Tag Archives: Slasher Movies

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Thank God...before the film located me in time and space I was completely adrift.
Thank God…I was completely adrift, myself.

In all the history of cinema, Godzilla and Star Trek stand alone as the only franchises in history who’ve managed field strong fourth films (Mothra vs. Godzilla and The Voyage Home, respectively – though this feels like an invitation for everyone to “well, actually” me). One day they will do epic battle for the hearts and souls of nerds the world over. But until then we, their partisans, must content ourselves with taking the piss out of other, less-fortunate film series.

After Halloween III‘s non-success, John Carpenter apparently had an idea: the story about some small town, haunted by the memory of a violent killing spree in its all-too-recent past…rather like Haddonfield, Illinois. It could’ve been an Our Town for the 1980s…except George went insane and murdered his sister Rebbecca at the end Act One, spent the scene break in an asylum, escaped, and spent the whole of Act Three trying to murder Emily. C’mon: you know you’d love to see that. We won’t see it here, but you just know it’d make a better movie. Continue reading Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Or, The one where they dropped the word “Part” from the title. Most of the the Slasher series that chose this  route tend to go downhill rather fast. Except when they already hit their nadir (and gaydir) in Part 2. Things just had to improve after that, right?

Right!?

Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about. Continue reading A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

"Kumbaya, my Lord...Kumbaya!"
“Kumbaya, my Lord…Kumbaya!”

The first Nightmare on Elm Street is one of those remarkably few Slasher films where tacking on a cliffhanger ending actually worked. It felt like a thematically appropriate way to end that story because, as Tommy Wallace said to Laurie Strode all those years ago, “You can’t kill the bogeyman.” And what else is Fred Krueger?

The makers of Freddy’s Revenge obviously had no idea. So they just ripped-off Amityville II. Because what else can you do when a two million dollar picture pulls in twenty-five million at the box office? If you’re New Line, you let the writer/director responsible for everything good about the first film escape the reservation to go make The Hills Have Eyes II. The job of directing this homophobic little adventure fell to Jack Shoulder, who – to put it politely – lacks Wes Craven’s visual style. Continue reading A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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

The Eyes have it!
The Eyes have it!

In my Part V review I called that film

the point where the series stopped taking itself so dang seriously, signing its own aesthetic death certificate.

I stand by that, as I stand by every other half-coherent statement I’ve ever made, sensible or otherwise. But I’d be remiss not to confess that the very thing I criticized about Part V lies at the root of my appreciation for Part VI. I’d always liked Jason Lives, but now I fucking love it. If it were a woman, I’d shower its path with rose petals and cake. We’d go back to my place and I’d make Jason Lives fried potatoes and onions for breakfast the next morning. I see a healthy and long-lasting relationship in our future…just as long as we avoid her eleven electrical socket-licking siblings. Continue reading Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

"I think I'll just stand here until you drop dead. Ya'all okay with that?"
"I think I'll just stand here until you drop dead. Ya'all okay with that?"

A New Beginning is bad…but there’s more to it than that. Yes, it’s The One Without Jason, but it’s also the one without standards, any regard for pace, storytelling, or even its own audience expectations. It’s the one that threw the series over a bridge. The point where casts and crews stopped even pretending to care about quality and settled for last place in the Generic Slasher Movie Olympics.

It’s the kind of film you don’t review so much as describe, like the scene of a horrible industrial accident. It could be a nuclear meltdown, or a poison gas leak on a day when the wind blew the wrong way, annihilating a major American movie franchise. It’s the point where the series stopped taking itself so dang seriously, signing its own aesthetic death certificate. It’s a film that circles back around the loop in the my critical scale and becomes so unforgivably awful…it’s actually rather fun. At times. Continue reading Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

At least the ax wound is well-done.
At least the ax wound's a nice touch.

The presumptively-named Final Chapter opens with a highlights reel, reminding you (by which I mean me) of an editor’s power to twist truth into previously unthinkable of geometries. Intercutting Paul’s campfire recap of series’ mythology from Part 2 with shots from Jason Voorhees’ Greatest Murders might give the uninitiated a false impression of this series’ quality.

That could be dangerous, so let me state plain: Quality has to scrape Friday the 13th off its shoes every time it visits its aging parents. Don’t want to track things across the “family” room carpet, now do we? Continue reading Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Halloween II (2009)

Werewolves of Illinois.
Werewolves of Illinois.

I get what Rob Zombie’s going for. No, no, I really do. I even appreciate it. He’s trying to inject the iconography of real-world serial murderers into mainstream Slasher movies, and my hat’s off to his efforts. I, too, once harbored the delusion that the two had anything to do with each other. But both our efforts are hampered by the inconvenient fact that Slasher villains are are not serial killers.

If they are anything, they’re spree killers. Think Charles Starkweather instead of Edward Gein. I know everyone’s had Edward on the brain since the police first hauled out his human-skin living room set, but you know what? It’s been done. At least Zombie avoids going down the tried and oh-so-true Silence of the Lambs route, since by now even that‘s degenerated into Jerry Brukheimer’s boring, CGI-assisted propaganda for the coming police state, CSI. Continue reading Halloween II (2009)

Halloween II (1981)

Excuse me...can I borrow a cup of blood?
"Um...line...? HA! Had you going, didn't I?"

And here we have a film never should’ve seen the light but, like that three-car pile-up on your way to work, resolutely sits right in the middle of the road refusing to be ignored. The same way most critics ignore John Carpenter’s made-for-TV movies.

Awkward segues aside, there’s two very good reasons to focus on the man’s studio pieces. For (1) they’re better, and for (2) they’re easier to find. Yet in their blindness, critics miss essential facets of Carpenter’s story, which is in many ways the story of genre cinema in the 1980s. That’s sad because it’s a great story in itself…often much more interesting than the films it created. A story littered with greed, betrayal, and compromised aesthetic principals that will probably go on to make a great bio-pic once everyone forgets who Orson Welles was…or, if they remember him at all, remember him only as “the voice of Unicron.” Continue reading Halloween II (1981)

Halloween (2007)

This pretty much speaks for itself.
This pretty much speaks for itself.

Two thousand seven was a black year all around. Spider-man jumped the shark, the Fantastic Four died, and Michael Bay sodomized the Transformers amidst a shower of derision and money…mostly money. As if that weren’t depressing enough, in the midst of it all some brain-damaged soul looked both ways and said: “I know! We’ll remake Halloween!” He was promptly run through by the heretofore-unseen masked killer standing directly behind him. In accordance with his last will and testament, the remake was greenlit, with Rob Zombie set to write and direct. The result is a 2007 version of the 1978 film that’s probably been ripped-off, re-imagined, re-purposed, retconned and reanimated more than any other film ever. I might as well start wearily sighing now. Continue reading Halloween (2007)

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

As a symbol, the hockey mask is interesting. Being a homicidal pseudo-zombie, Jason has no need for a mask. It exists because concealing his face allows his creators to purposefully blur the lines his existence straddles: between living and dead, human and inhuman, villain and victim, corpse-maker and corpse...By the time I’d made it all the way to tonight’s piece I was going on 14 and even then Younger Me could sense the hurk and jerk of a movie series tottering on its last legs, begging for a fresh idea to blow through its sagging sails. At the time, Young Me found it odd that this series of films, centered as they are around a homicidal pseudo-zombie, could be so lacking in life.

Older and (I like to think) Wiser Me is nonplussed at this. He (I) no longer finds anything odd in the progressive degeneration of the American horror film – or film in general, for that matter. Older Me (I) possesses enough insight to see these films clearly, both as perpetrators and victims of their own perpetuation. Their downfall and degrading “quality” were as inevitable as a teenage death inside the Crystal Lake Woods, the result of a mass market system geared, not to telling stories, but to making the good people at Gulf Western (who at the time owned Paramount Pictures, and thus Jason Voorhees) richer than they already were. And they’ve no one to blame but themselves. {More}