Category Archives: Lists

Music to Murder Teens By

Slasher films don’t often come with killer soundtracks – budgetary concerns – but there are some really awesome scores around.

Here are my favourite choons I’ve found thanks to this lovely genre:

White Sister: April – from Killer Party (1986)

Typical 80s glam rock: Melody up front, big hair, lots of synth.

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SoHo: Whisper to a Scream – from Scream (1996)

One of the few slasher films with its own soundtrack album. This awesome tune (a cover of a much less interesting 1983 original by The Icicle Works) plays over the end credits. Sure, it’s totally 90s, but that guitar solo and electro-beats are amazing.

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Shinedown: Devour – from The Final Destination (2009)

What genre is this? Emo-rock? Who cares, love the growl of the singer’s voice and the relentless percussion. I like this one loud on road trips.

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Vixtrola: Gunboat – from Darkness Falls (2003)

More heavy guitars and growly angst, and possibly the best aspect of the film from which it came!

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Benjamin Bates: Two Flies – from Killer Movie (2008)

Another better-than-the-film track. Lyrically it’s a tad repetitive but I like the effects going on here.

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Dokken: Dream Warriors – from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987)

A classic spandex rock classic from German band Dokken. The fact Freddy is defeated by the lead singer’s high-pitched wailings is just sensational.

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Pseudo Echo: His Eyes – from Friday the 13th Part V (1985)

This is the song Violet is robot-dancing to before she’s done away with. I’m not normally a fan of this new-wave sound, but this song has become awesomely naff over 30 years of exposure.

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Syreeta: Happy Birthday to Me – from Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Creepy-voiced Syreeta chirps her way through this unsettling original, which benefits from its minimalism. That clarinet? -shudder-

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Divinyls: Back to the Wall – from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (1988)

The film’s evident MTV-leanings made for a good soundtrack, from which this was my favourite, with great opening lyrics: “We’re living in desperate times, these are desperate times my friend.” Divinyls were best known for their 1990 hit I Touch Myself. The lead singer sadly died a few years ago.

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Alice Cooper: Teenage Frankenstein & He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) – from Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)

The link between slasher films and (what was then deemed to be) heavy metal was put to good use in Jason Lives with Alice Cooper’s originals for the soundtrack. Lyrics about full moons, lovers lake etc just spell out everything that is Friday.

Those loved and lost

2016 was regarded as a terrible year for many reasons, a lot of which are political and divisive, but also because of the deaths of so, so many well-loved famous folk. (I hate the word ‘celebrity’, don’t you?)

Naturally, some of those people had a presence in our beloved slasher genre, so it wouldn’t be right to let their contributions become forgotten to career write-ups that conveniently forget the time they ran screaming from a killer…

CARRIE FISHER
1956 – 2016

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Mrs Crenshaw, Sorority Row; Bianca Bernette, Scream 3

Having never been much of a Star Wars type of guy, Carrie Fisher’s tragic loss at Christmas 2016 represented more of a loss of somebody generally important because of the issues she stood for and wasn’t afraid to discuss openly. She always came across as very genuine.

Anyway, Carrie cameo’d as a self-a-like in Scream 3 and later played the awesome Mrs Crenshaw in the 2009 Sorority Row remake, a no-shit, shotgun-toting badass of a housemother.

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ALEXIS ARQUETTE
1969-2016

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Damien, Bride of Chucky; Greg, Children of the Corn V

The youngest Arquette sibling was more known for supporting comic roles in the likes of The Wedding Singer (the only Adam Sandler film worth shit), and his transition to becoming her, and then back to him again.

Still, let us not forget Alexis’ contributions to two slasher pics, as wannabe goth/killer Damien, and the almost final-boy in the underrated fourth COTC sequel, Fields of Terror).

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ZSA ZSA GABOR
1917-2016

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Herself, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3

Reportedly, Dick Clark chose Zsa Zsa Gabor for his cameo in Dream Warriors as she was the stupidest person he’d ever interviewed. Nevertheless, Hollywood royalty Zsa Zsa was at least not taken from us too early, making it to 99 years old!

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GEORGE KENNEDY
1925-2016

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Himself, Wacko; Roy, Just Before Dawn

George Kennedy appeared in all of the 70s Airport disaster movies, but also cropped up at the end of 1982 slasher parody Wacko as himself to warn the audience that “lawnmowers don’t kill people, people kill people,” before getting pounded with cream pies.

And I really need to sit down with JBD again.

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VANITY / D.D. WINTERS
1959-2016

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Merry, Terror Train

Prince’s former protege died just a couple of months before the man himself. I don’t know a whole lot about her, only that she had this small supporting role in Terror Train.

Thank you all for your contributions to a bunch of films you probably thought no one would ever see. R.I.P.

Rankfest: Halloween

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

10th best: Season of the Witch (1983)

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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 once since then. It does nothing for me.

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

9th: Halloween II (2009)

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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.

8th: The Remake (2007)

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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.

7th: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

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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.

6th. Resurrection (2002)

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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!!!

5th: Halloween II (1981)

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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.

3rd: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

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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.

Live in the Now!

This month marks 20 years since I first watched Friday the 13th in my parents’ lounge one night in the early hours…

Since that life-changing experience (!), about 680 slasher movies later, I’m still always on the lookout for that kind of familiarity. Or, as The Carpenters sang, Trying to Get That Feeling Again.

To celebrate this anniversary, I’ve sought out some awesome ‘modernized’ trailers from YouTube, that make those old films at the beginning of my love affair with dead-teenager movies look like they could be released tomorrow!

Regardé:

Much like the Michael Myers, this trailer moves slowly and then suddenly goes for the jugular.

I love the use of a creepy Sealed with a Kiss on this one.

So the disco moves, clothes, and hair can’t be unseen, but these two minutes are better than the entire 2008 film.

Jamie Lee Curtis back again, fighting off another vengeful killer. This one shows how much she carries the action in Terror Train.

This film just can’t be improved upon, but this trailer certainly makes it look contemporary. Love the black and white flash at the end.

The Burning still freaks me out a bit two decades after I saw it. Its visceral intensity is cranked up in this re-do.

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)

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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.

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