SPINE cover
1 and a half stars   
"The blood flows deeper and deeper and deeper!"

directed by: John Howard and Justin Simmonds
R. Eric Huxley, Janus Blythe, Lise Romanoff, Antoine Herzog, Abby Sved, Marie Dowling, James Simonds, Bill Eberwein, Carl Elliot, Larry Nielson, Brenda Brandon, Donna Sayles, Kathy Rose, Dan Watson, Terry Simonds

choice dialogue:

"He's obviously pissed off with someone called Linda!"

- the police force's finest get the grey matter working.

slash with panache?

[review by J Kerswell]

Have you ever wanted to see a slasher movie where the man from The Joy of Sex ties up nurses and kills them? No, I thought not, but if you ever did you should have therapy – and anyone seeing this will definitely need a trip to the couch.

Of course, it's not the man from The Joy of Sex, but it sure looks like him. Resplendent with bad comb-over, pink shirt and mirrored sun glasses – which hide an empty eye socket that looks like a puckered asshole. Not to mention he speaks like Emo Philips. Yes, this one is one smooth operator. Shame he gets his kicks by tying up nurses and slashing them up so badly that he exposes their spine (hence the not so subtle title).

Perhaps taking its cue from the giallo, SPINE flips between not very inspired stalk and slash scenes and even less inspired police procedural bullshit. The film is semi-pro, in-so-much as it is shot on video, but the director(s) at least know what they are doing – or, to be more exact, they are copying from films that do, albeit with no great success. Sadly, the budget doesn't stretch to hiring actors of any calibre, so they range between the barely competent and the downright inept. The police chief is awe inspiringly unimpressive, and it looks like they had to goad him with a cattle prod to get his lines out. The only clues the police have is that the killer writes the name Linda in blood at the crime scene. The chief muses, “He's obviously pissed off with some called Linda”. With those kind of detective skills you can see why he's in charge of the force.

The film centres on a nurse called Carrie (Janus Blythe), who goes to bed in full make up – you would have thought that a nurse would know better. After receiving a call from a woman she once met in bar in Kansas named Leah (Lise Romanoff), Carrie agrees to put her up – as you do. Leah – who has hair like a mudslide caught in a cascade by a litre of hard rock hairspray – comes to stay in her borrowed LA pad. Carrie finds out that a nurse she works with at the medical centre has been slashed to death. Then, in a very cut price recreation of scenes from HALLOWEEN II (1981) she barely escapes with her life when she stumbles across another nurse having her throat cut by the killer. Perhaps no surprise, but to the characters, the nutjob in the beard turns up at the house intent on punishing 'Linda' one more time ...

Not bad enough to be truly enjoyable, and nowhere near good enough to satisfy as a proper thriller, SPINE is really a whole load of nothing. Sleazy and fairly misogynistic it may be, but it fails to even really offend. The Momma-obsessed killer pours himself a glass of fine wine when he breaks into their house, and is is so fey that it's hard to believe him being much of a threat to anyone. He even keeps telling the women, “You're my friend!”. The only time it has any resonance is the gruesome scene of him covered in splashes of blood as he kills yet another nurse.

The film even has the half-assed audacity to try the it-was-all-a-dream cliché to little effect. SPINE may be rare as hen's teeth, but there's little real cause to hunt it out. Not even a scene where one trussed up woman tries to dial 911 with her nose is enough to generate any worthwhile cheese.


BODYCOUNT 4   bodycount!   female:3 / male:1

       1) Female stabbed
       2) Female stabbed
       3) Female stabbed
       4) Male shot dead