Scream ‘cuz you know what he did that Halloween

scream resurrection 2019

SCREAM: RESURRECTION

2 Stars  2019/253m

“New season. New blood.”

Created by: / Cast: RJ Cyler, Jessica Sula, Keke Palmer, Giorgia Whigham, CJ Wallace, Guillian Yao Gioiello, Tyga, Tyler Posey, Mary J. Blige, Tony Todd, Paris Jackson, Roger Jackson (voice).

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Some dude turned him into a Pez dispenser.”


Leaving the town of Lakeshore in peace, and partially unresolved given the way Season 2 ended, the powers that be decided to reboot the TV format of Scream and take it to more urban surroundings, crop down the number of episodes, and… well, I have no idea what else. Some spoilers.

After the news about Harvey Weinstein broke, #MeToo, and various other black clouds gathered, the 2018 air date was delayed, eventually shifting from MTV for a get-it-over-stat run of airing the six episodes over three nights on VH1. Yeeps.

It could also be argued that the final product was so disappointing, everybody involved just wanted to wash their hands of it entirely.

scream resurrection 2019

Beginning with a nubile girl (MJ’s daughter, Paris) home alone getting a weird call, the opening scene proves to be a gag that introduces us to two trick or treating brothers who end up in trouble when they go looking for a stolen swag-bag of candy in the breaker’s yard inhabited by ‘Hookman’ (Tony Todd), who murders one, while the other escapes.

Eight years later (not five or ten for once!), surviving twin Deion (Cyler) is Weaver High School’s star football player, but also the plaything of a shady stalker, wearing the original Ghostface mask and making calls with the same voice: “Let’s see who you really are, Deion!” etc, etc.

scream resurrection mary j blige rj cyler 2019

The curse seems to leak out and infect a group of classmates when they share detention: The geek, the outspoken protester, her gay BFF, the goth, and the princess. Calling themselves The Deadfast Club before someone else comes up with it, they and some hangers-on are soon being slashed, injected, impaled, and litter-pick’d to death. Well, only the male ones. There’s curiously not a single female victim in Resurrection.

Keke Palmer is the brightest light here as social justice warrior Kym, who doesn’t shy away from calling things out: When the killer calls her and asks if she likes scary movies, she pointedly responds: “No I do not, ’cause everyone in them as stupid as hell.” The other five central players pale in comparison somewhat, a couple are able to add some depth to their knife-fodder roles but the by-numbers dialogue doesn’t allow them a lot of room to manoeuvre.

scream resurrection 2019

Goth-girl Beth is our Randy/Kirby stand-in, firing off Slasher 101 factoids all over the show, and it would seem this series might’ve challenged the conventions over who will survive, but given that the gay and Muslim kids are first to go from the main roster, has anything really progressed much? This isn’t the first slasher opus to try and switch up race roles, but is probably the most notable, which makes it more tragic that it was virtually written off and will doubtfully ever air again.

As we know with all horror tales involving twins, there’s going to be some switcheroo nonsense in there and it’s a groan-inducing moment when the truth finally seeps out, leading into an unmasking that’s particularly anti-climactic and ill-conceived, taking it about as far from the smart-ass post-modernism of the original Scream movie, which goes unmentioned, along with the events of the other two seasons. A throwaway line about the mask being similar to the one used in the Woodsboro killings? Nah. Zip.

scream resurrection 2019 jessica sula

The kids do their best to try and subvert expectations, but we’re 23 years after Scream and 40 years after Halloween and Friday the 13th now. Applying the rules of their parents and grandparents doesn’t fly and it’s bleakly ironic that Scream: Resurrection has become exactly the kind of material that the original movie took to task in unravelling.

Blurbs-of-interest: Keke Palmer was in both seasons of Scream QueensGideon Emery was in Train; Tony Todd was Candyman, in Final Destination‘s 12, and 5Hatchet and its first sequelHell FestiMurdersJack the Reaper, and Scarecrow Slayer.

Anyone for a game of Operation?

anatomy 2000

ANATOMY

4 Stars  2000/18/95m

“They can’t wait to get their hands on you…”

Director/Writer: Stefan Ruzowitzky / Cast: Franka Potente, Sebastian Blomberg, Benno Furmann, Anna Loos, Traugott Buhre, Holger Speckhahn, Arndt Schwering-Sonhey, Oliver K. Wnuk.

Body Count: 7


A classy medical slasher that’s one part Urban Legend, one part 70s thriller Coma, that gets a lot of mileage out of creepy settings and questionable characters. Some spoilers follow.

Pre-big-role Franka Potente is super-smart Paula Henning, who wins a place at the Heidelberg University, against her doctor father’s wishes. She becomes suspicious when a classmate with a rare heart condition ends up on her slab with a gum-like blood consistency.

After some covert investigation, she uncovers the secretive Anti-Hippocratic Society, an ancient order she thinks is experimenting on still-alive subjects with rare disorders to get a better insight into the diseases that will soon claim their victim’s life. Poking around in their affairs soon leads to threats on her life, with a creepy blood candle under her bed. Her new friends think she’s paranoid, or taking the presence of the AHS too seriously.

anatomie 2000

Anatomy changes tack slightly as it goes, keeping its body count fairly low in the first half and once a revelation is made that pretty much changes everything, the film becomes less of a conspiracy sect-against-honourable-doctor thriller and side-steps into slasher territory as it transpires the society is pretty much benevolent save for a couple of rogue doctors who aren’t playing by the rules. But who?

Once identities begin to be revealed, there’s a great but short chase scene where a fleeing victim is injected with the formula that turns blood to gum. As she runs, she flops and begins to seize up, left to crawl inch by inch towards sanctuary. Later on, Paula engages in cat and mouse theatrics with the scalpel-wielding killer, which features a great moment with those library shelves on rails that can be cranked and moved.

anatomy 2000

Meanwhile, the second killer, injected with the gum-stuff, desperately tries to find saline to reverse the effect. It’s excruciating as his functions slow down and he can’t get the needle to the vein in time. These scenes amp up what could’ve been a rather mediocre medical chiller, marinading it in a savagery that is offset by a little random comedy.

A understatedly fine affair, with interesting characters (Loos’ party girl with a sky-high IQ is great), upmarket production quality, and some great tension on both sides of the battle, which makes for that rare critter: A rather intelligent slasher pic. Followed by a sequel I’ve not seen, that sounds like it wouldn’t be reviewed here.

anatomy 2000 franka potente

Blurbs-of-interest: A very different looking Potente took final girl duties again in Creep.

The DNA of Prom Night

Given the much-awaited disco-bopping soundtrack to Prom Night was finally released on CD in the spring of 2019…

prom night sountrack

I thought it was time for another re-watch, this time paying more attention to the various… ‘homages’ the film is patched together from. Perfectly, I might add.

So, starting at the top – why didn’t Kim (or Alex) tell the cops that they saw Nick and the other kids playing at the school/convent/whatever minutes before Robin’s death? You’d think they would be questioned about it.

The Halloween Xeroxing is rife, you could easily mistake these streets that teenage girls get stalked along:

halloween prom night

And then we have JLC and her gal-pals walking along together, carrying books, discussing girly things about upcoming dances n’ the like:

halloween prom night

Jamie even forgot her text book in both films – geography in Prom Night, chemistry in Halloween! Why does this revelation make Alex think “darn!” and why do we get to hear it?

How could Kelly and Jude even be friends with Kim without major guilt? THEY KILLED HER SISTER and are asking her about her sex life!!! And Nick is GOING OUT WITH HER!? After going out with WENDY, his accomplice!???

Then we have the escaped mental patient who returned to town, and his shrink – although this time the police summon him rather than the other way around. Said shrink vanishes early on though.

The bitchy girl and the scuzzy dude plotting to humiliate the prom queen, right outta Carrie:

carrie prom night

That dance routine nabbed from Saturday Night Fever, which featured John Travolta from Carrie! The Bee Gees versus the amusing composed-to-spec disco bops Paul Zaza and Carl Zitterer made for Prom Night is no contest though:

saturday night fever prom night

The interactions between Kim and her friends are good though, naturalistic teen girl banter:

prom night 1980

In summary, Prom Night is a jigsaw of a production, built with puzzle pieces from other films, but undeniably a fab one.

A friend recently asked me if I were to remake it, what my approach would be…

  • Well, not that vile 2008 remake
  • More kids in the game at the start, with one killed earlier in the day (rather than the hour wait)
  • Make more out of Principal Hammond and his wife as suspects – where do they go???
  • Perhaps have Kelly turn out to be the killer?

Upsetting the Apple Cart

hot fuzz 2007

HOT FUZZ

4 Stars  2007/15/116m

“Big cops. Small town. Moderate violence.”

Director/Writer: Edgar Wright / Writer: Simon Pegg / Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, Adam Buxton, Kevin Eldon, Anne Reid, Kenneth Cranham, David Threlfall, Lucy Punch, Ron Cook.

Body Count: 17

Laughter Lines: “You wanna be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up to the model village!”


Huh? Are we really calling this a slasher film? No, of course not, but let’s also not ignore the fact that a sizeable chunk of Pegg and Frost’s best is just that – with a cloaked mystery killer axing, roasting, shearing, and dropping plinths on to the residents of Sandford.

I’m not massively impressed by Simon Pegg’s schtick usually. Yeah, Shaun of the Dead was funny immediately after Dawn of the Dead (I watched them back to back) and the guy knows his movie shit inside out, but I’m unable to escape a sense of self-satisfaction that more likely comes from all the media gushing than Pegg himself. See also: Ed Sheeran. Weirdly, I love Nick Frost in everything. But let’s forget all that, because Hot Fuzz transcends all of those thought processes with it’s 26-jokes-a-minute tempo.

hot fuzz 2007 simon pegg nick frost

Pegg is Sgt. Nicholas Angel, literally London’s finest who is shipped off to the small country town of Sandford after his superiors become aware he makes the rest of the Metropolitan Police force look bad by comparison. He is the job and the job is everything, which is why his relationship also failed. With no choice in the matter, Angel grumpily plods off to pastures new, where the local force of various inept and unchallenged officers has little to do other than show up at fetes and hunt down wayward swans.

hot fuzz 2007

Angel’s law-is-the-law attitude doesn’t go down well with his new colleagues so none of them are inclined to agree with his hypothesis that a killer may be on the loose when members of the community start dying is grisly ‘accidents’, starting with a double-decapitation by road sign, an explosion, and part of a church spire landing directly on the local journalist’s head, seconds before he was to share valuable information he’d learned with Angel.

hot fuzz 2007 anne reid

Only Nick Frost’s loveable PC, Danny, remains on side, keen to end up in a gun fight right outta Point Break or Bad Boys II, but Angel eventually offends everyone and then finds himself in need of their help once his suspicions turn out to be true and there is not one, not two, but an entire cult of psychotic townsfolk so hell bent on winning Village of the Year, they’re willing to permanently rid the place of anyone who might endanger the trophy. Yes, it’s Scooby Doo on speed.

hot fuzz 2007 simon pegg

Hot Fuzz switches to buddy cop movie for its final act – by way of a few borderline homoerotic near misses – with a huge shoot-out between cops and the kind of sweet middle-aged lady you see pedalling past with flowers in her basket. The film misses nothing in its composite of set pieces, cameos, and the tiniest details, all of which come back to play a valuable part later.

hot fuzz 2007

The only flaw is a gaping hole for a central female role of any real stature, with Olivia Colman’s perky WPC the closest. But this is boys stuff, made for lads by lads, so there’s no time to be wasted on that kind of PC stuff. This came out at the peak of the Pegg/Frost/Wright hype machine, so it would be entirely possible that it’s overrated because of this, but watching it again the other day to write this up, it still had me laughing out loud several times.

hot fuzz 2007

Look for cameos of varying impact from Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Stephen Merchant, and Peter Jackson.

Many Happy Returns

happy death day 2u 2019

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

3 Stars  2019/15/96m

“Death makes a killer comeback.”

Director/Writer: Christopher Landon / Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Missy Yager, Jason Bayle.

Body Count: 18… sort of

Laughter Lines: “You smacked my dick. That’s rude.”


The day she thought was over …is starting again. Spoilers follow.

Happy Death Day was an unexpected smash in 2017, and just eighteen months later came the they’d-be-stupid-not-to sequel, which attempts to build on the mythos of the first rather than just replay it. Rather than just replay it. Rather than just replay it.

The consequence of these changes is that the film moves further away from its negligible slasher template towards more of a cutesy sci-fi romp with a killer operating in the background. Even so, there’s still a lot of fun to be had if you don’t rock up expecting slasher sequences galore. We get a few, mostly in the first half, but otherwise this is a different tale.

happy death day 2u 2019 phi vu

Carter’s roommate Ryan, seen repeatedly interrupting in their dorm room first time around, finds himself caught in a time loop of his own creation, with another version of himself behind the baby mask, seguing nicely into an explanation of Tree’s experience: Ryan and some classmates built a machine that basically caught her up in the loop and now, is sending her into a parallel universe where she’s looping again.

This time though, Lori is not the one with the knives out for her – and her mom is alive! Understandably moved by getting her mom back, Tree decides to stay in this new corner of the multiverse, but soon learns that she’s just living a life that isn’t hers. And she still has the wackadoo maniac to deal with – their identity is pretty obvious this time though.

happy death day 2u 2019 jessica rothe

As a comedy, HDD2U is gold. Bitchy sorority prez Danielle is back, this time as a kinder, dimmer version of herself, who confuses Anne Frank with Helen Keller and has a great scene pretending to be blind to distract the Dean while the others steal his keys to liberate the time-bending machine.

Those looking for slasher thrills may be best to cruise on by though. The PG-13 rating is in full force with little to no bloodletting, some cool demises for both the luckless extras caught up in Tree’s rinse and repeat nightmare, and the methods by which she chooses to off herself every time the day requires a reset. Stick around for the mid-credits scene which seems to push Happy Death Day 3 even further from the raft of dead bodies.

happy death day 2u 2019 jessica rothe

Blurbs-of-interest: Rothe, Broussard, Vu, Matthews, Modine, Aitken, Bayle and Rob Mello all reprise their roles from the first film.

 

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