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Four Horror Films from Troma

Blood Junkie (September 25/11)

Reportedly shot on a budget of $7,000, Blood Junkie follows circa 1980s teenager Rachel (Emily Treolo) as she and a friend (Sarah Luther's Laura) agree to go camping with a pair of sketchy guys (Mike Johnson's Teddy and Nick Sommer's Craig) - with problems ensuing as the four characters, in addition to Rachel's little brother, find themselves pursued by the homicidal title character. It's clear right from the get-go that filmmaker Drew Rosas is looking to emulate the feel and tone of a typical 1980s horror flick, as Blood Junkie boasts many of the attributes that one has come to associate with the schlockier genre efforts of that decade - including a synth score and questionable editing choices. And while the novelty of Rosas' retro execution is intriguing for a little while, there inevitably does reach a point at which the viewer begins to crave a more substantive vibe - as the writer/director, in an effort at padding out the running time, offers up a number of almost aggressively pointless sequences that ultimately prove oppressive (eg there's a campfire scene late in the picture that just seems to go on forever). The less-than-engrossing atmosphere is compounded by Rosas' ongoing reliance on disastrously unfunny instances of comedy, with the most obvious example of this a slow-motion sequence in which Teddy and Craig homoerotically celebrate their impending trip with Rachel and Laura. The increasingly plotless vibe ensures that by the time the horror-oriented stuff finally kicks in at around the one-hour mark, the viewer has long-since lost the ability to care about the fates of any of these people - which effectively confirms Blood Junkie's place as a well-intentioned yet entirely underwhelming low-budget effort.

out of

Blood Oath (October 2/11)

A typically underwhelming low-budget horror effort, Blood Oath follows four friends (Katie Vaughan's Beverly, Roger Horn's Charlie, James Reynolds's Kevin, and Natalie Hart's Lisa) as they embark on a weekend camping trip in the middle of a desolate forest - with trouble (and bloodshed) ensuing as the quartet find themselves pursued by a psychotic maniac. It's clear right from the get-go that Blood Oath suffers from a pervasive lack of production values that effectively (and instantly) establishes an atmosphere of almost distracting amateurishness, with the less-than-competent nature of the various performances perpetuating the movie's decidedly rough-around-the-edges vibe . There's little doubt, however, that the film generally manages to stave off complete worthlessness due mostly to David Buchert's stylish directorial choices and the inclusion of a few decent kill sequences, with scripter David Meier Smith's decision to introduce periphery characters for the sole purpose of knocking them off certainly going a long way towards keeping things (partially) interesting. The passable vibe persists right up until around the halfway mark, after which point the film hits something of a lull as it builds towards the first death among the central foursome - with the tedious, Texas Chain Saw Massacre-inspired third act that follows ensuring that the film ultimately peters out to a fairly regrettable degree. And although one could certainly do worse as far as movies of this ilk go (see below), Blood Oath is simply not entertaining enough nor gruesome enough to warrant anything resembling an enthusiastic response.

out of

Eyes of the Chameleon (October 5/11)

Set in Las Vegas, Eyes of the Chameleon follows struggling thirtysomething Sara (Ann Teal) as she attempts to balance her thankless waitressing job with a relationship that's clearly going nowhere. Sara's life takes a turn for the strange after she and a friend impulsively decide to visit a psychic, with the encounter, which effectively wreaks havoc on Sara's already-tenuous mental state, coinciding with the arrival of a vicious serial killer who just happens to be targeting all of her friends and coworkers. It's a workable premise that's employed to consistently middling and frequently unwatchable effect by filmmaker Ron Atkins, as the director, working from Teal's screenplay, has infused the proceedings with a pervasively low-rent feel that's reflected in all of its attributes - from the amateurish performances to the laughable kill sequences to the hopelessly uneventful narrative. Atkins' refusal to offer up even a single element designed to capture and sustain the viewer's interest proves disastrous, and there's little doubt that Eyes of the Chameleon only grows more and more interminable as it limps towards its less-than-shocking twist ending. The rampant incompetence on display proves that just because one can make a movie doesn't mean that one should.

no stars out of

Killer Yacht Party (October 6/11)

Killer Yacht Party follows best friends Lacy (Becky Boxer) and Jane (Maggie Marion) as they agree to attend a party on an expensive yacht, with problems eventually ensuing as it becomes clear that someone is knocking off the revelers one by one. It's immediately clear that Killer Yacht Party is, in terms of its presentation and execution, a cut above most contemporary Troma releases, as the film boasts a polished sensibility that generally belies its shoestring budget and ensures that the expectedly low-rent Troma atmosphere is, for the most part, absent. Killer Yacht Party's downfall is instead triggered by its extremely (and unreasonably) relaxed pace, as filmmaker Piotr Uzarowicz devotes much of the movie's opening hour to the various characters' uneventful exploits - which, in addition to slowly-but-surely draining the viewer's interest, triggers the film's transformation into a seriously tedious piece of work. It is, as such, not surprising to note that the viewer has completely checked out by the time the first kill sequence rolls around, and there's little doubt that Killer Yacht Party is, in the final analysis, just as much of a chore to sit through as the above-mentioned titles.

out of

About the DVDs: Troma Entertainment presents all four of the films in their proper aspect ratios, although only Killer Yacht Party receives the anamorphic treatment. Bonus features vary from disc to disc, with a commentary track generally the one constant.
© David Nusair