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Posts Tagged ‘slashers’

X

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

X is the new horror picture from writer/director Ti West, his first movie since the 2016 western IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE. The fastest way I know to describe it is “what if THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was BOOGIE NIGHTS?” It takes place in 1979 and it’s about a group of people from Houston who decide to make their first porno movie, and rent a small house on a remote farm to film it. In the process, their strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language is met with strong bloody violence and gore.

That’s from the actual MPAA rating, but it’s misleading. Though X is hardly tame, it doesn’t strike me as particularly extreme either. You gotta say this in hushed tones in these parts, but this is West’s first collaboration with A24, and I would consider him one of the pioneers of the style of 21st century slow burn horror that has become one of that company’s trademarks. I enjoyed his movies THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS, from 2009 and 2011, before A24 existed. This is in a similar vein, but being a slasher movie it’s a little more generous in its pay off, so I enjoyed it too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Deadly Games

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

DEADLY GAMES (1982) – not to be confused with the much better DEADLY GAMES (1989) a.k.a. DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS – is a slasher movie that I guess was very rare on video until now. I never came across it during my Slasher Searches, but now Arrow put it out on a nice blu-ray.

This is hardly one of the greats, but you know me, I’m a scholar, and I like seeing all the different variations and permutations of the formula. This one is interesting in that it takes place in a little bit more of a world of adults than most of them. And it’s not one of those crude regional movies – for the most part the production values and acting are slick and professional. And Steve Railsback is in it! If Steve Railsback is in it it’s a real movie.

The deadly games begin when Linda Lawrence (Alexandra Morgan, THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD) is alone in her fancy hillside house and gets creepy phone calls from a strange man (calling from a phone booth improbably located in sight of her isolated home). She’s scared, then convinces herself she’s fine. She talks to a boyfriend on the phone and tells him, “No, I don’t look like Janet Leigh” before getting in the shower. Always the PSYCHO shower scene references in these things. Anyway, a guy in a ski mask attacks her and she falls out the window. (read the rest of this shit…)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Monday, February 21st, 2022

“He needs special care, he doesn’t do well outside, you understand.”


TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2022) – not to be confused with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003) – is the new TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE movie released on (but not made by) Netflix. Like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986), LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (1990), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1995) and TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013) it’s a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece, seeming to ignore all the other installments.

As in the original film, we have a group of young people driving from Austin to a remote Texas town where they don’t fit in. But instead of a pretty casual day trip it’s for a business venture: chefs Dante (Jacob Latimore, SLEIGHT, DETROIT) and Melody (Sarah Yarkin, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U) purchased a small ghost town at a bank auction, with plans to open a restaurant and turn the town into some kind of hipster enclave. Along for the ride are Melody’s younger sister Lila (Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE) and Dante’s girlfriend Ruth (Nell Hudson). (read the rest of this shit…)

Scream (2022)

Monday, January 17th, 2022

We interrupt this Sam Raimi series so I can have a semi-timely review of the new SCREAM movie.


I have some bad news. SCREAM – a teen horror movie that came out when I was older than a teen but I enjoyed it along with the younger people anyway – is 25 fucking years old! And you remember how it was a trilogy and we assumed that was it, but a little while back kind of out of the blue they made a way late part 4? Well, I’m sorry to say that even that happened eleven god damn years ago. How is that possible? It’s not. But it happened. We are old, my friends. Very, very old.

But some of us still like SCREAM and the i.p. gods or whoever decided that the time has come for another one in another era. Many things have changed since the last one. Obviously horror has changed, as it always does. But more importantly the director of the original four, Wes Craven, has passed away, and (in better news) the Weinstein Company has died and gone to Hell, so this is the first time the series has been continued by a new set of people. The rights were picked up by Spyglass Media Group, James Vanderbilt (THE RUNDOWN, ZODIAC) & Guy Busick (READY OR NOT, Castle Rock) wrote the script, and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett (the team behind READY OR NOT) directed it, in the Craven spirit but not trying to be a throwback or anything. (There’s even a joke about overlit ‘90s movies.) Original writer Kevin Williamson did give his blessing and sign on as executive producer, and has given many interviews (such as on Mick Garris’ podcast Post-Mortem) verifying that he really was involved and is excited about the movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

To All a Goodnight

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Programming note: This will most likely be my last review until some time after Christmas. My MATRIX RESURRECTIONS review is in-progress but I don’t want to rush it and I’m hoping I can get in a second viewing soon. For now please enjoy this perhaps overly detailed assessment of a lesser known killer Santa movie. Happy holidays, friends!

 

David Hess was a singer and songwriter in the 1950s. Under the stage name David Hill he recorded a version of “All Shook Up” before Elvis did, and later wrote some lesser known Presley songs including “Come Along” (from the movie FRANKIE AND JOHNNY) and “Sand Castles” (from PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE). He also penned songs for Pat Boone and Sal Mineo.

In 1972, like The King before him, Hess took his talents to the big screen, starring in a movie and recording the soundtrack for it. But this was pretty different from LOVE ME TENDER; it was Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and he played the despicable villain Krug. It kicked off an acting career in American and Italian exploitation, episodes of Knight Rider, The A-Team, etc., often, I’m afraid, playing criminals and rapists. He was in THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, Craven’s SWAMP THING, and even Mark L. Lester’s John Candy movie ARMED AND DANGEROUS (as Gunman #4). Since he was reportedly a Method actor, I’m sure he was fun to be around.

And he directed exactly one feature, the Christmas slasher movie TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, given a limited release in January of 1980 before going to video in ’83. (Yes, it’s surprising that a Christmas movie didn’t catch on a month after Christmas.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Trick

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

I figured I should see another Halloween-set film this season, and I knew this one was from director Patrick Lussier (DRACULA 2000) and writer Todd Farmer (JASON X), the team that brought us MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D and DRIVE ANGRY 3D, so I’d been wanting to see it even though it was filmed in a pathetic 2 (two) dimensions.

TRICK is a mystery slasher set not just on Halloween, but on multiple Halloweens from 2015-2019. It begins at a high school party during a game of spin the bottle. Well, spin the knife. The camera focuses on the reactions of Cheryl (Kristina Reyes, Blindspot), who seems uncomfortable with a guy in a pumpkin mask (Thom Niemann, The Deuce) who is not speaking or responding to anyone. When it’s his turn she calls him “Trick,” which does turn out to be his name. He spins and it ends up on a boy and he tries to re-spin but they tease him and tell him he has to kiss the boy. As he leans in to do it, suddenly he grabs the knife and stabs the guy.

(Though this inciting incident implies some sort of homophobia-related motive, that does not turn out to be a theme of the film.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Macabre (Rumah Dara)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

MACABRE (RUMAH DARA) is a 2009 Indonesian cannibal movie. It’s the first feature directed by “The Mo Brothers,” a.k.a. Kimo Stamboel (THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC) and Timo Tjahjanto (THE NIGHT COMES FOR US). It starts out confident and unassuming and by the end has accumulated a DIE HARD level of injury and a nearly EVIL DEAD amount of blood.

In the grand horror tradition, a group of young people get stranded somewhere bad and have to escape. It goes down when Adjie (Ario Bayu, GUNDALA) and his pregnant wife Astrid (Sigi Wimala, SATRIA DEWA: GATOTKACA) take a road trip with their doofus friends. Jimmy (Daniel Mananta, A MAN CALLED AHOK) is pretty straight-laced, but Eko (Dendy Subangil, SANG DEWI) is the horny loud mouth who embarrasses them and makes them uncomfortable, and Alam is kind of the crazy one. That’s established when he threatens some guys at a bar for sexually harassing their waitress, Adjie’s sister Ladya (Julie Estelle, “Hammer Girl” from THE RAID 2!). It seems like a very successful stare down until he turns around and gets a bottle smashed over his head. So for the whole movie he’s wearing a large bandage on his head that’s completely unrelated to the horror movie stuff that happens. (read the rest of this shit…)

There’s Someone Inside Your House

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE (2021) is a horror movie that played Fantastic Fest this year and then came to Netflix. It’s a solid teen whodunit slasher very much in the post-SCREAM vein, but with some 2021 themes and concerns. I like that because it shows that this is a worthwhile format even when it’s not a remake, a sequel or a retro-styled throwback.

The title doesn’t describe the premise (unless in some poetic way that I’m not picking up on), but it does apply to a few of the suspense sequences, including the first one. It’s a SCREAM-like cold open but with a macho football player named Jackson (Markian Tarasiuk, CHRISTMAS JARS), talking to his friend on the phone and noticing odd things that make him think someone else is in the house. At first it’s things subtle enough to dismiss (what is this doing on the table?), but they escalate until he finds a trail of photos of himself punching someone bloody in a possibly homophobic bullying incident. Then he comes face to face with his killer – who is wearing a mask of his face. Yes, the killer wears 3D-printed masks of his victims, a technology invented by Darkman, but given new meaning here as the killer seems to want people to face their ugly selves. A very cool masked slasher gimmick because it has meaning, hasn’t really been done before, and looks creepy as fuck. Wouldn’t that freak you out even more than seeing Ghostface? As soon as you see it you know that you are the target and that some serious prep time has already gone into it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween Kills

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

HALLOWEEN KILLS is the controversial new film from director David Gordon Green (YOUR HIGHNESS). It is a sequel to his 2018 film HALLOWEEN, which was a sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 film HALLOWEEN, but not any of the other nine HALLOWEEN movies. It’s in the unusual (unprecedented?) situation of being a slasher movie that’s the middle chapter in an already planned and greenlit trilogy – I see it as part 2 of Green’s HALLOWEEN II series.

When I went to the first show on Friday I had already seen enough comments online to sense that many or most people disliked, strongly disliked, or flat out despised HALLOWEEN KILLS, in many cases sounding like they were prepared to live for decades as recluses building traps and practicing firearms on mannequins to prepare for when it comes for them again. I clearly don’t have my finger on the pulse of what other horror fans are looking for these days, because I’m positive had I seen it before hearing anything about it I would’ve figured it would go over well. As a guy who enjoys all but one of the HALLOWEEN movies on some level and will keep watching them over and over forever, I feel like it’s plain as day that KILLS has more on its mind than most of them, looks way better than most of them, and finds an approach that’s very different from what we expect or are used to, feeling fresh and new despite being more reverent of the first film than any previous sequel. It’s the kind of thing where if I didn’t like it so much I would have to at least respect it. But many people obviously don’t see it that way. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jason X

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

“Guys! It’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!”


JASON X came out almost 20 years ago, and I reviewed it here (well, on Geocities) at the time, which means I too am a frozen relic of the distant past awakened by somebody having sex and destined to be upgraded with a cool metal mask and robot body parts. Or at least I hope so. That would be cool.

I was in a minority at the time who loved the movie (“Definitely my favorite in the series although I also enjoyed the 3-D one,” I wrote). I also correctly predicted that HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (which apparently had its trailer playing on JASON X) would not be as good.

I gotta say, Jason’s eyes in closeup are prettier than I expected.

It opens with SE7EN-inspired credits over what looks like the Hell from fellow New Line Cinema movie SPAWN (fire and chains and ancient ruins) that transitions into veins and fluids in a bloodshot eye on which is reflected a doctor with a syringe that plunges into the rubbery rotten flesh of Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder, STEEL FRONTIER), before the camera passes into the interior of his brain as the drug enters his bloodstream. I much prefer the title sequences of the earlier films, but this is an elaborate digital age one, and a fun way to set up the premise that Jason has been sedated, strapped and chained in an underground facility. (“Crystal Lake Research”!) We later learn they gave up after electrocution, gas, hanging and other execution methods proved inadequate for ending Jason’s life. (read the rest of this shit…)