Saturday, November 14, 2015

On Second Viewing: Dead Clowns (2004)

When I do the whole "On Second Viewing" thing, I tend to dread it. That's because it's usually for movies that I have reviewed in the past and didn't care for when I first saw it. That being said, I was actually shocked to find myself enjoying the last entry in this series, "Neon Maniacs". Little about the movie is actually good, but the sheer stupidity and all around unintentionally goofy nature of it really left me happy. Did I get the same feeling out of watching "Dead Clowns" the second time? No, I did not.

The plot-well, what there is of one-deals with a town that is preparing for a hurricane. However, said town had a tragic incident that occurred fifty years earlier-a hurricane that hit the town caused a circus train accident that killed many a clown. Now, said clowns are back as zombies, and they want revenge. Why? Because the town has largely forgotten about the incident. Yeah, how dare those townspeople try to move on? The audacity of them! What follows is a micro-budget mix of "The Fog", the "Blind Dead" films, a Lucio Fulci zombie movie and a killer clown movie. Sadly, it isn't as fun as that description may imply.

Revisiting the movie, I remembered this about the movie-the thing, at the very least, has tons of atmosphere. That and it's gory as hell, and the make up and splatter FX are all pretty good. Said gore scenes also have a tendency to drag on for a long time, which diminishes the impact. Also diminishing the impact is that nobody in the movie is the least bit interesting, have little to no backstory and tend to act and behave in a manor that is alien to even the dumbest of horror movies. The movie really just feels like it was written by someone who not only doesn't understand how to write dialogue, but doesn't understand basic human interaction and behavior. 

Then there is just the fact that the movie is really fucking slow, and really fucking boring to boot. The whole movie moves in a snails pace, with little of what occurs feeling like it doesn't have any consequence, and that characters only exist to be killed by zombies. Speaking of characters, this is a movie that casts scream queens Brinke Stevens and Debbie Rochon, then fails to do anything with them. Hell, Rochon has proven in the past to be a good actor, but here she isn't even given any dialogue. Now let's talk about how there are zombie clowns-and that's it. Outside of being dressed like clowns, there is nothing really specific about them. They are just your typical zombies in a horror movie. At least put a little imagination in the zombie clown aspect of your movie.

This movie, BTW, was released by my old nemesis Lionsgate-a nemesis because of the amount of dreck they dump straight to DVD. While they still do this, they are also more of a studio proper nowadays, thanks to the likes of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" series. Nowadays, they aren't the kind of studio that releases micro budget, seemingly shot on video bullshit like this and "The Maize". 

Have their standards gotten better? Hell no, they released "Mortdecai" earlier this year. However, nowadays, they aren't going to release something like this, and I'm amazed they did in the first place. This is the kind of thing you expect someone like Brain Damage films (who have released work from the films director, Steve Sessions* in the past) to release instead of a major studio.

*Sessions has been directing, writing and scoring micro-budget horror for years, with directorial credits including "Cremains", "Hellbound: Book of the Dead", Torment" and "Malefic". 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Humongous (1982)

After a brief dry spell, I'm back.

Anyways, a lot has been said about the 80's slasher. So much that it feels almost redundant to do an introductory paragraph that tells the reader about them. So instead, I want to mention the Canadian slasher "Prom Night" and it's director, Paul Lynch. The original was lambasted by critics (in particular one Roger Ebert), but has gone on to be considered a staple in the genre. Lynch's follow up movie "Humongous" however, hasn't garnered as warm of a response though, and it's easy to see why.

The film actually starts out in startling, classic exploitation fashion: a woman is brutally raped by a drunk asshole who refuses to take no for an answer. He then gets his just deserts, as a dog attacks him, and she finishes him off. Cut to years later though, a group of annoying teens find themselves stranded on an island. To make things worse for them, they are also being stalked by the progeny of the before mentioned victim.

Where as "Prom Night" owed more to "Halloween" and classic Giallo films, "Humongous" is basically an unapologetic rip-off of "Friday the 13th" with a bit of the proto-slasher "Tower of Evil" thrown in for good measure. On the plus side, Lynch actually manages to milk some solid atmosphere out of the locations, especially in the night scenes that manage to effectively use shadows to a good effect. I also like the score by John Mills Cockell, which manages to add to the atmosphere. It isn't a mind blowing score, but it still feels effective nonetheless.

That's were the positives end though, as this is a poor example of the 80's slasher. Why? For one thing, there's nothing in the way of suspense and little in interest here. Honestly, you are better off watching "Madman" instead of this, as that actually manages to throw in moments of interest in between the gory kills. Speaking of which, there isn't a lot of gore here outside of a head crushing scene. Granted, I think slasher movies can work quite well without a lot of splatter, but come on. This is a movie that has a huge mongoloid killer. Throw us a bone here.

Then there's the acting...oh my God, the acting is atrocious, even by the standards of 80's slasher movies. Nobody here is the least bit likable, sympathetic or interesting, and instead they just grate on your nerves to no end. As it goes on, this becomes the kind of thing where you find yourself rooting for the killer instead of the other way around. Not a very good sign.

There really isn't much of a reason to watch this movie. Negatives definitely outweigh the positives, and it ends up feeling like a mix of nondescript and dull instead of anything worthwhile. There's worse as far as 80's slasher films are concerned, but there's certainly better too.

Rating: 2.5/10