August Underground

Director: Fred Vogel (2001)
Starring: Fred Vogel, Ann Marie Reveruzzi
Find it online: Oh, I wouldn't recommend that. IMDB, official site

Actually, and without hyperbole, the most vomit-inducing thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Twilight. But enough of the obligatory Twi-shite bashing, because after viewing August Underground you’ll be begging for the PG-13 safeness of sparkly vampires and suchlike. You’ll also not want to be eating for a while. Also, there's no actual score for this movie, because I couldn't watch it all. I'm writing this review from in the shower, where I've been cowering since yesterday morning.

It’s like Cloverfield meets the Blair Witch Project, only the antagonists are directing the viewfinder, and CloverZilla didn’t have a thing for faeces. August Underground is, hands down, the most sickening thing ever - although there are a couple of sequels out there, which are reportedly even worse. Because they just couldn't fit enough coprophilia into one movie.

With no timewasting to begin, the movie introduces us straight away to the bad guys and their victim. She’s bound, gagged and nuddy in a desolated farmhouse, surrounded by buckets of her own shit and piss. Did I mention she’s missing a nipple and has a bit of her boyfriend taped in her mouth? The torturers wind her up for a bit; emptying a bucket of (probably) pee-pee over her head and doling out yet more abuse to the poor thing.

Yes, bondage fans, she's all tied up. But if you manage to get a boner during August Underground, you have impressive dedication to the cause. Also, you're giving the rest of us a bad name.

The rest of the movie follows the two serial killers as they drive around America boning hookers and murdering unsuspecting innocents. The gore and grue isn’t particularly realistic, but it has a homemade effect that makes it more harrowing and disturbing than you’d find in one of Eli Roth’s hostels. It was filmed on what looks like cheap-ass video, which really brings out the realism. It wears you down quickly and never lets up. Every so often, they return to the torture basement action, which is where things are at their hardest to watch. I gave up watching at exactly the point where the kidnappee was forced to eat her own poopies.

Like the strangely more infamous Grotesque and Guinea Pig movies, this is a difficult movie to review. Its lack of plot and structure and breaking of the fourth wall suggest that it’s meant to be taken as a piece of transgressive performance art rather than entertainment. It works for what it is, and does that extremely well. Another superlative for you: August Underground is the least entertaining movie I’ve ever seen. If you’re like me, you’ll want to try this simply because of its infamy. It’s unenjoyable on nearly every level, but is a great addition for those who like to “collect” infamous nasties. Everyone else, meanwhile, should read the following opinion for a more balanced view:

Ladies & Gentlemen, please be upstanding for our guest reviewer: The Thoroughly Outraged Ghost of Mary Whitehouse:

I didn't watch this movie but you're all sick for even acknowledging its existence. It's pieces of cinema like Underground August that are responsible for the moral degredation of the world today.

Anyone who watches this filth should be put on a register of some sort. September Downstairs should definitely be banned and you should be chemically castrated and banned from life. Down with this sort of thing.

Thanks Mary. If anyone out there managed to watch it all the way through, drop me a comment or so. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Prom Night (1980)

Director: Paul Lynch (1980)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Casey Stevens
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

The other slasher movie to star a virginal Jamie Lee Curtis and lots of horny teenagers getting laid and dead, Prom Night will certainly come as a surprise to those who only have its remake as a reference point. Sure, both movies take place on a prom night and have teenagers getting themselves stabbed, but the two nights couldn’t be any more different.

They’re both terrible movies, but at least 1980’s Prom Night has the good grace to be enjoyable in its sheer awfulness. Things start off in a creepy enough manner. A bunch of brat ratbastard kids are playing a variation on hide-and-seek (“the killer is coming”) in a dilapidated old house, when 10 year old Robin Hammond turns up and ruins their game. The little bastards turn on poor Robin and bully her until she falls out of a window and splatters herself everywhere. In true I Know What You Did… style, the kids cover up their death and seemingly get off scot free, blaming it all on an innocent rapist.

In a bit of synchronicity, the six-year anniversary of Robin’s death coincides with the school prom night and the rapist’s escape from prison. Sister Kim has grown up to be Jamie Lee Curtis, and brother Alex has gone a bit strange. The movie also stars Leslie Nielsen in one of his ‘serious’ roles, as the kids’ dad. It becomes apparent that someone knows Robin’s murderers’ secret, and is planning on wreaking themselves some revenge. But who? Could it be the wronged rapist? A vengeful relative? The pervy groundskeeper? Or even Robin Resurrected?

Whoever it is, they’re a lazy-arse killer, since no-one gets killed until well over an hour in. Up till then, much of the screen time is devoted to sleazy eyeballing of the female cast and crank phone calls ripped off’ve Black Christmas. Once the prom gets going, there’s also an overlong dance sequence that reminds of Grease/Saturday Night Fever, mixed with a bit of Carrie. Only with a whole bunch of promiscuous ‘teenage’ shagging. Well, there’s a lot of shagging, but I seriously doubt any of the kids were of high school age (Curtis was 22 when this movie was made). Of all the boning and boobies, my favourite bit involved a chubby guy, his girlfriend and a camper van, although there’s plenty to choose from. A bit more sleaze wouldn’t have gone amiss in the remake.

So the killer finally shows up, but things are still pretty dumb. All the ingredients are primed for a scary slasher icon, but Prom Night can’t pull it off. He (or maybe she, as we’re led to believe) has a nice Giallo inspired look going on, but is ultimately as inept as the Scary Movie killer. The glittery balaclava just isn’t a good look; and consistent uselessness doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The final fight is a joke, as are most of the kills. My favourite involved the same chubby guy, girlfriend and camper van mentioned in the paragraph above. Its climax makes me smile every time.

Prom Night is ridiculously stupid, but it’s also a hard film to dislike. There’s a general air of eccentricity going on, certainly aided by the casting of Leslie Nielsen. You can really see how he went on to become such a star in the spoof genre. Watching him doing a bit of Dad Dancing at the prom with onscreen daughter Jamie Lee just feels so… right. Prom Night occasionally feels like a spoof movie in its own right. I’m not sure whether that’s because of Nielsen or simply because it’s such a silly flick.

It’s worth watching if you’re a fan of 80s’ slasher movies, and even more so if you like it with an extra helping of cheese.

3/5 screaming Scream Queens!!!