Recent Reviews

Lost After Dark (Blu-ray)
No smirking. No post-modern winking. No deliriously over-the-top false memories of what these sorts of movies were like back then. Lost After Dark is a forgotten slasher from the class of 1984. Just took a few decades for it to exist is all.

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Let me run down the list one more time just to be sure:

Nubile young teenagers
Stolen schoolbus
Keys to Dad's cabin in the woods

Yup, sounds like a party to me! Adrienne (Kendra Leigh Timmins) wasn't exactly sitting at the Cool Kids' Table, but that was before they got word about her dad's hopelessly remote hunting cabin. And, hey, what better opportunity to sneak out and swipe a schoolbus than the big school dance? Right under the nose of Vice-Principal C (Robert Patrick) and everything! All the archetypes you know and love have piled onboard for a weekend of drunken debauchery in the woods: the sneering prick whose parents own this town (Alexander Calvert), the girl with zero self-esteem hanging off his arm (Lanie McAuley), the edgy kinda-sorta-Goth outsider (Eve Harlow), the never-even-had-a-first-kiss virginal good girl (Timmins), her doggedly loyal bestie (Elise Gatien), the handsome jock (Justin Kelly), the tubby guy in glasses who cracks all the swing-and-a-miss jokes (Jesse Camacho), and, yeah, their token black buddy (Stephan James). Turns out they hotwired a bus whose fuel gauge is on the fritz, though. This schoolbus keels over in the absolute middle of nowhere during the dead of night, leaving them -- wait for it, wait for it -- lost after dark.

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On the upside, there is one lone semblance of civilization just down the way. It doesn't look as if anyone's lived in that decaying corpse of a house for decades on end, but whatever, maybe there's some gas there anyway. On the...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Lost After Dark]

Student Bodies (Blu-ray)
"I love locker rooms! I love girls' locker rooms! I love sweat! I love girls' sweat! Clean! Nice figure! Friends, friends, I like friends! Skin! Boobies! Boobs! Bellybuttons! Hickey! Hickey! I'm taking it out of my pants! I'm doing what my mommy told me not to do! Huuhhhhuuuuhhhuuuuuhoooooooooohhhhhhaaaahhh.....ahhhhhh......aaaahhhhhh....!"

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One of the first gags in this slasher spoof from the class of 1981 is a dog meowing, then farting, and...yeah, that's pretty much Student Bodies in a nutshell.

I mean, I get it. Paramount had shelled out next to nothing the previous summer for Airplane! and wound up with the fourth biggest hit of the year. Churned out in the middle of the Writers' Guild strike, Student Bodies flails around desperately to try and recycle the Z.A.Z. formula for the Friday the 13th crowd. It's just that Airplane! is a stone-cold classic that still cracks me up every time I see it, while Student Bodies...errr, isn't.

With a different body count flick roaring into theaters practically every week in 1980, Student Bodies had metric tons of material to riff on, and it sure does get the slasher formula right. The psychopath du jour is The Breather: never seen but always heard, with his relentless "hhuuuuhhh hhhhhnnnngggg hhuuuuuhhh" labored breathing backing a gaggle of P.O.V. shots. You gotcher opening scare with a horny babysitter who winds up getting penetrated, alright. There's a side trip to shop class, a bunch of T&A in the girls' locker room, the big scene at the football game, some skulking around in the boiler room, and, yeah, a climax (but not that kind) at the prom. The body count just keeps piling on -- complete with an on-screen counter, in case you lose track -- and...hmmm, at the scene of every last one of these grisly murders...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Student Bodies]

Spasmo (Blu-ray)
No good deed goes unpunished, as Christian (Robert Hoffmann) soon learns after rushing towards the lifeless figure draped across the rocky shoreline. Barbara (Suzy Kendall), as luck would have it, isn't dead -- merely unconscious for reasons she can't quite recall -- and she vanishes nearly as quickly as she'd appeared. Christian can't resist the urge to follow the breadcrumbs Barbara had left behind, and before long, they're reunited on a stranger's yacht. Okay, okay, Christian's not exactly the most gallant guy you'll ever meet -- he first encountered Barbara with his girlfriend, and hours later, he's trying to bed this woman he believes to be a prostitute -- but that's no cause for murder. As Barbara writhes around the other room in skimpy lingerie, her would-be lover is duking it out in the bathroom with an assassin. Christian was just trying to scare up some strange, and instead, he's gotten himself ensnared in some sort of conspiracy. No matter where he and Barbara flee, someone is always watching...waiting.

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Spasmo is kind of a challenge to sum up in a few short sentences. Despite often being classified as a giallo, this film by Umberto Lenzi dispenses with virtually all the genre's most iconic conventions. There's a heavily sexual undercurrent but very little nudity or outright sex. No psychopath in black leather gloves is stalking his prey, very little blood is spilled, and action and overt violence of any kind are surprisingly sparse. For much of the film, we're kept in the dark about why Christian and Barbara are being so doggedly pursued. Spasmo takes pains to ensure that its viewers feel as confused and disoriented as Christian so often does.

"Confused" and "disoriented" really are the right words for it too, as Spasmo has a well-earned reputation for...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Spasmo]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 8/29: Under the Skin (Blu-ray)
  • 8/28: They Might Be Giants: Live in Berlin (DVD)
  • 8/23: Lost After Dark (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: Student Bodies (Blu-ray)
  • 8/14: Spasmo (Blu-ray)
  • 8/13: The Jerk (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/13: Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Black Sabbath (AIP) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/10: Zazie dans le metro: The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)
  • 8/9: Beyond Darkness (Blu-ray)
  • 8/8: Nightcrawler (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/8: Metamorphosis (Blu-ray)
  • 8/7: Psycho Beach Party (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 8/6: Psycho Beach Party (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 9/1: Christmas Evil (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
  • 9/1: Don't Go In The Woods (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/29: Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/29: Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: The Editor (Bluray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: Student Bodies (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: Lost After Dark (Blu-ray)
  • 8/17: They Might Be Giants: Live in Berlin (DVD)
  • 8/13: Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/13: Spasmo (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: Doctor Who: Season 8 (Blu-ray)
  • 8/10: The Jerk (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Metamorphosis / Beyond Darkness (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 8/3: Black Sabbath (AIP) (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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