Tourist Trap (1979) Review

The iconic Chuck Connors stars as an isolated lunatic in the somewhat surreal Tourist Trap, in which a group of young friends are terrorized by his telekinetic ability to animate mannequins and other found objects. While the mannequins receive a little too much attention when they come to life and continuously pile on to victims, their movements and voice controls are completely eerie. Though some scenes are rather goofy and Connors’ character has the uncanny power to appear wherever his victims might end up, Tourist Trap still stands as a worthwhile curiosity. [Rating: $6] -Kenyon

Similar: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Magic, Puppet Master

Green Room (2016) Review

green room

The Ain’t Rights, the band that “stars” in Green Room, has been struggling to receive enough money for food and gas. At the film’s opener, they are in their tour van which turned off the road into a corn field. After a connection leads them to the middle of nowhere, Oregon, the band awkwardly finds themselves on stage at a neo-Nazi compound. Being the punks that they are, and since one of the band members is already wearing a shirt representing the Dead Kennedys (a cornerstone of punk), the band decides at the last minute to start the set with a song by the Dead Kennedys titled “Nazi punks f*ck off.” They do this in spite of already knowing they are in a room filled with belligerent Nazi punks, in the middle of nowhere, Oregon. Bottles are thrown on stage, but luckily it’s a short song and apparently these neo-Nazis have a short memory because the minute the next song starts they are all dancing. It seems that all is forgiven.

It’s just after this clumsy scene that Green Room loses its way in becoming a suspenseful horror film. Really, this actually isn’t even horror. This is a drama-thriller with some minor gore. Throughout the “suspense” of the dull, chatty-filled last 45 minutes, dogs chew up people, an arm is slashed (off screen, though we see the results), gun shots are fired and someone for no reason at all slices a guy’s abdomen while he’s in a sleeper hold, about to pass out (when he’s not held in an arm lock to show off some wrestling skills, that is). Not that any of the gore is very convincing or is delivered with finesse.

Just when they were ready to leave the venue, the Ain’t Rights stumble upon a murder in the “green” room (where the band hangs out before going on stage). A girl is laying dead on the floor, knife in the side of her head, blood spilling on floor. Why that method of killing is chosen is just ridiculous. Now, the group is held hostage by people who are attempting to cover up the murder and presumably hide other crimes of the past.

Eventually the protagonists make their way through some floor boards and into a basement where there could have been something down there to help them escape, fight back, or blow up the place. But alas, there’s nothing down there. Complete waste of time for the movie. But at least they got out of the green room for a few minutes, right? Problem is, there are never any interesting ideas for fighting back. Maybe that makes things more realistic, but certainly does not make for an exciting film.

Meanwhile, we wait for some kind of larger revelation of crime the villains are hiding. Or even why a knife was put into a girl’s head. Some or all of this might have been mumbled along the way. But the dialogue is so muddled that it’s difficult to follow. This can partially be blamed on the performance by Patrick Stewart, who completely lacks personality here. Wait, what!? Yes, Patrick Stewart is here to manage the dozens of inconsistent, uninteresting characters who either disappear, have a sudden change of heart or follow orders to finish this monotonous, never-ending job.

Had there been more focus, more cunning ideas of survival tactics and less characters of which to keep track, then Green Room might have pulled off something special. Instead, it only seems to battle itself with wasted scenes and tedious dialogue, of which there is a staggering amount.

Before the melee, we get to know the characters partially via a cliche interview. [Not verbatim] Why no social media? “It’s about the moment of playing the music.” Desert island band? “Black Sabbath. No no, wait, Misfits.” Something like that. But it doesn’t really matter. Oh wait. It’s referenced at the very end of the movie. One of the two surviving characters asks the other, who wasn’t even present at that interview, if she wants to know his desert island band (why?). “Ask someone who gives a shit,” is her deflated response. Scene ends, movie over. Not clever. [rating: $2] –Kenyon

Hide and Go Shriek Review (1988)


Eight kids have graduated high school and now they are partying inside a furniture store (what?). While the employees are closing the store for the day, one of them mentions that the windows have shatterproof glass and there is an ex-convict living in the basement. Of course he has easily identifiable snake tattoos so to compare to the unseen assailant’s hands later chain-locking a door. Meanwhile, the group of geniuses–whose language is limited to phrases like “you’re stupid, jerk face”–agree to play hide and seek (duh). The couples pair off, find a hiding spot (bed) and dilly dally for 30 minutes or so. Finally they are terrorized by store mannequins while a weirdo frolics around wearing clothing of the people he offed. Unlike most every other “slasher,” half the kids in the extremely murky picture quality of Shriek survive. This includes a prankster wearing sunglasses in the dark for most of the movie. While attention is put towards the ex-con, it turns out someone else is in the multi-level building. The explanation as to why is nonsense to say the least. [rating: $1] –Kenyon

similar: Dorm that Dripped Blood, Intruder, Funhouse, Hell Night

Dead Snow (2009)

dead snow

Supernatural nazi zombies rise from the snow when awakened by a group of vacationers in a secluded cabin. Dead Snow‘s self-awareness is blatant, as it clearly references classic horror, presents obvious foreshadowing and finds new uses for intestines. The comedic foreign horror work is happily unrealistic, as it should be. The victims believe they’ll be safe in an area ripe with avalances, while an oldtimer warns them about the impending Nazi threat but then goes against his own advice by pitching a tent nearby. None of them are prepared for the army of zombies, the suspense and outrageous, wicked gore. [rating: $9] –Kenyon

Similar: Cabin in the Woods, Shaun of the Dead, Hatchet, Black Sheep

Hard Candy 2005 Review

hard candy
No hard candy. No one said “hard candy” either. An extremely androgynous teenage girl overworks her introspective speeches and knows more than she should, including how to perform a castration. And a successful one at that. Okay, we can’t be sure exactly how well the job was completed because it’s never on screen. Her motivations are a little confusing, which painfully wrecks the film. Somehow Sandra Oh was thrown into the mix. [rating: $4] –Kenyon


Hatchet II (2010)

Hatchet II

A survivor of the first Hatchet has the urge to immediately return to the New Orleans swamp-forest–where maniac semi-spirit Victor Crowley dwells–to retrieve remains of her relatives that were slayed by Crowley. Meanwhile a shady business man (you know him as Candyman) and his crew join the search with ulterior motives in Hatchet II.

This is a rare time when the quotes on the cover are on point. Hatchet II takes gore to an outrageous level. The victims are decapitated, impaled or literally torn apart in all kinds of interesting ways. A sensitive backstory about Crowley connects to the first film, which was an overly aware horror-comedy. Amazingly, the follow-up liberates itself from the nonsense of Hatchet and establishes a meaningful presence within modern day slasher horror. [rating: $9] –Kenyon

Diary of the Dead (2007)


It’s sad that George Romero, responsible for some of the best zombie films in history, is behind the horrific failure that is Diary of the Dead.  This modern day garbage attempts to be a “food footage” zombie film for no reason other than to try and make a cliche point about documenting the apocalypse. The whole thing completely lacks the personality of any decent zombie film. By the way, this got 62% positive on rotten tomatoes. That’s 79 fresh and 49 rotten. Something is wrong here. This is total crap. Similar to the garbage of Grave Encounters, V/H/S and V/H/S 2.[rating: $1] –Kenyon