Archive for the Christmas Themed Horror Reviews Category

Silent Night (2012) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- He Knows Who’s Been Naughty

Release Date- November 30th, 2012

Running Time- 94-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Jayson Rothwell

Director- Steven C. Miller

Starring- Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong and Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff Cooper

Silent Night is a loose remake of the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night originally released in 1984. Outside of a few homages these two films have nothing in common outside of a killer dressed as Santa and of course the Christmas setting, but the original Silent Night, Deadly Night wasn’t the first horror film set on Christmas nor was it the first to have a killer dressed as Santa. I’m sure most people already know the controversy the original film stirred up, but this isn’t about the original so I’ll refrain from getting into it. The remake won’t stir up the same controversy, actually it won’t have any. But as I stated in the opening the two films have nothing in common and had Silent Night gone under a different title most wouldn’t even link it to the original and if they did it would only be due to the homages. The plot is totally different as are the motives for the killer in each movie.

There was a lot of excitement over the release of Silent Night due to some people hailing the original as one of the great horror films and as much as I enjoyed the film there is no way it’s one of the greats, which is reserved for such movies like Night of the Living Dead and Bride of Frankenstein and others hail Silent Night, Deadly Night as nothing, but vile trash and welcome a remake. As much as I enjoyed the original I have to admit I was looking forward to Silent Night as it had the potential to be a lot of fun, but somewhere along the way the fun I was hoping for ended up being boredom at times.

Set in a small city in Wisconsin, its Christmas Eve and a killer dressed as Santa Claus is on the loose picking off the citizens as the police frantically search for the crazed killer and well that sums up the entire plot. The script by Jayson Rothwell was quite poor and while slasher flicks aren’t know for their writing this was just poor and impacts the movie in a negative way. The characters are lifeless and dull and are better off dead. There is a decent attempt at creating some depth for Aubrey Bradimore (King), but in the end it feels like filler scenes and had they been removed nothing would feel like it were missing. Any scene with the priest was cringe worthy and this was some of the weakest writing.

I know complaining about a screenplay for a slasher movie might sound silly, but the script was quite poor with no real sense of plot and very dull characters. While true most slasher films aren’t know for their plots, but this one feels like it has even less and sure most slasher films have characters that are better off dead, but the characters here were among the weaker ones this type of film has to offer. While there are some decent ideas presented, but Rothwell doesn’t handle them very well and the script again is quite poor and derails any potential Silent Night had. As I stated this film has very little in common with the original and I wouldn’t even consider it a remake.

There are some homages such as garbage day, which gave me a laugh and there is also a scene where a character visits his catatonic grandfather who suddenly snaps out of it and warns of the danger of Christmas Eve, which while a nice homage to the original, but feels really, really out of place and was just there for the sake of it as it adds nothing to the plot unlike the original where it added to the movie. Again I know complaining about a script is a slasher movie might be silly, but the film was poorly plotted with mostly boring and lifeless characters.

Director Steve C. Miller does a nice job, but is given very little to work with. Based on the poor script there really is only so much Miller can do, but to his credit he does deliver a well-made movie with some really cool death scenes. The suspense is a bit light and too many scenes take place during the daytime, which does hinder the movie a bit. The pacing can be a little sluggish, which I think is more due to the script since lack of action hurts the movie since the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the movie. But overall I really didn’t have much of a problem with the direction as a whole, but like I said with the subpar script not much really could be done.

The performances range from weak to good with the leads being the best. Jaime King is excellent in her role and despite not having a lot of depth since her story isn’t explored enough, but King still handles everything well. Ellen Wong steals the show though and the film would have been better served if she had more screen time. Malcolm McDowell like always is a blast as he totally hams it up. Much of his dialogue is silly, but McDowell made it work.

Overall Silent Night has its moments and perhaps I’m being to harsh, but I just thought this was a movie that could have and should have turned out better. Perhaps with a better script it could have. In time I’ll revisit this and see if my opinion has changed and I totally get the appeal the movie had, but for me it just didn’t work.















Black Christmas (1974) Review

Posted in Black Christmas, Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


**** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- If This Movie Doesn’t Make Your Skin Crawl it’s on too Tight!

Release Date- December 20th, 1974

Running Time- 98-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Roy Moore

Director- Bob Clark

Starring- Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Doug McGrath, James Edmund and John Saxon

Released in 1974 Black Christmas has gained a massive cult following over the years and is now rightfully seen as a horror classic and while I hold the film in high regard I don’t hold it as high as some fans of the movie do. John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween is often cited as the first slasher film and the one that paved the way for the slasher flicks of the 80s; the latter is fairly accurate, but not the former. There were other slasher flicks prior to Halloween with Black Christmas being one of them and one can even cite the Gialli as an inspiration for many slasher flicks since they two have a lot in common in the basic structure, but it was Halloween even if not the first slasher was the one that made a whole lot of money opening the door for the slasher flick.

Black Christmas and Halloween often get compared with some people calling Halloween a knock off film, which really isn’t true. Both films focus on suspense and tension rather than action and gore, but the truth is both films are actually quite different and any similarities aren’t that close for Halloween to be called a knock off film. Like I said they have a few things in common, but the basic style of the films are quite different. Bob Clark once stated he told John Carpenter about doing a sequel where the killer breaks out of an insane asylum, but it was Irwin Yablans who came up with the Halloween setting not Carpenter or Debra Hill and while I’m not calling Bob Clark a liar and even he’s gone back on what he said, but I don’t think Carpenter stole anything from Bob Clark.

Black Christmas is a style of film that sadly is mostly forgotten in the days of more violence and more gore and less on suspense. As much as I loved the 80s the decade started off great, but soon drifted off into mindless violence, but even with that the 80s was still an excellent era for the horror genre, but nothing can top the 70s. What I loved about 70s horror is not only were these movies horror flicks, but they also had a touch of drama and in the case of Black Christmas also a little bit of comedy.

The screenplay by Roy Moore is very smart and creative; the script has a simple idea, but is very well thought out and relies more on being subtle rather than spelling out everything for the audience. The “Billy” character is a mystery, which really makes things chilling. You can get some info based on the phone calls, but then again how much of this is true and how much are the ramblings of a lunatic? Billy’s motives are never made clear and sometimes that can slightly hinder a movie when nothing is explained, but when too much is explained the mystery is taken away, but Roy Moore gives just enough detail to retain the mystery of the villain.

I personally believe that Roy Moore’s intention with the phone calls is to give the viewer some insight to the character of Billy and what he’s saying as incoherent as it is has something to do with his past and I think the final outcome is highly effective, but you can also simply see it as some lunatic that has such a warped mind and his rants mean nothing, but the script was really intelligent. Even though I think the things Billy says has some kind of meaning he’s still a mystery; where did Billy come from? Does he go from town to town stalking and killing people to recreate a murder from the past? Or does the sorority house have some kind of meaning for him and it’s obvious Billy is insane, but does he have moments where he can maybe sort of function in reality? Did he possibly escape from an asylum? You can let your mind run away with you while watching the movie and that makes things more effective, but Roy Moore also delivers just enough insight that we don’t feel as if it’s a cop out.

The characters each have their own identity and while they may not have the most depth they aren’t however faceless victims, which for me always makes a movie better since if we at least care for the characters a little bit it makes the suspense play out much better. Besides writing a solid horror flick, Roy Moore also is able to add some drama and comedic elements and they all work and never feel out of place.

I would hate for people to judge Bob Clark on his later flicks such as Baby Geniuses as well as The Karate Dog; there is no doubt these movies were horrid, but with Black Christmas and Deathdream, Clark proved himself a worthy filmmaker. Maybe he just got lucky? I don’t have the answer for that, but Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a chilling horror flick and sadly this is something we hardly see anymore. As much as I love the 80s that did start using nudity and gore to make up for weak filmmaking. From the very opening scene Bob Clark sets a tone and is able to deliver some of the best feel of tension in any horror flick I’ve ever seen; some people might see Black Christmas as slow paced, but I disagree. To me a slow paced movie is one where there are scenes in which the movie doesn’t move forward. Every scene in Black Christmas somehow moves the movie forward in either story, characters or suspense.

I’m not sure what happend to Bob Clark with his later movies, but with Black Christmas he hits all the right notes as the movie has this amazing sense of dread that is present through-out the entire movie and even if a scene or two might be a little slow it never gets boring due to the eerie feel. I’ve seen a lot of horror flicks in my life and very few have managed to be as chilling as Black Christmas. That’s why I go back to what I said earlier on how I’d hate for people to judge Bob Clark on some of his later films since at one point he made some classics of the horror genre. Tragically Bob Clark was killed in a car accident with his son in 2007 by a drunk driver, but his legacy will forever live on with Black Christmas, which is prime example on how to make a horror movie. I’d advise any filmmaker to study Black Christmas to learn how to structure a movie.

Unlike most films of its type Black Christmas has solid acting and cult Icon John Saxon delivers an excellent performance, Olivia Hussey makes for an excellent and sympathetic final girl and Keir Dullea is rather creepy in another excellent performance in Black Christmas, but it’s Margot Kidder and Marian Waldman that really stand out with hysterical performances.

Overall Black Christmas is one of the more chilling horror movies you’ll see and what it lacks in violence it more than makes up for with suspense and a chilling feel through-out and Billy makes for one of the most chilling villains in any horror film. Its movies like Black Christmas that reminds me why I love the horror genre as much as I do.


























Black Christmas (06) Review

Posted in Black Christmas (2006), Christmas Themed Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Terror Is Coming Home for the Holidays

Release Date- December 25th, 2006

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Glen Morgan

Starring- Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Oliver Hudson and Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry

Horror purists weren’t too happy about a remake to Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic Black Christmas and with good reason, but I’m actually not against remakes for the most part, now that doesn’t mean I like the idea that every classic and cult classic has to get a remake, but really remakes are no different than the sequels that dominated the 80s and 90s; both are made to cash in on the success of another movie the only difference is one continues the story the other starts it over. Black Christmas for the longest time was an almost forgotten movie, but over the years it gained a massive cult following and in time that audience grew larger and larger.

Don’t go in expecting the remake to be anything like the original; truth it outside of a few aspects Black Christmas 06 is a totally different movie and feels more like a remake of your run of the mill mid to late 80s slasher flick. Everything that made the original film such a classic of the genre is nowhere to be found in the remake and while the original Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a horror film the remake is one of those movies that sort of falls into the category of so bad its good, well sort of.

What made the original so great was the fact writer Roy Moore doesn’t explain every last detail to the viewer and Billy was very much a mystery. If you listen to what Billy says you can get some insight, but not the whole story, you get just enough info again to get some insight into his psychotic mind, but it still keeps the character mysterious or you can just see what Billy says has nothing more than rants by someone who is clearly insane, but Glen Morgan creates a whole backstory for Billy and thus takes away any mystery the character had in the original. I wouldn’t want Morgan to simply do a rewrite of Roy Moore’s script, but I think he missed what made it such a wonderful screenplay; Billy and Agnes are explained in full detail, but the worst part is the backstory, which was idiotic and silly.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween also had a backstory, but in my opinion at the end of the day Michael was still Michael, but in Black Christmas everything that made Billy so chilling is lost and the phone calls in the movie were rather pointless since everything is already explained the phone calls offer nothing for the movie and feel as if they are just there for the sake of it.

Glen Morgan has done some good work and he’s best known for writing episodes of the X-Files and Final Destination, but as I stated before with his script for Black Christmas he missed everything that made the original so excellent. The characters in the original may not have been the best developed, but they were interesting and had their own identity, but in the remake all the characters are so miserable they’re better off dead and they are all basically the same. Kelli (Cassidy) is the only character that sort of stands out from the rest and is fairly likeable. The screenplay by Morgan very much has faceless victims; at least in the original you could maybe root for some of them whereas here the sooner they die the better.

As director Glen Morgan fairs just as bad; the original Black Christmas had a great sense of eerie atmosphere and always had the feel of looming danger, but Glen Morgan never establishes any sort of tone for the movie and he seemed unsure if he wanted to make a campy flick or a suspenseful flick. Everything in the direction is sloppy with zero suspense. Also despite running at 82-minutes (not counting the credits) it does feel a bit longer than that. Based on interviews it was clear Glen Morgan had no passion for the project and the very much shows in his lifeless direction. He’s stated he’s making a movie the audience wants with gore and jump scares and while sadly this is what the audience wants I think they also want a scary flick something this film sure as hell wasn’t. If the original Black Christmas was made today I’m sure the movie would most likely flop and be called boring by the idiot audience so I understand where Glen Morgan was coming from. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t create any suspense or some kind of eerie tone for the movie. Many of the early 80s slasher flicks like My Bloody Valentine would balance gore with legit attempts at suspense, but Black Christmas only gets the gore done right.

The backstory comes out so idiotic I couldn’t help, but laugh at most of it and the problem I had though was I wasn’t quite clear if it was meant to be comedic. I honestly can’t believe for a second that Glen Morgan thought any of this was scary or creepy, but regardless the way it comes out it’s not clear if it was meant to be campy and that’s just sloppy direction. Everything that happens in the movie I refuse to believe Glen Morgan ever had any intention of making a movie that was scary or suspenseful in any way what so ever. Black Christmas is a very poor made flick, which was surprising since even though I didn’t love Willard I thought it was fairly good and at least well made, but what the hell happened here?

After Willard was a box office flop it made it tough for Glen Morgan to get another job directing and I understand in Hollywood you need success if you wanna keep working, but I can’t respect Glen Morgan for totally selling out and pissing all over the original. By no means do I think the remake in anyways tarnishes the legacy of the original since the movie will always be there for us to view, but it does disrespect everything that made the original the classic chiller it is. Typically in my reviews no matter how negative a review I write I always try and add some positives to the filmmaking, but Glen Morgan doesn’t deserve any credit. If he went into this film with a passion for it I’d ease up, but all he cared about was a paycheck.

The kill scenes are pretty much the same over and over again, but at least there was a decent level of gore something this movie very much needed. When the victims are stabbed it’s done repeatedly and so over the top, which only makes it more hysterical and in no way scary. For some reason Glen Morgan decided to make Billy a cannibal and these scenes are probably the funniest; with the idiotic kill scenes and cannibal Billy it can provide some decent laughs intentional or not.

The cast was fairly good and slasher flicks are often known for having some very hot women and Black Christmas is no different; all the girls are hot and at least we have something nice to look at with all the idiotic moments. The performances are about the only thing really positive about the movie and while none of the performances were great or anything they are strong enough and make the material a little better than how it turned out. All the actors play their roles straight, which does also make it a little funny since everything around them is so absurd, which brings me back to what I said earlier on how Glen Morgan’s direction was unclear on what he was trying to make.

Despite my review on Black Christmas I actually didn’t hate the movie since it’s so idiotic that sometimes that makes the movie fairly entertaining. This is the kind of movie you sit back and just laugh at how idiotic everything happening on screen is, so the movie does provide a little bit of fun. Black Christmas sort of plays out like a parody of the original even if that wasn’t the intention or was it? Based on my first viewing I found the movie idiotic, but a little bit of fun whereas now I just find the movie mostly idiotic. Overall Black Christmas has some fun moments, but overall it’s mostly a dud and an insult to the original. While I can’t really recommend this, but if in the right mood it can provide some laughs due to the horrid filmmaking.

And despite my negative review I would actually watch this again since again its poor, but can also be fun at times.




Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out (1989) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- November 17th, 1989

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Carlos Lazlo

Director- Monte Hellman

Starring- Samantha Scully, Richard Beymer, Eric Da Re, Laura Herring, Bill Moseley, Elizabeth Hoffman and Robert Culp as Lt. Connely

For some reason somebody thought it would be a good idea to make another Silent Night, Deadly Night movie and after the 2nd part one has to wonder why anyone would wanna do that. The original is actually a fairly good slasher flick that attempts at being more than a simple stalk and slash movie, but the 2nd one was downright pathetic, but with that said the movie is sort of entertaining due to how bad it was and I enjoyed it for the turkey it was. Silent Night, Deadly Night III while maybe the better made movie compared to the 2nd isn’t really as enjoyable.

Though I wonder if the makers of this saw the previous 2 since it seems they are mistaken Ricky for Billy; Billy of course was the killer in the first part and his brother Ricky was the killer in the 2nd and 3rd, but I think they got confused on the two since clips are shown only from the first movie. And in one scene when Ricky’s crimes are brought up its mentioned how he killed people with an axe in a Santa suit, but that would be Billy actually; the final act of the part 2 does have Ricky with an axe in a Santa suit, but when you think of the look and the weapon it’s Billy in the original; so as you can see we’re already off to a good start (yes sarcasm).

Besides a couple of clips of the original and besides a couple of times using the score from the original in certain spots, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: You Better Watch Out has no real connection to the first 2 movies despite having Ricky as the killer. The Christmas setting is simply used for obvious reasons, but the movie doesn’t even have a Christmas feel, which lacked in the 2nd part, but was very much there in the original. When one thinks of Christmas you think of cold and possibly snow, which was present in the first film since it was shot and took place in Utah, but the 2nd was shot and set in California just like part 3 and you never really get that Christmas feel and when having your movie set on a Holliday you need to capture that atmosphere. I totally get Christmas on the West Coast is different, but I’d prefer a colder setting. Every so often you might see some Christmas decorations, but other than that this movie could have been set on any day and it was only Christmas because it was a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night.

The screenplay was written by Carlos Lazlo, but apparently his script was thrown out and re-written by Monte Hellman and Arthur Gorson, but since only Lazlo is credited I’ll only mention him. The script was rather terrible, but did have a few decent ideas, but it’s so poorly written with lame explanations these ideas are pretty much pointless and sloppy; Ricky (Moseley) is in a coma and Dr. Newbury (Beymer) uses Laura (Scully) who is blind and has psychic abilities reach out to Ricky in their dreams; I don’t think it’s ever made clear why the Dr. was doing this and if it was I guess I missed the explanation.

As poor as the screenplay turned out there were some decent ideas presented and the character development, while by no means good is better than one might expect from a movie like this. The lead character Laura isn’t the typical final girl as she does have a bit of an attitude at times, but it’s more of anger due to her tough life. But it was a nice change rather than the nice good girl. However at the same time Laura isn’t very likable or very sympathetic. But besides a few decent ideas the script is so sloppy any good idea is lost.

Director Monte Hellman fails at delivering much suspense or tension; the pacing is sloppy and often a little slow and almost always falls flat. While attempts at creating suspense are made it’s so poorly done and we just go from one poor scene to another. I suppose not every problem can be placed on the direction since even the most talented of filmmakers wouldn’t be able to keep the pace up based off the script, but in the scenes that rely on suspense that is all on Hellman and it never works despite some decent attempts. Ricky moves at a snails pace and it gets quite frustrating seeing him move so slow. Despite reputation slasher flicks have with the slow moving killer they still move at a decent pace, but it would take Ricky an hour to move 5 steps! Having the killer move that slow doesn’t add any suspense its just annoying.

I think the biggest problem with the flick is Monte Hellman tells the story too straight forward; while there are comedic elements shots of Ricky hitchhiking while wearing his Hospital gown is quite silly and when the guy picks him up nothing is said about how Ricky looks. Forget the hospital gown, but how about Ricky’s brain showing with a dome over it that looks like a fish bowl. If Hellman would have aimed at more of a campy flick it would have worked a lot better.

I’ve pretty much trashed the movie, but not all is lost actually; despite how poor the movie was I was never really bored. Now that doesn’t mean I was ever entertained, but it’s such a hack job that it does have some entertainment value. The best part is how Ricky wears a dome over his head to cover his brain and the brain and the dome look like it cost a total of two dollars. Yeah I know this was a low budget production, but that isn’t a valid excuse since many low budget horror flicks have had great F/X and good production values.

The violence is quite tame with most of the death scenes off camera and the ones are shown look rather terrible and off camera may have been the better option; the best we get is a little blood splatter and if really lucky a shot of a decapitated head.

The casting is fairly decent believe it or not with Robert Culp as Lt. Coneley; I guess this was the best he could get at the time. The sexy Laura Herring has a supporting role and Bill Moseley plays Ricky and sadly he’s given little to do besides walk very slowly. Samantha Scully as the lead Laura wasn’t very likeable for the most part, which makes it tougher to sympathize for her, but all the actors are surprisingly decent.

Silent Night, Deadly Night III is nowhere near as good as the original, but better made than part 2 even if not as entertaining. There are some pacing problems and the movie is mostly a bore, but it does work on some level, but my advice is skip it and watch the original again.














Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation with tags , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** Out of 5

Release Date- October 28th, 1990

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Woody Keith

Director- Brian Yuzna

Starring- Neith Hunter, Maud Adams, Clint Howard, Tommy Hinkley, Allyce Beasley and Reggie Bannister

As if we really needed a 4th installment, but we ended up getting one regardless of the fact; Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation is a sequel by name only and has no connection to the previous 3. I wouldn’t be surprised if the title Silent Night, Deadly Night was thrown on for marketing reasons. The original was the best part of the series and in my opinion an underrated slasher flick that is a bit better than often given credit for and also captures the Christmas feel, but each sequel the Christmas feel was less and less and if not for a few decorations you wouldn’t even know this was set on Christmas.

There also seems to be some confusion over the Ricky character played by Clint Howard; Ricky of course was the name of the killer in the 2nd and 3rd parts of the series, but the Ricky character in this one is meant to be a different character. I suppose the confusion stems over the name and in a scene where Ricky is watching TV and a scene from Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 appears with the lead character getting attacked by a killer in a Santa suit (the only time in that movie the killer wears that) and when someone asks Ricky who he is, he responds with the Santa Killer, but I think he was referring to the TV rather than who he was.

Let’s just cut straight to it; Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 is one terrible flick with very little redeeming qualities going for it. There really isn’t much of a plot or much of anything for that matter, but the one thing the movie does have going for it is the weird factor; if anything the weirdness of the movie keeps it watchable, but very barley watchable at that.

A reporter investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building in flames finds herself mixed up in a cult of witches who are making her part of their sacrificial ceremony during the Christmas season.

The screenplay by Woody Keith is rather terrible and sloppy with no real plot points and mostly boring characters that add nothing to the film. He wrote a rather strange script, but there really isn’t anything here interesting at all and it’s hard to believe this script was given the green light. The characters are dull and lifeless and the script is just so poor and pathetic.

Director Brian Yuzna has made some decent films, but this was just terrible; Yuzna directed the cult classic Return of the Living Dead III, which I personally find highly underrated and he also directed The Dentist & The Dentist 2, which are campy fun and he also directed Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator as well as producing the original Re-Animator. I don’t think Brian Yuzna will go down as one of the greats, but he has directed and produced some solid films and I’m a fan of his work, but what happened with Silent Night, Deadly Night 4?

Of all the Brian Yuzna movies I’ve seen this has to be his very worst film; there is no sense of pacing or anything remotely interesting. We simply go from lame scene to lame scene. Though one scene, which features Ricky chasing after Kim (Hunter) has some decent suspense, but not enough to make it anything special. Like I said earlier on the weird factor this movie rates highly. Like I said I enjoy some of his movies, but this was simply horrible. The movie just has no clear direction and it seems everyone involved wants to create a David Cronenberg type flick, but they all failed miserably.

The cast is fairly decent with Cult actor Clint Howard and former Bond girl Maud Adams as well as Reggie Bannister best known from the Phantasm series and Allyce Beasley best known for the TV series Moonlighting; the performances weren’t bad, but the actors have very little to work with; Neith Hunter a former model plays the lead character Kim and she also delivers a fairly good performance with the very little she’s given.

Like I said in the opening of the review, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation is a sequel by name only with no connection to the previous 3 and if not for a couple of Christmas decorations and two scenes you would never know it was set at Christmas time, which if you are making a movie called Silent Night, Deadly Night I think Christmas should play more of a part. The original film was excellent and part 2 was horrible, but at least was fun, but this one is by far the worst of the series. At times its a chore to sit through.







Christmas Evil (1980) Review

Posted in Christmas Evil AKA You Better Watch Out, Christmas Themed Horror Reviews with tags , , on December 10, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review moved here

Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Don't Open Till Christmas with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- T’was the Night before Christmas, and All Through the House, Not a Creature was Stirring, They Were All Dead

Release Date- December, 1984

Running Time- 86-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Derek Ford

Director- Edmund Purdom

Starring- Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Mark Jones, Gerry Sundquist, Kelly Baker, Kevin Lloyd

The 80s was very much the decade of the slasher film and Don’t Open Till Christmas is yet another one trying to cash in on the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th. By 1984 the slasher flick was hitting a bit of decline and I suppose one can say after 1981 the slasher flick started to go down, but there were still enough good ones to keep these films going strong and even after 1984 there were still some good ones, but I think even the most loyal of fans could admit as a whole they just weren’t the same.

Don’t Open Till Christmas has a killer on the loose targeting people dressed as Santa Claus in London and while most of the victims are dressed in Santa suits, but not all. Oddly enough 1-month before this film opened Silent Night, Deadly Night was released and demonized by the public and critics for having a slasher set on Christmas and for having the killer dressed as Santa, but this was actually done before with the setting or killer in the Santa outfit with such films as To All a Goodnight and Christmas Evil, but yet Silent Night, Deadly Night is pulled after two weeks, but nobody batted an eye at the other slasher flicks with a similar idea and nobody commented on Don’t Open Till Christmas.

The film was produced by Stephen Minasian & Dick Randall best known for producing the cult favorite Pieces and Minasian was actually involved with Friday the 13th. With these two guys involved you should know what to expect, but this is one of their weaker efforts. Don’t Open Till Christmas had the right idea, but it’s such a hack job in the end and sometimes that can make the movie more enjoyable, but in this case at times it does have the so bad its good quality and other times it’s simply just so bad its bad.

The screenplay by Derek Ford is a total mess and this mixes the basic slasher flick with the Gialli and truth is there is a thin line between the two; the characters are boring and lifeless even by slasher movie standards and is so poorly plotted you really can’t make much sense out of anything.

Character actor Edmond Purdom who horror fans will know best from his role in Pieces not only has a role in Don’t Open Till Christmas, but he also makes his directorial debut and in a huge shocker he never made another movie. Don’t Open Till Christmas is poorly paced with poor production values; Purdom is unable to create any suspense or any atmosphere and the kill scenes are handled rather poorly with the killer just appearing and killing the victim with no set up and the couple of chase scenes are so boring that you’ll prefer the killer just showing up and dispatching of the victim quickly. However not everything is a total loss since Purdom crafts such a sloppy movie that it can at times be fun and the viewer will get a good laugh or two.

Don’t Open Till Christmas does boast a double digit body count, but the death scenes really aren’t anything special and the gore is at best average. Despite the high body count it really doesn’t feel like there were many since they’re so poorly staged and the pacing is so sloppy, but about 14 kill scenes in 86-minutes helps the movie a little bit. The highlight of the movie was the revelation on why the killer is hunting down people dressed as Santa; it just might be one of the worst motives of the 80s slasher flick.

Caroline Munro who starred in the cult classic Maniac appears in a cameo and one has to wonder how she got mixed up in this movie? My review sure isn’t glowing and my ** ½ star rating isn’t overly high, but as bad as the movie can be and there are times when its downright boring, but it can also be semi-entertaining in how poor it is. If anything it’s sort of fun laughing at the hack job the movie ended up being. The one interesting aspect to the film (yes this is a spoiler, but who really cares?) is the girl who we think will live ends up getting killed and the more promiscuous girl is the one who survives.

Don’t Open Till Christmas surly isn’t one of the better 80s slasher flicks, but it’s not the worst, but it would rate towards the bottom of the pack however. Slasher fans will wanna check this out and will mostly likely find a little something here, but overall everything is rather forgettable.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker with tags , , , , on December 7, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- November 6th, 1991

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Martin Kitrosser & Brian Yuzna

Director- Martin Kitrosser

Starring- Jane Higginson, Tracy Fraim, William Thorne, Brian Bremer, Clint Howard with Neith Hunter and Mickey Rooney as “Joe Petto”

After the pathetic 4th installment I suppose things really couldn’t get any worse for the series and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is in my opinion a far better movie than the 4th, but with that said by no means is this The Toy Maker a good movie. Overall despite the problems with the movie it is semi entertaining for the most part and while I didn’t hate the movie I sure didn’t really like it either, but I guess it serves as a decent time killer, but I have little desire to see this anytime soon. We have killer toys and even a robot! So how can one totally hate this movie?

Like part 4, this one is also a sequel by name only and has no connection to the first 3 and this one doesn’t really have much of a connection to the 4th part. Neith Hunter as Kim, Conan Yuzna as Lonnie and Clint Howard as Ricky are all back in this part, but I’m not totally sure if they are meant to be the same characters even if they have the same names as they did in the 4th. Every so often you have those sequels with actors playing a character by the same name, but are different people. But like I said it’s never really made clear if they are the same people and in the case of Ricky it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The screenplay was written by Martin Kitrosser & Brian Yuzna and while the script was poor it was better written than the 4th film, but then again I suppose that isn’t saying much. While the characters lack any depth they are however fairly decently written for and at least this installment has hint of a plot. The basic premise has a young child named Derek (Thorne) sees his father killed by a toy left in front of the house and due to the shock and trauma he’s become a mute and somehow this might be connected to Joe Petto (Rooney) who owns a toy store.

I don’t think Kitrosser & Yuzna were attempting a straight forward screenplay due to the camp factor, which had to be intentional. Regardless, while the script is mostly poor it does have some decent characters as well as a decent idea even if it never totally works, but it could have been a lot worse.

Martin Kitrosser makes his directorial debut and he’s best known for writing the 3rd and 5th installments of the Friday the 13th franchise and he’s also known for being a script supervisor and has worked on all of Tarantino’s movies; Kitrosser possibly makes the best of the sequels, which really isn’t much of a compliment since the sequels were rather poor overall and each one seemed to only get worse until The Toy Maker, which again isn’t a very good flick overall; the pacing is fairly decent and there is some decent mystery and at least Kitrosser is able to make it sort of feel like Christmas, which is something that was totally lacking in the sequels.

It isn’t much of a surprise that Martin Kitrosser’s directing career never took off, but for what it’s worth he made a film that isn’t very good, but does serve as a decent time killer. The idea of killer toys isn’t exactly very scary, but Kitrosser makes it work to a certain extent and the scene when the teenage couple is attacked works on a campy level, which had to be the point. Like I said this isn’t anything great, but Kitrosser makes a passable movie, but again not a very good one and if you’re looking for suspense and scares you won’t find it here.

I’m sure most horror fans are aware of the backlash the first film got due to having a killer dressed as Santa Claus; people even tried to get the movie banned and critics panned the movie and Mickey Rooney even wrote a letter of protest, which makes it all the more hypocritical that he would later star in the sequel, but I suppose the guy needed a job since by this time his career was pretty much dead. Rooney delivers a fun and campy performance and believe it or not the rest of the cast wasn’t too bad; while the acting wasn’t anything great it’s better than most DTV horror flicks released at this time.

Overall Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is a poor flick, but has enough campy and silly moments to keep the viewer interested even if never really entertained.









To All a Goodnight (1980) Review by Dave Kaye

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, To All a Goodnight with tags , , , , on March 28, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye


*** Out of 5

Tagline- You’ll Scream Till Dawn

Release Date- January 30th, 1980

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Alex Rebar

Director- David Hess

Starring- Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile, Katherine Herrington, Sam Shamshak, Buck West

Released in 1980 To All Goodnight and was directed by David Hess best known as Krug in Wes Craven’s classic Last House on the Left and this also marked his directorial debut; To All a Goodnight was one of the first of the wave of slasher flicks that would dominate the decade and with so many of these films produced some were lost in the shuffle and To All a Goodnight was one of those as it’s a seldom seen movie and quite rare. Upon first look this is the typical slasher flick released in the 80s after the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween and you wouldn’t be wrong; however To All a Goodnight was released in January of 1980 and actually was released prior to such movies as Prom Night and Friday the 13th and the setting for the movie also would be very common throughout the 80s though the setting here is sort of the same as Black Christmas.

Quite honestly I wouldn’t rate To All a Goodnight as one of the best slasher flicks of the 80s, but I think the movie deserves more recognition than it gets. If anything this movie owes a little more to Black Christmas than Halloween and while this movie is very much your standard 80s slasher flick again it came out prior to many of the more well-known slasher flicks of the 80s. To All a Goodnight also features a killer in a Santa suit, but Silent Night, Deadly Night is the one best known for that and it’s also kinda funny how no one bats an eye with this movie, but Silent Night, Deadly Night caused a public outrage, which lead to the movie being pulled after only 2-weeks.

The plot for To All a Goodnight is fairly simple; the setting in an all-girls school where the girls are planning a party during Christmas break, but before the fun can begin a killer wearing a Santa Claus outfit shows up and begins to dispatch the girls and their friends and can all this have something to do with a girl that accidently killed a while back?

The screenplay by Alex Rebar features weak characters that are one-dimensional, which is very common in slasher flicks, but the biggest problem is all the characters are inter-changeable for the most part; the main goal for all the women are to get laid, which is kinda cool since it’s always the guys that are like that. All the characters are your standard slasher movie characters, but as I stated earlier this movie has many of those beat by as little as a few months or a couple of years. None of the characters are very likeable with the exception of Nancy (Runyon) who I guess is the Laurie Strode of the movie.

The characters are also rather stupid even for slasher flick standards. When all their friends end up missing nobody seems to be very concerned chalking it up to they just went home and even after a dead body is found they still have no concerns about their friends or themselves for that matter and while slasher flicks often feature idiotic characters, but this bunch are just total idiots. With that said the screenplay does serve its purpose and while the characters might be shallow idiots they are also a bit fun.

As director David Hess does fairly well for the most part, but the pacing can be a bit sluggish at times despite the high body count and while the setting of the movie has all the makings of eerie atmosphere it does sort of lack that feel that many early 80s slasher flicks had going for them. There isn’t a lot of energy in many of the scenes and thus it can drag from time to time, but Hess does manage to deliver some decent suspense as well as a solid final act. This may not go down as one of the best directed 80s slasher flicks, but despite the flaws David Hess mostly delivers an entertaining flick and while this movie went unnoticed by many it did help set the stage for these films.

There are moments where To All a Goodnight reminds me of Friday the 13th and there is even a character called Weird Ralph who warns people of pending danger, but based on the release dates for both movies this is just pure coincidence, but that’s why I say To All a Goodnight has a little more going for it than people might realize since it has a lot of the clichés in a type of movie that was still in the very early stages. Of course Black Christmas is probably the ultimate Christmas themed slasher flick and these movies were fairly common in the 80s, but again To All a Goodnight has them beat by a few years and as I mentioned before this movie has the killer in a Santa suit made famous by Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Overall, To All a Goodnight is a fairly decent entry in the slasher flick and it’s a bit hard to rate since the copy I saw was at times out of sync and very poor quality, but even with that there is still fun to be had. It might lack the energy of many early 80s slasher flicks, but it does manage some decent suspense and tension at times and even though it isn’t one of the best of the 80s slasher flicks it does deserve more of a following.