Tag Archives: Halloween

Sequel Showdown: 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s

As there are so few entries left (prequels will come next time), I decided to group the final ten titles into one globular post: A piece of discarded gum with various hockey masks, knives, razor-gloves, and creepy children stuck to it.

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The Sevens: Children of the Corn: Revelation; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

A fairly decent group here… The Corn movies were getting stranger and stranger, but the producers of this seventh outing at least managed to inject a small vial of… let’s call it ‘dis-settlement’ rather than creepiness. Jason’s seventh stomp through the woods (fifth, if we’re going to be really pedantic about it) pit him against a Carrie-lite chick with telekinetic powers. Halloween H20 reunited Jamie Lee Curtis with her psychotic big-bro as a reaction to Scream. And Wes Craven had the final laugh by making a Freddy film about Freddy films.

It’s actually difficult to choose… Corn can get the boot first, naturally, but between the three mainstays, we’ve got a naff-but-fun soggy sequel, a reboot that harshly ignored all the work people did in previous films, and an inventively scary but kinda draggy chiller with little-to-no slashing at all. Hmmm…

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The Eights: Children of the Corn: Genesis; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Halloween: Resurrection; Freddy vs. Jason (I know, I know, it’s both an 8 and an 11, but I’m tired and hungry).

Genesis is so bad it hurts. Goodbye. Followed swifty by the worst of the original Paramount Fridays. Even a non-gorehound like me needed a little claret on show to liven this one up… Halloween: Resurrection not only concocted the most stupid fucking way of bringing back Michael Myers, it also has Busta Rhymes in it. BUT… as a cheesy standalone slasher movie, I do like it. Then there’s the WWE smackdown of the other two slasher movie heavyweights.

More hmmm-ing required…

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Nine and Ten: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Jason X

With only two films this should be easy. Both suck in terms of their franchise, but which sucks more? Hell went all Hidden with this demon-spirit of J-man but had an awesome opening few minutes and that camping scene. X, on the other hand, tried to do something different. It failed, but at least they tried. There were a couple of chuckles too

The Finalists:

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Not a great pot to choose from, really… New Nightmare is technically the best made, but how often do I want to sit down and watch it? Almost never. So Halloween: H20 succeeds it. On the basis I didn’t want to be Halloweened out, I plumped for Freddy vs Jason, and the good scenes in Jason Goes to Hell just beat out the good scenes from Jason X, so the former takes the glory. Albeit as short lived as a visitor to Camp Crystal Lake, because it’s not gonna win.

The Winner:

Best of a bad bunch, it might be. Halloween H20 is decent fare, but the whole “3 to 6 never happened” stuff is unforgivable. Jamie Lee’s return buoys it, the low body count tips it in the opposite direction again, so does Josh Hartnett, but it’s way better than Jason Goes to Hell and just about pips Freddy vs Jason in qualitative terms.

Bit of a dull winner, but a winner nonetheless.

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)

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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)

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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 VII: #40-31

*According to me. Me, me, me! So don’t be surprised to discover some classics are missing.

See #100-91 // #90-81 // #80-71 // #70-61 // #60-51 // #50-41

40: Malevolence (2005)

Slow, brooding, and with a low body count. Normally the stuff I hate in a slasher film, but Stevan Mena pulls off a minor miracle here: The Bodycount Art Film. A botched bank robbery sends a gang of criminals and their mother/daughter hostages to a dilapidated farmhouse inhabited by a bag-masked psycho who may or may not be the local boy who disappeared in the 80s. Tsuyoshi Kimoto’s pristine photography paints a bleak Americana and is the brightest jewel on display. Forget the shoddy prequel, Bereavement though.

Crowning moment: One of the fugitives goes to ‘look around’ outside the house. In the dark. Alone. Behind her, we see the killer lurking in the peripherals. Pure stalker stuff and excellently done.

39: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Likely an unpopular addition, this Halloween sequel was one of the first I saw and, while it was hampered by production nightmares, it holds together quite well, and captures the ‘Hallowe’en atmos’ better than all of those that’ve followed. Michael Myers reappears in Haddonfield six years after disappearing with his niece, who has just had a baby, and now he wants it back and will kill all who stand in his way, including pre-stardom Paul Rudd, as the grown-up Tommy Wallace.

Crowning moment: “There’s someone else in the room! He’s right behind you!”

38: Psycho Beach Party (2000)

A screen adaptation of a campy stage musical (!), Lauren Ambrose is a plucky 50s teenager with multiple personalities who just wants to surf with all the hunky beach boys. But who is murdering folks with varied impairments? The surf kids, a B-movie actress, and a strangely butch female police chief are all trying to find out. One of those slashers-on-the-side affairs adorned with some recognisable faces.

Crowning moment: The Lu’au dance-off that makes the choreography of Grease look second-rate.

37: Shredder (2001)

Teenagers staying at a cabin on an out-of-bounds mountain are done in by a snowboarder-hating killer. While Iced may have been there and done that, Shredder is a cute, relentlessly likeable little slice of paradise, stocked with interesting characters who you, for a post-2000 film, surprisingly don’t hate.

Crowning moment: The recurring gag of a hanged snowboarder going around and around on the chairlift all day.

36: Flashback (1999)

Germany’s response to Scream is a ludicrous farce that is inexplicably awesome at the same time. As a young girl, Jeanette witnessed the brutal slaying of her parents (and dog) by a dress-wearing maniac. X years later, she lands a job teaching French to a trio of rich siblings while their parents are away and the killings soon begin again. While things don’t necessarily tie together come the reveal, and the dubbing on the DVD is horrific, Flashback contains enough carnage to make Jason proud. Though I can’t say I’m a fan of all the domestic pet slashery.

Crowning moment: The ‘past event’ trauma (pictured), the camera keeps with that sickle as the killer moves in on young Jeanette as she tries to reach the key suspended on a hook above the door.

35. Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001)

College students majoring in criminology are being stalked and slain by a lunatic recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper, right down to the placing of each and every stab wound. About halfway through it turns stupid (they decide going to a cabin in the woods is the best course of action) and the ending is clouded by ambiguity – in accord with the real life crimes – but Ripper can at least boast polished production, gruesome slayings (including Kelly Brook, above), and decent acting, even if it does grind on for nearly two hours.

Crowning moment: Though Jack the Ripper never killed anybody that way, a couple tumble on to a log saw conveyor they cannot escape from and look doomed to plunge face first into twin buzz saws.

34: You’re Next (2011)

Home invasion movies were briefly ‘a thing’ and they don’t come with much more ballistic action than You’re Next: A family reunion (again, in a house in the middle of nowhere) is crashed by a team of masked assassins and the besieged Davison clan have to do all they can not to die. What neither they, nor the killers, counted on was one of the guest’s innate survivalist training…

Crowning moment: I saw this at a horror festival and the blender-on-the-head moment got the biggest cheer for a reason.

33: Scream 4 (2011)

Arquette, Campbell, and Cox were all back to check in with Woodsboro a decade after the events of Scream 3: Sidney is in town promoting her self-help book, while Gale is trying to write one, and teenagers around town are falling victim to a new Ghostface-clad killer who is well-versed on the remake and reboot culture of Hollywood. The pairing of Williamson and Craven elicited mixed reviews – due mainly to the slack middle third – but the self-awareness is fully intact and the blood free-flowing.

Crowning moment: The pre-title slaughter, arguably defined by Scream and copied by everyone else, now reclaimed with chucklesome flair.

32: Mask Maker (2010)

I’ve long held the view that if you carefully selected the best parts of other slasher films and sewed them together, you’d have one awesome film: Mask Maker is it. College kids renovating an old farmhouse accidentally resurrect the undead psychopath who once dwelled there and has a penchant for slicing off people’s faces and wearing them over his own deformed features. Almost every scene is a recreation of moments from every killer-with-a-blade pic since Psycho but done very well.

Crowning moment: Final girl Jen steps into the heroine’s shoes with veritable gusto and gives the killer a real run for his money.

31: Cut (2000)

As Flashback was Germany’s answer to Scream, so Cut is Australia’s. Seems that anyone who tries to complete cheesy unfinished slasher flick Hot Blooded ends up dead. But this urban myth doesn’t stop a team of film students from hiring Molly Ringwald’s bratty actress and giving it the old college try. Expectedly, the curse strikes again and the film crew are soon being laid to waste by a wackadoo dressed as the on-screen killer. Dry Aussie humour failed to resonate for most and the film has an unfairly bad reputation.

Crowning moment: Tiny superstar Kylie Minogue’s cameo as a tyrannical film director.

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part V: #60-51

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

See:
#100-91 here
#90-81 here
#80-71 here
#70-61 here

60: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

After Scream made teen slasher movies cool again for about 25 minutes in the 90s, the Halloween franchise re-grouped, ignored everything after Halloween II (upsetting fans in the process) and brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as the lovely Laurie Strode, hiding out in California. Her big bro tracks her down and slashes his way to the prep school where she works.

Crowning moment: Without a shadow of a doubt the finale in which axe-toting Laurie finally gets Michael where she wants him, until Resurrection shit all over it with its stupid-as-fuck retcon. The triple-slaying that opens the movie is pretty good too.

59: Tenebrae (1982)

Possibly Dario Argento’s most slashy work; Anthony Franciosa is a famous American writer on a book tour which, when it arrives in Rome, comes accompanied by a series of gruesome murders. Typically adorned with giallo flair, mean-spirited borderline misogynistic kills (“Male heroes with their hairy, macho bullshit” a feminist critic spouts… guess what happens to her?), and B-movie fixture John Saxon as the writer’s kitschy agent.

Crowning moment: Death-by-modern art is where it’s at.

58. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Feminist writer Rita Mae Brown scripted this corny flick as a send-up of the genre, only to see much of it altered to ‘suit the demographic’ as a girls’ basketball team hold a slumber party that’s crashed a power-drill favouring killer. Stupid as it is, there’s a lot of fun stuff at play and some of the original intent still seeps through the holes in the cheese.

Crowning moment: There are three final girls in this film, who all strike back at the killer together in a frenzy of awesome oestrogenic rage.

57: Killer Party (1986)

A sorority girl is possessed by a vengeful spirit at an abandoned frat house during an April Fool’s pledge party, dons a deep-sea diver suit (!?) and begins killing everyone. Dumb as it sounds, there’s a lot of fun in this well scripted, good humoured gem, which was heavily cut prior to release and is yet to see a restored version surface.

Crowning moment: The trick beginning is amusing, not least for the awesome White Sister song April (alluding to the original title The April Fool), but this one is at its best before most of the killing starts as we are acquainted with characters so likeable it’s sad to watch them die.

56: Fatal Games (1983)

A select group of promising young Olympians known as ‘The Magnificent Seven’ at an exclusive athletic academy are being done in by a hooded loon who tosses a mean javelin. White largely hated and pretty badly made, Fatal Games has an early 80s charm and would be great on a double bill with Graduation Day.

Crowning moment: The unmasking of the killer, given away in a lot of reviews, is a surreal yet awesome moment, that kicks off a great, if too short, chase scene.

55: Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Guillermo del Toro co-produced this atmospheric chiller about the titular young woman whose blind sister has mysteriously killed herself, just as Julia begins developing symptoms of the same degenerative sight disorder. In addition to this nightmare, somebody is hanging around and killing people who can provide answers to her sister’s death.

Crowning moment: A blind woman tells the Julia: “There’s someone else with you – he’s right behind you.”

54: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Parent groups picketed theaters showing this Utah-shot festive hacker, resulting in it being pulled completely. A young man traumatised by the murder of his parents at the hands of a robber dressed as Santa and the harsh Mother Superior at his orphanage, goes mental when he is forced to don a Saint Nick costume by the toy store he works in… Death by fairy lights and antler-impalings ensue.

Crowning moment: Nasty bullies snatch sledges off a couple of kids and find that their route down a dark hill is fraught with swinging axes.

53: Deadly Blessing (1981)

An early Wes Craven slasher flick that’s often overlooked in between the vast shadows of The Hills Have Eyes and Elm Street. A series of murders occur around a sub-Amish commune where a young city woman married a member of the flock, much to the chagrin of their leader Ernest Borgnine (check that beard). Could it be a mythical incubus?

Crowning moment: Again, the left field revelation of who the killer is elevates this from a standard whodunit to a whatthefuck!? moment with some debt to old pal Sean Cunningham’s breakthrough film of the previous year.

52: Sorority Row (2009)

One of the better slasher film remakes, this overhaul of 1982’s The House on Sorority Row is like Mean Girls with a body count. After a prank goes tragically wrong, a gaggle of college girls end up tossing one of their number down a mineshaft and live with the secret until their graduation party several months later, where a cloaked maniac begins doing away with anyone who might know the truth…

Crowning moment: Bad-ass housemother Carrie Fisher with a shotgun actively hunting down the killer, and bitchy sorority president Leah Pipes’ never ending tirade of quips and put-downs.

51: Final Destination 5 (2011)

A young office worker has the foresight to save a few of his colleagues when he has an accurate premonition of a huge suspension bridge collapse. Shortly after, those who should’ve died find themselves meeting nasty ends in bizarre ‘accidents’.

Crowning moment: Sadly, the final act of this film was correctly predicted before release, softening the awesome punch of its twist, but it’s still a great full circle climax IF the producers can keep their hands off churning out more sequels.

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Sequel Showdown: 6s, Sixes, and VIs

The further you venture into the cave, the darker it gets… Or, the less franchises there are that reach that sacred sixth installment. In fact, there are but five slasher films (that I know of) that have reached this pinnacle, so this time we’ll take ‘em one by one…

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Often held as the last true hurrah for the hockey masked one, writer/director Tom McLoughlin weaved a witty thread of comedy through Jason’s resurrection adventure, pleasantly elevating Jason Lives over and above the previous few entries.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

“They saved the best for last.” No. No, they did not. The sixth and ‘final’ outing for Mssr. Krueger was chucked out with a 3D finale, and cameos from Alice Cooper, Roseanne, and Tom Arnold, but everything else is as forgettable as can be, from the dismal body count of THREE to Freddy’s quips, which by this point were more dated than disco.

One bizarre anecdote was that the films staggered US-UK releases were punctuated by the death of Freddy Mercury in November 1991, so TV adverts proclaiming “Freddy’s Dead!” were a tad lacking in the tact department.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Largely unloved by fans of Mikey M., I actually wrung a fair amount of enjoyment from this one, which was the last of the original films to maintain a really ‘Halloweeny’ atmosphere – plus it was the possibly the first sequel I saw of the lot.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999)

John Franklin returned to his creepy role from the original film fifteen years previously, which would surely mean the corn sprogs would want him dead as he’s well into adulthood? Who knows with this series. Nancy Allen was in it, I’ve only seen it the once, but it was definitely better than the horrific TV movie/remake and the recent Genesis episode.

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Don Mancini has, for the time being, successfully resisted the remake-demons getting their paws on his property and, instead, a quasi-reboot was thrown together in the shape of this made for DVD flick, which opted for a back to basics approach with Chucky seen neither moving nor speaking for a good half of the running time. It seems to have done the trick.

The Finalists

Essentially, all five films are finalists, but it’s easy to eliminate Freddy’s Dead and Children of the Corn off the bat: Neither managed to ding the bell of decency.

Next out would be Chucky; it was a good film but the cut-price one-place/one-night setting made it drag just a little.

So, surprise, surprise, it’s between two genre icons who have already bagged prizes in Rounds 2 and 4 respectively, but for being both witty and maintaining a ‘classics’ summer camp feel, it’s gotta be the J-man:

The Winner

Next time, all the sevens!

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