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

 

Hostel III (2011)

There were some great ideas in Hostel III. If only they were executed more professionally. And if only this whole thing wasn’t so dopey. It was foretold on the dvd cover. People are going to be tortured by wannabe doctors in Las Vegas. Hey it’s not all bad. There are some twists and a few actually work. Perhaps the biggest twist is actually the most obvious, and its seed is planted the minute the main characters establish their relationships in the most boring way possible. Even though the victims are impossibly clueless and the artistic gore doesn’t match anywhere near its predecessors, Hostel III is still a fun time. [rating: $5] –Kenyon

sounds better dubbed in German

The Collector (2009)

collector
The torture is grisly and the story provides reasonable suspense, but the Collector is so short on the motives of, well, the collector. A man who is desperate to save his wife and daughter burglarizes a secluded home, only to find a sadistic masked madman already there. This “collector” somehow in a matter of hours set up dozens of precise trip wires and traps. Meanwhile he is already in the process of multi-tasking the torture of his victims, one of which will be kept in a box because it’s for the “collection” or something. Slightly confusing and not very believable. [rating: $4] –Kenyon
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similar: Saw, Hostel, the Strangers

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Unlike Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust and several other early infamous shock films of its kind, I Spit has the smart sense to leave out the hokey, contradictory music and allow a challenging film to resonate effectively. This means that the precise revenge murders, each unique and somewhat elaborate, are much more powerful. Aside from the bloody mayhem, there is a great, simplified suspense scene where an uncivilized redneck is deciding whether or not to pick up a bag of groceries he’s asked to deliver to a woman he helped gang rape and leave for dead. But the victim is a strong woman and no one is going to stop her from writing her book as well as patiently slaying the depraved goons. We have a winner. [rating: $9] –Kenyon

Hostel Part II (2007)


While “studying” in eastern Europe, three weak-minded girls become victims of a merciless underground network that kidnaps stupid Americans and auctions them off to wealthy sadists who apply various gruesome methods of torture. Unlike the first film–which packed a brutal, terrifying punch–Hostel Part II adds an additional dimension. Instead of relying mainly on the path of the victims, the winning bidders–two American men–are examined as well. These two characters are much more interesting than the three oblivious victims. Oh, you will find out why! Ghastly, bloody and fun. [rating: $7] –Kenyon

Last House on the Left (1972, 2009)

For a film that created so much controversy at the time of its release, the original Last House on the Left had a wild and corny soundtrack. A happy traveling song fit for Benny Hill (with kazoo, no less!) precedes the violent murders of two young girls who lack escape skills. By now Wes Craven and company must realize that the film would be a million times better with no soundtrack at all. And it’s not only the music that is a problem. There are a couple of moronic local cops who waste time and comically fail to hitch a ride with a stereotypical southern black woman driving a truck load of chickens. All of this equates to around 20 irrelevant minutes.

Better to get to the heart of the story. A ragtag, ruthless group of criminals (plus the leaders’ son who, in the original, dreams of being a frog) murder two girls and then coincidentally that same night wind up at the home of one of the girl’s parents.

While the film received much criticism for its realistic depiction of rape and murder, the most interesting aspect of Last House is the change in the parents of the victim. Early in both films, we see a lighthearted, gentle couple. When they realize the people who tormented their daughter are in their home, they turn as sadistic as the villians.

The remake actually does a better job working into that transformation, and the parents’ blistering savage revenge has several moments that deserve literal applause (squeeze a nose that merely an hour ago you stitched up? hell yea!). At the same time, however, the remake goes soft by allowing two characters who perished in the first film to survive. [rating: 1972 – $6, 2009 – $8] –Kenyon

Blood Sucking Freaks (1976)

Blood Sucking Freaks (1976) Misleading title and cover–there is only one freak that does any sucking and it’s only one scene. The original title was actually The Incredible Torture Show, which makes hella more sense. Hella hella hella. BSF is a gorey S&M torture film that overcomes the dreadful acting with dismemberment, nude slave brainwashed girls and a leader of the freakazoids (whose sidekick is a black midget) who periodically enjoys getting submissive just like his slaves. Over the top shock value for its time and effin bizarre to say the least. [rating: $6]Kenyon