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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Houseboat Horror (1989) - Horror Slasher

Houseboat Horror (1989) - This Australian artifact from the eighties is a straight up copied from every slasher that came before is a romp in the Outback aboard houseboats. The film starts with some movie crew people driving to a lake so that they and others can meet up for a job filming a rock video. There is some playful dialog and the pick up of a hitchhiker. Her purpose is to be the first victim of the killer after getting the ride. She walks through the woods to her boyfriends camp to find him dead and then for the first time of many we see the killers feet and lower legs. The scene means nothing to the movie since the premise of why the killer is doing what he is doing is not yet known and why the poor camper and his slow running girlfriend are the first to die is a mystery. She runs from the killer who walks after her and amazingly keeps up until he captures and kills her. It really is a remarkable feat. It is like he is on a walking sidewalk while she is running in place. The killing are just to get to the credits and the wonderfully bad music. An opening scene like this in this type of film is to set up that it is a slasher film, but we learn later that the motivation for the slashers killing really has nothing to do with the first kills. It is strictly a trope to set up the film before showing the opening credits.What we get next is a bit of a mess with a whole lot of characters being introduced, or at least shown on screen while we get a bit of the story for why they are there. There is a "rock" video that is going to be shot by this large group so we have all the people in the cast to get this done. The manager and musicians, a couple models to dance in the video, costume and makeup people, hangers on, executive and girlfriend, camera crew, so many in fact you can't really get to know any of them. They all gather up and take four houseboats and several other craft out on the lake to the site they plan to shoot the video. Oh and don't worry you will not get the pleasure of missing the music video. On the way to this though we get the a bit of story about the tragedy of the last video shoot on Lake Infinity. A couple years before a poor kid was burned very badly by a callous movie crew, it was a horrible event. What made it worse was the murder of the movie crew after the accident. Then this film throws in a high musician who for no reason spouts the following "if ??? blada??? was in he would have said exactly what I said. The Theory of Relativity, the theory of forms, the continium concept, Aldus Huxley is The Partridge Family, pan dimensional." Can someone please explain why this is in this movie.I understand why the grumpy guy in the car was reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In the late eighties that book was all the rage, I, the Soresport, read it myself. I was hoping for a tie in, in the film. You see the story is about King Arthur and his nights feasting and they are rudely interrupted by the Green Knight, who challenges the King to a contest, Arthur can strike him one blow and in a years time the Knight gets to return the favor. As an honorable servant Gawain volunteers to strike the blow in the Kings place as it would be expected. He does and lops the head off the Green Knight, whose headless body retrieves his head and he says to Gawain to seek him out in one year for the return blow. The story continues as Gawain gets to the house of the night, his morals are challenged repeatedly while he stays at the Green Knights castle and he reasonably stays honorable, but the final evening he is offered a way to live but in taking it it will be known that he has been dishonorable. Fearing for his life he chooses dishonor only to be spared by the Green Knight to live with his shame. This seemed like a great story to build the slasher around but unfortunately writer Ollie Martin and Director Kendal Flanagan were not going to do that.Instead we get the straight up story in which the killer is quickly revealed through close up of his scarred hand to be the burnt person from a couple years before. He hates film crews now and is ready to rip through our cast. The cast is too large for the film so there are plenty of POV shots as the killer stocks crew members. A hatchet to the head here, a stabbing there it is all part of the long drawn out couple days on the lake. Finally when the survivors start running into bodies the pace picks up. Our killer stalks a couple while they search the nearby abandon farm, his farm with his crazy sister in fact, in this is one of the more creative kills of the movie. The killer who has weapons all over the freaking place kills one guy and then since he apparently used that very effective weapon up, takes a horseshoe to stab through the eyes of the next kill. In fact it seemed every time the killer needed a weapon it magically appeared. He find a harpoon gun just laying in the open on the houseboat. Then wanting to kill the guy on a skidoo he finds a pipe laying in the boat and hurls it perfectly through the guy. There is a nice effect where he slices a guys head in two, for 1989 I though it was pretty good. Still the whole exercise was way on the nose and the music really exactly what you would expect from the time period and the slasher genre.There were some things that were amusing, besides the clothes that is. The giant cell phones or as one character called it "The walk about phone thing." I liked the attempt at showing nudity as a trope of this kind of film, but unfortunately like most other things the makers did it really was second rate. Then there is this scene where the killer while looking into a fire flashes back to his incident of burning, later in the final scenes he is lit on fire by the survivors and what do you know, they used the exact same footage. I also learned what is worse than the douche who brings a guitar to a party, a guy who brings his drum. The ending does have a final girl but because the film started with so many characters and none were particularly flush out; there was not a real sense of urgency in seeing her survive. We hardly knew her so when she gets to the final scene who cares if she is the last. Actually she is not the last either, there were a few characters that go off to town on the second night and miss all the killing. When they arrive back they are invited back to the abandoned farm by the killers crazy sister. Just too many people in the end to really make it work.
Rating (3.8) 5.0 and up are recommended.

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