I can always count on Prime to toss a fresh batch of low budget horror up for me to feast on. So let’s get right into this trio.
TOOTH FAIRY (2019)
I’m always up for something by director Louisa Warren (Curse of the Scarecrow, Bride of Scarecrow), but that made this one a bit trippy for me. Because I’m familiar with her other movies, it was distracting to discover that not only is Tooth Fairy filmed at the same farm location as Bride of Scarecrow…it also features the same actors in the staring roles, including the lead female that reminds me of Alexis Arquette…
…and hottie Manny Jai Montana, who gets shirtless briefly again in this one (thank you, Louisa Warren!).
The intro scene is not quite smoothly presented, instead jarringly thrusting us into a situation involving kids running from the freaky tooth fairy. It comes across as if we came to the movie late.
The plot has a woman, her man, and her child coming to stay at her alcoholic mom’s farm. Mom soon spouts a scary story about the tooth fairy, and before long a drifter dude appears just so he can be the first victim…in a brutal tooth removal scene. It was a strong reminder of why I keep coming back for more Louisa Warren movies.
But then the movie turns into a crazy soap opera for a majority of its running time. After the film ended, I took a moment to step away my knee-jerk feeling about it and wondered if Louisa Warren’s approach to her main female characters is something that female horror fans might appreciate more—it all just seems too melodramatic and complicated for slasher films IMO, but perhaps female horror fans can relate to a main girl who’s more than just the virgin in her group of friends?
Along with the soap opera plot, there are also various scenes thrown in with a side story about neighbor characters, which I just found confusing, and it eventually appears the tooth fairy has a little accomplice. And I’m not talking about her toothbrush.
Unfortunately, after that initial killing of the drifter, the tooth fairy doesn’t get back into action until 66 minutes in! We definitely get a bit more gore and good atmosphere, and the tooth fairy looks freaky awesome, but I generally found this effort a little messy and chaotic with an anti-climactic ending.
DEADLY REUNION (2019)
I’m always up for a “deadly reunion” movie, and while director James Cullen Bressack (13/13/13, Bethany, 2 Jennifer, Blood Craft) throws a grindhouse filter over the film, gives us some apologetic film malfunction title card moments, and has an on-screen body count meter (none of which has been original since Planet Terror and Death Proof revived the style), this is no 80s throwback slasher.
Instead it’s more of an overdone, modern plot.
Group of friends at a house for a reunion, they get text messages saying there is something that will kill them all by midnight if they don’t do as told, and then they begin taking the challenges thrown at them, like eating human flesh and drinking weird stuff.
It’s very plodding for most of its running time, but it does finally take a more interesting, complicated turn as what they’re doing causes the members of the group to start acting out in psychotic ways.
There is also a nicely bizarre twist once the evil mastermind is revealed, although I’m don’t know that it can save this movie for viewers. As for me, one of my favorite parts of Deadly Reunion is a horrorized version of the “let’s all go to the lobby” snacks animation sequence with which we are all familiar.
Like most of Bressack’s films, this is a relatively derivative, scare-free experience. I keep watching his movies waiting for him to really hit the mark, but it has yet to happen. Considering he hasn’t made a cult classic up to this point, it’s befuddling to me that he took a snarky jab at the cult favorite Napoleon Dynamite on Twitter one day. I mean, love it or not, that film did something right to have such a following. I just think it’s a bad idea for an aspiring indie director that hasn’t quite struck gold to trash other successful indies…just comes across as envy to me.
MANIAC FARMER (2019)
Even though it’s only 71 minutes long, Maniac Farmer could have been a nasty little short…or fine just as is if it had dared to go for something a little more sick and twisted in the middle. As it stands, the only part that is highly effective is the final scene.
Basically, a sadistic gang of metal heads is terrorizing a small town, but before we can even enjoy much proof of just how vile they are, they encounter a big bearish farmer and have the tables turned on them.
Despite the satanic gang initially being huge, it’s whittled down to about three people before they encounter the farmer, which is the start of where the film misses opportunity.
Instead of a throwback slasher with a good body count, so much of the time here is filled with scenes featuring law enforcement and a detective—which I guess is supposed to add comedy elements. Unfortunately, it’s not very funny and it feels really cheap compared to the grit of the rest of the film, right down to terrible green screen, for the men are driving in a car during most of their scenes.
More importantly, the farmer, a classic case of a mama’s boy killer, could have/should have been perversely Deliverance with the metal boys, especially since there are some hints of it—he straps one up shirtless before killing him, and keeps another on a leash as his pet.
Instead of really digging into his psychology, the focus is on the mind of the chained boy—the leader of the satanic gang—and even a disturbing dream sequence paralleling his past and his present with the farmer was ripe for better development if his and the farmer’s “relationship” had dared to go there…in a depraved way, of course.
Unfortunately, there’s just nothing horrific or gruesome enough about any of it to really make your stomach turn.
Bummer, because there was so much possibility of making some homo macabre perversion happen. Otherwise, why even bother casting a big burly bear and a bunch of pretty boys? Good news is, the final frame sure allows your mind to imagine the possibilities…