Some horror comedies have plenty of laughs but also intend to scare you. Not this trio of films—although things sure do get gory at times.
CHIP & BERNIE’S ZOMANCE (2015)
This curious movie runs 70 minutes long and feels more like a throwback to 1970s skit comedy television than a modern zomcom. Therefore, it’s not surprising that legend Tim Conway of The Carol Burnett Show fame appears in a role that shadows his shtick from the classic variety show.
But his appearance is very minor. Chip & Bernie’s Zomance is pretty much carried by writer/director Pasquale Murena as Chip and Marc Robert as his goofy punch line punching bag Bernie.
The “plot” is about a competition show in which teams have to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Mostly, it’s a bunch of sketches of Chip, Bernie, and friends interacting with zombies.
The old school slapstick comedy has its moments, but it may not hold the attention of a modern audience for long.
What impressed me most is that as hokey as the comedy is, the zombie action is pretty damn good and puts the quality of many independent zombie horror flicks to shame.
Eventually, the plot has Chip and Bernie arguing and going their separate ways. Only the zombie apocalypse can make them realize how much they mean to each other…
And speaking of male bonding, there are also some gay situations, but not between Chip and Bernie…
They end up with a redneck simpleton sidekick who regularly makes homoerotic suggestions, and eventually expresses his true feelings for Bernie.
SEVEN DORMS OF DEATH (2015)
This slasher spoof comes from prolific horror comedy director Richard Griffin (I have an extensive blog about many of his films here). Framed with a horror host introducing it is a lost film called Seven Dorms of Death (clearly from the 1980s) and occasionally interrupted by faux movie trailers, this particular film is virtually a spoof of spoofs.
The opening kill – horny college kid chased by killer in ski mask through auditorium – sets the tone of the horror spoof aspects of the film.
There are close-up stabs of a knife into a clearly fake chest and excessive shots of blood splashing on the victim’s face that mock practical effects of 80s horror…yet still look better than CGI of today.
As students are rehearsing for a play in the supposedly haunted auditorium (a crazy old janitor tries to warn them), two detectives investigate the murder…murders.
Yes, the body count begins to rise. The campy kills are fun and capture the horror spirit, but for me, the first part of the film strays too far into a comedy silliness that just isn’t my thing, especially because it isn’t rooted in the horror theme. Scenes of the detectives doing their shtick and the kids rehearsing their play did nothing for me.
However, there’s a notable shift after an intermission with some of my favorite faux film trailers. There’s one about sadistic bloodsuckers…
And one about hunky hero “Biff Bruiser,” who loses a hand and replaces it with a Nintendo controller. Now that’s a spoof flick I want to see…
Following these trailers, the characters become immersed in the threat when they attend a heavy metal concert. The tone feels more like old school horror. A girl who sees visions of the kills (as well as some gay S&M) dies a hilarious death.
A metal head unleashes the devil with a Commodore computer.
A dude is left vulnerable during sex games.
There’s a dinner table of death.
This is the horror spoof I was waiting for, and in general feels more like the Richard Griffin horror flicks I love.
KILLER PINATA (2015)
I finally caved and watched it. I totally expected a goofy, low budget hack job, so I was amazed to find this is a smartly written and directed mock slasher played predominantly straight by the actors, making it that much funnier.
After all, a bunch of kids is terrorized by a rainbow confetti donkey that’s not even two feet tall.
When a clerk at a party supply store accidentally sells a possessed piñata to a customer, the woman who owns the shop – and has a hook for a hand – goes on a rampage to get it back. She’s a hoot, as are the reactions of party guests, and she’s not even the killer.
The family that bought the piñata is going away for Thanksgiving weekend and leaves the piñata behind, but the oldest daughter decides to stay home. Naturally, she has friends over to party! And that can only mean one thing. Killer piñata!
It’s such a relief to see a movie that should be an insult to our intelligence presented with so much more creativity, style, and cleverness than anything Troma or Full Moon has put out in years. The use of subtle, dry humor and genuine horror atmosphere are the perfect balance for the absurd concept of a vengeful piñata…and the visual presentation of it bouncing around, often on the side of the frame so that someone off screen can manipulate it.
The campiness is apparent mostly in the kills, from a guy choking on candy the piñata poops out for him, to another guy being strung up like a piñata and beaten with a bat. I laughed out loud most to how a couple reacts when attacked by the piñata during sex. Not to mention, the hunk looks delicious wearing a nipple chain.
Or not wearing one.
For the most part, the film refrains from any Troma-like exploitation, but there is one prolonged puke scene, and there’s a shockingly bloody genital scene (that’s also really funny).
Other highlights include an awesome battle prep montage set to 80s-style synth rock, and an animated flashback to the origins of the possessed piñata. This one seriously deserves to become a cult classic if you ask me.