Lake Dead (2007) – After Dark Horrorfest Review

This is another disappointing entry in the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest. Like TOOTH AND NAIL, it feels like a throwback to an earlier era of low-budget exploitation film-making. In this case, we get a group of young people heading to an isolated area for the weekend, but instead of a single silent killer lurking in the woods (a la FRIDAY THE 13TH), we get a pair of them, plus a few other nasty surprises. The plot kicks off with Grandpa (Edwin Craig) being gunned down after bailing out on the family “Tradition” (apparently something rather unsavory). His granddaughter Brielle (Kelsey Crane) receives a letter notifying her that she and her sisters have inherited Grandpa’s motel in the woods. Brielle’s estranged father warns her not to go, but she ignores the advice.  Out in the woods, Brielle’s step-sister and friends are killed and/or raped one by one, but Brielle and her real sister get the hands-off treatment. It turns out that the hulking killers are in cahoots with some more presentable folk, who have other plans for the two sisters…
It does not take high-wattage brain power to deduce why Brielle and her sister are receiving exceptional treatment. The talk of family “purity” clues us in to the motivations of the villains, who want their estranged relatives for incestuous breeding purposes. By the time the wacko mother-and-son duo celebrate their plan with a deep romantic kiss, any potential shock has worn off; viewers are more likely to giggle at having their suspicions confirmed.
Most of the other “surprises” are also telegraphed. As in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, the characters escape from danger only to run into an allegedly friendly face, a sheriff who turns out to be part of the horror – but the movie has already revealed the sheriff’s involvement in the opening scene. Even without this give-away, his behavior is too obviously suspicious, yet Brielle and company are too stupid to see that they have walked out of the frying pan into the proverbial fire.

That’s pretty much par for the course. Although the characters in LAKE DEAD are supposed to be adults, they act little differently from the stupid horny teenagers who inhabited bad slasher movies back in the 1980s. The introductory scenes, including the weekend road trip, even echoes FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D. The camaraderie, beer-drinking, and bitching along the way are all pretty juvenile, serving little purpose except to bore us with the “character” moments that are supposed to make us like the victims before they are slaughtered. Eventually, one couple even wanders off alone in the woods to have sex and – in the time-honored tradition -get killed immediately afterwards. There is little the cast can do except embody these walking cliches from another era; sadly, the passage of time has made their behavior seem even more incredible.
The director opts for crude brutality, but he evokes more revulsion than actual terror. Working on the theory that THE HILLS HAVE EYES and THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 were too restrained in their attacks on women, we get not one but two rape scenes for our alleged viewing pleasure. In the first, the victim is pinned to a tree with a pickax through the face. For some reason, we’re expected to believe her wound leaves her alive long enough to experience the sexual assault, but the intended effect backfires, producing laughs of ridicule.
After watching these vile backwoods loonies perpetrating more than their fair share of on-screen atrocities, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing the tables turned for some well-deserved payback near the end. There’s even a clever moment when Brielle’s fiance manages to defeat an opponent while tied to a chair; it’s a scene we’ve watched a million times before, and it’s nice that we see something besides the usual wriggling-the-hands-free routine.
Unfortunately, this heroic action on the part of the male lead seems part and parcel of some rather retro sexual politics. Brielle gets herself and her friends into danger because she refuses to take paternal advice (this is what happens when women think for themselves, apparently). The real mastermind of the backwoods horror is the old family matriarch, who stood fast by the vile family tradition even when Grandpa had second thoughts. (Leaving aside Grandpa’s unexplained change-of-heart, the implication is that no good comes from having a woman running the family.) Not only does LAKE DEAD offer up the old “sex equals death” formula (while deliberately characterizing the first two female victims as sluts or whores); the film also insists on portraying Brielle and her sister as screaming victims from beginning to end. There is not even the climactic “Final Girl” moment when the last intended victim faces off alone against the killer; instead, the male charactes (first the fiance, then – at the very end – the estranged father) have to save the helpless women. Man-power, baby – that’s what it takes!
In a final nod toward outdated movie cliches, LAKE DEAD ends with an epilogue that tells us the horror is not over. Perhaps a sequel is intended, but it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to take a second plunge after wading once through this muddy, murky lake.
LAKE DEAD (2007). Directed by  George Bessudo. Written by Daniel P. Coughlin. Cast: James C. Burns, Kelsey Crane, jim Devoti, Tara Gerard, Pat McNeely, Alex A. Quinn, Malea Richardson, Kelsey Wedeen. Christian Stokes, Trevor Torseth.

Sweeney Todd – Preview

Got a sneak peak at SWEENEY TODD on Tuesday, and it is absolutely fantastic – one of the best things Tim Burton has ever directed! The film was not finished (the closingcredits were missing, and the sound mix will be tweaked over the next five weeks), but barring ratings problems, this appears to be the final cut in all its gory glory. The movie is pretty much your dream of what it would be, when you first heard that Burton and Johnny Depp would be turning the Stephen Sondheim musical into a movie: it’s a dark, brooding horror-musical-comedy that hits all the right notes.
Depp casts aside the over-the-top antics of Jack Sparrow for a much more self-contained performance as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, in which the emotions (primarily a lust for revenge) ooze up to the surface in controlled bursts; without ever blunting the character’s razor-sharp edge, the actor demands that we sympathize and root for Sweeney as he slashes his way through half the throats in London. Alan Rickman is wonderful as the hypocritical Judge Turpin, whose machinations drove Sweeney to madness. Sacha Baron Cohen shines in a small role – you don’t have to be a  Borat fan to enjoy his work here. A special mention must go out for Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford, Turpin’s right-hand man – a perfectly wrought performance of a  slimy character who mistakenly believes himself to be slick and smart. Hopefully, the Oscar academy will not overlook him next year even though his role is not of the showy, melodramatic kind that usually draws attention.

If there is a flaw in the movie, it is that the cinematic storytelling occasionally short circuits the musical nature of the source material. The acting performances, through close-up camera angles and cutting, convey the point of some scenes long before the songs wrap up, as when Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) first lays eyes on and falls in love with Sweeney’s daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener), who is kept a virtual prisoner in Turpin’s mansion. Judging from the reaction and comments after the screening, fans of the musical will be pleased that the film is faithful to Sondheim, but SWEENEY TODD might have been even better if it had jettisoned more of the stage version, which on a few occasions feels like dead weight slowing the movie down.
The screening was followed by a session in which the marketing people asked for audience reactions. It was clear that the small audience (a bit over forty, mostly of fans of Burton and/or Johnny Depp) loved the film: over thirty called it great; eight called it very good; two said it was merely good; and no one admitted that he/she actively disliked it.
UPDATE: One of the two viewers who ranked the film as only “good” complained that the story offered “no closure,” but he did not get a chance to explain what he meant by that. (The film ties up all the plot threads; it may or may not show you exactly what happens to everybody, but it gives you enough information to figure it out satisfactorily.) This audience member also complained about Depp’s performance, saying that he had seen the actor in similar roles too often before; he called Sweeney “Edward Scissorhandspossessed by Jack Sparrow.” (“Scissorhands possessed by Jack the Ripper” would be more accurate; Sweeney has little if anything in common with the woozy pirate from CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, whose head seems soft from too much time in the sun.) Funnily enough, even though the “Scissorhands-Sparrow” remark had been intended as a criticism, the marketing people actually liked  it, saying they would like to put the comment in their promotional campaign.
UPDATE: One of the first questions that came up was regarding the singing voices, of the cast in general and of Johnny Depp in particular. According to a show of hands, a near unanimous majority of the audience thought Depp and his co-stars passed the test. Personally, I thought it was clear that neither Depp nor Rickman is a trained Broadway singer, but it doesn’t matter because they put so much acting into the songs that the lyrics become sung dialogue. I’m not saying their voices were off-key or flat, just that you could tell they were not going to throw back their heads and belt out notes that would shatter a champagne glass. The strength of their singing lay more in acting skill than in virtuoso vocal stylings, and the result is fully satisfying in the movie. 
Several viewers raised their hands when the moderator asked whether any of the women thought there was too much blood; interestingly, none of them said this ruined the movie for them or would prevent them from recommending it to friends. A few pointed out that the highly stylized nature of the film – most of the colors are muted and almost monochromatic, like Halloween Town in NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS – rendered the bright-red bloodshed in a highly artificial way that muted the impact, making it more palatable, even for non-gore hounds.
UPDATE: Some people in the screening compared the violence to KILL BILL. Personally, I found it closer to one of KILL BILL’s inspirations, the “Lone Wolf” samurai movies made in Japan in the 1970s. Like those ultra-violent extravaganzas, SWEENEY TODD features blood the flows in watery geysers – the effect is so over-the-top that it becomes almost cartoony. Still, the sight of razor slicing flesh does have an impact, especially during the montage of Sweeney carving his way through at least half a dozen victims during a song.
To be clear, the session was not about gathering audience reactions in order to re-cut the film to make it safer for a general audience; the goal was trying to gauge the film’s appeal. From the various questions and statements uttered over the course of half-an-hour, it appears that the marketing people believe the film will appeal to three or four non-intersecting groups:

  1. Teenage girls who like Depp
  2. Tim Burton fans
  3. Fans of the musical
  4. The “Adult Alternative” audience, who want to see something other than NATIONAL TREASURE 2

For some reason, there was some doubt that SWEENEY TODD would appeal to horror fans, even though it clearly is a horror movie, the songs notwithstanding. There seemed to be a misapprehension that “horror” equated with SAW, and that fans of that franchise and others of its ilk would not enjoy the Burton film.
Personally, I think nothing could be further from the truth. The blood explodes in only a few scenes of SWEENEY, but when it rains, it pours – in unbelievably graphic gouts of gushing red. I can’t remember when or if I ever saw this much red splashed across the screen in a mainstream studio movie. More important, the Sweeney character fits the classic movie monster mold: he does horrible things, but the audience identifies with and even roots for him to dispatch his victims, who more often than not deserve what they get.
It’s a mistake to think that torture-porn and/or high-octane violence are synonymous with horror. There are a few loud voices at horror movie blogs insisting that HOSTEL PART II, GRINDHOUSE, and 28 WEEKS LATER are what horror is all about, but these films can barely find an audience, if at all. Much bigger audiences will clearly turn out for scary movies – even ones with violence and blood-letting, like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS  – as long as they are done with some style and class. Certainly, SWEENEY TODD could draw in the same kind of viewers who turned SLEEPY HOLLOW into a blockbuster.
One other incident from the session deserves mention. One recurring question was whether the musical nature of SWEENEY TODD would turn off some young male viewers who might otherwise be interested in another Depp-Burton collaboration. In answer to this, an audience member recounted the following incident: after seeing a trailer for TODD before a screening of THE HEARTBREAK KID, two young men in the row in front of her turned to each other and enthusiastically cried out, ‘Fuck yeah!”
That’s not the kind of comment likely to find its way into the marketing report, so we preserve it here for historical purposes.
UPDATED AGAIN: I forgot to mention this previously, but one thought that went through my mind during the screening was that SWEENEY TODD reminds me of THE BLACK CAT, the classic 1934 horror film starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The story has Lugosi as a man who returns for revenge after fifteen years in a Russian gulag (same amount of time Sweeney has been away). Meahwhile, Karloff’s character has married both Lugosi’s wife and – after the wife dies – Lugosi’s daughter (more or less what the Rickman character attempts to do in SWEENEY). In the end, Lugosi flays Karloff alive with a scalpel (sound familiar?). As in SWEENEY TODD, the audience is invited to identify with a demented character driven by revenge, even though his actions are almost as monstrous as those of the man he is targeting – perhaps even more so.
UPDATED AGAIN AGAIN: Some message boards linking to this report have complained that I neglected to mention Helana Bonham-Carter. I simply did not find her performance particularly remarkable. That does not mean it was bad or that I did not like her, only that I did not feel compelled to lavish suprlatives on her. For some reason, I was not concerned about her singing voice, so it was no surprise to hear her do well in that regard.  She certainly looked fantastic in the part: her lovely features covered in pale makeup that made her resemble the living dead, she was the perfect compliment to Depp’s Sweeney. Also, her name barely came up in the session after the screening, so it’s not as if I was reminded that this was a hot topic.
LATE UPDATE: Someone at the New York Post links to my article here. The brief post ends with this sentence:

Mr. Biodrowski doesn’t say if he signed the nondisclosure agreement that is standard before such screenings

No one asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Nor was anyone else asked, apparently; long before I wrote my piece, the message boards at IMDB had lit up with responses from other people at the screening.
Also, I wanted to clarify a couple of points made in my original article:

  1. When I wrote the “teenage girls” were one of the target audiences for the film, I may have been over-interpreting what was being said. The actual age range mentioned was something like 17-30. “Teenage” stuck in my mind because some of the questions concerned whether parents would take their children- who dig Jack Sparrow – to see the bloody R-rated film. Women over 17 don’t need their parents to buy them a ticket, so the implication seemed to be that the film might lose the 13-16 year-old girls.
  2. Some of the message boards linking to this post have expressed disdain for the marketing people and their attempt to “sell” this movie. I think it was pretty clear that the people marketing this film believe they have something good, with built-in appeal to certain segments of the audience. I suspect the real concern is crafting a promotional campaign that will appeal to each of these groups while not alienating the others. I also suspect this is the reason why “horror fans” are not listed among the groups being targeted: the marketers probably fear they have much to lose and little to gain, that selling to the horror crowd will alienate other viewers and still not bring in the gore-hounds. I am just interpreting based on the questions asked last night; I could be wrong, of course.

DIGG this article.

Friday the 13th reunion at Screamfest – with video

After launching with the West Coast premiere of George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD on Friday, Screamfest continued on Saturday with a series of short subjects, followed by a violent German murder-mystery titled DEAD IN 3 DAYS. The big event of the day did not arrive until late in the evening: two back-to-back 25th anniversary screenings of 1982’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III – in 3D! Thanks to the film’s 3D supervisor, Martin Jay Sadhoff, lucky patrons got to see the film in its original Sirius-Scope process, complete with the souvenir glasses with artwork designed to suggest Jason’s trademark hockey mask (which he wears for the first time in this film). Personally, I would have preferred a complete hockey mask with the polarized 3D lenses embedded in the eye sockets, but I guess you take what you can get.
I was never a big fan of Jason or FRIDAY THE 13TH. I think he ranks as the slasher movie equivalent of the Mummy; somehow he’s earned a reputation as a classic horror character, but he’s really just a big, ugly, slow-moving guy. In fact, PART III was the first film in the series that I bothered to see in a theatre, just because I was a 3D fan. I was not particulary impressed with the movie, but I did have to admit that it was sometimes effective (those sheets on the clothesline, ruffling in the wind, were really spooky thanks to the 3D enhancement, which had you expecting Jason’s appearance at any second).
Consequently, I had my doubts about the value of sitting through the movie again, but the lure of 3D won me over, and the the screening turned out to be a cult-audience experience not to be missed. The battered print (from the 1982 release) jumped and crackled like a trailer for GRINDHOUSE, and time has not been kind to the movie in other ways as well – the execrable dialogue and wooden performances are even more painfully obvious than they were back in the day. But the audience took it all in stride: they laughed at the contrived 3D tricks (which include antennas, baseball bats, and rattlesnakes aimed at your eyeballs); they moaned in mock sympathy whenever nerdy Shelly had another speech about how pathetic he was; and of course they applauded with wild enthusiasm for each of Jason’s kills. It wasn’t quite THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but it was close.
After the first screening, there was a question-and-answer session with select members from the cast and crew: Larry Zerner, who played Shelly; Tracie Savage, who played Debbie, the obligatory girl who has sex and dies; Paul Kratka, who played Rick, the male lead whose eye pops out in 3D; David Katims, who played the pot-smoking Chuck; Harry Manfredini, who composed the score; Martin Jay Sadhoff.
Unfortunately, time was short (the show was running late, and a crowd outside was waiting to see the second screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III), so each guest had time to answer only one question. You can view the video or read excerpts from a transcript.

The real story about how the hockey mask came about… I’m from Buffalo, New York, and [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. is my neighbor, and we’re hockey fanatics. The day of the makeup test, we didn’t really know what Jason should really look like, but we had to come up with some kind of makeup test in 3D. I had a hockey mask there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we put it on and see what it looks like?’I only wish I had registered the hockey mask [as a trademark] because every Halloween, that’s all I see!


I was standing on a street corner handing out tickets to THE ROAD WARRIOR, and these people came up to me and said, ‘Are you an actor?’ I was a struggling actor like everyone else in this town, so I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘We wrote this movie, and we think you’d be perfect for it.’ I auditioned and got the role. That was the beginning and end of my acting career. Now I’m an entertainment attorney.


I haven’t seen this movie in 25 years. I can’t imagine why I gave up my acting career! [heavy irony] I had so much potential! I come from a showbiz family and had done my first commercial at 2. My mom was my agent and said they were casting this movie. I said, “No, I’m done; I’m in college. Well, I went and I got it, and it was so much fun. It was really the last thing I did. I went to college, got a degree in broadcast journalism, and have been a journalist ever since.
[My death scene] was amazing. First they had to make a replica of my upper torso – that was bizarre! Because it was 3D it took hours to film that one little three-second shot – hours to set up the makeup and the lighting, because they didn’t want the seam to show where the fake torso joined my neck.


The night they were shooting the scene, I was very glad I was not a stunt man. My character had to be projected through the window, so they had this air ramp that would launch a person. They pulled the window out of the frame so it was open, but the guy kept hitting high, hitting low. They could not have paid me [to do that!] Whatever they paid that guy wasn’t enough!


This is pre-crack, so… I’m actually not a cigarette smoker. The first night, it was cigarettes I was really smoking. I couldn’t handle it, so I sent them over to a health food store and had them get barley. I smoked barley; that’s also what I ate!


Steve Miner told me absolutely nothing. He said, ‘Never come up to me and ask your motivation for the scene. You have no motivation. You are just a senseless killer. You are like Jaws. You have no feelings, no nothing. You just go out and kill people.’ Seriously, that’s what he told me. Studying acting most of my life, I didn’t necessarily buy that. I tried to put a meaning to the character. I honestly believe that you don’t have to talk to be an actor; you can walk and you can move. I think that’s what I brought to the role, and I think that’s what made Jason Jason. After all the episodes since then, people still come up to me and say, ‘FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III was the scariest ever!’ We’re sitting her 25 years later, so we must have done something right.


At the time Steve [Miner] called me, I was working on a musical that closed after two weeks and a day; otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here. This is actually the first time I’ve seen this movie. I saw the parts I scored, but I only had a couple of days so we used music from the old film. So I finally got to see the whole film tonight, and I thought the 3D was spectacular! I had a ball. So who came up with the disco idea? Back then that was really hot. A guy named Michael Zager, a good friend of mine who was really into this, said, ‘We should do this.’ So I went over to Michael Zager’s house and played him various pieces of the FRIDAY THE 13TH score. I told him, ‘You need to use these three chords and this tune.’ I said, ‘When you come to the right part, just call me. I’ll come in and go… [Manfredini whispers the famous Jason echo motif].

[NOTE: Before the panel departed, there was mention that there are extremely tentative plans for a revamped 3D release of the film.]

Hatchet will hack its way to DVD in unrated form

HATCHET – the ultra-cool neo-slasher flick that got a brief platform release a few weeks back – is headed to DVD on December 18 from Anchor Bay Entertainment. There will be two versions available: the R-rated theatrical cut and the unrated cut that wowed fans around the world on the festival circuit. Plus, the discs will be loaded with behind the scenes extras that reveal how writer-director Adam Green managed to achieve so much on a low buget.
Read the official press release below the fold.
Continue reading “Hatchet will hack its way to DVD in unrated form”

HATCHET: Interview with writer-director Adam Green

HATCHET is a rare achievement: an homage that exceeds the originals. Inspired by ’80s slasher icons like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees., writer-director Adam Green has fashioned an atmospheric, fun-filled horror thrill-ride that delivers the gore, along with clever characterization and doses of humor that make the film funny and scary, not just an exercise in spilling entrails.

Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, Tamara Feldman: Guess who dies first?

Anchor Bay Entertainment releases the film in limited engagements nationwide on Friday, September 7; unfortunately, unlike the HALLOWEEN remake (which is in over 3,000 theatres), HATCHET will screen in only a couple dozen cities around the country. (You can find a partial list here, but check your local listings to be sure.) Even this small exposure is quite an achievement when you consider that the film was a labor of love, produced independently because it did not fit the current Hollywood formula. Below the fold, you will find our interview with Green, who describes the long and winding road he took to get his “old school horror” film onto the big screen

Continue reading “HATCHET: Interview with writer-director Adam Green”

Hatchet (2006)

A tour of the swamp turns to terror in the horror homage HATCHET.

Slasher homage exceeds originals

This may be the bucket of blood that splatter fans were eagerly anticipating (those for whom FRIDAY THE 13TH is a fond memory), but it is also an excellent horror film with solid scripting and strong performances that make it appealing to a wider audience.
The movie is an unapologetic throwback to 1980s slasher films, with numerous tips of the hats to its progenitors. Robert Englund (best known as dream demon Freddy Kruger) has a cameo as an early victim; Tony Todd (best known as Candyman) puts in a brief, comical appearance; makeup man John Carl Buechler (FROM BEYOND) provides the carnage and appears on-screen as the obligatory prophet of doom, a drunken old loon warning the tourists that death awaits them in the swamp. Finally, Kane Hodder (best known as masked killer Jason Voorhees) plays the mad, mutant, and possibly supernatural psycho-killer.
Which is completely appropriate because HATCHET, like FRIDAY THE 13TH, is about some teen-agers stalked by a mad killer in the woods. The story follows a group of friends on vacation who decided to take a night-time boat tour; unfortunately, the boat runs aground, stranding them in the middle of territory presided over – or so legend has it – by the deformed off-spring of a lonely cabin-dweller who was killed by a Halloween prank gone wrong.
Set in the Louisiana bayou, the film has atmosphere to spare, and even the obligatory legend explaining the killer’s existence is presented with panache. The suggestion of supernatural overtones (the killer is supposed to have died in the fire that killed his father), along with the creepiness of the location, creates an ambience wherein the existence of an apparently unstoppable killer seems complete convincing – not just an obligatory genre convention.

HATCHET far exceeds its inspiration models, thanks to convincing execution by writer-director Adam Greenberg, who makes the gore scenes really hurt. Working with a convincing cast of characters – none of whom deserves their fate – he creates a wonderfully aggressive horror show filled with equal parts suspense and shock. Viewers won’t find themselves bored between atrocities, eagerly awaiting the next geyser of gore to break the tedium; even jaded gore hounds may find themselves squirming in dreadful anticipation of what will happen next. The film’s violence is unapologetically unrestrained; in fact, the film is almost too effective, becoming frightening rather than fun as the hapless tourists are picked off one by one in hideously graphic fashion: decapitation by shovel, a power saw to the face, and arms ripped out of their sockets, etc.
If there is any obvious flaw to HATCHET, it lies in perhaps too close an adherence to its role models, which inevitably served up obligatory “surprise” endings that left doors open for sequels. After exceeding expectations with its sense of credible story-telling, it’s a bit disappointing to see HATCHET surrender to mechanical genre conventions. The ending plays like a sop thrown to the hard-core horror hounds who don’t give a damn about character or story so long as there’s shock aplenty on view. The shock certainly works, but it yanks you out of the realm of verisimilitude, where you are genuinely frightened, and tosses you back into the movie-movie world, where you hoot and holler like someone enjoying a ride on a roller-coaster. The thrill’s still there, but it lacks the genuinely disturbing touch of something like THE DESCENT.


Victor Crowley confronts a tourist in the bayou.The film earned a reputation as a crowd-pleasing horror fave on the festival circuit in 2006. At its final festival screening, at Screamfest in Hollywood, October 2006, writer-director Adam Green told the eager audience. “Since we first showed it in March, this print has been all around the world, and I’ve been with it. Right now, I feel about like the print looks.” He pumped up the audience by adding, “Our best response has been in London, because those fuckers are crazy, but since this is the end of the tour and we’re back home, I think you can beat them. Let’s rip the roof off this place!” That was the first – but not the last -time that the audience erupted into applause.
The poster art for the film’s festival tour proudly proclaimed that HATCHET is “old school horror” (circa 1980): “It’s not a sequel. It’s not a remake. And it’s not based on a Japanese one.”  Truer words were never spoken.
After is festival run, HATCHET was picked up for home video distribution by Anchor Bay Entertainment, a company known for their excellent limited edition DVDs devoted to cult horror movies. The company opted to schedule for film for a platform theatrical release in 2007. The MPAA is likely to demand some major cuts in exchange for an R-rating. The film is strong enough to withstand the censors scissors without losing too much of its effectiveness.
SPOILER ALRERT: HATCHET drops a few subtle hints that lay the seeds for future sequels. In the flashback of the Halloween trick-or-treat gone wrong, the camera lingers on the masked face of one of the pranksters, without revealing his identity – which will probably be revealed in any follow-up. Most likely, he will turn out to be the alligator hunter, played by Robert Englund, who is an early victim in the film, making his death not one of random violence but of revenge.
HATCHET (2006). Written & directed by Adam Green. Cast: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Joel Murray, Richard Riehle, Patrika Darbo, Robert Englund, Joshua Leonard, Tony Todd, John Carl Buechler

Hot Fuzz is a Secret Splatter Movie – Borderland Film Review

HOT FUZZ – from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the team behind 2004’s wonderful zombie-comedy-romance SHAUN OF THE DEAD – at first resembles a spoof of cop movies. With Pegg as Nicholas Angel, an impossibly brilliant London police officer (not police “man”), who gets sent to a small village because his superiors are tired of the way his good example is making everyone else look bad by comparison. Needless to say, much comedy ensues from watching the supercop reduced to such trivial tasks as tracking down an escaped swan, before he finally uncovers a murderous conspiracy worthy of his talents. But surprise, surprise: the movie takes a big part of its inspiration not just from police-buddy movies (like BAD BOYS II, which is visually referenced in the film) but also from horror films. Continue reading “Hot Fuzz is a Secret Splatter Movie – Borderland Film Review”

Penny Dreadful (2006) – After Dark Horrorfest Review

pennydreadful.jpgPENNY DREADFUL is an enjoyable combination of psycho-thriller and slasher horror, which somehow achieves a slick, Hollywood-calibre visual style in spite of its modest budget. The film is not afraid to deliver gruesome horror, but it also dwells on the suspense, offering a tense situation featuring a vulnerable character trapped in a terrible predicament guaranteed to induce nail-biting in the audience – when they’re not leaping out of their seats at the shocks.
The story follows Penny Dearborn (Rachel Miner), a young woman who suffers from a phobia of automobiles ever since she survived an auto accident that killed her family, leaving her an orphan. Her therapist Orianna (Mimi Rogers) drives Penny on a long trip to the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, this confrontational therapy is sidetracked when Orianna’s car hits a pedestrian on a lonely, isolated road. The victim – who seems more than a little sinister – survives, hitching a ride with Penny and Orianna to a closed-down camp in the woods. The car breaks down; the therapist goes looking for help, and eventually Penny finds herself trapped inside the automobile when the hitchhiker turns out to be a homicidal lunatic, recently escaped from an asylum for the criminally insane. Continue reading “Penny Dreadful (2006) – After Dark Horrorfest Review”