Blind buys are mostly a thing of my past…unless they come with some actual foresight. Perhaps the film is part of a franchise for which I have all the other installments, or is by one of my favorite directors, or stars a favorite actor, or just looks so unquestionably up my alley based on the trailer, cases that see my OCD dictating that I must own the film.
These days, a blind buy is sometimes a last ditch effort to see a film that has been on my radar for a while but simply never appeared on any streaming services or cable, so I’ll grab a used copy of the DVD cheap.
As for this trio of films, it’s a mixed bag of all those excuses.
LAKE NOWHERE (2014)
It’s been hyped as an amazing homage to 80s slashers. So I waited…and waited…and waited, but never found an outlet to view this film. I finally ordered the Blu-ray. Two days after I received it, it showed up on Amazon Prime. Sigh. On the plus side, I probably would have bought it after watching it on Prime anyway because it’s pretty much as “Dan movie” as they get.
Hair-splitters may take issue with the fact that Lake Nowhere is a bit of a mashup homage to both late 70s grindhouse theater celluloid and early 80s VHS horror at the same time.
For instance, it opens with the classic VHS PLAY screen and a legal notice with tape warp…but then has a bunch of kickass faux horror trailers in the style you’d see before a movie in the theater.
There were rarely ever trailers on VHS tapes. Not to mention, the film is presented in widescreen format, and VHS tapes were trapped within the confines of a full screen television frame back then.
The awesome horror soundtrack is quite 80s sounding, yet visually, the film looks like it comes from the 1970s, right down to the authentically cast actors. Even so, it all so flawlessly captures what it’s going for that it’s easy to overlook the slight anachronisms.
Running only 50 minutes in total (including the trailers) Lake Nowhere has a bunch of kids arriving at a house in the woods in their station wagon. Naturally, Evil Dead comparisons are impossible to ignore from the visual style to part of the plot: a Deadite-esque situation after one character reads an epitaph on a tombstone in the woods at the same time as another dude goes skinny-dipping.
Thing is, there’s only time enough for one Deadite, what with the trailers, a partying montage that goes on far too long for a 50-minute movie, and…the masked maniac that seems to have been raised from the water by the reading of the epitaph. So these kids have twice the trouble.
There’s single eye killer POV (despite the killer’s tree-like mask having two eye holes), tons of classic artificial red blood, tits, man ass, chase scenes, a flesh-hungry dead guy who just won’t stay dead… (this scene rules)
What I’m saying is, both Deadite and slasher segments are a blast, but don’t expect anything here to come together or make sense in the brief time allotted.
In the end, the load of horror and lack of logic makes this even more of a genuine reproduction of the era it is mimicking.
As a big fan of Steve Rudzinski’s comedy slasher Everyone Must Die, which had a major gay segment in it, I just assumed there would be a rainbow colored bloodbath in his movie about a unicorn that detaches from a carousel and starts killing people.
Instead, there is virtually nothing openly gay about this film—just some sexually repressed flirtations.
That might explain why CarousHell is disappointingly lacking in clever or campy humor, despite the silly plot. There are moments of wit, but most of the humor falls flat or just isn’t funny enough to sustain itself for the entire film.
When a carousel unicorn is abused by a kid at the amusement park, it gets a mind—and voice—of its own. It detaches from the carousel and sets out to hunt down the boy and get revenge.
Conveniently, that hunt leads it to a house party loaded with horny teens.
Essentially, this is the same film structure as Killer Piñata. Actors react to a completely inanimate horse object that appears on screen, and then get massacred in various bloody ways. Only, it was way more hilarious when Killer Piñata did it. That film just seemed to better tap into and exploit its absurdity for a good laugh.
However, the gore here is way more hardcore as it amps up throughout the film. And to ensure some serious notoriety, there’s a scene in which a girl totally gets freaky with the unicorn. Like…totally.
Creator Steve Rudzinski also stars as a pizza boy, but not even his comic acting talents can elevate the humor, since he didn’t write enough funny material for himself this time around!
Art the Clown of All Hallows’ Eve has finally arrived in his own movie (like he didn’t totally own All Hallows’ Eve), and director Damien Leone is back in action rather than handing his character over to another filmmaker.
Once again it’s Halloween, and two girls have an uncomfortable run-in with Art on the street before encountering him again at a pizza parlor.
This first segment definitely has some Halloween spirit, but note that once the movie gets going, it’s pretty irrelevant that it’s the holiday. That’s because one of the girls having a pee emergency leads to them entering an old abandoned building, which is where the rest of the action takes place.
Art is as freaky as he was in the original anthology, and his kills are absolutely brutal, with fantastic practical effects. Plus there’s loads of perfect horror suspense, and the edge-of-your-seat chase scenes just keep coming as the night wears on. Overall, I think this is a great little horror film and slasher.
However, there’s a catch for me personally that caused a touch of disappointment. As I see it, Art the Clown as we were introduced to him in All Hallows’ Eve was a sort of evil entity that wasn’t actually of our realm of existence. He had a way of being everywhere—seeming to materialize through supernatural Halloween magic wherever he needed to be to terrorize, appearing in every story even when it wasn’t about him.
In Terrifier, creator Damien Leone kind of does what I call pulling a Rob Zombie – House of 1000 Corpses dragged us into an underground house of horrors that was an alternate reality of inexplicable occult insanity, then spit in the face of all that horror awesomeness by morphing it into a story about a dumb ass family of psycho hillbilly Trump voters in The Devil’s Rejects.
Art the Clown retains his otherworldly mystique to some extent for quite a while, but he ends up being much more grounded in reality as Terrifier progresses. He really isn’t a supernatural “terrifier,” but merely a creepy psycho in a clown costume who goes around slaughtering people on Halloween. The first sign of this is when he has to inject people to knock them out so he can take them to his lair. I kind of overlooked that at first, since Art to me represents the boogeyman we all fear—the dirty old man in the dark alley who is going to kidnap us, bring us to some unimaginable hell hole where we’ll never be found, and do unthinkable things to us. He wants us to experience the horrors of humanity, the things adults (and scary movies) warned us could happen to us if we talked to strangers. So I was all in on the drug, drag to a dungeon, and dissect with sharp tools while smiling gleefully without saying a word scenario.
But then, pretty much smack dab in the middle, Art whips out a gun and starts shooting a bitch up! Ugh! What the fuck is with the Samuel L./Travolta posing?
This is the kind of shit you might expect from a later film in a franchise after the original creator has sold off the rights and a bunch of Hollywood hacks make ridiculously uncharacteristic missteps in their portrayal of the iconic killer. I would never have expected it to go this way with the original creator at the helm, but there you have it. At a time when gun nuts are terrified they’re going to lose all their bad assery if they lose their guns, I have to tell you…guns are so not bad ass.
For me, seeing Art wield a gun is the equivalent of Michael Myers being like, “I’m done walking after this Laurie Strode bitch for 40 years,” whipping a pistol from his pocket, and shooting Jamie Lee Curtis in the back of the head as she runs away. Or Jason dropping into a hammock by the shore of Crystal Lake with a shotgun and just waiting for camp counselors to step out of their cabins so he can blow them away.
Art is just another pussy afraid of anyone not in white face when he’s shooting people up…it’s when he’s sawing pussy in half that he’s a real man…uh…I mean…monster.