Tag Archives: calendar carnage

“It’s not who you go with, honey, it’s who takes you home.”

I’m whoring myself again. BUY! BUY! BUY! (this, not me).

.

No, it’s not some novelization, more of an homage to the original Prom Night film written out of complete bewilderment of the remake, back in 2008, revised and updated in the last month to be eBook-i-fied.

The story is thus: A gunman opens fire on a service station forecourt (in Britain, gasp!) killing patrons left, right, and center, including several teenagers returning from a school field trip to France.

Four months later, as their final school dance approaches, several of the survivors receive cryptic messages that only studious nice girl Alfie takes seriously. When it becomes apparent the threat is very real, she races to the prom to try and warn the others, who are already being stalked and slain by a ski-masked killer with a grudge to settle.

This is a short affair, my urge to fatten it with character arcs and subplots was stomped by pure love for the revenge-at-the-prom opus.

Eyes peeled for summer camp-set follow up, The Blood Season, soon.

You can buy it in the US here, or in the UK here.

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part X: The Top 10

*According to me! Me, me, me! So expect to see some of your faves missing.

I’m both happy and sad to have reached the end of this mammoth task.

To reiterate the placings on this list, these 100 titles were picked from 631 slasher films I’ve seen over 20 odd years, so even to reach the ‘lower’ echelons of the chart means they’re awesome.

See full rundown of notes: #100-91

100. Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)
99. The Prowler (1981)
98. Tormented (2009)
97. Bloody Homecoming (2012)
96. Stagefright (1986)
95. He Knows You’re Alone (1980)
94. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
93. Intruder (1988)
92. Unhinged (1982)
91. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

#90-81

90. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
89. Madman (1981)
88. Child’s Play 2 (1990)
87. Camping Del Terrore (1986)
86. Final Exam (1981)
85. Club Dread (2002)
84. Boogeyman 2 (2007)
83. Wishcraft (2001)
82. Opera (1987)
81. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

#80-71

80. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
79. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
78. 7eventy 5ive (2007)
77. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
(1985)
76. Scream 3 (2000)
75. My Super Psycho Sweet 16 (2009)
74. Hellbent (2004)
73. Death Bell (2008)
72. Maniac Cop (1988)
71. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

#70-61

70. Coda (1987)
69. The Funhouse (1981)
68. Some Guy Who Kills People (2012)
67. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
66. Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012)
65. Pandemonium (1982)
64. Bride of Chucky (1998)
63. The Pool (2001)
62. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
61. Venom (2005)

#60-51

60. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
59. Tenebrae (1982)
58. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
57. Killer Party (1986)
56. Fatal Games (1983)
55. Julia’s Eyes (2010)
54. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
53. Deadly Blessing (1981)
52. Sorority Row (2009)
51. Final Destination 5 (2011)

#50-41

50. The House on Sorority Row (1982)
49. Cold Prey III (2010)
48. Hot Fuzz (2007)
47. Psycho II (1983)
46. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
45. The Burning (1981)
44. Terror Train (1980)
43. Hollow Man (2000)
42. Session 9 (2001)
41. Anatomy (2000)

#40-31

40. Malevolence (2005)
39. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
38. Psycho Beach Party (2000)
37. Shredder (2001)
36. Flashback (1999)
35. Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001)
34. You’re Next (2011)
33. Scream 4 (2011)
32. Mask Maker (2010)
31. Cut (2000)

#30-21

30. Haute Tension (2003)
29. Wilderness (2006)
28. Final Destination 2 (2003)
27. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
26. Friday the 13th (2009)
25. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)
24. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
23. A Bay of Blood (1971)
22. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
21. Prom Night (1980)

#20-11

20. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
19. Hell Night (1981)
18. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
17. April Fool’s Day (1986)
16. Wrong Turn (2003)
15. Cold Prey II (2008)
14. The Initiation (1983)
13. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
12. Scream (1996)
11. My Bloody Valentine (1981)

THE CRAWFORD TOP 10

10. Scream 2 (1997)

I know, I know… ‘Sequels suck’ might be the general theme of much of Scream 2, but in terms of everything I want out of a slasher film, this one brings it in droves, therefore making it just that tiny bit superior to the first in my eyes.

A couple of years after the Woodsboro murders, Sidney and Randy are at a handsome college when the premiere of the film-based-on-the-book-based-on-the-killings kickstarts a new series of slayings on and around campus. Dewey and Gale are on hand to posit theories, and Cotton Weary has been released from prison after his exoneration – but who is killing everyone and why?

Scream 2, like Final Destination 2, may lack the fresh originality of its predecessor, but sets the bar: Everything is that little bit more polished, the rules established, and the in-jokes more fitting. And for a film that clocks in just shy of 2 hours, it’s never boring (OK, that Greek-play scene maybe). By my decree, the best of its series.

Crowning moment: Sarah Michelle Gellar – surely THE icon of the era – is a sorority girl alone in the house when the weird calls begin…

9. Psycho (1960)

Where would we be without Psycho? Listen to some evangelists and they’d likely say in a better world, But fuck them. That Hitchcock was British means that the ‘American Slasher Film’ owes a lot to our fair shores. Anyway, Jane Leigh steals money on a whim, runs away from her life, but makes the fatal error of checking in off the beaten track at the Bates Motel, where she relaxes a little, has a sarnie with the manager, Norman, and takes a shower…

It just works. Considering how ‘small’ the plot is in correlation to the 104 minute (PAL!) runtime of the film, it’s completely engaging, flawlessly made, and one of the most important films in history. Just imagine if Hitch had been around to make an 80s slasher flick…

Crowning moment: THAT shower scene.

8: Final Destination (2000)

fd14

Average Joe high schooler Alex foresees a plane crash minutes before its departure and gets himself and a few classmates thrown off, only to see his vision come true shortly afterwards.

Later, as the seven surviving ejectees try to move on with their lives, a series of sinister accidents begin claiming them one by one, as if some supernatural dustpan and brush has come to sweep up the lost souls. Alex suspects that Death itself is balancing the books and now every surrounding object is capable of conspiring to take them out.

Comparing this film to its sequels reveals a stark contrast: The characters consider their own mortality, question greater forces controlling their fate, and radiate genuine emotions largely absent in the following movies, that just served up stupid characters to be annihilated, tits, and little to say on the fragility of life.

Crowning moment: The plane crash – at the time criticised for exploiting the huge similarities to the 1996 TWA800 disaster – is expertly realised and fucking terrifying.

7: Cold Prey (2006)

Norway might not carry much weight in international film production, but neigh-sayers be damned when it comes to this back-to-basics slasher that practically redefines the meaning of the word tension.

Five snowboarders drive into the mountains for a days’ shredding only for one to wipeout and break his leg. They take shelter in a closed-down ski-lodge and bed down for the night, only to realise that it already has an anti-social inhabitant who intends on shredding them.

While every trope gets a tick, Cold Prey executes them all the same kind of European style that put fellow Euro-slasher Haute Tension on this list: New landscapes, cultural difference, and language ‘freshen’ up the usual cliches and when it’s down to just the final girl versus the hulking killer, if you’re anything like me you’ll be yelling at your screen for her to run faster, hit harder, and avoid that swinging pick-axe.

Crowning moment: The first murder; brutal, necessary, but almost heartbreaking.

6: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The brilliant simplicity of “Stay awake or you’ll die” is 90% of Elm Street‘s excellence: A quartet of teenagers discover they’re each having bad dreams about a fire-scarred guy with ‘knives-for-fingers’ who wants to kill them. Only Nancy (Heather Langenkampenschwartzenberger) takes it remotely seriously and her probing begins to uncover a dreadful secret that her parents have been keeping from her.

Like Psycho, Freddy Krueger’s impact on pop culture was phenomenal. People who’d never even seen the films were fans in the 80s: Throw in rap videos, toys, a TV series and all those sequels, Elm Street merched its way into the annals of horror history.

But the original film shouldn’t be understated. Though some of the acting and effects work is quirky at best, some of the nightmare themes are petrifyingly familiar, and Nancy’s vain attempts to get anyone to believe she’s anything less than crazy are as frustrating to witness as they are for her character to endure. Perfect horror.

Crowning moment: Nancy’s mom eventually folds and tells her daughter the horrible truth. In a scene cut from the movie, a deceased sibling once existed, a powerful motivator that would’ve added an emotional punch.

5: Urban Legend (1998)

ul7a

The controversial entrant. Those familiar with Vegan Voorhees will know just how much I stan for this film. Those who aren’t are likely saying WTF!? Third-tier 90s horror it might be, but everything in Urban Legend is cheese-tastically great: The ludicrous plot, the identity of a killer who could never hope to pull it off (but does!), a serious actress as the final girl having to utter the line: “It’s like somebody out there is taking all these stories and making them reality!” without laughing…

So, college kids at a haughty North Eastern campus are being tormented by a Parka-clad killer who bases their murders on those friend-of-a-friend folklore tales. These coincide with their class on the subject, taught by Robert Englund. Everyone thinks it’s got to do with a 25-year-old massacre at the school, although the audience knows for sure that heroine Natalie’s nasty secret is a more likely candidate.

A game cast of semi-knowns occasionally look a bit embarrassed about the material, but it only adds to the appeal of Urban Legend‘s unmatched ridiculousness. Alicia Witt was an ambitious and awesome choice for the lead, and that climactic scene out-bitches Mean Girls tenfold. You can try to dissuade me, but you’ll never do it.

Crowning moment: Couple in a car in the woods, guy gets out to relieve himself, takes a while, the girl starts to hear scratching on the roof…

4. Black Christmas (1974)

Girls at a sorority house being plagued by a series of bizarre and unpleasant phone calls during the festive season are soon targeted by a mystery killer who has taken up residence in their attic. Police and a worried parent are thrown into the mix when a pretty co-ed disappears, while heroine Jess (Olivia Hussey) finds herself with a personal crisis that may or may not be related to what’s happening (and is something you’d never see taken so seriously in such a lowly genre these days).

Once pulled from a TV showing for being “too frightening”, Black Christmas did first a lot of what Halloween ultimately got credit for. But the two are evenly matched, this one focusing in on the characters at the centre of the carnage over and above the horror, most of which comes in one big hit towards the end.

Excellent performances from all, especially Margot Kidder as the vulgar alcohol-fancying Barb, and John Saxon as, you guessed it, a detective, giving him two entries in this Top 10.

Crowning moment: A festive choir of angelic-voiced kids serenade Jess with a chorus of O Come All Ye Faithful while a murder is occurring in an upstairs bedroom. Expertly done, twisted beauty.

3: Halloween (1978)

You thought it was going to win, right? Will this is Vegan Voorhees, not Meat-eating Myers, so it’s bronze position for the most influential slasher film around. Why is it third? I would just rather watch the Top 2, that’s all. Nothing can be said to denigrate how fucking amazing Halloween is. I haven’t dared try and review it in case I screw up. It’s that important.

Nobody hasn’t seen it, but I’ll recycle the plot anyway: Boy murders sister on Halloween night. Fifteen years later, he breaks out of his institution and returns to the town of Haddonfield to do it again. And again. And again. His chosen targets are the friends of shy babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Only she is cautious enough to pay attention to some of the weird things happening during the school day. And when night falls…

What else is there to say? Astounding brilliant in every possible way: Creepy, scary, never for a moment boring. Only gorehounds might object to the general lack of grue.

Crowning moment: Laurie’s gradual increase of paranoia – who’s the guy across the street? in the car? behind the hedge?

2. Friday the 13th (1980)

Camp Crystal Lake has been closed for over twenty years after an unsolved double murder and recurrent bouts of bad luck every time anybody’s tried to re-open it. When a group of teenage counsellors arrive to set up shop, they’re stalked and slain by a shadowy psycho with an array of cutting implements and a grudge to settle.

I first saw Friday the 13th in the early hours of a June night back in the 90s. It changed everything. That first month or so after I watched it twice or three times a week, literally obsessed with its rustic, isolated, ambience and almost self-parodying nature. It’s a badly made film by most standards but the technical flaws only emphasize an underdog appeal: There’s nothing arty going on, it’s just distilled stalk n’ slash.

Because it’s a fairly simple-minded creature, Friday is an open target for all manner of criticisms. There’s nothing much to think about and it was already hugely predictable within months after the scores of clones, which merged parts of Halloween and this, to try and conquer.

I love it, I never get bored of it, and there’s only one other film I’d rather sit down watch…

Crowning moment: Kevin Bacon’s neck-skewering is an amazing moment, but I love the following scene of Marcie alone in the bathroom cabin as the camera slowly creeps its way ever closer…

The Greatest* Slasher Film of All Time

1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Five years after the Camp Crystal Lake murders, a nearby counsellor training center is besieged by a masked maniac with a hard-on for slashing up horny teenagers, which happen to be in plentiful supply. Only wisened-up assistant leader Ginny (Amy Steel) has the smarts to escape from the psycho.

A few weeks after discovering Friday the 13th, I made it my mission to repeat the experience. Jason Lives and The New Blood had been shown on cable but weren’t quite up to it, I had low-ish expectations for the £5.99 budget label video cassette I picked up in Portsmouth’s HMV.

Achieving the near-impossible, Friday 2 takes everything awesome from the first film, polishes it until it shines, and then adds half a dozen ejector-seat jump scares and Amy fucking Steel. Amy fucking Steel is the heart of this movie, a final girl forged in horror heaven who proves to be more than a worthy adversary to the B-movie axe murderer named Jason, who was supposed to have died years earlier.

Like Urban Legend, this one ticks all the boxes: Campfire story, pot-smoking, over-sexed counsellors, floating POV-work, a convertible VW Beetle! It’s only flaw is that the excised footage of Carl Fullerton’s makeup work has never been restored, never more frustrating than in the two-for-one shish-ke-bob kill lifted from A Bay of Blood.

An assembly of tweaked-to-perfection genre staples: This is the number one, THE best slasher film out there – deal with it!

Crowning moment: Ginny runs from the killer into a room and closes the door. Hearing nothing, she slowly reaches for the part-open window behind her… Reaches… Reaches… Glass shatters, he outsmarted her! So begins an epic chase to the end.

*

Where the hell is…?

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) I don’t hate it. I just don’t like it very much. Nobody would be stupid enough to deny its influence on the genre, but it does little for me. In a Top 631, I expect to see it around the #300 mark.

Halloween II (1981) The dizzying heights of the original film would be a tough act for anyone to follow. Halloween II is a good film, no more, no less. Carpenter’s inserts near the start are the highlight, but an hour of folks-with-no-names-nor-distinguishing-characteristics being killed before a horror-weary looking Jamie Lee Curtis gets out of her hospital bed wasn’t enough. Chart position estimate: #150

Any other curious absences? Let me know and I’ll tell you why!

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part III: #80-71

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

#100 – #91 is here
#90  – #81 is here

80: Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

At the hoity-toity Crawford prep school, the popular clique known as ‘The Crawford Top Ten’ are finding their membership numbers thinned out by a loon with an inventive streak to their methods. PTSD-suffering heroine Virginia isn’t sure if it’s her or not. High-end production and an awesome finale underscore its presence here, though it outstays its welcome by a good 20 minutes.

Crowning moment: An epic bitchfest of a showdown between killer and survivor that makes episodes of Scooby Doo look plausible and Mean Girls look tame.

79: Freddy vs Jason (2003)

The fifteen-years-in-waiting clash between the slasher granddaddies, Freddy vs Jason was enormously successful with its WWE-style smackdown and cute homages to both series’ pasts. With more kitsch than a Eurovision marathon, it’s stupid fun.

Crowning moment: Jason goes to a cornfield rave.

78: 7eventy 5ive (2007)

A group of children play a phone prank on the wrong guy, who comes over and slaughters their parents. Years later, they haven’t learned their lesson when they go for another round at a college party, which is crashed by a parka-wearing maniac rocking a big axe and a bad attitude.

Crowning moment: The initial assault, which lays to waste a number of bit-parters in quick succession.

77: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

Hated by the masses, is there anything more ridiculous than A New Beginning? Several years after the events of The Final Chapter, Tommy Jarvis is packed off to a home for troubled teens in the middle of the woods when guess-who begins killing everyone. Like, EVERYONE.

Crowning moment: There’s a lot of gold-plated cheese to pick from; the leather boys on the road, the tryst in the forest, or the never ending chase scene that dominates the third act.

76: Scream 3 (2000)

The ‘trilogy’ was closed (temporarily) in 2000 with Sidney Prescott in hiding and a killer offing the cast and crew of Stab 3. Much of the violence was toned down after Columbine and the laughs felt forced, but Scream 3 is still leagues ahead of many of its imitators.

Crowning moment: Sid discovers the film set of her bedroom where history starts to repeat itself.

75: My Super Psycho Sweet 16 (2009)

The MTV show stocked with objectionable brats is parodied by MTV itself as a nasty high schooler’s exclusive party – at the roller dome where a series of murders occurred a decade earlier – is crashed by the legendary Lord of the Rink maniac…

Crowning moment: A fleeing victim on roller skates tries to raise the alarm only to lose her head when the killer intercepts with an axe, leaving her decapitated body to roll into a birthday cake made of sushi…

74: Hellbent (2004)

Nearly titled 28 Gays Later…, this Hollywood-set slasher film pits a quartet of gay friends against a homicidal Muscle Mary, who stalks and beheads them during a huge Halloween festival. Nicely sidestepping any anti-gay sentiment and out-slashing many of its heterosexual counterparts.

Crowning moment: Center of the dance floor, strobe lights, and a killer with a sickle.

73: Death Bell (2008)

The smartest students at a prep school in Seoul are having their wits tested by a killer who, channeling both Jigsaw and The Crystal Maze, kidnaps the teens at the top of the class ranking and forces their schoolmates to solve equations n’ stuff to save them… There’s a ghost as well.

Crowning moment: Can you guess who the killer is? Can you?

72: Maniac Cop (1988)

New York City is being terrorized by a killer. Yawn, and? It’s a cop. The public are panicking, cops are being shot in the street, and Tom Atkins thinks it’s Bruce Campbell. Neigh, it’s undead framed-and-disgraced former supercop Matt Cordell, who is very angry with his old precinct.

Crowning moment: Cordell rampages through the police station, cutting down all who stand in his way with ease.

71: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Freddy vs Jason was supposed to happen in 1988. Clearly it didn’t, so to fill the void, Paramount pit him against Carrie. Sort of. Tina, rather, a girl with telekinetic abilities who accidentally resurrects him from the murky depths of Crystal Lake. Chuck in a house full of teenagers next door and you’ve got a party!

Crowning moment: I love the preface in this one, voiced by Crazy Ralph himself… “There’s a legend ’round here… A killer buried but not dead.” It summarises everything I love about the series.

 Like ‘em on Facebook!

Trite horror, shite horror

HEAD CHEERLEADER, DEAD CHEERLEADER

1.5 Stars  2000/18/78m

“Two-four-six-eight who do we decapitate?”

Director/Writer: Jeff Miller / Cast: Tasha Biering, Daniel Justin Roach, Andre Walker, Bob Carter, Debbie Rochon, Bobby Cerutti, Bill Roberson, Noelle Manuel, Amy R. Swaim, Beth Hunt, Amber Coker.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “A little gratuitous violence never killed anyone.”


The awesome title and tagline combined with the appearance of Debbie Rochon makes me want to love this film. Really, it does. But I tried to love the later seasons of Lost and look what happened there.

Instead, what we have here is a crappy regional production with a killer axing bimbo cheerleaders in Briar Creek, South Carolina, on Halloween: the night before a big game. Chief pom-pom waver Heather is worried about her cat, while all her friends fall victim to a loon who can manage to chop boobs off girls who are wearing tight tops.

Most of the “action” is centered around Heather’s house, where a dozen random people come knocking at the door, or call her, including a sleazy prankster in a flatlining send-up of Scream, the film everybody was still trying to copy at this point in time. Could the killer be the football team’s pervy coach? One of Heather’s THREE ex-boyfriends? Or maybe its that weird religious girl who’s angry that she didn’t make the squad?

When revealed, the outcome plays like a parody of the end of fucking Scary Movie rather than Scream, or – heaven forbid – thinking up an original twist of its own. THEN a couple more twists are heaped on top in an effort to paper over the gaping plot-craters. It’s misogynistic, anti-gay, and trashier than a Honey Boo Boo marathon at a trailer park.

The only reason this gets that extra half-star is for the possibly authentic answerphone message that plays over the opening credits, from a concerned mother who thinks the production of the film will place real life cheerleaders – including her own daughter – in danger! No, honey, real psychos operate with a lot more class.

Blurbs-of-interest: Cheap horror-fixture Rochon is also in American Nightmare, BleedBlood RelicFinal Examination and Varsity Blood.

1 2 3 4 16