Entries in SOV (3)

Friday
Feb012013

What's In A Number? 555 (1988) Review

Oh boy, more SOV “goodness.” I will say 555 had some balls concerning its marketing campaign. The title, while bland, is somewhat intriguing just because it may be the only horror movie title consisting only of numbers. Then there’s the decision to put the tape in a pink VHS box, which has to be one of the bravest (or stupidest) decisions in all of marketing. Also, that great tagline: 'Viewing may cause damage to your brain cells!" And, the main draw of the movie, that fantastic decapitation they slapped right on the cover. How could anyone resist?

555 (1988) Review

In a coastal town, someone dressed like a sixties hippie is killing off anyone he finds having sex. A hard-nosed detective and his partner are put on the case, but consistently find dead-ends no matter where they turn and keep running into a tough female reporter who wants to help them figure out who’s killing everyone. They eventually find out that every five years, during the fifth month, for five days, this wacko comes out in different cities and continues his murderous rampage. Can they catch him before he goes into hiding for another five years?

Like most SOV movies, 555 isn’t very good. But, it’s better than most of its kind. And, once again, the movie’s biggest weakness and greatest strength is really just its incompetence. Yet again, it seems like everybody put their all into the making the film despite the obvious limitations, and it’s really not too painful to watch unlike others from the same year (Cannibal Campout). In fact, there are some really good things to be said for 555, as well as the typical amount if negative things, but when all is said and done, this really isn’t that memorable.

While this is pretty much your average police procedural/slasher movie, 555 contains some interesting ideas that distinguishes it from similar fare. The look of the killer is original, despite looking incredibly cheap (dig the fake hair and shirt), and his habit of engaging in a little necrophilia after a murder isn’t something commonly found in slashers from this time. The body count for this one isn’t too high either (9, I believe), but I felt the spacing between them was good and it wasn't just 45-minutes of dead air followed by seven murders in five minutes. There’s definitely a good amount of blood, and the effects are alright considering the movie’s budget. And, I might add, the decapitation does not disappoint. In fact, it’s probably my favorite death from any SOV slasher so far.

Sadly, 555 falls prey to many of the bad things plaguing others of its kind. There is a good amount of bloody bodies, but a lot of the movies is focused on the police investigating the murders. Thankfully, these parts aren’t too boring thanks to the lead detective who’s impossible to take seriously. He acts like he's the toughest cop in the city and has a really short temper, and goes off for no reason a lot. It’s a lot like watching David Campbell’s character from Killer Workout, only with less entertaining insults. He also looks like what would happen if Paul Scheer and Michael Ironside got stuck in a teleportation pod together and morphed into a single entity. The tough-as-nails female reporter was also fun, but I wouldn’t say she was “easy on the eyes,” which makes the scene where she seduces a red herring really uncomfortable! Some typical so-bad-it’s-funny moments occur when the killer pulls a knife out of a victim followed by the squeak of Styrofoam, a reverse-motion neck slice, the detective's office that's obviously a set, and a killer whose identity I managed to guess in the first four minutes of the movie (a new record for me!). 

555 really isn’t that good; thankfully, it’s not really that bad either. I would say this is definitely one of the best SOV horrors floating around (really think about that before watching). There really isn’t a whole lot to say about it because this is pretty standard stuff. It starts the way you expect it to, and ends the way you expect it to. Indie releasing company Massacre Video put out what looks to be a really good DVD of the movie containing liner notes, interviews, an image gallery, trailers, and reversible art. It can be purchased on the Massacre Video website (www.massacrevideo.com). If SOV horror is your game, this is one you should definitely pick up. It’s a crappy movie, but it’s a crappy movie with a cool killer, over-the-top characters, terrible acting, a lot of heart, and a nifty decapitation.

The Verdict: While it can be a tedious affair, this movie sits near the top of the SOV horror mountain, so that’s got to count for something. I give 555 the appropriate rating of…

Score: 5/10

Monday
Oct222012

It Has Been Found: THE HACKERS (1988) Review

Ah, the late-eighties. The magical time period when any schmuck with a camera, a few foolish friends, some ketchup, and lots of beer could make their own horror movie using a home movie camera, then have it distributed by some bottom-of-the-barrel distributor. What a great time period. Of course, now I always feel obligated to track down these chunks of garbage and watch them, and a lot of them are really hard to find! Case in point: The Hackers. No, not that nineties movie about the computer hackers! This is pure late-eighties dumpster material. Well, I finally managed to pull it out of the shadows and watch it so you don’t have to. Is it any good, you ask? Do you even need an answer?

THE HACKERS (1988) Review

 

The movie opens with a hitchhiker walking along a back road, when a jeep passes by, then…CHOP! Off goes his thumb! Turns out the jeep belongs to the Hackers, and one of them just sliced off that poor hitchhikers thumb with a hunting knife (what an asshole!). The Hackers are a family consisting of an old man, A.J. Hacker, and his two sons, Arnie and Eldon, who make a living by doing odd jobs around town (and doing them poorly, at that), and if you don’t pay up, they live up to their name. The three get hired to do some repair work around a rich person’s house, who has left for the weekend and left his friend to housesit. The Hackers begin tormenting her, until she’s forced to fight back in a brutal struggle to survive.

 

The Hackers, like most SOV movies, is one odd duck. It started off promising enough, with a funny opening and a killer theme song (yes, this movie has a theme song, further proving my theory that no matter what the budget, any movie can afford its own title song), but it slowly begins to go downhill from there. Fast-paced killing dissolves into father-sons bonding time, speeches on how the family will survive, trips to the playground (yes), and the taunting of a random woman on a rope bridge that goes nowhere. Thankfully, there are some fun kills peppered throughout (one fellow who insults the two gets his throat cut open with a beer mug).

 

The movie spends so much time following the family going around doing what amounts to nothing that what I assume is the driving plot (them terrorizing the girl in the house) seems like an afterthought. This is also one of the weakest parts of the movie, because it’s also very dull. It attempts to create suspense, yet doesn’t accomplish it in the slightest. It all ends with a terrible “Was it all a dream?” ending that is sure to induce a lengthy groan from even the stupidest film-viewer.

 

The acting wasn’t very good (nor did I expect it to be), but I’ve seen much, much worse in other SOV movies (believe me). There really aren’t any characters to root for either, because the Hackers are antagonists, and the girl is rushed into the story so fast it’s impossible to see her as a likable character. The gore effects were much better than I expected, though. There are a few pretty good severed heads and other forms of machete mayhem on display, but nothing too gutsy.

 

The world of SOV movies is like a sack full of poisonous snakes, with a few friendly ones casually thrown in. Every time you stick your hand in, you’re probably going to get bitten. But once in a while, you’ll get a good one. The Hackers is better than some SOV movies I’ve seen (Cannibal Campout, I’m looking at you), but it’s definitely one of the poisonous snakes. It starts off well, and gradually gets less and less fun as it continues until it hits the rock bottom of tedium. Yeah, there’s enough gore, bad music, and other nonsense to keep one entertained through most of the journey, but it’s just not enough. The Hackers was one of the hardest VHS tapes to find (only 3,000 tapes were produced), but I did, and I remembered that sometimes, movies languish in obscurity for a reason. However, if you’re hellbent on seeing this (God knows why), Camelot Studios, the company that released in the first place, have made it available on DVD to order from their site, as well as a movie poster (!). For more information, click here: http://www.camelotstudios.net/webapp/GetPage?pid=204

The Verdict: The Hackers does exactly what you’d expect from a 1988 SOV movie; nothing more, nothing less. If you’re into that, it’s worth a look, but don’t get angry if you’re not thrilled with the outcome.

Score: 4/10

Watch the unbelievably stupid playground scene:

Wednesday
Jul112012

Can Your Mind Handle It? BOARDINGHOUSE (1982) Review

In the year of 1985, a movie by the name of Blood Cult was released, with its entire advertising campaign claiming it was the “first shot-on-video horror movie made directly for the home video market.” This statement couldn’t be any more false. First of all the first SOV horror movie made for the home video market was a 1983 ultra low-budget surreal horror movie called Sledgehammer, and that wasn’t even the first SOV movie! The first SOV was actually released in some theaters, and was released in 1982. That movie is a little glimpse of sheer insanity entitled…

 

Boardinghouse (1982) Review

The film opens with a painfully outdated computer text crawl (complete with beeping noises) explaining how the Hoffmans, leading experts on telekinesis, were killed in their house and their child was sent to a mental hospital. Several years later, Jim buys the house and turns it into a boardinghouse for “unattached, beautiful women 18 and over.” However, someone or something begins to pick off the girls in increasingly horrific ways. Is the house possessed? Or is it Jim, using his powers of telekinesis for evil? Or is it his new girlfriend, who his also telekinetic and angry about all the girls throwing themselves at Jim? Or is it something else entirely?

Hoo boy…where do I even begin with this one? This is easily one the most insane, nonsensical, poorly written, poorly made slasher movies I have EVER seen. This literally looks exactly like a home movie, from the amateur acting to the usage of every effect available on the camera they used to capture this insanity on film (or cheap video, rather). John Wintergate, the director/writer, also stars as Jim, but I knew that was director before I even looked it up online. Know how? Why else would John Wintergate put in dialogue for the women like, “Oh…you’re soo sexy!” as they caress Jim’s chest in the hot tub? Yeah…I also figured out he wrote it as well!

While the effects are terrible, the gore in this movie is great. There are plenty of intestines and eyeballs being popped out, people getting stabbed, brains being melted, hands being obliterated by garbage disposals, etc. There’s plenty of nudity as well (at times it does feel like a cheap porno that you find in a small cardboard box while you clean out your neighbor’s garage). No suspense, only two or three interesting/memorable characters, yada yada yada LET’S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF!!!

Alright…now let’s talk about what makes Boardinghouse memorable. Well, to begin with, the film employs gimmick that I imagine is parodying the old William Castle films: Horror-Vision! Basically, this tells you that if you have a weak heart or are “easily frightened by shocking gore,” cover your eyes and ears when an image of a black glove appears on screen or when a cheap synthesizer noise is played. Of course, this gimmick is hardly used in the movie (it is used a few times, but is dropped later on in the movie).

The whole telekinesis angle is done to hilarious effect (apparently, you trigger telekinetic powers by inhaling and exhaling as loud as possible), especially when it culminates with a big “telekinesis battle” in the end. And it’s awesome in the stupidest way possible. There’s also a random dream sequence where a girl is chased around by an evil force and gets assaulted by really fake looking skeletons! One girl’s face turns into a pig and she coughs up a mouse. Wintergate’s character sits on a desk in tighty-whities and makes hilarious faces as he exercises his telekinetic abilities. There’s also a cheaper-than-cheap video effect of a ghost, a live band, and a scene where the creepy gardener goes up to one girl (who’s in the hot tub topless) with a chainsaw, she stands up, begins staring at him and gnashing her teeth, and the gardener walks away in fright. Genius*.

This may or may not sound as hilarious as it actually is, but once you actually see it and combine it with the SOV look, you get the best unintentional comedy of 1982. It’s VERY hard to believe this nonsense was released to theaters, but it was. I can’t explain the strange power Boardinghouse has, but for some strange reason, my eyes never moved from the screen and my mind went into a sort of dreamlike state, where I had no perception on time, rationality, or just the outside world in general. It’s that kind of movie. For several, long years, Boardinghouse reveled in obscurity and acted as a “mystery” tape of sorts. Where did this movie come from? What was this director thinking? That is, until Code Red put this out on DVD, complete with commentary and interviews with Wintergate himself! Unfortunately, that DVD is now OOP and fetching collector’s prices, and I do not have a copy, unfortunately, so the origins and making of this movie still remain a mystery to me. And you know what? I’d prefer to keep it that way.

The Verdict: Boardinghouse is a surreal and oh-so-poorly-made SOV flick whose nonsensical moments add up to a seriously demented good time.

Score: 6/10

 

*Think I’ve spoiled everything Boardinghouse has to offer? Dead wrong, my friend.