Tag Archives: Halloween

Live in the Now!

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

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

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

Regardé:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why bother calling it anything else?

slasher

SLASHER

3 Stars  2016/360m

“Everyone in this town has a part. Not everyone has a future.”

Director: Craig David Wallace / Writer: Aaron Martin / Cast: Katie McGrath, Brandon Jay McLaren, Steve Byers, Christopher Jacot, Patrick Garrow, Dean McDermott, Rob Stewart, Mayko Nguyen, Erin Karpluk, Enuka Okuma, Jessica Sipos, Wendy Crewson.

Body Count: 15

Laughter Lines: “He’s made himself judge, jury, and …hangman!”


Harper’s Island, Scream: The TV Series, Scream Queensand now Slasher. The Chiller channel’s Canadian eight-part mystery is the latest loon-with-a-knife outing to go straight to the small screen rather than straight to DVD. The generic quality of the title allows for future seasons to start anew with a body count tale in a whole different place and time.

Eight episodes work out better than Scream Queens’ interminable unending thirteen, as the welcome isn’t completely worn out, hacking through our senses until we can take no more and only seeing Ryan Murphy chainsawed to pieces stands a chance of fixing it.

Here, the small town of Waterbury, Halloween 1988, an expectant couple are slaughtered by a machete wielding loon dressed in a creep executioners garb. Twenty-eight years later, the saved infant, Sarah Bennett (McGrath, recently eaten in Jurassic World), moves back to town with her journalist husband Dylan (the always likeable McLaren, dreads sadly gone, but becoming a familiar genre face). They move into the same house. Where the murders happened. Face palm.

slasher-murder

No sooner has Sarah settled in, opened a gallery, made a few friends, The Executioner returns and begins ridding the township of various individuals based on the Seven Deadly Sins: The abusive old lady across the street goes first, then a merciless developer… Anyone with a dodgy secret has their days numbered.

Sarah turns to her parents’ incarcerated killer, Axl Rose lookalike Tom Winston, for help before The Executioner comes for her, and begins developing a bizarre co-dependant relationship with him, that eventually leads to a rather obvious revelation, given that her late mother turns out to have been giving Maureen Prescott a run for her money. Or rather, more bang for her buck.

Inventive murders include a guy stuck in a hole with a sack of deadly snakes tossed in, a severed head found in a deep fryer, live cremation, eaten by nature, plus the usual stabbings, drownings, and beheadings.

Slasher_Verna

Could it relate to the girl who mysteriously went missing five years earlier? A cinderblock dropped on to a car from a bridge in 1968? Or something else completely?

Slasher has a relatively tight budget compared to the other recent series’, which results in a smaller, easier to manage cast roster, and a body count that doesn’t go stupidly ballistic. It plays more like a 90s Scream contemporary than anything (aided by the same writer and director overseeing the whole thing), drawn out to cover the episode order. But this is no bad thing, despite some of Sarah’s decision making, which sees her become BFF’s with a murderer, and venture down numerous dark alleyways on her own.

The killer’s identity, revealed a little sooner than expected, doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, but things take a real dark turn come the end, which bucks the usual trend of the final girl’s passivity in the face of closure, which was pretty impressive. Here’s hoping Season 2 can at least match the potential on show here, hopefully with a more generous financier.

slasher-sarah-dylan

Blurbs-of-interest: Brandon Jay McLaren was in Harper’s Island, Scar 3DTucker and Dale vs Evil; Katie McGrath was in Red Mist; Erin Karpluk was the lead in Ripper 2.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Snooping Reporter

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Keep a few bills handy, you’re THE SNOOPING REPORTER

sbc-reportersOverview: Murder makes the news. Multiple murders bring the press like bloodhounds and there’s always one reporter trying to get the scoop, even if it means he/she risks endangering themselves to get it!

Linguistic Snapshot: “Can you confirm or deny that the killer’s still out there and that you have the wrong man after last night’s triple-murder at the old mill?”

Styling: In the slasher realm, Snooping Reporters are more often female than not, so power suits and great hair are usually par for the course.

Hallmarks: Pushy and unrelenting, The Snooping Reporter has but one goal: The scoop. It doesn’t matter how many locals might die, in fact the higher the bodycount the better the story. They will stop at nothing to get their exclusive.

Downfall: The Snooping Reporter sometimes dies, sometimes doesn’t, and they can either be an aide or a hindrance to the final girl. Gale Weathers, doubtlessly top of the horror movie reporter tree, is a caustic, self-centered hack who is eventually instrumental in unmasking and reprimanding the killers in Scream and all of its sequels. In Pieces, the nosy journalist is savagely stabbed to, well pieces, on a waterbed; the feminist critic in Tenebrae also meets a bloody end; TV anchor Robert Campbell (below) makes the error of visiting the old Voorhees house and becoming possessed by Jason himself; student reporter Timmy has his throat cut and is shoved into a locker in Cherry Falls.

sbc-jgth-robertGenesis: Lauren Tewes is a TV newswoman who thinks a killer of women lives in the building next door in Eyes of a Stranger in 1980. Next there’s a brief proto-Gale Weathers character in Halloween II, who utters the awesome line “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.” She might be the earliest incarnation of an uncaring, career-focused reporter, but is only in the film for a matter of seconds (apparently she is killed in the novelization).

The doomed journo in Pieces came next, and then Tracy, a brash, trenchcoat wearing reporter who is sure Norman Bates is still killing in Psycho III, ultimately becoming the de facto heroine. By the 90s, Barry Simms fatally decides to broadcast from the Myers house in Halloween 6.

Legacy: Courteney Cox’s portrayal of Gale Weathers in Scream is unquestionably the most significant influence on such characters. In her wake, we had Kate Winsail (!) in Australian Scream knock-off Paranoid, Paul the object of lust for many a girl at Pendleton University in Urban Legend; Taylor Gentry in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, who unwittingly stumbles into final girl territory. Reporters also turned up in the various Scream parodies.

sbc-gale-kate

Gale Weathers and one of her many clones.

Films like Nightcrawler showcase just how far the media might go for the juiciest story, so for the time being it’s likely that slasher films will continue to feature reporters sticking their oars in, probably dooming various local teenagers in the process. To quote the audience member at the press conference in Scream 3: “Are you saying we should go out and cut each others throats because that’s what you did?”

Gale’s response: “Metaphorically? Yes.”

Brutal.

Stock Background Characters 101: Evil Adults

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

This month, we bite our tongues in the face of those EVIL ADULTS!

sbc-eviladults

Overview: What teenager doesn’t have an adult nemesis? Parents, teachers, that nasty old man who runs the local store… In slasherdom, such nefarious individuals are widespread, always telling the kids how to live, what not to do, keeping information vital to their survival from them because they were “just trying to help”… Sucky thing is, they were often right.

That I’m an adult myself (for, like, almost twenty years) should be noted. But I still act like I’m thirteen. 1991 thirteen, not 2015 thirteen.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Now listen to me, young lady, you may think you want to know what happened at the old farm out on Highway 66, but you don’t! And don’t go there either. Go to your room. Do your homework. Stay away from boys! It’s for your own good!”

Styling: Evil Adults come in many forms, so there’s no real all encompassing style, only that they’re well past their teen years and are blindly convinced they know best. Kinda like religious folk. But always pompous.

Hallmarks: Evil Adults vary in terms of their place and role in the slasher film, sometimes they can cross paths with The Oracle or the Holy Vessel (such as the über-strict Mother Superior from Silent Night, Deadly Night) and they don’t always die.

"I know what's best for you. You don't."

“I know what’s best for you. You don’t.”

Knowing or doing what they think is best is usually the one-dimension that the Evil Adult trades on: be it the parents of Elm Street who hide their dirty secret from their children, or the shrink trying to exploit his patient’s telekinetic abilities.

EA’s can also live in complete denial of the facts: The psyche ward doctors in Elm Street 3 (“young lady, your opinion is of no interest to me”) and the heroine’s uncle in Friday the 13th Part VIII, they don’t listen to the young, consigning them to a gruesome, stabby death, or they point blank refuse to accept the obvious – that Jason Voorhees is alive and is here.

Downfall: As such, the Evil Adults who do end up seeing the sharp end of the machete live merrily in denial until the last minute. Mr McCulloch of Friday VIII stands idly by barking orders at his students while their ranks are depleted, calling everyone who posits Jason is alive as an idiot, seeing decapitated heads, victims snatched away in front of him, and still gasps “it’s not possible!” when Jason is bearing down on him.

In the previous instalment, Tina’s selfish shrink first sacrifices her mother to aid his own escape, but then gets a buzzsaw to the torso.

Bride-Of-Chucky-John-Ritter

Likewise, Jade’s nasty uncle/guardian in Bride of Chucky is more hellbent on ruining her life, completely blind to the killer dolls in the picture. Yet another unpleasant father figure appears in Halloween 6, having moved his family into the Myers house, he overlooks his wife’s pleas to leave and ends up suffering an exploded head for his ignorance.

But it can work backwards, Mrs Slater, the cranky housemother of The House on Sorority Row keeps a dark secret that sees her killed, but instead of by the killer, it’s in a prank-gone-wrong that prompts the killer to start doing away with the girls responsible.

Or, the Evil Adult escapes death completely. This is the case for the aforementioned Mother Superior, horrible Dr Simms from Elm Street 3, and McGregor, the teen-hating campus cop in Graduation Day. While their on-screen demises might be gratifying, the fact that they don’t die underscores the unfairness of the situation, especially in the Elm Street film: The sins of the parents are visited on their children.

"You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!"

“You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!”

Genesis: Meddling, annoying people have always been present in the genre, from swaggering motorcycle cops throwing their weight around at Camp Crystal Lake, to sadistic gym teachers at Springwood High… There seems to be no one Adam or Eve figure from which they stem, their existence is all part of the teen experience, though at least they seem to be outnumbered by well-meaning adults who want to help.

Legacy: As long as the teen years are fraught with defiance, I-know-everything attitudes, beer, and sex, so there will always be Evil Adults looking to put an end to that fun. You might even say Michael, Jason, Freddy and the like are the faces of that discipline, correcting behaviour in a way the parents, teachers and cops couldn’t.

And they’re still thriving, as the mean camp counsellors who bully children in Return to Sleepaway Camp, as the distrustful mother who refuses to listen to her daughter in Fingerprints, or the asshole boss who can’t even remember if his staff are alive or dead in Final Destination 5, and the teachers who protected the nasty bullies in Tormented.

Drone on, Evil Adults, someone somewhere might be listening.

Sucks to be Soles

INNOCENT PREY

3 Stars  1983/87m

A.k.a. Voyeur

Director: Colin Eggleston / Writer: Ron McLean / Cast: P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor, Martin Balsam, John Warnock, Susan Stenmark, Richard Morgan, Debisue Voorhees.

Body Count: 11


Poor P.J. Soles… As if being saddled with the worst perm in Texas isn’t enough, one night she spots her new husband’s car at a motel and decides to creep outside the window and find out if he’s cheating on her.

Her suspicions are confirmed when she sees him doing a young hooker, and then made worse when he produces a knife and slashes the girl’s throat as they climax. At home, she confronts him and as he makes a move to do away with her, the police spring up and cart him away.

Later, hubby escapes from prison and returns to the house to finish off P.J., doing in a few luckless cops as he goes. She evades him again but this time he flees, so she sees fit to take some time out down under and visits her friend Gwen in Sydney.

The Sheriff back home (Balsam: Arbogast! ARBO-FUCKING-GAST!!!) later informs her they found a burned body with hubby’s signet ring and all is well again. Only we know better: hubby set it all up and has hopped a ship to Oz, ever committed to his cause.

Rodeo P.J. – everybody loves her

As if this isn’t enough, the sub-Norman Bates landlord at Gwen’s place has hidden cameras all over the girls’ house and watches their every move, obsessed by the new arrival, and jealous of her burgeoning romance with single dad, Rick. When the first loon arrives, what will second loon do, I wonder?

Early on in the film, P.J. ponders that if there such a thing as a habitual criminal, perhaps she is a habitual victim. Hell yeah, sister! From the arms of one psycho into those of another! Innocent Prey should be suffixed The Misadventures of the World’s Unluckiest Woman. Nothing goes right for poor P.J., and when Gwen disappears, well, where else could she go!? These wackos gravitate towards her. And just wait for that final freeze frame. Come to my house, Peej, I won’t kill you! Promise!

Mass sludge of conveniences aside, Innocent Prey is a solid little thriller, sort of a proto-Sleeping with the Enemy by way of Terror Train, possibly explaining why it was released in 1991, seven or eight years after it was made.

P.J.’s always likeable charisma carries much of the weight, but director Eggleston – who later helmed weird arty-farty slasher Cassandra - builds up some palpable tension here and there, most notably in the scenes where Hubby comes back to the house.

A ridiculous film by any measure, but an entertaining one for sure.

Blurbs-of-interest: Aside from her role as Lynda, Soles was also in The Tooth Fairy and Uncle Sam. She also narrated the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror; Martin Balsam was, duh, Arbogast in Psycho; Kit Taylor was in Eggleston’s other film Cassandra; Debi Sue Voorhees – playing the hooker – was Tina in Friday the 13th Part V and was also in Appointment with Fear.

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