Terrifier


Viewed – 02 June 2016  online-rental

They say be careful what you wish for.  I grew up in the eighties, a golden era for horror, but also a time when censorship was rife.  I recall watching slashers like Halloween or Friday the 13th and wishing those kills had been more graphic.  Yeah, I was that kid; a bit of a gore-hound.  These days it’s different.  Censorship hasn’t got the strangle-hold on the genre it once had, and that can be a good or bad thing depending on your taste.  For me it’s an all you can eat buffet!

Terrifier

Terrifier is my first introduction to freaky homicidal clown ‘Art’, initially showcased as part of the short ‘All Hallow’s Eve’.  Here he stalks a bunch of individuals on Halloween night, picking them off in increasingly brutal ways.  Immediately I found this is an effective horror icon and one of the most messed up looking creations I’d seen in a long time.  His sheer presence makes the movie, let alone the way he playfully despatches his victims.  The characters, as wafer-thin as they are, managed to get me routing for them and wondering who might survive.  Unlike similar movies they’re not all that annoying either (apart from one drunk girl).

Director Damien Leone was clearly working with a low budget, with all the cash obviously put into some decent practical effects that thanks to the help of some slick editing make each kill really pack a punch.  The acting varies from passable to very amateurish, and the movie seems to wallow in it’s clichés a bit too much.  Yet we do get some great camera work and an effective, grainy 80’s aesthetic, meaning I still came away impressed.  Certainly not for everyone, but if you’re serious about horror, this is one to see.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

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Tenebrae


Viewed – 14 April 2015  Blu-ray

When writer Peter Neal arrives in Rome on a routine promotion trip for his latest novel, he becomes the target of a deranged killer who starts murdering beautiful women in the name of his book Tenebrae.   Soon the lines between reality and fiction blur as Neal and the local detectives set out to catch the culprit and prevent more bloodshed.

tenebrae

Now going into a film by acclaimed, controversial Italian director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria), I will give a word of warning.  He’s not one for casting great actors in his movies and is much more focused on the technical aspects and the twisting narrative.  This 1982 entry is no exception as actor Anthony Franciosa and much of his supporting cast, including John Saxon and Argento’s then-wife Dario Nicolodi are amateurish at best, delivering lines in a particularly wooden and unconvincing manor.  Thankfully then, Argento distracts us with a series of gloriously staged murder set-pieces, arguably some of the best in his career (the stalk and slash of the lesbians especially) and aided by a hypnotic, creepy score by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin, this remains very much an Argento movie.  The look may be simplistic and the acting poor, but for style and a keep-you-guessing plot that throws in a few surprises, including an unforgettable ending … fans of early eighties slasher movies and of the Italian maestro’s work should definitely check this out.

The Blu-ray is packed with extras in this Arrow Video re-release, boasting two commentaries, several interviews and featurettes, a reversible sleeve with newly commissioned art and an in-depth booklet.  Add to this a decent treatment for the film itself.  The picture whilst nicely detailed, is a tad over-saturated (although the garish reds suit the tone of the story) and the sound although only in 2.0 Stereo, is uncompressed so the score sounds particularly good.  Overall, a decent effort for one of Argento’s most notorious movies.

Verdict:

(the movie) 3.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

Maniac


Viewed – 25 September 2013  Blu-ray

Anyone who recalls actor Elijah Wood from the acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be totally floored by this – a complete change from this mostly pretty-boy geeky roles that play on his baby faced charm.  Here he’s a mannequin collector who stalks beautiful women in order to find his perfect girlfriend or a replacement for his sleazy mother, but instead ends up brutally murdering them.

maniac

Shot almost entirely from the killer’s perspective, which adds a unique twist to this otherwise fairly by the numbers serial killer thriller, and showcasing a daring, powerful turn from Wood – I found this effective and chilling stuff indeed.  Producer and writer Alexander Aja (Piranha, Switchblade Romance) delivers his renowned reputation for style and gory set-pieces (the scalping scenes are seriously nasty), and for fans of splatter, there is much to revel in here, along with a healthy dose of nudity.

As a remake of one of the lesser known 80s slasher movies, this retains an 80s vibe with an authentic synth score and typical lack of restraint as seen during the notorious video-nasty era.  This is also done with no lack of skill, boasting clever camera work and very impressive make-up effects …. even paying homage to Silence of the Lambs in one stand-out scene.  It’s obviously not a movie for everyone, but as a down and dirty old-school horror, this jaded horror fan still came away suitably impressed.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane


Viewed – 15 November 2008  DVD

There really isn’t a great deal to say about this one, it has very little to recommend it over similar stalk ‘n’ slash horrors cramming DVD rental shelves, has a no-name cast and has turned up with very little (positive) word of mouth.  Yet I’m a sucker for horror movies with pretty teens running through fields in their undies screaming for help that never comes.  So what’s this one all about?

Mandy Lane (pretty but personality-free Amber Heard) is the focal point of every hormonal teenage boys affections in high school, but this virginal sweetie never seems that interested, or maybe she’s just plane shy, and too innocent to let herself be corrupted by the local jock-doosh-bag.  Soon though she’s invited away by some friends to a Ranch in (you guessed it) the middle of nowhere, and before you can say ‘I know what you did last summer’ there’s a nutcase stalking them and picking these sex-mad teens off one by one.  Now of course, this would normally have me grinning from ear to ear – but this movie just lacked ‘oomph’, had no real decent kills, very little tension, and the bad guy is revealed way to early. 

Saying that, we do get a very interesting ending that almost saves this film from bargain-basement hell…but I’m afraid, this was too little too late.  To put it simply, I have seen a dozen movies do the concept better than this.

Verdict:  2 /5