Sunday, 3 January 2010



Exciting News: it IS possible to be ripped off in a branch of Pound Land. For a whole one of our mighty English Pounds, you can walk off with this drab slasher cheapie in which four idiots re-enact bits of Friday The 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre while someone half-heartedly points a budget model camcorder vaguely in their direction. And afterwards you'll feel that you're at least 99p down on the deal afterwards.

Beginning with a series of scrolling captions that are positively illiterate in their random use of apostrophes and other punctuation marks, the uninterestingly titled The Summer Of The Massacre concerns a quartet of college kids: two boys, two girls (one of whom is pregnant) in a van and deciding to take the unmarked shortcut despite being low on petrol. On arrival at a derelict service station they are set upon by a gibbering lunatic who babbles something about a serial killer and, sure enough, when they do run out of petrol (who'd have seen THAT coming?) they split up and wander off looking for fuel. At which point the fearsome and legendary Hammer Head shows up with his trusty hammer, and chases his targets at ludicrous length through acres of dull, damp woodland (it's supposed to be June but it looks more like a wet November).

Hammer Head is, incidentally, an absolutely rubbish screen maniac: in all his encounters his victims manage to get plenty of good strong blows of their own in and run away screaming. Albert Steptoe could take him. Hell, given a steep enough slope Stephen Hawking could probably force a draw. He's not a big bloke, he's not an imposing presence, and despite the zombie mask (probably also from Pound Land) he just looks like a B&Q assistant who's gone a bit mental. For no apparent reason, he keeps the pregnant one alive and (badly) tied up in his hideous derelict hideout which looks a bit like the ruin at the end of The Blair Witch Project, but obviously she escapes and runs off. He lopes off after her and after fifteen minutes or so of hiding, running, screaming and hitting over the head with a hammer, there's another gibberish caption to the effect that it's all true and He's Still Out There Somewhere.

It's an incredibly artless affair. Such things as picture composition, framing and editing are either left to chance or just not bothered with: scenes go on forever and the salient action points either occur in view or they don't. The music score sounds like someone in the next room experimenting with a Bontempi (which probably came from Pound Land), and the acting is beyond dire. None of these whining, bickering, tiresome characters are worth caring about, it's visually quite ugly and the constant use of captions along the lines of "June 17th - Village Outskirts (Unknown Location) - 2:37pm" is just annoying, especially because on at least one occasion the timecodes actually go back in time: scene G apparently happens before scene F even though it blatantly doesn't.

Most of all, you come away feeling that just because you love horror movies doesn't mean you can actually make them, and that the belief that you can do it anyway (in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) is actually an insult to those people who genuinely can make great horror films. I have some fondness for Tchaikovsky but sit me down with a sheaf of manuscript paper and I wouldn't know where to start. Making horror movies - making any kind of movies - isn't something you can do just because you've watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on video a hundred and seventeen times. The DVD will be going straight in the bin: I'm not giving it shelf room and I'm not about to show it to anyone else. And I want my pound back.


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