Tag Archives: Face off

Ipso Facto – Documentaries of the Slasher Realm

Way back when I first experienced that wee-hours viewing of Friday the 13th in my folks’ lounge and became enchanted with the idea of ski-masked madmen slaying promiscuous teenagers, there were only a couple of academic texts around; no almanacs, film guides or documentaries. The only mention of slasher films in the books I had for my Film Theory degree was that they were “hate-women films!” (exclamation mark included).

After Scream and the contemporaries that were washed up in the tide it created, the genre became accessible once again and in our age of curiosity about things of yore that pre-dated the behind-the-curtain-ness of DVD, it wasn’t long before all the people who grew up on the golden age were old enough to write and even film their own love letters to the genre. That’s what Vegan Voorhees is about.

So, books beget DVD featurettes and eventually came the retrospective documentary features, released on anniversaries of eve’s of high profile “remakes” (that word again!!) here are four of the five I have. The fifth? It was a Channel 4 Mark Kermode thing that didn’t venture beyond the big franchises or have much to say about them…

goingtopieces1GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM

2006/18/88m

Field Director: Jeff McQueen

The only one to have started life as a book, Adam Rockoff’s overview of the genre up until 1986 was never available in the UK so I can only judge by what’s on the screen, which, for all we know is advantageous because it’s a great hour and a half retrospective, chronicling the humble beginnings of human fascination with voyeurism of suffering, quickly on to Psycho, the Italian films of Bava et al, and going in-depth for Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street, whilst giving nods to The Prowler (including at-the-time unavailable footage from the uncut version), Graduation Day, Happy Birthday to Me, Terror Train, The Slumber Party Massacre and Sleepaway Camp – at which point I would like to add that Felissa Rose is not only beautiful but makes good counterpoints when the legendary parental backlash over the Silent Night, Deadly Night commercials is explored.

Later chapters look at the late 80s/early 90s decline and then re-emergence with key cast members and directors dropping anecdotes and theorizing about the genre they contributed to. And it must also be said that while I can’t call myself a fan of Rob Zombie’s output, I quite like the man himself; he’s well-versed, articulate and, like Felissa, presents a good argument for horror in general. Amy Holden Jones also has a lot to say about unfounded criticism of the films by the Siskell and Ebert crowd – their unintentionally amusing TV diatribe is covered: “these movies hate the independence of women!”

Going to Pieces is best appreciated from a nostalgic point of view – it is genuinely nice to hear what some of the directors have to say, given that it’s a common myth that they only did it for the money or as a stepping stone to greater things, unaware that (for many of them) they were making the most notable films of their respective careers.

Betsy is still flabbergasted at the success of the film she thought was a piece of shit.

Betsy is still flabbergasted at the success of the film she thought was a piece of shit

Who else turns up: Armand Mastroianni, Paul Lynch, Herb Freed (“It was good – but it’s good that it was”), Lilyan Chauvin, Fred Walton.

Triv: some poor TV movie actress got ditched shortly before Prom Night began shooting when Simcom secured Jamie Lee Curtis. Bet there’s a few darts in that poster on someone’s wall somewhere… Elsewhere, Tom Savini states that he sees The Prowler‘s effects as his best work.

HALLOWEEN: 25 YEARS OF TERRORhalloween251

2006/18/84m

Director: Stefan Hutchison / Writers: Stefan Hutchison & Anthony Masi

On to the big boys we go with the first icon-centric love-in, filmed around the titular covention that celebrated a quarter-of-a-century since the (screen)birth of one Michael Myers in – more importantly the year of my birth – 1978.

Despite covering my second favourite franchise, I was less impressed with this one that I was with the documentaries for Friday the 13th and Elm Street. Possibly because it came first, there’s little sense of structure or – dare I say it – effort that went into the other two and also Going to Pieces.

PJ Soles narrates, which is great, and there’s some convention-set talking heads with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell amongst others but it feels a bit fleeting, like a local TV news crew dropped in to grab a quick word. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis appears only in archive interview footage. Late series mainstay Mustapha Akkad takes the reigns from John Carpenter and Debra Hill after Halloween III is all but apologised for and, in turn, makes public his regret that Halloween 5 was rushed into production too soon.

There’s some insight and box office blah, interviews with some fairly unhinged fans (one of whom goes so far as to ape Soles’ “see anything you like?” moment for the camera – and then wins a contest to appear in what was then known as Halloween 9) and Marianne Hagan laments the troubles that plagued Halloween 6 but it all stops short of Rob Zombie’s redux, which would have made for some interesting insights from fans and series alumni alike.

Attention-holding enough for what felt more like a few DVD featurettes strung together to flog that thousandth reissue of the original, which was included in the 2-disc pack.

pjsolesWho else turns up: Brian Andrews, Tom Atkins, J.C. Brandy, Jeff Burr, John Carl Buechler, Jason Paul Collum, Charles Cyphers, Chris Durand, Gloria Gifford, Sasha Jenson, Nancy Loomis, Brad Loree, Kim Newman, Rick Rosenthal, Don Shanks, Beau Starr, Tommy Lee Wallace, George P. Wilbur.

Triv: Rick Rosenthal says he shot the hot-tub murder scene from Halloween II in a thong! Marianne Hagan talks about the test screenings for Halloween 6, where an ‘articulate 14-year-old’s’ opinion that “the ending sucked” ensured re-shoots for two thirds of the film! Rob Zombie goes on to detest the process, commenting that when he was 14 nobody gave a shit what he thought about re-editing Jaws! Danielle Harris had a creepy stalker. There were multiple masks used in H20 as various big-wigs cyclically disapproved of them.

hisnamewasjasonHIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY THE 13TH

2009/90m

Director: Daniel Farrands / Writers: Anthony Masi & Thommy Hutson

Released to cash-in on the impending Friday the 13th “reboot” and shown on TV in the US – and strangely released in the UK in April 2010 – like, thanks now

There’s more in common with Going to Pieces than the Halloween doc, as Tom Savini presents a segmented skate through the merry history of Camp Crystal Lake, starting with a superfast overview of films 1-11, appreciating Jason’s greatest hits, the score, the mask, pretty much everything you learnt from Peter Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories book with a little less cast interaction, although Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and (swoon) Amy Steel appear so who cares about the rest? The lovely Felissa appears once again out of mutual respect for a fellow summer camp slayer and everyone attempts to replicate the ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma sound with varying degrees of accuracy.

Several horror bloggers get screentime to admire the best of Big J but there’s even less technical information here than in the Halloween doc, as if the whole project was dumbed down to suck in airheaded fanboys who only care about the method by which various teenagers are disposed of.

The ever-beautiful Kevin Spirtas appears...

The ever-beautiful Kevin Spirtas appears…

That said, Friday is the brand I champion the most. It’s organically the classic slasher series, despite its commercial and critical failures throughout the years, it’s like the kid you love just a little more than your other two, who might be smarter and better turned out, but Friday the 13th needs only to don that puppy dog expression and I’m sold.

The second disc includes extended interviews, fan films and the like. Was VeVo asked to contribute? No. *sulks*

...And Stu Charno even beginning to resemble Jason from Part 2

Who else turns up: Diane Almeida, Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Diana Barrows, Richard Brooker, John Carl Buechler, Chuck Campbell, Gloria Charles, Jensen Daggett, Steve Dash, Darcy DeMoss, Todd Farmer, John Furey, Warrington Gillette, CJ Graham, Seth Green (!), Kane Hodder, James Isaac, David Kagen, Elizabeth Kaitan, Ken Kirzinger, Paul Kratka, Adam Marcus, Tom McLoughlin, Lawrence Monoson, Camilla & Carey More, Lar Park Lincoln, Catherine Parks, Amanda Righetti, Shavar Ross, John Shepherd, Danny Steinmann, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd, Debisue Voorhees, Ted White, Larry Zerner.

Triv: Darcy DeMoss’ murder scene was actually filmed underwater.

neversleepagainNEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY

2010/239m

Directors: Daniel Farrands & Andrew Kasch / Writer: Thommy Hutson

Back in the 80s, Roger Ebert said in his review of Elm Street 3 that the Krueger franchise was like a high-rent version of the Friday the 13th saga… Never more is that represented than here in this staggering FOUR HOUR retrospective of the eight Freddy films prior to the 2010 remake.

Narrated by the wonderful Heather Langenkampenschultzenburger and punctuated by stop-motion interludes, each and every film, plus that horrendous TV series, is explored to maximum effect, uniting nearly all the principal cast members who reflect on their time on set, what they thought of the films and the appeal of Freddy himself. Plus the riddle of Elm Street 2‘s notorious gay subtext is finally resolved – yes, it was intended to be a low-key theme, although it seemed most of those involved did not notice at the time.

Wes Craven and Robert Shaye talk freely about their dispute over the sequel rights and, on the second disc, the present cast members regurgitate memorable lines that recreates the saga from beginning to end and there’s a set visit which takes us to 1428 Elm Street, Nancy’s school and Tina’s house amongst others as well as extended interviews that cast a grim shadow over the then-incoming remake.

Comparatively, this grandiose slab of nostalgia wins hands down for sheer effort to please the fans, but could you watch it more than once? It took me three sittings just to get through it.

Ain't gonna sleep no more, no more

Ain’t gonna sleep no more, no more

Who else turns up: It would actually be easier to say who didn’t participate – almost every main cast member is interviewed, the only obvious exception to me being Ronee Blakely, who avoided it all by getting good and loaded.

Triv: For Jennifer’s TV-nightmare in Dream Warriors, Dick Cavett was allowed to choose his interviewee and so picked Zsa Zsa Gabor, citing her as the dumbest person he’d ever met, who he’d never have on his show and who he’d gleefully see slashed by Freddy.

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All this shows that we are much indebted to Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson and Anthony Masi for all they’ve put into three out of four of these documentaries and Jeff Katz for appearing in, quite possibly, all of them, symbolic of their love and respect for a genre most people couldn’t have cared less about. We love you.

Decade of the Afraid: Best of the 00’s – Part 2

So, with sequels, reality slashers, remakes and torture-porn outta the way, let’s turn to the ASIAN tidal wave of horror, first beginning with, ugh, more remakes. The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye, One Missed Call, Shutter, Pulse… The list goes on, like, forever. Having done so well in the USA, they sort of got their own back by putting a continental twist on the American slasher film.

Korea, Thailand and Japan were at the forefront of these ‘rip-offs’, which pretty much recreated plots from the Scream gen, mixed it up with the usual creepy ghosts from those earlier films and came up with some interesting stuff…

cryingtreeNightmare had the ghost of a dead girl taking revenge on her friends for a prank gone wrong; Record was pretty much the same with definitive I Know What You Did Last Summerian influences; Thai flicks The Crying Tree (left) and Scared pit people in the woods against a psycho, or psychos in the case of the latter, while 999-9999 came up with a good ploy to virtually remake Final Destination with Thai spices.

ssshhh

India also got in on the game with epic slasher musicals (I shit you not!), Kucch to Hai and Ssshhh…, which interspersed the murder plots (again lifted from the I know what you did… school of slasher-plotting) with songs, usually about the romance between the leads. Hilarious if you can sit for over 3 hours.

Now, let’s talk about me. Me, me, me! What did I like from the last ten years? Well, much of it really. Fill yer plate with teenagers and then cut them up and I’ll most probably derive some pleasure from it. Before we get to the bests and worsts, here are a few GUILTY PLEASURES of mine. I take no responsibility for any coronaries suffered when you read that I somehow liked some of the following…

darknessfallsValentine is a film I love in spite of its striking similarity to cat shit. It’s bad, we all know it’s bad. The book was trashy but sustained something of a coherent plot and packed a great twist, both of which were ignored by the cheesy script for the film and lots of stuff made no sense. But what can I say? Cast of game glam girlies and a killer in a creepy Cherub mask – does it for me.

Darkness Falls is another rubbish studio horror flick and one of the first PG-13 rated body count films. Although it starts very well, things get boring and remain frustratingly dry, with Chaney Kley and Buffy‘s Emma Caulfield hiding in the light to save themselves from the ghost of a witch (known as the Tooth Fairy) who was burned by the townsfolk 100 years earlier. Again, stupid but so fun.

There were also gay slasher flicks Hellbent and The Gay Bed & Breakfast of Terror and dumbassed urban-legend-ghost-story flick Fingerprints, with Lou Diamond Phillips, Sally Kirkland and a killer dressed as a train conductor!

Now here’s what sucked. Not strictly from a bad film angle, otherwise the list would be populated with a bunch of barely seen DVD titles, no, here’s what was insultingly BAD

2001’s Ripper turned out to be an impressive effort, performing well enough to generate its own sequel, suffixed Letters from Within, which sent the lone survivor to a European institute. In a castle. An actress friend of mine auditioned for the role of “black girl with attitude” – I’m thankful she didn’t appear in it. It really sucked, with almost no connections to the plot of the first film (bar the one character, tellingly played by a different actress). It’s a sequel, so why be surprised though?

cry_wolf

Crud in a different way is Cry_Wolf, another young-audience friendly PG-13 “thriller”, which sells itself as the slasher film it never manages to become. Obnoxious, slappable teens at a prep school have a liars club, make up a rumour about a campus cruising psycho known as The Wolf and goreless murders begin. Only they don’t. It’s all a big ruse because of some love triangle between Lindy Booth and freakin’ Jon Bon Jovi’s media teacher! It was an upsettingly dreadful denouement in a film that ends up as nothing but a big budget cheat, attempting to seem cool with referential dialogue and a Cruel Intentions-styled backing. You’ll cry alright.

afdAnother film all about tricks and lies was the godawful “remake” of April Fool’s Day, one of the best of the 80’s. As with Cry_Wolf, over-privileged snots are the primary cast members. Nobody is remotely pleasant. Just fucking die! Or, yet again, don’t. Scout Taylor-Compton, having already ruined the legacy of Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween redux, has a lot to answer for. The joke’s on us!

Another day, another remake, albeit more of a faithful adaptation of a book came in the shape of the horrible Children of the Corn TV flick with David Anders, Kandyse McClure and one of Dexter‘s kids as Isaac. It fails on almost every level.

A straight-up slasher flick came in the shape of See No Evil, starring WWE wrestler Kane as a hulking loon who dwells in an abandoned hotel and likes to pluck out victims’ eyes for random reasoning. Cue eight delinquent offenders sent there to fix up the place and carnage ensues. Not as bad as the others in this category, it was just disappointing. Really, really disappointing, as was slasher-laced anthology flick Heebie Jeebies, which concerns a girl who dreams the future and sees the deaths of her high school friends and, in her infinite wisdom decides they should all go to a creepy old farmhouse for the weekend “for their safety.” Stupid moose. They all die. There’s a story about rock monsters, which sucks. It all sucks.

shrooms

Finally, Shrooms. Inexplicably given a cinema release around Christmas in 2007, this is the tale of American tourists in the Irish woods, magic mushrooms of the intense variety, dogging, and death. It all leans towards the rather stupid twist. Director Paddy Breathnach’s follow up, Red Mist, was a bit better.

Right, that’s what sucked, here are the slasher films n’ franchises that proved (to me at least) that the age of the slasher film was not necessarily over…

THE BEST OF THE 00’S

I don’t want to create a countdown as some film series were important to the decade, so starting with this in mind, if the fourth was to be the last, then the entire Final Destination cycle started and ended in the one decade.

fd3The inarguable awesomeness of the general premise (flaws included) made this series an instant winner. The original (and best) film had the guts to feature a tragic plane crash, keying in on a common fear before shifting to a slasher film with an invisible killer in Death, who doesn’t like to be evaded by cheeky teens and therefore they die in a variety of gruesome ‘accidents’.

The form was perfected early on in 2003’s Final Destination 2, which is the ultimate catalogue of inanimate objects plotting our downfall. By the time the third instalment appeared in 2006, nobody had to be psychic to see what was coming. The plot hadn’t developed significantly and 2009’s 3D entry sank to new depths of desperation. Nevertheless, these disposable-teen safety films-gone-wrong should be regarded as some of the best of the 2000’s.

wrongturn

Not nearly as inventive but far more intense was 2003’s Wrong Turn, a back to basics survival slasher film, which placed a group of city kids in the wooded territory of a trio of hideously inbred cannibalistic brothers who have been collecting victims for years. Brutality is core in this snappy flick, which never takes its foot off the accelerator once the action begins. Great turns from heroes Desmond Harrington and Eliza Dushku, who barely make it out alive as it is, emphasise how important likeable characters are in modern horror, something absent in almost all of the entries in the crop-of-crap list.

In a similar vain, 2006’s grimy Brit-flick Wilderness put teens on a tiny island with a vengeful killer, although this time they’re all from a young offenders institute being punished after one of their number is bullied to the point of suicide. Nice guys don’t exist here, but the revenge angle and use of a quartet of trained dogs made for one of the better British horrors of recent years. Yes, I preferred it to The Descent. Off with his head!

Doing what we do just as well, Simon Pegg starrer Hot Fuzz outdid Shaun of the Dead as Pegg’s retentive small village copper investigates a series of murders that nobody else believes is happening. Hmmm… Sticking with the comedy, 60’s beach party horror pastiche Psycho Beach Party has the surf dudes of a Californian beach on the hop from a loon who bears a prejudice against anyone with disabilities. A campy mini-classic.

malevolenceThere was still a lot of arty goings-on in horror during the decade, influenced largely by the onslaught of horror from the East, who were making the rest of the world’s horror look pedestrian on a visual front. Thank God, then, for Malevolence, Stevan Mena’s snail-paced atmos-builder, where screw-up bank robbers haul a couple of hostages to what they believe to be an abandoned farm. The regional, beyond help ambience made for a terrific sleeper, a prequel to which was completed in 2009 but not yet released.

In a similar spooky vain, creepiest slasher film of the decade – and possibly ever – goes to Session 9, which, in one sub-five second shot (a future Pant-Soiling Scene) made me almost cry with abject fear! A little love also for UK-Canadian production Ripper: Letter from Hell, at the other end of the spectrum to its dire sequel, this Jack the Ripper combo of Urban Legend (easily my favourite 90’s slasher) and Copycat worked out very well.

On the flipside of these po-faced terrors, light-hearted Shredder wrapped up a spunky slasher film on the slopes of Colorado, while Aussie Scream-contemporary Cut brought in Molly Ringwald and Kylie Minogue to battle a killer who appears whenever the unfinished slasher film he featured in is shown. It bombed at the box office but struck a great balance between laughter and Jason-style body counting.

cut

Later came Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a documentary style insight into the preparation a wouldbe psycho killer goes through before becoming the slasher film it parodies – and does it all with great wit, a fab cast and visuals.

lesvernon

Jason was re-born at the end of the decade in Platinum Dunes’ ‘reboot’ of Friday the 13th, which may as well have donned the suffix Part 12 for all it recreates.

Over at MGM, dodgy-past director Victor Salva attempted to create a horror icon in The Creeper in the first two Jeepers Creepers films, flawed in their legacy by featuring a villain who only appears for 23 days every 23 years! The first film was half-perfection, half-ham. The third film, due in 2011, will likely make or break the series’ potential.

jason-voorheesjeepers-creepers

Lastly, we move to Europe to close in on what I consider to be the best slasher thing going in the 2000’s. Anatomy, the German medical-school slasher from the beginning of the decade showed that the killer-with-a-sharp-object genre can still be intellectually challenging.

However, it was a most unlikely country that produced not one, but two of the most visually stunning, intensely produced and overtly satisfying slasher films. Douze points go…to Norway.

The land famed for the Northern Lights, fjords, vikings and herring had never really been an active participator on the horror scene until 2006, when skiers-in-peril film Cold Prey was made. Yet another back to basics approach abounded with the simple tale of a reclusive killer taking out the young people who enter his environment. The craftsmanship and appreciation of the technique of generating tension is second to none for the period. Character interactions, escape attempts and eventual showdown between the lone survivor and killer all put most others to shame.

That said, the 2008 sequel ticks every box you could want out of an effective follow-up. While the hospital setting isn’t anything new, we do get the original actors back to play their own bodies, there are characters we care about, which means there’s heartbreak and pain, love and loss, intensity, bloodshed and plenty of action. I’ll attempt to give both of these films faithful reviews in the near future to go into more detail but, for now, let me say that Cold Prey and Cold Prey II were, for me, the best slasher films of 2000-2009.

coldprey_poster_lgcoldprey2

December Duel: Har-De-Har-STAB!

Christmas is coming: time for joy and laughter and, if you’re me, horror films of death. But how to mix these things together and please the visiting familials? Oh yeah, the sub-sub-genre of the slasher parody.

Parody films are very hit and miss at the best of times (Airplane! excluded). And as slasher films largely unconciously parody themselves in the ornate crudness of their very situations, what’s left to take the piss out of?

Let’s dip our hands into the comical waters of slasher mickey-taking and see what we can dredge up from the bottom…

studentbodsSTUDENT BODIES 1981

The hilarious story: sexy teen couples at Lamab High are being laid to waste by a commentating maniac in squelchy boots. Can super-goody-two-shoes heroine Toby solve the mystery?

Funny stuff: things start well with an amusing When A Stranger Calls-type opening; death by paperclips; death by eggplant; half-funny fart gag; Toby’s overt final girlisms.

Unfunny stuff: pretty much everything else; the stupid twist-within-a-dream ending where they evidently took the audience to have a combined IQ of 19.

VV’s amusedness: 43% – “I’m laughing on the inside.”

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national-lampoons-class-reunionNATIONAL LAMPOON’S CLASS REUNION 1982

The hilarious story: the class of ’72 from Lizzie Borden High gather for their deca-reunion where the kid they played a Terror Train-type prank on is now a paper bag-masked psycho killer. Of the cast of twenty-five odd folks, he kills four. Four.

Funny stuff: Anne Ramsay is present as the school cook and there’s a recurring demonic possession joke that made my lip curl…

Unfunny stuff: there’s some real shit gags in this, it’s no wonder nobody’s ever heard of this one, National Lampoon tag or not! The lead guy was a wanker who I waiting to see die in a myriad of horrible griz. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion is way better.

VV’s amusedness: 22% – “we are not amused.”

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pandemomiumPANDEMONIUM 1982

The hilarious story: Bambi’s cheerleader academy was shut down after a rash of cheericides in the 60s, including the ultimate shish-ka-bobbed spirit squad. Having decided to re-open “the old camp,” Bambi finds that her new class of students (three of them guys!) are being tormented by another cheericidal manaic! Only telekinetic cheer-wannabe Candy has the smarts (and power) to stop the madness…

Funny stuff: the cheerleaders are called Candy, Sandy, Mandy, Andy, Randy and Glenn. Glenn Dandy. The Carrie poking is amusing and the cast, featuring Carol Kane, Judge Reinhold, Debralee Scott, pre-PeeWee Paul Reubens and Eve Arden is great. It was originally to be called Thursday the 12th until Saturday the 14th came along but had sod all to do with Camp Crystal Lake.

Unfunny stuff: with any of-the-moment parody, it’s going to be dated as soon as it’s finished, so lots of it has little relevance 27 years down the line but, on the whole, Pandemonium holds up pretty well. “If I can’t be a cheerleader…no one can be a cheerleader!”

VV’s amusedness: 71% – “it was like this one time, at band cheerleader camp and it was so funny.”

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wackoWACKO 1983

The hilarious story: 13 years after seeing her older sister sliced and diced by the Halloween Prom Night Lawnmower Killer of Hitchcock High, virginal Mary Graves finds herself stalked by the very same killer as her own Halloween Prom approaches.

Funny stuff: One of the best lines in slasherdom when Mary’s mother receives a letter from the killer: “it’s Halloween, it’s Prom Night, there’s a psycho on the loose so don’t open the door, don’t answer the phone, don’t look in the attic, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t go into the ocean and don’t go into space ‘cos no one can hear you scream!”

Unfunny stuff: as with most of these things, the film spends too long trying to be relevant to the time period, which takes away from the slashing. ‘Wacky’ teachers and parents disappear and reappear frequently. George Kennedy getting a pie in the face for aping Hitchcock is the final ‘hilarious’ twist.

VV’s amusedness: 28% – “I smiled tolerantly and we parted.”

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scarymovieSCARY MOVIE 2000

The hilarious story: Six high school friends are stalked and tormented by a cloaked fiend who might just be the fisherman they ran over last Halloween, while a nosey reporter investigates the spree of killings that begins.

Funny stuff: if you watch this right after watching Scream, it’s funny. Any other time and you’re likely to tilt your head and squint your eyes trying to work out if you should laugh or not.  The Matrix and Blair Witch Project take-offs were funny at the time but the recreation of “the Jada Pinkett moment” from Scream 2 is the best part. The working title Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween was far better.

Unfunny stuff: the film wanes like a dying plant, eventually flopping flaccidly like a disappointing bedtime partner. Eww. And Marlon Wayans as Shorty – what the fuck is the point of his character? Talk about family favours!

I went on a date to see Scary Movie 2. We never spoke again.

VV’s amusedness: 55% – “you used to be funny but now you only make me cringe.”

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shriek-if-you-knowSHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH 2000

The hilarious story: almost exactly the same as Scary Movie (with which this film was the competition but took too long to complete): the teens of – groan - Bulimia High are stalked by a killer who knows what they did last summer etc… Only here, the killer is so inept that the victims die from bee stings and coronaries before he can get his hands on them.

Funny stuff: the ‘Pop Up Video’ part near the end is actually funny. Coolio dies.

Unfunny stuff: fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes = all shit jokes. The lead character is called Dawson Deary. Pass me the razor blades…

VV’s amusedness: 24% – “oh look, it’s Funny’s cousin, Not Funny.”

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club_dreadCLUB DREAD 2004

The hilarious story: at Coconut Pete’s Costa Rican island resort (a sort of 18-30’s thing), a machete-toting killer is offing staff members, forcing those remaining to act ‘normally’. Is it the island’s mythical ‘Machete Phil?’

Funny stuff: Bill Paxton is great as Coconut Pete and there’s some good stalking and slashing sequences, the best of which involves a victim trying to get away in a golf buggy, eventually out-walked by the killer.

Unfunny stuff: The Broken Lizard comedy troupe evidently think they’re a lot funnier than they actually are, director Jay Chandrasekhar as queeny tennis boach Puttman is the best and Kevin Heffernan’s new-boy masseur makes a likeable hero but the others are just plain annoying. Clocking in at a whopping 113 minutes (the DVD version), Club Dread drags out some of its lame gags to the bitter end.

VV’s amusedness: 69% – “hi-de-hi-de-hi, ho-de-ho-de-ho, go go go to the holiday rock!”

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VICTOR: It can only be Pandemonium, the film with the crappest title but the least amount of crap gags.

November Knockdown: Sexy Psychos

Have you ever watched a slasher film and, when the murderous fiend is unmasked, thought, “I’m strangely attracted to that person?” As you’ll see, it happens to me a fair bit. Are we as demented as they, or is there just something a bit sexy about a knife-toting loon? Here’s my Top 13:

MAJOR spoilers follow…

SEXY PSYCHO #1

sexy1Film: He Knows You’re Alone (1980)

Name: Ray (Tom Rolfing)

Story: Seemingly jilted by his girlfriend, he kills her on her wedding day and then proceeds to stalk brides-to-be. Needless to say I was on his side fairly early on.

Why-so-sexy? Brooding loner type, nicely cropped hair. Hates weddings.

SEXY PSYCHO #2

terrirandallFilm: The Initiation (1983)

Name: Terri Randall (Daphne Zuniga)

Story: Terri is heroine Kelly’s evil twin. How freakin’ cool is that? Answer: so cool. Anyway, she’s mental but has decided she wants to kill Kelly and become her to go travelling and stuff. Quite reasonable really…

Why-so-sexy? Just look at that cute face! Even with no make-up she’s adorable! Works a good gardening fork too.

SEXY PSYCHO #3

howardFilm: Silent Madness (1984)

Name: Howard Johns (Solly Marx)

Story: incarcerated for nail-gunning a group of sorority girls in the 60’s, Johns is released in an administrative error (John Howard was the patient they should have released – duh!) and so returns to the sorority house to kill. In 3D.

Why-so-sexy? Premature balding aside, those green eyes are quite nice, as is his mutedness. No office talk to bore you over dinner. Has mother issues though.

SEXY PSYCHO #4

mickeyFilm: Scream 2 (1997)

Name: Mickey (Timothy Olyphant)

Story: Mickey is Randy’s film student friend, who films a lot of things, thus enabling me to guess his identity two thirds of the way through. I didn’t get Mrs Loomis though. Bad times. Anyway, he likes killing people, no more, no less.

Why-so-sexy? The QT-lite hair aside, intense stares, lots of film quotes could get annoying though. Nice meaty arms. Straight-up loon, no prissy motives here!

SEXY PSYCHO #5

brendaFilm: Urban Legend (1998)

Name: Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart)

Story: Brenda is fake-best friend to heroine Natalie (Alicia Witt) but secretly hates her for being present at the accident that killed her boyfriend, David, despite it really being someone else’s fault. Now she wants Jared Leto all to herself.

Why-so-sexy? “Looney-psycho-bitch” Brenda is a real smouldering femme fatale once revealed as the killer. Super big hair that would’ve made the hood she donned difficult to get over her head though… Probably wouldn’t take her home to meet Mum.

SEXY PSYCHO #6

larsFilm: Psycho Beach Party (2000)

Name: Lars / Larry (Matt Keeslar)

Story: Lars pretends to be a Scandinavian exchange student but is secretly killing people with disabilities or exterior health problems. He murdered his family because they were freaks. So he thought.

Why-so-sexy? When the glasses come off Lars becomes Larry, all confidence and homicidal intentions. Points gained for Keeslar being in Scream 3, then lost for only racking up 4 murders.

SEXY PSYCHO #7

jeremyFilm: Valentine (2001)

Name: Jeremy Melton / Adam Carr (David Boreanaz)

Story: He’s the geek-turned-sex-god, transforming himself from weedy Jeremy who was humiliated at his school dance into sexy – but alcoholic (understandably) – Adam, boyfriend of the final girl, the only one he doesn’t hate.

Why-so-sexy? It’s Angel for one thing. He hath touched Buffy. But contrary to what Denise Richards says, he is capable of an intricate revenge plot, passing the blame to an innocent party and doing it all looking hot.

SEXY PSYCHO #8

frankFilm: The Pool (2001)

Name: Frank (John Hopkins)

Story: Revealed to be the machete-wielding nut at the end, Frank is just mental and forgot to take his pills. He blames girls for everything and wants to kill them.

Why-so-sexy? It’s never a stretch to peg the British guy as the villain, must be our evil sounding accent. He’s buff and sweaty but loses points for resembling Simon Cowell.


SEXY PSYCHO #9

hellbent_devilFilm: Hellbent (2004)

Name: Killer (uncredited)

Story: ??? He just turns up at Mardi Gras in West Hollywood (a.k.a. Halloween) and scythes gay blokes for no apparent reason. Maybe the sickle is phallic?

Why-so-sexy? It’s all to do with the physique: not many slasher movie killers go to work in nothing but spandex pants and a devil mask. Thus, he lures in his horny victims by looking so good.

SEXY PSYCHO #10

leslievernonFilm: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Name: Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel)

Story: Les is a typical guy-next-door who happens to be planning a murder spree at an old farm and invited reporter Taylor (Angela Goethals) and her film crew along to document it. They can’t help intervening and it becomes clear Leslie has thought things through more than they have…

Why-so-sexy? The boy-next-door image notwithstanding, like Hellbent man, Leslie is nicely buffed and that little under-lip beardy thing is nice.

SEXY PSYCHO #11

mandylaneFilm: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

Name: Mandy Lane (Amber Heard)

Story: Killer final girl Mandy reveals herself to be a loon just like her patsy, Emmett, who gets the blame for it all while she rides off into the sunset with man-toy Anson Mount. Who knows what’s up with her? Being beautiful and popular obviously has consequences to consider.

Why-so-sexy? She adheres to the blonde, boobular thing without fault. Plus she’s nicer than the other bitchy girls who go on vacation with her. Who’d ever think she was a psycho, eh?

SEXY PSYCHO #12

fentonFilm: Prom Night (2008)

Name: Richard Fenton (Jonathon Schaech)

Story: For some reason Mr Fenton was obsessed with terminally-dull heroine Brittany Snow, kills her family and then breaks out a few years later to stalk and kill people at Snow’s senior prom. Yawn.

Why-so-sexy? Designer stubble, good athletic build, full lips. He kills boring teenagers freely but bloodlessly.

SEXY PSYCHO #13

jensenFilm: My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Name: Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles)

Story: Tom caused an accident, which caused cannibalism, which caused homicide then more homicide and so on and so forth… He went mad over a decade and returned to town to kill people for absolutely no reason, thus exposing how crap the script for this film was.

Why-so-sexy? All-American good looks as per subjects Fenton, Vernon and Melton, impressive biceps when shown and evidently so angered by lack of substance of plot that he wants to kill all associated with it, especially scribe Todd Farmer.

VICTOR: It’s probably best to pick your own winner this month. Alone. In the privacy of your room.

October Opposition: Mike Myers vs. Michael Myers

Friends of my folks have a son called Michael Myers, so this could have been a ménage a trois of sorts… Anyhoo, never since the prospect of Chris Evans (sexy Hollywood star) versus Chris Evans (gorky UK radio dweeb who spent most of the 90s with his head wedged in the Gallagher brothers respective arses) has a big-hitter of the namesakes been so exciting. For me, anyway. Maybe you have more exciting things to be excited about, excitoface.

So, let’s start with Myers, the older, MICHAEL:

michaelmyersHere he is then, the first of the seminal slasher movie boogeymen (unless you want to count Leatherface), born in 1957 (ironically the same year major rival Jason Voorhees ‘drowned’ in Crystal Lake), stabbed big sis Judith at the age of six, locked away for fifteen years before escaping, returning to hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to stab lil sis Laurie. Underestimates Laurie’s ability to survive said stabbing and goes into coma for a decade. Returns time and time again throughout late 80s and 90s before being wiped clean by Hollywood, losing his head, regaining his head, wiped again and reignited as a white trash shadow of his former self…

And MIKE…?

mikemyersBorn in ’63 (the year other Mike stabbed sis), but in the land of pleasantry that is Canada. Did not dress up as a clown to kill sister and was not, as far as his biog states, locked up at Smith’s Grove for a decade and a half…

Instead, Myers went to Saturday Night Live, created the character of Wayne Campbell, spun that into a movie, spun a sequel outta that, languished in a bit of a non-place for a few years before becoming ultra-starry from the Austin Powers films and as the voice of Shrek.

INCARNATIONS

Michael started out as a cute clown, quickly became a creepy clown, killer creepy clown, and was then unmasked as six-year-old killer creepy clown.

michaelclownHe then donned a bleached William Shatner Halloween mask for the look pictured above, only until Laurie managed to pull it from his face on the solitary occasion we’ve ever seen Michael unmasked (with the possible exception of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which I haven’t seen yet).

michaelunmaskedWhat a good looking young man he almost coulda sorta been if, y’know, he wasn’t a mute psycho obsessed with knifing his bloodline to death for reasons never really explained, unless you’re into that Thorn crap they tried to palm us off with in Halloween 6.

After that, for sequels H20 and Resurrection, Michael was given a slightly smoothed out look and then, when Rob Zombie was charged with re-starting the entire franchise, he became White Trash Michael in need of shampoo. Sad times.

remakemichael

In a slightly sunnier part of the universe, Mike Myers started out as geeky-metaller Wayne Campbell who, with best bud Garth Elgar, presented Wayne’s World, which was made into a film called, uh, Wayne’s World about the show being picked up by evil big-shot Rob Lowe and exploited. Nothing much happens but the film makes me piss myself with laughter 17 years after I saw it at the movies, largely remembered by all for the time I pulled a bendy straw out of a sipper-flask during quite a silent moment, thus resembling a kind of thunder-fart in the cinema…

wayneWayne and Garth returned for a not-as-good sequel in 1993 before vanishing for good. Rumour was that Myers and Dana Carvey could not agree over who got the best gags and fell out.

Still, for Mike there was hit-and-miss comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer, which almost sounds like a slasher flick. But isn’t. Then four years later he returned as James Bond-wannabe Austin Powers, British, dentally-challenged, 60’s trapped spy for MI5/6/7/whatever, to save the world from the arguably funnier Dr Evil…drevil

As well as playing the Blofeld-lite role of Dr Evil, Mike also played Scottish assassin Fat Bastard and Dutch big-bad Goldmember.

After three Austin Powers films (with a fourth in the pipeline), Myers voiced green ogre Shrek for the Disney franchise and attempted to kick-start a new character in 2008 with The Love Guru, but nobody seemed to care about it.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Michael: can never be dethroned as the original stalk n’ slasher, amassing (across the original set of films) a staggering 69 victims, plus another twenty or so in the remake.

Mike: The Austin Powers films were phenomenally successful, turning Myers into an A-lister, but Wayne’s World will always be my favourite of his!

LOW POINTS

Michael: Halloween III didn’t involve Michael at all. Halloween 5 was boring and the remake (and probably its sequel) may well have ruined his appeal for good.

Mike: Goldmember wasn’t very funny. Did anyone actually see The Cat in the Hat?

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Michael: A “third” (albeit eleventh really) Halloween film is planned for a 3D release in 2010. What this will add to the crumbling towerblock that once was the greatest slasher series going is unknown, besides 3D boobs. As it’s going to be written by Todd Farmer, odds are it will make next to no sense and be riddled with plotholes and contrivances. See Jason X or My Bloody Valentine 3D for evidentiary support.

Mike: if Austin Powers 4 happens, it’ll doubtlessly be huge, as will the inevitable next Shrek outing, but otherwise things are looking a bit quiet in the Myers’ yard of late… Hmmm.

VICTOR: For the first time, I’m going against my slasher loyalties and giving it to Mike Myers as Michael has been reduced to a trailer park caricature of his once great self thanks to corporate greed and lack of imagination. But it’d be nice if Mike Myers took up a cameo in the next Halloween outing…

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