Monday, May 18, 2009

The Hazing (USA, 2004)

Trailer. The Hazing, re-titled Dead Scared for its European release, came out the same year as director Rolfe Kanefsky's less successful direct-to-DVD zombie comedy Corpses and has gotten about the same amount of genre attention. A shame, really, for The Hazing is one darn-tooting fun film and really deserves a broader audience than it has had to date, for it succeeds where many a similar film has failed: To successfully tread the fine line between suspense and fun.
Someone on IMDB describes the flick as "Evil Dead meets Scream", and the description is not all that far off, although to compare The Hazing to Scream does Kanefsky's film disservice, for his film is far less a mainstream product than the Wes Craven film. But, like Scream, The Hazing does go intentionally for horror-based laughs and also displays a postmodern knowledge of the horror genre; unlike Scream, however, The Hazing has true low budget balls and, like the true films of the Golden Age of Grime, is both willing to show tits and takes some scenes to the extreme (the Chinese Ghost Story (1987/trailer) inspired tongue scene, for example, and the mass murder in the hospital).
The basic script is less plagiarized from two "classics" of the 80s – namely, Evil Dead (1981/trailer) and Hell Night (1981) – than liberally used as an obvious homage, much like many a scene in Slither (2006/trailer), another fine homage to the Golden Age of Grindhouse. (Indeed, not only is Evil Dead referred to at one point in the movie, but as part of the hazing they even have to obtain a Bruce Campbell photo; Kanefsky definitely wanted his source known.)
As in Hell Night, a group of wanna-be pledges for Sigma Si and Delta Pi have to spend Halloween night in a deserted haunted house; and, as in Evil Dead, an ancient book of spells causes the possession and/or deaths of various protagonists as they fight to survive. But unlike the two named films from 1981, The Hazing is high on the intentional laughs. Opening with an explanation of the history of the evil book, The Hazing moves on to a scene of a sexpot student named Jill (Brooke Burke, who does don a cute harem outfit but never shows as much as she does in the picture to the left) purring to Professor Kapps (Brad Dourif, fine as always) about all that she would do to get a good grade. Obviously offended by this offer of sex for grades, Kapps, the current owner of the book, knocks her dead so as to use her to realize a spell in the book.
Meanwhile, across town, the five students being hazed are sent out in full costume – Delia (Nectar Rose) in a hilarious but sexy bunny outfit, Marsha Glazer (Tiffany Shepis) is a silver skintight sci-fi jumpsuit, the guys in something or other but in no way half as memorably hot – on a scavenger hunt to gather a variety of objects, including Kapps' book. Unluckily, the thieving of the book goes wrong and they sorta accidentally kill the professor, fleeing the scene of the crime (and the dead bodies they found in his cellar). Later, when all are gathered at the house, the demonized spirit of Kapps manages to get the door to hell opened and takes possession of Doug (Philip Andrew). (A minor flaw in the story is that considering the power he obviously has – what, with his ability to lengthen tongues and turn people into manikins – he could more or less simply have gotten rid of everyone with a snap of the fingers; but had he done so, of course, there would have been no story left to film.) The rest of the film features a rising body count as the the wanna-be survivors attempt to defeat the body-hopping demon and survive the night. And whatdyaknow: some of them actually do so!
Plus points of The Hazing, besides the hot chicks – two of which actually show mammary glands, a rare sight in the horror films of today – include its quick pace, some better than average acting (if Tiffany Shepis's acting continues to improve as it is, she’s gonna have a long career ahead of her), likable characters with real personality, some surprisingly topnotch production values for such a low budget flick, and intentional humor that works. The hospital scene is great, as is the previously mentioned scene of tongue-fun, and the ax in the head was an unexpected surprise...
The Hazing delivers 100% pure natural boobage (perhaps Brooke Burke is an exception, but since she remains covered, she doesn’t count) and 100% low budget trash film fun, and is as satisfying as some of the best of the generation of films it pays homage to. So, crack that beer open, light up that spliff and watch it – now! And for those of you that think scream queen Tiffany Shepis is hot, wait until you see that Nectar Rose in her bunny outfit.

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