Thursday, February 28, 2019

Big Bad Voodoo Mamma - SUGAR HILL

Since February is both Black History month and Women In Horror month, two themes I wholeheartedly endorse, I always feel obliged to talk about movies that intersect each.  Unfortunately, there aren’t as many great representations as there should be.  I tackled one of the best, DEMON KNIGHT (I <3 Jeryline), in the early days of Schizocinema, so I settled into a Blaxploitation horror vibe for my official February picks.  First came BLACULA, which I had seen and loved, so the next year I hit up the sequel, SCREAM,BLACULA, SCREAM (not quite as good).  While BLACULA is an excellent and surprisingly romantic film, William Marshall is such a powerful presence that Vonetta McGee’s character gets overshadowed.  Even the mighty Pam Grier plays it a little subdued in the sequel.  Both characters were well drawn and fitting to the tragic romance of BLACULA, but they weren’t the feisty asskickers I had hoped for.  So I wasn’t feeling overly optimistic about giving another Blaxploitation horror flick, Paul Maslansky’s SUGAR HILL, a first time spin.  I'm happy to say that this time, it's the leading lady that casts the biggest shadow.

The Capsule:
Diana “Sugar” Hill (Marki Bey) has a good thing going running a voodoo themed lounge with her boyfriend, Langston (Robert Quarry).  The good times end when Morgan (Richard Lawson), the local racist mob boss, gets designs for the club.  When Langston refuses to sell, Morgan’s goons beat him to death and leave him for Sugar to find.  Bad move, chumps, because Sugar uses her voodoo connections to summon Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), the Lord of the Dead, in order make the gangsters pay.  Soon, Morgan’s goons are dropping like chess pieces as Sugar maneuvers the top man right where she wants him.  Will Sugar’s ex lover cop, Valentine (Richard Lawson) figure things out before Sugar gets her ultimate vengeance?

SUGAR HILL is most famous for its silver, bug eyed zombies, but what it really should be known for is its star, Marki Bey.  The fact that Bey didn’t go one to the same success as Pam Grier is more criminal than anything committed in this movie.  She’d only appeared in a handful of movies before this, and after a few years in television (Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, and the like), she left acting altogether.  This makes me weep, because Bey is absolutely badass as Sugar Hill.  

Sugar is a force of nature right from the start.  She’s the kind of character who gets it all done with attitude, confidence, and cunning.  Plus an army of zombies, but they are only a means to an end. She is sexy without being objectified, and doesn't rely on seduction to get what she wants, a trope that was highly leaned on in Blaxplotation/Exploitation cinema at the time.  Every major character, including Barron Samedi, underestimates her, which she ruthlessly uses to her advantage.  The scenes were she boldly negotiates business with Morgan, brushing off his heavy handed intimidation and shutting him down when he extends himself too far, are delicious.  If that crew wasn’t a bunch of racist dirtbags, you would feel sorry for them.  They have no idea what they are getting into.

Sugar is a fascinating, unconventional lead.  Brimming with righteous satisfaction at every turn of the screw, she is driven less by vengeance than by a brutal social justice.  Langston's death may have set her down this path, but it feels more like an excuse than an ultimate motivation.  She certainly isn't so broken up about the loss of her lover that she can’t flirt with her ex, Valentine.  Like BLACULA’s Prince Mamuwalde, Sugar is technically the villain, making a deal with the devil to punish those who wronged her, but she always has our sympathy.  Her fury only extends to those who deserve it.  When Valentine’s investigation gets too close to the truth, Baron Samedi wants to kill him, but Sugar insists on arranging a painless “accident” to keep him out of the action.  Sugar isn't power mad, she's just pissed off.

A big part of the fun of Blaxploitation is seeing over the top bigoted villains get what’s coming to them, and SUGAR HILL does not disappoint.  The deaths of Morgan’s henchmen aren’t especially gory, but they are inventive.  Goons are hacked up with machetes, sliced up via voodoo doll, compelled to stab themselves, massaged to death by zombies, and stuffed in a casket full of snakes.  When one poor sap gets fed alive to a pack of pigs, Sugar shouts to the hungry beasts, “I hope you like white trash.”  Zing!    

Marki Bey isn't the only one with a juicy role.  Don Pedro Colley gets to sink his gold capped teeth in as the flamboyant Lord of the Dead, Baron Samedi.  He gets a surprising amount of screen time, too.  When Sugar first summons Samedi, I expected him to just hand out a few zombies and only return at the end of the movie to collect his debt (noteworthy, he prefers to be paid in hoochie rather than souls).  Samedi, however, is not about to be sidelined to the netherworld and miss all the fun.  He inserts himself front and center at each of Sugar’s traps, either as a disguised bystander smiling on, or as an active participant in the vengeance.  My favorite is when he pulls up in a cab to drive one of the hoods to his impending fate, making foreboding chitchat with the unsuspecting dope the whole way.  Samedi is a hands-on boogyman.

We all know where this kind of story is going.  You can’t make a deal with the devil without eventually having to pay your due.  Karma always comes around, even to the  most justified (again, see BLACULA).  Well, surprise suckers, because Sugar skates out scot-free at the end of this one.  Once the last slimeball is crossed off Sugar’s list, the Baron does demand payment for his service.  However, instead of giving her hand to Samedi, she instead offers up Morgan’s deplorable girlfriend, Celeste (Betty Anne Rees), to be his zombie bride.   Samedi happily accepts, hauling the screaming hussy down to the underworld.  Yes, it does play into the old stereotype of the lusty black stud with an eye for the white woman, but I got the feeling Samedi was so impressed with Sugar that he was happy to let her off the hook.  I kept expecting the director to sneak in some moralistic consequence, but nope, Sugar makes it out without an ounce of comeuppance.  She even gets to keep Samedi's voodoo daddy cane.  I’d like to think she went on to be the venerated voodoo queen who wronged women seek out to balance the scales, giving the Baron a little wink whenever she summons him up for a job.

Like all Blaxploitation, especially one directed by the white dude who made the POLICE ACADEMY movies, SUGAR HILL has its share of problematic issues.  It is certainly not a realistic look at Haitian religion, but what movie was in those--or even these--days?  It is also cheap and hokey as hell (lightning and thunder effects during broad daylight was a bold choice).  However, Bey’s fierce and uncompromising leading woman and the movie’s consistently fun tone balance things out.  And sometimes, you just want to see a badass woman toss a creep’s money in his face and bury him in a coffin full of snakes. 

C Chaka

Saturday, February 2, 2019


I’ll be the first to admit it, I can be a bad movie snob.   When I hear people in the general public exclaim “That was the worst movie ever made!” I chuckle, clean my monocle, and reply, “You, sir, have no idea.”  The average moviegoer’s mind cannot even conceive the depths of the cinematic atrocities I’ve seen.  Even when they throw out famously terrible examples like TROLL 2 or THE ROOM, I still have to shake my head.  Philistines.  Talk to me when you’ve seen a Lazar Rockwood double feature.
So when people began speaking in awe of how batshit crazy 2003’s DREAMCATCHER was, I just rolled my eyes.  Please.  First of all, its adapted from a Stephen King story, and no Stephen King movie is going to be as absurdly sublime as MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, directed by the master himself while in a white out of cocaine.  Second, it was a big budget studio production directed by Lawrence Kasdan, the guy who made THE BIG CHILL and SILVERADO.  Third, it starred Morgan Freeman, for god’s sake.  Credibility in human form.  

Consequently, I had avoided the movie for over a decade, knowing I would be let down by whatever pedestrian level of oddness it had to offer.  Even after picking up the Blu Ray for super cheap, I kept passing it by week after week.  It wasn’t until the last few days of 2018 that I finally decided on a whim to give it a spin.  

To everyone else in the world, I’m sorry.  You were right, I was wrong.  DREAMCATCHER is fucking nuts.

The Capsule:
Four friends—Henry the psychologist (Thomas Jane), Pete the car salesman (Timothy Olyphant), Jonesy the college professor (Damian Lewis), and Beaver the, um, barfly (Jason Lee)—meet up for their annual retreat to a snowbound hunting cabin to reminisce about the good old days.  Unfortunately, their revelry is interrupted by an alien contagion that causes the infected to shit out toothy, penis-shaped monsters.  Just when it seems they will all be overcome by ass lampreys, an alien hunting army unit lead by Colonel Abe Curtis (Morgan Freeman) rolls in to contain the infection.  Unfortunately, Curtis’ idea of containment  involves the liberal application of bullets on anyone within the quarantine zone.  Extra unfortunately, the leader of the dick monsters, known as Mr. Grey (or Ister Gay, depending on who you ask), has possessed Jonesy and is high tailing it towards the reservoir with the intent of spreading the ass born invasion across the entire population.  The only thing standing in the way of global infestation are the friends’ psychic powers (did I not mention they were psychic?) and their connection to a Scooby Doo obsessed special needs kid named Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg).

DREAMCATCHER is a grower, not a shower.  It does not unload all of its mad majesty on you at once.  This isn’t to say it starts off conventionally.  We are pelted with psychic phenomenon, unexplained suicide attempts, and spontaneous resurrections within the first fifteen minutes.  Even after people start having explosive bouts of alien ass lampreys, though, I remained skeptical.  It was weird, but still not up to my high standards.  Then, halfway through and wholly without explanation, Jonesy, possessed by the alien leader, starts speaking with a British accent.  And I’m talking a full on “Pip, pip, cheerio old chap,” Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY level British accent.  From that point on, resistance was futile.  DREAMCATCHER had me in its certifiable clutches.

Most of the truly bonkers movies I'm familiar with have the same limitations that a tiny budget and no experience bring, so I'm adjusted to the stilted acting, laughable effects, and excessive padding.  With its huge budget and professional production, DREAMCATCHER (mostly) avoids those issues.  It's cast with honest to god good actors (again, Morgan Freakin’ Freeman), so there are no embarrassing bad performances.  Jane is nowhere near as fun as he is in DEEP BLUE SEA (itself a movie that is no slouch when it comes to bonkers), but he does a solid job.  Jason Lee does his Jason Lee shtick, complete with some aggressively Stephen King-isms like “fuckarow” and “criminettlies,” but he never descends into MALLRATS levels of obnoxious.  While still a few years away from his charismatic stride (THE CRAZIES), Timothy Olyphant has a certain whinny charm.  The CGI effects are wince inducing at times, but what can you expect from 2003?.  I don’t really hold that against it.  Kasdan's direction is solid, and John Seale's cinematography is quite lovely.  The real lunacy comes from the script, though not having read the novel, I'm not sure if the blame (or genius) is more from King or screenwriter William Goldman.  Since King wrote the book during his recovery from a near fatal car accident, and possibly in a haze of pain meds, I lean towards him.  Whoever was responsible, I am grateful.

The film has too many “wait, what?” moments to document in the space of a blog post, so I’ll pick a few choice highlights.  The first is a oddly reoccurring theme in horror/sci-fi: the person with astonishing gifts who utterly fails to take advantage of them.  Hmm, what should I do with my psychic powers?  Negotiate peace deals between warring nations?  Unravel long hidden crimes?  Locate missing people?  I know, I’ll become a car salesman!  Seriously, the only thing Pete uses his preternatural tracking power for is literally to find lost keys.  It can't even find him a date.  All four friends treat their superpowers like an embarrassing party trick.  You would think mind reading would be a helpful skill for a psychiatrist, but Henry actually drives his patients to suicide.  Beaver seems to be the most emotionally fulfilled member of the group, and he’s a barfly who picks up women on Bingo night.  Their high school guidance counselor really failed these kids.

This next one is a minor, but astonishingly baffling, plot point.  Jonesy finds a despondent, wickedly flatulent hunter lost in the woods, and even though he is clearly infected with something awful, he and Beaver let Patient Zero take a nap in their cabin.  Once again, huge psychic fail.  Later, they find him covered in blood, sitting on the toilet, having just dropped a load that not only killed him, but is thumping angrily in the bowl.  Beaver traps it by sitting on the lid while Jones runs to the tool shed looking for tape.  This is not the crazy part.  The crazy part comes when the justifiably anxious Beaver wants a stress-relieving chew on a toothpick, but the toilet horror bumps the lid and his picks go flying.  The scene becomes a tense balancing act as Beaver tries to reach one of the toothpicks without letting the ass-born menace escape.  Now, I’m all for suspension of disbelieve, but who the fuck would even consider putting a toothpick from the bathroom floor in their mouth???  Not to mention that the floor is covered in blood leaked from a diseased man’s rectum.  I know people have weird compulsions, but goddamn.  Sorry Beav, you deserve an ass lamprey to the face for even harboring such an impulse.

Then there are parts that seem reasonable, even clever, but are absolutely insane when you think about it.  Early on, Joney mentions his “memory warehouse,” the place in his head where he files away all his experiences.  Nothing super weird there, a lot of people use that sort of mental organization.  The thing is, it's a METAPHOR.  No one literally envisions a sprawling, elaborately detailed, multi-story building where they cart around bankers boxes labeled “60's Folk Lyrics” or “Bathroom Obsessions.” Yet, not only are we given a tour of Jonesy’s mental warehouse, a significant portion of the movie depicts his detached psyche hiding from Mr. Grey inside the office, or racing to secure secret memory boxes with a monster slithering in pursuit.  

The peak of absurdity comes when Henry is wondering out loud where Jonesy could be.  “Come on Jonesy, just call 1-800-HENRY.”  Cut to Jonesy, who, sure enough, picks up an actual goddamn phone from his imaginary desk.  Regrettably, we don’t see him physically dial 1-800-43679 (that’s not even a valid US extension).  We do get to see Henry hear the ringing, hold a pistol to his head like it was a phone receiver, and earnestly have a conversation through it.  

This movie kicks restraint right in the balls.

It is a bold choice to take the phallic inspired Xenomorph design from ALIEN and carry it to its farthest extreme by having the Earth invaded by a race of telepathic space wangs.  Sure, the ass lamprey's shape is blatantly suggestive as it slithers menacingly towards the camera, but the adult aliens leave nothing to the imagination.  They are giant cocks with legs, like something escaped from the porn version of JURASSIC PARK.  The mighty E-Rex, if you will.  Some might say this is just an unfortunate oversight by the creature design team, but the alien life cycle shows the truth.  You see, ass lampreys are capable of laying multiple eggs outside of a host, which quickly hatch into tadpole versions of itself.  This means there is no biological reason the aliens need to gestate inside a mammal until bursting forth from the anus, they are just into that sort of thing.  Not coincidentally, adult dick monsters disguise themselves to their human victims by mentally projecting the image of the classic big eyed “visitor” aliens, and we all know what kind of probing those guys are known for. This species is not colonizing the planet for resources or expanding its territory, it's just pursuing its twisted ass fetish.

Incidentally, it turns out the aliens have been unsuccessfully trying to take over the planet for 25 years(!), making them even worse invasion planners than those water-allergic dumbasses from SIGNS.    

Paradoxically, the movie does have a single moment of restraint, in the [Spoiler] death of Col. Curtis.  Freeman never shies away from pushing his paranoid alien hunter to 11, whether he’s shooting the finger off a disobedient soldier in an office meeting or mowing down a pleading herd of dick monsters from his gunship, so his ultimate fate feels like a letdown.  Curtis, in a commandeered helicopter, hunts down Henry and his own turncoat second –in-command, Otis (you know your movie is nuts when Tom Sizemore is the rational one).  Otis returns fire (with a pistol!) and disables the helicopter, which crashes in a fireball just beyond the treeline.  Bor-ing.  

However, if you look in the deleted scenes, you are rewarded with the following.  After Otis shoots up the helicopter, Curtis screams “Son of a bitch” and JUMPS out of the helicopter, firing a machine gun at Otis as he plummets hundreds of feet.   He is then impaled through the chest on a tree top, which snaps off, sending Curtis’ body smashing into every branch on the way down to the ground.  And then the helicopter falls on him.  Why Kasdan chose to trim this sequence of pure brilliance is the biggest head scratcher in the film.

Trust me, I’m only scratching the surface here (I haven't even mentioned Donnie Wahlberg playing the Leukemia suffering, Down Syndrome psychic mentor, Duddits) .  There is so much crazy packed into this deranged gem that it will take me multiple watches to completely wrap my head around it.  Maybe King’s novel explains some of the more ponderous elements, but I prefer to make my own theories (pervy dick monsters).  This experience has convinced me not to be such a snob, though.  Gloriously batshit movies can be found from even the shiniest of big studio productions.  

C Chaka

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Goofballs and Gaff Hooks - THE MUTILATOR

There is something magical about a good slasher movie, but there is something more magical about a bad one.  Yes, they are formulaic, and most often modeled off FRIDAY THE 13TH, which itself takes its cue from Mario Bava’s TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE.  So what?  Almost all movies follow a formula, from drama to action to romance.  What makes a movie interesting is how the filmmakers interpret, or misinterpret, the formula.  Wild left turns, tonal shifts, and inexplicable reasoning will keep you guessing, even if it is only to guess what the hell the director was thinking.  For instance, take a cute and fluffy sex comedy, mix in a brutal murderer fueled by whiskey and hatred, and get ready for the wholesome bloodbath that is 1984’s THE MUTILATOR.

The Capsule:
Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) doesn’t have a close relationship with his dad.  Big Ed (Jack Chatham) drinks, is emotionally distant, and blames his son for his failed marriage.  The last point is valid, as 10 year-old Ed Jr. accidentally shot his mom while cleaning his dad’s gun as a birthday surprise.  So when deadbeat dad calls out of the blue and demands he clean and lock up his beach house for the season, Ed Jr. isn’t keen on doing him any favors.  But Ed’s college buddies think it sounds like just the place for suds and love during their Fall Break, so after a couple of quick driving and cleaning montages, they are ready for some subdued, inoffensive partying.  That is, until Big Ed, who had been sleeping off his last bender in the garage, wakes up in a homicidal haze and commences to ruin all their fun.  One by one, Big Ed takes out his son’s friends in increasingly brutal ways.  Can junior and his squeaky clean girlfriend, Pam (Ruth Martinez ), get mean enough to take on Ed senior, or will they too end up on his trophy wall?

Let’s get the obvious complaints out of the way first.  Of all the holiday inspired horror movie gimmicks, THE MUTILATOR (AKA: FALL BREAK) has the lamest.   Fall break isn’t even a holiday, it’s just the arbitrary period between college semesters.   At least Spring Break is associated with bikinis and alcohol and hedonism.  What images does Fall Break conjure?  Sweaters?  Colorful leaves?  The movie can’t even take advantage of the nearby Halloween imagery, because it’s staked its claim.   No pumpkins or black cats here, this is about the Fall Break, bitches.

Even worse, the movie mostly wastes its best asset, showing how spooky a deserted beach town is during the off season.  There’s a little strolling on the beach at night, and a couple goes skinny dipping in a plastic covered public pool (where the tension is dissolved by an excessively long game of Marco Polo), but the vast majority of the movie is set in one small beach house.  It’s like condensing Camp Crystal Lake into a condo.  That said, the filmmakers do a good job of working with their limited set.  There is a nice hide and stalk scene were the killer hunts around the dark house for victims, but the kids are just playing blind man’s bluff with each other and have no idea the person they are hiding inches away from wants to butcher them.  

Those gripes aside, the movie is a wild ride.  This tonal roller-coaster starts with the very first scene.  The prologue starts off all daises and sunshine, with the smiling mom lovingly decorating a cake in her tidy kitchen, cute Lil’ Ed eager to make his dad proud.  Once that colorful, hand drawn sign comes out, we know it’s all about to go south.  That kid’s “All your guns cleaned by me!” birthday surprise is the worst idea since “Your car’s brake lines cleaned by me!”  Sure enough, a moment later he unintentionally blows a hole through mom’s stomach and the cake is totally ruined. When Big Ed comes home, instead of screaming or crying or calling an ambulance, he wordlessly props his wife's corpse against the couch and starts drinking, with Ed Jr watching from hall.

In any other slasher, that kind of trauma would be Junior’s catalyst for becoming the killer. Plus, being raised by a guy who actively fantasizes about different ways of murdering you rarely leads to a happy childhood. Somehow though, he ends up being a mild mannered, well adjusted college kid.  A little boring even.  In fact, his whole crew is sort of a toned down, smooth jazz version of the typical slasher archetypes.   There’s the practical joker, the horny couple, the prude, but all in an inoffensively low key way.  They are so corny they break out a game of Monopoly.  Not strip Monopoly, either, just plain Monopoly.  They are kind of endearing, really, especially compared to the aggressively annoying group of victims populating most slashers.  Those dickheads deserve what’s coming to them, but I kind of feel bad about seeing these kids get bumped off.  

Especially in the ways they get bumped off, because for such an unassuming lead up, this fucker gets brutal incredibly fast.  One kid gets chewed up by an outboard motor, one gets pinned to a door through the neck.  A helpful cop gets stabbed in the face with a machete before being decapitated.  The most gruesome kill involves a giant gaff hook inserted into a region no hook was meant to go.  I suppose you wouldn’t want a gaff hook in any region of your body, but definitely not this one.  All the death scenes go just a little bit longer than is comfortable, at least in the unrated cut.  It would be kind of a bummer if the gore effects weren’t so laugh out loud excessive.  Maybe not that hook scene, though.  That was straight up traumatizing.  

One of the problems with low budget slashers is the lack of a distinctive killer (I’m looking at you, whatever-the-fuck-your-name-was from FINAL EXAM).  I’m happy to say that’s not the case here.  Big Ed doesn’t wear a cool mask or have a deformed face.  He’s not even physically imposing, just a middle-aged dude.  What makes Big Ed unique is his motivation.  I’m not talking about his resentment toward his son for killing his wife.  If that was the problem, he could have taken the kid out years ago.  No, the real reason he goes on a kill crazy rampage is because he is an angry, drunk asshole.  I don’t even think he planned any of it.  He just wakes up with a hangover, hears the kids upstairs, and simply decides, “Fuck it, I’m going to kill all those little college pricks.”

At no time does Big Ed look demented or maniacal.  He just looks annoyed.  Stupid punks making fun of my fishing trophies, I’ll show them.  Stupid cop with his nosy flashlight, I’ll show him.  Stupid other cop trying to stop me from murdering my son, I’ll show him! 

On the surface, the movie seems to follow the sex=death trope to the letter.  The super sexed up couples buy it first, while the clean cut virgin makes it to final girl territory.  It’s a better example of how this trope, or the way it is typically framed, is bullshit.  Big Ed is an asshole, not a prude.  He gives no fucks about who fucks.  This guy would have killed these kids if they were slipping away for bible study.  Now, judging from that one scene with the hook, Big Ed clearly has a nasty misogynistic streak, but he doesn’t let it overwhelm his even larger misanthropy.  He has enough murder in his heart for everyone.   

As with most slashers, the sex=death paradigm serves more of a technical function than a moral one.  Sneaking off for a quick one is a handy excuse to put the soon-to-be victims in a quiet, isolated setting.  It’s also a fine setup for the classic situation where the girl thinks she hears or sees something, but the dude is too focused on getting into her pants to pay her any attention.  Speaking of that, has a movie ever reversed the gender of that scenario?  “Hold on, Tina, I think I heard something!”  “Relax, Steve, you’re too wound up.  Let’s just loosen those tighty whities and you’ll feel better.”

Yes, the final girl does turn out to be the virginal Pam, but that just makes sense.  Not being consumed with thoughts of preppy, white bread sex allows her to pick up on all the warning signs.  Plus, she redirected all of her repressed energies into something more productive, like self defense classes.  This makes the level-headed wall flower the only person even remotely capable of dealing with Big Ed’s murderous, asshole rage.  She is certainly better prepared than her utterly useless boyfriend, who actually locks her in the garage closet while he attempts to be the hero.  After he fails miserably, she has to save herself and his lame ass.  

Big spoiler for the movie’s ending, but it is just too bonkers not to address.  After Pam lodges a lead fishing sinker into Big Ed’s noggin and stabs him in the chest, she and her useless, wounded boyfriend make it to the car and share a triumphant moment while we wait for Big Ed to make is inevitable return.  As expected, the drunken mutilator pops up and starts hacking through their car top with a battleaxe.  Lil’ Ed, who only now puts it together, screams “That’s my dad!”  Pam throws Big Ed off the car, and not being the kind of gal who gets fooled twice, throws it into reverse and plows her tormentor into a wall, cutting him in half.  But Big Ed is so much of an asshole that even though he is just a torso, he still manages to chop off a cop’s legs with his dying breath.  The best thing is the smile of satisfaction as he expires.  Some people hope to die peacefully surrounded by loved ones.   Big Ed dreamed of dying in a pool of his own blood, taking one last dumb son of a bitch with him.

True, THE MUTILATOR doesn’t break new ground as far as plot goes.  The characters never venture beyond their one dimension, and the acting won’t set the world on fire.  Yet, for all its predictable broad strokes, it's the nutty detail work that gives it charm.  I’ve never seen such a weird mix of harmlessly corny and gleefully vicious in one slasher before.  And I love that the killer is just a mean drunk.  It’s a pity the movie didn’t take off, because the Big Ed Halloween costume would be super easy.  You just need a bottle of bourbon, a gaff hook, and a simmering well of familial resentment. Come to think of it, maybe it makes a more appropriate Thanksgiving costume.  In any event, have a great Fall Break you goofballs.

C Chaka