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Monday, June 28, 2010

Nightmare(aka Nightmares In A Damaged Brain)(1981)

Nightmare is absolutely one of my favorite horror films ever. Along with The Exorcist, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's the kind of film that sticks with you long after you view it. It's not quite as grimy as Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer and not at sleazy as Maniac, but both of those films are reference points. While very popular in slasher circles, Nightmare has garnered a bad reputation for misogyny, and bad acting. I don't really see the misogynistic claims, because most slasher films from that period, were sort of cruel to women. As far as the bad acting, what great slasher didn't have at least one sub-par performance? The amazing special effects caused quite a stir, as the filmmakers claimed that they were done by Tom Savini, and he alleged that he only consulted. Who ever did the effects, they are great for the period. The music is very eerie, and lends the overall atmosphere, the theme is sort of Halloween-like, but that can be forgiven. When I saw this film as a child of 10, it utterly scared the hell out of me!

The story is about a schizophrenic/homicidal maniac named George Tatum. As a child, George came home from school, to discover Daddy and some hot little number, acting out some light S & M action. After George sees the vixen slap Daddy around for a few minutes, he heads to the wood shed to retrieve an axe. He comes back, and chops the girl to bits, and plants the axe in Daddy's dome. Years later, after years of therapy, George is released from the institution, supposedly "cured" with the help of modern medicine. George immediately heads to Florida, to stalk the Temper family. A young mother and her 3 children, Susan would definitely NOT win any mother of the years awards. She spends most of her time, cavorting on a sailboat with her hirsute lover. CJ, the only boy of the bunch, is about as obnoxious as any kid can be, and torments his mother and sisters endlessly. Meanwhile, George is killing already on while making his way to Florida. George has several "fits" along the way, and vomits white foam, and seizes on the floor. He has horrible flashbacks of the murder of his father and the mistress, yet we do not know his bond to the Temper family, and if he wants to kill them.

There are several greats scenes in Nightmare, the one that most people speak of are the Times Square scenes. Very sleazy and nostalgic at the same time, films like these are the only way to see how Times Square looked before it was cleaned up, and stripped of all it's charms. Several of the murder scenes are done remarkably and stick with you long after. The aforementioned double S & M murder has became classic in the horror scene. The beheading of the harlot, if it wasn't done by Savini, was definitely influenced by his work. The first murder that George commits while on the road, a throat slashing that is done so well, I still cringe every time that I see it. Lastly, the ending stalk n' chase scenes between George and CJ are tense and exciting. George dons an evil Devil mask, for added effect. Nightmare is definitely not a well made film, but for what it is, it's a total class act. I can't think of many other films of the era, that still pack that punch when it comes to repeated viewings, and Nightmare still delivers to this day! Sadly, it has still not been released on DVD in the USA, but you can still score VHS copies, and DVD-R's quite easily. Be sure that you get the Unrated version, if not you will miss out on those glorious effects.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy(2010)

This 2 disc documentary on the Nightmare On Elm Street horror franchise, is a Freddy fan's dream come true! This thing is exhaustive, 8 hours total, and totally satisfying. I myself, am not this biggest fan of this franchise, and I still watched every bit of it. The first disc is the actual documentary, and it is 4 hours long. It moves chronologically through the films(and even the show Freddy's Nightmares), and has interviews with the directors, the cast, the special effects crew, the writers, and even New Line mogul Robert Shaye. It's always fun to see the cast as they look today, and some of them are shockingly different! Of course, the big stars(Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette, and Breckin Myer) are absent, obviously ashamed of their humble beginnings. It's also cool to see them address the "gay rumors" that have been circulating for years about Part 2. The second disc is all Bonus Features, another 4 full hours of them. There are extra interviews, location scouts, Nancy pimping her new DVD, and plenty of Freddy glove makers/collectors. For a horror nut, there's not a better way to spend an afternoon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Big Four Concerts!

Today starts a dream come true for those of us who grew up as Metal fans in the 80's! The Big Four Tour starts in Europe, and for the first time in history Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth will share stages together! This is only in Europe so far, and I sure hope that the powers that be, will deem us losers in the U.S good enough to see this show too. My fingers are crossed!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas(2008)

Not since Schindler's List, has there been a film so emotionally devastating! It's takes place in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Bruno is an 8 year old boy, whose father is a commander in chief of the Nazi's. They move from Berlin to a huge mansion in the German countryside so that his father can "work". The father, played coldly by David Thewlis, keeps all of the practices of the Nazi's hidden from his family, even though the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, is only a mile from their home. Bruno yearns for a friend more than anything, as his older sister is only interested in being the perfect "Aryan Youth". He ventures into the area where he is forbidden to go, and finds the outer fence to the camp. Here he meets Shmuel, the same age as him, and a prisoner. They develop a close bond, and play, on their respective sides of the fence everyday. Bruno has no idea what is going on, and Shmuel doesn't know much more. But when Shmuel's father goes "missing", Bruno decides to sneak into the camp to help him find his father. I will not spoil the ending, but let me say this, it is NOT HAPPY! It is one of the most downbeat endings that I have ever seen. But it goes with the theme of the film, and I can't recommend it enough. Films like this need to be made and need to be seen all the more, and the truth is not always pretty!

Run! Bitch Run!(2009)

This one has been causing a ruckus online since it's DVD release earlier this year. It's one of those polarizing films that you either love or hate. Actually, I didn't exactly love it, but I respected what the filmmakers were trying to do, and succeeded for the most part. In the past decade there have been some decent "retro/throwback/70's/grindhouse/exploitation films. I really liked Black Devil Doll and all of it's absurdity, and I seem to be the only person that liked Tarrantino's Death Proof. Those kind of films were what I saw a lot of as a kid, and are like comfort food to me. So I love when these throwback films capture the mood and look of their predecessors.

Run! Bitch Run! is certainly a flawed film, it has editing problems, certain scenes go on forever, with no need to do so. Most of the gore scenes are cut aways, and you don't really see the killings, until near the end, and it gets a bit messier. I don't watch these films for the sex scenes, but there are quite a few, and the participants are not really pretty. The story is about two Christian school girls who while out selling things to raise money for their church, encounter a sleazy group of pimps/hoes/ and drug dealers. The bad guys hold the girls hostage and sexually assault them and ultimately kill one of them. The second girl is taken into the woods(ala I Spit On Your Grave) and raped. One of the assailants is supposed to kill her and leave her, but after she falls down an embankment, he thinks she is dead, and leaves. Also just like ISOYG, she nurses herself back, and goes for revenge. Dressed in nurse's uniform, she picks them off one by one. As always, you will know if this one is for you. The film stock looks old school, so it looks amazing. If you are solely looking for gore or sex, skip this one. If you just want a schlocky good time, you will indeed get that.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday The 13th: The Capsule Reviews

The Friday The 13th films are my favorite horror franchise of all time. I have had a close, personal relationship with the series, since my sister took me to the see the first film at the tender age of 8. It frightened me so, but I was in love all the same, I'm sure all horror-heads out there can attest to this rapturous feeling. I have seen every one of the films, most of them in the theatre, and as bad as they got, I will always go back for more. Something about the rustic, backwoods setting of Camp Crystal Lake has always appealed to me, and made me wish that I had the chance to go to camp myself, at least once. It had a fantastic back story, and the filmmakers always introduced something new into the mix in further installments, with very mixed results. Every horror fan has his favorite "killer", and Jason is mine, something I wear proudly on my sleeve. The series has became something of a joke, mostly due to the recent activities under the Platinum Dunes banner. I am just happy that someone is continuing the F13 legacy, because I feel that it should be available for future generations to discover and obsess over. We all know that kids these days don't like the "old movies", so hopefully The Sultan will be gracing the big screen for a long time to come.

I realized that I have never done a review of a Friday The 13th film, despite my obsessive love for the series. Then I started wondering, "which film should I review"? For someone with OCD, the task of choosing one film to review, could be disastrous. So I decided to review them all!! Don't worry, just capsule reviews, that way I can give you my opinion on each and every film in the series, I hope you enjoy.

Friday The 13th(1980): The O-G...the one that started it all! I feel closest to this film, even though I wouldn't call it my favorite. Betsy Palmer as Ms. Voorhees is a tour-de-force, and she scarred me as a child. The film completely toyed with my mind, the whole concept that a Mother could go so psycho, terrified me to the bone. This film also has the best atmosphere of any of the films...it's almost claustrophobic. Many slasher fans claim this one to be boring, I can't believe that, while it does develop the characters more than any further installment, it's far from boring. We all know the story, so I won't repeat it here. This one just has a whole different vibe, due to the fact that Ms. V was the killer. My only complaint is the Annie didn't live longer, as she is my favorite character. I would have to say that Marcie's death is my favorite, nothing like an old axe in the face to ruin your day.

Friday The 13th Part II(1981): I think that I would have to say that Part 2 is my favorite of the series. I think that has a lot to do with Jason's appearance in this film. Before he donned the famous hockey mask, he was "backwoods Jason", and he looked awesome! Just a white sack over his head with one strategically placed hole over one eye, and a pair of overalls. Before he was burnt, mutated, and zombified, Jason was far more terrifying. The first batch of campers arrive at Camp Crystal Lake since Ms. Voorhees was dispatched, and Jason takes care of em' just like Mother showed him. Amy Steel as Ginny is the other reason I love this film so much, she is by far the best "final girl" that ever had a run in with Jason. Cute, like able, and she actually possessed some brains, Platinum Dunes should smarten up and bring Amy back for their #2. Biggest letdown in the film.....the lack of explanation on what happened to Paul, and my favorite kill is the clawhammer to the policeman's dome.

Friday The 13th Part III:3-D(1982): I still remember being so excited about seeing this at theatre in 3-D! To a 10 year old horror-head that was an extremely big deal. Although to look at the film now, it wasn't really executed that greatly, but back then it was amazing. The film picks up directly after Part 2, and another group of kids, despite the fact that there was a massacre the night before, return to Jason's stomping ground. This one has some really cool characters like Chuck & Chili, the stoners, and Shelley, the cherubic comedy relief, who also provides Jason with the famous hockey mask. This installment is the favorite of many slasher fans, and while I like it, I can't say that there is anything really special about it. Biggest letdown is that they didn't keep the original ending that they shot, where Chris(Dana Kimmel), met an ugly demise. My favorite kill is the harpoon in the eye that Vera received.

Friday The 13th:Part IV:The Final Chapter- A close second for my favorite Friday film, Part 4 has it all. Like able characters, great murders, a fantastic Jason, I challenge you to find anyone who hates The Final Chapter. For the first time, there were character actors that I recognized: Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Laurence Monoson, and Kimberly Beck, and Peter Barton, and they all added unique elements to the film. The filmmakers had full intention(at that point) of killing the franchise, so they put everything into it. The effects, seeing the return of Tom Savini, were over the top, and brilliantly executed. Jason's demise in particular, which has been dubbed "the brainpan slide" by slasher fans, was one of the most gruesome moments in the franchise's entire history. The biggest letdown, would have to be the removal of some gore and extra dialogue scenes, which I felt should be in the film, for the sake of continuity in the least. My favorite kill would be Crispin's demise, the classic "where's the corkscrew" line, followed by said instrument crucifying his hand, followed up by a cleaver to the face.

Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning(1985)- Talk about a polarizing entry in the series, this film pissed off millions upon it's release. Slasher fans were in an uproar over this whole "impostor Jason" story that Paramount delivered this time. What we had was a standard F13 film that announced in the end that it wasn't Jason, but an ambulance driver named Roy, upset at the murder of his own mentally unstable son. It really was the series coming "full circle" per se, and I enjoyed it for that fact, but most fans weren't havin' it. In recent years it has undergone a resurgence of sorts, and many fans hail it as their favorite entry. It does boast the highest body count up to that point, and some of the characters and lines are so sleazy, that it does have that campy, cult appeal to it. The biggest let down to me was the waste of Tommy's character as strictly a "red herring", there was so much more that could be done with that character. This one has so many good kills, but my favorite would have to be the "infamous leather strap from around the trees, that crushes horny Eddie's skull".

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives(1986)- After undergoing a Frankenstein like resurrection, Jason is alive again, and stalking a new gang at CCL. Although this is a fun little entry, and I can't really say anything that bad about it, I have never connected with it. I think that it's all in the characters for me, and I didn't really like them this time around. In fact, I absolutely loathe Tom Fridley, who played Cort, so that could have something to do with it. Also Thom Matthews, who plays Tommy Jarvis this time around, really annoys me. He was super whiny in Return Of The Living Dead as well, but that movie is so awesome, I had to accept his performance. In Jason Lives, I just can't do so! The change of shooting locations to the forests of Georgia, helped tremendously in the atmosphere department. The night chase scenes are extra foggy and oozing with suspense. CJ Graham does a more than adequate job as Jason, and his services should have been retained over Kane Hodder. To me, the biggest letdown is the lack of like able characters, as I said before, they suck, and I hated them all. The best kill of course, is the murder of Cort! Not because the hunting knife in the skull gag was exceptionally done, it's because I hated that dork, and couldn't wait for Jason to exact his revenge on the idiot!

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood(1988)- This is one entry that I really want to love, but just can't. I even like Part 6 better than this one. Undead Jason is still stalking the teenage masses at CCL, but this time the "final girl" is Tina, a telekinetic vixen that gives him a run for his money. This one has some decent characters, and even though a lot of the gore was removed, the killings still look good. I am just of the purists that believe that supernatural concepts like telekinesis, don't belong in a Friday film. It was more like Jason meets Carrie, and I didn't really care for the deviation in formula. I guess I don't have to tell you what the biggest let down is, and of course the best kill is the "body in a sleeping bag, slapped against a tree" gag.

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan(1989)- Aside from Part 5 and the remake, this is the most maligned entry in the series. Purists screamed that Jason belonged in Crystal Lake, and not New York(even though it was shot in Canada). I can agree with them to an extent, but my view has softened over the years. I just watched this in the last 6 months, and I have to say it's not that bad. They don't even arrive in New York till the last 10 minutes of the film. Up that point, it's your typical Friday film that takes place on a large ship. It's not stellar in any way, and the characters are all pretty forgettable, aside from the "final girl" that looks just like Meryl Streep. The biggest letdown is the stupid "rebirth" of Jason scene that takes place in the sewer, and makes no sense logically to the film. The best kill, cliched as it may be, is Jason knocking the boxer dude's head clean off!

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday(1993)- I guess I forgot about this one when I was mentioning the most hated entries. I have always had a soft spot for this movie, which is more like New Line's film The Hidden, than any previous entry. I also know that this goes against my "no supernatural shit in Crystal Lake" rule, but this entry is just so damned mean spirited and fun! Jason is blown apart by the FBI, and one of the agents eats his heart during an autopsy, and becomes possessed by The Sultan. He travels from one body to the next, killing folks in his typical fashion. I guess that it was just too much for purists to see a black guy and a fat middle aged man, dispatching people in Jason's place? I like this deviation, and watch it at least once a year, sure it's not typical, but it does star Erin Gray. The biggest letdown aside from the lack of Jason, is the retarded appearance of Freddy's hand at the end. The best kill was the deep fryer murder.

Jason X(2001)- After 8 long years, New Line decided that they needed to bring Jason back to the big screen, and this was the horrid result. I mean whomever thought that Jason in space was a good idea, should have been shot. Everything sucks about it, except for the cool futuristic look that Jason was sporting. The characters were horrid, and I can't recall any of them except that horrible androgynous android! The biggest letdown was that New Line actually sank money into this shit pickle, and the best murder, of course, is the frozen head being smashed, the ONLY reason to see the film.

Freddy Vs. Jason(2003)- Even further proof that New Line ruined the most important horror franchise ever. I suppose they thought that a "meeting of the titans" horror film would be their biggest hit ever, and bypassed anything remotely resembling a script. Freddy summons Jason to his hometown to kill teenagers, so that they will remember him, therefore allowing his return. Who wrote this, a 4th grader? I have only watched this installment twice, and while it's a decent time waster, it's nothing I reach for often.......silly, silly, silly. Like it's predecessor, the biggest letdown is the entire film! The best kill is getting to see the Destiny's Child chick dying, damn she was annoying!

Friday The 13th(2009)- The infamous remake, reboot, refake, whatever you wanna call it. Most hate this one, but I actually liked it, and have watched it at least 4 times. It's by far the best installment under the New Line affiliation(I know that's not saying much), and I have a lot of fun watching it, and that's all that counts. Basically a cram session of the first 3 films, we see a cameo from Ms. Voorhees, Jason in the sack mask, and Jason get the hockey mask in one film. In personal taste I would place it behind the original 5, and perhaps ahead of part 5. I thought it was creepy, and I for one, loved the aspect that Jason was running! There I said it! Why wouldn't he run, and why should we believe that he magically catches all of his victims while always maintaining that leisurely gait? I thought they also did an awesome job by giving us a large body count 10 minutes into the film, a first for the series. The biggest letdown of this film was the casting of the "beautiful people" as all of the characters. All of the kids were straight out of an American Eagle ad, where were the plain characters like Shelley from Part 3, Ted from Part 2, or Duke from Part 5? We live in a normal world here, not the Galleria. The best kill is the arrow through the head in the motorboat.

It would appear that as much as I dissed on some of the entries, that I am not as much of a fan as I think I am. But I would rather watch a bad Friday film over your everyday run of the mill Hollywood Blockbuster movie any day. Even the installments that I don't really care for, will still get some play out of me from time to time. I would love to know your thoughts and feeling on the series, and your biggest letdowns, and favorite kills, so shoot em' my way.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fat Girls(2006)

I would have to say that I would put Fat Girls in my Top 5 "gay oriented" films of all time. It is a very funny film, that manages to escape all of the pitfalls that gay films usually fall into. The leading role Rodney(Ash Christian, also the director), is nothing special to look at, and bears a lot in common with Napoleon Dynamite. He lives in a rural Northern Texas town, with his psychotically Christian mother, and has a best friend in "fat girl" Sabrina. Rodney narrates the film as well, and describes throughout the film, what it takes to be a "fat girl", and you neither have to be fat or a girl to embody the title. While he is made fun of at school, the football captain also has secret sexual liaisons with Rodney, so he isn't without hope at all. He decides to invite Joey, the very gay, English kid who just moved to their school to go to the Prom with him. He also discovers that his favorite teacher is also a drag queen that performs Liza Minnelli numbers at the local gay bar, affectionately called BJ's.

The whole film is a wonder to look at, despite is low budget. The actors are all wonderful, and the film leaves you feeling wonderful. That is something that most gay films can never achieve. If you like films like Napoleon and Ghost World, you will most definitely like Fat Girls, despite the gay subject matter, a fun movie is a fun movie!