Friday, November 13, 2020

Worth Mentioning - Too Late to Run, No Time to Scream

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody celebrates Friday the 13th with some horror.


Writer/director Jim Hemphill's Bad Reputation is filled with repugnant characters. Almost every single person in it is awful, and they do or say something terrible in nearly every scene. It's no wonder lead character Michelle (Angelique Hennessy) starts picking them off.

When the film starts, it looks like it could go down the path of a teen romantic comedy. Michelle is an outsider with no friends, but popular football player Aaron (Jerad Anderson) can see how pretty and smart she is, so he invites her to a party. But this isn't going anywhere good. Aaron roofies Michelle and sexually assaults her with the assistance of his buddies Jake (Mark Kunzman) and Steve (Chris Basler), then when the guys' girlfriends Debbie (Dakota Ferreiro), Wendy (Danielle Noble), and Heather (Kristina Lauren) find out they were in a bedroom with Michelle, Aaron is able to twist the situation around so the girls believe Michelle was trying to get inappropriate with them. Debbie and Heather retaliate by making a public spectacle of slut shaming Michelle... and while Wendy doesn't agree with what her friends are doing to Michelle, she also doesn't make any effort to stop them.

Nobody helps Michelle. The school counselor is a creep, her mom is emotionally and verbally abusive. Aaron and his cohorts are relentless at making her life a living hell. So eventually she snaps, and Bad Reputation becomes a rape revenge film, and it's quite satisfying to see Michelle whittle down the supporting cast because, aside from Wendy, not one of these characters has a single redeeming quality. Making the revenge portion of the film even better is the fact that most of the violence takes place at a costume Halloween party thrown by Aaron, which Michelle infiltrates by wearing a hockey mask.

The characters are appalling, but I found Bad Reputation to be a very interesting movie.


Jef Richard's Berserker is very much the typical low budget slasher. It starts off with a truckload of young friends on a road trip to a place called Rainbow Valley, to stay at a cabin in a campground that one of them used to go to with his parents when he was a kid. Once they reach Rainbow Valley, they spend their time drinking, swimming, ripping around on a three-wheeler ATV while a song called "Cool Dude" plays on the soundtrack, and engaging in premarital sex. The fact that they're staying in a one room cabin where everyone can clearly see each other doesn't even stop one of the couples from getting hot and heavy in front of their friends. Eventually, of course, someone starts picking these kids off, and once they realize members of their group are getting murdered, they spend a lot of time wandering through the dark, foggy woods in search of help.

The one thing that makes Berserker unique is the story of its killer. It's not even certain that their is a slasher in this movie at first, because early death scenes are shot as if the victims are being attacked by a bear. We see a bear (the legendary Bart the bear) running through the wilderness, and it looks like he's running away after committing the attacks.

But if this were a "nature run amok" killer bear movie, why bother to include the information that Rainbow Valley is also known as Little Norway because it was settled by Scandinavians, descendants of Vikings, and then feature a campfire story about the Viking warriors called Berserkers, people who ate the flesh of their victims and dressed in the skins of bears they killed with their bare hands? People who were said to go so mad they had to be kept in cages, and who were cursed with immortality, forced to live on for centuries by possessing the bodies of their relatives. Yeah, the slasher is a Viking Berserker, dressed in bear skins. The bear is his enemy, and we do see this hulking slasher (played by Mike Riley) get in a fight with Bart the Bear.

The sight of the Berserker and his fight with the bear are enough to make this movie worth checking out, if you're a fan of slashers. The movie also features George "Buck" Flower hamming it up as Pappy Nyquist, the guy who runs the campground, and it's always good to see Buck show up in something.


After watching writer/director Brandon Bassham's slasher spoof The Slashening some years ago, I was looking forward to seeing what Bassham would do next. At the time, he was planning to make a haunted house spoof called The Ghostening. Instead, it turns out that Bassham's follow-up feature was a sequel to The Slashening, which was fine by me. I liked The Slashening a lot, so I was happy to watch another slasher from him.

Set five years after its predecessor, Slashening: The Final Beginning starts off with a masked killer wiping out multiple people in the house the first movie's murders took place in. The scope then expands to catch up with a young woman named Madison (Addie Weyrich), who lives in the city and was tangentially connected to the events of the first film. The connection was traumatic enough that Madison regularly attends a therapy group where one of the other members is Pat (Patrick Foy), who survived the first movie despite suffering some horrific wounds. Soon that masked slasher is hacking their way through the members of this group, while the cast delivers dialogue that is frequently amusing and Bassham skewers multiple subjects, including the group's absurd therapy methods, a creep who pretends to be a male feminist, and the big city art scene.

The first Slashening was funnier to me than The Final Beginning, and I preferred the set-up of a slasher just knocking off a group of girls having a slumber party over a slasher whittling down a therapy group, but the sequel was still a fun way to spend 80 minutes. I'm glad Bassham has finally directed another movie, as both Slashenings have a unique tone and sense of humor, and I'm again looking forward to seeing what he'll do next.

The following review originally appeared on


Director Stuart Stanton's No Such Thing As Monsters has been described as an Australian equivalent to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, and while it skimps on the cannibalism, it does feature a very twisted family that does some awful things to people. Like the families in Chainsaw and Hills had Leatherface and Pluto, this family also has a member who stands out, a unique character who proves to be particularly memorable. In this case, the standout family member is Amy (Georgia Crisfield Smith), who has a skin condition she keeps hidden under layers of clothing and a fabric mask, and is so shy she speaks through a hand puppet called Sweetheart. Surprisingly, viewers may actually come to care about Amy, despite the company she keeps, because she seems to be the one person in the group who has any compassion.

The people who need compassion are American girl Mary (Angel Giuffria) and her Australian boyfriend David (Matthew Clarke). Mary has made the journey over to Australia to be with David, and he has put forth the idea that they should go on a camping trip to a spot in the wilderness that his family used to go to years earlier. Unfortunately, Mary and David only have this spot to themselves for one night before a family of four siblings shows up to camp right beside them. At first, this bunch - Michaela Celeste as Nelly, Rebecca Fortuna as Becca, Jacob Fyfe as Elmer, and Amy - seem harmless, although they are very odd and Becca is clearly putting in some effort to seduce David. Mary would probably be quite disappointed to know just how amenable he is. But soon their "nice people" facade crumbles and the family takes Mary and David captive at their secluded home.

It's not exactly clear why the family wants to keep Mary around, but Nelly and Becca have a very specific purpose for keeping David around. It doesn't matter whether he would have let Becca seduce him or not, because now he's going to be forced to impregnate these women, who tie him to a bed for months to keep him as a sex slave - even long after they succeed in their goal. Meanwhile, Mary is chained up in a camper trailer outside, with only Amy keeping her company.

While David goes through a harrowing ordeal, most of his suffering is done off screen. The film focuses on Mary, and Giuffria turns in a strong, highly emotional performance. Mary isn't a great heroine, she makes some frustratingly dumb moves at certain points, but the fact that she's so frustrating does show that Stanton and Giuffria were successful in making us care for the character and root for her to get out of this living nightmare. It's also impressive and admirable that Stanton and co-writer Karen Elgar didn't feel the need to give Mary any sort of elaborate back story to explain why she has one arm. Giuffria was born without a left arm, and the fact that Mary has one arm is simply part of the character, it's not a defining trait and she doesn't have a traumatic story to tell about what happened to her left arm. Mary is extremely claustrophobic, she even has panic attacks from being inside the camper, but that issue is tossed aside once she's forced to live in the camper for months, and it has nothing to do with something happening to her arm while she was in a tight space.

Giuffria and Smith make their characters sympathetic, while Celeste, Fortuna, and Fyfe do the exact opposite. Nelly, Becca, and Elmer are despicable, disgusting people. Their comeuppance (if there is to be any) can't come soon enough. Rohana Hayes shows up late in the game as another villainous figure, and even though she has less screen time than her cohorts she also manages to make her character someone worth hating.

No Such Thing As Monsters is very weird, packed with terrible people, and has the heroine act in questionable ways from time to time, but it remains interesting and emotionally engaging every step of the way through its 90 minute running time.

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