If you’re looking for kids having sex and getting slashed in the 20-teens, don’t look to these four indie flix, because nothing’s business as usual here…
SLASHER HOUSE (2012)
Indie horror director MJ Dixon (Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown) sets up a scenario in which a girl wakes up in a seemingly abandoned loony bin…that’s filled with psycho killers. With no idea how she got there or why she’s there, she needs to find a way out.
Drenched in Argento greens and set in a gritty location, Slasher House definitely delivers the atmosphere, and the killers are perfectly ominous. Most importantly, Dixon pretty much creates a universe here, for these killers have been branching off with their own movies following this film.
But despite the freaky presence of the killers, the main girl spends a lot of time walking around, causing the sense of dread to lose steam. She meets two guys locked in jail cells – one nice, one kind of a psycho himself – and they do a lot of talking. It’s not until both guys are finally able to get out of their prisons that the action really kicks in – an executioner killer delivers the best horror moments the film has to offer – and it feels like the film is actually being propelled forward.
However, just when you think you’re starting to make some sense of what’s going on in the moment, things take a pretty confounding turn that attempts to fill in the blanks and explain the main girl’s backstory by taking us out of the loony bin situation.
For me, it was just so late in the game that I didn’t have the mental energy to try to comprehend what was going on. The plot may actually be more cerebral than it appears on the surface, which would make it rather clever. Hopefully I’ll be able to piece it together when I check out the upcoming Slasher House 2.
THE LAUGHING MASK (2014)
I’d have to describe The Laughing Mask as a throwback to really cheesy late 80s/early 90s direct-to-video mystery thrillers…enhanced by a freaky masked killer and fricking brutal kill scenes!
The opening credits set the tone, interspersing clips from those creepy old school black and white cartoons with grisly torture clips.
Then we meet our major players involved with a brutal serial killer case – a tough female detective who owns her sexuality in a campy exchange with a sleazebag she just slept with, and an author of a book about the killer, who paid a high price for his work and now has a personal reason for tracking down the killer.
The police procedural segments of the film are sprinkled with humor, the kill scenes are surreal and appear to have no logic (like something out of a Dario Argento film), and the killer often mind fucks victims.
I was too busy being enthralled by the deaths to realize that it’s pretty damn obvious who the killer is.
I mean, come on. How am I supposed to pay attention to the plot in a movie in which the killer decides to just go into a strip club and start a shooting massacre?
SAVE YOURSELF (2015)
Jumping into this one, I discovered, I’ve seen several films by director Ryan M. Andrews (Black Eve, Sick: Survive the Night), and it’s cool to see that he does something different every time – slasher, zombies, and now backwoods horror.
The opening torture scene definitely grabs your attention—and it’s just a movie being screened at a film festival. We’re introduced to our group of main girls, who have made an independent film that is showing at the festival. They meet various fans…most who seem just weird enough to possibly want them dead.
When the girls leave the festival, they make a pit stop, and one of them goes missing. While searching for her, the others end up at an isolated house, and well, you know how it goes. Before long, they’re locked up in cages and about to be dissected by the couple that lives there.
For a while, Save Yourself seems like another generic capture and carve film. However, it avoids the whole torture porn thing, and the girls, as horror fans and horror filmmakers, make some pretty smart moves as they attempt to get away.
All the surprises are saved for the final act, which is rather risky, but it really does give you time to connect with the characters in a seemingly familiar backwoods psycho family scenario.
The girls totally rock at the end, the brutality is suddenly amped up big time, and the twist is totally unexpected and pretty weird in a refreshing way.
MAD COW (2017)
How do you know Mad Cow is a Troma film? It begins with a woman running through the woods, stopping by a cabin to rest, and getting grabbed through some boards by a zombie…that farts.
And yet, I keep watching Troma films, so I have no one to blame but myself. This slapstick farce then takes us back to how the woman got to that point. This slasher comedy is so heavily weighed down by its mostly tired slapstick shtick that you probably won’t even notice the notably retro 80s horror vibe…or be able to follow what there is of a storyline.
The woman works as an entertainer at a restaurant/club. Before long, she’s being chased around the woods by a mutated killer cow man some scientist created.
A funny detective comes on the scene to help protect her and catch the cow, but his charms – and curious relationship with his partner – can only take the mediocre material so far.
This farce has chick-with-dick humor, pubic hair humor, gay humor, more fart humor, etc. Way after the lack of originality has probably led to you to turn the film off, there’s a twist!
In the final act, the detective blows the mad cow to smithereens, which causes all its body parts to land in people’s lunches…turning them into zombies!
Not that 15 minutes of zombies is going to save a trashy Troma film, but…it kind of saved it for me. Until the detective farted at the end.