4 Prank Endings in Horror

Beware! Here be spoilers!

There are plenty of twists in horror films, some are good, some are awful. Then, there are some that feel like the filmmakers pulled back the curtain and yelled “Gotcha!”. Unlike most twists in horror, which are used to increase the terror, these prank endings reveal that there was never any horror to begin with. It’s the movie equivalent of the end of every Scooby Doo episode ever. If there was ever a time to take a look at these wacky film conclusions, it’s April Fool’s Day. Let’s get started!

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April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day is the most obvious choice on this list. This 1986 slasher is part of a whole batch of holiday themed horror films of the 80s. This weird movie follows a group of bonehead college students that take a trip to their friend Muffy’s home over the weekend of April Fool’s. The group soon realizes that Muffy’s name isn’t the only odd thing about her. She seems obsessed with pranks. It starts innocently enough, but gradually her pranks become more and more sinister. Then people begin turning up dead. The last couple survivors soon discover that Muffy isn’t the killer, her evil, psycho twin Buffy is. The final girl is pursued by a knife crazy Buffy. She runs into a room, fleeing for her life.

There she discovers the whole group alive and well. What the hell happened? It turns out that there never was a Buffy and no one was ever killed. Muffy set the whole thing up as one gigantic, elaborate joke. This ending pissed many viewers off, but no one can deny that it’s clever. If you haven’t seen this underrated slasher, be sure to check it out.

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The Village

It wouldn’t be an M. Night Shyamalan film without a twist, right? Well The Village has one hell of a twist. The Village begins by introducing the audience to a village of what seems to be 19th century settlers, who live in fear of the monsters in the forest. The villagers are taught that they’ll remain safe, as long as they follow a certain set of rules and never venture into the woods.

When blind protagonist, Ivy wishes to journey through the forest to retrieve medicine for her dying love, it is revealed to the viewers that the monsters are actually the village elders in costumes. They perpetuate the legends, in order to exert control and dissuade people from leaving.  Ivy is permitted to enter the forest, where she encounters the violent, mentally disabled Noah who is dressed as a monster. In her attempt to get away, she ends up causing his death. Believing she has successfully defeated one of the monsters, she is able to reach town.

Here’s where the real twist kicks in. It is revealed that it is present day, rather than the past. The elders were just a group of individuals who experienced so much trauma in their lives that they retreated to the woods in order to live a life separate from the dangerous outside world. Due to the fact that Ivy can’t see, her interpretation of events, allows the elders to continue their lies. If you want to see a beautiful romance, a strong protagonist, and a crazy twist then you should give this movie a chance.

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Baghead

This charming mumblegore favorite revolves around a group of struggling filmmakers that retreat to a remote cabin to come up with a film script. Unfortunately, coming up with a solid film idea is more difficult than they thought. Then bubbly blonde Michelle spots a creepy figure wearing a paper bag over his head. She believes that it was all a dream, and pitches her idea to the group. They love it and quickly get to work. Then Michelle has another encounter with the bagheaded figure.

Accusations fly as Matt, Michelle, Chad, and Catherine debate over the identity and the existence of the Baghead. A couple pranks/betrayals later, Matt and Chad spot the Baghead and go to check out the situation. They realize that the situation has become dire.  The next day they attempt to flee on foot. The Baghead kills Matt, and the other three manage to run to the highway. All the chaos results in Chad being plowed down by a car.

As he recovers in the hospital, it is revealed that Matt is actually fine. He and his friend had arranged the whole thing, in order to create a movie. Chad is rightfully pissed, but after some thought, he agrees that it’ll make a great film. Baghead says a lot about the nature of the film business, and the relationships dynamics that exist within friend groups.

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Mark of the Vampire

Have you ever wished that Tod Browning’s Dracula was a bit more of a mess? Well then, Mark of the Vampire is the film for you. Browning’s 1935 follow-up to Dracula was intended to be a sort of remake of London After Midnight. The plot follows the investigation into the death of a rich nobleman. His death has been attributed to a pair of vampires. The vampires are an undead father and daughter, with the father vampire being played by Bela Lugosi.

Unfortunately for Browning, the film was too ahead of its time. Throughout the film, Lugosi sometimes sports a bullet wound in the head. This was because he had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that resulted in a murder/suicide. Due to the uproar surrounding Freaks, MGM felt the audience would find this idea too shocking, and cut 30 minutes from the movie. The result was a major plot hole.

However, that little slip up turned out to be irrelevant, because at the end of the film it is revealed that the vampires were actors hired in order to help solve the mystery. Why? Well it’s a bit illogical, but that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyability of the film. It is moody, quirky, and satirical all at the same time. Just don’t go in expecting a typical vampire movie.

There you have it folks, four films with joke endings. If you’re thinking of playing some April Fool’s pranks, maybe these slices of cinema will give you some inspiration. If not there’s always rubber spiders, fake fingers, and ketchup blood.

 

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31- Blood, Guts, and Clowns

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Rob Zombie is back in a big way with 31. 31 is RZ’s first crowd funded film. It has long been a point of speculation and controversy. With the film hitting the public on September 16th, I decided to catch a special sneak preview screening. On September 1st, I hunkered down in the theater amongst other local goths and ghouls. Over the course of the film’s one hour and forty two minute duration, I experienced a non stop ride full of all Zombie’s tricks and treats.

31 follows a group of traveling carnies who migrate from town to town to perform their show and possibly engage in some prostitution. The band of shady characters enjoy vulgar jokes, free love, and the open road. Life is good until they encounter some odd looking scarecrows placed in the middle of the road on Halloween night. When they get out to move the creepy forms, they’re ambushed.

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They awaken to see Malcolm McDowell and two of his female cohorts (Judy Geeson and Jane Carr) who look like they’ve stepped straight out of a Rococo painting, powdered wigs and all. McDowell informs them that they’re going to play a game. The group will be given the duration of the night to fight off a whole variety of attackers.

The purpose of this whole game is for McDowell and his lady friends to place bets on who will survive. Over the course of the night the likeable group of rednecks are pitted against all sort of psychopaths, including a Nazi dwarf (Pancho Moler), a pair of sex crazed clown brothers (David Ury and Lew Temple), and the aptly named Sex-Head (Elizabeth Daily) and Death-Head (Torsten Voges). The biggest and baddest of the group is Doom-Head, played by Richard Brake. Doom-Head comes off as a combination of a long rambling Western villain with the the style of Count Orlok. Brake’s performance is chilling, and I wish his character had been given more screen time.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Rob Zombie film without his muse/wife Sheri Moon Zombie front and center. In 31, Moon plays Charly, the smoking hot sassy final girl of the film. She is basically the “nice” version of Baby. While I enjoyed Moon’s more vulnerable side in Lords of Salem, I’d say she’s more suited to this type of role.

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While Moon gives a kick ass performance, the standout in the group of carnies is Venus played by Meg Foster. Foster brings dimension to what could’ve easily been a one note character. She’s the oldest of the gang, and she seems like she’s seen some shit in her day. While she’s tough as balls, she cares for her friends, and even strangers. When the group finds a bloodied girl tied to a mattress, it’s Venus who instantly wants to help her. She suffers pushback from her friends, but stands her ground. In a a film full of wacky antagonists, Foster is able to make her role as a plain old good guy stand out.

In terms of cinematography, there’s a lot to look at. I’ve always had a deep admiration for RZ’s use of color. His preferred palette of vivid circus style lighting has never been more appropriate. The building the film takes place in appears to be some sort of wearhouse. Most would’ve opted for a darker, grungier look, but but Zombie’s approach adds an extra layer of visual intrigue without losing the sickly textures the space possesses.

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If there’s one thing I don’t like about the film is how much the camera shakes. There’s a real lack of restraint when it comes to camera movement. I imagine RZ wanted the film to feel like a roller coaster, but the thing is, no one would want to be on an hour and a half coaster ride. There were times where I was starting to feel dizzy and nauseous. I’m a fan of found footage films too, so it’s not like I have a low tolerance for this sort of thing. It’s just that sometimes what the camera was doing overshadowed the story.

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I wouldn’t call 31 Rob Zombie’s best film. I’d say Zombie is consistently good so determining his “best”, all boils down to opinion. However, 31 is the one that best represents him as a director. I have a friend who declared 31 the “Zombiest of Rob Zombie films”. In 31, his love of the 70s, white trash characters, carnival-esque lighting, and Halloween blend seamlessly creating a standout slasher extravaganza.

I have to agree with others, his crowd funding stunt comes off as a little bizarre. The man isn’t hurting for money, so it seems like he should be using the finances from his own bank account, if he doesn’t want to go the studio route. However, I don’t really have a problem with him crowd funding as long as investors are being offered incentives like autographs, memorabilia, etc . At the end of the day, an individual has the right to spend their money as they please. Plus, I don’t think backers will be disappointed with the results. Those who’ve never liked RZ, probably won’t be converted by 31. On the other hand, Zombie’s large fan base and enthusiasts of extreme horror will be jumping for joy.

The Hoarder- DVD Review

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Originally, I went to the Redbox to pick up The Boy and Deadpool. Unfortunately, neither were available, which is how I ended up with The Hoarder. I figured a slasher film with Mischa Barton attached couldn’t be too bad, right? After all, Barton has been in some decent horror flicks such as I Will Follow You Into the Dark  and Walled In. Well I was wrong, way wrong. The Hoarder isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it certainly isn’t good.The main problem plaguing the film, is that it’s lazy. The script lacks even a morsel of originality. The end result is a boring movie destined for the bottom of the bargain bin at Walmart.

The Hoarder follows Mischa Barton as a suspicious woman who goes with her best friend to snoop through her fiancé’s storage unit. Instead of finding evidence of his infidelity, they stumble upon a gory secret that has been confined inside the building. Barton’s friend is soon captured by something she can’t even begin to comprehend. She bands together with a diverse group of storage renters to survive the night.

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I’m giving a brief overview of the plot rather than all of the details, because frankly the details aren’t very interesting. Every character in the film is played as a trope rather than an actual person. First there’s Barton as the protagonist who comes off as bland and whiney. Next, there’s the cop who has a penchant for aiming his gun at innocent people for no discernible reason. Then there’s the uppity city slickers who spend way too much time bickering over their marital issues. Rounding out the group is the hippy chick who acts like a Whole Foods shopper, but is secretly a hardcore drug abuser. Now these characters might work in a campier film, but in a serious horror movie like The Hoarder, they’re just annoying.

I think most of the actors are doing the best they can. Although, Barton seems like she’s phoning it in. I have to put the blame on the shoulders of the director, Matt Winn, and the screenwriters. In addition to being annoying, the characters make some of the worst decisions a character in a horror film can make. They routinely split up for absurd reasons like they need to go retrieve something from their unit, or they need a Methadone fix. They also spend an insane amount of time arguing over irrelevant matters like lifestyle choices and yearly incomes. I mean, hello! Your life is on the line, maybe these discussions can wait?

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The worst moment of the film comes towards the end, when the killer is revealed to be… some random slob who works at the storage unit facility. Imagine discovering Louis C.K. was the Zodiac, and I think you’ll understand what this ending is like. His motivation? As far as I can tell he just wanted to keep people a pets. The Collector, and its lesser sequel, The Collection involve this same concept, but with far superior execution.

As for the cinematography, it’s passable but it’s nothing noteworthy. A few times I could tell that Winn attempted to pull off some interesting camera techniques, but it just wasn’t enough to save this sinking ship. A few times the cinematography confused me. I couldn’t always tell where things were in relation to each other. These moments were few and far between, and they really didn’t make the film any worse. I just have to make the observation that as a director/editor, I would’ve looked at the sequence and realized that things didn’t always flow well. Then maybe I would make some alterations, before releasing it for mass consumption.

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Perhaps I’m being too harsh on The Hoarder. Like I said it isn’t the worst film, not even close. However, I’d rather have awful then dull. I equate dull with forgettable, and forgettable is unforgivable. To me, forgettable means the movie failed to take chances, instead choosing to put out the same old, repetitive drivel. Do yourself a favor, and skip this one. You’re not missing anything.