SLASHER MONTH: Scream Park (2013)

Sure, Kennywood gets all the press, but Western Pennsylvania has had plenty of theme parks. Scream Park is shot at Conneaut Lake Park, which is north of the Steel City, closer to Erie. I went there often as a kid and while small, it has a certain charm of its own and plenty of history, as this was its 128th year of being open.

In this film, it stands in for Fright Land, a park that’s about to sadly close down. And that’s where the story begins.

Realizing that he can no longer make money from the theme park, owner Mr. Hyde (Doug Bradley, who is an adopted Pittsburgher that you can often see show up at horror events in town) decides to kill all of his employees as they celebrate the last night of the park being open. He hopes that their deaths will bring the lucrative murder tourists in to attend the newly re-opened park.

Steve Rudzinski, who made CarousHELL, appears in this movie, as does Skinny Puppy’s Kevin “ohGr” Ogilvie, who was Pavi Largo in Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Director Cary Hill has announced a follow-up, Return to Scream Park, which I’m totally down for whenever it gets made. This may not break much new ground, but it’s a competent slasher that has some moments that are really fun. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Hatchet 3 (2013)

B. J. McDonnell took over as the director of the Victor Crowley saga this time around, pitting him against Marybeth Dunston one more time in the swamps of Honey Island Swamp. After a shotgun blast to the face, a chainsaw sawing him in half and another shotgun to the brainstem, it seems like Crowley is finished. But hey — we wouldn’t have a movie if he didn’t get back up.

Marybeth is now Sheriff Fowler’s (Zach Galligan) main suspect in the case of the thirty bodies found in the swamp, but his ex-wife Amanda Fowler (Caroline Williams!) knows the truth: Crowly continually repeats the night of his death and anyone that gets in his way is just blood and guts in his way.

After figuring out that Marybeth isn’t part of the murders, she is released to try and stop the killer one more time, along with a SWAT unit that features Tyler Hawes (Derek Mears, who played Jason in the Friday the 13th remake, meaning that this movie has Jason versus Jason*) and the one armed Dougherty (Rileah Vanderbilt, who was the person that Crowley’s face was molded onto and also played the young version of him in the first two movies).

Oh yeah — Sid Haig shows up too!

If this had been the close to the series, it would have been perfect. However, Victor Crowley is next and that’s pretty good, too! I fell in love with these films, watching the fourth one first when Joe Bob showed it and I’m so happy that I went back and watched them all.

*Hodder was also in other movies with other Jasons. In Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, he appeared with Ken Kirzinger. John Carl Buechler was also in the first two Hatchet movies.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

After the last film moved away from street racing to more heist movie, this film moves the series into spy adventure, or as I have asked before this week, “When did this little street gang become G.I. Joe?” You can follow a similar path with the Saints Row series of video games, which somehow again went from small street gang in a turf war to being the leaders of the free world, superheroes and battling in Hell.

This movie is also two hours and ten minutes long, so plan accordingly.

After the big score of the last film, the family has settled down around the world. Dom (Vin Diesel) is with Elena (Elsa Pataky, Giallo) while his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian (Paul Walker) have had a son. Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) are in love, while Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Parker) are living the high life. As for Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), he and Riley Hicks (former MMA star Gina Carano) are keeping tabs on former SAS special ops soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, Clash of the Titans), who may have the supposedly deceased Letty Ortiz in his gang.

Hobbs promises amnesty to Dom and his crew if they help him take down Shaw. The fact that Dom can reunite with his dead lover only adds to the urgency of the mission. All manner of double crosses occur, but at the end, everyone ends up in the old Los Angeles house saying grace over a meal. One hundred cars gave their mechanical lives for this film.

The end of this, however, introduces Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), as he seemingly murders Han in the events of The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Bula Quo! (2013)

One’s enjoyment of this movie hinges on your knowledge of and enjoyment of the music of Britain’s Status Quo, along with your retroism for the Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night or, more accurately, Help! — you know, the one where the band’s on the run (sorry) when Ringo becomes of the target of a religious cult that covets his gaudy ruby ring.

With that being said, this movie isn’t intended for U.S. audiences who came to know the boogie-rock purveyors for their 1968 psychedelic-influenced hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men“; this movie is meant for the U.K. audiences — an audience that helped Status Quo outrank the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Queen by placing 61 of the band’s singles in the U.K. Top 40, with 22 of those singles reaching the Top 10 — more than any other U.K. band.

AKA, Guitars, Guns and Paradise

So, in commemoration of their upcoming 30th studio album, Bela Quo!, the band shot this movie in four weeks on a three million dollar shoestring while on vacation in Fiji — along with a corresponding double soundtrack album.

The story is a simple one: Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, playing themselves, while on tour with Status Quo on the Pacific Island country of Fiji, become involved in mafia intrique after witnessing a murder. The fact that SNL’s Jon Lovitz serves as Rossi and Parfitt’s co-star tells you this film wears its self-deprecating humor on its sleeves — and Rossi and Parfitt play the “aging rock stars” quite well.

Also known as Guitars, Guns and Paradise in other overseas markets (the band has a rabid fan base throughout Europe, Australia and the Pacific Rim counties), the Quo’s lone film isn’t a blockbuster and it’s certainly not an Oscar winner. But it’s a fun film with plenty of action, comedy, and great music by the kings of boogie rock (honorable mentions to Savoy Brown and Foghat, of course).

If you get a chance, do check out a few of my personal .mp3 player favorites from their early ’70’s catalog, such as “Caroline,” “Down Down,” “Down the Dust Pipe,” and “Paper Plane.” Yeah, when it came to down n’ dirty jeans n’ t-shirt (and leather vests) rock ‘n’ roll, Status Quo was the shite and a bag ‘o chips. You can get all the Status Quo you need, and more, over at their official You Tube page.

Now, if only Uriah Heep would make a movie . . . or how’s about Phil Mogg and UFO thwarting a Bond-like madman from stealing a cache of missiles to start WWIII (hey, it worked for Cliff Richard and the Shadows)?

The Quo’s 100th single release!

You have a couple of online choices to watch. Overseas readers can watch Bula Quo! on Rakuten TV. In the U.S. you can watch it on Amazon Prime and in the U.K. on Amazon Prime U.K.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Poseidon Rex (2013)

Corin Nemec was originally the lead actor in this movie, but the former Parker Lewis Can’t Lose star was critically injured when a Belizean Coast Guard boat ran into a semi-submerged barge while transporting the crew to set. His leg was decimated and it took multiple blood transfusions to save his life.

Instead, we get Brian Krause, who was once Charles Brady in Sleepwalkers.

He plays Jackson Slate, who has been forced by a local crime lord to dive deep for treasure buried beneath the seas of Belize. He ends up freeing a giant dinosaur who is soon snacking on divers and henchmen with equal aplomb.

There’s a great puppet scene with a hatched baby dinosaur, as well as the big bad final boss getting blasted with a bazooka. It’s schlocky science fiction with bikinis and jetskis, but honestly, as horrible as the real world is today, this is a pretty decent escape that only lasts 79 minutes.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Deep Sleep (2013)

After murdering his latest female victim, a killer is blackmailed with mysterious envelopes filled with evidence of all of his kills. However, as we hear no dialogue and only see things from the killer’s point of view, we are forced to be part of his crimes.

Directed, written and scored by Luciano Onetti and produced by Nicolas Onetti, this movie is the start of their giallo tribute films. Each one has grown in ability and style, but even at the beginning, with the handcuffs of an incredibly simple story, a first person camera and a slavish devotion to Argento, this is well above any of the spate of giallo-influenced films of this century.

Even the blood looks like it came out of an Argento film. That’s how far this goes. So, you know, if you hated Deep Red, there’s no way that you’ll like this.

Blood of 1000 Virgins (2013)

Playboy Playmate Nikki Leigh hosts this series of trailers for movies that Full Moon may or may not own the actual rights to. The in-between segments are worthless, but this is packed with some great trailers, including one of my all-time favorites, 1967’s Teenage Mother.

There are also trailers for Invasion of the Bee GirlsAndy Warhol’s DraculaThe Girls That DoLet’s Do ItThe DepravedThe TeacherThriller/They Call Her One EyeCaged VirginsAxe, A Virgin In Hollywood, Mighty Peking ManThe Curious FemaleLet Me Die a WomanThe Blood Spattered BrideMother Goose-A-Go-GoLucifer’s WomenThe Dead Are Alive, The Devil’s Wedding NightDeadly WeaponsActs of VengeanceCharlie and the HookerSavage StreetsChatterboxhe Harrad Experiment, Ms. 45, Brides of BloodVirgin Witch and The Devil Within Her.

If you’ve never seen these trailers, this is a great way to learn more about some films that really are worth your time.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Box Office Failures Week: Movie 43 (2013)

I have a weakness for movies like The Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon. Big huge paens to MAD Magazine stupidity, they’re the cinematic equivalent of Fiddle Faddle to me.

Then there’s Movie 43, a movie that took a decade-long odyssey to get made, as most studios rejected the script. The end result was shot over a several year period and included some actors who refused to appear and others, like Richard Gere, who worked hard to escape the project.

Movie 43 was the brainchild of Charles B. Wessler, whose career goes from starting way down here as a production assistant on the film Can I Do It… ‘Til I Need Glasses? — suddenly this is all making sense — and ends up all the way up here by producing Green Book.

Wessler then recruited three pairs of directors — South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Something About Mary’s Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and Airplane!’s David and Jerry Zucker — to make a third of the movie each. Yet weeks before shooting, writers Parker, Stone and the Zuckers backed out. The film ended up with thirteen directors and nineteen writers.

That said — the movie did make money. $32.4 million on a $6 million dollar budget, yet you have to consider that every single actor was working for scale. Therefore, we can’t even comprehend the true budget of this film.

What we can calculate is the vitriol and hatred that critics heaped on the film, crowned by it winning worst director, worst picture and worst screenplay at the 34th Golden Raspberry Awards.

Peter Farrelly directed the wrap=around story — as seen in the U.S. cut of the film — called The Pitch. Here, a writer not so subtly named Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid, and no, I’m not saying “who deserves better” because honestly, everyone involved in this movie deserves better and willingly made this movie) pitches his movie to producer Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear). Somewhere in all of this, Common, Charlie Saxton, Will Sasso and the gigantic dome of Seth MacFarlane all appear.

Movie 43 feels like MAD TV the movie. You remember that show? It was the original home of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. And all I remember is that the audience would be reacting to the show as if Jesus himself had walked out on set, yet nothing funny ever really seemed to happen. Seeing Sasso in these segments — he was also on the show before he turned his John Madden impression into an industry — reminds me of just how grating those shows were.

In the U.K. and the Netherlands, another wrap-around called The Thread posits a world where Movie 43 is the most dangerous film ever made and its discovery destroys civilization. We should all be so lucky. Fischer Stevens shows up, thankfully not as a culturally inappropriate character such as the one he played in Short Circuit, but then again, with bad taste being thrown at you for this movie’s entire running time, why they didn’t go this route is beyond me.

Next is The Catch, which was the scene that was filmed to convince other actors to be in the film. There’s one joke: Hugh Jackman has balls on his chin. Somehow, Kate Winslet is in this as well, getting paid around $800 for a role that by all rights would have decimated careers in the past.

In Homeschooled, Liev Schirber and Naomi Watts homeschool their child but take it too far. I wish I could tell you there was another joke, but nope. That’s the joke.

Steve Carr, who fostered such cinematic turds as Dr. Dolittle 2 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop onto screens everywhere as if they were commodes, brings the fecal-obsessed story The Proposition, in which Chris Pratt and Anna Ferris (who were a couple at the time) basically take a dump upon one another.

Some day, I’m going to have a chat with Griffin Dunne about making Practical Magic, a movie that I have suffered through numerous times. I’m also going to discuss Veronica, the next segment, whereupon Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone graphically discuss their sex life in a rundown grocery store.

Steven Brill, who was the hatchet man called in to reshoot the movie Fanboys by Harvey Weinstein, directed the next sequence called iBabe. Yes, the force that made Little Nicky is here to do an overly long sketch about a robot girl (Kate Bosworth) whose internal fans cut off penises. This is probably the most embarrassing thing Richard Gere has ever done, I said, ignorant of the veracity of that urban legend.

Superhero Speed Dating has Justin Long and Jason Sudekis as Batman and Robin, trying to woo Kristen Bell as Supergirl, Uma Thurman as Lois Lane and Leslie Bibb as Wonder Woman. It’s a marvel of restraint and timing compared to the rest of the movie.

Machine Kids is a throwaway about kids who get stuck inside machines.

Elizabeth Banks directed the next part, Middleschool Date, which is a period piece. No, really, it’s a drawn-out tale of menstruation starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz and people who only two names like Jimmy Bennett, Patrick Warburton and Matt Walsh.

Have you ever wanted to watch Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott beat up a leprechaun played by Gerard Butler? Then you must be Brett Ratner and you made the next story, Happy Birthday.

Truth or Dare involves, well, truth or dare between Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant. You know, this week of failures has two Halle Berry movies in it. This one somehow beats out Catwoman, which speaks so, so much about this movie.

Victory’s Glory is directed by Rusty Cundieff, who turns in a cute tale of an all black basketball team against a team of all white guys. Terrence Howard makes it work.

Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel are in love, except Josh’s cat won’t have her in the house in the final story, Beezel. It’s animated and James Gunn directed it, but somehow didn’t even get to edit the movie.

There were some scenes cut, like Bob Odenkirk’s Find Our Daughter, which has Tony Shaloub and Julianne Moore as the stars and The Apprentice, a movie in which a mortician has sex with a corpse and brings her back to life. Anton Yelchin, who died before his career could go past the Star Trek films, was in this segment.

Comedy is a touchy subject. Not every joke lands. But man, never have so few jokes landed so never, as they don’t say. I saw this in the theater and while I laughed at some of the incredulous moments, it soon turned into a clock-watching affair. Then again, it was a forced fun team bonding work experience, which never lends toward enjoyment. Subsequent viewings have only made me dislike this movie so much more.

My Amityville Horror (2013)

After years of silence, Daniel Lutz, Kathy’s oldest son speaks openly about what he experienced in the house on 112 Ocean Avenue. Did he witness the paranormal? Or was he an abused child Writer, director and producer Eric Walter really has the perfect subject here, as Lutz — while gruff  and profane — is a fascinating subject.

Consider this a reunion story. Now, the adult Daniel meets the people who came into his life in the media crazy 1970’s — Channel 5 reporter Marvin Scott, as well as various psychologists and parapsychologists, including perhaps one of the most famous of their number, Lorraine Warren.

Despite us doing an entire week on these films, Lutz lived this story and the aftermath as it played out not just in the media, but in pop culture. At one point, he disappeared into the desert, as he says, and left his family and the stories behind.

But childhood pain — much like ghosts — never really go away. Was his father a Satanist, a child abuser or just a man? Is Lutz a reliable narrator? Is the Devil real? I enjoyed how the film leaves all of these questions on the table and allows you to determine your own conclusions.

The Amityville Asylum (2013)

Andrew Jones is best known for his series of films about Robert the Doll, as well as producing remakes and reimaginings of films, like Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection and Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming.

Knowing what we know about the direct-to-video and streaming history of the Amityville films post-2005 — and we can also include the Canadian direct-to-video films as they have only minor ties to the original film — it was amazing that it took so long for Jones to make an Amityville-themed movie.

Lisa Templeton has started a new career at High Hopes Hospital — nice tie to the sign in the yard of the DeFeo family — but she soon learns that the issues of the facilities go beyond the paranoid ramblings of the patients and the strange staff that serves them. You know — there’s something supernatural going on, because we’re in Amityville, a town packed with cursed lamps, lumber, furniture and even stuffed monkeys.

Eileen Daly is in this film as well. She started Redemption Films with her then-boyfriend Nigel Wingrove and was even in their logo as Redemption’s Dark Angel.

Despite being set in Amityville, there’s little to no mention of Ronald DeFeo. That’s because the actor set to play him was turned away at immigration due to a screwed up work visa. The other inmates of the asylum are based on real people, such as Sadie Krenwinkel being a mix of Manson Family members Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel as well as Dennis Palmer being based on British criminal Robert Maudsley.

What’s even better than a movie being called The Amityville Asylum being made despite there not being an asylum in the actual town? In Germany, this movie was released as The Nesting 2: Amityville Asylum, as The Nesting had just been successfully re-released in that country.