Tag Archives: remake

Title Recall: Remakes, ‘Reimaginings’, Re-whatevers

Having gleaned that little is to be learned from title cards, here’s some old-to-new comparisons: Films that were re-thingied for the ‘audience of today’…


The modest effect of the title over the sorority house of the impeccable original was replaced by a garish scrawl of ‘cool font’ for the 2006 remake, which will also later be included in the ‘weird font’ collection. Shows all subtlety had been hoovered out of it.


The long, slow zoom into the jack-o-lantern of the 1978 film was creepy enough, while John Carpenter’s plinky, unforgettable theme clunked along. Considering Rob Zombie’s no-holds-barred approach in his grubby remake, the white-on-black title is pretty drab.


Another case of reverse-subtlety. The original Friday‘s block logo came a-rushin’ towards the audience and shattered an unseen pane of glass upon arrival. The 2009 re-do omitted such theatrics for a rather unmemorable fade-up a good way into the movie, once Jason had already done away with several teen campers.


Here’s a curious paradox. Prom Night of yore is heaps of fun, but has a rather random title card, that just appears while doomed young Robin meanders to her death at the start of the film; it seems strangely out of place and understated. The tame-as-a-teddy-bear redux in 2008 opted for credits over a long aerial scan of the locale in, dare I say, slightly more appropriate fontage. Dress it up any way you want, it still sucks.


Canada’s answer to Friday the 13th zoomed into the mouth of a screaming woman a few minutes in for the funky title card and a little drop of blood fell from the hearts. The 3D remake in 2009 went for a hole-in-the-wall effect, before it all shot towards us, y’know, to make us jump out of our seats.


Wes Craven’s Elm Street logo looks a little like a child’s felt tip rendition of the title, but it zooms towards us with a creepy ‘zwoooooooommm’ sound and is bizarrely unsettling. The remake, like so many, waited till all other credits were done before appearing rather innocuously and unfrighteningly.

So there we go, in most cases, even credits can’t be bettered by fancy-pants remakes with more money n’ better stuff. There was more resting on a good product back in the day.

Stand by for various other bizarre groupings.

Stick to what you know. Or die.

Some people just want a bigger slice of the pie. Unsatisfied with their singing careers, many artistes appear in a few music videos and suddenly think they’re the next Streep or Caine. So we get Beyoncé in Austin Powers, Justin Timberlake trying to be an action hero in the crappy In Time and Alanis Morissette playing GOD in Dogma!

So it was no surprise to anyone that, during the 90s horror resurgence, a few of these Prima Donnas thought they could kick it with the big boys and headline a slasher flick. Some did alright, agreeably dying in accordance with the audience’s wishes, while others thought their acting talents earned them the lead role. Poor deluded things…

Let’s take a look at who ruined what:


LL Cool J as Ronnie the security guard in Halloween H20

Who hell he? Rapper James Todd Smith started his career way back in 1985 and has since released 11 studio albums, featured as a guest rapper on a gazillion tracks and, surprisingly, carved out quite the respectable screen career, presently starring in NCIS: Los Angeles.

In the midst of horror: LL donned the usually doomed role of security guard at a California prep school where Jamie Lee Curtis was the headmistress. Unusually, he brought a charm to the role few other names on this list could dream of (not least Busta Rhymes who almost single-handedly destroyed the next film in the series).

He later pulled the rug of credibility out from under himself in a naff role in Deep Blue Sea the following year (for which he also contributed a dire theme song) and returned to slasherdom in Mindhunters in 2004.

Eventual Fate: Survives despite being shot.


Tatyana Ali as Monica in The Clown at Midnight

Who hell she? Former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast member and short-lived career singer Ali scored a big hit by duetting with series brethren Will Smith before seemingly being sucked into the career ether.

In the midst of horror: Ali cropped up as the sassy best-friend-of-heroine in this Canadian Scream knock-off, where a group of high school theater club kids are tormented by a psychotic but not remotely scary clown.

Eventual Fate: Skewered with a spear that she almost spins 360s around. But doesn’t.

brandy-isk2Brandy as Karla in I Still  Know What You Did Last Summer

Who hell she? Brandy Norwood – who I had confused with Aaliyah for several years – had already headlined her own kids show, Moesha, for a couple of years and scored some gentile RnB chart hits, including this one featuring LL Cool J – hmmm. The only ones I know were Sittin’ Up in my Room from Waiting to Exhale and The Boy is Mine with genre clone Monica.

In the midst of horror: Brandy signed on to play the sassy best-friend-of-heroine in the cliché ridden killer fisherman sequel to the surprise 1997 hit. For the role, Brandy had to lip-sync (something I don’t doubt she was used to) her screams, so’s not to damage that precious voice… To be fair, she does ok with some godawful dialogue and has a cool chase scene.

Eventual Fate: Staggers from the wreckage at the last second after we all hoped believed she was dead.

kylie-cut2aKylie Minogue as Hilary Jacobs in Cut

Who hell she? Pint-sized pop princess and international gay icon Kylie made her screen debut in cult Australian soap Neighbours before becoming one of the most successful artists on the planet, notching up 45 Top 20 hits in the UK between 1988 and 2011.

In the midst of horror: For her Drew Barrymore-esque cameo in Aussie comic-horror Cut, she appeared for all of five minutes as the tyrannical director of a low-budget horror film, Hot Blooded.

Eventual Fate: First to go, probably to the joy of many she gets her tongue cut out.

snoop-bones2Snoop Dogg as Jimmy Bones in Bones

Who hell he? Pot-smoking LA rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (later dropping the middle name) has been on the rap scene since the early 90s. Look, I know fuck all about rap. It bores me. He appeared on that Katy Perry track and was in some episodes of Weeds. And played Huggy Bear in the crappy Starsky & Hutch reboot.

In the midst of horror: Dogg rolled up as a killer from beyond the grave in this ghetto Elm Street wannabe, in which a murdered 70s big cheese rises from the dead to take revenge on those who killed him after they turned his beloved burg into a grotty ghetto of sleaze.

Eventual Fate: As the supernatural killer, he’s already dead and possesses daughter Bianca Lawson at the end.

kris-dtox2Kris Kristofferson as Dr Mitchell in D-Tox

Who hell he? Texas folk strummer Kristofferson has never had a single UK chart hit but the weird alliteration of his name alone ensures most people have at the very least heard of him. Folk isn’t my thing either so I can’t tell you shit about his career.

In the midst of horror: KK phoned in a one-dimensional performance as the head shrink at a clinic for burned out cops, where Sylvester Stallone thinks there’s a police-hating serial killer on the prowl. In truth, I can’t remember a whole lot about the film now, only that the identity of the loon was evident from the outset and that a cast containing Charles S. Dutton, Courtney B. Vance, Sean Patrick Flanery and Robert Patrick could be so wasted in a film that virtually bypassed big screens everywhere for a dead future on DVD…

Eventual Fate: Dies, but I can’t remember how.

busta-hr2Busta Rhymes as Freddie Harris in Halloween: Resurrection

Who hell he? I know even less about Busta Rhymes than I do about Snoop Dogg. He sang on that really rubbish Half on a Baby with Mariah Carey and did a ‘song’ that sampled the Psycho theme (blaspheme!).

In the midst of horror: Rhymes, evidently spurned on by – or jealous of – LL Cool J and Snoop Dogg’s horror movie outings, somehow bagged the lead role in what is possibly the most hated film in the Halloween canon (though I actually don’t mind it at all) as a small time entertainment entrepreneur who organises a live webcast from the home of Michael Myers on Halloween night, unaware that the psycho has lived in a tunnel beneath the property for several years and objects to any visitors.

From his ridiculous Kung Fu showdown with Michael to his attempt at playing things cooler than a frozen cucumber, Rhymes is possibly the victim of a crap script. This is, after all, a film that tries to sell to us the idea that Michael Myers was not the guy beheaded at the end of H20. It’s more plausible and likely that he just can’t act.

Eventual Fate: Stabbed about three times but survives. Fuck it.

kelly-fvj2Kelly Rowland as Kia in Freddy vs Jason

Who hell she? One of the ‘other’ members of Destiny’s Child who merely existed under the shadow of the great Beyoncé, future X-Factor mentor and singer of a few half-decent solo hits. I can’t even picture the third girl. Hang on, weren’t there four at the start?

In the midst of horror: Rowland turned up as the sassy best-friend-of-heroine (any one else noticing a theme?) in the long-awaited horror series mash-up. Kia says “girl” a lot and gives mouth-to-mouth to Jason Voorhees, for which he thanks her by slamming her against a tree. However, Rowland reportedly ad-libbed “faggot” as an insult against Freddy, which dropped her credibility through the floor in my book.

Eventual Fate: Machete sling into a nearby tree.

paris-wax2Paris Hilton as Paige in House of Wax

Who hell she? Before House of Wax, I was one of approximately six people on the planet who didn’t really know who Paris Hilton was. Everyone seemed to hate her. Apparently, the hotel chain heiress-slash-socialite is one of those famous-for-being-famous dollies who had a few ‘reality’ TV shows and squawked out a heavily auto-tuned album in 2006, which spawned the worldwide hit Stars Are Blind. She sings like she’s stoned.

In the midst of horror: The American marketing for this remake played heavily on Hilton’s character’s fate: See Paris Hilton Die! squawked the trailers. So divisive her star-status that it would have started a riot had she been cast as the final girl. Strangely, this was not Hilton’s first foray into slasher cinema, having already been offed in rubbish British ghost-horror Nine Lives. In Wax, she does okay with the role of best-friend-of-heroine (though for once, white!).

Eventual Fate: After an admittedly impressive chase scene, Paige gets a rusty old pole right through the head.

bonjovi-wolf2Jon Bon Jovi as Rich Walker in Cry_Wolf

Who hell he? “Ohhhh we’re halfway there…!” Leading man of supremo 80s hair metal rockers Bon Jovi, JBJ has enjoyed enormous global success with the band, turning out hits pretty much solidly for a quarter of a century. Everyone loves at least one Bon Jovi song.

In the midst of horror: Would you learn anything if Bon Jovi was YOUR teacher? No? Neither do any of the cast members in this cheat of a film, set at a snobby prep school where the students start a rumour about a campus cruising killer that backfires of them, then doesn’t, then does…

JBJ is the media lecturer and more intertwined with events than it at first seems. He says teacherly things, wears glasses and boring clothes and generally makes no impression whatsoever. But the film’s crap so who cares?

Eventual Fate: Shot dead because he’s the killer. No, wait! He isn’t! Is he? Fuck it, I have no clue what’s going on. Dies.

tulisa-dnd2Tulisa Contostavlos as Amber in Demons Never Die

Who hell she? One third of unspeakably dreadful UK ‘urban’ group N-Dubz, who, despite being a vacuum of talent, scored several substantial chart hits, including a number one single. Tulisa then went on to mentor on The X Factor, her girl group Little Mix eventually winning the show. Entirely thanks to her, of course.

In the midst of horror: Plays ‘the Drew Barrymore role’ in UK ‘urban’ slasher flick Demons Never Die, which I’ve not yet seen because it flopped so hard at the box office it barely played anywhere, drunkenly staggering its way to DVD in February 2011. Equally repugnant Radio 1 DJ Reggie Yates also features.

Eventual Fate: She dies, but I don’t yet know how.

* * *

What does this teach us? If you’re a black female artist, you have no choice than to play the final girl’s best friend.

Who would you like to see bite it on the big screen? I imagine Justin Beiber would top a few lists. Simon Cowell would be forced to listen to Westlife until his brains bleed out his ears. Eminem could scream like a girl. Victoria Beckham could be force-dieted to death…

The list is endless.

Remake Rumble: Just let it go to voicemail…

Less a Face-off, more a comparative analysis between the original and its – ugh – remake/reimagining/reboot/whatever (…delete as applicable), some I liked, some I loathed and some I somehow preferred to the original!


3 Stars  1979/15/94m

“Every babysitter’s nightmares becomes real.”

Director: Fred Walton / Writers: Walton & Steve Feke / Cast: Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Beckley, Ron O’Neal, Carmen Argenziano, Rutanya Alda, Bill Boyett.

Body Count: 3

Fred Walton made a short film called The Sitter, which was built around one of the most well known urban legends. A babysitter alone in a strange house begins receiving bizarre calls that escalate in their creepiness. She calls the cops and they eventually trace the call, letting her know that they’re coming from inside the same house. Yikes.

These days with the internet and a gazillion reference points it’s old hat but way back in time stories like these that spread through the old friend-of-a-friend-esque method of communication likely kept slumber parties awake at night.

After the success of Halloween, Walton extended his short into When A Stranger Calls, which, had it ended twenty minutes in, would likely score five stars.

Carol Kane is the tormented babysitter, Jill Johnson, whose sitting gig at the home of Dr Mendrakis slowly unwinds into an evening of terror when repeat calls asking if she’s checked the [sleeping] children grow to the caller making it clear he can also see her and that he wants her blood all over him. Eww.

Jill is fortunate enough to escape once informed that the caller is upstairs, but the kiddies ain’t so lucky. We never see them either way. The culprit is caught. La-de-da-da.

Seven years later, the loon – Curt Duncan (Beckley, who died shortly after principal photography) – escapes from his madhouse and returns to terrorize Jill and her family anew, though not before setting his sights on husky voiced bar patron Tracy. All the while, Charles Durning P.I. is after him before he can kill again.


2006/15/87m  3 Stars

“Evil hits home.”

Director: Simon West / Writer: Jake Wade Wall / Cast: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy, Tessa Thompson, Brian Geraghty, Derek de Lint, Kate Jennings Grant, Clark Gregg.

Body Count: 6

One of the few remakes that retains character names, sullen teenager Jill Johnson is forced into a babysitting job after her parents ground her and cut off her phone privileges for going 800 minutes over her plan. Elsewhere, she’s mad at best friend Tiffany for kissing her boyfriend Bobby and because of the grounding she can’t go to a big party with all her friends. Life really sucks for her.

Dr and Mrs Mandrakis entrust their two young children to Jill in their frankly massive lakeside house, unlike the first film this one is in the middle of nowhere. Jill explores, tries on jewellery, plays with various gadgets and yaks with her friends on the phone.

After a while, weird calls begin and Jill starts to wig out; Tiffany drops by to make amends; Rosa the housekeeper seemingly disappears and the house alarm keeps going off…

Eventually, the creep factor wins over and Jill pleads with the cops to trace the call – guess where it’s coming from? Before long she and the kids are on the run from the maniac…

* * *

Three stars each? Each?

Yes. Woah, hold it with that claw-hammer, let me explain…

When I first saw When a Stranger Calls and its superior MFTV sequel (the best of the bunch), I always thought they should remake it and base it all on the opening torment rather than skip off down X-years-later-he-comes-back lane.

In the ’79 film, the mid-section is pitifully dull. There’s a brief catch-up on the case when the cops learn Duncan has skipped the asylum and then largely nothing happens for about an hour.

What differentiates When a Stranger Calls from the other slasher films of the era is that we get to know Curt Duncan a little. He speaks, he’s fairly lucid and the film even dredges up some sympathy for his sad, pathetic weirdigan life, whereas the antagonist of the redux is your same-old same-old shadowy loon.

In the end, his resolution is to track down Jill and her own family and torment her. This makes the last ten or so minutes quite tense although nowhere near as good as the opening act.

The film deflates in the centre. Dewhurst, as Tracy, Duncan’s new play-thing of sorts, has little to do other than smoke cigarettes and act pissed off in the dank bar she frequents. It’s really, really boring.

Walton improved on it greatly in the 1993 follow-up, which brought back Kane, this time mentoring Jill Schoelen’s traumatised college girl, who went through an identical experience.

The 2006 remake is what I’d call horror for girls. That’s not meant to be derogatory, I know plenty of girls who love horror but this film and I’d also say the wretched Prom Night remake appear to be directed point blank at young teenagers with an excess of girl-themed subplotting and are positively anorexic when it comes to genuine horror. Let’s re-brand it horror for 12-year-old girls.

So I got my wish to some extent, Stranger 2006 is all about the babysitter’s torment. And it began so wonderfully with a nicely done credits sequence in which we hear calls plaguing a girl we don’t see while a carnival sparkles, jingles and over-stimulates kids in the foreground.

It’s a genuinely well done scene but serves to unfurl the whole calls-are-coming-from-inside-the-house USP which comes later and is therefore an entirely redundant plot development. We know the calls are going to be coming from inside the house because you’ve showed us the killer was inside the other house!

Camilla Belle also seems to struggle under the weight of being the only real character. Everyone else is a bit-parter and how Brian Geraghty (playing a high schooler despite being born in 1975) manages to get second billing from his less-than five minutes on screen is a mystery.

It’s not that this Jill is unsympathetic but the script gives her little to work with at some points. When the killer makes a run for the kids she doesn’t spring into action like Laurie Strode would have. Therefore, she loses some likeability points.

What murders there are all occur off camera: the sitter and three kids we assume bite it at the start are never seen at all and the non-white live-in maid may as well have offed herself and Tiffany was always going to croak for ‘betraying’ Jill by kissing Bobby – GASP! How COULD she!? See? It’s the Sweet Valley High of horror. Less the spooky-ass twins though.

The film seems at odds with itself over whether to become a slasher film. In hindsight, it should’ve. The house drama should’ve been cut in half and then the killer would come after Jill, killing some of her annoying friends and really giving her something to gripe to her dad about.

The children, cute as they are, have no lines other than whimpering and squealing. Their names aren’t even mentioned until the credits roll and yet the actors’ names still appear in the opening credits!

Nevertheless, Simon West shows some flair as a director here and there, keeping The Stranger’s face hidden effectively and capturing the house in some unsettling moods but you can just picture the studio execs chanting “tone it down” ad nauseum until the horror stayed well on the scale and I’d imagine that more thought went in to what clothes they put Belle in and what products could be flashed on screen above and beyond actually making it scary.

This is a difficult one; the opening twenty minutes of the first film is sensational but also sensationally undermined by just how boring it becomes thereafter. The new film gets points for doing what I wanted it to but panders so cringingly to its desired demographic that as a male adult it’s hard to derive more than short-lived pleasure from. Be careful what you wish for indeed: there’s only so long I can watch a girl wander round a house calling out names, evidenced by the length prologue and pointless last-minute shock attempt.

Stick it in a box-set with Prom Night and some random girly sleepover movie. Carol Kane’s performance swings it, the original wins. Bang the gavel. Disconnect the phone.

Blurbs-of-interest: Fred Walton also directed April Fool’s Day. Carmen Argenziano was in Graduation Day and Identity; Rutanya Alda appeared in several horror films in the early 80s including Girls Nite Out and Amityville II. Katie Cassidy appeared in remakes of Black Christmas and A Nightmare on Elm Street and was also in Harper’s Island; Brian Geraghty was in Open House.

“Hello Sidney, how’ve you been?”


4 Stars  2011/15/111m

“New decade. New rules.”

Director: Wes Craven / Writer: Kevin Williamson / Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella, Eric Knudsen, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Anthony Anderson, Mary McDonnell, Alison Brie, Marielle Jaffe, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Aimee Teegarden, Roger Jackson.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “You forgot the first rule of a remake – don’t fuck with the original!”

Think of a band you loved when you were younger who since split. Imagine them reforming – you’d be stoked. You’d go and watch them perform and you’d enjoy but there’s something… something just isn’t working for you. The songs are the same, they can still play but they look older, less energetic now.

This is how I found watching Scream 4 earlier today.

Don’t misinterpret the fact that it’s a good film because it is. Very enjoyable for the most part in spite of a slack middle third but perhaps the memories of a time when Sid, Gale and Dewey and indeed I was younger and more fresh faced and sprightly jade the affair to some extent. Argh, screw this stroll down memory lane shit, let’s discuss the film.

Things begin as they always do in the Scream movies: the big pre-credits kill, only this time around Craven and Williamson slap the audience in face with a wet fish in an effectively amusing poke at the imitators who tried to fill the high-budget slasher void in the intervening decade. We’ve all seen those Paquin/Bell stills so without ruining the joke, let’s just say that the Stab movies didn’t end with the ill-fated Stab 3 – they’ve continued and they’ve gotten just a bit silly. Time travel is even brought into the equation.

Sidney Prescott is now a successful writer and is at the end of her tour promoting Out of the Darkness, a sort of self-help bio that brings her to the last stop of promo: Woodsboro. That little piece of suburban California where it all began a decade-and-a-half earlier. Gale and Dewey are married but suffering from the mental strain that small town life puts on their relationship. She’s trying to write fiction, his deputy (Shelton) has a crush on him.

As soon as Sid returns, Ghostface comes too, neatly coinciding with the anniversary of the massacre as he begins offing high school friends of Sid’s cousin, Jill (Roberts). Gale wants to investigate but finds herself marginalised by Dewey and so teams up with school film club geeks Charlie and Robbie, who step into Randy’s shoes for an explanation on how the horror genre has changed since Billy and Stu first used old school rules to their advantage. Add to this, they’re holding a Stab-a-thon party as the kids of Woodsboro modern hold the films in Rocky Horror-like esteem. Can only lead to trouble, methinks!

Scream 4‘s big mickey take targets remakes, reboots, rehashes, re-imaginings – whatever you want to call them. The rules have flipped, horror now looks to do the opposite of what came before so much is made out of the Saw movies (one girl quips that torture porn is shit and features no character development), and any number of remade films are name checked and the industry criticised for not being interested in anything that isn’t a remake or reboot of some kind.

So are we dealing with a reboot here? Well, yes and no. It’s still a slasher movie so certain rules can’t be bargained with and, despite them protesting otherwise, some of the “knowledgeable” teen characters still saunter off and investigate strange sounds, call out “who’s there?” and make all the standard body count pic mistakes.

The main bulk of Scream 4 plays out mechanically: spooky call >>> stupid behaviour >>> killer appears. Though it’s worth noting that all the characters toyed with in this vein are female. In fact, this is the first Scream film where girl victims outnumber the boys, who are killed almost apologetically without much of a build up.

However, mechanics of another kind aid the film’s step into the 21st Century: now the kids can talk about Twitter, information is spread via text, IM’s, there’s a Ghostface voice-app for the iPhones they all seem to possess, and according to the film nerds, the killer’s logical step towards innovation is to film the murders. Weird to think back to Gale’s breezeblock sized cell phone in the first one!

Thankfully, as I started to question what the fuck they were playing at with such a flat opus, a neat twist is pulled out of the bag concerning the killer’s identity and their always-exposited-at-length motive, which stacks up well with the film’s acerbic prod’s at celeb culture – I feel like Lily Allen’s “The Fear” should’ve been playing in the background. The film doesn’t so much offer up red herrings (apart from a really obvious push towards our suspecting a probable loon early on) as the cast is so dominated by women that it’s difficult to work out which one of them (if any) it could be. However, the climax seems to borrow back a big chunk of unbelievable camp from Scary Movie – but it was funny as hell and had the audience clapping.

Neve Campbell delivers here, thankfully looking more interested than she was in Scream 3 and Panettiere impresses as girl geek Kirby. Curiously, it’s Arquette and Cox who seem most out of place. Gale’s plotline of trying to get back to her old self (a metaphor for the whole production, perhaps?) doesn’t really go anywhere and Dewey hardly seems to be involved at all and looks only tired rather than his perky, parable-spouting self from the other films. But why a rather mannequin-styled Mary McDonnell was wasted in such a crappy role is a weird one.

I’m likely to make some amendments to this review when I take a second look at the film. The first go-round with a big deal of a film is always problematised by expectations, especially when dealing with Scream or a film I’ve been holding out for for some time but at present, I’m satisfied but at the same time I learned that, as the Carpenters once sang, trying to get that feeling again is a non-starter. We’re all older and so the teen culture we knew has shifted at some points beyond our comprehension. Take the bits you can and remain bewildered at the rest, y’know, like when you made your parents watch the first Scream.

Scream‘s 5 and 6? I dunno if the band could do another comeback tour…

Blurbs-of-interest: Emma Roberts was the lead in Scream Queens; Anthony Anderson (another actor under-used) was in Urban Legends: Final Cut. Arquette directed and featured in The Tripper (with a cameo from Cox); Marley Shelton was in Valentine.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Oracle

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.

Let us recall with love, THE ORACLE

“There is a force at work here. It is not human and it is unspeakably EVIL!”

Overview: If you are a teenager and you live in a town that has a creepy old house, summer camp, closed down asylum or cemetery with a blood-soaked past, chances are there’ll be some old drunk who remembers what went down X years earlier and never stops rabbiting on about it. Everyone ignores him or her, especially when they begin spouting warnings that history is about to repeat itself and you – as one of the teenagers – are fucked if you go meddling. This person is an Oracle.

Linguistic Snapshot: “You’re doomed if you go exploring the old MacKenzie abatoir… It’s cursed! It’s evil! Nobody who goes in ever comes back again… Mark my words or you’ll be sorry tooooo!”

Styling: Because the Oracle is normally old and generally looked upon with disdain by the rest of the townsfolk, he or she is normally adorned in smelly old-person clothes, maybe a kooky hat or a cloak, oversized glasses and a crooked smile with some missing teeth amidst a cloud of alcohol-scented air.

Hallmarks: Being the only person around who actually has a Scooby about what’s going to happen, the Oracle maintains a sort of creepy aura of foresight and will either rock back on their porch chair with a smug ‘I told y’all so!’ grin or make the error of following the sexy teens to either A). perv or B). be proven right and succeed only in C). getting killed early on.

Downfall: Every oar-sticker-inner gets their comeuppance at one point or another. Take Oracle extraordinaire Crazy Ralph for example; he told the counsellors of Camp Crystal Lake that they were doomed and was right. Five years later – and in exactly the same clothes – he tried to go for a twofer and ended up pissing off JV and getting garrotted to death.

When you think about it, the Oracle is actually trying to help rather than hinder: from Dr Loomis’ cryptic rants about Michael Myers being the devil incarnate to the local psychic Jazelle in Jeepers Creepers, these folk are putting their own lives on the line for the sake of half a dozen stupid-ass teenagers.

However, sometimes the Oracle isn’t so pleasant. Take Happy from My Bloody Valentine, for example, goes off on anyone who dares disrespect the legend of Harry Warden and decides to teach those no-good young folk a lesson with a scary prank, which backfires on his ass big time!

Others give in and try to get the hell outta Dodge, much to the amusement of those around them: the old lady who’s crushed by her own house in Children of the Corn II (though not before uttering the excellent line, “Have you ever seen…evil?”); Estes the handyman from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - they both at least had the sense to flee, albeit too late in both cases.

Genesis: Dr Loomis and Crazy Ralph are doubtlessly the earliest seers-of-doom in Halloween and Friday the 13th respectively: both went out of their way to warn folk of the impending danger, one out of known-authority and the other as the town crazy, but it’s worth noting they were both right and survived to tell everyone so. Presumably over and over and over as old folk do.

Legacy: The Oracle became a bit of a rely-on cliche in later years, cropping up with cryptic nonsense here and there, from the Ralph-lite Deckhand of Jason Takes Manhattan, to all the bartenders and shopkeepers who eyeball nubile newcomers on roadtrips to their deaths…

The most recent example was a toned-down example in the Friday remake – the old lady who appears to know about Jason Voorhees living out in them there woods. Her policy being that if they leave him alone, he’ll leave them alone. No questions asked. Stupid teens come along and try to steal his pot, he takes action.

And less stereotypically, there was the college kid who appears at the dorm room door of Sara’s in Halloween: Resurrection, who tries to scare the girls with the briefest of retellings before descending into some stoner-comic impression. What was that about?

Anyway, any good old fashioned slasher flick should have a crazy old biddy to warn people and stuff. Cliche or not, it’s always fun to watch the arrogant teenagers shrug off the advice and go to the haunted logging camp anyway. Long live you, Oracle! (unless you decide to follow the kids and end up with a hacksaw in the mouth).

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