Review: Death Stop Holocaust (2009, Gamma Knife Films)

“FOR TWO YOUNG WOMEN, AN ISLAND PARADISE IS ABOUT TO BECOME…A NIGHTMARE OF TERROR!”

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death_stop_holocaust_poster_05

Category: Retro, Slasher
Directed by:
Justin Russell

Written by: Justin Russell
Starring: Lisa Krenisky, Jenna Fournier, E. Ray Goodwin, Beverly Kristy, James Emmet Lenahan
Music: Justin Russel, Gremlin
Cinematography: Justin Russell

As I said in my review of Dear God No!, retro styled horror films are making a comeback. Maybe these low budget filmmakers are sick of all the remakes and PG13 horror flicks and want to bring us back to a simpler, happier, and bloodier era of filmmaking. I love late 70’s-mid 80’s movies the best, if I ever get around to turning one of my half-written slasher scripts into a feature they’ll definitely be in that vein! So I get excited when I see newer directors going the old school route, and Justin Russell succeeds in making a pretty honest homage. Unlike Dear God No! and the Grindhouse family of films this isn’t an over the top caricature, he tries to make a serious movie with a good ol’ grindhouse tone.

The premise is two young female friends, Liz (Lisa Krenisky) and Taylor (Jenna Fournier), head out to Liz’s father’s summer home on an island (well, peninsula) for a little time away from the city. Unfortunately for them the locals are more interested in rape and murder than showing tourists lovely places to go site seeing. They also enjoy wearing weird animal masks, maybe they attend Furry Parties on the weekends to get some serious yiffing done. Liz’s dad (E. Ray Goodwin) comes a bigger part of the picture later on to make a really lame rescue attempt.

The acting is really the biggest downfall for this movie, the script ain’t great either. Liz’s character started to drive me mad after awhile from the all the screaming and being a giant pussy. Yeah I know it’s a horror movie, women screaming is a trademark in almost every slasher, but for some reason she started to really bug me, spending most of the movie screaming “Help Mee!!!”. Shut up and help yourself! Half the time she’s screaming for help she’s alone in her car or in her attacker’s clutches, who the fuck are you yelling for?! I initially hoped she was so feeble and annoying because we’d get some character developement and she’d transform into a boss, like any Final Girl should. I got a glimmer of hope when she kills one her attackers in a brutal fashion screaming a war cry. She then immediately drops her only weapon and goes back to being a crying mess. From that point on I was hoping for the crazy locals to disembowel her and promptly shove in guts down her throat to shut her up. I couldn’t tell if the killers were just trying to fuck with the girls like a cat does when it finds a bug, catching and releasing them repeatedly, or if they were just really bad at holding two small girls captive. Maybe they need a slasher lesson from Leslie Vernon.

Other than the acting, this movie rules! It looks like it’s straight out of the late 70’s. The cinematography is fantastic, the whole look and tone of the film is gritty as hell. There are some really great looking dream sequences. There isn’t a ton of gore, but the blood that gets spilled is sure to appease any goregeeks’s appetite. My hand’s down favorite part of the movie is the soundtrack. Between Justin Russell and a composer called Gremlin (couldn’t find any info on them unfortunately) they totally nail that classic, synth-laden slasher aesthetic. It sounds like a mix of Goblin and John Carpenter. If I make a movie like I’ve mentioned, they’re definitely getting hired for the music! These guys were working on a micro budget, a total indie production. If you watch the credits (there’s a lovely little post-credits easter egg), you’ll noticed that the same four or five people multi-task on about every crew role out there.

This movie really got that classic grindhouse feel down, I can’t get over how good it looks! It’s fantastic if you’re a hardcore slasher fan like me. If you can deal with the sub par acting and Krenisky’s nonstop screaming, then check it out.

5/10

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Thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Review: Death Stop Holocaust (2009, Gamma Knife Films)

  1. Yea I just finished watching this after reading your review. It was quite interesting and I liked parts of it. The music was pretty fucking cool, with that 80s synth sound which added a nice murky sludge to the movie like old video nasties used to have. And it’s good to see that it was a true low-budget affair that took itself seriously unlike the Tarantino/Rodriguez films where they had loads of money and tried to add an artsy post-modern take on grindhouse flicks.
    But although you pointed out that the acting was bad, I think that the annoying actress was also down to the poor script. One scene that sticks out is at the diner, where the conversation awkwardly skips from one subject to the next, and they seem to be overly concerned about the waitress’ welfare. “Are you okay?” after the lady has mearly dropped a few plates, and then actually running outside and helping her back into the diner simply because she’s had an extremely mild argument with some guy seems like an over reaction.
    I did like the masks and hold the back to basics approach in high regard though, especially as the lighting and some of the techniques were pretty well done. The muted scenes with only the music over the top were effective and there was some interesting editing there too.
    One thing that needles me about a lot of these nextploitation flicks (just made up that term I think) is that there is often no nudity. I mean, it may sound perverse, but for me that was always a stable ingredient in exploitation/B-movies, and in this day and age of PG-13 (12A in the uk) horror films it is surely something that should be added to further the backlash against the family friendly imposters of this genre.
    I dunno, anyway, it was worth being pointed out, if nothing else but for the cool music, masks and inspirationaly low-budget techniques. Gonna look for that Dear God No! one next.

    • Yeah, an actress/actor can only do some much with a bad script. I just watched Russell’s follow up to this (which I’ll post a review of tonight or tomorrow) which had a lot of the same actors and a slightly better script and the performances were better. Although the guy who played Liz’s dad is still awful.

      The whole look and tone of this movie is it’s strongest attribute, they did a great job capturing of that old school feel (as with his next film), especially the dream sequences and as you said the muted scenes.

      Thank you for pointing out the lack of nudity! There was some serious T&A in just about every slasher in the 80’s. Young kids having sex and drinking get murdered by a mysterious assailant(s) in a gory fashion is the basic formula for any slasher, sure there’s still a lot of gore in movies today but where are the boobs?! That’s an essential ingredient missing in modern horror films!

      • You’re more likely to just see loads of shirtless blokes or even their butts in slasher movies these days, with a bikini/underwear scene for the guys. I love the movie Scream, but I think that the scene when Neve Campbell says that their relationship can move to a PG-13 and then doesn’t actually show her boobs made the studios realise that they don’t need to. That may not be a precise reason or apply to every recent film, but from the mid to late 90s onwards there’s definitely been a change in consensus I feel.

  2. Will have to check this out. Thanks for the tip. The title in itself is very cool.

    If you want a modern horror that really is good, watch Martyrs (2008). Seriously great stuff.

    • I think I might’ve seen that in a horror mag somewhere. I’ll check it out! Looking it up just now lead me to some other French gore films I’ll have to watch. Thanks for the suggestion!

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