Archive for Parody

Stark Raving Quackers: A Review of ‘The Quacky Slasher (2017)’.

Posted in Short Scares with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS**

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Ever since its marketing debut at Birmingham Horror Con back in February, The Quacky Slasher has been a hotly anticipated short film on the indie genre circuit. Directed by Peter Mckeirnon (Dead Town, Swings and Roundabouts), The Quacky Slasher is an affectionate, all out parody of the golden era of slasher movies in the schlocky sense.

Following a traumatic childhood experience in which he saw his father mauled to death by ducks, Michael Quackers (Andrew Butterworth) is on the rampage, stabbing and slashing several unwitting yet disreputable victims who are unlucky enough to cross his path.

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Made on a shoe-string budget, The Quacky Slasher utilizes the resources it’s equipped with which adds to the overall charm. It’s tongue-in-cheek from the outset with the humour coming across as naturally funny rather than forced. Do not go in expecting a high quality, polished film but rather take it for what it is. The editing is choppy in places with the transitions between scenes abruptly starting and ending rather than transitioning smoothly or in a slick fashion but again that may have been intentional.

The cast and crew have clearly put in a lot of dedication and have created a film which lovingly satires the likes of Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), and Pieces (1982). Much like the cult classics that preceded it, The Quacky Slasher plays with the familiar trope of childhood trauma affecting the killer’s future actions and inevitably quenching their bloodthirst! There’s some fan-worthy nods in there especially to legendary screen killers Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. In an early scene, Michael lurks down the aisles of a novelty shop and of course selects the duck mask rather than the masks of his famous counterparts, making the statement that this demented duck is coming into his own.

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The film is also a self-confessed homage to iconic, British cult series, The League of Gentlemen (1999-2002). Mckeirnon has employed the idea of the ordinary, small British town where a dark underbelly lurks underneath the surface and the quirky characters who inhabit it. Three intertwining sub-plots run through the 35-minute-long short, there’s the dodgy dealings of the corrupt criminals, the ‘slow on the uptake’ police officers and of course Michael’s quackers killing spree. Mckerinon places a refreshing spin on the conventional inept police detectives by casting two females in the roles, conveying that gender in horror can be flip-sided to suit all kids of stock characters.

The sinister synth score which plays at pivotal moments aids the 80’s tone that the film possesses. In fact, there isn’t really a ‘modern’ feel to it at all, Michael’s backstory reveal is told the old-fashioned way and technology barely plays a role, staying authentic to the era of genre it’s paying homage to. It depicts its more bloody moments wisely and does contain some great set pieces of gore. The mask itself is pretty striking, allowing Michael Quackers to make his unforgettable mark.

The Quacky Slasher has a niche appeal about it. It’s a film created for fans of low budget exploitation, horror/comedy as well as traditional slashers. It’s wholly exaggerated, campy and completely played for laughs.

This is one slashtastic spoof that is absolutely quackers! Whatever you do ‘Don’t F**k with the Duck’!!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

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Stage Fright (2014) Review.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS**

A camping slasher that’s also a musical happens to be right up my street. This enjoyable genre hybrid that played at FrightFest 2014 is what happens when you combine Sleepaway Camp with Glee adding a splash of The Phantom of the Opera into the mix. Much like how Astron-6’s The Editor delivers an affectionate parody and homage to the giallo sub-genre, Stage Fright sends up the musical movie and parallel’s it with the slasher, creating something different in its own way. Seeing more intelligent horror parodies this year is a breath of fresh air, made by people who appreciate the genre; a far cry from the toilet humoured Scary Movie type spoofs that have emerged from the Hollywood Machine during the last decade or so.

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Stage Fright goes straight for the jugular with a surprising opening sequence that gives horror fans exactly what they want, echoing Scream. The plot centres on Camilla Swanson (Allie MacDonald), a tortured young woman haunted by the brutal murder of her Broadway star mother. Now working in a kitchen at a stage school summer camp, Camilla breaks the rules and auditions for the revival of the musical production that shot her mother to fame ten years prior. The head of the camp is played by Meat Loaf, a former Broadway producer named Roger who ruthlessly uses Camilla as an avenue for his own showbiz gain. Since the death of the talented Kylie Swanson, cut down in her prime, Camilla and brother Buddy (Douglas Smith) have been under Roger’s care.

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History begins to repeat itself when cast members of the fantastically titled kabuki version of The Haunting of the Opera are slaughtered one by one. Its a wonder they even manage to raise the curtain on opening night! Its a tale of mystery, murder and musicals as Camilla proves she has what it takes to become centre stage!

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Judging by several reviews of Stage Fright, it appears critics haven’t been too kind toward the film as understandably it is an acquired taste. Its not the The Rocky Horror Picture Show that gravitates its appeal toward cult/horror audiences with its strangeness but also it struggles to attract a more commercial audience because of its graphic violence. It has several upbeat numbers, an Andrew Lloyd Webber style score and some 80’s heavy metal sounding songs making it a somewhat experimental piece. There are a few teething problems with its pacing, leaving the majority of the kills nearer the end. The extended sub-plot of Camilla feeling pressured into degrading herself for the slimy amateur director Artie (Brandon Uranowitz) also takes up too much of the run-time. The callous Artie, plays Camilla and her rival, spoilt brat Liz Silver (Melanie Leishman) against each other for the opportunity of bagging the leading role that shows Uranowitz completely relishing his villainous part.

Stage Fright does gradually build up but doesn’t quite manage to balance both its genres equally. The majority of the first act focuses on the musical aspect diverting away from the jaw dropping slasher moment that’s offered at the beginning. That said, when the conventional masked killer slays his victims they are some of the most inspired and creative kills in a film of this kind. The gore compliments the retro 80’s slasher aesthetic. It unashamedly homages classic horror films from Carrie to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre providing nice little nods to some of horror’s most iconic films.

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Allie MacDonald is sensational, elegant and stunning as Camilla. She most definitely has the makings of a future starlet. Camilla sings a selection of beautiful numbers including ‘Alfonso’, this production’s ‘All I Ask of You’ in concept and ‘The Audition’.  Contrasting is the killer’s hard rock medley of Iron Maiden sounding tracks that perfectly suit the masked maniac, who’s construction is of a classic slasher villain with a simple eerie mask, reminiscent of the KISS look and a black cloak.

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The big cast number ‘We’re Here’ is side-splittingly funny as it pokes fun at wannabe stage school kids and pulls up every stereotype imaginable, making a comment on bullying and sexuality. Thomas Alderson’s openly gay stage manager David Martin is wonderful in a comical supporting role along with Ephraim Ellis’s ‘gay but not in that way’ character Sam Brownstein. There’s an interesting dynamic at play through the conflict their characters share. Stage Fright also exposes the darker side of amateur theatre, the ruthlessness and entitlement these possible rising stars will strive for in order to climb to the top which makes it the ideal subject for the horror metaphor treatment. Its meta-narrative of a play within a film is cleverly orchestrated with having the plays events spill into the film’s world.

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Over the course of the film, Stage Fright supplies the recognizable tropes and red herrings a slasher movie can offer, making it a joy to watch. There’s also plenty of twists and turns in store. While it might be overly ambitious in taking on two usually separate genres and moulding them into one, something about it just works well. Incredibly clever, emotional, tongue-in-cheek and full of fun, Stage Fright stands out on its own amongst the horror of 2014. Director Jerome Stable (‘V’ is for VacationThe ABC’s of Death 2) pays compliment to his influences and makes Stage Fright something totally offbeat. I most certainly love it for that.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader (2014)

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: INCLUDES MINOR SPOILERS**

With certain horror movies its important to remember that not all of them should be taken seriously as more than likely its what the filmmaker intended for it. The ‘midnight movie’ or exploitation flicks have been around for decades, in place to satisfy gore hungry genre goers late at night in independent cinemas known as grindhouse and alternatively drive-in theatre’s. Nowadays they’ve become an integral part of the horror festival experience, us fans will grab a beverage of choice and sit down with a group of like-minded friends (or fiends!) to watch plenty of  blood splatter with added titillation.

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Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader due to receive its premiere on June 21st at NYC’s Tribeca Cinemas is a modern embodiment of this type of horror piece. From Darkstar Entertainment and Director Michael Hall, KGD2 appears to be a labour of love, made for audiences who relish in the demented world of axe-wielding maniacs and plenty of boobs and blood. As stated, movies of this kind aren’t made to be taken seriously, their crazy, bloody fun and in place to celebrate and to an extent critique and parody a genre fans have identified with for years. Ultimately this is what KGD2 is all about however at the same time there comes a point where even the most dedicated horror fan gets a sense of ‘seen it all before’.

There are two plots intertwined within the film, it continues where the first one allegedly left off, focusing on ‘final girl’ Casey (Leah Rudick) who sets out to locate the enigmatic author Charles Carver (Steve Buja) who created a novel (the cover being incredibly referential to 80’s slashers such as Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine) that foreshadowed the brutal murder of her brother. There’s also a typical teenage house party in full swing, complete with the expected horror archetypes, the slut, the jock, the smart girl, the outsider etc. all lined up ready to be sliced and diced by a masked maniac; which again is homage to the 80’s decade mainly responsible for the on-going trend of slasher flicks although their introduction did emerge during the 60’s and 70’s.

In order to capture the essence of us being in a midnight movie is  charismatic, horror hostess Peaches McNeil. She breaks the fourth wall to give her own take of what’s going on within the movie and how it represents existing horror conventions, e.g. the status of the final girl and the repetitiveness of the franchise. Her scenes pop up quite frequently, which at the beginning were both entertaining and clever however the more appearances she has the more irrelevant and overexposed she becomes. The intercut scenes where she doesn’t really  push the plot along does take away the attention to the pace of the action unfolding on screen however her tongue is firmly in cheek throughout.

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The inclusion of the meta-narrative is pretty inventive and slightly strays it away from being just another generic slasher film but at the same time it doesn’t really offer anything that several other similar movies haven’t done before. There’s a homage to the iconic scene in Psycho (1960) which again has been referenced the hell out of for years. I think there has come a point where all that needs to be said about the slasher film has been done to the death even if the film has been intended as a love letter to all the films that have inspired it. It’s a shame as the films opening sequence from the grainy video-tape technique on Darkstar Entertainment’s Logo, to Peaches intro and the first kills really pack a punch!

In terms of production value, KGD2 is of a professional standard. The photography is sharp, the scenes featuring Peaches McNeil are stylish in terms of the fonts and colours used, creating a grindhouse aesthetic. The practical effects are very well executed, there’s attention to detail with the gory moments which adds that extra sense of brutality to them. There’s definitely more of an 80’s/90’s look and tone rather than the grimy alternative present in many films of this nature. The performances are quite enjoyable, the cast appear to revel in their characters, offering up some overblown, teen slasher caricatures. There’s definitely some Dawson Casting at play here with the usual suspension of disbelief that they really are high school kids.

Despite a mixed bag, Kids Get Dead 2: Kids Get Deader knows exactly what its doing and the type of audience its aiming to appeal to. If it influences a new generation of fans then great, but when it comes to the more desensitized viewer there isn’t much there to really challenge in terms of existing tropes; but as a homage it works to some effect. Society has changed, gender roles have changed within the genre and there’s far more interesting angles to explore rather than creating the same type of film over and over again.

Check out the website for info regarding the premiere, promotional material plus merchandise and much, much more:

http://www.kidsgetdead.com/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews