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)→
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)→
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?
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)→
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)→
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)→
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.
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)→
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)→
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)→
Reviews with swear words and sociopolitical analysis from David DeMoss