Exploring some familiar territory with 3 backwoods horror slashers

I was due for a good dose of satisfying slashers, and Scathing, Bride of Scarecrow, and Spiker definitely satisfied in a comfort food kind of way.

SCATHING (2016)

 

Since this one comes from the director of Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s, one of my recent faves, I figured I was in good hands, and I was right as far as the quality of the horror that’s delivered. In its best moments, Scathing is a fantastically gruesome and grisly backwoods horror flick that uses practical effects spectacularly.

Having said that, I can’t deny that the film is also about as derivative as it gets. It’s every backwoods horror flick you’ve seen blended with a touch of High Tension and Penny Dreadful.

A young woman sneaks out of the house to meet her boyfriend, and they go parking in an isolated area.

The next morning their car won’t start, so they go into a shed they spot nearby for tools. Naturally it’s the lair of a big, slimy, ominous dude who wears a welding mask and carries a brutal pronged weapon.

Basically, he keeps them trapped in their car and sits in the shed watching them like Cujo salivating over Dee Wallace. That’s the most frustrating thing about this film. The boy and girl have endless opportunity to just get out of the car and run for their lives, but they never do.

Only a few other people come into the picture to be heinously mutilated, but it’s more than enough to totally satisfy and keep the movie going.

And despite the predictability, attention to minor details gives this some really strong, unique moments that you don’t see in just any backwoods horror flick, including the killer doing some deliciously messed up stuff to fuck with his victims.

BRIDE OF SCARECROW (2018)

I was waiting for Bride of Scarecrow to hit Prime after having seen Curse of the Scarecrow. This sequel takes the same basic approach of the original and simply creates a more complex backstory for the scarecrow…he had a bride who was also killed by angry locals.

As should be expected, this is a tighter, more polished film, and you don’t even need to see the first film to dive into it. A radio show host learns she has inherited an old farm, so she and her friends go on a road trip to check it out.

The group soon begins to unravel the legend of the scarecrow and becomes convinced the main girl is the reincarnation of the bride of scarecrow. I’m convinced she’s the reincarnation of Alexis Arquette.

There’s plenty of atmosphere in the barn as the scarecrow hides in the shadows watching the friends explore and have a séance.

But the best show he gets is when the main girl has sex with her sizzling hot boyfriend.

And that is when the scarecrow gets jealous enough to finally start killing people. It’s very late in the movie, problem being there just aren’t enough victims to kill any of them any earlier.

The most ridiculous thing is that as soon as the friends begin suspecting something is really wrong, they all split up! And things get kind of goofy when they become mesmerized by a creepy organ music record that plays by itself and serves as the soundtrack. As a child of the vinyl age, I couldn’t help notice this hit song is on the Epic record label…

The kills are good and the scarecrow even sets up a unique body party, but the battle between the scarecrow and the boyfriend is unintentionally funny, with the entire sequence being absurdly melodramatic.

SPIKER (2007)

This one was filmed and takes place on my home turf of Long Island. And while it starts out a little rough, the final act kind of kicks ass for a lost film from the conveyor belt of slashers from the beginning of the millennium.

Spiker, who uses train track spikes to kill victims and looks like an albino, escapes while being transferred to a new facility. Most frustrating is that first impressions are everything, so it’s inexcusable that CGI blood splashes are used for the first kill. I immediately assumed that would be the case for the whole film, but it actually does use plenty of practical effects later on.

Tell me if you’ve just heard this one before. A girl is inheriting a house so brings her friends there to check it out.

Wouldn’t you know, they soon discover she looks just like the lover of Spiker. Indeed, we have another killer who wants his bitch back!

In classic slasher style, there’s a creepy dude who warms them to leave. He looks like Mark McGrath dressed as Johnny Depp at his dirtiest.

These kids also have a séance…and then the main girl starts seeing the ghost of the woman she looks like.

Yeah, this supernatural element really spoils the otherwise effective slasher plot. As do the cheesy melodramatic flashbacks to the love story of the killer and his woman.

But once the slashing kicks in, it’s gory fun, loaded with chase scenes and body reveals, and even delivers some unique kills. And the tight spaces in the house setting make for some great camera angles. There’s also a good twist and Spiker is relentless once he gets started.

Too bad about that supernatural aspect, which of course comes back into play at the end.

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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