being his insanely darkly comical self. Watch him have a conversation with "himself". It might not be all that much, but I couldn't stop laughing at the casualness of it all!) Brad Dourif is still cool as Chucky, even if the dolls still have that obvious robotic look on their animatronics save their faces. (Which are actually a lot more emotive compared to Curse's) Fiona Douriff as Mia may not have done much as a more "active" final girl thanks to both her character's handicap and psychological situation, but the brooding turn for her Mia was an interesting watch for most parts and I think Fiona did a fairly good job as a tolerable bitter lead for us to follow.

In the end (figuratively and literally), Cult bid us farewell  with a strong hint that its far from over, throwing at us even more faces from the past (entries of the series). Did these cameos got my attention? Yes, yes it did. Am I hoping to see more? Yes, yes I am, but with the way this entry was mostly handled, I am going to say that a good chunk of my expectations for a good Chucky sequel in the future was "wounded" to say the least. For now, all I can say is Cult of Chucky's passable: it's entertaining enough not to be considered the worst, but missed too much marks to be considered as one of the better entries in the series. If you're a die hard Chucky fan, this is still worth your time, but for everybody else, welp, let's see if anything good is out direct to video lately...

Bodycount:
1 girl mentioned dead
1 female found bled to death from a wrist cut
1 female decapitated by falling window shards
1 female choked on killer's arm, had her larynx torn out from the mouth
1 male slaughtered with a broken bottle, letter opener and powerdrill
1 male had his throat cut with a nail file
1 male had his face repeatedly stomped
1 female seen with a powerdrill through her gut
1 male gets powerdrilled through the head
Total: 9

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Father Anubis' Hounds: Jackals (2017)

Jackals (2017)
Rating: **
Starring: Deborah Kara Unger, Stephen Dorff, Johnathon Schaech

Looking back at notorious groups and communities started by the likes of Charles Manson, Jim Jones or that one bald Heaven's Gate guy who believes aliens will save everyone's souls via suicide, one can agree that brainwashed cults are pretty terrifying for the lengths they do to show their devotion, which nothing short of an obvious reason why cult themed horror flicks are still a staple to this day, albeit in varying quality in terms of scares, thrills and seriousness. Among all of them, though, how many ever tried tackling the subject of deprogramming a cult member?

Set in the 1980s, Jackals starts with a cold opening of someone's point-of-view, quietly breaking into a house and entering the sleeping owners' room to steal some cash. The intruder, finding a pair of scissors, then proceeds to snip a few strands of hair from the sleeping couple, only for both of them to wake up and prompting the intruder to stab them to death. Now with a need to satisfy their bloodlust, the intruder next enters the couple's daughter's room, only for her (and us) to realize that the murderous figure is her brother; this, sadly, did little to save her from being strangled to death by her own kin.

One credit sequence later, we watch another family waiting in a backwoods cabin for someone to bring back their teenage boy. That someone is Jimmy, a military trained "deprogrammer" who's supposed to have the skills to undo brainwashing, something the family needs right now as their estranged boy, Justin, joined a notorious murder cult.

Now for Jimmy, kidnapping, drugging, driving back with and restraining Justin in the cabin is the easy part. To deprogram him, however, proves to be a challenge as not only is Justin utterly convinced that his real family (as in the cult) is out there, but his real "real" family isn't all that functional themselves; through the course of the movie, it shows that Mr and Mrs Powell separated after one of them was caught cheating, Justin's brother Campbell has a short temper, and Justin knocked up his girlfriend Samantha, who is now taking care their baby girl, Zoe. Their situation worsens, unfortunately, when the cult itself decided to show up and surround the cabin, intent on killing those responsible for kidnapping their "brother" and getting him back.

See, I like this concept. Perhaps there are already films tackling cult deprogramming before Jackals but this one is a first for me and I love the fact that it's even one bit slasher flick and another bit siege movie. One can imagine an intense psychological mind game between the deprogrammer and the cultist while a family fights off a murderous group from the plot alone but, perhaps, I expected too much.

Sadly, while the psychological aspects is there in the film's flow, some directions it took made its outcomes too obvious and almost borderline the film into tedious territories. Without giving away much, let's just say that a supposedly important player in the cast gets killed off too soon (and not so spectacularly, if I may add), leaving the rest of the "group" to deal with the brainwashing matter on their own and failing miserably multiple times. Perhaps it's the movie's attempt to toy with the audience's hopes that the drama brewing within this "group" would chip into the psyche of a cult member and somehow reverse whatever bullshit they are believing (plus there is that one teeny-tiny moment where Justin seems to recognize his mother), but, again, seeing how everyone in this "group" handle one another through the film, the results are painfully obvious and it could have been handled better. (In case you don't know who the "group" consists of, see paragraph# 5. Spoiler alert.)

This left Jackals more recognizable as siege and backwoods slasher hybrid of sorts, which would have been fine if the slasher antics are anywhere as good as the opening act, and the siege was more, what's the word? Perfectly timed? For me, what made movies like The Strangers (2009), or Them (2006) work so well is that their suspense has a build-up; we get to know the characters and their situation first before the movie creeps up the scares and shocks until its chaotic climax. Jackals, on the other hand, reveals the full extent of what the family is dealing with a way lot early and basically left them (and us), alternately waiting for one of two things to happen for the rest of the run: a dumb plan or an attack.

To be fair, some of the plans the family throws around to survive the night wouldn't sound so dumb (and dare I say might have even lead to some decent thrills and surprises) if the movie hadn't rushed itself. If you ever saw Adam Wingard's You're Next and recall that one scene where a character plans to run out for help only to meet a deadly piano wire neck-first, I find that nasty death one of the better executed kills from that film since there was very little hint that the trap was already there. In Jackals, we have a similar situation where one of the characters decided to make a run for their cars while another distracts the cult, giving enough time for at least a chance for the plan to work. By that time, though, we are more or less made well aware of the odds the cultists have over the family, so let's just say the painful results later didn't have the same impact as seeing a lady prepping herself to a sprint, only to get her throat sliced open by a nearly-invisible wire.

This is just some of the few examples of Jackal's missed opportunities for some good surprises and shocks thanks to it's mishandled execution, something that unfortunately affected to what I was hoping would make up for these flaws: the slasher sequences. Now, as a slasher, Jackal's opening killing spree is perhaps it's best set of murders as the rest tried to take a more dramatic approach seeing this is a cult; instead of crowding around the house and simply use their number to muscle their way in to get their "brother", the cult leader (simply referred to as "Father", who wears a bitchin' Anubis mask and leather trench coat) would rather intimidate them into handing the teen over and send out his underlings one by one (or by a small group) to siege the cabin and kill whoever gets in the way. Nice approach, but the killings were tame and whatever action they got going were pretty forgetful. The only time they decided to do something a bit more complex than dropping someone dead or strangling them was at the near end as the cult inevitably got the upper hand, but it felt late in the party and all interest I once have at the beginning of the film is gone.

So I've been negative about Jackals so far, was there anything I enjoyed about it? Welp, apart from the cool-looking Father and his animal-masked flock of killers and the first 20 to 30 minutes of the movie, and that one scene involving one of our casts hiding underneath the cult's cars, not a lot really. The acting felt stone cold for a whole lot of the run s if the casts aren't even that invested in the story, most of the script is technically just our family pleading and begging Justin to remember and snap out of it as if it'll work in a snap of a finger, and the ending looked like as if nobody knew how to finish this damn movie and just cliffhangers everything. I want to believe Jackals would have been a fairly fun ride if it was handled differently, but truth be told, it is what it is now, a poorly paced and directed backwoods slasher-siege-cult monstrosity, and there's nothing much I can do but move on and see the next 2017 horror offering that I might enjoy. Perhaps another cult-related movie with a talking doll and Jennifer Tilly...

Bodycount:
1 female stabbed on the throat with scissors
1 male stabbed with scissors
1 female strangled
1 male brained to death
1 male bled to death from a gutted belly
1 male strangled to death
1 male dropped to his death
1 male hacked with a pickaxe
1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 repeatedly stabbed, hacked with an axe
1 male dies from shock (?)
Total: 11

(Y'know, it suddenly occurred to me: why exactly did the family have to do this in the middle of the woods? I mean, surely, a more crowded area like a town or a city would do, right? Heck, since this involves a cult member, why not drive all the way back to a town, convince a priest to borrow the church for one or several nights and just do the deprogramming there?

Or why didn't Mr. Jimmy brought along some help in case things go South and sour real fast? I mean, heck, I'm sure a couple of army buddies would love to kill off a cult member or two in case they decided to pop up...

Missed opportunities!)

Raising Sawyer: Leatherface (2017)

Leatherface (2017)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Finn Jones, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor

A few months ago, I recall writing about my uncertainties with the then-upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel simply called Leatherface, a concept that kinda looked pointless to me since I really don't see the need for one, nor do I believe many people were even asking for it. Still, the higher powers above (as in probably the executives at Lionsgate) managed to wrangle up horror director duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, famous for their slashers Inside (2007) and Among The Living (2011), to direct the project so should this merit enough attention and probability that it'll be good?

Yes. But all for the misleading reasons.

The film opens with a circa 50s Texan farming family celebrating their youngest member's birthday. The family is quickly made clear to be our infamous Sawyer clan as they ask one teenage Drayton to serve the first slice of their (oddly chunky and sinewy) "cake" to their unexpected guest: a bruised and tied up thief. As both a bloody rite of passage for the birthday boy, Jed, and punishment for the thief for stealing some hogs, matriarch Verna Sawyer hands the kid the family chainsaw and coaxes him to slice the man open. Jed's a tad too squeamish on killing, however, prompting grampa Sawyer to finish the job with a sledgehammer.

Sometime later in a morning, a young teen couple was driving by the Sawyer property when they swerves to a stop after nearly running over an odd looking calf in the middle of the road. The situation goes eerie when girlfriend sees that the animal is really Jed wearing a cow's head for a mask and, after the childs bolts off into the fields and much to her boyfriend's protests, she follows to check if the boy's alright. Of course, the whole jig was a trap to murder her and, needless to say, the Sawyer boys made a quick killing out of the girl with a dropped tractor engine.

Unfortunately, the girl just happens to be Texas ranger Hal Hartman's daughter and though he cannot charge the boys for murder without any proof, he did manage to accuse Verna of child endangerment, which ends up with Jed being taken off her hands and into an asylum.

Ten years after this, at the Gorman House Youth Reformatory, newbie nurse Lizzy enters the facility in hopes of making a difference for the crazies, especially the children. Easier said than done though as some of the institutionalized are violent deviants, but she remains slightly optimistic as she did encounter some kinder nut cases, more precisely one troubled but caring Jake and a huge bipolar Bud.

That night, all hell breaks loose when Verna walks into the asylum, demanding to see Jed. As it turns out, she scrapped enough money to buy a lawyer and paperwork allowing her to check up on her boy, but when the head of the institution refuses, she decided to get even by unlocking the doors and releasing all of the patients in a murderous frenzy while she looks for her son. Out of the carnage escapes murderous thug Ike and his equally insane girlfriend Clarice, who tagged along Bud (who saved Ike from an electroshock session) and kidnaps Lizzy and Jake as leverage.

Now, this is where the movie is supposed to work its little gimmick; technically, one of the three boys here is supposed to be Jed Sawyer, heavily treated to the point that he doesn't remember who he was and brainwashed into believing an alternative ego. This is a fine game to play and all but the execution itself doesn't seem to be anywhere that interested playing it with us.

Truth be told, the so-called mystery of who will become our infamous chainsaw-wielding Leatherface isn't that strong, with the only connections this film made with the slasher franchise was the "Sawyer" name, the bone furniture and decorations at the last act of the film, and that one scene before the ending credits where Jed, reunited with his family, making his first mask, all of which making up a third of the film. Instead, throughout the movie, we watch Ike and his girlfriend rampage through rural Texas with a killing spree and other devious activities (like necrophilia. eugh), all the while Jake and Lizzy repeatedly attempts to escape them and a murderous posse of police, and Bud simply just stands there being a lumbering oaf who follows orders, if not being mistreated for being, well, an oaf. In fact, one would have guessed that once the word broke out that some mental nuts who may or may not include Jed Sawyer escaped, Verna and her clan will get out there and start joining the hunt in hopes of getting their youngest member back, but nope; the Sawyers simply sit back at their old barn feeding pigs murdered victims and just waiting for Jed to magically find his way back home, only doing something after one of the more snitchy cops decided to tell on them.

This meant that, among all of the movies in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, Leatherface felt a bit forced as a prequel and the least like a slasher, or a horror movie for most of its parts, and more of a very violent crime drama in the vein of Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects (2005) or even Natural Born Killers (1994), complete with a vengeful law enforcer who's out to get Jed and make him pay for killing his daughter, doing (and himself murdering) whatever he can just for that chance. Cut off Leatherface's ties with the Texas Chainsaw franchise and it could have been an original thriller of its own in-movie universe. (Heck, if I remember it right, Drayton didn't find killing all that fun and prefers to be in the kitchen in the 1974 movie. Maybe he figured that out later in his adult life?) Now, does this make it a terrible movie?

Well, to be fair, there is enough horrific imagery and chaotic madness to satisfy some viewers, that I can tell. It's nothing new given the comparison I've made between this and Rob Zombie's opus The Devil's Rejects, but Leatherface has to be commended for capturing the gritty 70s grindhouse exploitation feel, highlighting violent crimes and abusive authority figures as a mean to scare, if not upset us, and it still knows its slasher roots to deliver enough bloodshed and bodycount for those eyeing for something red and sticky.

The film's copious amount of murdering are done away with impressive practical effects, though it is noticeable that the murders have a tendency to stick more along a realistic tone from simple strangulation and beatings, to violent shootings and stabbings, all committed by a series of people against one another rather than by a single killer. (or cannibal group acting as one) Those who are expecting a series of chainsaw deaths would be disappointed (or not) as those were reserved to the very last act of the film. Those scenes did made decent slices of human meat but a bit lacklustre seeing how the boy who ended up being our Leatherface doesn't look anywhere as threatening or impressive.

Instead, the threat factor goes to Ike and Clarice, whose vulgar and sadistic nature made them more interesting villains than the Sawyer clan and the vengeful sheriff combined, showing no boundaries on their crazy, nor any remorse on the crimes they commit. I even would go and say that these screwed-up lovebirds could go toe-to-toe with the ranks of Natural Born Killers' Mickey and Mallory on the crazy couple category if given the chance but, seeing the supposed focus of the movie is a pre-TCM Leatherface, their unrestrained craziness made it too obvious that one of them ain't Jed, thus giving them the same odds of being killed off as the rest of the casts. (Who were pale in comparison to these two, this including Lizzy, our supposed final girl who does very little to get herself out of this nightmare. Not a good sign, people.)

With a decent looking production value and edgy plot flow, Leatherface is a half way decent movie for those who loves bloody crime thrillers and horror fans who are open to out-of-the-box ideas in their movie franchises. I guess the point of this movie being a prequel to the Southern fried classic proto-slasher gave it enough open probabilities to do more than just another slasher movie and I respect that, but I guess I've seen (and re-watched) enough "on the run and on the road" serial killer flicks to feel this film's approach to be predictable and underwhelming. Still, don't let me stop you from trying this movie out, but keep the expectations low for any prize winning "barbecues".

Bodycount:
1 male brained with a sledgehammer
1 female crushed by a dropped tractor engine
1 male strangled and punched on the head, killed (?)
1 male pounded to death (?)
1 female strangled with her own hair
1 male beaten dead through a window
1 male beaten to death
1 female repeatedly slashed on the mouth with a razor
1 male stomped to death
1 wheelchair bound victim thrown through a window, falls to their death
1 male stabbed on the neck with a steak knife
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 female shot on the face with a shotgun
1 male found hanged dead and rotting
1 male had his head stomped against a tree stump
1 female shot on the head
1 male shot on the head
1 male beaten to death against a car door
1 male repeatedly knifed, fed to pigs
1 male eviscerated with a chainsaw
1 female decapitated with a chainsaw
Total: 22 (?)