These Slasher sequels are supposed to be simple. Trot out a brace of clay pigeons, watch them all die one by one, tack on some stupid cliffhanger, and you’re all good to go. It seems impossible to screw that up, but by God, Mustapha Akkad found a way. Several, in fact.
The first, Halloween 4, was a complete waste of its own potential, meant to compete with the other Big Names in this sub-genre by copying all their worst eccentricities. By 1989, the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films had long-since surpassed the original Halloween in the popular imagination. They (rightly or not…mostly not) were synonymous with American horror movies of the late-80s, leaving their mutual progenitor in the box office dust.
Akkad couldn’t allow that. Nor could he allow Halloween 5 to pick up where the last left off. Sure, The Revenge begins with a re-staging of The Return‘s final moments, but that somehow makes it worse. Unlike the mouth-breathing audiences Akkad obviously targeted, I actually remember the end of Halloween 4. I hoped it signaled a spark of creativity finally flaring up within this franchise. Nice of Halloween 5 to crush that right out of the gate. Continue reading Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
By this point the Nightmare films were officially on auto-pilot, each one more profitable and less sensible than its predecessor. In terms of sheer dollars, the initial trilogy of Nightmares became a living refutation of the Law of Diminishing returns. The first grossed $25 million in theaters. Freddy’s Revenge pulled in over twice that. Dream Warriors broke them both, along with the bank, with an $87 million gross. Its success triggered the last great wave of Slasher movies. Most of them are rightly and truly forgotten, looked down upon even by sub-genre fans as the movies that finally ruined everything for everybody.
Except this one. While researching this review, I found an inordinate number of folks willing to give Nightmare on Elm Street 4 a pass. Not just for the usual, “It’s a Slasher movie, whaddaya expect?” bullshit reasons, but for their own reasons, varied as the person itself. Too bad I’ve always hated this movie. And now that I know why. I know this movie and I were destined to be enemies from the start. Say what you want about New Nightmare or Freddy’s Dead. For me, coming off the high-highs of Dream Warriors, this movie became the lowest of the series many lows. Continue reading A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
You all know the story, right? Friday the 13th Part VIII was both the most expensive and least profitable film of the franchise. Gee, I wonder if those two facts are connected somehow? Even if they aren’t, Paramount spent the late-80s and early-90s “restructuring” itself after a string of flops (like Friday the 13th Part VIII) drove newly hired managers to do what managers love to anyway and sell everything that wasn’t nailed down. Including Jason Voorhees.
So New Line Cinema bought Jason up for cheap and promptly sat on him until Freddy died his “last” death in 1991. While Final Nightmare had the highest opening of its series, there was no getting around the sad fact that it sucked. So New Line spent 1992 proving they hadn’t learned a damn thing, making a Final Friday film that sucks even more…in a completely different way. Continue reading Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Or, The One Everyone Hates. And I mean really, really, really hates. That’d be Part V for me, but I understand why everyone pretends that false start of A New Beginning never happened. And I understand the hatred of this…thing.
Seriously, this is Friday the 13th Lite, a cringing, half-hearted attempt to shift the series toward (of all things) respectability. It ended up disappointing everyone from casual movie watchers to the stuffed suits at the top of Paramount’s food chain by exceeding even the most cynical critic’s lowest expectations. Bucking a trend for the series, turned out to be derivative and dull. How did this happen? How did one of the most iconic horror franchises in history sink so low? Continue reading Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)