Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Den

The Den
Make your own The Den movie poster at

(2014) 4 Gretchens

If Mike Myers and Jason
Learned how to write code and hack
This is what you’d get.

The perfect blend of
Horror and technology.
I’d watch it again.

My Mac’s built-in cam
Staring at me as I type.
I turned it off, right?

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

This film piqued my curiosity because of the fantastic Ralph McQuarrie poster art along with the ridiculously appealing movie title. Slasher aficionados must see this intriguing missing link released two years prior to Halloween and two years after Black Sunday.

The moment I pressed play I was reminded that I simply love late 70's B-movie horror. I love the look, the colors, the font in the opening credits, the overall vibe. The dead serious narration between scenes is the icing on the cake. Based on true events (more so than one would expect), the film takes place in 1946 on a border town between Texas and Arkansas. The murder of a young couple making out on Lover's Lane marks the beginning of a deadly killing spree.

The most decorated and respected ranger in the state is enlisted to solve the case. This grizzled old bastard (played by Ben Johnson, whom I'd never heard of before, but whose performance carries the movie and deserves mention) storms in and explains to the local authorities that they're doing everything wrong and enlightens them on how they should be spending their time. His plan is to lure the killer into a trap via cops pretending to be teenagers making out in cars. I did not see this coming and it made my entire weekend.

 Believe it or not this scene was based on fact. 
The killer sports a potato sac very similar to the one that Jason made fashionable in 1981's Friday the 13th Part 2. The kill scenes are chilling, one involving a trombone in particular. If I haven't sold you yet then get this - Maryanne from Gilligan's Island plays one of the victims!    

Cemetery Man

(1996) ***1/2

Francesco Dellamorte and his mostly-mute assistant Gnaghi take care of the cemetery in the small Italian town of Buffalora.  Their duties include dispatching "returners," cemetery denizens that rise from the dead to attack the living.  Francesco and Gnaghi have a comfortable if odd routine that is disrupted when their love lives and professional lives intersect.

Another interesting take on comedy/horror.  I'm glad I hung in there after the relatively slow first act, because the movie picks up once things start to get really weird. And it would be remiss to skip a shout out to the gorgeous Anna Falchi (perched above on Rupert Everett, who being gay might not have fully appreciated this job perk). If we were still handing out stars for breasts (have we grown out of that?), this movie would be *****.

Killer Joe


A family hires a killer to off their mother for the insurance money. Unfortunately they were bamboozled by the mother's boyfriend, now they owe the hitman and have no money to pay him and he's not happy.

Fun film, really a dark comedy more than anything else. Matthew McConaughey does a bang up job as the unstable killer Joe Cooper. The final scenes are a great pay off but the ending left a little to be desired.


Chris and Tina, a very odd couple, take off for a sightseeing adventure. At the first stop Chris accidentally runs over and kills a man. Accident or not, you can see that he rather enjoyed it. Somewhere along the way they decide the world would do good to be rid of anyone who annoys them so their tour becomes more of a killing spree.

Tina is very simpleminded and takes everything she sees to a literal level. When Chris explains one killing as he was defending her honor she begins to look at killing as an acceptable thing to do. But her moral lines are quite different then Chris's, she begins to kill thinking he will find it attractive. To appreciate this film you first have to appreciate British humor which is very dry and not to everyone's liking. I thought it was brilliant.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Attack the Block

(2011) ****

A tough London neighborhood is overrun with big alien gorilla wolf motherfuckers, and a teenage gang may be only hope to block the invasion.

Blog opinion has been split on this one, but I found it very entertaining, a goodly blend of sci-fi, action, humor, and horror.  Could serve as a great palate cleanser after one too many lame, disappointing, or disturbing flicks.



okay, really: *

After the box office success of Jaws in '76, the West Coast figured they needed a monster in the water movie too!  So, an octopus starts killing people, some try to deny it, and eventually, they go to take care of it at the end.

The similarities to Jaws range from the character grouping, motivations to hide the truth, even the score.  The poor man's John Williams here wrote five notes to rival the two notes of Jaws' famous theme.  There's only one reason I watched this film - it was filmed in San Diego.  It does a great job of showing off late '70s San Diego.  One can totally see Ron Burgundy wandering into a scene to wrestle with the octopus. 

And finally, this movie in a way, gets 5 stars for this shot, right here...

Circled in the corner is my late Grandfather's condo.  I spent countless Sundays there watching football, as well as many Thanksgivings, birthdays, etc.  And I just discovered that it was in a horror movie.  That's pretty cool, even if it is a cheap Jaws ripoff.

Night of the Creeps

(1986) ***1/2

An alien experiment gone awry in the 1950s is about to affect the lives of 2 college students in the 1980s.  How, you may ask? Well, it will be quicker for you to watch the movie than for me to explain it.  

Yes, it's been reviewed on the blog, but somehow it never caught my attention, and so glad to have remedied the omission!  This perfect 80s B-movie spoof-homage has everything: humor, gore, stereotypical frat boys and sorority girls, aliens, zombies, slugs, and an embittered older cop... Great stuff.  Often I have difficulty deciding star ratings, but this one virtually screams 3.5 star movie, way better than just good enough, but still miles from excellent.  And if you lived through the 80s, it's a must-see.

V/H/S: Viral

Not Biddy Friendly
Not Biddy Safe
So disappointing.
Failed as sum and parts.  Footage
Should have stayed unfound.

The Den

(2013) ***1/2

Emily, a confident, spunky, young college student, (miraculously) receives a grant to study the internet habits of video-chat users using a website called “The Den”, an online chat website that pairs random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. Emily’s “research” involves sitting around her house and surfing the website to see what random strangers are doing. Along the way she finds the usual nonsense one finds on the internet including Nigerian scammers, sexual proposition, and people just acting stupid. This is all mildly amusing until Emily stumbles upon a woman being murdered. The police do not believe her and a friend who is a computer expert is unable to locate the user’s position. Unbeknownst to Emily her computer account has been repeatedly hacked and at times someone pretending to be her interacts with her friends. Soon her boyfriend disappears and again the police are no help. Later one of her friends receives a message from Emily to come over although Emily did not send the message. Her friend disappears. Emily becomes frantic when she receives a message showing a shadowy figure entering her sister’s house. Efforts to warn her sister fail and her sister disappears. Soon Emily’s computer reveals that her assailant is in her house…

The Den is the modern version of Rear Window. In the era of Skype it is very easy to believe that sooner or later someone is going to witness something nefarious. Because the film is largely told through Emily’s iMac computer screen I became confused several times because I watched this movie on my iMac, which added an extra layer of realism/voyeurism. The Den drives home the point that the online landscape is full of nonsense but also dangerous people. The internet is a portal to bad things and our pursuit to be entertained comes with very real consequences. Bleak and nihilistic, The Den is worth checking out.


(1982) ***3/4

Suburban family starts to experience weird and inexplicable occurrences around their home.  The incidents start benignly enough, but quickly become threatening to the safety of the family members.

Loved revisiting this classic, which scared me plenty as a kid.  Found it entertaining enough this time though the second hour drags a bit with the supernatural jibber-jabber and unnecessary explanations.  The depiction of early 80s suburbia, lightened by humorous touches, was spot on and nostalgic. No, it's not that scary, and there are no deaths, but it's still a pretty satisfying watch.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Raising Cain

(1992) ****
This is a creepy and slightly amusing B-flick featuring John Lithgow as dutiful husband and father Carter, AND his evil brother Cain, AND their sadistic psychologist father. They are all in on the patriarch's plan to abduct children for the purpose of subjecting them to traumatizing situations and pinpoint the source of split personality disorder. When a family friend of Carter's calls the premise of the research crazy, he tries to defend it but Cain shows up and kills her. Carter feels mortified, allows Cain to dispose of the body and take the child to their father. Other instances occur with other mothers frequenting the same playground as Carter’s family but they all follow the same cycle; an unsuspecting mom trusts Carter, Carter gets close to ending them, and then Cain steps in for the killing and disposing of the body.
Lithgow as Carter
Lithgow as Cain
Lithgow as Dr. Nix and the fishbowl-angled camera
Stakes are raised when Carter’s own daughter Amy is the one being abducted and his wife, Jenny, steps in to protect her daughter, even if it is from her own husband. In the middle of it all, a past flame of Jenny’s comes into the picture to see if he can reconcile their relationship and rather than tell him to bugger off, Jenny realizes that she still has feelings for him despite being married to a thoughtful and giving husband.

The only exposure to Lithgow’s resume I’d had before this was watching and enjoying 3rd Rock From the Sun, so I only knew him as a funny old dude. I knew that he had an appreciation for Shakespeare and was a renowned actor in some niche, and Raising Cain is really a testament to his acting diversity. Each character contains his own agenda, facial expressions, speech pattern, even their own distorted camera angle and Lithgow is excellent in capturing them all. I enjoyed this as a thriller and as a former high school drama nerd, searching for the ultimate character-acting high.

The Chaser


Joong-ho, a pimp and former cop is losing his girls. As more and more go missing he digs into it and sees that they all have a final unnamed client in common. He hunts the guy down and hands him over to the cops but when the cops release him due to lack of evidence Joong-ho goes on a rogue mission to take the guy down.

Can't believe I never heard of this one before. It's a fast-paced wild ride from beginning to end. The killer admits to killing the girls and also admits that the last one is alive but is completely uncooperative. The acting is sublime, the subject matter is tense. This film was reflective of a very controversial case involving a brutal serial killer in Korea which sparked a huge debate about martial law, if your interested you can read about it here

Sorry to interrupt, but the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron trailer just leaked, catch it while you can!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Their Sleep


A woman still trying to get over the tragic loss of her son accidentally hits a boy on her way home from work. He seems to be okay so she loads him into her car and he tells her they have to hurry and go. As they take off a car comes zooming up next to them shining a flashlight in on their faces. He tells her he witnessed a burglary and now the burglar is after him. She takes him home to dress his wounds and wait it out til morning. Of course the crazy man comes and terrorizes them but things are not always as they seem.

Once again French horror produces a real winner. This film has the three t's tension, terror and twists. I can feel true sympathy for this grieving mother who is now put in a position of trying to protect yet another boy. I say boy loosely because this "kid" is more like in his late teens early 20s. I was engaged in this film from beginning to end. That's all I'm going to say because it's best to go into this one knowing very little about it. Most definitely not biddy safe but the rest of you horror aficionados will love it.

Cheap Thrills

(2013) ****

Failed writer, Craig, is in crisis. On the same day he learns that he and his wife and newborn are about to be evicted from their apartment, his boss (his wife’s father) fires him after he asks for a raise. While drowning his sorrows in a local pub he runs into a shady former friend from high school. Together the two swap stories and drink beer. After using the bathroom Craig finds Vince talking to an eccentric, very rich, married couple, Colin and Violet. Plying them with coke and expensive Scotch, Colin begins offering the two large sums of money to do stupid things (e.g. “$200 if they can get a pretty girl to slap them” etc.). Eventually Craig and Vince, now high and drunk, accept Colin’s offer to go back to the couple’s luxurious home. Colin notes that it is Violet’s birthday and he wants to give her a really good show. He informs them that he has $250,000 in his safe that he will give them if they engage in a series of degrading actions. Given that they are both down in their luck they quickly agree. It starts out innocently enough (e.g. they are given a large sum of money for shitting in Colin’s neighbor’s house) but as you might expect things get out of control quickly as the challenges become increasingly dark.

I loved this! There seems to be a new genre of horror emerging where people are rewarded for debasing themselves as entertainment for bored rich people (Didn't Homer Simpson do this for Mr. Burns once?). This had me engaged from the get go; a good cast and some very dark humor. It’s not for the squeamish but the rest of you will love watching the escalating nastiness.

The Woman in Black

2012  **1/2

Okay, first the good news.  Once he takes off the specs, Daniel Radcliffe looks different enough from You-Know-Who that he should be able to enjoy the post-Potter career he deserves -- and he's got the acting chops to deserve one, too.  The bad news is that I can't recommend The Woman in Black to you my fellows, and I'll give you the main reason in less than 15 seconds:

You're not going to be surprised when the logo forms because the title is right there, but I had a brief moment of "Ooh, this is a cool Marvel Studios-style logo, was that Raquel Welch I just saw?" and then, well, I could read it.  Sigh.

To be clear, this was actually a big hit for Hammer and they don't care what I say.  But I though TWiB conformed perfectly to their usual formula; a seriously engaging and atmospheric set-up that just never really stops setting up, so you start to notice something is missing when the movie hits the two-thirds mark, and that missing something never really appears.

The promising opening involves a Edwardian era British tea party for dolls, interrupted when all three girls look at something in the corner, then look the other way in unison and, entranced, walk to the window and calmly jump out.

Making it the most interesting doll tea party ever.

Cut to our boy Arthur Kipps, a London lawyer whose wife died in childbirth four years earlier, a loss which still very much haunts him.  Radcliffe does a good, subtle job conveying a man driven by his duty to his son even though he is still overwhelmed by grief.  This has clearly been affecting his work, because when his boss sends him off to a remote coastal village in which their rich old lady client has died, he makes it clear that it's get the job done or you're fired.  If I understand England correctly, that means within a few days he'll be a toothless gray person with an outrageous accent lurking in the dark, urban corners of Mary Poppins.

As IF.  Am I right ladies?  Rowwwrrrr!

Descibing the parts of the movie that took place back when I still liked the movie, I admit a doubt about whether I'm being overly harsh.  This doubt first came up when I read about the 1983 novella (which I wiki-spoiled for myself) and the 1989 British TV movie (which I didn't), because it's possible that the small plot differences could have saved the flick.  The gothic atmosphere is totally there, as are some very effective scenes, especially because TWiB's MO is to make children kill themselves.

But then I predictably swept aside that doubt and now present my formal objections.  I just took some cough syrup a while ago and it's totally kicking in, so I'm not promising no spoilers.  Seriously, though, you think you want to see this?  You don't.  Trust your uncle Octopunk.  Just keep reading after the warning.  It's not yet, the spoilers start after that picture below.  Don't look at it!  Did you look at it?  Aw, forget it, you might as well keep reading.

Starting below the picture, besides spoilers, is 





This conveniently turned up on Cracked just the other day.

Item One:  Just fucking tell me already!

This can be a problem in all kinds of movies, and it comes from a very functional narrative place:  how do we keep the story going?  If there's a secret, you have to draw it out, otherwise there's no movie.  I get that.  But the gradual information flow must be achieved organically or it's instant bullshit.  

TWiB's deal is thus:  when anyone goes to the old manor in question, the one Arthur Kipps' firm is trying to sell, there's a danger they may see the titular woman in black somewhere over there.  All they have to do is see her once, and that means a child in the village will die.

When Kipps shows up he gets the traditional greeting of small villages in Hammer movies, that is everyone is surly and suspicious and shoo the children inside and clearly want him to go away immediately.   So fucking tell him!  The worst thing that could happen is he doesn't believe you and he goes anyway -- but he goes anyway because you didn't tell him anything!  And then after a kid dies he goes again!  Because you didn't tell him!

And Harry's not off the hook either.  He befriends the town rich guy who helps him out because he refuses to buy into the town's superstition, even though he lost a son himself.  At no point does our hero pull a Dorothy up there and say "So this superstitious crap that everyone in town believes I'm involved in... what is it exactly?"  Because that woulda been wicked smaht.

Item Two:  Jesus, Townspeople, just move already!

One couple has a kid who dies and then they have another one, who they lock in the basement so she can't hurt herself, which doesn't work.  Just move already!

Item Three:  Or maybe just burn down that house!


Item Four:  When things are there for a second and then they aren't there -- that is not automatically scary!  Do your work!

I like to think she's grabbing his butt.  I'd go for it if I were a ghost.  

Obviously the trick I'm describing can be used to tremendous effect if it's properly done, but the boilerplate attempts in this movie fall woefully flat.  I was particularly senstitive to this having watched the insufferable Insidious a week before (review pending, but you just got a one-word sneak peek).

The ending zinger was so predictable I was upset with the characters for not considering it.  Arthur Kipps' son is coming to the village with his nanny (again, something easily preventable with the right information), and Arthur thinks he placated the ghost because he never saw The Ring.  When the boy shows up Arthur says they're leaving town immediately, which is smart, but he doesn't think about the easily accessible train tracks or ever ponder what TWiB would do if she were still pissed...

The twist I didn't see is that he dies too trying to save the kid, and then their dead wife/mother is there and it's all nice and misty and nice and they walk away together.  Is that a final Fuck You from this bland, disappointing movie, or an actual good idea, turning very notion of a horror movie ending on its head?

I'm going with the Fuck You.  Because sure happy Harry can get ghost-laid or whatever, but his kid only got four years of life thanks to an angry bitch ghost.  That ain't cool.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Among Friends

Just look at these people, don't you want to punch every one of them.


Bernadette is hosting a party and only the cool people are invited. Not just any cool people only the coolest of the cool. When the coolest of the cool get invited to a party they don't just hop in the car and go they get a limo and they go in style. They all sit around the dinner table and relish in each other's awesomeness until they realize that the totally uncool Bernadette has drugged all of them and they are for the moment paralyzed from the waist down. Turns out the cool people aren't really that cool, actually there are bunch assholes who treat each other terribly and have no respect. Bernadette decides to call them out on this and play a little game which includes viewing videos of the shitty things they've done with a little torture for payback, a little scalping, a little cutting off of bodily appendages just to spice things up a bit. But hey what's wrong with a little bloodletting among friends.

Ow, that really hurt...yawn.
The premise of this film isn't bad but the acting is atrocious. I mean if a person just got partially scalped then had a nail driven through their hand I think that you might hear a little bit of a tortured inflection in their voice. At least show a little pain, this woman acted like it was just another stroll through the park. In these type of movies their should be at least one sympathetic character that you feel bad for but honestly I didn't give a shit about any of them, including the host. The only glimmer of hope was the limo driver who was played by Kane Hodder, I believe he was the only actor in the film that had anything substantial under his belt. That said, this is the second movie I've watch this season in which Kane was overtaken by a small woman and stabbed to death. He needs a better agent.



After the untimely death of her sister, Lily moves the quiet spiritual community of Cassadaga. She attempts to contact her sister through a séance but instead ends up being tormented by the ghost of a murder victim. She must now put the pieces of the puzzle together and find the man behind the murder so the ghost can rest and leave her at peace.

Vengeful ghost stories are nothing new they have been around for ages. The charm in these stories comes through the uniqueness of the direction. I found this film to be interesting and overall it was a pretty good watch but it relied on those quick pop up scares and such to keep you on your toes. I think that's just taking the cheaters way out of actually being scary. Ghost stories have so much potential and I find them to be much more frightening when you can't see the ghost, an invisible entity throwing things around causing harm makes the film much scarier since you never know where it is. The killers method of execution however was quite different, he turned his victim into a human marionette, see above.

Horror Express

(1972) **1/2

It was a toss between 2.5-3 stars, because of creativity!(review contains spoilers!!)--
Christopher Lee plays an anthropologist named Prof. Saxton, who goes to Manchuria with his assistant and tries to bring back the find of the century! He tells people that the crate is full of fossils making sure it is covered and locked up, as curious minds want to know what it is. As he is trying to claim his room  at a local hotel that he booked weeks ago, he comes across an old pal (Peter Cushing)Dr. Wells. As they are checking into the hotel, a thief tries to open the crate, only to become the first target of this "creature". The thief's eyes are found to be white as he is found dead by the police!

The local police know of his thievery past, and finds the professor at the hotel. This brings out the curiosity of Dr. Wells as Prof. Saxton brings the crate onto the train. Well, now the train starts bringing about the deaths of a curious(paid by Dr. wells) baggage handler who gets killed while opening the crate-so the creature gets out! Oh no!
There are a few colorful characters on this train-a lady spy, a countess, a father, and a scientist.
The professor and his assistant does an autopsy on the baggage handler to find out that his brain is completely soft and smooth, like a baby's bum! This concludes that the creature extracts knowledge from his victims through their eyes, gaining their knowledge! They just can't help staring into his beaming red eyes!
Well, a few more people die as the train goes on. Police aboard the train send a telegraph to the next train station inquiring assistance, which finally stops the train. This doesn't make the creature happy!
We find out that the creature can body jump into someone else as he kills!
This is where Telly Savalas comes into the movie, playing Captain Kazan. He responds to the police assistance aboard the train playing a jerk role, as he takes over the train! He gets his, though!
The doctor and professor find out what the creature wants and finds out that he is from another galaxy. They must destroy him!
They contact the next train cross-over and get all of the survivors to one part of the train, disconnecting the caboose that the creature is in! The caboose is thrown over a cliff and the creature burns to death!
This movie contains minimal blood, but shows a couple of foreheads being sawed during autopsies, and gross dead eye-poking to extract fluid...eeww!

Monday, October 20, 2014



To be honest I'm not exactly sure as to what the hell I just witnessed. Described as a "horror comedy", I found the sense of humor in this Irish film to be simply bizarre.

Stephen Dorff (whom I think is just great, not sure why) plays a low level gangster eager to pay off his debt for being smuggled into the US from Russia as a child. When the perfect diamond heist gets botched (!) thanks to a dog running into traffic, his crime boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself.

Accompanied by two bickering brothers, he's sent to Moscow to steal a priceless golden cross that once belonged to Ivan the Terrible. The older brother Peter is a belligerent moron while Yuri is meek and relatively useless. This mission hits complications when his party gets trapped on the 13th floor, resulting in an unpleasant hostage situation.

The hostages - a security guard who thinks of himself a soldier, a trio of nuns, a nerd, a hot chick and a couple of others who aren't going to live very long - start getting murdered by a sadistic unknown assailant who dresses and acts like a guy who takes himself too seriously at a Renaissance Faire. The plot sound absurd but it's all explained satisfactorily. Hint: Ivan the Terrible.

I dug Botched. I probably won't watch it again anytime soon but I enjoyed the unexpected directions it took. There are some genuine horrific moments that are neutered by  amateurish special effects and one Scooby Doo-like chase.


Carrie is a very bright, yet religious teen in middle America.  Despite her intelligence, she apparently never learned about menstruation, and is terrified when menarche hits in the locker room in front of a bunch of other senior girls.  If that timing wasn't bad enough, it gets so much worse when the group of girls just happens to be the vilest group of young ladies ever who then pelt Carrie with tampons & pads, while one of them films the assault and posts it on you tube. 
Once you get past this incredulous premise, the rest of the film is actually pretty good.  Chloe Mertz is a very modern Carrie, who when assaulted with her mother's fanaticism responds in a very loving, yet borderline-independent way.  It's one of the very few ways in which this film differs from the original - the '70s version has Sissy Spacek as a hapless victim of her mother and environment.  The modern Carrie is actually relatable - one can understand her rebellious responses to her mother and peers, and see that despite her resiliency, these other influences are relentless in tamping her down. 
Where the modern Carrie differs in terms of believability is the picture above... Really, we're expected to believe that the girl above has never been asked out on a date?  And that all the pretty girls laugh at her?  Really?  Really?

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead

At this years Rock n Shock we had the pleasure of viewing a screening of Dead Snow 2. It was introduced by Derek Mears who plays Stavarin in the film. With this sequel they decided to go full on horror comedy. The laughs begin right from the opening scene as we watch Martin, the survivor from the first film fighting off Nazi zombies as he attempts to drive away. He manages to shake them off but immediately crashes his car and wakes up in the hospital with the police ready to question him about the deaths of his colleagues. Much to his dismay, he's informed by the doctor that they have reattached his arm, only trouble is the arm that was in the car wasn't his, it belonged to one of the Nazis. The arm gives him some insight as to what the Nazis are doing and he realizes they are coming down from the mountain and he must take action.

This film crosses every line that has been drawn. You know all those unspoken no-noes that you aren't supposed to do in films like killing kids or the handicapped. Not only does it cross these lines but somehow makes it laugh out loud funny when it does. It was great to watch this in a crowded room where everyone reacted the same. At times it almost took things too far to the point where it becomes a little too silly. There was also a foul unpleasantness defiling the air during the final battle. I thought at first it was the rotting zombies but stood corrected. I'm not naming names or anything but I do believe a familiar long gray haired, tattooed somebody who was sitting next to me was the source of the stench. I'm pretty sure it was him since the row behind him suddenly cleared out. I cannot fault the film for that, I do however hold some responsibility to Pizzeria Uno for not putting a warning on their rattlesnake pasta. Anyhoo, it's really a fun ride (the film not the farts) and both films are solid so I highly recommend them.

Wolf Creek 2

(2014) ***

"The following is based on actual events. 30,000 people are reported missing in Australia every year. 90% are found within a month. Some are never seen again."

Mick Taylor is back causing more mayhem in the Australian outback. This time around he is pursuing Paul who escaped his clutches after Mick brutally murders Paul’s girlfriend. Wolf Creek 2 is essentially a 90 minute chase as Mick stalks Paul across Southern Australia.

I really enjoyed the original Wolf Creek and I even gave it 4 stars, wannafightaboutit? The original was “loosely based” on “true events”, which usually means “barely” based on true events but it worked nonetheless because the fate of all the characters including homicidal Mick Taylor was unknown. The problem with sequels to slashers is that by time we get to number 2 and beyond we know that there is no way in hell that the killer is going to die. Instead we get a formulaic, paint-by-numbers affair as we are introduced to a group of characters who will be picked off one by one. Also, Wolf Creek 2 makes the egregious mistake of never allowing the protagonists to gain the upper hand even for a little while, which is why I dislike the film ‘The Strangers’. It’s no fun to watch 90 minutes of torture and murder if the protagonists never get the upper hand!

Wolf Creek 2 is analogous to the Elm street films. In the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” Freddy Krueger is downright terrifying. By time ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge’ was released Freddy was cracking jokes every time he killed someone (I need not mention my feelings about Freddy wearing sunglasses in the 5th installment). Moreover Freddy became overexposed in the sequels rendering him as frightening as a schoolgirl holding a lollypop. The original Wolf Creek took place at night and Mick’s screen time was limited as he stalked and tortured campers. Wolf Creek 2 takes place in the daytime and Mick is in almost every scene. Like Freddy K. in the sequels, Mick cracks wise throughout the film with (unfunny) observations (e.g. when Mick plucks out a human heart, he snickers, "Oh no, rip your heart out!" in thick Australian accent). It’s a shame because actor John Jarratt is terrific as Mick Taylor and the character could have become iconic. Unfortunately there is really no place to take the Mick Taylor character unless he goes to Manhattan or outer space. The greatest crime Wolf Creek 2 commits is to tarnish the original film which should have been left alone (see also, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, The Exorcist…).  I struggled between a 2.5 rating or a 3.  I ultimately went with 3 because despite my misgivings this is still a highly watchable entry.