Posts Tagged ‘survival

19
Jul
18

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) Hell or High Sperm Count

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“EAT LEAD, FROGGIES!” – Sam Hell, Hell Comes to Frogtown

“We’re gonna get ’em out, and you’re gonna get ’em pregnant.” – Spangle, Hell Comes to Frogtown

a Primal Root Written Review

Never in the annals over cinema has the queasy unease and horror apparent in the possibility of losing your sexual organs been so graphically portrayed as they are in the post apocalyptic 1988 sci-fi comedy action adventure cyber punk sweat and filth caked fever dream, Hell Comes to Frogtown starring the late, great, Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Cec Verrell, and Farmer Vincent himself, Rory Calhoun!

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As always, the world is left a post apocalyptic wasteland due to a “difference of opinion” (HAHAHA!) which leads to a nuclear war obliterating all of civilization and leaving the good majority of the handful of remaining men steril. Which is where Sam Hell comes in (played with over the top buffoonery glee by Roddy Piper), we catch up with him as he is about to get his genitals torn off by an angered military Captain named Devlin, whose daughter said Sam raped her, but he actually didn’t, and is now with child. However, the forced castration is quickly put to an end when Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) and Patton (Eyde Byrde) show up just in the nick of time to put him in an explosive cod piece and make his cock and balls official government equipment to be used in the repopulation of the planet. See, he tests way off the charts with the most ammunition in his weapon than they’re ever seen before, which makes him quite the commodity in the wasteland. One of my favorite moments in the film is when he is sitting in the lab of this government repopulation building with his beeping, blinking codpiece on, as he looks around and sees all the propaganda on the walls including a great poster that has a NO CONDOMS symbol over it and states “THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS!” Hell signs his junk away without reading the fine print and is now enlisted to go on missions across the remaining junk heap of Earth in an bulky explosive codpiece he can’t take off or it will explode, if he gets too far away from Spangle, it will electrocute his ball, and then explode. So, he’s basically a a fuck slave for the government.

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Immediately, Hell is thrown into a mission to rescue a bevy of fertile young women who have been captured and used as sex slaves by a race of mutant amphibians who were exiled to the desert by humans to a place called, you guessed it, FROGTOWN! Hell, Spangle and badass gunner, Centinella (Cec Verrell) head off into the wasteland driving a bright pink Studebaker with a sunroof so Centinella can man the massive machine gun mounted to the top, in order to rescue the fertile maidens and have Hell give them the deep dicking they need to repopulate the Earth. Along the way, of course, we learn Spangle is trained in the art of seduction, which is graphically portrayed as she whips out her late 80’s camouflage and doily adorned lingerie, in order to keep Hell teased, hard, and ready to impregnate when the time arrives. Late at night, Centinella strips off her uniform, whips her puppies out of the chute (providing the ONLY bare breasts of the entire film) opens Hell’s the cod piece flap, straddles our wrestler hero, but gets pulled off right before he enters her ring by a jealous, but posing as protective, Spangle. Ugghhh, repopulating the planet is going be touch when all the women keep getting upset over who owns this guy’s penis.

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Before long, the trio comes across an actual, honest, to goodness fertile lone woman of the wasteland. Spangle basically terrorizes and bullies the young woman before Hell tells her to back the fuck off so he can talk to the woman. Spangle gets irritated with Sam who balks at the artifice of this who deal and can’t perform under these circumstances. “Hey, you try making love to a complete stranger in a hostile, mutant environment, see how you like it.” But, eventually, Hell and the young woman warm up to one another, and get down to business as Spangle watches on jealously.  In the morning, the young woman directs our trio of heroes to Frogtown, thanks Hell for the lust in the dust, give him a big bear hug and is on her way to die of exposure in the nuclear desert before ever even having that the baby Hell just shot down her love canal.

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Okay, entering Frogtown, which is EXACTLY what you might assume it would be. A dark, filthy, greasy, sweaty underworld made up of freakish mutated frog people drinking sewage, reading copies of The Frog Prince, and doing strip teases upon the bar. Spangle’s plan is to pose as Hell’s faux hostage and slave to be traded to a frog pimp that goes by the name of Leroy. Leroy happens to be aided by an older HUMAN gent and acquaintance of Hell who goes by the name Looney Tunes (Rory Calhoun). The trade, however, comes to an abrupt halt when the one eyes frog, masochist and right hand toad of Commander Toty, the King Frog of Frogtown, a mutant who would love nothing more in this post apocalyptic husk of a world than to watch Hell’s package explode into meaty, sizzling chunks. Well, even more than that, he wants to enslave Spangle and watch her perform the highly erotic Dance of The Three Snakes, which is a scene that must be seen to be fully appreciated, no words of mine could every fully do it justice.

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Oddly enough, it feels like the movie kind of drags once they hit Frogtown as Spangle tries to seduce Hell, and he rebukes. Arabella, the shapely frog stripper, tries to get Hell to fuck her, and he rebukes, and she pulls him back and crawls on him, and he puts a burlap sack over his head and says no, no ,no. It’s kind of funny for a minute, but as these interactions keep happening, it gets old quick. But, once Hell is captured, Spangle is forced to dance, and chainsaws start getting pulled into the action, Hell Comes to Frogtown gets back on track and into the action is a big hurry.

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For being a New World Picture and the budget certainly being pretty nil, the effects are pretty impressive. Tee frog mutants may not be the greatest effects ever produced, but they’re quite audacious for an indie sci-fi flick. What really saves the day and makes Hell Comes to Frogtown so damn watchable, is the charasmatic, go for broke, comedic performance of Roddy Piper. They man is absolutely hysterical in the movie, calling on his experience mugging and emoting at top dramatic level from his professional wrestling days, the man hams it up to such an extreme, that you cannot help but laugh with the guy. It’s a ridiculous goddamn movie, and where everyone plays it serious, Roddy plays it for laughs, and it makes the film, if you ask me.

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Hell Comes To Frogtown is by no stretch of the imagination a good film, or a competent one and I doubt it would make anyone’s favorite sci-fi action films, even from the 80’s. But, what it is, is a a fucking hoot of a piece of Trash Cinema and one very fun, brain dead ride into a hot, sweaty, dusty abysmal dystopian Hellscape well in need of some good fucks. It’s a flick where humanoid mutant frog people are packing heat, kidnapping scantly clad nubile young women who must be saved by the beefy awesomeness of Roddy Piper. Honestly, what’s not to enjoy?

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I award Hell Comes to Frogtown THREE AND A HALF out of  FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

28
May
18

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) High Octane Corpse Grinder

 

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a Primal Root written review

“You get to see what the Adults do after dark…” – The Doctor, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

The zombie apocalypse has been done to fucking death. I used to eat every film, every book, every piece of pop culture I could find related to the re-animated, flesh craving undead ever since I unearthed a VHS copy of both George A. Romero’s classics Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) from a  bargain bin inside the Tallahassee Mall back in the early to mid 90’s when the zombie genre was far from thriving. I was infatuated, tracking down as much as I could back int he day before there was a computer, let alone the internet, in our house. Fast forward over twenty years later, and not only has the living dead genre risen from it’s shallow grave and crawled back to life, but the hordes of these shambling corpses have practically taken over pop culture to point they are appearing of throw blankets, children’s films and are the central issue in long running, incredibly repetitious television programs.

To me, the zombie genre has been irrelevant and tiresome for decades. The last time a living dead film really got me revved up it w=as probably Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, when a filmmaker decided to create an updated version of the creature and new rules were invented. It livened things up and gave us something new and truly interesting within a genre that was just beginning to come back into sharp focus within the cinematic landscape. But, before long, it was the same old horde of zombies, following the same old rules, chasing the same rag tag group of thieves and misfits. It’s tired, done, to death, and no real fresh blood has been injected to give this world something to interest me.

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That all came to an end the other night when I sat down to a viewing of the 2014 film entitled Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. An Australian independent horror film that took nearly four years to create and touts itself as”Dawn of the Dead Meets Mad Max.” The film has more unrestrained energy, ferocious creativity and enthusiasm for the genre than I’ve come across since Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead from 1992 and Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson’s The Taint from 2011.  Wyrmwood is the living dead film I have been craving for 25 year, a film so fun, so heartfelt and so genre defying while staying true to it’s spirit, it not only revived my love and hope for a genre that has been the lackluster, stale floating turd of horror for far too long. Wyrmwood is the new high watermark of the genre. Seriously, it is THAT good. This mother fucker IS the fiery, fresh shot of new blood the likes of which I never even dreamed I’d see again.

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Wyrmood: Road of the Dead starts off on familiar territory, we are introduced to our central characters which will be Barry (Jay Gallagher) a bearded, well built handy man, husband and father of a cute and rambunctious young daughter who is woken out of a sound sleep by the sounds of a society starting to collapse just outside the door to his warm suburban home. Brooke (Bianca Bradey), his sister who happens to be a makeup artist working on a photo shoot with two other young ladies when the outbreak begins, and Benny (Leon Burchill) who is on a camping trip with his mates when they all witness the plethora of shooting starts lighting up the sky the night the outbreak begins. All prove to be more than capable of defending themselves against these living dead, human meat chomping, ghouls, but it soon becomes apparent that these zombies are not playing by the familiar rules set up by George Romero 40 years ago. No, these foul breathed carnivorous creeps are something entirely different.

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Sure, some of the same rules apply, obliterate their head and they drop like a sack of monkey cum, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how people are becoming infected, not only that, but there’s a strange new mystery revolving around which certain machines have stopped functioning. The story splits off into two different tales as we follow Barry and Brooke on their struggles to survive. After Barry loses both his wife and daughter, he is left suicidal, but soon begins to cross paths with other survivors, discovers answers to mysteries about their current biblical Doomsday situation, and steadily gains back his will to live by harnessing his grief and rage into being proactive and moving forward into this new, horrifying world while trying to protect those around him. Brooke, on the other hand, is abducted, drugged and experimented on by a disco dancing wack job in a hazmat suit who is part of a roving pack of the Australian military, it would seem, who continuously inject her with a serum  created using the blood of those infected with this reanimated virus which results in some very unexpected consequences.

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If you think any of what I’ve told you above is a spoiler, trust me, they are not by a LONG shot. I went into Wyrmwood knowing nothing at all about it and the film left me absolutely thrilled and slack jawed by it’s immense creativity and bold new and totally out of left field rules. On several occasions Wyrmwood completely inverts audience expectations and leaves you wondering just where the Hell the filmmakers are planning to take you. It’s a spirit and kind of maniacal glee in a team of creative thinkers always one upping themselves and deciding to crash right ahead down the road less traveled and blazing a whole new path that they know will leave the audience on the edge of their seats and smiling ear to ear. Several time during our viewing, Bootsie Kidd and I turned and looked at one another, eyes wide, gapping smiles and laughing with absolute joy at just how insanely intelligent, hilarious and deeply human this Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead was. Not afraid to introduce likable characters and then rip them away from us brutally, and often with fates worse than death, and allowing viewers to feel the gravity of these losses. Sometimes you might laugh at the absurdity of the loss, but there’s almost always a moment of sorrow for them being gone.

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I really don’t want to say a whole lot more about Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, and I STRONGLY advise you don’t watch the trailer and simply go in blind. I can guarantee it will be a far more rewarding experience, as the trailer spoils pretty much everything that’s surprising and original about the film itself. I know Wyrmwood likes to advertise that it’s like Dawn of the Dead meets Mad Max, but to me, it feels almost like a spiritual offspring of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead meets Peter Jackson’s early work, specifically Bad Taste and Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead. It’s a go for broke, low budget, independent labor of love. The kind of love you can feel just oozing from this thing like so much maggot filled vomit from the black, rotten, gob of and long deteriorating zombie. Truly, it’s the kind of film I could see Oscar winning director Peter Jackson making today is he were to get back to his roots ala: George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s honestly that fucking impressive.

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Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is the low budget high energy and inspiration action gore fest the genre has been lacking in for what feels like fucking ages. I happen to know the film’s director, Kiah Roache-Turner has a new film coming out this year entitled Nekromancer, a tale about a man who hunts down and destroys demons in the internet. After watching the absolute joy that is Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, I am chomping at the bit to see how Kiah will subvert the genre and surprise us in the future.

I am awarding Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Check this breathless and badass motherfucker out, Gang.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

25
Aug
13

You’re Next (2011) Warm Blood & Rich People…plus a short essay on slasher cinema history

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a Primal Root written review

The late 60’s  through the 1970’s were the golden years for American horror cinema. Not only were young, truly talented filmmakers delivering inspired pieces of art, they gave cinema indispensable time capsules of the days troubled times and the lasting, horrifying impact of our actions on not only the inhabitants of our nation, but the world. films such as Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left”, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and many others illustrated , the brutality both at home and abroad as peaceful protesters were gunned down by our National Guard in cold blood, blacks in our country were beaten and murdered by our police officials, our brothers, sons,  husbands and Fathers were being drafted to serve in a wildly unpopular war and the hippie movement had given way to disillusionment in the wake of Charles Manson and Free Love regrettably spread venereal disease like wild fire through the loins of our nation.  Independent horror cinema had never been more vital, more important in our country as it was during this era.  Horror was the purest illustration, the unfettered subconscious, of our society.

Soon the 1980’s were ushered in and movies such as “Halloween” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, which had proven incredibly profitable, gave way to a sub-genre known as the “slasher” genre, which gained a foothold in this decade and squeezed as much blood out of the concept as  possible. John Carpenter’s Halloween became a franchise, Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” spawned a series of films repeating the same formula for over 20 years, and Wes Craven delivered a trail blazing, brilliant, post Vietnam horror film in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, but it was soon watered down into a franchisable commodity.  Slasher horror films became a staple of the decade as they proved to be resoundingly profitable for studios, and sequels that regurgitated the story on repeat could be relied upon to turn a profit. It was fun while it lasted, and some pretty damn great slasher films were produced during the decade, but   gradually, a form of horror that had once shown us how fucked up our system was, had been yuppified and sold out. The films became less of a societal rorshach test, and more like a series of Saturday morning cartoon adventure. Hell, it was the 1980’s in a capitalist country! As George “Buck” Flowers said in John Carpenter’s 1988 science fiction masterpiece, “They Live”, “We all sell out every day, might as well be on the winning team!”

But by the end of 80’s the slasher formula had grown as stale as a year old box of opened and then forgotten about croutons in the pantry, and by 1990, many folks deemed the sub-genre dead.

BUT THEN CAME POST-MODERN SLASHERS!  Ushered in by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and to a much greater extent, his “Scream” franchise, which replaced the usual gang of teenagers ready for the chop, with teenage characters who have been raised in the VHS generation and are completely aware of the slasher formula, it’s cliches and it’s caveats and are loaded up and ready with quips, jokes and references to horror movies history!  The resurrection of the slasher genre was given life thanks to the ever increasing knowledge and awareness of the audience who had spent their youths combing through video rental stores and boning up on their horror movie knowledge.  Two decades earlier, it was Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” who had been savaging the cinema while wearing the remains of his victims. Now, in the 1990’s, the filmmakers were the one’s wearing the remains of the genre’s past and exploiting it as a joke and laughing at the power these movies once, and to the viewer willing to watch without a jaded eye, still contain.

But, there are only so many in-jokes you can make about the genre before Post Modern gives way to straight up spoofs like the Wayans Brother’s brain dead “Scary Movie” franchise.  Oh, what has post modern horror wrought?

In the mid 2000’s, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the War in Iraq marched on with seemingly no plan and no end in sight under the George W. Bush administration, the slasher genre got a heavy, dark, deeply mean spirited and cynical makeover in the form of James Wan’s “Saw” franchise, Now audiences were thrust into morality games where victims and victimizers alike were suddenly forced to endure and try to survive brutal and disturbingly painful forms of grueling torture in order to survive and are expected to walk away having learned some kind of life affirming message. Assumign they survive at all. (Spoiler: most folks end up splattered across the linoleum.)  Also, taking hold in this decade, was a sudden popularity in remakes. Classic horror films like Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” were open game for modern retelling and face lifts. These proved successful as money making ventures since the titles were already well established and could be relied on to turn a profit, but many folks took this as a sign that “Hollywood” had, indeed, run out of ideas and that set of balls they once relied on to give up and coming filmmakers a chance at showcasing original product, had now finally been cut cleen and tossed int he waste basket. The studio now only seemed interested in “sure things.”  Young filmmakers who came of age during the slasher heydays were now creating their own slasher movies…but more times than not, for cynical laughs and nastiness rather than genuine scares or fun.

With the exception of a few sporadic, slasher films produced independently, with varying degrees of success, the blood in the veins of a once extremely popular genre has been cooling down and slowing to a coagulated halt as it’s once thriving body withers up and passed away. Them’s the brakes.  I had very little hope in ever seeing a slasher film worth a piss again on the big screen.

Death Zoo 2000

Death Zoo 2000

And then I saw “You’re Next”.

A kind of home invasion slasher film that’s done the impossible and taken a tired formula, one that’s been played to death, and made it feel fun, interesting and new again. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun watching a slasher film in…well…YEARS! I know there’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding this flick over the last couple years since it’s premiere in 2011, and although I do feel the praise this thing has gotten is, indeed, a bit overblown, “You’re Next” does a dandy of a job showing it’s audience a good time.

The premise comes across as fairly standard. A very wealthy family reunites for a weekend at their secluded mansion in the middle of winter. It;s cold, it’s snowy, and if a band of crossbow shooting, axe wielding maniacs happen upon their house, they are more or less trapped and/or completely fucked.    One thing I greatly appreciate about “You’re Next’ is that the family and other assorted characters are written as actual human beings, characters and players in the drama at hand rather than just jokes and punch lines ready to be cashed in.  Sure, some situations come off as comical, but never because the characters are anything more than flawed, damaged and mistake making human beings. Things are tense before any psychopaths even show up! Hell, I haven;t seen a dinner scene this tense and uncomfortable since The Sawyer clan sat down to dinner in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” (No, Tobe Hooper’s not paying me to drop that title as many times as possible in this review) The family dynamic feels like a bomb just waiting to go off as it seems some siblings cannot be near one another for more than five seconds without anger and resentment rising and an argument breaking out.  One cannot help but feel bad for Erin (Sharni Vinson) who is there to meet and spend some quality time getting to know her boyfriend Crispan’s (AJ Bowen) family.

Things go from awkward to “Aw, fuck” as family dinner is violently interrupted and suddenly everyone is scrambling to survive. To the amazed wonderment of the family, Erin seems to have the survival instincts of a wild cat and, once the rich families plans are all proven to be disastrously moot, takes control of the situation and ends up being on the the very best, if not the quintessential Final Girl.   Rarely in the slasher genre have I ever witness a final girl so aptly and efficiently tackle with her antagonists.  She turns her aggressors into bumbling idiots over the course of the film and it drew much appropriate applause form myself and the rest of the audience.  This is no screaming, lame-o final girl running around in her panties and hoping to fight the killer to a draw. no, Erin is out for blood and she’s honestly one of the greatest assets “You’re Next” has.  Many folks have labeled “you;re Next” a “feminist” horror film.  Hell, I thought most horror films, especially slashers, featured strong female protagonists besting and hulking male antagonist. By definition, isn’t the majority of slasher films feminist?

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

But, I digress, “You’re Next” also delivers some excellently executed gore set pieces that seem to escalate as the films closes in on it’s graphically violent, over the top conclusion.  People meet their end in brutal, uncompromising fashions at the end of axes, arrows, knives, screwdrivers and countless assorted implements of destruction and kitchen accoutrement.  Those looking for and carnage candy will not leave disappointed.  Another thing I was impressed with was the film;s dark, yet fitting, sense of humor. Unlike other recent slasher films that slowly devolve into “Not Another Teen Slasher Film” over the top, slapstick gore and gags (Hatchet & Hatchet II, I’m looking at you.) or post modern slashers that draw laughs from our knowledge of horror film history,  “You’re Next” keeps things serious and to the point, but manages to draw comedy from it’s bloody situations. The jokes are dark, but the levity is appreciated and doesn’t feel out of place.

On the negative side, once the shit hits the proverbial fan,  “You’re Next” invokes some of the most annoying shaky cam I’ve ever endured. I;m not exactly sure if I got used to it after it’s initial use or if the filmmakers decided it was only necessary for this one moment of panic, but my God, it was distracting and pointless. The actors were doing a fine enough job portraying their shock and horror at what was occurring, the last thing we needed was some guy shaking the camera around like he’s being mauled by a grizzly bear during the shoot.  Seriously, have some faith in your on screen talent. I wanted to watch their performances and not gain a migraine headache for my efforts. Also, sadly, the central question underlying the whole flick is pretty easy to figure out. Boots and I knew what was up as soon as arrows began flying. But, in the end, this didnt diminish my enjoyment of the film at all.

meow.

meow.

Any other gripes? Not really. “You’re Next” is a shockingly solid piece of slasher entertainment in a genre I thought had been bled totally dry by 80’s over exposure, 90’s postmodernism, and new millennial remake dookie splatter.  It was treat being able to watch a fun, TRULY old school style slasher film with an appreciative, loud, and lively audience just as into it as myself and Bootsie Kidd were. Not nearly as revolutionary as many critics and supporters have hyped it up to be, “You’re Next” is still one of the very best times I’ve had seeing a down and dirty slasher flick in ages. It has a keen awareness of the genre itself  which allows the filmmakers a chance to play around with our expectations, passes itself well, contains serviceable performances and has one very cool throwback synth driven score. Almost sounds like John Carpenter himself could have done the music for this sucker.

This is not the second coming, but it is proof that you can play with slasher formula without turning it all into some masturbatory joke. “You’re Next” has given me a smidgen of hope for a long flailing sub genre of horror and I am hoping filmmakers interested in working within it take note of what “You;re Next” has done right. Because there are few roller coaster rides as fun as a fun, well executed slasher film with the right audience. I only wish I got to take the ride more often.

If you’ve ever held even a drop of affection for the slasher genre in your horror nerd heart, you owe it to yourself to see “You’re Next.”

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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