Art the Clown is back and Damien Leone’s sequel finally gets a teaser trailer! Here is IMDB’s story synopsis for Art’s latest…
After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.
The film stars horror legend Felissa Rose, David Howard Thornton returning as Art and Lauren LaVera as heroine Sienna. No official release date has been announced, but one can hope for something around Halloween!
Low budget horror has a film producer (Felissa Sleepaway Camp Rose) hiring a pair of paranormal podcasters, Jessica and Will (Elissa Dowling from Automation and Tyler Gallant) to film a documentary about a rural legend called The Wooden Devil. Apparently, a woodsman made a deal with the Devil to save the Rootwood Forest from harm and he was hung for his demonic consorting. All these years later, people still go missing in the area and the two, along with their photographer Erin (Sarah French, also from Automation), are sent there to investigate. Obviously, it does not go well.
Flick tries hard as directed by Marcel Walz from a script by Mario von Czapiewski. As you can tell from the plot description, there is a lot of Blair Witch Project envy here and even though the film is not found footage, it evokes that film constantly. It’s not scary and follows that template for most of the flick, with noises in the night and stick and stone sculptures appearing out of nowhere. Yes, it does go in a different direction in the last few scenes and does get credit for that, but where it goes is more silly than scary and sullied further by some horrible overacting by the character involved. There is some very questionable behavior along the way. One character is so terrified at one point, that she leaves camp to walk home from the middle of nowhere, alone and with only a flashlight…yea, right. At least in this flick we get to see our creature and it’s not bad. The performances, however, are not as convincing, though the three leads are likable enough. It’s great to see filmmakers getting their movies done and seen, but effort isn’t always enough to a good movie make. Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick should be flattered that 21 years later folks are still using their film as a blueprint…not always successfully, though.
Fourth installment of Adam Green’s slasher homage series takes place ten years after the last one with survivor Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) becoming a bit of a cult celebrity after writing a book about his encounter with Victor Crowley. On route to an interview, his plane crashes right into Crowley’s killing ground, Honey Island Swamp. At the same time, a group of amateur filmmakers head into the swamp to make a trailer for a proposed film on Crowley. The plane survivors and the filmmakers soon find out that Crowley’s legend is all too true.
Adam Green returns to the director’s chair…after abdicating it to B.J. McDonnell for part III…and again writes. The result is a lazy, by-the-numbers sequel with a few laughs and gory moments here and there, but the “been there done that” is heavily setting in. Green doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before in this series and delivers a fourth dose of the same gory kills and goofy humor in the same setting. Fans of this series will probably enjoy the familiarity, but if you are looking for Green to do something innovative to freshen up his franchise, you’ll be extremely disappointed. The gore FX are well done, but the film otherwise looks cheap and restricts a good two-thirds of the action to the wrecked plane interior and the immediate grounds surrounding it. The film centers on the whiny Andrew Yong and the likes of Danielle Harris’ vengeful Marybeth Dunston are sadly missed.
Kane Hodder returns as Crowley and stomping around and grunting is basically all the role requires him to do. Shen tries hard, but Yong is a supporting character and promoting him to lead really doesn’t help. Laura Ortiz shows a bit more spunk as movie make-up artist Rose and Dave Sheridan is fine as wannabe actor turned hero, Dillon. We also get horror vets Felissa Rose and Tiffany Shepis as Yong’s agent and ill-fated passenger, Casey, respectively. The cast get the material and go with it.
Overall, this is basically just more of the same and not very effectively at that. Adam Green doesn’t do anything to freshen up his slasher homage series and falls back on the same ole, same ole for his latest chapter in the Victor Crowley saga. It just comes across as lazy. The first film was amusing and the two sequels had their moments, but this fourth flick shows a franchise definitely running out of swamp gas.
Horror flick has a very familiar story though, is competently made. A pastor (James Tupper) uproots his family from the city to take over a parish in a small rural farm town…one that, of course, has a dark secret. Obviously, Pastor Dan and family have been lured there for something other than singing Kumbaya. Film is most notable for being co-produced by rocker Slash and is written by Jonathan W.C. Mills and directed by Anthony Leonardi III. As such, it is a moderately entertaining thriller with no big scares and the usually shaky head CGI phantoms. One glaring plot hole really hurts and that is if the townies need to shut the gates of Hell, then why do they open them in the first place which we clearly witness them do? Also stars genre vet Clancy Brown, Anne Heche, and cuties Rebekah Brandes (Midnight Movie) and Jennifer Stone. A time waster but, you could do worse.
CAMP DREAD (2014)
Awful movie has a washed-up, 80s horror filmmaker (Eric Roberts) planing to make a comeback by staging a horror themed reality show at a summer camp. Obviously, when the troubled young twenty somethings, that are the contestants, are eliminated, they are eliminated for real…and quite gruesomely. As written and Directed by Harrison Smith, this is a tedious and dull affair that makes 90+ minutes feel like three hours. There is no suspense, scares or surprises and the gore is phony looking, as well. Also stars Sleepaway Camp alumni Felissa Rose, Scream queen Danielle Harris…who only appears in two scenes…and if it wasn’t for some welcome eye candy from the shapely Montana Marks, this would have been a complete waste of time.
Sleepaway Camp is considered a cult classic horror flick but, to be honest, it’s ‘shock’ ending and controversial… at least at the time… gay subtext aside, it’s actually a routine 80s slasher flick with an average body count and equally moderate blood and gore. Thought, I suppose from the point of view of camp, there is definitely some entertainment here but, in my opinion it’s not consistently campy enough to be ‘so bad it’s good’. It also takes a long time to really get going, which isn’t till the last 10-15 minutes when the bodies really start to pile up and Friday The 13th simply did the whole summer camp slasher thing better. The film opens on a lake with dad John (Dan Tursi) boating with his kids Peter and Angela while his boyfriend watches from the shore. A horrible… though unintentionally hilarious… boating accident leaves John and Peter dead and we then cut to 8 years later with an emotionally traumatized Angela (Felissa Rose) living with her Cruella Deville-like Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould) and cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) as Martha decides to send Ricky and Angela away for the summer to Camp Arawak. Once there, the shy and withdrawn Angela soon becomes the target of mean girl Judy (Karen Fields), bitchy camp counselor Meg (Katherine Kamhi) and numerous others who find her solitary and mute behavior weird. Despite Ricky’s efforts to stick up for and protect her, she gets picked on continually. But, someone is looking out for her, as slowly… and I do mean slowly… those who torment the quiet young girl, including the camp’s lecherous cook, find themselves meeting a gruesome fate. Is there a serial killer on the loose who has taken pity on this poor emotionally damaged girl?… is Ricky a little TOO protective of his demure cousin?… or, is Angela not the helpless wallflower we are lead to believe? Writer/director Robert Hiltzik takes his good time answering that question and the shocking and disturbing climax of this otherwise routine flick is what it is really famous for and I’ll admit it works and sticks with you. But, to get to the surprise ending, you have to sit through an hour and ten minutes of a slow moving and fairly suspense-less slasher opus with some moderately imaginative kills… though, I’m not sure the curling iron would have killed the intended victim but, pretty gross nonetheless… and only moderate bloodshed. A lot of the scenes come across as campy and it’s not clear if it’s intentional or not. The acting across the board is also pretty bad, with Gould being really over the top and theatrical as Aunt Martha as is Mike Kellin as camp owner Mel, and the equally poor dialog doesn’t help the film’s case either. Hiltzik generates very little suspense as the two dimensional victims are easy to spot, just wait till the last person to pick on Angela finds themselves alone and there’s a good chance they are getting offed. It’s not till late in the last act that things really get moving and then we get the big reveal and it’s over. If it wasn’t for the effectiveness of it’s final frames, the film really would have been a forgettable run-of-the-mill slasher of the time. And as for the before mentioned gay subtext, it basically consists of Angela’s father John having a boyfriend and a flashback to John and his male lover being watched in bed by a young Angela and Peter. Aside from the couple having underaged voyeurs, the scene is quite tame. Hiltzik also takes far more lingering shots of the scantily clad males at the camp then the females and it is intentional and when all is said and done, it does fit in with the film’s underlying context of budding and sometimes confused sexuality. So, the ending works and the homosexual undertones were still daring for this era and certainly rare in the horror flicks of the time and in that context this has earned the film it’s place as a cult classic and who am I to say different. But, controversies and shocking surprises aside, I find the film a bland Friday The 13th retread and while I respect it’s place in horror film history, I personally don’t feel it lives up to it’s status aside from the infamy of it’s ending. I generally do enjoy the slashers of this era, if not simply for the nostalgia they have but, this one didn’t quite grab me upon the revisit until the climax, which admittedly still works. If you are a fan of 80s slashers and haven’t seen it, I still believe it is required viewing for the connoisseur but, I don’t consider it a real classic or one of the best examples of 80s slasher cinema just because in it’s final minutes it gets creative and it included subject matter that was still sensitive at the time. Nostalgic… yes. Campy at times… yes. Worth a look…yes. Deserving of it’s classic status… not really. An average slasher elevated by a legendary ending. Still better then any of it’s sequels.
The success of Sleepaway Camp lead to a series of films though Hiltzik and Rose wouldn’t return to the franchise until 20 years later with the 2003 filmed Return To Sleepaway Camp, a direct sequel that didn’t actually get released until it went straight to DVD in 2008.
Since we’ve all ready had mention here lately of The Jersey Devil with our review of Darren Lynn Bousman’s The Barrens and the TV special Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies, I figured I’d make it a trifecta and include a look at New Jersey filmmaker Dante Tomaselli’s 2006 horror Satan’s Playground. First off I should start out by saying that Dante Tomaselli’s films are very surreal and have a dream-like… or more appropriately, nightmarish… quality to them and don’t follow a traditional narrative to tell it’s story. I like his films but, they are a bit of an acquired taste as they don’t quite follow a standard structure and at times place the visuals above the story. If that is OK with you, then you might enjoy his Jersey Devil themed horror. The film tells the tale of a dysfunctional family including Donna Bruno (Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose), husband Frank (Salvatore Paul Piro), their autistic son Sean (Danny Lopes), Paula (Evil Dead’s Ellen Sandweiss) and her infant child, Anthony as they travel through the infamous Pine Barrens. This is a horror so, the car breaks down and as they try to locate a phone or some help, the woods begin to take on an ominous tone with the sound of beating wings and the appearance of a creepy old house. Once they knock on the door and an old women claiming to be Mrs. Leeds (Irma St. Paule) answers, the nightmare begins… one none of them may wake up from. Tomaselli does create a very creepy low budget flick here. It may not always be easy to follow but, the goosebumps are there and he does create some really spooky and sometimes nightmarish visuals on a very small budget. The cast are all adequate and in the case of St. Paule her odd delivery only enhances the disturbing effect of her performance. No Oscars but, in a weird film like this the off key acting can sometimes be a plus. It makes things all the more unnerving. How much you enjoy this flick depends on how much clarity you need in watching a movie. Tomaselli’s story does wander, don’t expect a solid explanation when all is said and done and sometimes characters appear and then seem to disappear without explanation. Again, the film follows a more dream-like structure and if you don’t mind that then this is a very atmospheric and creepy flick. There are some gruesome moments caused by both Mrs. Leeds and her demented family along with the evil presence in the woods, who is never seen but whose wings are heard and bloody carnage witnessed. Another bonus of the film, at least for me, is that Tomaselli actually filmed his chilling little flick in the Pine Barrens adding to the atmosphere. So, basically I recommend this odd but effective little horror but, warn it is not for everyone and it requires the viewer to go with it’s surreal style and not expect a more traditional flick. If you do, you’ll get a spooky, atmospheric and dementedly original little horror that may just resemble the nightmare you might have after watching it.