Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Final Terror

This is a bit of a Friday the 13th knockoff, but still a good movie. It was a starting point for what was to be some very big actors on down the road, including Daryl Hannah (Splash, Steel Magnolias, and Kill Bill), Adrian Zmed (T.J. Hooker, Grease 2), Rachel Ward (the Thornbirds), Joe Pantoliano (The Goonies). A bunch of forest rangers take a camping trip to a remote location that is practically untouched (even though there is an outhouse conveniently nearby). Mike is the head forest ranger and is planning on bringing his girlfriend Mel along for the ride and Mel brings enough female friends to suit all the rangers. Except Eggar of course who is not only the most annoying ranger there, but is also a complete lunatic that everyone hates. He's only really coming along to drive the bus and to meet up with the rest of the group when they make it downstream. Eggar bitches constantly, mostly about the location that the group has decided to camp near. On the way to the campsite, they pass an isolated mental institution and joke that that's Eggars old home. While unloading the bus, a can of peaches falls out of the bus. Eggar acts highly suspicious about it an quickly hides it. Their first night camping, the typical camp fire stories are told. Boone (one of the rangers), tells a slightly disturbing tale about the area once being a logging camp. The owner and his family lived the and one day the father dies. An uncle comes to take his place and he was a mean son of a bitch. One day he takes the daughter on a walk in the forest and rapes her. She of course couldn't tell anyone because the uncle was supporting the family. Due to having to keep all this inside, she started going crazy so they put her in the mental institution that they passed on the way to the camp site. While there they discover that she's pregnant. After having the baby, it's deemed that she is obviously too messed up to take care of the kid so he's adopted. 19 years later a man about 19 years old storms into the institution and demands to see his mother. The guy freaks and steals her from the hospital. Of course she's still too crazy and he doesn't know what to do with her, so he put her out in these woods so she could live in peace. So the story goes... Whenever anyone camps there, she sneaks into your camp and whispers to to you "who stole my lamb?". Soon the obligatory "Boo!" comes and everyone jumps. Eggar gets totally pissed and leaves the campsite. Leaving everyone with serious hopes that he's gonna be there to pick them up the next day. That night a joke is played on one of the rangers named Marco (Zmed). Dennis and Nathaniel convince Marco to be their lookout while they steal some dope from a nearby pot crop. They tell him to howl like a wolf every 45 seconds and to stop howling if someone comes. Poor Marco is left howling all night while Dennis and Nathaniel head back to camp. The next morning Dennis and Nathaniel admit that they left Marco in the woods and since Marco hasn't returned yet, he is presumed lost. Mike is pissed and makes Dennis and Nathaniel show him where they left him. While the others look upstream, Mike searches downstream. While searching for Marco, Mike runs into his girlfriend Mel and they take a break from the search for Marco to have sex in the woods. While humping, a moss covered "thing" stabs Mike in the back and kills him. Mel is dragged away, screaming. Still searching for Marco, Dennis and Nathaniel come across a shack deep in the woods. They investigate and find a raft that belongs to their ranger station. They go inside and find the can of peaches that Eggar was so protective of, they also find Eggar's hat. Sure that Eggar is staying there, they look around for more evidence. Aside from finding and pocketing a jar of magic mushrooms, they also come across the severed head of a bear and realize that Eggar is sicker than they thought. That night withMike and Mel still missing the rest of the group are sure that something is wrong. They decide to stay an extra night there and wait for their presumed lost friends. In the middle of the night a gray haired moss covered ( person, creature, thing ?) creeps into their camp and gently strokes the hair of one of the sleeping female campers. She awakes and freaks. While recuperating from her creepy encounter, a strange figure creeps up to the camp, luckily it turns out to be Marco... with a huge pot stash, completely having the last laugh. He's made to feel like shit because Mike and Mel are still missing while out looking for him. Vanessa, one of the female campers, is completely fed up with all the games and pranks, and storms off to the outhouse. Upon reaching the outhouse, horror sets in as she is greeted with Mikes severed head (guess she doesn't need the outhouse anymore). For the rest of the film, she's never really the same. Assuming Eggar is the culprit, they camouflage themselves up and raid his shack upon dawn. He isn't home so they steal the raft and head for the river. Just as they're leaving, you can see that there is a space below the floor and that the mossy figure is holding knife to Mel's face so that she can't call to her friends for help. As the group is heading down the river, you see a rock slowly begin to move. Not only is the moss covered figure able to completely blend into the surrounding forest, but is also following them. Out of nowhere, Mel's lifeless body is thrown onto the raft, her throat slit wide open. The group bury her and keep on trucking down the river. As they finally reach the bridge, the bus is there as scheduled. Assuming it's a trap, they wait till dark to approach the bus. Eggar is suspiciously not there. All hopes of driving themselves out of there are crushed when they look under the hood and find it trashed. The bus looks like a better place to crash than the riverbank, so they do so. Dumbass Dennis decides that the magic mushrooms might make a nice snack while everyone else naps. Soon they are ambushed by someone bearing an ax. They narrowly escape out the back window. While escaping, Wendy (Hannah) gets lost and out of nowhere, someone wielding a blade, slices her face. Luckily one of the other campers knows first aid and sews her up with what looks like fishing line. Here, we see a quick shot of Eggar at the shack, mumbling to himself "I told 'em not to go.", leading us to believe that he may not be the actual killer. After Wendy's mishap, they decide mutually decide that Eggar should die because he is assumed to be the killer. Upon morning, they forge ahead with plans to trap and kill Eggar. They find a huge downed tree revealing a large open space. Soon everyone notices that Dennis is acting awfully strange, singing to himself and droning on and on about Vietnam. Nathaniel tells the others about the mushrooms and needless to say, they are really pissed. Excluding him from the plans, they rig a log with spikes between two trees and set it with a trip wire. Marco calls out to Eggar and eventually he shows. When Marco shouts "Now!", the group jumps out and beats him to death. Before dying he calls out "Ma!". Soon the mossy figure climbs out onto the fallen tree and runs toward the group. While climbing up the tree stump, she trips Dennis and he falls and breaks his neckShe hits the trip wire and the log bearing the spikes comes down and impales her. The group just stands there in total shock. Surprise, surprise, the campfire tale was true and much closer to home than previously thought. The end. O.K. So it's a pretty predictable movie but still enjoyable. Originally filmed in 1981, it wasn't released until 1983 when the careers of Daryl Hannah and Adrien Zmed began rising. I'm not sure where this was filmed but the forest scenes are truly breathtaking. The night shots are a little too dark and hard to see, mostly because the low budget couldn't allow fancy movie lighting. I checked the credits and ironically Eggar's mother is played by a man. I couldn't find a trailer so I included the entire movie, enjoy!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Night of the Demons

Originally released straight to video, this little gem of a movie was actually really good and was immediately taken off the shelves and released in theaters everywhere. A perfect Halloween movie with lots of horror, action, and even a good dose of comedy. Angela, a total goth chick (who, by the way is Golden Girl Rue McClanahan's niece, who now works as a pet psychic) who decides to throw the Halloween party to end all Halloween parties. She plans not to have the party at her house but at Hull House, an enormous abandoned funeral parlor with a really horrific past. Apparently, the Hull family met a gruesome end, killed each other and now the house is supposed to be infested with demons. Even before the massacre, Mr. Hull had a penchant for "dating" his deceased clientele. A group of "teens" (I use quotes because they all look over 30) arrive at Angela's party. The friends who arrive always strikes me as weird because none of them act like they would ever be friends or even give each other the time of day. There's of course Angela, a goth chick who treats everyday as if it were Halloween. Judy, a prudent perpetual virgin. Judy's preppy date Jay, who dresses like Don Johnson and wants nothing but sex. Max and Fran, a couple that are probably the two most normal people there. Stooge, a fat foul mouthed punk rocker. Roger, the stereotypical scared black man. Suzanne, an oversexed nymphomaniac in a pink tutu that looks like she could pass for forty. Sal, a guy with the strongest New York italian accent I've ever heard in my life. And finally Helen, a totally forgettable character that you hope gets killed off as soon as possible. While playing Halloween party games (seances, bobbing for apples with razor blades in them, etc), they hear a noise coming from the basement (crematorium), then feel a strong chill and a repulsive stench. According to Angela, these are all signs of demonic infestation (told ya she was a goth chick year round). Suzanne opens her mouth to apply some lipstick and a demon takes this opportunity to infest her. Against Angela's advice to leave, the rest of the party guests decide to do some sightseeing. Before departing, Suzanne kisses Angela, infesting her with demon possession as well. Through on way or another all the other guests infest each other till everyone's possessed, Angela being their ringleader. With only Judy and Roger left unpossessed, the desperate fight to stay alive ensues. There is a brick wall surrounding this property and according to legend, the wall marks an underground stream which the demons cannot cross. Unfortunately, on Halloween night the brick wall has no gate, meaning no exit. Apparently in this movie, the legend about Halloween being the only night of the year that all demons and evil spirits are allowed to roam the earth. With all the possessed party guests chasing them, Judy and Roger have no other choice but to climb the barbed wire on the wall in order to escape. Movies almost never bother me but this was a painful scene to watch. Ironically, as soon as Judy and Roger make it over the wall, the sun comes up and all the demons turn to green smoke. Two more minutes and they could've used the gate instead of tearing their hands up on that barbed wire. Strolling home, torn clothes, cuts and bruises, and generally looking like shit... they pass an old man who complains about them obviously being out "partying" all night. By the way, this old jerk was actually giving out razor blade filled apples to kids because they are just one of his many hatreds. The movie ends with his wife serving him a homemade apple pie for breakfast. With an "oh shit!" look on his face, the razors start to slice his neck to ribbons. He dies face down in a puddle of blood and pie. His wife looks down at him and merely says... "Happy Halloween, Dear".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Initiation

This is a great little flick circa 1984, starring Daphne Zuniga when no one had any idea who the hell Daphne Zuniga was. Her first feature film actually and it isn't a bad one, all things considered. It's got a decent story with a very unexpected twist ending. Daphne plays Kelly Fairchild, the rich daughter of wealthy parents who own some of the most prestigious shopping malls in the world. Kelly has a problem though, she has a strange recurring nightmare that haunts her constantly. In the dream she awakes to the sound of her parents making love. She has the overwhelming urge to stab her father. A strange man enters and scuffles with her father. The strange man is doused in alcohol and set on fire by her father and the dream ends as she watches the stranger burn to death. While studying dreams and nightmares at the college she attends, she meets professor Peter Adams. He suspects that there is more to Kelly's dream than meets the eye. He runs all the typical tests... EEG, MRI, hypnosis, etc. While under hypnosis, her meddling mother barges in. After trying to awake her using her name (Fairchild), she doesn't respond. Mom suggests that he use the name Randall... it works and Kelly awakes. Sidetrack to a scene at an asylum where a gardener with burns over most of his body makes a slight connection to a female patient. As he digs into the ground with a spiked trowel, the female patient seems to get the idea. That night many patients manage to escape, most are caught but one remains elusive. Kelly's parents are informed of the escape and are genuinely worried beyond the general worry of an escaped mental patient. Back to Kelly's sorority life, typical college shenanigans go on. The annual prank night is based around Kelly. The prank is for Kelly and two of her sorority sisters to break into the Fairchild department store and steal the night watchman's uniform. What they don't know is that the night watchman has already been murdered by someone with a spiked gardening trowel. After Kelly and her friends are in the building, another sorority sister (a real bitch named Megan) has invited two fraternity brothers along with intentions of scaring the shit out of Kelly and her friends. At this point no one knows that they are locked in with a killer. Backtrack again to Peter Adams who is doing some major research on Kelly's family history and has found some very unsavory tidbits. It seems that Kelly's recurring nightmare is actually a suppressed memory. Turns out that Kelly walked in on her mother humping Dwight Fairchild, who was a strange man to Kelly, and certainly not her father. Her real father Jason Randall walks in and catches them, at which point Dwight pours alcohol over him and burns him almost to death. This traumatic incident gives poor Kelly amnesia, leading to the confusion of who her real father was. The reason she would see herself stabbing her "father" remains unexplained for now. Back at the department store, everyone gets killed off one by one. Kelly manages to make it up to the roof where she is approached by a man that has been severely burned. She assumes this is the killer and hits him with a pipe, knocking him over the edge to a splattery death. Oops, she just killed her own father. Another oops is that he's not the killer. Thinking she's safe, she goes back into the store to wait for help to arrive. Peter Adams arrives instead and sees Kelly and rushes over to her and they embrace. Out of nowhere she stabs him. Seconds later the "real" Kelly comes around the corner and stares in disbelief as she looks right into the face of her own twin sister that she never knew existed. Though her name is never spoken in the film, she is credited with the name Terry. Terry looks at Kelly and says "Just like looking into a mirror isn't it?" Obviously this is the girl that stabbed Mr. Fairchild, not Kelly. A chase ensues and Terry tells of her plans to kill Kelly and take her place. She raises her knife "Goodnight sister darling" and bang! Mom comes to the rescue and shoots and kills her maniacal daughter Terry. The End. Pretty good twist, but I think it would've been better if Terry actually did kill Kelly and take her place. It seems to me that a mental patient would blend right in with your typical sorority.