Thursday, August 25, 2011


How to feel about a straight-to-DVD slasher that ambitiously opens with a quote by 20th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche? The only way to answer that question is to first ask this: what kind of drunk are you?

Emotional? Happy? Angry? Sleepy? Because so long as you have a bottle or thirty of your favorite poison and follow my rules to take a swig any time the word ‘chain’ is uttered or an ACTUAL chain appears onscreen, you will be loopier than Tara Reid crashing a frat party.
Quick Plot: We open on the sideways Hitcher-esque killing of a teenager who is (lift glass) chained to a man and woman's separate cars. As the couple split ways to their high powered jobs, the bloody credits roll and to high school we go.

There we meet Jess (Twilight’s Nikki Reed) a smartypants who can prove her intelligence by wearing glasses and being brunette. 

That doesn’t spare her from the same text message fate as her floozier friends, all of whom receive a chain (drink) letter that they must Blackberry back to four more cell phone users...or DIE.

By CHAINS (sip)

The token jock turns his steroid filled nose at such a task, and for that, he’s naturally murdered by CHAINS (refill). So is, we later discover, his workout frenemy who ALSO spurned the CHAIN (oooh, nice and cold) letter and gets rewarded with a nice burning alive while dangling from...chains.

As you can guess, this kind of thing keeps happening. Even the nerdy gamer who dutifully shares his CHAIN (burp)-- 

letter can’t catch a break, mostly because he’s so annoying that the killer seems to just purposely burden the boy with spam spam spam (all of the CHAIN variety, meaning he CAN’T keep forwarding and therefore deserves to CHAIN). 
So who’s behind this CHAIN of events (spit it back for the bad pun). Is it Jess’ un-tech-friendly suitor played by Deadgirl’s sadist Noah Segan? Keith David’s grizzled detective? 

Jigsaw’s ex-wife’s heavily lipglossed policewoman? 

Brad Dourif as a slightly creepy cell phone hating teacher? 

Or, SPOILER ALERT, just some crazy dude war veteran who really digs chains?
Do you care? Nah, but the kills sure are neat! Chain Letter is an ugly film, one clearly milking its freedom in the DVD market by piling up the gore with quite decent skill. Along the way, we get lots of heavyhanded--and already dated--social commentary about modern society’s reliance on technology, from online dating to the ever-ubiquitous cell phones seemingly glued--or lift up, CHAINED--into the hands of every actor under 25. I suppose it’s supposed to mean something, though ultimately, the very linking of the murders with technology is oddly contradictory.

Oh but really now, just because we’re leading off with some 20th century philosophy doesn’t mean we’re supposed to THINK about this movie. Especially since we’re 50 chains in and I’m already wasted.

High Points
Chain Letter was clearly aiming to leave some form of lasting memory by violating the laws of slasher in its finale. The nice kid love interest gets smashed immediately, the good girl dies--quite brutally, by (drink) chains--the villain hunts on and the black guy (or at least, one of them) lives. Perhaps it tries too hard, but I still appreciate the effort

Low Points
So a man who despises technology decides to use it as an excuse to kill teenagers that use it but in order to kill them, they have to use it which he hates. Anybody else see some faulty logic in this motive?
Fears Abated
Did the rise of the Internet make you fear the loss of those great Microfisch research montages in cinema? Worry not, as Compass Find or Giggle or whatever the NOT Google search engine used by our heroine here gets plenty of screentime
If like me, you were occasionally haunting the young adult section of your local bookstore in the mid-90s, you might recall a certain big print novel also named Chain Letter and written by one Christopher “Not R.L. Stine” Pike. This film does not adapt that fairly decent for its type book. Nor does it take a stab (or chain--drink) at Chain Letter 2, which if memory served, added a cult and puppy slaughter to the far more PG-13 narrative of its predecessor.

Well, for a 90 minute stream on Instant Watch, one could certainly do worst than Chain Letter. It’s filled with some surprisingly creative deaths (all involving--slurp--CHAINS) and slick production values, even if the story is rubbish and plotting more ridiculous than one of those overly complicated episodes of Law & Order: SVU. So queue it up if you’re in the mood for something new, mean, not very good, or one that has a lot, a whole lot, and I mean a ridiculously lot, and did I mention a lot? of CHAINS.

You still with me?


  1. haha, I find the second last photo of this lady funny..

    chains are fun aren't they..unless you are in a south american prison of course.

  2. I imagine if one is being KEPT in chains they're not so cool, but without chains, we'd never have the Marley & Marley number from A Muppet's CHristmas Carol, so I am totally pro-chain. Also, Pro Drunk Tara Reid, just cause it's so highly entertaining when Google Image searching.

  3. Huge props for 1) Drunk Tara Reid, because that lady always makes me laugh and 2) for referencing Christopher Pike! Man, if those books were available for Kindle download I think I'd start a blog just to review them, I read them ALL back in the day... recently I re-read the whole "Remember Me" series, I think it took me a whole 5 hours.

  4. You are correct:
    The Marley & Marley in chains number does indeed cancel out being chained in a south american prison.

  5. Ah, the days of early teenagerhood. I used to love Pike's stuff and always felt he was underrated in comparison to old Uncle Goosebumps Stine. Pike wrote one 'adult' novel that was like a cross between Event Horizon and Greek mythology, and for a while I thought it was pretty much the greatest piece of literature EVER.

    And duh TD, duh indeed!

  6. CHAINS!
    I know of this movie thanks to being warned away from it by The Divemistress on Twitter.

    And I just watched 7 Mummies a little while're right, Danny Trejo DOES NOT STOP LAUGHING! And just when I didn't think he was going to, Billy Drago laughs so maniacally, I thought that he was going to have a heart attack! Haha!

  7. Yay 7 Mummies! It's HILARIOUS, although I may only think that because all the 'name' actors (okay, Trejo and Drago) just...keep...laughing. It's joyous.


  8. Have you ever seen the Bruce Payne-Hilary Swank film Kounterfeit?

  9. Yes, definitely, it's a lot of fun, especially because of Bruce Payne's 'hair' (I'm not sure if it's real or not). In the films sex scene, Payne, whose hair was tied up in a ponytail and looked normal, undoes it, which lets all of his hair out, giving him long, flowing blond hair! Hilarious! As for the rest of the movie, it's a fun little crime flick, definitely worth a watch!

  10. Thanks! I'll keep my eye and hair tie out for it!

  11. Oy vey, I'm smashed. But I was smashed before I read this review :)

    I've head nothing but awful things about this film. But if the kills are somewhat inventive, I'm game. I'm down with shit films and if it brings the goods come kill time, well I can stomach some terrible-ness.

    Now excuse me, time to stomach another shot.

  12. Oh it is awful, but in an enjoyable way. It's way better than iMurders at least, if that helps (it probably doesn't). The kills are decent and mean, and you can ALWAYS drink more so yes, watch it and write about it and hate it but keep drinking!

  13. Is it just me or does the bloody chick in the photo below Nikki Reed bear somewhat of a resemblance to Kirsten Dunst? I know it's not her, but I still did a double take.

    Have you heard about American Reunion, the latest movie in the American Pie franchise? It's coming out next year sometime, and all of the original cast members are reprising their roles. Should be interesting, considering half the cast has done well for themselves professionally (Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, for example), while others (I'm lookin' at you Tara Reid) have not.

    And I always thought that Christopher Pike's Final Friends trilogy would translate (if done right of course) into a perfect TV miniseries--The CW needs to make this happen, dammit!

  14. Hm. I identify Dunst solely by the snaggle tooth, so to me it's like comparing Whitney Huston and Dolly Parton.

    I can imagine the day Tara Reid got the call for American Pie Ruenion. It probably involved her celebrating with a bottle of wine product to have gotten a job, followed by her wondering 'wait, what movie is this?'

    It's odd how little Christopher PIke seemed to spread to other markets, while R.L. Stine had TV series galore of his books. I always though Pike was the best of that lot, and yet to my knowledge, nothing has ever been filmed of his work. It's unfortunate.

  15. I need an 'r' in my head. P.S. stay safe w/ the storm and all.

  16. Emily-
    Chris Pike > R.L. Stine.
    SORRY! The truth hurts! :p

  17. Chris Pike is greater than R.L. Stine.