Gays n’ Dolls

chucky 2021 tv show

CHUCKY

3.5 Stars  2021/365m

“A classic coming of rage story.”

Directors: Don Mancini, Dermott Downs, Leslie Libman, Samir Rehem, Jeff Renfroe / Writers: Sarah Acosta, Kim Garland, Don Mancini, Nick Zigler, Harley Peyton, Mallory Westfall, Isabella Gutierrez, Rachael Paradis / Cast: Zackary Arthur, Bjorgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, Brad Dourif, Devon Sawa, Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Lexa Doig, Rachelle Casseus, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Barbara Alyn Woods, Michael Therriault, Carina Battrick.

Laughter Lines: “You’re pathetic. You’re nothing. You’re Teddy Ruxpin with a knife.”


While the TV series adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer was doubling as a cure for insomnia on Amazon Prime, the SyFy Network was raking in viewers with an eight-part continuation of the Child’s Play series that, excluding the 2019 reimagining, had sat dormant since 2017’s straight-to-DVD Cult of Chucky, which had left a lot of unanswered questions. Unavoidable spoilers must follow.

We should be thankful original creator Don Mancini has stayed with his property through its controversies, critiques, and general lack of visibility, despite easily having the best continuity through any of the major horror franchises that came out of the 80s.

chucky 2021

Cult left us hanging after Chucky finally managed a successful possession of a living body, in this case poor Nica, who had been blamed for murdering her family. Escaping the clinic with Tiffany, as Andy Barclay was too late to rescue them, they also left behind a number of walkin’ talkin’ stalkin’ Good Guy dolls.

In the now, one such doll turns up at a yard sale in Hackensack, NJ, hometown of Charles Lee Ray. Awkward teenager Jake picks it up, intending to turn it into one of his homemade art pieces, constructed out of doll parts. When his alcoholic father intervenes, shy Jake finds companionship in Chucky, who quickly does away with his dad, making it look like an accident. Jake is sent to live with his rich uncle’s family, including his sporty cousin and secret-wielding aunt. At school, Jake is tormented by nasty mayor’s daughter (and girlfriend to his cousin) Lexy, but finds solace in the company of true crime podcaster Devon, son of a Hackensack PD detective.

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Chucky plays the long game, trying to get Jake to don the knife and start slicing, committing murders of his own when he feels like it: The maid falls face first into the upturned knife drawer of a dishwasher, a detective is stabbed to death with syringes, the junior high principal is decapitated…

Tiffany and Nica later come to town and move into the childhood home of Chucky’s, while Nica slips in and out of consciousness, battling for dominance over her body. Hot on their heels, Andy and Kyle are hunting down and destroying the remaining possessed Good Guy dolls before they can convince more kids to kill.

chucky 2021 jennifer tilly fiona dourif

There are a gazillion more plot threads to Chucky, ranging from neglectful parents, secret cancer diagnoses, an unlikely kinship between Jake and Lexy once she too discovers Chucky’s evil. At the forefront though is the brave decision to make our 14-year-old lead openly gay. Expectedly, dark corners of internet chatter moaned and whinged, seemingly unaware the ‘series they loved’ was created by a gay man, one who has clearly waited almost 35 years to be able to inject some of his own experience into the story. Chucky attempts to leverage this, providing sympathetic commentary about Glen/Glenda (where are they?) and also his own boyhood, with flashbacks showing his first murders and meeting Tiffany. In these scenes Fiona Dourif stands in for her father to great effect.

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The series ends with the door more than slightly ajar for an evident second series, which slightly compromised the big finale set piece, set during a screening of Frankenstein and featuring a unique spin on the concept of a pain in the ass. Things don’t unfold the way you might think they will based on how the penultimate episode ends, but it’s still fun stuff, with Dourif Snr on form as the voice of Chucky, spewing some excellent lines throughout. Any B-movie series that succeeds in bringing back so many alumni should be applauded. There are only maybe a handful of other surviving characters they could possibly even dredge up at this point.

One overlooked point of contention is the legend of Chucky himself. In Seed, Hollywood was producing a movie about him, but everyone acts oblivious to the presence of the sometimes-prolific doll that keeps turning up at murder scenes. You’d think there’d be no way any parent would trust one of these things with a six-year-old.

chucky 2021 alex vincent christine elise

Blurbs-of-interest: Devon Sawa was the lead in Final Destination; Lexa Doig was the lead in Jason X; other than BrideSeedCurse, and Cult, J-Till was also in Far from Home and The Caretaker; Brad Dourif’s other slasher appearances include both of Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, Color of NightChain Letter, TraumaUrban Legend, and Dead Scared.

Sisters are drillin’ it for themselves

slumber party massacre 2021

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE

3.5 Stars  2021/87m

“You know the drill.”

Director: Danishka Esterhazy / Writer: Suzanne Keilly / Cast: Hanna Gonera, Frances Sholto-Doulgas, Mila Rayne, Alex McGregor, Reze-Tiana Wessels, Rob Van Vuuren, Jennifer Steyn, Schelaine Bennett, Masali Baduza, Eden Classens, Michael Potter.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “I can’t believe these dudes are beating us out on being murdered, like honestly, their privilege is ridiculous.”


Another remake? Sigh. Well… yes and no. A cursory overview of the South Africa lensed Slumber Party Massacre would probably have you thinking we’re in for just another go-round of girls in lingerie being drilled, while horny guys peering through windows get it in the back. But there’s more than meets the eye here. Necessary spoilers ensue.

Beginning with a crash course in slasher film cliches, in 1993, gal-pals Trish, Jackie, Diane, and Kim have rented a lakeside cabin at Holly Springs. Trish’s no-good ex Chad turns up, she tells him where to go, he watches the girls dance through the windows and gets power-drilled for his trouble. The killer then enters the building until only Trish remains, and manages to knock him off the dock, where his body sinks into the darkness.

slumber party massacre 2021

22 years later, Trish’s daughter Dana is off on a weekend roadtrip with her friends Maeve, Breanie, and Ashley, as well as Maeve’s lil sis Alix, who has snuck her way along. The girls break down on route and end up having to rent a local lakeside house for the night while they wait for new car parts. Hmm… the house is on the opposite side of the lake to the cabin of blood in the prologue. Coincidence?

slumber party massacre 2021

No. Thirty minutes in, when Alix finds a body outside and puts the pieces together, the other girls whip out weapons and declare they intentionally ended up there to attract Russ Thorn and kill him for good. The rug of prediction pulled out from beneath us, SPM ’21 switches up into a flip reverse opus of the expected: The girls go around the lake to warn five boys who have rented the other residence, but Russ is already at work.

After watching the shirtless guys have a slo-mo pillow fight through the window, a literal murder-in-the-dark scatters the group: The guys stomp out without a plan or try to save the day and largely end up drilled to pieces.

slumber party massacre 2021

By an hour in, the girls succeed in slashing, stabbing, and hacking Russ to pieces, witnessed by the surviving boys, who suspect the girls are hardline feminists, and while they await the police, it seems another killer enters the midst…

A review on IMDb goes:

“A movie on the SyFy channel, which are mostly a male audience, is getting lectured in a bad movie about misogyny.

The killer is a man and this movie makes no sense. Did I fail to mention it has close up shots of men slow motion bathing, which is for feminismgayism empowerment, for a straight male audience?”

Feminismgayism? This guy arrogantly assumes the film (and by extension any film on SyFy) is for straight men. The self-absorbed nature of this comment is pretty much why this movie is the way it is. Idiot.

slumber party massacre 2021

The reversal of the trends does present the ‘straight male audience’ with an ogle-worthy shower scene where Matt soaps up his rock hard abs before being wasted. It’s a direct reflection of what slasher films of olde served up their female cast members, and probably more confronting in its depiction of a very sculpted physique, rather than anything else.

The emergence of the second killer forces the conventions back on the familiar track after the film merrily skewered them up to that point, with some nifty demises for the remaining characters, but a not-so-surprising revelation around who this character is, which the film kinda treats as a gasp-worthy development, but has been seen before in one of the most famous slasher films around.

slumber party massacre 2021 russ thorn rob van vuuren

SPM ’21 is a great companion piece to the original, and perhaps adheres closely with Rita Mae Brown’s original vision. But there’s also a lot of love, with the girls at the start sharing names with their 1982 counterparts, a victim using a very 80s electric guitar to try and fight off the killer in an homage to SPM II. Rob Van Vuuren also gets Thorn’s unique walk and cranial lilt bang on. This is the film the 2019 Black Christmas reimagining wishes it was.

Syndromeo & Eww-liet

nobody sleeps in the woods tonight ii

NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT II

1.5 Stars  2021/18/97m

Director/Writer: Bartosz M. Kowalski / Writer: Mirella Zaradkiewicz / Cast: Mateusz Wieclawek, Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Zofia Wichlacz, Andrzej Grabowski, Lech Dyblik, Sebastian Stankiewicz, Robert Wabich, Izabela Dabrowska, Wojciech Mecwaldowski.

Body Count: 12


A timely follow up to the 2020 Polish summer camp slasher, part two begins with the twin monsters and sole survivor Zosia holed up in cells at the local cop shop.

Optimistic rookie officer Adam pedals into work as his superior escorts Zosia back to the house to get her perspective and leaves her handcuffed to a bed above a section of the meteor, which soon does its thing, infects her, and turns her into one of the mutants.

Adam and fellow cop Wanessa eventually grow concerned and find themselves thrust into the horror, along with two survivalist types, the camp manager, and a hooker. Monster-Zosia makes mincemeat out of most of them and converts Adam into a fellow mutant. They kill a dog-abusing vendor, hook up in a rather confronting sex scene, and return to the police station to liberate their family members.

The gross-out comedy facets are pushed to the fore in this grotesque combo of any Wrong Turn sequel you like, with parts of Hatchet thrown in. There are some funny moments, but it just doesn’t commit itself and seems to drag on forever the longer it continues.

We don’t care what we did last summer

i know what you did last summer 2021

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

2.5 Stars  2021/380m

Directors: Johanna Stokes, Lana Cho, Phoebe Fisher, Sara Goodman, Shay Hatten, Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Gary Tieche / Writers: Logan Kibens, Craig William MacNeill, Benjamin Semanoff, Lois Duncan (novel) / Cast: Madison Iseman, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Bill Heck, Ashley Moore, Fiona Rene, Sebastian Amoruso, Cassie Beck, Brooke Bloom, Eric William Morris.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “What’s with all the screams, Neve Campbell?”


A proposed second adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer helmed by Mike Flanagan (of HushOculus, and The Haunting of Hill House notoriety) were floating around for a few years, a script was ready to go, reportedly going at Lois Duncan’s novel from a more traditional perspective. Whatever happened to that, it never seemed to advance and the idea of a teen TV series floated to the top, produced again by Neil H. Moritz.

As with all of these things, Pretty Little Liars always seems to get namechecked as a source of inspiration. I never watched past the first episode of that show so have little context, but those I know who did stick with it groaned that it outstayed its welcome by repeatedly tacking on extra layers to the mystery. Scream – The TV Series was just about okay (and also featured Brianne Tju), but the idea behind I Know… seems more suited to a multi-episode arc than most other slasher ventures.

i know what you did last summer 2021 madison iseman

Come Autumn 2021, Amazon Prime released an episode a week to a rather dismal reaction from most corners. Two-and-a-half from me? You don’t get more average than that. Let’s dive in… Spoilers in the road ahead – careful you don’t run them down.

Episode 1 introduces us to Hawaii and our core teen cast, who are celebrating graduating high school at a lavish party thrown by rich girl Margot’s mother. In attendance is her gay best friend Johnny, intense intellectual type Dylan, drug dealin’ Riley, good time girl Lennon and, lurking, Lennon’s shy identical twin sister Alison. It’s quickly established that the sisters are Yin & Yang, with Lennon popular, liberal with drugs and sexual fluidity. When she screws Alison’s long term crush Dylan, they argue and she storms out. Wait… who storms out?

i know what you did last summer madison iseman 2021 twins

Clambering into a jeep wasted, the five teens rocket down the freeway and run over Alison, who’s inexplicably in the middle of the road at night. Panicking as Julie, Ray, Helen, and Barry once did, they elect to place the body in a cave that floods to wash it out into the Pacific and tell everybody Alison ran away. The cave was also the scene of a mass cult suicide some years earlier that may or may not have been what killed the twins’ mom. Their grumpy dad, Bruce, isn’t particularly forthcoming, but you know we’ll find out eventually…

i know what you did last summer 2021

One year later, Lennon returns from her first year of college and finds a severed goats head in her closet and ‘I know what you did last summer’ scrawled on the mirror. DUH DUH DUUUUHHHH. And at the end of episode 1, the entirely unsurprising revelation that this is in fact Alison is tossed to us like crumbs. Some blah over a piece of jewellery, taking her sister’s jacket and her nasty words to heart, Alison decided to pretend to try on fun loving, popular Lennon for size.

While Alison continues to pretend she’s Lennon, we learn that her father is in on the secret, something around it being more believable troubled Alison would disappear. She reconnects with her friends and shares the threat. Suspects are quickly slotted in: Riley’s attitude-tastic mom, Courtney, local weirdo Clara, who saw the teens that night, the Sheriff who is screwing Bruce, and dorky deputy Doug, whose investigative skills might jeopardise the killer’s scheme. Dylan, too, has gone understandably weird.

i know what you did last summer 2021 death by slushie

The group begin to receive texts ‘from Alison’ and eventually at the end of the second episode, the killing begins. There’s no fisherman, no cool mask, and in visual scope terms, no killer – they’re completely off-camera, which will clue in seasoned viewers to narrowing their suspect field down a bit.

A few days later, Lennon’s body appears in the ocean in front of the family guesthouse. Considering she’s been dead a year, the corpse is remarkably well preserved, leading Bruce to confront weird Clara, who admits she kept it with her all this time and was treating it for transition into the next life (this part-explains the honey on the poster).

i know what you did last summer 2021 hot cop

More murders occur, including a grisly double at the memorial service for ‘Alison’, death-by-slushie machine, one poor sod killed on the toilet… All the while, the remaining members of the group can’t get their shit together to investigate cohesively. Questionably, they continue to laugh about stuff, do drugs, hook up, play pranks while snooping around a suspect’s house. Your friend is dead. People wish you dead. What are you doing?

Crucially, the major black mark against this iteration of the story is that the characters are assholes. Every last one of them. Had there been a decent, believable reason for Alison to become Lennon, it might wash, but she literally just alters her attitude to become bitchy and mean, leading on various suitors and seemingly unfazed by the growing body count. Whereas the 1997 film focused on the damage done to the characters’ lives by their secret, these kids seem to give no fucks whatsoever, extracting any sense of morality or accountability.

i know what you did last summer 2021

 

Some bloody crime scenes are interesting, but the murder set pieces are minimally allotted any time or tension – no chase scenes are possible given the lengths the camera goes to to keep the killer out of the frame, leaving this a stalk n’ slasher without much stalk and a base level of minimal slash.

i know what you did last summer 2021 courtney

Ultimately, the killer’s identity isn’t totally predictable, thanks to some misdirection earlier, but the motive is fuzzy and shallow to the point there’s a tacked on piece to camera by the character at the end revealing how they did it. Stranger still is the coda shared by the surviving characters, a sort of cynical “happily ever after” that flies directly in the face of the motive Alison was on the receiving end of one scene prior!?

Mob Rule

halloween kills 2021

HALLOWEEN KILLS

2.5 Stars  2021/18/105m

Director/Writer: David Gordon Green / Writers: Scott Teems, Danny McBride / Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall, Dylan Arnold, James Jude Courtney, Robert Longstreet, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Thomas Mann, Carmela McNeal, Michael Smallwood, Nick Castle.

Body Count: at least 30


Halloween has turned into its very own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series now, with three paths to pick at the end of the original: You can go the 1-2-4-5-6 route, the 1-2-H20-Resurrection way, or 1-2018-Kills-Ends. Interestingly, both latter avenues were accompanied with a sort of “oh, we just ignored all those awful sequels!” narrative, and with the release of Halloween Kills, both latter avenues have delivered instalments that are decidedly inferior to those 80s-90s efforts. Spoilers will need to ensue.

Allyson’s cheerleader kissin’ boyfriend Cameron stumbles upon the not-quite-dead Deputy Hawkins and we’re whisked back to 1978, with Hawkins the younger and his colleagues hunting The Shape after Dr Loomis shot him out of the Doyles window. Tommy’s bully, Lonnie Elams, has a creepy encounter, and the cops track him back to the Myers house, perfectly captured as we last saw it, and Loomis himself is even resurrected for the occasion.halloween kills 2021

In 2018, Laurie is rushed on to the operating table, while Karen becomes a bit of a Karen with the hospital staff, and the cops get a debrief from Allyson. Meanwhile, firefighters enter the Strode house and guess who is not burnt to a cinder? Michael wastes no time in taking out half a dozen burly firemen before tottering back towards town.

Elsewhere, middle-aged Tommy Doyle tells the tale of the babysitter murders at a bar, where he’s drinking with Lindsey Wallace, Lonnie, and Nurse Marion (why is she there??). When the news reports murders, they team up with a couple seen briefly in the previous film to lead a vigilante mob to take out Michael.

halloween kills 2021 kyle richards anthony michael hall

Things go wrong, people die, and Tommy ends up at Haddonfield Memorial where he stirs anxious relatives of the injured and missing to a mob frenzy, including the former Sheriff Brackett, now working security there (despite being like 80) and the crowd start chanting: “Evil dies tonight!” over and over. It’s a weird scene, at odds with anything you’d expect from a Halloween movie.

Laurie is informed Michael is not dead and tries to leave, but the baying crowd begin hunting one of the other escaped patients from the bus crash. Nobody will listen to reason, so Karen decides to help the man and locks him in a corridor on an upper floor. The mob attack and he eventually throws himself out of a window to his death.

halloween kills 2021 nancy stephens kyle richards

Things culminate at the Myers house, now inhabited and renovated by a gay couple. There’s a good scene in which Karen manages to steal Michael’s mask and is chased through some yards until the residents of Haddonfield have him surrounded and exact their revenge. But because we know Halloween Ends is slated for 2022, things don’t work out quite as planned.

So, Laurie shares no scenes with The Shape whatsoever and a whole lot of time is spent with Tommy Doyle’s lynch mob, shoehorning in actors and characters from the original who are inexplicably still living in Haddonfield forty years later, and hang out together in bars. It’s contrived as fuck fan service, but this is a slasher film so why should it even matter? Halloween Kills is a damn mess, but it may improve as the bridging instalment once the third and final chapter comes along, though if the history of this series has taught us anything, it’s that someone will find a way to bring it back again one way or another.

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