Wicked Wendesday

Wicked Wednesday: I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)

I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle is a weird movie. It has a weird title, for one, and stars Bob the Builder. It has the unbelievable Hells Angels-style Birmingham biker gang, and the world’s most enthusiastic Catholic priest.

Another weird thing about this week, was realising that I live in a country know where people can actually name the actor who voiced ol’ Bob. So there’s also that.

This little gem, though, is about as bonkers as you’d expect it to be. A satanic cult are murdered by a biker gang in the middle of a ritual. A few bodies of the dead rise again, one of them pouring their blood into one of the nearby bikes. This magic brings the bike to life.

Sometime later, a young idiot named “Noddy” (which I can only assume is the name on his baptismal name) buys the bike at the (unassumingly) extortionate price of £1,100. When he takes it home to show off to his friend and girlfriend, they quickly point out all of the bike’s flaws like the damage done by a crossbow.

Noddy’s friend Buzzer (also his Christian name, just guessing) plays a ‘joke’ on Noddy by stealing the cap to the gas tank. But Noddy later finds it in the bike shed that following morning. He and his girlfriend, Kim, get a call at their offices that Buzzer had been killed in some sort of accident.

Noddy goes to Buzzer’s flat where he was killed. He speaks to the inspector and finds that there are tyre tracks everywhere, and a rather motorcycle-shaped hole in Buzzer’s front door.

Later the motorcycle gets to stretch its wheels when Noddy takes it out for a ride. The bike takes over and nearly crashes into a biker gang (the cult killer one), making Noddy the gang’s biggest target. They later harass Noddy and Kim in a pub in a scene that literally looks like a Tenpole Tudor music video.

After escaping the gang, the young couple go to grab Chinese. The bike becomes upset when Kim wants garlic prawns and drives off with only her on the back. The bike attacks her, leaving her in the hospital. The bike goes on a bit of a bender, killing off most of the gang and filling its tank with blood.

When Noddy notices the bloody bike, he decides that the bike is possessed and needs help from god. He seeks help from a priest, and together they take on the bike. It’s already a wacky film, but it goes full-on British at this point. It falls victim to a repetitive ending, a bit, losing the film a little steam. But it is still pretty amusing nevertheless.

With I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, you pretty much get what you’re asking for. It’s zany, stupid, and very, very British. It’s like Cornetto Trilogy version of Death Bed: The Bed that Eats but less psychedelic and with more puns.

There are certainly weak points here, like the never-ending ending. The biggest issue is probably the writing of the characters – which is at least passable because the actors are rather likable. They aren’t very well fleshed out in general and we sort of take for granted that they’re just there. But I want to know: Are they in a biker gang too? Do they have real jobs? What’s this office they keep arriving at and not doing any work in? Do they really think ponytails are a good idea? I don’t know. It could have been explained. Maybe I just didn’t understand the accents.

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Wicked Wednesday: Return to Horror High (1986)

The holidays have seemingly sapped all my creativity out of me. I can’t read. I can’t write. I really don’t feel like watching anything. I even gave myself a two week break – the longest in years. And yet…nothing. The brain in mush.

So when it came to choose this week’s movie, I had to think long and hard. And I really, really thought for a long time (hard, not so much). I literally did nothing all Monday night but take “What horror movie should you watch?” quizzes. Seems like I need to check out this movie called The Exorcist. Might give it a go.

Ultimately we landed here with the 1986 mind-bender Return to Horror High. I first saw this little gem back in high school, and I was smitten. I’ve somehow avoided a re-watch ever since then.

Return to Horror High follows a film crew as they make a movie about a series of murders that happened at Crippin High School a few years prior. From the opening scene, it’s clear that things haven’t gone well, as supposedly everyone from the movie has been murdered (according to the movie’s screenwriter).

While the movie (the move within this movie, that is) sets out to “tell the true story”, producer Harry Sleerik does his best to make the movie a sleazy horror film. He’s also super cheap. Part of his cheapness includes forcing the whole cast and crew to both work and sleep at Crippin High School.

When one of the actors quits for a better-paying TV gig, he’s promptly axed by an unseen person. The rest of the crew go on as normal, completely unaware of the death. Joining the oblivious is the young cop Steve, who worked on the original murder case in 1982 and was once a student at Crippin.

The movie continues to be made, but lead actress Callie becomes more suspicious as time goes on. Together with Steve’s help, she begins to investigate the disappearances of her fellow actors and crew.

Steve slowly filters in new information to Callie. He shows her his locker where there’s a heart with his name and his old girlfriend Cathy’s scratched inside. He tells her that Cathy disappeared shortly after they first had sex together.

Cathy’s disappearance is ultimately the key to solving the murders. One day during production, Steve sees a framed photo of Cathy. He realises that she was the daughter of the high school’s principal, who also happens to be work on the movie’s set as the technical adviser.

Callie and Steve crack the mystery wide open when they discover a trail of blood one night leading to a tunnel in the shop room. They follow the tunnel where they find a room full of corpses dressed as Cathy.

The janitor arrives, but after an altercation, it’s revealed that the janitor was Principal Kastleman all along. Kastleman admits that Cathy became pregnant after her time with Steve, so her father locked her in the basement of the school where she eventually died.

Steve and Callie manage to impale the principal and flee the school. But as they leave, it’s revealed that all the corpses outside the school (which the police were investigating) are not in fact corpses. The entire thing was a publicity stunt by the crew, and the solving of the murder was only a bonus.

It takes a real stretch of the imagination to believe in this twist – but that’s half the fun of Return to Horror High. It’s an absolutely insane movie that is more fun than it ought to be.

Trying to decide what’s real and what’s the movie is half the fun here. Having so many years since I first watched this probably makes this count as a “first viewing” as I hardly remembered the twist at the end.

A young George Clooney makes an early appearance here as the smug actor who is killed off first. While it’s fun to see Clooney ham it up, I actually think it harms the film’s legacy in a way. Many of his fan hate this movie. Couldn’t possibly tell you why… But Clooney’s early death works in modern day. Think of it as Psycho or Scream where we axe off the fan favourite straight away.

Watching Return to Horror High probably didn’t solve my creativity-drain, but it did get me writing again, and it certainly made me laugh.

Wicked Wednesday: Christmas Presence/Why Hide? (2018)

Well.

Watching this was like getting a turd in my stocking. How nice.

Christmas Presence is a 2018 British horror film, currently marketed as a Shudder original. With

A group of friends gather to celebrate Christmas in a manor house after the death of McKenzie’s father. The cast of characters are certainly memorable enough. They get festive nearly right away in the most British way possible: by getting wasted.

The banter between the friends (or frenemies, not sure which one they really are) is pretty enjoyable as they all settle in together.

Eventually, flamboyant Hugo decides he wants to get his friends to test out his new magnetic, absorbent underwear. The group reluctantly agree and get more drunk.

A montage of partying and a fat-shaming later, Hugo is lured out into the snow along where he is killed by a shadowy entity.

The following morning, the remaining friends are visited by the caretaker. He hits at something in McKenzie’s past. She later admits to her friends that her sister disappeared when they were younger. She was never found, and McKenzie always felt guilty because she was there when she disappeared.

The group then notice (speaking of disappearances) that Hugo isn’t around. They begin to search for him, but eventually return home without any luck.

New Age Anita insists that she put McKenzie under hypnosis to discover what happened to her sister. But before McKenzie can make a breakthrough, she’s woke up by an interruption. Anite begins to worry, as coming out of hypnosis could confuse the girl (or something).

And McKenzie does begin to suffer. Though whether it has anything to do with being hypnotized is slightly debatable. She sees Hugo in a wardrobe, and he tells her she needs to tie the others up because they’re plotting against them. She believes ‘Hugo’ and takes Jo’s shotgun to get the friends to obey her.

But it’s all for naught as the spell is quickly broken about two seconds later, and they’re all untied.

They begin to learn that they’re being stalked by something that appears as their biggest fears. One is killed by a fold-out bed. Another by…a pantomime actor? I don’t know. It all gets beyond the point of caring, anyway.

I won’t spoil the ending, of course. Mostly because I don’t completely get it (or I do, but I’d rather wish I didn’t).

Christmas Presence has been helped out by the title change. It certainly gets anyone looking for a Christmas horror movie to watch it. I wouldn’t stop anyone who wanted to watch it from watching it…but I certainly wouldn’t encourage it.

McKenzie is very difficult to like as a main character. She’s a TERF, for one, which makes her instantly unlikable in my eyes (there is a not-so-fine line between a character meant to be unlikable and one that’s constantly irritating). I think she was meant to be liked, which was the even more confusing part. It’s difficult to get invested in a character if you really are just staring at your watch until they die.

Actors Orla Cottingham and Elsie Bennett were actually the best part of the film as the story’s lesbian couple. It was clear that the script was initially hinting at something with Bennett’s character Sam, but it never bothered fleshing it out.

But that was probably the biggest issue with film in general. It could have been much more ambitious, and you can see the effort trickling away throughout. Sometimes wanting to do too much can be your downfall.

Wicked Wednesday: The Dorm That Dripped Blood/Pranks (1982)

The Dorm that Dripped Blood has the same issue that many of these holiday movies have: they really have nothing to do with the holidays. I’m not talking about the plot necessarily, but they sort of use it as a passing excuse instead of a real setting or ambiance.

This is often a bigger mistake than you’d think. For example, would the original Black Christmas be as eerie if it didn’t have the terror played against the cheery, bright lights of Christmas? Christmas Evil is terrifying (and silly) because of Harry’s plotting…in a Santa suit.

This 1982 slasher plays it safe it almost every way. It holds a prestigious 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I think even saying that is over-selling it.  The Dorm that Dripped Blood is by no means the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just one of the more unremarkable.

Joanne is a young college student spending part of the Christmas holidays at school. Together with four of her friends, they begin to clear out a dorm that’s to be demolished (or refurbished…?).

Joanne’s in charge, which is to the annoyance of her boyfriend Tim, who abandoned her to go skiing. Despite his pleas, she stays behind and begins business after the other students leave. The team of five are meant to be the only people on campus. But it’s clear that someone else is lurking about.

One of the girls, Debbie, takes off early one day. But before she can head off to see Grandma, she and both of her parents are murdered by an unseen person.

Patty, another of Joanne’s group, spots a lurker named John Hemmit. Considering that the five are meant to be the only on campus, they all become unsettled. Why they care about who’s on campus is beyond me. But I’m not the dictator here.

Despite the creepy man about, the kids begin to enjoy the free time of the Christmas break. They play pool, get stalked and sell old desks!

One night, the handyman for the building is killed by his own missing drill. Then someone ruins the Christmas dinner that the kids had cooked (or I assume it was meant to be Christmas dinner – it was really a dimly lit table in the middle of a terrifying warehouse). Somehow, ruining the Christmas dinner is one of the most unsettling things that could happen.

The girls begin to hear things on the roof and the power dies on them. One boy, Brian, is inevitably killed. Then Patty is attacked. Then Craig pretends he’s been attacked.

Poor Joanne just sort of stands by unharmed. But when ol’ John Hemmit makes an appearance, she seems convinced that he’s killed all her friends. In fairness, he keeps saying he wants to “take her away” and “get her out”. But lo and behold, he’s actually trying to save her – not killer her!

It’s Craig who is the killer! Why? Because he likes you.

Turns out Craig is head-over-heels for Joanne. No idea if this was something hinted at throughout the movie. Either it wasn’t, or I just really checked out early on.

But it’s too late when Joanne realises that Craig is crazy because she’s already killed John Hemmit. But Craig also realises something: Joanne can’t live. So he begins to chase her about with 20 minutes left in this poorly-lit movie.

The guy Joanne sold tables to or whatever shows up to save her. He and Craig get into a scuffle. When the police arrive, they see the desk enthusiast has the upper hand. For some reason, they seem to believe that this means he’s the killer. The promptly shoot him even though Craig pulls out a gun.

The police leave and Craig throws Joanne’s body in the incinerator.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Like I said before, The Dorm that Dripped Blood is not really, really horrible. It’s unfortunately not even fun horrible. Just boring and incredibly standard fare.

The worst part is easily the possessiveness of Craig’s character. I mean, why didn’t he just ask Joanne out? Maybe I’m old fashioned. Or, again, maybe I really wasn’t paying attention. Probably the latter.

But despite that, it sort of sucks that Craig wins in the end. “Hi girl, I like you so much that I’m going to throw your body onto the flames while you’re still alive! Text me later!”

As with last week’s film, this movie definitely falls in the “skip” category. There are a lot better Christmas slashers to be spending your time with. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to watch one before 2018 is over.

Wicked Wednesday: Black Christmas (2006)

Every year I put off watching this. I have no idea what possessed me to watch it this year, but it was 100% an absolute mistake.

Remakes are tricky. They have a bad reputation at this moment in time when the market is saturated with them, but there are many remakes that are incredibly successful. Anything from The Thing and yes even the 2013 Evil Dead are great movies, even sometimes (in the case of The Thing) vastly improving on the original.

Making a successful remake, though, is hard. It needs to stand on its own two feet without being too dissimilar where it only exists to rip off a name, and it needs to be original in its own right.

The 2006 Black Christmas is a cynical money-grab that can kiss my Christmas ass. Even with Bob Clark’s name attached and Andrea Martin’s role as the house mother couldn’t save this sinking ship.

This remake is pretty standard fair when it comes to the plot. If you have seen the original, imagine that but stripped down to its bare bones. The film attempts to add some originality by adding a back story for Billy.

Unfortunately, this is the film’s biggest faux pas. One of the original’s strengths is that we really have no idea what “Billy” wants or why he’s doing what he’s doing. It’s the feeding of small facts throughout the film that makes it unknown feel large and terrifying.

Like many remakes, Black Christmas is trying to create a story about characters that we just don’t care about. Actually, you had me caring about Billy and his father until the father gets killed. The story just gets daft from there – and not even in a fun House on Sorority Row way.

There was a fairly decent cast here, that could have made something convincing if given the right material. Mary Elizabeth Winstead in particular has proved time and time again she has the chops for horror, but she’s entirely forgettable (though I really don’t blame her). But by focusing so much on Billy and his story, it takes away from the time that could be invested in making us care about the Sorority sisters. It’s pretty difficult to care about any of them. They most exist to just be bodies (but I guess this is a slasher after all).

Ultimately, I am incredibly biased. The 1974 Black Christmas is not only my favourite Christmas horror movie, but it’s one of my favourite movies ever. It preys upon all my fears and has some incredibly real horrible moments.

This remake attempts to capture those same moments, but it always falls short. The visuals of Billy’s eyes watching the girls is so terrifying in the original and here it just feels…perverted. I guess both are meant to be that way, but one is much more effective than the other.

Added ‘twists’ are pretty obvious and, again, just not that impressive.

So “in summary”: Black Christmas 2006 is overly-long. It’s tired and cliched. And it’s very, very, very boring. Skip this and just rewatch the original. Not that you probably needed any convincing otherwise.

Wicked Wednesday: Bad Ben (2016)

I have a good friend who loves to dig through the depths of Amazon Prime’s horror movie selection. Over drinks, he enjoys telling me of the strangest ones he’s seen or even the ones with the oddest-sound scenarios. Does he enjoy any of these movies? Probably not. Does he ever listen to my recommendations for good films that he will enjoy? Never.

But easily the most intriguing film series he told me about is Bad Ben. Now this is a movie that you tell your friends about.

Bad Ben follows Tom Riley (literally the only actor in the movie) after he purchases a house from a sheriff’s sale. He has put all his life savings into the house so that he can flip it and sell it at a profit.

When he arrives at the house, he discovers that a lot of valuable furniture has been left behind. What he also notices is that several security cameras have been set up throughout the house. He beings to play with the system and eventually learns how to work it.

Thus Tom’s story begins to unfold in both his camera footage and the security cameras.

As with many of these found footage movies, poor Tom begins to mess with things he shouldn’t. He throws away the religious items. Desecrates a grave.

So Tom messes with things, and things begin to mess with Tom. It starts with the furniture moving. Then it’s noises in the basement and attic plus a horrible smell.

With a bit of sleuthing, Tom finds out that the previous owners were murdered in the home. It’s from there that he begins to unravel the truth behind the grave in his backyard and what sinister things are really happening in the house.

Bad Ben was solely acted, filmed and directed by Nigel Bach. If you’re not into Nigel’s character Tom, chances are you probably won’t care about this movie at all. But I quite liked Tom. He isn’t likable, per se, but like all of my favourite found footage films, he felt like a real person. And if the people feel real, the eeriness of the haunting will feel real too.

Sure, you are ultimately watching a guy who dresses like my dad walking around his house doing things my dad would like to do (ie mowing the lawn). And you have to suspend belief a little bit. I mean he talks aloud to himself all the time. But this movie is still really watchable.

I love the story behind this film. I love that it was Nigel doing this all on his own (with some help, I’m sure). It’s basically what we’ve all wanted to do: make our own damn movie. It’s pretty easy to feel cynical about big budget films. A lot of the times they really feel soulless. It felt really good to watch something that had a creator that was obviously passionate about what he was doing – and was clearly enjoying the hell out of it.

Bad Ben is weird. Bad Ben is wonderful. And it has absolutely won my heart.

Wicked Wednesday: Home Sweet Home (1981)

Last year, I had the, er, pleasure of watching Blood Freak for a Thanksgiving-tinted horror movie. It was a bizarre tale in what happens when you take too many drugs (or rather are drug tested on).

That movie was absolutely nuts but kind of fun. So this year I thought I’d test my luck again with the Thanksgiving Day-set Home Sweet Home. Weirdly, this is also about a drug-fuelled maniac but there are no feathers or genetic mutations involved.

Kill Jay Jones is an escaped mental patient who killed his parents. There’s nothing else that you’ll learn about him, and this is apparently not very relevant any way. He hits an old lady with his stolen station wagon and heads on out to a ranch in the isolated countryside.

The ranch is owned by record company owner Harold. He, his girlfriend and his children live together there with a tenant, Scott. For Thanksgiving, Harold brings the family and friends around for a meal.

But things soon go wrong with the power is shut off, and the group discover that there is NO WINE. So the group split off: Harold’s girlfriend Linda and her friend go for wine, Harold goes for more gas for the generator.

Of course ol’ Jay gets to this lot first and kills them. But first not without long, meandering scenes like the women getting lost, then pulled over by police. Or Harold siphoning gas from Jay’s stolen station wagon.

The rest of the guests are also picked off one-by-one in relatively unimaginative ways. Plus by the time they all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, the night is so dark I can’t make anything out.

One of the more interesting characters is “Mistake” – Harold’s Kiss Army son (who looks rather like Monkey from The Adicts). He carries around a guitar and portable amp just so he can harass people. In a rather strange scene, one woman, Maria, is taken by Jay by knifepoint. Mistake follows, pleading for her to be kept safe. The dumbass doesn’t take the guitar off, though. Which, I don’t know, if in a life-or-death situation I’d say fuck the guitar and use it as a weapon to wield against the GIANT ESCAPED MURDERER.

But he gets electrocuted later so I guess it’s fine?

Anyway, the last third of the film is really rather boring. The whole thing is boring, but this third is relatively more boring. Scott and his girlfriend, along with a little girl named Angel, hole up inside the house. Scott walks around the house a bit and sits back down to hug the girls. Then he gets back up and walks around again to sit back down.

This is truly some incredible and suspenseful stuff here.

But really, the movie suffers too much from being so dark. Thankfully the final scene is during the morning hours. That way I can actually see what’s happening. Not that’s really worth it. You could probably guess the ending with your eyes closed anyway.

It must be pretty difficult to make a Thanksgiving horror movie. The best ‘movie’ to capture the ambiance is probably Eli Roth’s fake trailer for Thanksgiving in Grindhouse. That at least has scenes with turkey in it. I’m not sure if this one did. Mostly because I couldn’t make anything out on the screen.

So to call this a ‘Thanksgiving horror movie’ is probably being really loose with the term. It’s just set on Thanksgiving. And they cook…sometimes. But there’s really no mood or atmosphere and it’s just terrible boring…

Which, actually, was a lot like the Thanksgivings from my childhood. So I stand corrected.