[review by JA Kerswell]
|A killer conductor stamps more than tickets in FINGERPRINTS.|
A slight, but entertaining amalgamation of teen slasher and ghost story. Perhaps FINGERPRINTS was overlooked because it doesn’t fully commit to either genre, but benefits from a strong lead performance by Leah Pipes; a creepy killer in a train conductor’s uniform with a black hole for a face and a scenery-chewing showdown at an abandoned rail station.
Melanie (Leah Pipes) has just left rehab after successfully completing her detox following her boyfriend dying from snorting heroin. She has moved to a new town called Emerald with her older sister Crystal (Kristin Cavallari) and her father and mother. Whilst Crystal and her father are supportive, her mother is a Grade-A bitch to Melanie and constantly suspects she is back on drugs.
Melanie tries to stay sober but is left questioning both her sobriety and sanity when she keeps seeing a mysterious little girl on the train tracks. Crystal regals her with the legend that a school bus of children was hit by a train after the crossing lights failed in 1957 (which we see recreated at the beginning of the movie). The conductor - Andrew Pearl (Ben Hall) - supposedly hung himself from the guilt. Crystal tells her that legend has it that if you leave your car in neutral on the train tracks the ghost of the children will push you to safety. This happens to their amazement, and Melanie again sees the ghostly little girl.
|FINGERPRINTS features some great 80s style gore and slasher hijinks. It's just a shame there's not more of it.|
Trying to fit into her new school is tricky when she is betrayed by her school counsellor Mr (Lou Diamond Philips), after he becomes concerned about her visions and tells her parents - fearing she has had a relapse. She is also bullied by a bitchy cheerleader Caroline (Ashley Wyatt) - leading Melanie to deadpan: “New town. Same bitches.” She is also harassed by Caroline’s jerk of a boyfriend Mitch (Andrew Lawrence) - who tries to rape her after she goes to explore the derelict train station and barely escapes from someone dressed as a train conductor. Her only comfort is a burgeoning romance with classmate Penn (Josh Henderson). Convinced that there is a mystery to unravel, she tries to talk to the daughter of Andrew Pearl (Sally Kirkland) - who tells her she is fed up with kids taunting her about her little sister (who supposedly died in the bus crash back in ’57).
Meanwhile, teenagers are starting to disappear and are seemingly victims of the killer train conductor. Has Andrew Pearl come back from the dead or is there a new killer shedding blood on the tracks?
FINGERPRINTS has a decent central mystery (which I won’t spoil here), but perhaps spends more time than necessary on the supernatural angle and not enough time on the slasher. That’s a shame, because when the film kicks into slasher movie mode it works really well, with a likeable lead, creepy killer and one hell of a climactic showdown. The ghost angle works fairly well, but ghost children kinda of wore out their welcome a good few years earlier.
|Sisters Crystal (Kristin Cavallari) and Melanie (Leah Pipes) face off against the killer conductor!|
Leah Pipes (who replaced Brittany Snow in the lead role) carries the movie. Her character is sassy, believable and likeable. It isn’t surprising she continued to have a career - and went on to appear in SORORITY ROW (2009) - the remake of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1983) - as well as the recent college slasher EXPLOITED (2022). Josh Henderson went on to appear in the dreadful 2008 redux of APRIL FOOLS DAY (1986). In a welcome return to the subgenre, Sally Kirkland, of course, was in track and field slasher FATAL GAMES (1984). A couple of other familiar faces appear with Lou Diamond Philips and the late Geoffrey Lewis - who has been in many genre films including 10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) and NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984).
FINGERPRINTS was directed by comedian Harry Basil, who thankfully keeps the tone largely straight with this film. It was filmed in April and May 2006 in Oklahoma. Its promotional artwork only promotes the supernatural aspect of the film, which is perhaps why it has largely been overlooked by slasher fans. Brothers Brian and Jason Cleveland penned the screenplay and produced the film. They also penned another horror film called SOUL’S MIDNIGHT (2006), also helmed by Basil.
female: 3 / male: 4
1) Male ran through with a spike
2) Female has spike pushed through her neck
3) Male slashed to death with straight razor
4) Male found hung
5) Female strangled
6) Male run through with a spike
7) Female run over by a train
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