The Blood Stream mines the Internet for horror gold so you don’t have to, delivering streamable horror titles never before featured on Dread Central. Occasionally I’ll dredge up something good, maybe even great. To find those gems, I’ll have to sift through a lot of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy!
This week my choice came down to two movies directed by a prolific no-budget auteur named Dennis Devine: Don’t Look in the Cellar and Alice in Murderland. (Fun fact: In 2000 Devine directed a movie called Bloodstream. Full circle!) Knowing both movies would likely be nigh unwatchable, I decided to choose whichever was shorter. As a result, I won’t be looking in the cellar this week. At 87 minutes it’s a full minute longer than Alice and who has time for that?
The story, insofar as it’s coherent, is this: A seven-woman sorority decides to throw a party to celebrate the 21st birthday of fair-haired sister Alice. Do they throw this party at the sorority house? A local bar? Showbiz Pizza? No, they do not. They choose a house known as “the old Glass place”, which is described as a rundown mansion situated next to a garbage dump. (We never actually see the exterior of the building, just an alley and a metal door as characters enter and exit.) The Glass place also just so happens to be where Alice’s mother was brutally murdered exactly 20 years ago to the day. These girls know how to make a birthday special.
For no goddamn reason whatsoever, they decide it will be an Alice in Wonderland theme party. Because 150-year-old children’s books are all the rage with college kids. Furthermore, they decide, there will be no boys allowed and no cellphones. No cellphones! What, no mandatory “split up to check out strange noises” rule?
As you’ve no doubt surmised, this is an awful movie even by amateur standards. It suffers from choppy editing, inconsistent ambient noise from shot to shot and atrocious camera work. Most shots appear to be autofocused on whatever’s in the foreground. The back of a listener’s head will often be in perfect focus while the speaking character in the center of the scene is fuzzy.
Most of the girls are high school theatre caliber actors, with Alice unfortunately the dullest of the bunch. (There are three men in the movie too, all of whom are just as bad.) However, while I wouldn’t call her quite a professional, I genuinely enjoyed Donna, the obligatory ditz. She alone is consistently likable and amusing. Her endearing innocence and unforced delivery allow for some cute, funny lines. (“I made a pun! I said blow chunks…and it’s a junkyard!”)
The whole movie takes place in approximately two locations: an improbable ranch-style sorority house and the old Glass place itself, which in real life is probably a rental studio space. At least that’s the most likely explanation for the black box theater half the scenes take place in. (Hey, free lighting!) I have no idea why there’s a basement full of sewing machines. They certainly have nothing to do with the narrative.
I have a special affinity for terrible independent horror movies made on shoestring budgets. I admire films whose plots are determined by what kinds of props and sets are available for free. These movies are built on the belief that if you put in enough energy and love, even a bad horror movie can sell. All it takes is a little gore, a little humor and, ideally, the promise of a little T&A.
I was involved in just such an endeavor many years ago. I remember tearing a hole in a pair of jeans and applying corn syrup and provolone cheese to my kneecap to simulate a gunshot wound. It was a lot of fun.
The movie I was in was just as dreadful as this one (and I was among the worst parts). But we all worked really hard and we had a blast. Making shlocky movies to turn a buck is a fine goal, even if the end product is all but devoid of artistic merit. Though I’ve never understood the term “so bad it’s good”, I imagine there are enough masochists out there to make this thing profitable. After all, Devine has made five movies since. So good for him.
But, as a sophisticated consumer of entertainment, Alice in Murderland is not good for you. It’s a technical disaster. It’s not scary. It’s not sexy. It’s a little gory and a little funny, but even at 86 minutes it’s way too long.
Instead, read Lewis Carroll’s original novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then watch Scream for the hundredth time.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Subscribe to the Dread Central YouTube Channel!
Stream terror in the comments section below!