On the magic Summer’s night of high school’s end, Julie, Helen, Ray and Barry get into Barry’s new Beamer and drive out to celebrate, their lives and hopes before them. But on the road they have a terrible accident; hit and kill a man. In the shock and panic that follows, they dump the body in the sea rather than reporting the accident. As the body sinks, the hand of the dead man breaks the surface in a last grasp at life, then disappears into the murky depths. The four friends realise they are now guilty of murder and swear to take their secret to their graves. But now someone is stalking them, someone who knows who they are, knows what they did last Summer, and seeks revenge…
1997 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
8.0 out of 10
Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books. Not just any old book though, but Star Trek books. (This is cue for you to both yawn and go find something else to do, or think this is the best thing, ever. I don’t mind which you choose; after all, not everyone mentally and emotionally matures at the same speed.) So anyway, for those of you who have matured sufficiently… I’ll admit that in the past I’ve flirted a little with Star Trek novels and Star Trek audiobooks. (I must confess that I especially love the minimal effort the latter take to enjoy and that I can do other things at the same time, like drive or go to sleep. What’s not so good is the limited range of titles available, their cost and the fact that most have been greatly abridged.) Star Trek was always as much about the relationships between the characters, as the ‘blowing things up’ stuff. If it sometimes tries too hard to project a perfect version of America as itself, then I can forgive it that. Most of these stories were based somewhere in the known Star Trek timeline, generally between this episode or that episode, or occasionally kind of outside it. Following the release of “Star Trek: Nemesis” a void opened up, one as large as the universe itself. The Star Trek reboot, whilst brilliant in its own way, can never hope to fill this space; it’s simply the wrong shape, size and timeline. This void is empty except for one thing, a single Question; what happened to everyone? The novels from this period are generally really entertaining and exciting, well written and treat ‘known’ Star Trek history with the appropriate level of respect and consistency. However, they don’t answer that Question. Then in May 2001, “Avatar” was published, a story written and set after the end of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. Over next few years more books came out that did a similar thing and were set after the various TV series and then finally Nemesis itself. Suddenly we could have answers to the Question. Of course not everyone likes how future history is working out and what’s happened or happening to all those characters we travelled with for so long, but I’m finding the experience to be wonderfully entertaining. No longer hemmed in by ‘official’ history or the limitations of TV or film productions, the books set in the period after Nemesis are able to chart their own way forward, taking the Star Trek story further into the future. They also do a pretty good job of maintaining their internal consistency from one to the next and between different authors. This makes it feel like they’re all part of one, giant story arc, rather than just random tales. I’ve just finished reading the “Destiny” trilogy. This does fundamental things with the Star Trek universe that would have taken a whole series on TV to do justice to them, as well as a sizable special effects budget. For anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge and started to read these books, I’d fully recommend you find the time to do so. I wish I could write stories… This film was the first part of a trilogy. I think that’s about as far as I can push the comparison.
This movie initially worried me. If someone really did know what I did last summer, then it was likely to be a totally over the top erotic thriller, with elements of horror, science-fiction and comedy mixed in with it. (Although I must admit I was curious to see who was playing me in it.) In the end it turned out to be a teen horror with Buffy in it and some killer running around wearing a yellow pacamac and carrying a hook so bent I can’t imagine it was easy to get it to go into anything, never mind a squealing teen. It also features the absolutely worst pretend ice cubes I’ve ever seen a movie; seriously, they don’t even sound like ice. And it heavily features “Hush” by Kula Shaka on the soundtrack too, one of the most insipid, horrible tunes ever to be conjured into existence. It’s awful. I can remember walking past the video hire shop (remember them) in Colliers Wood on a number of occasions when it first came out on VHS and seeing a big, cardboard cut-out for it in the window. (Come to think of it, it could have been for one of its two sequels, but let’s ignore that possibility for now. N.B. Actually I’ve thought about it some more, I think it might have been an advert for the whole trilogy.) I can’t recall exactly what went through my mind at the time, but I think there was a level of disappointment that suggests to me now I wasn’t expecting to see it. It’s weird how you can sometimes recall these random thoughts years later. I guess my disappointment must have been pretty profound. Despite all this (and more), it’s actually a really good film, but I can’t for the life of me work out why. Pretty enigmatic, isn’t it? I think they’re making a new version of it too…
The evil of Kula Shaker aside, the soundtrack is actually okay and includes songs by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Offspring.
The trailer. It’s better with the sound off.
Recommend for students and fisherman.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Despite being an entirely obnoxious rich-boy who seemed to exist entirely for the purpose of pissing off his friends and showing his stomach muscles off to the viewer, Ray finally does the right thing and saves The Girl from The Baddie. As well as being a cliché of the first degree, this is (if it was real of course) a really badass thing to do. (However, he’d probably have been killed by Ben if it was real life, so it’s just as well it’s only a movie.)
There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom… murder in the metal shop. Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out! In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly. One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life. Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.” The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!
1986 – Certificate: Unrated – American Film
7.0 out of 10
I’m crap at everything. However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming. Yesterday was a good case in point. I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway. It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about. All that choice! Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us. At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other. Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees. Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick. There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it. I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too. Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh. One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….
Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’. To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either. It’s not boring anyway. Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest. The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either. Did I like Marty the vengeful killer? Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands. The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too. Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here. The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse. What a nasty set of individuals. Awful. I’m glad they’re all dead now. And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful. Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s. And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either. And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles? He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool. Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt. For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised? I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so. I know, I’m probably over analysing things. Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker. I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.
Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory. Yes, very deep.
The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too. Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. Surprisingly.
Top badass moment? No one likes a bully. And we like groups of bullies even less. So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one. Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too. That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.
Eager for one final vacation before their lives change forever, six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area. By nightfall, their lives will change forever… in ways too horrific to imagine. For in the shadows awaits a pack of the most evil, vicious rejects of humanity, addicted to violence and thirsty for blood! This is “Psycho Holocaust”…
2011 – Certificate: Not Rated – USA
6 out of 10
I’m not just an uncouth, middle-aged yobbo, who only listens to angry punk music and watches slasher movies. No, I also have a cultured, respectable side, the sort that The Queen would be entirely at home with. In proof, I offer up the fact that I’ve just finished reading “The Hand of Ethelberta” by Thomas Hardy, not for the first time either. In between reading Star Trek novels I read Thomas Hardy ones. The latter is of course, the greatest writer the world has ever seen. In fact I’m a fully paid-up member of the Thomas Hardy Society. That’s how cultured I am. Unlike “The Terminator” Sara Connor’s “No fate but what we make”, Hardy’s novels generally provide more of a ‘fate will do whatever it wants with you, despite your best efforts to do otherwise, and you probably won’t like it either’ point of view. Even though it’s one of Hardy’s more light-weight stories, “The Hand of Ethelberta” once again provides us with a reminder that it’s basically pointless trying to do something about your lot in life, or dream about bettering yourself. When it comes down to it, you might win a few battles, but the war will be lost. I find Hardy an excellent counter-balance to the optimism and can-do attitude prevalent in Star Trek. Together, they help to keep me grounded! This movie is more Thomas Hardy than Star Trek.
“Six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area” eh? I wonder what on Earth this film could be about? Ornithology? Geology? Photography? Actually, it features three veterans of the conflict in Iraq, in a searing and damming documentary about the effects of combat on individuals and the political implications of going to war. Okay, I lied a bit. It does indeed feature three veterans (and one was a documentary film maker), but then it all sort of goes where a million low-budget horrors have gone before. In its favour, our six ‘heroes’ weren’t teenagers and even the three war veterans displayed a clear lack of fantasy indestructibleness. (Cool, a six-syllable word that Word approves of.) The latter also exhibited a genuine concern for their local environment, (an attractive woodland). It was heartening to see a couple of sick and twisted psychos busy taking two of their victims off to a location to kill them in, discussing an impending plan to turn the area into “one big fucking suburb”. A small quirk of fate and they’d have been running about, carrying out direct action in the name of Earth First instead. That’s the ‘Hardy Effect’ for you. The violence is well up to scratch and some (though not all) of the special effects are generally pretty believable. The lead baddie is suitably effective and entertaining, even though he did look a little too like Simon Pegg to be totally convincing. I kept expecting him to pick up a pile of LPs and use them as weapons. Despite the occasionally horrific bit of acting, the film works well as a B-movie and the violence scores highly on the official sick-gross-eew scale. Turning to health and safety now, a number of different tools get used in the film, including two carpenter’s saws, a claw hammer, a few hand axes, a double-headed axe and a sort of flat bladed butcher’s hatchet, as well as a chainsaw. By and large, these were used in a generally appropriate and certainly effective way, although the arm that was cut off wasn’t really secured properly and the no-handed use of one of the saws isn’t a formally recognised technique. (You may wish to give that some further though.) Unfortunately, as is often the case, the chainsaw was used with little or no attention paid to safety. I couldn’t see any PPE in use and even an idiot must surely realise that running about in a woodland carrying a running chainsaw, over uneven terrain full of trip hazards, isn’t a terribly good idea. It never fails to amaze me how few chainsaw wielding psychos use their equipment safely. Particularly in this case, considering the latter were ex-military; this was disappointing and certainly made the whole movie feel a lot less realistic. However, it did seem to start really easily, from both hot and cold, so at least it looks like it was being maintained properly, which is promising.
1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 1 decapitation. Bingo! The first film I’ve watched for ages that gets a full set. (I think the cat was just a bystander that ran onto the set though.) There’re a few other rather painful amputations too.
Recommended for would-be psychos. An excellent training film.
Top badass moment? It’s certainly a gentleman’s leg-crossing moment, but Laura’s treatment of her would-be rapist was pretty awesome; I’m just not sure how feasible it would be in real life (so says Mr. Modest-Bigboy). It wasn’t that she’d had an especially good day up to then either. A whipping, a drowning, another rape, a bashing on the head with a big rock and finding her boyfriend missing a leg, (who then promptly fell on her when she tried to help him, trapping her), do not a good day make for anyone. And let’s not forget her safe and effective use of the double-headed axe too.
I hate job interviews. I’d rather face the end of the world, on a wet day, when I’ve got a stinking cold, than be interviewed. They have the bizarre effect of temporarily rendering me insane and only capable of repeating, over and over again, that my would-be employer is the world’s worst organisation and one I despise in every way; think of the bastard corporate offspring of McDonalds, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Rio Tinto, appointing Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Augusto Pinochet as directors and you’ll get some idea of the problem. Eric Cartman probably interviews better than me. Interviewing others however, is very different; I quite enjoy doing that as I’m a sadistic, evil psychopath, who hates absolutely everyone. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in interviewing seven people for two jobs. I accept that in life I probably can’t get away with murdering every single individual on the planet, so the next best thing is to torture a small number of them, by using a legal loophole that enables me to psychologically damage people using an interrogation technique, which involves asking them a lot of deeply personal questions about their darkest fears and experiences. If I can throw in a question about Star Trek, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the job (and I can’t imagine why such a question every would have), so much the better. (I imagine there’s a whole sub-genera of films based around this particular fetish, although I’ve not personally come across any yet.) There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing an empty box of tissues on the table at the end of the day. Interviewing is like being an actor in a play, (a pantomime is probably the best analogy). You do and say the same things, over and over again, for each ‘victim’. I guess there’re a lot like slasher horrors too; you know a group of (generally) young people are going to go to a mysterious, isolated location, where something truly horrible will be done to them, one by one, by a strange, inhuman entity of some sort; and only one will survive! I like to think of myself as a bit like Jason Voorhees when I’m interviewing; focused on a single outcome, without a shred of compassion, empathy or humanity. This film is of course, about being interviewed…
2009 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong bloody violence and strong sex
This is the reboot of Friday 13th. So, a group of young people go somewhere and run into a bad guy with a big knife. They don’t get on. The end. I can’t really imagine there’re a lot of people who will watch this film and not already have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. It’s not a bad film by any means, but it suffers a bit from the ‘Twilight Effect’, by which I mean it’s a horror story superimposed on a teen drama. It never truly becomes too gory, too scary or too horrifying, although to be fair it does have its moments. Critically, it manages to keep the characters sufficiently annoying and irritating, so that the viewer will never really start to sympathise with them, which is what’s important when the real point of the movie is to see them all get killed by the man in the hockey mask. There’s nothing worse than feeling a twang of sorrow for the victims when a horror icon is going about his, her, or its business.
Recommended for anyone who isn’t genetically programmed to watch reboots of old classics to automatically say something along the lines of, “well, it’s not as good as the original.” This may often be true, but just blurting it out with no thought makes you sound like a Sun reader.
No cats, 3 decapitations and no chainsaws. Only one decapitation is on-screen, but it’s done to Major Kira Nerys from Star Trek Deep Space Nine; what a tragedy of epic proportions! One of the others is only in the deleted scenes.
Top badass moment? There are surprisingly few potential choices, so in the end I’m going for Jason’s excellent throw with the full-sized, double-headed axe. Getting one of them to fly through the air any sort of distance would be hard enough, but throwing one with enough accuracy and power to fell someone who’s running fast and a good 20m or so ahead of you, is pretty impressive. What a shame he didn’t get the opportunity to take up the javelin, discus or hammer; things might have worked out very differently if he had.
One of the things that’s always puzzled me about trees is that you chop them down and then you chop them up. What’s all that about then? This film features no scenes in which trees play a significant part, (although one does have what you might call an important ‘supporting role’ at one point); there is, nevertheless, quite a lot of chopping up going on in it.
2007 – Certificate: R – USA
Rating Details: Violence (including rape), sexual content, language and substance abuse all involving teens
When I was 17/18, I spent most of my time either trying to learn things, or talking to my best mates, Jacob and Simon, about music and stuff. It’s true, sometimes life wasn’t much fun, but I don’t recall anyone being branded the “school slut” or any murders taking place amongst the school population. I guess everything really is bigger and, eh, ‘better’ in America. Despite the sometimes weak acting, this is a generally fun horror to watch. It’s especially fun if you like to see the clever, quiet girl at school (called Michelle in this example) get abused and then branded as the “School Slut”, before she takes revenge on her tormentors by killing them off, one by one; I know I do. I have to say I could see her point, bullies are bad. Her mum was the mother-from-hell too, with the film providing us with a master-class in how to be a bad parent. If I was Michelle I’d had dealt with her at the same time; in for a penny in for a pound as they say. Angelique Hennessy (Michelle) puts in a decent performance, some of the time anyway; but in truth all she really needs to do is look foxy (which she does) and let her unfeasibly long legs do the acting for her. (Why the cover art on the DVD doesn’t even seem to feature her, I have no idea.) She’s vegan too according to IMDB (the actress not the character), so as far as I’m concerned that means Michelle was just getting rid of a few carnivores, so we should all be thankful to her for that. What this film does do well is take its time giving the main characters personalities that aren’t all a carbon copy of one another and seem more like real people with real motivations, before the inevitable blood-bath starts up. It made watching them die more enjoyable! Oh yes, the main male character Aaron, looks an awful lot like Tim Wheeler from Ash, which was decidedly weird. On a technical note, it features a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. Where’d the base channel go? It did have a distinctly scratchy sound and would probably send any dogs unfortunate enough to hear it into a rage. By the way, don’t watch this and expect it to be very realistic, it will just spoil it for you if you do.
No cats or chainsaws, but 1 decapitation. The latter a one-swipe classic with a machete, in a full Jason Voorhees outfit. Excellent!
You know what sort of characters are featured in this film; you know what they get up to; so you know exactly the sort of demographic it’s recommended for.
Top badass moment? It was good to see Michelle, even during her killing spree, was taking the time to continue with her studies. A good education is very important and therefore badass; after all, you can’t be a serial killer forever.
Yesterday I drove for two and a half hours, then spent three hours teaching three people how to drive a minibus, then spent another two and a half hours sitting in a minibus watching them drive it, then drove for another two and a half hours home. Yesterday the world seemed to be full of idiots driving cars, and I’m not referring to the learners who I was with either. At one point on the way home I was driving along a bit of dual carriageway and slowly catching a yellow car up. I don’t generally drive that fast, rarely more than 60 m.p.h., as I want to give myself the illusion that somehow I’m doing my bit to save the planet whilst simultaneously driving nearly 1,000 miles a month. Anyway, I pulled out to overtake the yellow car. As I passed it and looked in my mirror to see if I could go back into the inside lane, I noticed it had speeded up. I ended up doing over 80 with this fucking asshole still playing stupid buggers next to me. After having had to put up with so many other cretins on the roads yesterday, something snapped inside. I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the yellow car, forcing it off the road and down an embankment into a field, where I think it hit a tree or something and burst into flames. I’m not sure what happened to the driver and I don’t care as long as it hurt; I didn’t bother to stop and check what had happened to him. What a selfish bastard he was too, as I’ve now I’ve got a dent in my car to explain away and get fixed. It’s a jungle out there on the roads. (Just like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Dual”, I never really got a good look at my protagonist.) Well, okay that only happened in my mind, but the intent (if not the guts) was there. In fact what did happen is that I gave up trying to overtake the yellow car and humiliatingly went back to 60 m.p.h. behind it. However, as cars, driving and men are inextricably linked to the latter’s sexual prowess and I failed to overtake the yellow car, I think I’m probably impotent now. He, on the other hand, is probably making his first porn movie even as I type this. Great! In a similar way, this film is about a young woman with intimacy issues.
2003 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
I think the makers of this film started off wanting to make a serious torture porn movie but then got fed up with the idea and decided a comedy slasher/thriller would be a much better idea. Otherwise why suddenly introduce a bizarre sub-plot involving Siamese twins and then another one about a bank robbing stripper? It’s original, I’ll give it that. It suffers from some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, yet at other times it’s really okay. Fiona Horsey (the lead character) is a bit of a babe; (am I still allowed to say stuff like that)? All the men in the film are portrayed as perverts, deviants, weirdos, rapists, sociopaths and murderers; the woman don’t do a lot better either, but the guys really do get a bit of a hammering. Ultimately it’s an entertaining movie, simply because it’s so ridiculous. I did feel a bit sorry for Helen, no one is that unlucky with men. Most of it was filmed on the Isle of Wight too.
Recommended for someone; not sure who, but someone.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations. However, plenty of men do, em, ‘disappear’ inside Helen, totally.
Top badass moment? In a film filled with characters that are simultaneously both pathetic and horrible, there’s not a terribly large choice. So I guess it has to be Helen, for simply putting up with so much shit. They say dealing with it well makes you a stronger person.