Halloween Disc-A-Day: Day 29 – Hoboken Hollow, Secrets of the Clown, Room 33, Curtains

For a third year, I’m going to be watching at least one horror DVD per day and writing a short review about them. I’ve acquired a new batch that I haven’t previously seen, so without any further delay. Let’s get to work.

Hoboken Hollow (24 April 2007)

Loosely based on the famous “Texas Slave Ranch” of West Kerr County Texas, in the Mt. Home, Texas area on the Ellebracht Ranch during the late 1970s into the early 1980s.

Don’t let the synopsis fool you.  This movie is not as interesting as the real life events it’s based on.  The acting is rough.  When C. Thomas Howell brings in the initial crew of workers, they see the noose in the tree in front of the obviously crazy redneck house.  The exchange goes down like this.

Dumb guy: Y’all got a noose?

C. Thomas Howell: Don’t worry.  You’re gonna get your turn.  (Sinister laugh)

Dumb guy: … (Blank expression)

This sucks.  It has a surprising amount of cameos though.  Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Robert Carradine, and Lynn Shaye all pop up in it.  One of the villains is the guy that played Francis in Peewee’s Big Adventure.  None of that is enough to pull this out of just being annoying.  They resolve the plot within the last two or three minutes using a narrator to spew info and then resort to text boxes that reiterate the same info minus the point of view.

Secrets of the Clown (29 September 2007)

After the brutal murder of his best friend Jim, Bobbie is haunted by a presence. His girlfriend Val is distant and appears to have secrets of her own. Then the nightmares begin. Through the nightmares Bobbie uncovers clues regarding the murderer’s identity. With the killer still on the loose, bodies piling up, and time running out, Bobbie hires a psychic to contact his deceased friend Jim. But some secrets were never meant to be revealed. The dreams will guide him, the secrets will blind him, the murders haunt him. Only together will they unlock the “Secrets of the Clown.

To start on a positive note, I appreciate that this movie is not just a killer clown.  Those are always boring.  The supernatural part elevates it slightly, but it becomes diminishing returns when they just keep adding more and more plot twists.  Ryan Badalamenti was the writer, director, basically everything else for the movie and this is his only credit.  I didn’t really like the movie, but I can respect the amount of effort he must of put into completing this.  If he had some assistance on maybe half of these jobs maybe it could have turned out better.  Particularly the editing.  There are places in movie where the pace suffers.  The climax specifically feels like it comes to a natural ending point a couple of times only to continue.  My personal highlight was a dream sequence where our main couple are in the kitchen when suddenly she hulks out and he knocks her out with a toaster-assisted uppercut.  Then like he quips, “You’re toast.”  I enjoy one-liners.

Room 33 (14 August 2009)

A group of friends on a road trip seek shelter at a mental institution in the woods, only to discover that the building is the home of a mysterious young girl named Roxy whose unsettling presence serves as a foreshadow of doom. Later, as the group attempt to unravel the mystery of Roxy, who seems to have endured years of abuse, a mysterious killer begins to hunt them from the darkness.

What isn’t mentioned there is the amount of rollerskating in the movie.  Normally the reason that your group of potential victims has a reason to be together and once things get going it’s never revisited again.  It first happens when someone separates from the others to skate.  Later someone goes on patrol skating then there’s someone going for help on skates.  I think it’s clever.  That one recurring odd detail is something that’s going to help me remember a story that is fairly mediocre.  Being stranded at a creepy old building in the middle of nowhere when murders start happening is a familiar trope in horror.  Additionally, it being an abandoned asylum brings in its own set of plot elements to pepper in.  I wouldn’t call this movie anything special, but it’s watchable.

Curtains (4 March 1983)

Six young actresses auditioning for a movie role at a remote mansion are targeted by a mysterious masked murderer.

I think Curtains has one of the best slasher opening sequences.  An actress who is preparing for a part cons her way into an asylum with the help of her director.  However, he decides to leave her there.  She later escapes to give the movie it’s prime suspect.  That’s all really effective.  The rest of the film doesn’t live up to that in my opinion.  I actually saw this not too long ago and had already forgotten almost everything about it.  The pieces don’t fit in a satisfying way.  The mask that the killer wears is a creepy old witch face.  That makes sense based on who we’re supposed to think the killer is, but there is also a weird doll that appears as a harbinger of an upcoming death scene.  It doesn’t make make sense all together.  It’s still worth a watch if you’ve seen all the heavy-hitters in the slasher genre and want more.

Well, that’s it for The Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers.  If you want to hear us discuss some of the genre classics, check out the Motion Picture Meltdown episode on Sleepaway Camp and The Burning.  I’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews.

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