Horror reality kind of bit in the 90s before Scream came along and rejuvenated the slasher genre. But a year before Scream, director Tommy Faircloth made an indie film that parodied the slashers of the 80s and spoke directly to Generation X. Then he went on and made another slasher! And now he’s back, with a short film that’s all horror, no humor.
CRINOLINE HEAD (1995)
Eerie DVD cover, right? Well, don’t be fooled. Crinoline Head doesn’t deliver any scares and only one cheesy “creepy” moment involving dolls. This is a very low-budget Reality Bites slasher spoof. Gen-Xers sit around drinking and mocking pop culture from their childhood, including 80s fashions, The Facts of Life, and slasher movies. A good number of the characters, including guys, speak some sort of variation of 80s valley speak. The only real clue that it’s the 90s is that they use the word “whatever” a lot.
This bunch of kids vacations at a summer house and there’s this weird guy invited that none of them likes. He tells the story of what happened to a young boy at the house in 1980, and how the boy was locked away…but eventually escaped. Oh. The boy also liked to wear a skirt on his head.
Speaking of skirts, there’s something very gay 90s about Crinoline Head. The kids almost pick up a hitchhiker but then drive off when they realize she’s actually a big butch drag queen! There’s one tough broad who gets called “butch” by the snotty girl (well ain’t that the bitch calling the other bitch butch?). Plus, there’s a prissy dude who wears his sweater tied around his neck, although it’s never verified that he’s gay. Actually, several of the guys seem very gay, but maybe that’s just because they’re speaking like valley girls.
Other than the kids sitting around talking, the only other thing that happens is that everyone gets killed. There are deaths by celery stalks, tire tracks, gay sweaters, and toilet bowls full of crap. Oddly, it feels like there were SO many more kids up at the house than actually die.
When the final survivors get away, they are unknowingly followed by a car with a CRINOLINE license plate. According to the trailer at the beginning of the DVD, Crinoline Head 2 is coming. Not quite sure there has been much demand for one for the past two decades. But based on the films that proceed Crinoline Head, it could be that Crinoline Head 2 will have a very different tone from the first film….
GENERATION AX (2001)
Generation Ax is the winner for me in terms of Tommy Faircloth horror comedies. While it’s sort of a slasher, it’s more like…Heathers: the Horror Movie! And to be honest…I like it better than Heathers; it’s more low-budget and over-the-top, which is totally my thing. It also features one dang cute boy killer!
I like everything better about this one, from the campy humor to the cast of characters. And the look and feel is like an awesome direct-to-VHS cheesy low-budget horror flick from the 80s. Plus, the plot is just silly fun.
There’s a chick who wants to be on the Beavers, her school’s cheerleading team. So her best friend Blair decides to do anything necessary to guarantee there’s an opening for her. Meanwhile, Todd, the new kid in town, takes a dislike to the pothead in his new clique of friends. Before long Blair and Todd realize they both have a thirst for knocking off the wastoids in school!
The first kill is the most classic, with the poor victim minding her business in the locker room when the lights suddenly go out. But seriously, after that, the film is no longer a slasher, as we see Blair and Todd offing anyone who gets in their way. The sickest scene involves a nail, a table, and some dude’s tongue. Other than that, the film doesn’t revel in gore. Although there is one fun and funny body reveal in a movie theater.
It’s more about the dark humor. Naturally, the Beavers are a big joke. There are some good bad taste jokes, but the most fun dialogue revolves around how self-involved all these bratty school kids are, particularly during their death scenes. The film is smartly short, at only about an hour and fifteen minutes, so the pacing is fast and no joke gets played out.
There’s a shower scene, but we don’t get to see the Todd bod because Blair’s all up in front showing off her goods. There’s a Scream poster in the movie theater. There’s what appears to be an homage to the cake scene from Sixteen Candles. And there’s an awesome soundtrack, including songs by Arkarna, Bigod 20, BT, and Armageddon Dildos!
Interestingly, based upon the opening scene, which takes place 2 weeks after the events of the film, the killing is guaranteed to continue! Hey Tommy, can we get a sequel to Generation Ax?
THE CABIN (2013)
After quite a hiatus from directing, Tommy returns with a half-hour short that leaves behind any sign of camp, black humor, or satire. The Cabin is straight up horror with a classic zinger ending. Check out that awesome artwork. That is some 80s VHS horror throwback.
Against a friend’s advice, this chick agrees to go with her new guy to his family’s old vacation cabin in the woods after only a few dates. During the drive there, he tells her of the mysterious fate of his parents at the cabin. Then she finds a missing person flyer at a rest stop. But despite these hints at walking into a questionable situation, once they get to the cabin, she finds the guy is a real gentleman, even giving her her own room.
So why is she so jumpy around him? Is it because he’s always sneaking up behind her? Is it the creepy face that she sees peering through her bedroom window? Or is it the weird vibe she’s getting from the little crawlspace door in the laundry room?
It’s inevitable. You know we’re going to head into that crawlspace eventually….
This is one of those atmospheric, tension-filled shorts worthy of a Tales from the Darkside episode. And this is why I wonder, is Crinoline Head 2 going to be another horror spoof, or is Tommy going to go with a tone of terror this time? And will The Cabin be included on the DVD as an extra? Okay, I know I’m rushing things since Crinoline Head 2 isn’t even made yet….