PRIME TIME: from slashin’ to laughin’ with this trio

If you love slashers and like something a little unusual in the subgenre now and then, this threesome is anything but usual. Of course, that’s not always a good thing. Let’s see what we get in this triple feature and which are worth a watch.

HARVEST OF THE DEAD (2015)

I was so in when I read a synopsis of girls going into the woods and being hunted down by “The Plague Doctor”. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into what turns out to be a weird, sloppy, amateurish slasher/Halloween/backwoods/anthology mashup.

The super dramatic, Omen-esque choral music seems to be in place to cover for the fact that there are essentially no sound effects during kills scenes. This deficiency isn’t masked enough, because that lack of sound weakens every kill…as does the lack of agony expressed by victims in every case. This is also one of those oversaturated films that essentially washes out all but a few colors (this may have been intentional, not sure).

Anyway, some girls go hiking in the woods right before Halloween, with footage interspersed with some random kill.

Then…the girls tell four very incomplete stories, most with low budget special effects. My favorite is one about killer pumpkins…around a campfire…simply because it’s about killer pumpkins.

The last story has the girls discussing the Plague Doctor right before he starts coming for them.

The final act is a hugely unpolished backwoods slasher full of disjointed scenes (one a total Jason canoe homage), finally ending on a bad location set in a room that doesn’t look like much of a killer lair at all. It’s more like that eternally empty office you walk by everyday at work on the way to your cubicle and wonder, “Why the fuck can’t I get that office?”

Finally, we get an expositional killer soliloquy…ugh. It’s still not as bad as the lack of enthusiasm the victims express over being hacked up.

MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO (2009)

This oddity is not a horror comedy but manages to somehow be tongue-in-cheek by the end, despite some rapid fire, super brutal kill scenes.

The usual cabin in the woods scenario is shaken not stirred, for as soon as these kids get to the place in the woods, they are quickly dragged off one by one and gruesomely killed…right in another part of the house! Awesome. Luckily for the killer, numerous party and sex montages with blasting music drown out the sounds of the screams.

That also makes this one as much a home invasion flick as a backwoods slasher, because this ordinary killer nonchalantly roams around the house, just out of view as everyone goes about their business.

As if the fast-paced slasher part isn’t enough, once it’s down to the final girl, there are a series of fresh and unique scenes that bring this one to a whole new level. And the end scene is the ultimate in unconventional slasher territory.

BAGMAN (2018)

This comedy slasher about a guy with a bag on his head who goes around killing people who don’t recycle is…silly as fuck, naturally. It’s also wonderfully funny at times. Bagman is a charming killer who waves hello and goodbye to his victims and drops some great one-liners.

And despite the goofy motive, Bagman doesn’t hold back with the kills. Hell, the very first hammer kill in a barn is so fast and vicious you might be surprised to discover this is a spoof once you get into it. Off course, once Bagman starts stuffing a plastic water bottle in a dude’s mouth and telling him to swallow it like a big black dick, you know what you’re in for.

Sure, that and other scenes, like the cute main boy (yes, it’s a main boy) being told by a gay guy at a party that he has a great ass, and hilarious exchanges between Bagman and a lesbian and a whore get my seal of approval, but like many slasher spoofs going way back to the 80s, the film suffers from a manic, messy plot, too many characters not doing much of anything, and a convoluted denouement that creates unwatchable chaos. Bummer.

And I know I sound like a broken record, but…100 minutes. No. Just. NO. IMO, the script should have gotten a rewrite to tighten up the plot, cut the pointless excess, and completely change the final battle, and the film should have been trimmed to about 80 minutes long.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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