I love “April Fool’s Day,” and I say that as someone that originally hated it. It took years for me to come around on it, mainly because in a decade where we got nothing but slasher movies, we were given one. But we also weren’t given one, either. In either case, if you’re going in to “April Fool’s Day,” it embraces its inherent silliness and mounts tension to be a pretty good statement about the slasher sub-genre while also having a good old time with the audience. It’s become a favorite of the sub-genre, and indicates a point where studios were beginning to satirize the tropes of the sub-genre.
The newest edition from Shout Factory of Universal Horror Collection is really more of four films with mixed genres, and folks looking for strictly horror might be a tad disappointed. It does, in all fairness, feature horror icons like Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price (and so many more). However for collectors looking to complete the library being released from Scream Factory, as they continue chronicling a lot of the more obscure and notable Universal horror films, this is right up your alley. It’s light in the supplemental material, but here’s hoping the impending volume four gives us a bit more meat to chew on.
I was thoroughly surprised with 2017’s “Happy Death Day.” The more I’ve thought about it and re-watched it, I’ve come to like it more and more as a horror reworking of “Groundhog’s Day.” It’s a fun and creepy character piece about a despicable young woman who realizes that maybe the way to keep herself from dying and end the cycle of re-living the same day over and over, is to think about other people in her life. “Happy Death Day 2U” is that same concept, but a wholly different movie. It’s a sequel that brings us a new angle of the narrative, expands on the concept of the original film, while also continuing to explore the character of Tree Gelbman.
Stu Segall’s attempt at a horror movie is only seventy minute in length but feels like it goes on for an eternity. Resembling a really cheap and gory cop drama, “Drive In Massacre” is painfully paced and poorly plotted with a tone that is literally all over the place. Sometimes it’s a slasher, sometimes a murder mystery, sometime it tries to be a true crime drama, and other times, it opts for comedy. How are we supposed to take our heroes at all seriously when, in an effort to infiltrate the murderer targeting drive in couples, one of the officers decides to dress up as a woman? What is the intent behind “Drive-In Massacre”? Are we supposed to consider it a satire that was way ahead of its time? Was the director aiming for something in the vein of “The Town that Dreaded Sundown,” except it’s all confined to a local drive in?
This film follows a group of friends attempting to enjoy the party scene in Bushwick (Brooklyn) when a party killer starts eliminating party goers here and there. Not know who the killer is or when they will strike again. The friends are navigating life, dating, expensive apartments, and their passions. Credits for the film are not yet on IMDB, so the festival’s site is the only source of information for now. The film is directed and written by Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons who start the film off with a clear homage to stalker films of the early 80s with a scene that follows a person stalking a girl.
Post-graduation, a group of high school friends meet up at one of the guys’ father’s cabin in the woods. There they hang out, drink, argue, and play a game called Dead Body. As they start dying off one by one, they must figure out who is the real killer and try to survive. Directed by Bobbin Ramsey and written by Ian Bell and Ramon Isao, the film boasts nine teenage characters that are all fairly generic stereotypes of teenagers and how they should act. What makes the film interesting is not as much who they are or how they act but the whodunit angle to the story. Of course red herrings and false red herrings are thrown left and right from the beginning.
When last we saw Katie McGrath, she was suffering a cruel and unnecessary death in “Jurassic World,” and has now entered the sub-genre of the slasher film. A skosh more entertaining and engrossing than “Scream,” Chiller TV’s “Slasher” is a very entertaining, and tense slasher film that mixes in elements of a murder mystery in the process. I had no expectations for “Slasher,” and surely enough it won me over after two episodes, working within the confines of the slasher sub-genre, while also side stepping some of the more common clichés here and there. Much like “Scream,” main character Sarah comes from a small town where everyone has skeletons in their closets.
Director Rospo Pallenberg’s “Cutting Class” is a slasher film I’ve grown to enjoy over the years, and maybe that’s because there’s rarely a slasher that doesn’t win my heart. I first caught it during a late night screening on cable, and since then it’s grown on me immensely. It’s a late eighties last gasp at the slasher sub-genre that relies on the comedic styling of Martin Mull who attempts to survive an arrow attack in a conspicuously detached sub-plot from the central premise of a slasher stalking a high school.