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Heebie Jeebies

Directed by Doug Evans, Michael Hawkins-Burgos

Written by Doug Evans, JJ Shabesta

Starring Bobbie Jo Westphal, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, Jeff Lee, Angela Kane

Produced by Doug Evans, Jeff Lee

Rated R

86 minutes

***

Scriptwriters, lock up your vaults—“Heebie Jeebies” is at the door and it’s stealing a fortune in plotlines. But what it DOES with those plotlines will leave you amazed and breathless.

So what we have here is yet another run at the Cassandra complex. And in a twist of fate that can only be described as a yawn so immense it defies logic, the main character’s name is actually Cassandra. And Cassandra’s been having dreams about old and dear friends, whom she hasn’t seen in years, being murdered one by one. So rather than take the chance that she’s right yet again, she throws a party, inviting all those old friends and placing them all in one place.

Naturally, you can figure out what’s going to happen to these poor schmucks.

The reason why you should be slightly indignant about what you’re watching right now is because Cassandra was a figure in what I believe was Roman mythology (maybe Greek…I’m not sure offhand) who was given the gift of prophecy, but cursed by being totally unbelievable. Everything Cassandra saw in prophetic vision would come to pass, every time, without fail, but absolutely no one would believe her. Ever.

Which beats the hell out of most so-called “prophet” types we get today—pretty much all of them are WRONG without fail.

There was even a movie back in the eighties called “Cassandra” that ran off this same basic theme.

And despite a plot that’s built around a theft so balls-out egregious that it should be criminal, “Heebie Jeebies” still manages to be a fairly scary movie. Espeically in light of the fact that it turns out to be a three-vignette classic approach. Much like “Deadtime Stories” and the “Tales From the Darkside” movie, it’s three stories with an overmastering theme.

The first backstory about shear-based serial killer Bobby Skates is an excellent example. Man, that sucker’s creepy, I don’t mind telling you. Especially the end of it right around nineteen and a half minutes in.

But then we get our first look at what shapes up to be the villain of the piece, a bag-headed machete-toting slasher.

This is ANOTHER highly egregious theft that should have horror mavens howling their dissatisfaction.

For those of you who don’t habla, horror legend Jason Voorhees, before switching to the hockey mask in the third or fourth Friday the Thirteenth (I’m batting oh for two in terms of solid memory this time around) covered his head with a burlap sack, in much the same way THIS guy did in this movie. Jason’s weapon of choice also was the machete.

But I can forgive THIS theft too when the first scarecrow shows up. Man, that’s just creepy how that works out at twenty nine minutes fifty five seconds in.

The second little vignette, a clever little thing about three homicidal stone statues, is a HUGE ripoff in its own way to both “Trilogy of Terror” with its Zuni doll focus, and “Pitch Black” to its monsters that don’t stand up well to light.

And the third, an alarming piece about a girl who hits a guy in the backwoods with her car and from there rolls off into a very disturbing series of events involving a wood chipper and some crazy backwoods folk (which was similar to “Fargo” but in a way so remote it almost doesn’t bear mentioning) that is pretty much unlike anything I’ve seen lately. A real surprise, sure enough.

As somewhat of an aside, I applaud the fact that, while there are only Spanish subtitles, there’s also English closed captioning available. Which, if you have the right TV, is basically the same as having English subtitles.

The ending, rather endings, are continually twisty and packed to the gills with surprises. This is like watching four good movies at the same time. The final ending, one hour twenty four minutes in, is positively fantastic.

The special features include deleted scenes, Spanish subtitles, English closed captions, bloopers, and trailers for “The Mangler Reborn,” “Bloodline,” “Ghostwatcher II,” and “Saw II.”

All in all, despite more thievery than Ocean’s Eleven (through Forty Two) with a whole bunch of Italian Jobs added on for flavor, “Heebie Jeebies” is a formidable scary movie that is alarmingly well done. It is an excellent effort by any standard, and would be absolutely amazing if it weren’t so dependent on homages.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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