Camp Hideaway Massacre (2018)

Directed by Skip Bizr [Other horror films: N/A] & Ted Moehring [Other horror films: Bloodbath in the House of Knives (2010), Invasion of the Reptoids (2011), Camp Blood 666 (2016), Revenge of the Devil Bat (2020)]

For being a low-budget slasher, Camp Hideaway Massacre is almost okay. It’s not a good movie, but it was close to passable. The main problem, though, was that the film was so repetitive, and while occasionally things got shaken up a little, I can’t say I wasn’t somewhat bored (as bored as one can be watching a low-budget film, anyways) at times throughout the movie.

I’m not sure if this was filmed in Pennsylvania (I know the setting definitely is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was filmed there), but I do enjoy the lush look the local environment has, and while the campgrounds themselves are rather pathetic, it was still what I know people refer to as nature.

As far as the special effects go, low-budget films always get a bit of a pass from me. Jockstrap Slaughterhouse, for instance, had horrible effects, but had a lot of heart. This film has okay effects – one of the decapitations looked a bit weak – and the kills were mostly fine, so I don’t have too much to complain about there.

The issue is the story, though, in which new people get to the campground, and are killed shortly thereafter, rinse and repeat. We go through a lot of characters, and in fact, somewhat interestingly, the main characters could really be the killers (primarily Gutrot Layton and his posse) as opposed to any one victim (the best choice would be Tina Krause, who actually appears for more than a handful of scenes), but that doesn’t really help the overall narrative structure.

Probably as one can imagine, the acting is mostly poor. I noticed that, looking through the cast, it looks like characters who were mother and daughter in the film were played by actual mothers and daughters, which I thought was cool (and certainly shows a strong localized production). Not that, of course, either of these pairs (Jessica and Haley Dittrich along with Danielle and Kanyon Fassler) had much of a chance to shine, but it is nice to see.

Tina Krause is a big name in lower-budget horror, having been in quite a few films (such as Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island and Dead Students Society), and while I’ve not personally seen her in anything until now, she did well. She also had a lengthy shower scene, so no complaints there. I think, aside from her, John Young was probably the best performance, but Gutrot Layton (and I sort of doubt, on a side-note, that’s his real name) had some charm too.

The dialogue was pretty awful at times, and like I said earlier, the largest issue was the repetitive nature of the story. None of that makes Camp Hideaway Massacre awful, and for a lower-budget movie, I definitely think that, in some aspects, they did well (such as most of the kills and skirting on an interesting story), and if it had been cleaned up a little, I think this could have been more a contender than what I thought it ended up being. Right now, though, I don’t think it’s that great.

5.5/10

Killer High (2018)

Directed by Jem Garrard [Other horror films: N/A]

Back in 2012, Syfy had an original movie called Haunted High (which was later retitled Ghostquake, because that’s so much better), and it was terrible. I mean, in some ways, it was okay, but the point is, it wasn’t a great time. So when I marked this to record to my DVR, given this is also a Syfy original, I was expecting something much in the same vein.

However, surprisingly, I had a really good time with this.

I didn’t know that it’d be a horror-comedy when I started watching this, and if I had, I’d have probably gone in with even lower expectations, but the humor here was actually pretty good (and in fact, the “rabid Snuffleupagus” line had me cracking up so much, I had to pause the movie), and I found myself laughing plenty of times. The freeze-frames were probably used once too often, but for the most part, this was a movie that knew what it was doing, and I think it showed in the script (“I don’t need your help. I have God to protect me,” followed up by, “Oh, that’s a really bad choice,” was an exchange that caused more laughter).

What really helps is that the main character, played by Kacey Rohl, is one of those annoying, overachieving types who was in every high school organization possible, and she’s in charge of the ten-year high school reunion. Rohl’s character easily could have been unlikable (and she had her moments), but it turns out that she didn’t go to college – she stayed in her dying town (and I do mean dying – the town doesn’t even have a police station) to care for her sick mother, and all she has to really look back on was her success in high school while everyone else is succeeding around her, such as her old rival, played by Humberly González, who has been around the world.

Really, this is a movie with more feeling than you’d expect. Make no mistake, most of it’s a silly monster movie with a giant warthog goring people, if it’s not eating people, that is, but there’s still some emotion, such as the tender moments between Asha Bromfield and Varun Saranga (Neverknock), or the scene in which everyone’s favorite teacher, played by Linda Goranson, comes to the reunion in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. There are nice moments here, which is good to see, especially as I have absolutely no plans to attend my ten-year reunion. Though if a killer warthog were on the loose, I might reconsider.

Kacey Rohl is a name I don’t know, but she just did fantastic. I can’t really fault her character for being petty to high school rivals, because that’s really all she has – for ten years, she’s been in a dying town, dreaming of planning the perfect reunion, and this happens. I’ll admit I never loved González’s character, but she did grow on me. Both Bromfield and Saranga were good (especially Saranga), and I wish they had a happier ending then what they did. Jonathan Langdon mostly fell flat for me, but he did have that hilarious Snuffleupagus line, so points for that.

Killer High isn’t a particularly gory movie (though the aftermath of the main slaughter was pretty nice), nor did it boast the best effects (the warthog was pretty simple, but it had it’s charm to it), but it was a surprisingly fun ride, with occasionally moving moments and an interesting story to it’s killer warthog. It was a fun movie, and definitely one I’d give another go. It over-uses a few elements, and the finale isn’t quite that strong, but it’s a surprisingly strong film.

7.5/10

Tales from the Hood 2 (2018)

Directed by Rusty Cundieff [Other horror films: Tales from the Hood (1995), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)] & Darin Scott [Other horror films: Dark House (2009), American Horror House (2012), Something Wicked (2014), Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)]

I rather liked the first Tales from the Hood, and in fact, I think it’s probably one of the best horror anthologies of the 1990’s (in truth, competition isn’t that strong). This, though, is rather laughable, and has almost no redeeming attributes. At almost an hour and 50 minutes long, with a pitiful framing sequence, this is just hard to get through.

Comprising of four stories (‘Good Golly’, ‘The Medium’, ‘Date Night’, and ‘The Sacrifice’) and the aforementioned atrocious framing (‘Robo Hell’), only one of these is possibly worth watching, being ‘The Sacrifice’ which is easily the most political and also most reminiscence of the first movie (taking an element or two from ‘KKK Comeuppance’). It’s a bit heavy-handed, what with a black Republican being forced to change his ways by the ghosts of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Chanay, Goodman, Schwerner, and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., but at least it was somewhat interesting, especially with the brief alternate history had those listed not made the sacrifices for the Civil Rights movement they had.

I’m not saying ‘The Sacrifice’ is great, but it is leagues above anything else in this movie. ‘Good Golly’ honestly started out fine, but really quickly went down an utterly idiotic and regrettable route. ‘The Medium’ was entirely generic, and ‘Date Night’ was actively bad.

As a matter of fact, not only was ‘Date Night’ bad (though not near as poor as ‘Good Golly’), it had, what seemed to be, a rather glaring error in it. Two men drug some women with the intent to rape them, and of course, they plan to record it. However, when looking through the viewfinder, they can’t see the women – they’re vampires. All fine so far, but then the women make a video for the men, and – – – the women appear just fine on camera now?

What?

Yeah, it didn’t make any sense. It didn’t make the story worse, as it was already terribly generic, but it was beyond pathetic, which can be said of ‘Robo Hell’, the framing story, in which a racist law-and-order guy wants a story-teller to tell stories to a Robocop-esque robot, so it can properly track down ‘criminals’ and take them out. It’s very fascist, very obviously wrong (I despise conservatives and what they stand for, but very few are as obviously terrible as this guy is), and when the ending comes, it would amaze me if anyone was surprised.

I’m not going to bother about harping on the performances. Some people were fine, such as Lou Beatty Jr.. Others were somewhat pathetic, such as Alexandria DeBerry and Bill Martin Williams. Keith David was no Clarence Williams III. The problem here wasn’t the performances, though, as bad as some of them were – it was the piss-poor stories.

And it’s not like they didn’t have potential. It’s pretty clear from the final product that they had some money and the ability to get some really good camerawork here. I mean, you can’t tell from the opening graphics (which looked utterly terrible, and I can’t even begin to describe how much it made me laugh), and the fact that they briefly showed House on Haunted Hill (public domain for the win, right?) in one of the segments, which never bodes well, but the movie wasn’t near as cheap as other poor horror films.

Which is the most damning thing of all. I’m not going to say this was as bad as Late Fee, which is probably one of the worst anthology horror movies I’ve seen. I will say, though, that it’s a worse movie than Slices, because at least Slices was dealing with a next-to-nothing budget, and it showed. Here, there was clearly a crisp and solid-looking production. It suffered, though, due to the terribly shitty stories, and overall, this just feels like a mockery of the first Tales from the Hood as opposed to a good-faith continuation, which, given the director of the original also worked with this one, is just amazing.

3/10

Snake Outta Compton (2018)

Directed by Hank Braxtan [Other horror films: Evil Deeds 2 (2010, segment ‘The Hebrew Hacker’), Blood Effects (2011), Chemical Peel (2014), Unnatural (2015)]

To quote N.W.A, you are now about to witness the strength of snake knowledge. I’m not trying to mock N.W.A. – that’s how the film starts out.

I know what I was expecting with this one. A bad movie, certainly, but an interesting mixture of generic rappers versus a bunch of snakes. What I wasn’t expecting was a parody film, which is quite a bit of what Snake Outta Compton is, and boy, is it a hard movie to watch.

The snake looked terrible (and yes, it was just a single snake as opposed to a nest), but that really plays no part in just how bad this movie is. I don’t know what was worse – the character Vurkel (a parody of Urkle from Family Matters, complete with the glasses and suspenders) or the characters Denz and Ethan (rip-offs from the 1999 Training Day, starring, you guessed it, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke). Or the rap battle against the snake.

Yeah, this movie went places that weren’t locations much worthy of a visit.

There are a few meager things about this I liked, though not enough to boast this above the atrocious rating it’s going to get. For one, a few of the rap lines here were decent, my favorite being ‘cold-blooded showman like Frosty the Snowman’, and another one made reference to Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidorah. Also, Arielle Brachfeld, who played a white girl who did everything possible to act black and thug, was sort of funny. Her character was pretty terrible, but she had heart, and was about the only character (and I do mean only) that was worth anything.

Otherwise, this movie is really cringy. Why they chose a twenty year old action movie to parody, I have no damn idea, but it doesn’t work at all, and the movie was just as terrible as a movie could be. Vurkel’s character arc was awful (by the end, he becomes a part-snake superhero, because of course he does), and overall, this movie was just painful to watch.

I was really hoping for something else when I marked this to record on my DVR. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting anything stellar, but I definitely didn’t see a parody coming, and boy, was this an utter disappointment, almost entirely void of worth. Not something I’d recommend unless you’re high as fuck and want a good time. I wasn’t, and thus, no good time to be had.

1.5/10

6-Headed Shark Attack (2018)

Directed by Mark Atkins [Other horror films: Evil Eyes (2004), Halloween Night (2006), Haunting of Winchester House (2009), Sand Sharks (2012), Alien Origin (2012), Knight of the Dead (2013), A Perfect Vacation (2015), Planet of the Sharks (2016), Empire of the Sharks (2017)]

I think that this is probably the second-worst entry into the [Insert random number here]-Headed Shark series, which is a shame, because as the second film (3-Headed Shark Attack) showed, these movies could almost get sort of close to okay. Here, though, there was little to really watch for.

Are some of the characters okay? Not really. Pretty much, every character here is either generic or disappointingly portrayed. The hippie couple (Chris Fisher and Megan Oberholzer) could have been great, but like everyone else, they just got on my nerves. The one outlier was Jonathan Pienaar, who was so serious (yet over-the-top), he cracked me up. And Nikita Faber was quite attractive, so there’s that.

Also, did you know sharks could walk? Well, they can if they have six heads, because four of the heads can be used as legs, because that works well. The CGI looks great, guys, I promise.

I really don’t know why Syfy bothers with these types of films, but then again, I watched all four of the movies (if they make another one, though, I can’t promise I’ll see it), so what do I know? Pretty pitiful, and were it not for a few okay characters or small bikinis, this wouldn’t be getting the already bad score it is.

3/10

Cherokee Creek (2018)

Directed by Todd Jenkins [Other horror films: N/A]

Sometimes my reviews can go a bit longer than they really need to. For some films, I think it’s worth examining much of the film, from performances to the special effects, and at times, maybe it’s a bit much. I’ll try not to make the same error with Cherokee Creek, though, and the only point I really need to make clear is just how utterly unenjoyable I found this piece of trash.

I honestly thought the film was a joke at first – to me, the film felt so bad, they had to know it was bad, and there was going to be some early reveal about how it was a movie-in-a-movie type situation or something. Alas, that’s not what happens, and the movie kept going and going with these jokes that don’t even approach amusing.

Cherokee Creek is an hour and 56 minutes. We don’t get about any Bigfoot action until about an hour and ten minutes in, and unfortunately, it’s far, far, far, far, far too late to make any positive difference. It’s true that for a lower-budget film, the special effects are good, but damn it, by the time they show up, I wish I were dead already multiple times over. The nudity might have helped out if I was quite a bit younger, but it didn’t do anything for me here. None of the characters were remotely likable, and few of the performances were decent.

If the film had been shorter, the movie still would have been bad, but I will say that, had it been only an hour, the film definitely would have been more digestible and wouldn’t have gotten nearly as low a score. There was an ultra low budget film I saw some time ago called What Happens in the Mountains – Should Stay in the Mountains, a movie that was 40 minutes long and doesn’t even have an IMDb page. That film knew what it was, kept things short, and despite the lower-budget, rather amused me at times.

Cherokee Creek did nothing of the sort. I think I laughed once toward the beginning (with the foul-mouthed old woman), but that was about it.

The movie opens with two of the actors pointing guns at the camera commending the audience for watching the film (providing they paid for it), and went on to comment that if the audience didn’t pay for the film (or pirating it, which is the only way I’d recommend watching this), they’d need to buy it after finishing the film because of how good we’d undeniably find it.

I didn’t pay for this. Luckily, it was uploaded on one of the many streaming sites I use, which is a good thing, as this movie was complete and utter trash. Maybe in the future, I can find the words to explain why, but for now, after having just finished it, I don’t much feel like spending more time on this.

0.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested in checking out Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discussing this one, check it out below.

Slender Man (2018)

Directed by Sylvain White [Other horror films: I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)]

Slender Man surprised me a bit. I definitely wasn’t expecting much, especially after seeing the low rating of 3.2/10 on IMDb, but for a good chunk of the movie, I thought there was definite potential. It’s with the second half of the film, though, that this is all flushed down the toilet and instead we’re left with jump scare after jump scare (assuming you can make out what’s going on), along with some pretty bad CGI. In a way, though, I’m in the unenviable position of feeling I need to defend this.

I didn’t think the main performances were particularly bad, but I also don’t think they were that memorable. Joey King was perhaps the best here, but Julia Goldani Telles, Annalise Basso (who is utterly smoking here) and Taylor Richardson all do reasonably. I didn’t see the point in Alex Fitzalan’s character, but I guess he did okay also.

What starts somewhat decently, especially regarding the mystery of one of the girls’ disappearance, turns into a really generic and jump scare-filled movie, and what tops it off to make it worse is that it has that glossy Hollywood look that just gives Slender Man such a tame feel.

Does the Slender Man design generally look fine? Sure. The CGI is really spotty at points, but the Slender Man himself wasn’t God-awful. It’s most of the other effects that fail, such as a few wild dream sequences, little of which looked appealing in any way.

Had they gone a different route, I think this could have been decent. I didn’t love the story past a certain point, but I did mostly like the characters, so with the budget they had, it’s just sad they couldn’t have come up with something better. At the same time, I don’t think Slender Man is near as bad as some of the ratings seem to indicate. I don’t think it’s good, but to me, it falls much closer to forgettable than it does memorably awful.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this classic.

Karma (2018)

karrma

Directed by Nick Simon [Other horror films: Removal (2010), The Girl in the Photographs (2015), 2 Lava 2 Lantula! (2016), Truth or Dare (2017), Untitled Horror Movie (2021)]

For a Syfy release, Karma’s okay. It’s not particularly good, and I suspect it won’t be particularly memorable in the months to come, or even weeks, but it’s nowhere near as bad as other Syfy films such as Dead in the Water and Grave Halloween.

Story-wise, it reminded me a bit of It Follows, where, instead of a dark force following someone after sex, it follows them after they commit a terrible act. It’s not really original, but I liked some aspects of what Karma tried to do with it, though, and this perhaps wouldn’t come as much a surprise, the jumps struck me as mostly unnecessary.

When it comes to concerns, there are quite a few that Karma poses. For instance, only three of the performances in the film really stand out (being Tim Russ, despite his horrible character, Mandela Van Peebles, and Brytni Sarpy, who was also in the likewise unmemorable 2017 Syfy flick Truth or Dare). None of the other actors and actresses do particularly bad, but they’re just sort of there. And much could be said for the story itself – like I said, I enjoyed some of the aspects (such as Peebles’ attempts at removing the curse from himself during a feel-good montage), but ultimately, Karma felt pretty bland.

Once everything’s said and done, that’s the biggest problem with the movie – it was completely unremarkable. It did boast one death sequence I rather enjoyed (involving a saw blade and a hammer, in a very Final Destination fashion), so it wasn’t completely without gore, but generally, there was little of interest here, and the conclusion felt a bit off, along with being somewhat anticlimactic.

Syfy has so many better movies, such as House of Bones (2010), Neverknock (2017), Cucuy: The Boogeyman (2018), and even Stickman (2017). Karma isn’t the worse that they’ve done, but it is both tepid and ultimately forgettable, which is the main issue. I’d pass on this one.

5.5/10

You Might Be the Killer (2018)

Poster

Directed by Brett Simmons [Other horror films: Husk (2011), The Monkey’s Paw (2013), Animal (2014), Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear (2014)]

For a modern-day slasher, this was refreshingly innovative and ultimately a pretty fun take on what generally is a far too played out story.

Told in a non-linear narrative, much of it in flashback with a framing sequence, this comedy-horror mix was pretty fun. While laugh out loud moments weren’t really all that common, the humor here was still pretty enjoyable, and there was enough decent gore, though not the focus, to also keep slasher fans happy.

The structure of the narrative ends up making the film not only more unique, but more memorable also. I enjoyed how the beginning was told via flashback, but then we sort of caught up to the present, and went from there. It helped greatly with Alyson Hannigan’s inactive role, and gave her, despite lack of action, a lot to contribute.

Of course, Hannigan’s presence is perhaps one of the reasons this movie’s gotten more attention than it otherwise might have. Hannigan does great here, and while I basically only know her from the American Pie movies (I’ve never seen any How I Met Your Mother), I think she gave a great performance. As a lead, Franz Kranz (Marty the stoner from The Cabin in the Woods) was fantastic also, and brought a fun performance to the film. Brittany S. Hall and Jenna Harvey did well also, Harvey especially as the innocent, final-girl type.

At times, the humor was a bit much, such as the final few seconds, but even that was foreshadowed, so it didn’t come across nearly as bad as it otherwise would have. Really, for a modern-day horror-comedy, this was a pretty solid mix without the comedy coming across as either overbearing or too still, which was sort of nice.

The director of this film, Brett Simmons, also directed a flick called Husk from 2011, which had been one of the few scarecrow horror films I’ve found worth watching (along with the more classic Dark Night of the Scarecrow from 1981 and Scarecrows from 1988), but that film, as much as I recall liking it, didn’t reach the unique level this one did, so it’s great to see the director’s improving his craft.

You Might Be the Killer may not win any awards, but it’s a movie with a solid main cast (most of the cast not mentioned are interchangeable, but that sort of fits with the nature of the film), an occasional retro-feel, enjoyable humor, and most importantly, an innovative narrative. Definitely a movie I’d recommend to any slasher fans.

8/10

What Keeps You Alive (2018)

What Keeps

Directed by Colin Minihan [Other horror films: Grave Encounters (2011), Extraterrestrial (2014), It Stains the Sands Red (2016)]

With potential to be more, unfortunately What Keeps You Alive both goes on too long and possesses quite a few bad choices on the parts of the characters, making the movie all the more forgettable, though perhaps still worth at least one go.

It starts out pretty well, with a likable couple played by Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen (yes, they’re a lesbian couple, so should you be a piece of homophobic trash, this may not be for you) spending their one-year anniversary at a secluded cabin. It’s hard to tell where the movie’s going from the beginning, but come a shocking scene about twenty minutes in or so, from that point on, most can probably guess what’s coming up.

As it is, the story is pretty decent, despite a few small elements I don’t care for. The problem is that the story drags past the point of interest, and honestly, though I understand why they added in the last twenty minutes, I think the movie would have been better without it. Really, I’d rather have a pretty good eighty minute movie as opposed to a flawed hour and forty minute one.

The two main actresses do good, at least. Anderson might grate on you a bit as the movie goes on (she felt too similar to a few other characters I’ve seen in earlier horror films), but Allen is consistently fun, despite her utterly horrible choices toward the conclusion of the film. On a side-note, I find it somewhat amusing that both these women were also in 2017’s Jigsaw. Not relevant to this movie, I just found it interesting. Given that only four total individuals are in this film, it’s a good thing that these two main characters are at least bearable.

It doesn’t really matter when it comes to the elongated conclusion, though. Like I said, without the final twenty minutes (which did have an okay scene, at least), I think many people would have liked this movie a bit more. Because of the route it took, though, What Keeps You Alive just hovers around average, maybe even dipping a bit below. Had the story been tightened up a bit, I could see giving this film a much better rating, but it wasn’t to be. Certainly an interesting idea, though.

7/10