Search Results for: rankfest

Rankfest: Children of the Corn

I’m pretty sure OneRepublic found influence for their international hit Stop and Stare in the Children of the Corn films, as there’s a whooooole lot of that going on. Staring. Kids in creepy clothes with dork-ass names like Jedidiah and Mortichai. Always staring.

At the of writing I haven’t ‘experienced’ Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018), but I’ve not read a whole lot of positive, so I’ll get back to y’all on that.

*

9th best: Genesis (2011)

children of the corn genesis

Holy House Plants, this reboot stinks! A budget south of the cost of renting the car in which a young couple drive to become stranded – almost nothing happens for the entire run time of the movie and it re-uses car chase footage from fucking Bad Boys II.

*

8th: Children of the Corn (2009)

children of the corn 2009

For all the critical rocks pitched at the 1984 original, it’s at least nowhere near as boring as this made-for-TV more ‘faithful’ adaptation of King’s short story (which was way shorter than I ever thought). Burt and Vicky are drawn as horrendous people, so why not cheer on the Children? Because they suck just as hard, especially the 8-year-old playing Isaac, who can barely fill his oversized hat, let alone the shoes of John Franklin.

*

7th: Isaac’s Return (1999)

children of the corn 666 isaac's return

COTC‘s H20 moment: Isaac didn’t die after all and has just been in a coma all this time! So when the daughter of his and Rachel (the girl in the church) turns up looking for info about her past and Isaac wakes up, the usual occurs. Notable only for He Who Walks Behind the Rows appearing in human form, but almost nothing else.

*

6th: Revelation (2001)

children of the corn revelation

 Claudette Mink goes to visit grandma, who has (very recently) disappeared. Various residents of the same housing complex start falling victim to the glarey children hanging around the locale. A few familiar faces from low-end horror and not terrible production quality, but nothing new is brought to the table either. Corn with corn it is, then.

*

5th: Urban Harvest (1995)

children of the corn iii

Brothers Joshua and Eli are Gatlin orphans fostered by an LA couple. Eli brings with him a few cobs, which he plants in a lot behind the house and goes about corrupting his high school classmates. Notable for Chalize Theron appearing as an extra and the world’s cheapest looking monster.

*

4th: The Gathering (1996)

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Naomi Watts goes home to stay with unhinged mom, Karen Black, and her younger siblings, when the kids in town start getting sick and killing their parents. It’s remarkable how many future stars started off battling these brats.

*

3rd: Fields of Terror (1998)

children of the corn 5

And now Eva Mendes’ turn to go up against homicidal little shits as she and buddies break down outside of town where a cult convinces people to jump into a silo, Eva included. Despite its undeniable naffness, there’s a sense of late-90s fun to it all and nobody looks to be taking it too seriously. Eyes peeled for Kane Hodder as a barman.

*

2nd: The Final Sacrifice (1992)

children of the corn ii

The only legitimate direct sequel to the events of Gatlin sees the orphaned kiddies sent to temporarily live with the good folks of neighbouring Hemingford, where people soon start dying all over again. Death by hijacked electric wheelchair, the nosebleed from hell, and a cute send up of The Wizard of Oz are highlights.

*

The Best One: Children of the Corn (1984)

children of the corn 1984

It may not have been wanted Stephen King wanted – he likened the experience to sending his daughter off to college with high hopes only for her to do drugs and get raped – but it’s clearly the best of its series, with offbeat performances from John Franklin as Isaac, and Courtney Gains, as Malichai. Uneven, sure, but still a bit creepy.

*

So, objectively, none of these films are ‘good’, but a few of them have some cheesy rewatchability if nothing else. Anyone for a OneRepublic sing-along while we chomp some Green Giant?

Rankfest: Child’s Play

The interesting thing about the Child’s Play/Bride of/Seed of/Curse of/Management Appraisal of/Grocery List of Chucky movies is that none of them are legitimately bad. Sure, some went for a very campy approach with in-jokes surely only Don Mancini and Jennifer Tilly were in on, but if they weren’t scary, they were at the very least funny.

Mancini’s unwavering commitment to the series also deserves a lot of respect. Most creators turned away from their projects when they didn’t get the critical acclaim they hungered for, but Mancini stayed with Chucky, ensuring that the continuity of the films has been maintained almost flawlessly.

How do they stack up?

7th best: Seed of Chucky (2004)

seed of chucky 2004

Probably waiting a bit too long to cash-in on the success of Bride, this fifth go-round was only a modest success, and represents the only strand in the canon to go unresolved in the form of Glen/Glenda, the offspring of Chucky and Tiffany, who travels to Hollywood in the hope of finding them on the set of Chucky Goes Psycho, starring Jennifer Tilly.

A huge amount of in-the-know jokes abound at the expense of horror, making the film a comedy first. That said, in this sense it at least succeeds in being an absolute riot, with some hilarious setups and cameos.

Best bit: Chucky runs Britney Spears off the road: “Oops! I did it again!”

*

6th: Cult of Chucky (2017)

cult of chucky 2017

The enthusiasm with which Curse was met didn’t quite carry over into the next straight-to-DVD/VOD feature, which reverted to the comedy>horror structure, but at least moves the story forward significantly by the end.

The concept of Charles Lee Ray’s spirit inhabiting several dolls at once ices the film with an amusing blood-red frosting, allowing for a veritable Doomsday Book of gags, but some gruesome demises too. Mancini’s ability to bring back in characters from previous installments must be pretty much unequalled in horror.

Best bit: A twisted revisit to the ceiling mirror slaying from Bride.

*

5th: Curse of Chucky (2013)

curse of chucky

I got to see the European premiere of this at FrightFest and it was definitely a crowd pleaser. An effort to take the concept back to its more sinister roots. Here, Chucky is delivered to the home of an old acquaintance and wreaks havoc during a wake.

The smart move here was keeping Chucky’s movements off camera for a good portion of the running time, rewinding things back to the is it/isn’t it questions posed by the original. It runs a little too long given the small cast and setting.

Best bit: “It’s a doll. What’s the worst that could happen?”

*

4th: Child’s Play 3 (1991)

child's play 3 1991

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, the saying goes. In the early 90s, various UK tabloid “news”papers decided to blame the murder of a toddler on a film his pair of 10-year-old killers supposedly watched (but it later turned out, didn’t), rather than look to greater problems in society, parenting, or the kind of right-wing bullshit they pedalled every day. They also took credit for the film being banned, which it never was.

Teenage Andy is packed off to a military academy just as Good Guy dolls are ready to go back into production. Chucky succeeds in mailing himself to the academy and the usual occurs. The setting is original and there are some good ideas, but Mancini later admitted he was forced to churn out a script he wasn’t altogether satisfied with.

Best bit: Garbage disposal demise.

*

3rd: The Original (1988)

child's play 1988

Third!? Yes. I’d already seen a couple of the sequels by the time this came around and I was slightly underwhelmed, expecting an overarching classic that the follow-ups were but poor imitations of. Hell, I saw Dolly Dearest before I saw this!

I guess like any first-in-a-series horror movie, there’s a restraint that is accompanied by the thicker depths of storytelling – the canvas needs to be established before we draw all over it. I just find Child’s Play a bit… inaccessible. Whereas, I can slot into any of the sequels at any given time, I feel I owe more to watching this one (and also the originals of any other given franchise).

*

2nd: Child’s Play 2 (1990)

child's play 2 1990

My first foray into Chucky-dom was this one, played repeatedly on cable back in the 90s, which is probably the most straight-up slasher of the lot. I can never remember if it’s supposed to pick up straight after the first one, or a year or two later, but Alex Vincent has, of course, sprouted.

Chucky rampages through various unfortunates in his bid to ‘hide his soul’ in Andy, and in doing so notches up some of the more memorable sequences of the franchise: The mean teacher beaten with a ruler, that guy from Ally McBeal asphyxiated, and the gloopy factory finale, where the doll just keeeeeeps on comin’ back.

*

1st: Bride of Chucky (1998)

bride of chucky 1998

The combination of depleting box office returns and the scandal around the third movie pretty much finished off Chucky as a horror force in the 90s, but then Scream came and tossed the salad, giving a series about a killer doll plenty of self-referential gags to chew on and spit out. Best idea? Give Chucky a pal.

Casting Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany was a masterstroke and once dolled, it seems strange to imagine the series without her and Dourif bouncing off one another. Adding in John Ritter as an overbearing patriarch also lends well to the comedic feel employed by Ronny Yu’s direction, which helped him land the Freddy vs Jason gig a few years later.

Rankfest: Halloween

**UPDATED NOVEMBER 2018**

Halloween is coming… Well, almost. Sometimes I love this series more than Elm Street, sometimes not. It can be infuriating as we shall see…

11th best: Halloween II (2009)

halloween ii 2009

Rob Zombie said he wouldn’t make another Halloween film after his 2007 re-thingy. Then did. With very little material from Rick Rosenthal’s ’81 film recycled (there’s a brief hospital dream-in-a-dream bit), Zombie goes off to explore Laurie’s psychosis (she’s an emo bitch), her relationships with other survivors (she’s a bitch to them), and something about her and Michael’s mother as a ghost. Any excuse to crowbar Sherrie Moon into proceedings. Meanwhile, Loomis has become a fame-whore. The result is a grimy, depressing flick.

Best Bit: The father of a victim from the previous film confronting Dr Loomis at a booksigning.

*

10th: The Remake (2007)

halloween 2007

After Mustapha Akkad’s death in a terrorist attack, plans for Halloween 9 all but dried up in the mid-00s and, instead, plans were drawn up for a remake as the epidemic of such treatment of known horror titles was squelching through Hollywood like The Blob, destroying everything.

Parts of it work out alright though: Michael’s origin stuff is new material, so isn’t particularly offensive, but when we reach the ‘remake’ bits, the wheels sheer off and roll down the street: Scout Taylor-Compton is horrendous as Laurie, almost the antithesis of everything we loved about Jamie Lee Curtis’ take on the role; Michael is a hulking destroyer of everything in his path and literally none of the victims muster any sympathy.

Best Bit: Needs more thought.

*

9th: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

halloween 5 1989

One year after the events of Halloween 4, Michael ‘reactivates’ having been looked after my some hermit dude for an entire year (!?), kills this Samaritan, and stalks back to Haddonfield to finish off niece, Jamie. The first hour or so is pretty solid stuff, if too derivative of the last film, but when Jamie is plonked into the Myers house – now a fucking mansion – as bait, it all goes to shit, with the stupid Man in Black subplot a sign of desperation on behalf of the writers.

Best Bit: The party at the olde farm, sex in the barn goes awry courtesy of a pitchfork. Well, at least someone got poked.

*

8th: Season of the Witch (1983)

halloween iii season of the witch pumpkin kid mask

Three more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween… DIE.

Maybe because it’s not a slasher film? Yes and no. I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got when I pushed in a dusty old video cassette sometime in the mid-90s and have only watched the film twice since then. Still, Carpenter’s influence shines through – albeit more like The Fog than Halloween - which adds to the ornate weirdness of this oddball flick.

Best Bit: The guts to off a kid must be admired, when said brat’s possessed mask turns his head to mush.

*

7th: Resurrection (2002)

halloween resurrection

Hated by most, strangely liked by me. Deduct Busta Rhymes and his dreadful acting from the equation, take away the fucking stupid rationale for Michael’s survival at the end of H20, and get rid of Laurie’s sudden spiral into simpletonville, and Resurrection is quite a fun little slasher romp. Yeah, so I tend to divorce it from the parent franchise, but the basic stalk n’ slash opus is pretty solid on its own merits.

Best Bit: A party of teens panicking as they guide the final girl by way of one of those PDA things (they didn’t last long, did they?) around the spook house of DEEEEATH!!!

*

6th: Halloween II (1981)

halloween ii 1981 loomis

A huge step down in quality from the Carpenter classic, that he directed some of the early scenes shows, and those are the only reason it ranks this high. Once the action shifts to the hospital, things get real boring real fast, as nameless, thin-as-a-Disney-popgirl characters are laid to waste, while Donald Pleasence looks for clues and Jamie Lee Curtis looks bored out of her skull taking final girl duties for the 67th time.

Best Bit: The first ten or so minutes as Haddonfield collapses into hysteria following the discovery of the murders.

*

=4th: H20 (1998)

halloween h20

Scream is to thank/blame for this one. Abandoning all mention of films 3-6H20 brought back Laurie Strode as an alcoholic, PTSD-suffering head teacher at a snobby Californian academy, where she battles her demons and her rebellious 17-year-old son. As Halloween rolls around, Michael tracks her down and tries to repeat history. The retconning of the sequels is annoying and the body count too low, but at a slender 83 minutes, H20 still packs a lot in.

Best Bit: Surely the end – the power dynamic reversed: Now Laurie is the one with the sharp weapon.

*

=4th: Halloween (2018)

halloween 2018 jamie lee curtis

Title confusions aside, this is essentially an over-do of Halloween II, erasing all of the other sequels entirely in an effort to take the franchise back to its roots of Boogeyman chasing babysitters. While that didn’t really pan out, the result was still a solid film with Jamie Lee Curtis offering a flipside of the coin she was dealt in H20. Gone is the witness protection stuff, the son, and BEING MICHAEL’S SISTER! This begs the question as to why he’d be so obsessed with her, but hey, whatcha gonna do?

Best Bit: One long tracking shot where Michael eliminates poor Haddonfieldians in their homes amongst a sea of trick or treaters.

*

3rd: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

halloween 6 1995

Yeah, I know. But this was the second Halloween film I saw (back on cable in shortly after it came out), and so my love for it is skewered by my naivety to the tropes of the genre as they stood. Michael returns after a six year hiatus, just as Haddonfield prepares to celebrate Halloween for the first time since his last killing spree. Grown-up Tommy Doyle is a Myers-obsessed weirdo who lives across from the Myers house, inhabited now by relatives of Laurie Strode – and guess who drops in?

Best Bit: A strobe-light infused massacre in an operating theater. Can’t see shit, but turn out the lights and it’s pretty awesome.

*

2nd: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

halloween 4 1988

After seven years off, during which Friday the 13th notched up six sequels, the Akkad’s decided to bring both Michael Myers and Dr Loomis back from their quite final ending in Halloween II. Ten years on from ‘that night’, federal blah dictates that comatose Myers be moved from his institution and, naturally, he awakes on route, kills everyone, and heads back to Haddonfield, with Loomis merrily chasing him again. This time he’s after Laurie’s orphaned daughter, Jamie, and will kill anyone who crosses his path.

A restrained affair with next to no bloodletting, Dwight H. Little tried to recapture the spirit of the original and, for the most part, succeeds, though things start to drag when it’s all vigilante rednecks and Michael teleporting from ideal hiding spot to ideal hiding spot.

Best Bit: The rooftop chase.

*

1st: The Original (1978)

halloween 1978

Well, duh. I’ve only ever encountered one person who thinks one of the sequels is better, and he’s clearly a simpleton.

What can be said, apart from: “Hud, why haven’t you reviewed this yet?” It’s just too daunting a task! I’ll do it this year. For Halloween. Maybe.

Best Bit: Eessshhk… How to spring for the best part? Probably the scene where Laurie sees Mikey ducking behind the hedge on her commute from school. Creeptastic.

Rankfest: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I just realised I said Halloween would be next but it’s all lies… So from Crystal Lake we fly west to Springwood to check out how I like my Elm Streets

9th Best: Freddy’s Dead (1991)

fd3

With both Freddy and Jason’s ‘final’ adventures, The Final Nightmare peters out with little of the flair that made the concept so good in the first place. This was released in the UK around the same time Queen singer Freddie Mercury died, making the TV adverts staying ‘Freddy’s Dead!’ wildly inappropriate.

Best Bit: Sadly, the montage of best bits from parts 1-5.

8th: The Dream Child (1989)

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The attempt to revert to the dark roots of the series resulted in a pretty boring entry on the coattails of the most successful of the 80s installments. Although drippy heroine Alice finally comes to the fire in a non-annoying way, by this point there were way too many tie-ins, toys, music videos, and the TV show, all of which diluted any fear Krueger had injected into anybody.

Best Bit: I actually can’t think of one.

7th: The Remake (2010)

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Less Elm Street, more Emo Street as the re-imagining of the story pits a group of thoroughly depressing high schoolers against Jackie Earle Haley’s less quippy Krueger. He’s fine, and there are some good ideas floating around (the curse of the dreams is kind of passed along after each death) but, as with the Halloween remake, the cover version part of it can’t hold a candle, and seems like a cheap afterthought.

Best Bit: The opening nightmare is pretty good and Katie Cassidy is a good screamer.

6th: Freddy vs Jason (2003)

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It’s crap, especially compared to the New Nightmare, but Jason’s presence makes it avidly more watchable from an entertainment standpoint. Freddy doesn’t get to do a whole lot of slashing, but comes to the party fully equipped with a quip for every action.

Best Freddy Bit: “She was mine! Mine! Miiiiiiiine!!!”

5th: New Nightmare (1994)

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Wes Craven, pissed off with what had become of his creation, re-seized the reigns just two years before Scream came along, and completely overhauled the series, reinstating Heather Langenkamp playing herself, now tormented by the films that made her name, as Freddy comes after her family. It’s all very clever, but not much of a slasher film, running a bit too long to enjoy repeated viewings, but is undeniably an amazing example of somebody reclaiming their work.

Best Bit: John Saxon falling back into character before a perplexed Heather.

4th: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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I hated this one in the beginning, being such a departure from the first, switching the focus to a homo-repressed teenage boy, who has recently moved into 1428 Elm Street. However, repeated viewings have unveiled much to like, from the colourful 80s tone, some laughably bad acting, and some awesome nightmare scenarios, it’s subsequently leapt up the rankings.

Best Bit: The school bus nightmare opener, relative and really well done.

3rd: The Dream Master (1988)

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The MTV Nightmare was a combination of fortuitous circumstances that led to huge box office takings: Freddy was riding the top of his pop culture wave, FX work was at a revolutionary turning point and the dream sequences were rendered with amazing innovation and creativity. Points lost for little to no grue, and a sappy, annoying final girl.

Best Bit: Debbie’s transformation into an insect.

2nd: Dream Warriors (1987)

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The ‘proper’ sequel to the events of the first film: Six years later, Nancy returns to help a group of nightmare-plagued teenagers at a psych ward where nobody seems able to understand their collective problem, writing it off as mass-hysteria. This marked the last time the adults-know-better theme was used to full effect. Freddy was also legitimately still a scary boogeyman, tormenting Patricia Arquette’s heroine in some perfectly realised nightmare situations.

Best Bit: “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” (or is it “fuck the primetime”?)

1st: The Original (1984)

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Wes Craven got everything right – with the possible exception of the end – and built New Line studios on the back of a script that had been turned down by every other studio in Hollywood. Centrally, the motif of sleep=death is up there with a shark in the water off Amity Island, but you can stay out of the sea. How long can you stay awake?

 Cleverly, the film foregoes murder after murder to focus on final girl Nancy’s battle with staying awake, something we all tried after seeing it, I’m sure. I once managed a couple of days by going through a crate of 24 Pepsi cans. Unquestionably one of the most important horror films ever made.

Best Bit: Nancy’s gradual progression from suburban any-girl to trap-manufactuing, Krueger-kicking badass.

Rankfest: Friday the 13th

You know when you go on IMDb or whatever and there’s always a thread titled “Rank the [insert series here] best to worst”, well let’s do summa that.

Of course the infamous Top 100 ranks my favourites across the board up to Spring of 2014 (Lost After Dark and The Final Girls might now force a few of the bottom dwellers out), but franchise-to-franchise, what is the most logical place to start?

Duh, Crystal Lake obvs.

12th Best: Jason X (2001)

jason2Bringing Jason back after eight years in limbo (nine, if we’re going to count the delayed release) is a bold step. On top of that, putting him in space proved just a step too far. This film is hokey and enjoyable at times, annoying and lazy at others.

Best Bit: Holodeck Crystal Lake, circa 1980.

11th: Jason Goes to Hell (1993)

jgth6I maintain that certain scenes in JGTH out-awesome the previous few films – the trio of campers at the lake, and the opening gag with the sexy chick alone in the creaky old house: Pure Friday. It’s just a shame the rest of it veers off course with all that Hidden crap.

Best Bit: Tentpole. Schwing.

10th: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

jtm3The late-80s-ness of Manhattan is undeniably bodacious, but it’s too long, too tame, and too timid to max out its potential: At the time this must’ve had the highest bodycount of the lot, and is there but a speck of blood?

Best Bit: JJ’s awesome-or-what axe.

9th: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

fvj-cornfield-stonersLike Jason X, this one is worth a look every decade or so. The WWE-ness of it all is juvenile and irritating, but high-end production values, a love for the series, and a game cast almost make up for that.

Best Bit: Cornfield rave hi-jinks.

8th: The Final Chapter (1984)

fc5I’ll stand by for the townsfolk to come with their torches and pitchforks. The Final Chapter was the last of the Paramount films I saw and by that time the formula was so ingrained it just never resonated much with me. The plot is too derivative of Part III and the characters indistinguishably expendable. Yes, the grue is top of its game, but this alone does not a great film make.

Best Bit: The story so far… “you can’t be alive!”

7th: A New Beginning (1985)

fri6Tatty, sleazy, trashy Part V, a guilty pleasure if ever there was. The leap in production gloss from The Final Chapter was, at least on the old VHS’s I owned, significant, but maybe that’s just because 1985 was a year I actually remember, so the fashions and hair didn’t all look horrific. No Jason? Meh, who cares!? The appeal of this film is how fucking stupid it all is.

Best Bit: “There’s a man with no life in his eyezzzzz…”

6th: The New Blood (1988)

friday the 13th part vii the new blood jason voorheesDry and a ‘lil bit wintry in feel, The New Blood has grown on me over the years like a fungus that won’t quit. While many of the bloodthirsty demises were ultimately cut, leaving us a film drier than a shot of sand, the through-the-motions slashings are almost hypnotically entertaining and several of the background characters unpredictably likeable.

Best Bit: “There’s a legend ’round here…”

5th: Part III (1982)

f3-8A major step down from the dizzy heights of the first two, Part III nonetheless provides Jason with his mask and the audience with cheesy 3D FX. The production shift from the north east greenery to a sandy Californian mud-hole (removing all the Crystal from Crystal Lake) lets it down, but the amateur-night performances and Dana Kimmell’s gloriously rubbish final girl schtick atone.

Best Bit: Dana vs. Jason

4th: The Reboot (2009)

fri1aMost hated it, but it captured the spirit of Fridays past for me – especially those first 20 minutes – making enough changes to give a contemporary feel without entirely abandoning the unmovable elements that make Friday what it is. Of the glut of remakes, reboots, recalibrations, reimaginings etc, it was easily the best.

Best Bit: Campfire tales and nostalgia.

3rd: Jason Lives (1986)

friday the 13th part vi jason livesWho would ever have thought a fifth sequel could land a sucker punch of awesomeness? Tom McLaughlin, that’s who! Wisely taking a step into the humorous side of the genre, after the po-faced exploits of The Final Chapter and A New Beginning, Jason needed a shot of slapstick just to overcome the embarrassment of the previous film. It works perfectly as a pivot for the mayhem and contrived story, resulting in the best Friday outing since the early days.

Best Bit: Paula’s paranoia. Didn’t she leave the bloody machete right there on the floor?

2nd: The Original (1980)

f13-11aRough n’ ready, Friday the 13th has got to be the most copied slasher film ever; from genuine attempts to replicate the formula to sketch show parodies, this is the film they turn to. It’s perfection lies in its innate imperfection – clunky acting, ludicrous plot twists, semi-competent production, and yet it works far beyond the reach of many of its contemporaries and today’s low-end slasher pics.

Best Bit: Rinse n’ repeat stalk n’ slash during the storm.

THE BEST FRIDAY!: Part 2 (1981)

cut2_double-2Yeah, like, big shock, right? I just love this film to death. Taking all that was good about the first one, polishing the production assets, casting the perfect final girl, introducing Jason as an actually quite scary super villain prototype form: That burlap sack gives me the creeps far more than the hockey mask. Whether those infuriating cut scenes will ever see the light of day, who knows, but it detracts not from the slasherific perfection that is Friday the 13th Part 2.

Best Bit: Amy Steel on the run.

Next time: Halloweeeeeeen

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