Once in a while, there’s a prize for sitting through endless indie horror films–style, substance, entertainment, gore, and directors with a clear vision of what they were going for. But to get two prizes in one weekend is like winning the lottery. And considering I love Halloween horror films and horror anthologies, to find fresh takes on both is an even bigger bonus. That’s why Splash Area: Night of the Freaks and Summer School are musts for my horror collection.
SPLASH AREA: NIGHT OF THE FREAKS (2012)
As if one masked killer stalking teens on Halloween night isn’t bad enough, imagine if the streets were crawling with completely psychotic killers. Oh. And those psychos were dressed as clowns.
But here’s the twist. A guy and two girls, all dressed for a Halloween party, witness some seriously grisly slaughters on the streets. At first, they flee from the cackling clowns (which include a burly shirtless clown and a clown in drag), but with the bodies piling up quickly and the clowns on their tail, they decide to fight back.
Splash Area: Night of the Freaks is straight-up grindhouse insanity. If you are hoping for a tidy little Halloween clown slasher, you will probably shit all over this flick. But if you like Halloween horror that treats you with some new tricks, this is one to check out. Gritty and gross, the movie is a rollercoaster ride as the kids end up pretty much trapped in the clowns’ lair.
There’s plenty of dark atmosphere, trippy sequences, tension, gore, and humor. And despite a bit of slowdown in the center of the film, things pick up during the final third of the film with some wild physical fight scenes and a splatterfest reminiscent of indies like Dead Alive.
The only major extraneous portion of Splash Area: Night of the Freaks is the “wrap around.” The movie is actually being told by an uncle to his nephew and niece on Halloween night, so clips of him narrating to them are occasionally interspersed throughout the movie. While this approach provides an opening sex/kill scene that sets the over-the-top tone, it’s a pretty unnecessary addition. I wouldn’t mind seeing a cut of the film with those segments removed.
SUMMER SCHOOL (2006)
While everyone is on the message boards freaking out that this movie has the same name as a 1987 teen comedy and then saying it’s shit because it’s not that movie (yes, that’s the world we live in), I’m celebrating this whacked little horror flick that—I hate to admit—is actually a “smart” horror film that should really speak to hardcore horror fans.
This teen horror blogger (awesome) starts his first day of summer school, and before long, he is falling asleep. Soon after that, he begins repeatedly awakening to find himself trapped in another nightmare scenario. So it’s sort of a horror anthology because each story is totally unrelated, yet they are all happening to the same kid!
Within the halls of his school, he faces off against: a satanic cult of students; a quickly spreading spider infection; a sadistic Nazi executioner (the most suspenseful segment that is eerily real in the way it shows a school shooting playing out); and vampires (the most playful and humorous segment). He also steps out of the school in one dream and into a backwoods “Deliverance” nightmare, complete with horny, racist rednecks. And eventually, he dreams that he is the biggest threat to the other kids in the school.
The main actor is perfect in his role, as is the limited number of other cast members. And while the first segments are short and him constantly waking from another nightmare may feel repetitive, the stories get longer and more involved. And each story has a different director and writer, but you wouldn’t really know it. Because despite each nightmare being a unique scenario, there’s actually a progression to how they are affecting our young horror lover…and what his obsession with the genre may be saying about his grip on reality.