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Rankfest: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I just realised I said Halloween would be next but it’s all lies… So from Crystal Lake we fly west to Springwood to check out how I like my Elm Streets

9th Best: Freddy’s Dead (1991)


With both Freddy and Jason’s ‘final’ adventures, The Final Nightmare peters out with little of the flair that made the concept so good in the first place. This was released in the UK around the same time Queen singer Freddie Mercury died, making the TV adverts staying ‘Freddy’s Dead!’ wildly inappropriate.

Best Bit: Sadly, the montage of best bits from parts 1-5.

8th: The Dream Child (1989)


The attempt to revert to the dark roots of the series resulted in a pretty boring entry on the coattails of the most successful of the 80s installments. Although drippy heroine Alice finally comes to the fire in a non-annoying way, by this point there were way too many tie-ins, toys, music videos, and the TV show, all of which diluted any fear Krueger had injected into anybody.

Best Bit: I actually can’t think of one.

7th: The Remake (2010)


Less Elm Street, more Emo Street as the re-imagining of the story pits a group of thoroughly depressing high schoolers against Jackie Earle Haley’s less quippy Krueger. He’s fine, and there are some good ideas floating around (the curse of the dreams is kind of passed along after each death) but, as with the Halloween remake, the cover version part of it can’t hold a candle, and seems like a cheap afterthought.

Best Bit: The opening nightmare is pretty good and Katie Cassidy is a good screamer.

6th: Freddy vs Jason (2003)


It’s crap, especially compared to the New Nightmare, but Jason’s presence makes it avidly more watchable from an entertainment standpoint. Freddy doesn’t get to do a whole lot of slashing, but comes to the party fully equipped with a quip for every action.

Best Freddy Bit: “She was mine! Mine! Miiiiiiiine!!!”

5th: New Nightmare (1994)


Wes Craven, pissed off with what had become of his creation, re-seized the reigns just two years before Scream came along, and completely overhauled the series, reinstating Heather Langenkamp playing herself, now tormented by the films that made her name, as Freddy comes after her family. It’s all very clever, but not much of a slasher film, running a bit too long to enjoy repeated viewings, but is undeniably an amazing example of somebody reclaiming their work.

Best Bit: John Saxon falling back into character before a perplexed Heather.

4th: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)


I hated this one in the beginning, being such a departure from the first, switching the focus to a homo-repressed teenage boy, who has recently moved into 1428 Elm Street. However, repeated viewings have unveiled much to like, from the colourful 80s tone, some laughably bad acting, and some awesome nightmare scenarios, it’s subsequently leapt up the rankings.

Best Bit: The school bus nightmare opener, relative and really well done.

3rd: The Dream Master (1988)


The MTV Nightmare was a combination of fortuitous circumstances that led to huge box office takings: Freddy was riding the top of his pop culture wave, FX work was at a revolutionary turning point and the dream sequences were rendered with amazing innovation and creativity. Points lost for little to no grue, and a sappy, annoying final girl.

Best Bit: Debbie’s transformation into an insect.

2nd: Dream Warriors (1987)


The ‘proper’ sequel to the events of the first film: Six years later, Nancy returns to help a group of nightmare-plagued teenagers at a psych ward where nobody seems able to understand their collective problem, writing it off as mass-hysteria. This marked the last time the adults-know-better theme was used to full effect. Freddy was also legitimately still a scary boogeyman, tormenting Patricia Arquette’s heroine in some perfectly realised nightmare situations.

Best Bit: “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” (or is it “fuck the primetime”?)

1st: The Original (1984)


Wes Craven got everything right – with the possible exception of the end – and built New Line studios on the back of a script that had been turned down by every other studio in Hollywood. Centrally, the motif of sleep=death is up there with a shark in the water off Amity Island, but you can stay out of the sea. How long can you stay awake?

 Cleverly, the film foregoes murder after murder to focus on final girl Nancy’s battle with staying awake, something we all tried after seeing it, I’m sure. I once managed a couple of days by going through a crate of 24 Pepsi cans. Unquestionably one of the most important horror films ever made.

Best Bit: Nancy’s gradual progression from suburban any-girl to trap-manufactuing, Krueger-kicking badass.

A Final Destination movie a day (keeps the paranoia in play)

Time on my hands… Last week I opted to watch a Final Destination film a day. Why? Probably dreamt about it. Or talked about it. It’s always fun to notice new things:

Monday: Final Destination (2000)

This viewing’s rating 5 Stars


  • I continue to advocate the Flight 180 plane crash as the scariest disaster of all five films.
  • The TWA 800 footage was in poor taste, wouldn’t it have been easier to make them bound for Italy? Germany? Spain?
  • Who pays Clear’s rent?
  • The black shadow-blob thing was cool and creepy.
  • Alex says he didn’t switch seats etc. so the order is wrong, but he did. He did!
  • I hope Clear’s dog was adopted by a lovely family.

Tuesday: Final Destination 2 (2003)

This viewing’s rating 4 Stars


  • If the events of the first film occurred 5-6 weeks after the plane crash, and then Alex, Clear, and Carter went to Paris six months after the others died, Alex apparently didn’t leave his house for three months until he died, so Clear has only been in her padded cell for two months tops.
  • Regardless of how good the idea that this group are affected by the deaths from the first film scuppering their own, the dialogue in the scene where they realise it is beyond dire. But question yourself, how could it be anything but!?
  • Shouldn’t the ‘outward ripple’ have kept, uh, ‘rippling’?

Wednesday: Final Destination 3 (2006)

This viewing’s rating 3 Stars


  • Weird how Jesse Moss’ name appears on the credits but he’s in it for a matter of minutes, but Amanda Crew’s isn’t, despite having a much bigger role.
  • Fuck the danger, that rollercoaster looks amazing. And long. Very, very long. I’d ride it.
  • This one is badly scripted: Wendy and Kevin talk > Death > Wendy and Kevin talk > Death. Over and over…
  • Ian and Erin would’ve made much more interesting protagonists.
  • The sister’s friend Perry doesn’t utter a single word in the whole film. Not even a ‘fuck!’ when she gets speared.
  • The cops following Wendy and Kevin add nothing. Nothing. They’re 100% useless.
  • I don’t like the decision to ‘kill ‘em all’ was based on some lame feedback. It renders the series a bit void if there’s absolutely no hope for anybody.

Thursday: The Final Destination (2009)

This viewing’s rating 2 Stars


  • In true ‘this is the last one’ style, they lied.
  • Devour by Shinedown is the best thing in the entire film.
  • ‘Character’ names include: ‘Racist’ (and ‘Racist’s Wife’!), ‘Mechanic’, ‘Cowboy’, and ‘MILF’.
  • Who are these leads? What do they do? Where are their families?
  • Why are they hardly interested in the fact their friend had a premonition? They’re just like “on with life!”
  • The woman playing MILF/Samantha was Emmanuelle in the 90s porn series.
  • Nobody mentioned Hunt once after he bites it. Or seemed sad.
  • Death-by-carwash would’ve been awesome? It still happens in Thai FD rip-off 999-9999.
  • I’m still staggered this one is the most successful of the series.

Friday: Final Destination 5 (2011)

This viewing’s rating 3.5 Stars


  • The extra behind Sam and Molly climbs around or over the concrete divider thingy three times in different shots.
  • CGI water splashes still have a long way to go.
  • Yay! It’s Tony Todd.
  • The massage scene is actually really funny.
  • But I never want acupuncture.
  • There are no black women in any of these movies.
  • Flight 180 – still terrifying!
  • The ‘Greatest Hits’ megamix of grue at the end! Amazing.


  • Still nobody visits a spiritualist, medium, or shaman.
  • Still nobody questions where the premonitions came from.
  • But the series is still 80% awesome. Fuck The Final Destination. Even the title sucks.
  • Make another one please New Line! A proper dark, broody, eerie one.
  • I’m way suspicious that almost every item I own is capable of eviscerating me now.

Rankfest: Friday the 13th

You know when you go on IMDb or whatever and there’s always a thread titled “Rank the [insert series here] best to worst”, well let’s do summa that.

Of course the infamous Top 100 ranks my favourites across the board up to Spring of 2014 (Lost After Dark and The Final Girls might now force a few of the bottom dwellers out), but franchise-to-franchise, what is the most logical place to start?

Duh, Crystal Lake obvs.

12th Best: Jason X (2001)

jason2Bringing Jason back after eight years in limbo (nine, if we’re going to count the delayed release) is a bold step. On top of that, putting him in space proved just a step too far. This film is hokey and enjoyable at times, annoying and lazy at others.

Best Bit: Holodeck Crystal Lake, circa 1980.

11th: Jason Goes to Hell (1993)

jgth6I maintain that certain scenes in JGTH out-awesome the previous few films – the trio of campers at the lake, and the opening gag with the sexy chick alone in the creaky old house: Pure Friday. It’s just a shame the rest of it veers off course with all that Hidden crap.

Best Bit: Tentpole. Schwing.

10th: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

jtm3The late-80s-ness of Manhattan is undeniably bodacious, but it’s too long, too tame, and too timid to max out its potential: At the time this must’ve had the highest bodycount of the lot, and is there but a speck of blood?

Best Bit: JJ’s awesome-or-what axe.

9th: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

fvj-cornfield-stonersLike Jason X, this one is worth a look every decade or so. The WWE-ness of it all is juvenile and irritating, but high-end production values, a love for the series, and a game cast almost make up for that.

Best Bit: Cornfield rave hi-jinks.

8th: The Final Chapter (1984)

fc5I’ll stand by for the townsfolk to come with their torches and pitchforks. The Final Chapter was the last of the Paramount films I saw and by that time the formula was so ingrained it just never resonated much with me. The plot is too derivative of Part III and the characters indistinguishably expendable. Yes, the grue is top of its game, but this alone does not a great film make.

Best Bit: The story so far… “you can’t be alive!”

7th: A New Beginning (1985)

fri6Tatty, sleazy, trashy Part V, a guilty pleasure if ever there was. The leap in production gloss from The Final Chapter was, at least on the old VHS’s I owned, significant, but maybe that’s just because 1985 was a year I actually remember, so the fashions and hair didn’t all look horrific. No Jason? Meh, who cares!? The appeal of this film is how fucking stupid it all is.

Best Bit: “There’s a man with no life in his eyezzzzz…”

6th: The New Blood (1988)

friday the 13th part vii the new blood jason voorheesDry and a ‘lil bit wintry in feel, The New Blood has grown on me over the years like a fungus that won’t quit. While many of the bloodthirsty demises were ultimately cut, leaving us a film drier than a shot of sand, the through-the-motions slashings are almost hypnotically entertaining and several of the background characters unpredictably likeable.

Best Bit: “There’s a legend ’round here…”

5th: Part III (1982)

f3-8A major step down from the dizzy heights of the first two, Part III nonetheless provides Jason with his mask and the audience with cheesy 3D FX. The production shift from the north east greenery to a sandy Californian mud-hole (removing all the Crystal from Crystal Lake) lets it down, but the amateur-night performances and Dana Kimmell’s gloriously rubbish final girl schtick atone.

Best Bit: Dana vs. Jason

4th: The Reboot (2009)

fri1aMost hated it, but it captured the spirit of Fridays past for me – especially those first 20 minutes – making enough changes to give a contemporary feel without entirely abandoning the unmovable elements that make Friday what it is. Of the glut of remakes, reboots, recalibrations, reimaginings etc, it was easily the best.

Best Bit: Campfire tales and nostalgia.

3rd: Jason Lives (1986)

friday the 13th part vi jason livesWho would ever have thought a fifth sequel could land a sucker punch of awesomeness? Tom McLaughlin, that’s who! Wisely taking a step into the humorous side of the genre, after the po-faced exploits of The Final Chapter and A New Beginning, Jason needed a shot of slapstick just to overcome the embarrassment of the previous film. It works perfectly as a pivot for the mayhem and contrived story, resulting in the best Friday outing since the early days.

Best Bit: Paula’s paranoia. Didn’t she leave the bloody machete right there on the floor?

2nd: The Original (1980)

f13-11aRough n’ ready, Friday the 13th has got to be the most copied slasher film ever; from genuine attempts to replicate the formula to sketch show parodies, this is the film they turn to. It’s perfection lies in its innate imperfection – clunky acting, ludicrous plot twists, semi-competent production, and yet it works far beyond the reach of many of its contemporaries and today’s low-end slasher pics.

Best Bit: Rinse n’ repeat stalk n’ slash during the storm.

THE BEST FRIDAY!: Part 2 (1981)

cut2_double-2Yeah, like, big shock, right? I just love this film to death. Taking all that was good about the first one, polishing the production assets, casting the perfect final girl, introducing Jason as an actually quite scary super villain prototype form: That burlap sack gives me the creeps far more than the hockey mask. Whether those infuriating cut scenes will ever see the light of day, who knows, but it detracts not from the slasherific perfection that is Friday the 13th Part 2.

Best Bit: Amy Steel on the run.

Next time: Halloweeeeeeen

Good girl gone bad


2.5 Stars  1987/18/93m

“You can’t keep a bad girl down.”

A.k.a. The Haunting of Hamilton High

Director: Bruce Pittman / Writer: Ron Oliver / Cast: Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis, Lisa Schrage, Richard Monette, Terri Hawkes, Beverley Hendry, Brock Simpson, Beth Gondek.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “I tell you guys, she’s possessed: Linda Blairsville.”

Hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart goes the old song, and it’s quite apt in this case.

High school moniker aside, there’s nothing that links this Elm Street-snorting film with the 1980 revenge slasher, giving credence to the notion that it was originally intended to be a standalone affair.

Prom night. 1957. Hamilton High. Free n’ easy Mary Lou Maloney is caught by her date getting it on with another guy. Her jilted beau intends to humiliate her once she is crowned Queen of the Prom, but ends up setting her on fire in front of the whole school.

Thirty years later, mousy goody two shoes and prom queen hopeful Vicki (Lyon) unleashes Mary Lou’s vengeful spirit, which begins to turn her crazy in an attempt at full on possession to have the moment of prom glory she was robbed of. And, naturally, both of Mary Lou’s suitors have grown up to be the high school principal and the local priest respectively.

marylou1Meanwhile, Vicki’s friends slowly – very slowly – begin to fall victim to Mary Lou’s magical tantrums, including a girl squashed by lockers, electrocution via the most 80s of 80s school computers, and impalement by falling decor.

The Canadian 80s qualities shine through in a cheesy, endearing way, with plenty of day-glo, florescent lights, and beyond horrific fashion choices, underscored by one of Vicki’s friends telling her her fifties look is a crime against fashion. By this point, Mary Lou has somehow sucked her through a blackboard and possessed her completely – she makes out with her dad, throws her puritan mother through a door, and walks totally naked around the changing rooms stalking a friend in a weird pseudo lesbianic scene, fitfully culminating in the big prom finale that manages to channel both Carrie and Elm Street 2, as Mary Lou’s charred corpse literally busts its way out of Vicki.

marylou2Overall, the film goes through the motions of any possession opus, tossing in a handful of demises, crucially failing to ‘properly’ do away with the stock bitchy girl, who is summarily killed by a rod that falls from the ceiling at the dance, but at least it has some decent FX work and an interesting villain. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss sees the return of Mary Lou and wisely ups the laughs, resulting in a better film experience.

Blurbs-of-interest: Terri Hawkes was in Killer Party; Michael Ironside’s other slasher credits include Visiting Hours, American Nightmare, Children of the Corn: Revelation, Fallen Angels, and Reeker; Brock Simpson appears in all four Prom Night films in different roles.

“Dude, where’s my head?”

dude bro party massacre iii dvdDUDE BRO PARTY MASSACRE III

3 Stars  2015/102m

“Don’t let a bro see it alone.”

Directors/Writers: Tomm Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon / Writers: Alec Owen, Michael E. Peter, Ben Gigli, Timothy Ciancio, Joey Scoma, Mike James, Brian Firenzi / Cast: Alec Owen, Ben Gigli, Paul Prado, Kelsey Gunn, Brian Firenzi, Maria Del Carmen, Jimmy Wong, Mike James, Joey Scoma, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, Greg Sestero, Olivia Taylor Dudley.

Body Count: 42 (+250 in planes crashing into orphanage)

Not many films can claim they started as a 5-second parody trailer, but this marks the humble beginnings of Dude Bro Party Massacre III, spawned from the aptly named 5-Second Films, who made smirksome little vignettes once a day, every day.

Crowdfunded for a feature length production, the slasher opus gets lampooned once again – but what new can be done with it that wasn’t done in everything from Student Bodies and Wacko to Scary Movie and The Final Girls?

Story first. Fratboy Brock Chirino has survived two fraternity row massacres, courtesy of vengeful killer Motherface, who has it in for the Dude Bro’s, brothers of the Delta Bi Theta Frat House. After he recaps the events of Dude Bro Party Massacres I & II – as per Adrienne King’s extremely eidetic flashback dreams – his throat is viciously cut by his therapist.

dbpm3-1Soon after, Brock’s twin brother Brent arrives to find out the truth of his bro’s “fatal freak accident” and seek revenge. He’s quickly inducted into the fraternity and they are expelled from campus for Spring Break after a prank ends up killing 250 people.

The Dude Bro’s journey out to a closed down sorority house by a lake where Motherface springs up and kills them in a variety of weird and grisly ways, from turning one bro’s head into a blood kegger to electrocutions, impalings, and flushing a guy’s intestines down a toilet. Soon, only Brent is left to find his answers and try to defeat Motherface and close the book on the Dude Bro Party Massacres for good.

Without a doubt, the smartest decision made was to style the film as a forgotten 80s late night horror film taped from a cable channel, complete the VHS slurs, hastily edited out TV commercials for all manner of strange products and services, and the general naff appeal of the mid-80s teen horror film, though at times the production quality was a bit too good.

dbpm3-motherfaceThe film authentically looks the part (usual hair and eyebrow exceptions notwithstanding), and is perhaps only weighed down by running about ten minutes too long and the jokes either hitting the target or not. The slasher sentiments were all on point for me, but I was confused by the bizarre (and annoying) cop subplot, which prompted a few random chuckles, but never converged with the other events going on. Though thankfully it doesn’t go down the same ego-strumming route that ended up shooting Club Dread in the foot.

Definitely an acquired taste, but fans of splatstick OTT gore and the associated black humour won’t be disappointed (though a good whack of the bodycount comes hard n’ fast at the start). Look out for Larry King as the coach during the flashbacks.

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