The Pitch

got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty / I’ve got whozits and whatsits galore / You
want thingamabobs? / I’ve got twenty! / And they’ve all / been employed / to
kill whores…"

snaps up distribution rights on a lot of horror, for which we all are very
grateful. Sometimes, these horror flicks go direct-to-DVD. Sometimes they don’t
even make it to the new release shelf. Instead, you find them in Blockbuster’s
"3 for $20!" bin, and you wonder: is this worth whatever twenty bucks
divided by three is? Well, wonder no more! All that wondering just makes it
look as if you have cramps. Killer

STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $26.98
RUNNING TIME: 82 Minutes
Feature commentary

The Nutshell

Once upon
a time, a man no one suspected of evil did a whole lot of murderin’. His MO was
to bind his victims, then to torture them, and finally to kill them. He
operated without capture for more than thirty years. Join us in the hunt for
the killer whose case refuses to go cold! There’s pie.

"After services, Mrs. Nesbitt would like us to clear out quickly,
because her husband is hosting a Super Bowl Party."

The Lowdown

Do you
hate it when people say, "ATM machine?" How about
"knots-per-hour?" BTK Killer — how perfect for the
age of acronyms — stands for Bind Torture Kill Killer, making the poor doofus
one of the most redundant murderers in history, right after Jack the Ripping
Ripper. And when this sort of easy hook presents itself to a critic, it’s
fucking hard to pass up. So here goes: the film is just as redundant as its

The only
distinction that BTK Killer has over its myriad peers is its subject matter.
Everything else is fumble-footed hikes through the hinterlands of bad
psychology, as we try and dig into the mind of a serial killer. The plot points
have been seen in Silence of the Lambs, Spider, hell, even in KatieBird.
Copycat killers can be frightening; copycat filmmaking not so much.


The whole
thing is shot with handheld digital, giving it that Dogme 95 look. Only trouble
is that the style fails to deliver the sense of realism it was intended to.
Instead, it does a fine job of highlighting the amateur production.

I will
summarize in haiku:

When the subject bores,

Technique becomes most vital.

Neither are present.

STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $26.98
RUNNING TIME: 94 Minutes
Feature commentary

The Nutshell

Poor nerd
Tamara doesn’t get along well with her classmates. They’re passively aggressive
to her in general, but when she writes an expose on sports players dosing on
performance enhancing drugs, things turn dirty. In a prank gone wrong, Tamara
gets a coffee table corner imprinted in her temple. Unbeknownst to her
murderers, young Tamara was not only a misunderstood geek, but also a witch!
(Aren’t they all?) She returns from the dead to stalk those who done her wrong.

Her routine is technically good, but it’s just a shame
she has to perform at a shamble.

The Lowdown

you’ll think Tamara is a decent piece of outcast horror in the vein of Carrie
or May. (It’s got the first-name title down, anyway.) Others,
you’ll think it’s just an excuse to get a girl acting slutty in a red dress
while gore happens around her. There’s nothing particularly wrong with either.
The casualty of the confusion is character definition. I’m all right with
horror that doesn’t include much in the way of character progression, but
everybody’s got to stick to their definitions. Are you the monster? Are you the
pawn? Because of the way that Tamara shifts from sympathetic loser to cold,
undead bitch all the other characters are thrown out of whack, and lose their

cautionary tales go, the movie’s got one thing nailed: escalation. If you suck
your thumb, you don’t just get a spanking; you get your whole fucking hand
chopped off. That’s the way it works in good Grimm stories, and that’s how it
is here. Characters who were only peripherally connected to Tamara’s death find
themselves facing punishments far in excess of their crimes, and it’s a
wonderfully sinister moral.

"That’s Aunt Edith. She liked to tie damsels to railroad tracks."

The kills
and gore are great, from self-dismemberment, to beer bottle chewing, to puking
up guts, and they prey on a number of fears not normally associated with the
victims in a horror flick, such as homophobia and the disorders behind bulimia.
When the third act shifts focus from vengeance to something less compelling,
the audience goodwill built up from all the nastiness kinda trickles away, but
a solid concept and decent acting from the leads make this a palatable slice of

Respect the nerdy,

Their maladjustments summon

Danger on us all. Home Massacre

STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $26.98
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes
Alternate opening/ending
Cast interviews

The Nutshell

sex-starved teenagers head out into a campground in a motor home. There’s a
killer on the loose in the woods. This has to be turned in by Monday for full

They bought them.

The Lowdown

This is
not for you.

practical effects, direction, writing, acting are hobbyist level. There’s no
consistency. There’s no logic. There’s even less humor. I’m sure that Motor
Home Massacre
was a learning experience for the direction, but it is
not something intended for an audience. This isn’t even apprentice-level work;
it’s the kind of stuff you might see from a hopeful trying to attract a mentor.

In short,
it’s a hell of a lot of fun if you don’t watch it by yourself.

What skill! What talent!

My punctuation is off.

What skill? What talent?

STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $26.98
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes

The Nutshell

It used
to be nuclear radiation that caused animals to grow large and rampage through
the civilized world. Now, it’s genetic engineering. I predict that within the
next decade we’ll have a spate of horror movies featuring monstrous animals
grown large by means of stem cell research. There will be fetuses dangling off
their limbs, too.

ones are mutant wasps, brung low by genetic engineering and hell-bent on
ventilating a few humans.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the beef.

The Lowdown

It’s an
age old story: man tinkers with things he was not meant to wot of, and then
those things sting him to death. Here’s a surprising twist: this time it’s not
tools of war which bring about the downfall of their own creators, but
pesticides! That’s right: ecological horror at its finest. The lesson you ought
to learn here is not to spray your crops, because you will, in a single
generation, breed unstoppable killing machines who are immune to all varieties
of chemical deterrent.

subtext is the best thing ever. It’s like getting a bouquet from an admirer who
thinks he’s a secret, and doesn’t enclose a card. You can’t help but feel
gently superior, and damn that’s a good feeling.

"Astounding! That horse looks almost as if it is frolicking on the green!"

follows in the wake of Swarmed‘s brilliant argument for
nature is a by-the-numbers thriller. It’s not as pointless as BTK
, nor as sophomoric as Motor Home Massacre. It’s exactly
what you expect to find on the SciFi channel on a Sunday afternoon. Competent,
lifeless, with the absolute bare minimum of effort given by all those involved.
Especially the FX artists.

Roses are red and

Violets are blue. I bet you

Can’t guess who I am.

The Packages

These are
all screeners. No bonuses. They enter the ring completely naked. Each has bonus
features listed, but the discs that I received contained only the copious
numbers of trailers attached before the feature. I’d love to tell you all about
the creator commentaries, the gore effect workshops, the invasive interviews
with young hotties, but, alas…

they’re only $(20 / 3). Curiosity comes cheap.

BTK Killer: 3 out of 10

Tamara: 5.3 out of 10

Motor Home Massacre: 1 out of 10

Swarmed: 4.5 out of 10