Babysitter Wanted

First published June 2009

Director: Jonas Barnes & Michael Manasseri (2008)
Starring: Sarah Thompson, Matt Dallas, Bill Moseley
Find it online: IMDB

Not actually half as awful – or even as unoriginal - as its recycled cover art might suggest, Babysitter Wanted is a rare example of STD movie making done well.

Deja vu, anyone?

Taking its cues from that familiar urban legend – y’know, the one with the babysitter receiving prank phone calls from inside the house - Babysitter Wanted starts off as one thing, and ends up being something completely different. Strangely enough, this weathered horror fan wasn’t at all bored, and (as he often tends to do during STD productions) didn’t fast-forward through a single scene.

College student Angie (a cute Sarah Thompson) is hired by a seemingly average, All-American family to babysit their precocious, stupid-cowboy-hat-wearing kid for the night. As you’d expect, no sooner do the parents clear off, than Angie is receiving disturbing phone calls and hearing things go bump in the night. Just as her stalker decides to attack, the film goes crazy insane.

Roll over for spoilers: Angie’s attacker is a priest, and the child is the son of the Devil. Complete with fucking horns. I shit thee not - the kid is quite literally Hellboy.

With a twist reminiscent of the also-not-shit The Hamiltons, Babysitter Wanted really is worth a viewing or two. Bill Moseley shows up as a surprisingly passive cop, whilst the gore is fun enough to distract from the stupidity of the story’s latter stages. Thompson is nicely cast as Angie, with just enough cutesy about her to keep the viewer rooting for the girl's plight. That said, her character's a Christian, and there's very little that compares with the glorious schadenfreude of watching a goody gumdrops Christian sweetheart (the character's surname is Allbright) being cruelly tormented and stuff. Babysitter Wanted, then, is the modern equivalent of Julius Caesar feeding Christians to lions.

Elsewhere, the acting is passable but largely unexceptional. The story, whilst impressively left-field, may be a touch too looney for some viewers. Your friendly neighbourhood reviewer enjoyed it, but then he does have terrible taste in movies.

So if cheesy, slightly above-average horror flicks rock your boat, you could do much worse than Babysitter Wanted.

Lesbian Vampire Killers

First published June 2009, before James Corden became the all-consuming Evil that plagues us now.

Director: Phil Cladydon (2009)
Starring: Matthew Horne, James Corden, Lesbian Vampires, Paul McCann
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK

Hoping to emulate the success of fellow Brit stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the comedians Matthew Horne and James Corden make their big screen debut in Lesbian Vampire Killers. Aka Nuts Magazine: The Movie. Unfortunately, they forgot the humour, wit and intelligence which makes Shaun of the Dead such an excellent movie.

Like 2006’s Severance, this is a movie which feels tailor made to the lads’ mag audience. Unlike Severance, however, Horne and Corden didn't bother to include a decent script, any good jokes, scares or any of the memorably gruesome set pieces. Instead, screenwriters Hupfield and Williams fill the running time with a whole bunch of nob gags, lesbianisism and more nob gags.

That said, never mind the snobs. Lesbian Vampire Killers works on its own crude, stupid level. The eponymous vampires are nice to look at, whilst the chemistry between Horne and Corden – a (very) low-budget Pegg and Frost – is infectious. Besides, who doesn’t like a good nob gag now and then?

The 'plot' sees best mates Jimmy (Horne) and Fletch (Corden) hiking in the British countryside, with depressed Jimmy attempting to recover from being dumped by his girlfriend. Just as the holiday looks to be an all-out sausage-factory, the lads come across a busload of young, attractive ladies. They drive out to a small cabin in the woods, awaken some sapphic lesbian forces and violence/boobies/nob gags ensue.

By a Transylvanian mile, Paul McGann is the best thing in the movie; appearing as a hard-as-nails, sweary vicar. A little more blood wouldn’t have gone amiss, but the OTT violence is amusing on a trashy, low-rent sort of level.

Reviews for Lesbian Vampire Killers have been almost universally negative. And rightly so. Cinema tickets cost a shitload of money nowadays, and this certainly isn’t worth the price of admission, but it at least rates a rental or late-night TV viewing. Just be sure to stock up on alcohol/weed/crack/your drug of choice for the full effect.

Fuck, at the very least, it isn’t Ant & Dec: The Movie, which grants it one Scream Queen by proxy.

Manhunt (aka Rovdyr)

Review first published June 2009

Director: Patrik Syverson (2008)
Starring: Kristina Leganger Aaserud, Janne Beate Bones, Henriette Bruusgaard
Find itIMDB, Amazon UK 

Yet another addition to the vastly expanding pantheon of backwoods horrors, Manhunt is a small Norwegian film in the vein of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Wrong Turn.

Set in 1974, the story follows four young people out for a relaxing weekend in the woods. During a break at a remote roadside café, the teens decide to pick up an obviously disturbed hitch-hiker. After pulling over to bicker, the four unfortunates are assaulted and knocked unconscious by a gang of particularly vicious yokels. Waking up deep in the forest, they hear the sound of a hunting horn. Guess who the intended prey is....

Hey.... Rovdyr people? the TCM called... they want their gag back.

If the synopsis there makes Manhunt (AKA Deliverance 2: The Wrong Turn Chainsaw Massacre) sound particularly unoriginal, well, that’s because it’s an entirely unoriginal movie. Right from the outset, there’s not an ounce of originality to be found, and most of the action tends to revolve around watching distressed youths running through the woods.

It doesn't help that the flick's villains aren't fully realised, nor given enough screentime. Again, they're somewhat reminiscent of Severance's baddies (tooled up loonies, camping out in the woods) and even seem to have nicked a few of their methods too. Manhunt's blatant unoriginality jumps out at every moment.

Still, Manhunt is entertaining and grisly enough to hold the viewers’ attention. The acting is of a decent calibre, whilst the ‘plot’ moves fast enough to divert from the fact that there’s nothing new being brought to the table. Entertaining, if disposable.