Archives for posts with tag: slasher

Equalizer

Denzel Washington stars as the title character in The Equalizer – a superhuman bundle of Robin Hood, Barack Obama, Angus MacGyver, and Jason Voorhees rolled into a single American hero. Perhaps the most preposterous film in which Washington has yet appeared, The Equalizer concerns an ex-CIA spook who comes out of retirement to save filthy, greasy-lipped prostitute Chloe Moretz from the clutches of the oil-and-pimping syndicate run by ridiculously named Russian gangster “Vladimir Pushkin” (wink, wink), played by Vladimir Kulich.

Washington’s genius allows him to improvise endlessly inventive and cruel methods of dispatching his enemies, frequently by means of split-second calculus – cogitations conveyed cinematically by extreme close-ups of Washington’s all-seeing eyeball – and always directed at Caucasian men. The Equalizer is silly, offensive, inorganic, and way too long at a run time in excess of two hours, but those who suffer the full duration of its unending equality mandate will at least be treated to an awe-inspiring rap by Eminem.

3 out of 5 stars for the unintentional humor. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Equalizer is:

6. Pro-torture. Enhanced interrogation be da bomb.

5. Black supremacist, pro-immigration, and anti-white. The titular hero, living up to his name, disburses the villains’ ill-gotten gains among a group of Asian immigrants. Juxtaposed with the brilliant, polite, well-read, and fastidious Washington – an extraordinary specimen of Africanus cinematicus – white men appear as boorish ogres who mistreat women. Washington scolds a white co-worker for his foul language, and one scene even shows a white criminal in a hoodie robbing minorities at gunpoint. In still another scene, he literally uses a book to disable a Caucasian. “Change your world,” the Equalizer advises, a recommendation that screenwriter Richard Wenk seems to have taken to heart in depicting lifeforms on this planet.

4. Anti-police. Boston cops – white ones, of course – are on the take and extort protection money from minority businesses. In a lame reversal of the famous scene in Dirty Harry (1971), a black man points a gun at a white cop and calls him “punk”.

3. Anti-Russian and pro-war. As in all recent Hollywood output – The Heat (2013), Bullet to the Head (2012), and Pain and Gain (2013) being other examples – Slavic women are depicted as prostitutes. Moretz’s pimp, played by David Meunier, is even named “Slavi” so as to as to scream his ethnicity into the viewer’s ears in case the fact of his being a Russian was not already obvious.

Marton Csokas portrays Itchenko, the iciest and most bestial of the Russians – a character whose name suggests that he is subhuman (i.e., an “it”) as well as being a biological nuisance (an “itch”). Itchenko also has epaulette tattoos on his shoulders, a detail which implies that imperious militarism constitutes a physiologically inextricable aspect of the Russian subhuman’s being. Of “Pushkin”, it is said that “his money and political ties make him untouchable”, which can only suggest that he is somehow connected with Russian government officials – Putin himself, perhaps?

In one scene, an assembly of Russian mobsters refuses Washington’s offer of $9,000 in exchange for a hooker’s “freedom”. “You should have taken the money,” he taunts after murdering all of them. The significance of this confrontation, almost unrecognizably distorted in its filtering of geopolitical reality, is that Russia, by rejecting America’s globalist porno-economic order of capitalo-totalitarian usury, has invited its own extermination. At the film’s conclusion, Washington travels to Russia to assassinate “Pushkin” – and, like a proper slasher movie serial killer, confronts him while he is taking a shower.

2. Pro-N.W.O. CIA officials appear as tender and devoted nurturers. Clearly, the casting of Washington as the hero also carries an onomatological resonance.

1. Anti-Christian and Jewish supremacist. “I will have vengeance,” one hears muttered repeatedly during one of the songs featured on the Equalizer soundtrack. Indeed, it has been some time since this reviewer has seen a movie as viciously and mockingly anti-Christian as this one. Early on, The Equalizer associates and nearly equates Christianity with Russian brutality, with gangsters sporting crucifix tattoos and lounging around a bar with an Orthodox icon on the wall. When Washington intrudes and casually slaughters them, the icon is splattered with their blood.

An early scene that establishes Washington’s character and trajectory draws a parallel with the protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. On the surface, this refers to Washington’s being an older man of former achievement who rises from mediocrity to take on a massive challenge, or catch the big fish represented by “Vladimir Pushkin”. So blatant is The Equalizer’s hatred of Christianity, however, that the significance of the fish allegory is multiple. At the deeper level, Washington is the personification of Judaic vengeance, the golem, the butcher, and fisherman who has finally, triumphantly, reeled in Christendom. The script, at the moment of Washington’s summary of the novel, warrants quotation:

Old man tied the fish to the side of the boat, had to row back to shore. The fish bled in the water, sharks came, and ate the whole fish till there was nothing left. [. . .]  The old man met his greatest adversary when he thought that part of his life was over [. . .] Came to respect it the more it fought.

Asked why the fisherman refused to relinquish the fish, Washington replies that, “The old man’s gotta be the old man. Fish gotta be the fish.” The big fish is Christendom, its bleeding either the vivisection of Christ or the degradation and rot of the West by corrosive culture-disease. European man, in the allegory, is Jewry’s big trophy catch – and neither, if it is to be true to itself, can ever give up the struggle against the other’s all-or-nothing efforts.

In the climactic scene, the hissing and superficially civilized Itchenko is transfixed in a ritual sacrifice by Washington, whose sadistic choice of a nail gun to do the job is the key to understanding the movie’s subtext. Here, for America’s rooting enjoyment, is a thinly disguised Christ-snuff film framed as a thrilling adventure in which ZOG saves the world again from crypto-tsarist-fascist bigotry. For the cherry to top the cloying Jewishness of the whole tawdry abomination, in an earlier scene Washington even subjects Itchenko to psychoanalysis before committing a massive act of industrial terrorism to spite him.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

mischief-night-poster

Director Richard Schenkman, whose previous efforts range from Playboy documentaries to the abysmal Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, delivers a surprising winner with this tense home invasion shocker.

Mischief Night evokes immediate sympathy and concern for protagonist Emily (Noell Coet), a girl psychosomatically blinded after her mother died in a car accident. When Emily’s father (Daniel Hugh Kelly), with her encouragement, leaves her alone in the house on what happens to be her community’s annual Mischief Night – an occasion for spooky pranksterism – she finds herself at the mercy of a mysterious intruder (or is that intruders?) in a raincoat. The resulting film is a genuine tingler that raises the bar for blind girl terror, besting Wait Until Dark and Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out in terms of its sheer contagious fright.

The most frustrating aspect of Mischief Night is the muddiness of its moral universe – and, ultimately, its consequent meaninglessness. A fun but superfluous prologue that punishes two fornicators suggests that the Mischief Night killer or killers are disgruntled moralists or judgmental fire-and-brimstone vigilantes of the type represented in The Collection. Subsequent murders, however, lack this puritanical dimension, with victim selection failing to point to any unifying principle other than maximum terror. For most of the movie, the killers function as personifications or agents of a personal Hell for Emily, taking out of commission one by one the people and things that give her a sense of security – a theme that would have been strengthened if the screenwriters had excluded some of the extraneous deaths.

Flaws aside, Mischief Night is as scary as anything the viewer is likely to find at the Redbox, and is therefore happily recommended.

4.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Mischief Night is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

7. Class-conscious. Wealth and a comfortable home afford no protection from reality or from the moral ramifications of sin.

6. Pro-castration. Emily’s father, somewhat reminiscent of Henry Winkler in wimpy Waterboy mode, is a model sensitive man.

5. Liberal. An old man (Richard Riehle) listening to a conservative talk radio program is dispatched almost as soon as he appears. This might be interpreted as an indication that the old conservative certainties of traditional values and Constitutional republicanism are dead or no longer a feasible defense of America; but more likely is that this is simply gratuitous spite directed at Limbaugh listeners.

4. Anti-slut. An adulteress (Erica Leerhsen) is terrorized during the opening sequence. Emily’s physical closeness with and trust of her boyfriend (Ian Bamberg) is a source of discomfort for the viewer.

3. Anti-gun. Emily’s father accidentally shoots her boyfriend, believing him to be an intruder.

2. Feminist. Emily’s disability has caused her to become highly self-reliant in ordinary circumstances. She proves more valiant than her father in the defense of their home and even asserts an imaginary phallus in the form of a chainsaw.

1. Pro-family. Emily is close with her father, and her disturbance after her mother’s death, a rupture of the family unit, has left her blind and, if not helpless, then at a significant disadvantage. The father, however, is rather girly and ineffectual, thus mitigating the movie’s pro-family credentials.

yourenextposter

Inexplicably neglected since 2011, with no wide release until now, You’re Next is not only one of the finest film surprises of 2013, but one of the greatest slasher movies ever made. Affectionately versed in its 80s genre heritage, Adam Wingard’s film is a combination slasher and downbeat, darkly comedic family melodrama, almost as if Noah Baumbach had decided to direct a horror movie.

Middle-aged couple Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are celebrating their wedding anniversary, for which occasion their grown children and their significant others are gathering for a celebration at their country house. Before very long, old sibling rivalries and resentments resurface, both to the family’s chagrin and the audience’s delight; but the funny display of dysfunction at dinner is disrupted when an arrow flies through a window, lodging itself in one guest’s head, and the group realizes that the house is being attacked by an unknown entity or entities. What follows is a Straw Dogs-style siege, a tour de force of storytelling, creative suspense, and invested work from an excellent cast led by Sharni Vinson as Australian heroine Erin.

You’re Next has clearly been crafted with love by people devoted to the genre, and nearly everything in the film is perfect. From delicious moments of tension to elegant use of slow motion, unexpected bits of humor, the obligatory final girl structure, and the reverent casting of genre favorite Barbara Crampton as Aubrey, this is a film by and for those who appreciate the 80s horror inheritance. The experience is further intensified by a supremely effective soundtrack of gothic noise and energizing and inhuman electronica courtesy of scorers Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee, and Kyle McKinnon. Director Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are also collaborators on The Guest, a film presently in production, so one can only hope for more morbid magic from that one whenever it gets its release.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that You’re Next is a horror which, in the grand old slasher tradition, has a pronounced sense of morality, and also indicates that it is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

11. Anti-drug. Vicodin abuse is a sure invitation to victimhood in a slasher film.

10. Anti-police. A police officer, arriving on the scene of the horror too late, gets the wrong idea of the situation in the house and makes what the audience can only view as a fatally tragic error.

9. Anti-miscegenation and anti-Arab. One of the young women is involved with a quiet (or is that aloof? – and presumably somewhat pretentious) “underground” documentary filmmaker named Tariq (Ti West), whose name (“to reek”) suggests offending armpits. These miscegenators are among the first to die. It is worthy of note, however, that this minor character seems to have been designed so as to contradict stereotypical depictions of Arabs (cf. no. 7).

8. Anti-Christian. Paul and Aubrey’s faith is formal and superficial and not shared by the younger set, who give evidence of their contempt as prayer is said at dinner.

7. Immigration-ambivalent. Erin, of tough, self-reliant Australian stock, is the sort of immigrant that the country arguably needs. Tariq’s death is undignified and will not be mourned by the audience (cf. no. 9).

6. Anti-state. The resourceful Erin, the audience learns, was raised by an extremist survivalist father in the Australian outback. Though she is somewhat embarrassed by her past, her father’s doomsday scenario teachings definitely come in handy (see also nos. 3 and 10).

5. Anti-slut. In the film’s opening scene, a couple has what is obviously loveless sex. The shameless woman then gets up and goes to a window without even bothering to cover up her semi-nudity. Naturally, this wanton specimen is the first to die. Goth girl Zee (Wendy Glenn) is a far worse degenerate and demands to have sex next to her boyfriend’s mother’s corpse.

4. Anti-weenie. Generation X/Y men are worthless and incapable of defending themselves.  Drake (Joe Swanberg) is a spoiled brat and philistine, and one senses that devious brothers Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Crispian (AJ Bowen), apart from being motivated by the fortune they stand to gain (see no. 2), are haunted by a sense of having been insufficiently nurtured as children. Both devoid of anything resembling a work ethic, neither man has the taste for doing his own dirty work. Crispian is a struggling writer who fails to meet with his father’s approval and has probably grown a beard partly to cover up his pudgy features, but also so as to seem to be more of a man, which may also explain his lame tattoo (cf. no. 1). The relativistic hypocrisy of the neutered liberal American male is also spotlighted when Crispian, after having his family slaughtered, actually claims to be a pacifist. (For more on Generation X/Y, see Creep Van)

3. Antiwar. Just as, in the years during and after the Vietnam war, movies exploited the phenomenon of psychologically scarred and dehumanized veterans taking the terror of foreign conflict back to the streets of America in Motor Psycho, Forced Entry, Rolling Thunder, First Blood, Combat Shock, and others in this vein, a wave of films including recent entries Savages, Jack Reacher, and You’re Next has emerged to continue this simultaneously salacious and critical tradition. In You’re Next, a team of coldblooded mercenaries, probably veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan, have been hired to exterminate most of the family for the father’s fortune. Mild-mannered “fascist” Paul, who acquired his wealth as a public relations shill for a defense contractor, has surely guaranteed for himself a painful demise in the unforgiving moral universe of You’re Next.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage. A wedding anniversary is the occasion of a massacre. Parents Paul and Aubrey are self-absorbed, faintly distant, and perhaps inconsistently affectionate with their children. Felix, along with girlfriend Zee and brother Crispian, plot murder against their parents and brother Drake. The man murdered in the film’s opening scene has, it is later revealed, left his wife for a college girl.

1. Feminist. Erin is forced to lead the home defense and proves to be quite the adept at forging makeshift MacGyver-style weaponry. Of interest is that she uses kitchen wares, the trappings of traditional woman’s work, for violent self-assertion (cf. Vile). Also interesting, though, is that Erin makes a kitchen blunder that might, were she not the final girl, actually have cost her her life. Imagining she has flung boiling water on adversary Felix, she forgets that she earlier turned off the heat. “The water’s not even hot, you dumb bitch,” Felix tells her. Erin, however, quickly recovers and handily dispatches this sexist swine (with his insensitive expectation that women ought to know how to cook) with a triumph of poetic justice, taking advantage of a blender’s exposed mechanism to give him a gruesome homemade lobotomy. Zee, in a parallel characterization, is more ambitiously wicked and assertive in her villainy than wimpy co-conspirator Felix.

Spine_VHS

Spine (1986) ***

In this nicely misogynistic shot-on-video horror, L.A. police investigate seemingly in vain as a madman goes on a spree, murdering nurses by ravaging them with a knife and exposing their spines.  The murderer obsesses over someone named Linda, though none of his victims has that name.

The police and their detective work aren’t exactly fascinating, since it largely consists of sitting around, talking, and typing search terms into a bare, green-text-on-black-screen computer display – and the breakthrough, when it comes, is anticlimactic, to say the least.  There’s something compelling about the unsteady, voyeuristic camera work, the grimy synthesized score, and the whole dangerously sick and seedy sensibility of Spine, however, that artistically lifts it somewhat above the snuff sludge aesthetic from which it springs.

Janus Blythe, a familiar face from a handful of 70s-80s genre classics, and Lise Romanoff, who more notably contributed special effects work to such films as Night of the Creeps and Never Too Young to Die, appear as tortured victims of the elusive back-ripper.  Hippie-bearded R. Eric Huxley gives an interestingly soft-spoken, almost Bob Rossish performance as the culprit, generating menace and humor in moments such as when he pauses in the midst of repeatedly stabbing a woman to lick the blood from his knife.

One aspect of the cast that enhances a film of this type is that none of the actors really seem like actors; they just look like ordinary people you’d see on a street – or would have seen in the 1980s – people you’d see and pass without notice, unaware they were on their way to being hogtied, raped, and butchered by Bob Ross.  Director John Howard, according to IMDb, previously made an adult feature subtly titled Rope Burn, so there’s something to add to your checklists, you unredeemed masturbators.

 

True Crimes of Passion

The True Crimes of Passion (1983) ****

Raven-haired, pouty-mouthed Janey Robbins scorches the celluloid as private investigator B.J. Fondel in this adult take on the hardboiled detective genre.  In classic film noir fashion, Robbins delivers dispassionate voice-over narration of her sexual misadventures in a trio of tawdry tales revolving around one or more perversions of varying deviance.

The star is dressed and coiffed differently in each story, which helps to keep it interesting, but the first segment has her looking the best in a shiny maroon jumpsuit as she investigates the lesbian infidelity and light B&D play of a preacher’s wife and her lover – only, of course, inevitably to join in with the sluts.  This is stuff that will have the viewer’s hand down his pants in no time.

Director Kim Christy, who discovered a niche in adult films involving transsexuality, offers more of that in the second story, which features an escaped convict-turned-tranny posing as a maid and exacting revenge against a district attorney by forcing him at gunpoint to screw his sister and get it on in a perverted threesome.  (The maid slips Robbins a mickey, so she’s disappointingly unconscious for most of this one.)

Finally, the flimsiest of the stories is basically an excuse for the insatiable Robbins to take on first one and then two studs in a hotel room – and she earns her audience’s sympathy, if she doesn’t have it already, by bravely taking it in the rear for the climax.  Overall, not at all a bad show.  It’s a shame the B.J. Fondel character didn’t continue through a series of X-rated investigative adventures, as Robbins could have serviced such a franchise with hardboiled and hardbopping panache.

Evil Laugh (1986) ****  Recommended for seekers after camp horror obscurities only, this is a self-conscious C-or-D-level production that prefigures Scream in its overt allusion to slasher conventions and should please fans of outrageous low 80s culture.  The latter kicks into play from the start with the amiably pitiful dialogue, bouncy pop music, tacky pranks, and, most notably, a silly butt-wiggling house renovation montage as a group of medical students ready an old house to be reopened as a foster home.  The house, unfortunately, has a sordid history involving a child-slaughtering maniac, and the blood starts hitting the fan as the shallow studs and babes are picked off one-by-one by a mysterious masked mutilator.

For all its cheap ridiculousness, Evil Laugh somehow manages at the same time, perhaps precisely on account of its shoddiness and the mundaneness of the setting and interiors, to evoke an unsavory sense of low-intensity menace, as if an unhealthy mindset really lurks behind the proceedings.  There’s also a theme of male sexual insecurity and mock-homosexual horseplay that gives Evil Laugh an uneasy tension.  It never flinches from showing a shirtless, sculpted man’s physique or an instance of gay ass-grabbery supposedly resulting from mistaken identity.  A wimpy, whimpering real estate agent is bullied by his frumpy wife, who rejects his half-hearted sexual advances.  And why do ostensibly macho men think nothing of wearing a dog collar, a leopard-print robe, or ugly swimming trunks with a rainbow-colored stripe splashed across the front?   These are only a few of Evil Laugh‘s many mysteries and invitations to repeat viewing.

Directed (and furnished with the titular chuckle) by Dominick Brascia, who plays the slob who gets dismembered with an axe in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Evil Laugh makes proud reference to its horror pedigree at the helm and its pair of celebrity relatives in the more or less attractive and likable cast: Steven Baio (brother of Scott) and Tony Griffin (son of Merv).  Also in the cast is adult actress Ashlyn Gere, here credited under her real name, and “Hollywood Super Madam” Babydol Gibson in a believable bimbo role.  Johnny Venocur, whose name strikes awe into the heart of anyone who has seen Savage Streets, has a brief but memorable part as a bumbling aspirant to law enforcement, and also stands in as the masked murderer in more than one scene (though the culprit, when revealed, is actually someone else).  Evil Laugh is a little film that, flaws notwithstanding, ultimately succeeds in winning over its audience by virtue of the goofy commitment of its cast and the sense of contagious fun it conveys.

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