Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

I have a confession to make, and I don't think when I reveal it, I will be the only one who shares this feeling.

I freaking love Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

For some, that's heresy.  "A Halloween movie without Michael Myers?!?  No, sir!  I will not have it!"  Well, the truth is, the original movie, a masterpiece that excelled beyond most people's expectations, was never meant to have an entire franchise centering around lead antagonist Michael Myers.  Really, John Carpenter only wanted to tell his own version of the boogey man.  He and producer Debra Hill did conceive a sequel that would continue the story of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), but when approached by Universal Studios for a third installment, Carpenter said he'd only agree to it if it was not connected to the first two films at all.

The idea was to start a series of movies centered around the holiday of Halloween and create an anthology series where each year a different story of ghouls and goblins and what have you would be featured.  Think of it like a big screen version of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery.  Universal, hungry to milk that Halloween title for all that they could, agreed.

After this third film in the series failed commercially, Universal made no more Halloween films.

But is it bad?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  It's pretty well mixed.  Some people think this movie is grotesque for its targeting of children.  Most of the people who are targeted, hunted, stalked, and killed are adults (with one major exception I'll talk about when we get to it), but the entire plan was to pretty much wipe out a generation of young children.  Some think the movie is interesting and stylistically engaging.  Some cannot get past this movie possessing the Halloween title and not including Michael Myers as the big bad.

Me?  I grew up with this movie.  When it came out, I was five years old.  It played relentlessly on TV and I watched it often.  I loved the mood and general creepy atmosphere created by several of the shots and sequences.  To me, this is the finest of the Halloween sequels and not simply because I want to applaud the attempt to make sequels in this series without Michael Myers, but because I truly believe it is a movie worth praise.

So what's our plot?  From the back of the Scream Factory Blu-Ray release: "When a terrified toy salesman is mysteriously attacked and brought to the hospital, babbling and clutching the year's most popular Halloween costume, an eerie pumpkin mask, doctor Daniel Challis is thrust into a terrifying Halloween nightmare. Working with the salesman's daughter, Ellie, Daniel traces the mask to the Silver Shamrock Novelties company and its founder, Conal Cochran. Ellie and Daniel uncover Cochran's shocking Halloween plan and must stop him before trick-or-treaters across the country never come home in this terrifying thriller."

Let's crack this thriller open and see what it's all about!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

I've covered Leatheface.  Jason Voorhees popped up a couple weeks ago.  Freddy Krueger even haunted our nightmares last week.  Now it's time to introduce you to Angela.

Who's Angela?  Well, she was the star of a series of slasher flicks derivative of the original Friday the 13th film.  She first appeared in this week's feature, Sleepaway Camp.  And in no way do I expect this movie to end with any kind of twist ending whatsoever.

This is the type of movie I fucking loved when I was a kid.  It's a movie that placed kids in peril.  The majority of the cast are kids of obvious young ages.  I don't believe any of the kids are meant to be older than 16.  While there are plenty of adults around to be victims, the vast majority of kills are young kids.  Like real young.

And while, sure, that would be bothersome to a kid watching a movie like this, the 80s were lousy with movies that featured kids doing things things on their own, dealing with adventures, and problems, and terrors.  It is one of the reasons why Stranger Things is such a big hit for most people who grew up in that decade.  We all had some sense of freedom to explore and get into problems and run away from bad guys, find gold from a pirate ship in some cave, and get killed by a stalking killer at a sleepaway camp.

The 80s were fucking sweet, guys.

I really don't think I need to intro this anymore.  Let me give you the skinny from the back of the beautiful Scream Factory Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack: "After a terrible boating accident killed her family, shy Angela Baker went to live with her eccentric Aunt Martha and her cousin Ricky.  This summer, Martha decides to send them both to Camp Arawak, a place to enjoy the great outdoors.  Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre and violent 'accidents' begin to claim the lives of various campers.  Has a dark secret returned from the camp's past... or will an unspeakable horror end the Summer season for all?  From its grisly makeup effects to the truly shocking and unforgettable climax, Sleepaway Camp is no ordinary slasher film... it's a cult classic!"

It doesn't get much better than this everybody.  Let's dive in!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

This movie sucks.

Let me back up for a moment.  A Nightmare on Elm Street is a bit of a bugaboo for me.  The first three films in the series were pretty great.  You have a legitimate, and terrifying, horror movie that took roots from urban legends about a boogey man who could strike at you in your dreams.  The second, after a critical reevaluation, really turned out to be so much more than just a cheap sequel that New Line Cinema tried to crank out to capitalize on the first.  The third brought back our original survivor Nancy and she sacrificed herself to finally kill our boogey man, Freddy Krueger.

Then everything else sucked.  Hard.  Like a taco salad from McDonald's.  All the ingredients seem perfectly edible because everything else on the menu was fine when you tasted it, but when you put your fork in it, you realize you're just eating Wade the Fry Cook's turds mixed in with tomatoes and lettuce.

Wade isn't even garnishing that turd taco salad with sour cream, you fucking idiots!

Any kid I knew who thought Freddy Krueger was the bee's knees (when compared to the other slasher giants such as Jason, Michael Myers, or Leatherface) was a fucking moron and probably had a shit eating grin courtesy of Wade the McDonald's Fry Cook.  None of those other slashers talked.  Freddy made up for that in spades.  Like he couldn't stop talking.  He called people "Bitch" so fucking often, Rick and Morty made an entire gag out of it with a parody character called Scary Terry.  By the fourth, fifth, and sixth films, Robert Englund was a real sport about playing the character that he made famous and, in turn, made him famous, but the movies were jokes and a pretty big waste of time to watch.

Again, the first few movies were plenty okay, and a couple of them are actually quite fantastic.  However, by the time we got to the fifth movie, they were struggling pretty bad.  This came at the end of the 80s.  The slasher genre was basically dying out.  People wanted something a little different by this time.  Hell, it couldn't even get an October release as a horror movie.

I guess I better crack this fuck dick of a movie open and talk about before I talk myself out of it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Happy Friday the 13th, folks.  Even though this occurs a couple times every year, this one is kinda special.  It isn't just Friday the 13th, but it's a Friday the 13th in October, the undisputed scariest month on the calendar.  It's like a double Friday the 13th!  If only it was also a full moon then everyone everywhere would just get murdered by guys in hockey masks, werewolves, Michael Myers, or Irish toy makers.

This is the perfect chance for me to talk about my favorite Jason Voorhees movie - Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

This is beloved by fans, but also a turning point for the series itself.  For one, this shifted the movies from being a series of movies trying to be serious and either scary or gore-filled to a series of films that started to have fun with itself.  The movie also acted as a final piece of a trilogy of movies that focused on hero Tommy Jarvis.

Back in the fourth film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Tommy, then played by Corey Feldman, was introduced as a child who ultimately killed our machete-wielding antagonist by impersonating the child version of Jason and hacking his fucking head to shit with his own weapon.  In Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, people were being killed by an impersonator wearing a hockey mask.  People thought it was an older Tommy who seemed to be pretty messed up after killing Jason as a child.  At the end of that movie, it appeared Tommy did break and now going to take up Jason's legacy.

In Part VI, writer and director Tom McLoughlin decided, thankfully, to throw away the ominous ending of Part V, and went in a new direction.  McLoughlin decided to treat Jason like one of the classic Universal monsters, most notably Frankenstein's Monster.  He also made it self-referential and had characters react as the audience would or give us a moment to laugh at the happenings of the movie or at the characters themselves.

I really don't want to wait much longer to jump into the movie.  This is my motherfucking jam.  This is the movie in the series I have seen more than any others.  If I'm hanging out with friends and one of them suggests we all watch a Jason movie and ask which one we should watch, I vote VI every time.  So let's pop this fucker in and enjoy!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most beloved horror movies of the modern era.  It's full of intensity, actual terrifying moments, and visceral violence that stays with you for years after you watch it.  It came out in 1974 during the golden age of exploitation horror before the genre was essentially taken over by the slasher genre that Halloween gave birth to in the late 70s.

The film also boasts that it has connections to real life events.  Well...  Sort of.  Leatherface was inspired by Ed Gein who was a real life serial killer who did indeed take skin from his victims and started making a skin suit.  There are some minor plot details that also came from the Gein case, but that was all in Wisconsin, not Texas.

Tobe Hooper, the director of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, started making more mainstream movies, most notably, Poltergeist.  By the mid-80s, he was riding pretty high.  He signed a three picture deal with our good friends at Cannon Films.  What he delivered for them was not what they expected.  His first film in the deal, Lifeforce, was a pretty large scale sci-fi monster movie that stretched the usual budget of a Cannon Film.  They also didn't expect Hooper to deliver a remake of a 1950s sci-fi film with Invaders from Mars.  They DEFINITELY did not expect The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to be a dark comedy causing Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus to lose their freaking minds with Hooper.

Frankly, I kinda wonder if Hooper was trolling Cannon a bit so he could make movies he wanted to make and they were there to give him the deal.

So, there you have it.  Hooper wanted this second Chainsaw to be more of a send up of the horror genre of the time he basically helped create.  While it did make almost twice its budget, the film under-performed.  Hardcore fans of slasher films pretty much hated it.  Critics didn't care for it either.  It probably was not helped by being released as "Unrated" when it couldn't get less than an X from the motion picture ratings dudes.  Even though most didn't like it then, it's one of the few 80s horror movies that actually holds up very well in the present.  It even grew on some of its original detractors and became a pretty massive cult classic.

The synopsis from Amazon Prime is: "A radio host (Caroline Williams) is victimized by a cannibal family as a former Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper) hunts them."  That's all it gives, but don't worry, it's much much more than that.  Let's get this thing started and officially kick off my October theme of modern monsters to celebrate Halloween!
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