Thursday, February 10, 2011

Halloween Havoc: HAUNTEDWEEN (1991)

One of the great things about being a Video Junkie is meeting folks who share your addiction.  Just when you think you have seen it all, someone will pop out of an alleyway and offer you a new fix.  Thanks to VJ fave Jon Stone, that is exactly how I entered the world of HAUNTEDWEEN (1991).  I’d never even heard of the dang flick until last fall where Mr. Stone told us about it being part of his Halloween viewings.  Naturally, anything that is can be described as “obscure slasher” is a must and I wasn’t disappointed.  And, yeah, I’m reviewing a Halloween themed flick in February.  Deal with it.

HAUNTEDWEEN opens in 1970 on Halloween night with teen Eddie Burber collecting entrance fees at a haunted house in his home.  Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, little Eddie sneaks into the house and scares a young girl, who accidentally gets impaled on a stick.  Eddie does the sensible thing and runs for help.  Ha, just kidding.  He grabs a nearby machete and chops her head off (???) before running out into the field.  His mom finds him and her plan is to split from the scene with Eddie before the authorities arrive.  Well, at least I know where he got his problem solving skills.



Cut to 20 years later and the brothers at Sigma Phi are in a bind.  They need to pay their national dues and opt to hold a party to raise funds.  It barely works, but fate deals them a nasty hand.  Seems Mrs. Burber died recently and Eddie (now BIG Eddie) decided the best course of action is to throw her body in the van and head for the ol’ homestead. The frat guys decide the Burber house is the best place to hold a haunted house to raise more cash and a little hell (no joke, Eddie was kind enough to show up and give them the key).  So they do a '80s house repair music montage before the haunted house is ready to roll.  Eddie has done his own work too, creating a “kill room” (he paints that term on the wall) where he will off frat brothers to the amusement/bloodlust of unsuspecting patrons who think it is all fake.  Why so angry, Eddie?

Kid killer kills girl on Halloween night and returns to his hometown 20 years later to start the killing anew?  Damn, that sounds so familiar.  Oh, I know!  John Carpenter totally ripped HAUNTEDWEEN off.  He saw it on video in the '90s and jumped in his time machine that all Hollywood people have to go back to the late '70s and try to make us think he did it first.  But I’m on to you, Mr. Carpenter.  Besides, Michael Myers is no Eddie Burber. Eddie can lift a guy up with one hand and impale him with a knife.  Oh, ripped that move off too, eh, Mr. Carpenter?

Seriously, HAUNTEDWEEN is one of the plethora of low rent slashers that flooded the market after HALLOWEEN (1978).  This one just came a decade or so late.  One-and-done director Doug Robertson appropriately follows the Carpenter model, but tends to bog things down with his own additions like a lame love triangle and a keg party completely lacking in fun.  The murders are plentiful in the film’s last 20 minutes and you have to love that Eddie had the good sense to adorn his “kill room” with posters and standees from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4, GRAVEYARD SHIFT II, PUMPKINHEAD and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2.  What sets this one apart is the location filming in Kentucky (John Carpenter’s home state). One need not look any further than the college cut up Hanks (Brad Hanks) to get a taste of that lovely Ken-tuhhh-keee accent. Just hearing him talk made my throat dry (“I got him.  I cooked him like one of mama’s home cooked biscuits. Son of a bitch!”).  I also love the end where Eddie’s van gets blown up in a HUGE fireball (by a shotgun blast to the backdoor) and then the final shot is of it revving up again and driving off in flames.  The end credits promised HAUNTEDWEEN II, but we never got it.  I imagine a sequel 20 years later with Hanks, older yet wiser and raspier, warning off a group of new college punks about the evil Eddie.  Of course, no one will listen and he once again has to save the day.  I will not rest until I see more Hanks!

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