Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hook of Woodland Heights, The (1990)

Directed by:
Michael Savino

The guys behind the 15-minute short ATTACK OF THE KILLER REFRI(D)GERATOR (1984) are back with this 40-minute, shot-on-video slasher, which was first released in 1990 on VHS by Donna Michelle Productions (who put Refrigerator on the same tape for a double feature that's actually shorter than most standard features). Hook is a silly, over-the-top play on the 'hook-handed killer haunting lover's lane' urban legend, but it's better-made, better acted and better photographed than their first effort. We're first introduced to teenager Tommy (Michael Elyanow), who picks up his date Katie (Christine McNamara) and hopes to score with her out in the sticks. The film then cuts to a mental hospital where a bunch of cliched nutters roam the halls except for a maniacal, one-handed serial killer named Mason Crane (Robert W. Allen) who is kept locked away in solitary. Mason manages to kill two orderlies in charge of moving him (one is smashed in the door and the other is killed when a clipboard is thrown at his head!) and then escapes.

Mason immediately heads into the woods, kills a dog and then finds a two-pronged barbeque / grill fork lying on the ground and jams it into his arm stump. He then kills a young boy playing hide-and-seek in a graveyard, another guy and finally makes his way to Tommy and Katie, who are too busy making out to pay much attention to the radio news broadcasts warning of the psychos escape. There's some POV camerawork trailing through the woods, a couple of good songs (the theme is called "Hooked on You") and even a crotch stabbing. On the down side, the make-up job on the killer (overdone white face and black eye grease paint) is pretty awful. Most of the acting is mediocre or bad, but Allen is memorably over-the-top as the psycho. He laughs maniacally, breathes heavy, grunts and acts like a mix between a gorilla, a rabid dog and, well, a hyperactive, raving loony.

So nothing great, but mildly entertaining. The short run-time keeps it from wearing out its welcome with unneeded filler and it's a slight step up from their previous effort. Slasher fans will probably want to see it because it's one of the rarest titles in the subgenre, though if you have 25 extra bucks to throw away, you can order it from the director's website.


Attack of the Killer Refrigerator (1984)

...aka: Attack of the Killer Refridgerator

Directed by:
Michael Savino

It was made by media students at Worcester State College in Massachusetts. It was shot-on-video in 1984 with a budget of just 25 dollars. It miraculously managed to get a VHS release in 1990 from Donna Michelle Productions. One might refer to it as amateur hour... except it only runs 15 minutes. So what can you expect here? Nonexistent production values, bad acting, bad effects, bad picture quality, bad editing and a bad music score with a cute premise, a little no budget charm and an attention-getting title. Things begin with a bunch of people having a party. One guy goes into flashback mode and we learn how the poor refrigerator's freezer section got some unwanted ice beat off with a hammer. So now it's pissed off. Steaming mad, you could say. The party clears out, leaving just two guys and their girlfriends. One by one they're killed off. The first victim has her hand chopped off when the door slams on it. A guy gets bashed against a wall. Another is stabbed with a door handle and the final chick gets smashed with the door. It also eats a cat. A girl comes over and cries over a dead body. The end.
Strangely, the on-screen title calls our killer appliance a "refridgerator." I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. Even stranger, this isn't even the only killer fridge movie. Just one year after this made its way to videoland (where it was paired with the same filmmakers' THE HOOK OF WOODLAND HEIGHTS), the feature length film horror-comedy THE REFRIGERATOR (1991) was released. If interested, you can purchase Refrigerator, Woodland Heights and another short called DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS from the same folks (director/writer/producer Savino and writer/producer Mark Veau) from their website Media House Films.

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