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Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy – 9

October 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Director – Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch

Cast – Heather Langenkamp, Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Robert Shaye, Lin Shaye, Jack Sholder, Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Mark Patton, Clu Gulager, Patricia Arquette, Renny Harlin, Alice Cooper, William Malone, Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin, Patrick Lussier, Kane Hodder, Ronny Yu, and Jason Mewes

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Nightmare on Elm Street series is one of horror’s most notable franchises. That is thanks almost entirely to Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, who invaded the one place where we are completely vulnerable – our dreams. The series has had its ups and downs, but overall it still remains one of the best we have ever had. Also, it sparked the careers of several Hollywood notables, with the most famous being Johnny Depp (of course). When I came across this colossal documentary I was beyond excited to spend 240 minutes (yes, it’s 4 hours long) learning what made the series click – something you cannot learn from the films alone. With series creators Wes Craven, Robert Shay, and actor Robert Englund leading the way, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is an incredibly knowledgeable experience I highly suggest you check out.

Directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch do a fantastic job of making this an engaging experience. The template is the usual simplistic documentary format, and execution sells the film to the viewer. I was amazed at how many notables were interviewed, including Heather Langenkamp (also the narrator), Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Robert Shaye, Lin Shaye, Jack Sholder, Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Mark Patton, Clu Gulager, Patricia Arquette, Renny Harlin, Alice Cooper, William Malone, Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin, Patrick Lussier, Kane Hodder, Ronny Yu, and Jason Mewes, with this only being a FEW of those who appear. Of course, many more appear via archive footage that is consistently thrown in to substantiate someone’s claims about the series or filming.

Along with writer Timothy Hutson, each of the initial 7 films are broken down with cast and directors giving their take on the filming process and the impact of the film. On top of this, Freddy vs. Jason is also broken down, and once again the director (Ronny Yu) and cast members are on hand. To make things even greater, Kane Hodder, the most famous Jason Vorhees of all time, is interviewed about being passed over for Ken Kirzinger in the film. The awesomeness continues though, as even the short-lived TV show “Freddy’s Nightmares” is dissected by its creators. This effort debuted one week after the Nightmare on Elm Street remake was released, so it is not mentioned. Also, it was a waste.

Overall, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is a crucial film for those who love to learn more about the horror genre and want to use a documentary to do so. There is so much knowledge presented in this film and it would be a shame if you did not learn it for yourself.

Rating: 9/10

Hatchet III – 7


Director – BJ McDonnell

Cast – Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen, Robert Diago DoQui, Derek Mears, Cody Blue Snider, Rileah Vanderbilt, Sean Whalen, Jason Trost, Diane Ayala Goldner, John Michael Sudol

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Director Adam Green broke onto the horror scene with 2006’s Kane Hodder-starring slasher epic, Hatchet, and it still remains as one of the best horror/slasher films of this millennium. He followed up with the almost equally awesome Hatchet II in 2010, and when I learned of Hatchet III I was beyond stoked to see how the legend of Victor Crowley would be put to rest. When word broke that Adam Green would not be directing the finale to the trilogy I was a bit disappointed and skeptical of what newcomer BJ McDonnell, Green’s longtime camera operator, would do with Green’s baby. After finally sitting through Hatchet III I am glad to say that while the execution is different than Green’s the experience is still just as gory, brutally awesome, and enjoyable as its predecessors.

After the events of Hatchet II a highly trained SWAT team is called in after the first responders are brutally massacred while trying to pick up the pieces of those brutally massacred the night before. With Marybeth locked in a cell and blamed for the massacre, the carnage continues until she learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that empowers Victor Crowley. With one final battle left in her, she faces the monster that has been terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

Adam Green wrote this screenplay, and he ensures that the viewer will see probably the most gore of all three films. If I had to guess I would say that this film alone has more gory goodness than the first two flicks combined. The story literally begins with the very end of Hatchet II, which leaves Marybeth as the prime suspect for the gruesome slayings when she walks into the local sheriff’s office completely covered in blood and slinging a shotgun. Soon enough the sheriff, his deputies, and a SWAT team lead by the hardened Tyler Hawes (Derek Mears) arrive at the swamp to secure the scene and get to the bottom of what happened, and much to their disbelief they run into Victor Crowley. Not only has Marybeth repeatedly told them she killed him, but Victor Crowley is said to only be a legend – both are very wrong. The rest of the film plays off like the other flicks, with characters dying one by one in brutal fashion until the final fight between you-know-who and you-know-who. The dialogue is cheesy and I assume Green wanted it that way, leaving no issues with the story for me to balk at.

The story behind Green’s decision to tap BJ McDonnell as director is an admirable one. As a believer of giving someone a chance if they deserve it, he decided to give McDonnell the nod so that he could further his career. With the series since day one of the first film, the loyal McDonnell kept the film true to Crowley’s legacy – a legacy of bloody goodness. He hits hard with a great opening sequence heavy in the type of events that will compliment the film every few minutes or so once the first act is over and done with. Hatchet III stays true to the series motto of “NO CGI”, but I did notice the blood to be very different than the previous films. The first two entries used a blood mixture that was thick and very true to form, whereas this entry used a thinner mix that was much too watery and a bit unrealistic at times. This is not necessarily a fault, but something that I did notice right away. McDonnell’s direction is good, but it pales compared to Adam Green’s knack regarding cheese and gore. In other words, you can expect more of the same story-wise, but the direction/look/feel of the film will be different. The location is also different than the previous flicks, and you can tell. The first two were filmed in LA while this one was filmed in the bayous of Louisiana, just like the story’s setting.  While the setting will be more authentic, the atmosphere, lighting, and grainy ISO will not be as good as its predecessors. This also goes for the acting too. Harris, Hodder, and Perry Shen were great as Marybeth, Victory Crowley, and paramedic Andrew, but everyone else was lackluster. I did notice a unique choice in casting with the inclusion of Derek Mears as Tyler Hawes – the lead SWAT agent leading the charge against Victor Crowley. Kane Hodder is known throughout the genre as the “real” Jason Vorhees, having portrayed the character in Friday the 13th VI, VII, VIII, IX and X. Derek Mears is the last person to portray Jason, which he did in the Friday the 13th remake. Seeing these two giants battle face to face was a sweet idea that knowledgeable (AKA “nerdy”) fans of the genre are sure to appreciate.

Overall, Hatchet III is a fun sure that is sure to please fans of the series. I personally feel it is the weakest of the bunch, but that by no means indicates that this is a bad film. The execution is different, but nonetheless the gore is heavy, Crowley kicks ass, and it’s 81 solid minutes of fun.

Rating: 7/10

…Additional Stills…

Chillerama – 8

April 8, 2012 2 comments

Director – Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, Joe Lynch

Cast – Adam Rifkin, Sara Much, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Sean Paul Lockhart, Anton Troy, Gabby West, Adam Robitel, Thomas Colby, Joel David Moore, Kristina Klebe, Kane Hodder, Florian Klein, Matthew Temple, Laura Ortiz, Jim Ward, Silvia Moore, Melinda Y. Cohen, Richard Riehle, Corey Jones, Kaili Thorne, Brendan McReary, Ward Roberts, AJ Bowen, Sunny Lane

Release Year – 2011

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Horror anthologies are nothing new to the genre, and my love for them has left me unsatisfied at the numerous anthologies of recent day that just downright suck. Thankfully, recent horror veteran Adam Green gathered a few other horror buds and gave us one of the most fun horror films of the year in Chillerama. While pretty much every other major horror reviewer has bashed this piece I still went in hoping for a good time despite everything I had read, and I applaud Adam Green & co. for giving me a much better experience than I expected. Full of laughs, gore, and zany horror that left me laughing aloud on numerous occasions, Chillerama is a damn fun film that has received ridiculous criticism for simply giving us horror fans what we want to see.

On the closing night of the last drive-in theater in America, theater owner Cecil B. Kaufman puts forth the greatest drive-in experience of all time: a marathon of four lost prints spanning fourth decades of horror that have never before been shown to the public. As his faithful cinephiles show up en masse the films deliver the goods on the silver screen, however this will not only be the final night for the theater but for all of its moviegoers as well.

One reason why I love horror anthologies so much is that the good ones usually provide great shout-outs for horror fans to enjoy. Creepshow did it, paying homage to horror comics of the 50s and 60s, and Adam Green’s Chillerama does the same for the drive-in horror schlock-fests that used to adorn our country. One sweet thing about this piece is that each segment comes written and directed by a different person, all of whom have had something to do with the horror genre in the past. The prologue begins with a group of friends catching their last set of flicks at Kaufman’s theater, which unbeknowing to them will be serving popcorn with an additive “ingredient” supplied by a theater-worker(Ray Wise) after suffering an unfortunate accident. I really enjoyed how heavily used the prologue was, coming in for a few minutes at a time after every film shown on screen and then fully developing into a storyline of its own to close out Chillerama in epic fashion.

The first showing is “Wadzilla”, which comes from Detroit Rock City director Adam Rifkin and centers on a dorky and recently single man named Miles Munson. Miles has a problem; a recent trip to a sperm bank exposed him to the fact that he not only has a low sperm count but…he only has ONE sperm. His urologist suggests he be a test subject for a new drug not yet submitted for FDA approval that will not increase his sperm count but instead increase the strength of the sperm he has. The lonely Miles bites and takes the doctor’s offer, unknowingly setting himself up to deliver one massive “load” he never saw coming.

If you don’t get it by now, the drug Miles takes forces his one sperm to ejaculate itself from his body and grow up to gargantuan size and take over New York City. Yeah, Chillerama is about as tongue-in-cheek as it gets. This was a great way to start off the segments and throw us into the zany atmosphere that these four directors would provide, plus who has really seen a film where a giant sperm devours damn Yankees and copulates with the Statue of Liberty? Rifkin’s story is fun and his direction makes it even more fun by never taking itself seriously and giving us some laughable FX that I found tasteful despite the obvious absence of technology. This entry is tied for the worst of the film, however that does not matter much given none of the entries were unenjoyable.

Next Up: Tim Sullivan(2001 Maniacs)’s “I Was A Teenage Werebear”. This is the brightest entry in the film, a pseudo-musical about a young high school jock who suffers a bite from a wrestling classmate that turns him into a teenage werebear. Lots of crazy antics ensue as he uses his powers to fight against the clan of werebears that “turned” him and crash a high school dance to deliver pain and gore, which results in some nice anal trauma that I never saw coming but should have expected given the nature of this film. This entry ties with “Wadzilla” for me as one of the lesser entries, maybe because I do not like musicals, but Tim Sullivan managed to make this a fun and enjoyable piece with lots of laugh out scenes that I really dug.

The third entry is my favorite of the four: “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein”. Written and directed by Adam Green (Hatchet, Hatchet II, Frozen, Spiral) and starring Green favorites Joel Moore as Adolf Hitler and Kane Hodder(Friday the 13th Part 7/8/9/X, Hatchet I/II) as the monster, this is one very enjoyable piece shown in black and white as well as in the German language – well, sort of in the German language. Lots of laughs ensue due to Green’s very funny screenplay that employs Hitler fumbling German on numerous occassions as I heard the words “Boba Fet”, “Oshcoskbgosh” and “Salacius Crumb” during the film, which also came with a few good laughs provided by his usage of the other characters as well. Kane Hodder was great as usual as the brooding monster, a Jewish monster who employs a menorah and dradle as his weapons of death when things become awry.

The last entry is “Deathication”, which plays on the term “defication” giving it consists entirely of people taking explosive shits. This segment is almost a joke and plays directly into the prologue, which then itself becomes one of the segments titled “Zom B Movie”. This entry is tied with the previous one as my favorite, taking its course throughout the film then finishing the experience with a final act consisting of non-stop sex-crazed zombie action. The gore is heavy, the laughs are heavy, and the cheese reigns supreme as writer/director Joe Lynch gives us the most exciting entry in the film and the one consisting of the most overall carnage. It was only fitting to end this drive-in homage synonymously with the collapse of Kaufman’s drive-in, making for one of the most enjoyable horror films I have seen this year.

Overall, Chillerama is an awesome horror experience that gives us numerous elements of horror in four well-told and well-directed segments. Who cares what the other critics are saying, there are so many laugh-out-loud sequences and lots of gory goodness to adorn the screen, and complimented with lots of taboo antics (sperm, anal trauma, etc) that this is one experience I recommend to all horror fans who enjoy good cheese.

Rating: 8/10

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – 5

January 20, 2011 1 comment

Director – Adam Marcus

Cast – John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, Steven Culp, Erin Gray, Rusty Schwimmer, Richard Gant, Leslie Jordan, Billy Green Bush, Kipp Marcus

Release Year – 1993

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Four years after the mediocre yet cheezy fun events that occurred in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, we were given what was supposed to be the “last” Friday the 13th film in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.  As if the idea of Jason slaying young teens in Manhattan wasn’t zany enough, Jason Goes to Hell gave fans the craziest(and maybe silliest) storyline of the series(at that time), and despite awesome kills and good action the film’s story kept it from being anything other than mediocre at best.

After Jason is blown to bits during an FBI sting operation, his supernatural secret is revealed as his soul passes from host to host in his attempt to kill off the only people who can kill him…his last remaining relatives Jessica Kimble and her young daughter.  Jessica must now join forces with her estranged ex-boyfriend and popular bounty hunter Creighton Duke in order to kill Jason before he kills her and her daughter and becomes completely indestructible.

Had this really been the final Friday the 13th film I would have been heavily disappointed in Sean S. Cunningham & co. due to how mediocre this film is, and I am being quite generous by referring to this film as “mediocre”.  The vast majority of the film’s faults lie in its insane plot, which I found to be quite un–enjoyable overall simply because I did not like that it included very little action from Jason in his true hockey mask-donning form.  Instead we are forced to watch others possessed by Jason’s soul carry out his evil bidding, which I found to be quite lame visually, although mentally I thought it was pretty cool to learn the secrets behind his supernatural power.  Given that Jason was able to survive numerous electrocutions and other heinous deaths, it was obvious that he had some sort of supernatural force driving his evil, and that force was made apparent in this film, so I will credit it for finally making that apparent to us despite its silly plot overall.  Thankfully, we get a final appearance from Jason(portrayed by Kane Hodder; Friday the 13th Part VII/VIII, Jason X, Hatchet, Hatchet II) during the film’s final sequence, which only left me unsatisfied due to how awesome Kane portrayed Jason and how little Jason we were given.  Also, this film comes with possibly the most shocking climax in the series, one that lead to the inception and eventual creation of Freddy vs. Jason.

Director Adam Marcus did a mostly positive job with the film’s direction, which came as a surprise to me given this was his first directing effort.  While the screenplay he was forced to work with came with many faults, Marcus managed to deliver some awesome kills that came complimented with sweet gore and good live-action FX.  His execution regarding the characters involved was so-so at times, but thanks to great performances from Steven Williams and Kane Hodder(even though he was seldom used) the film’s pacing did not suffer too much from the silly antics written in the screenplay.

Overall, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday suffers many faults thanks to its poor and stupid storyline, but mostly-positive direction resulting in good kills as well as the supernatural revelation behind Jason’s evil make this less-than-favorable flick a bearable watch…but only if you love Jason.

Rating: 5/10

Top 10 Horror Movies of 2010

December 28, 2010 4 comments

2010 delivered more good horror to us in the form of awesome sequels, positive remakes, original films, as well as several of the film industries greatest directors making their impact on the horror genre.  Remember, this a list of the top 10 HORROR movies of 2010, which means they will be ranked by their horror first, then everything else will taken into consideration.  I now give you the top 10 horror movies of 2010, as well as 5 honorable mentions.

10. The Crazies (remake)

- The obvious remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 classic, this film delivers a slightly different take on the same storyline Romero gave us except this time focusing more on the infected people than on the military.  We do not get the same hard-hitting social commentary that Romero delivered, but the tension is high and we get some good infected action, as well as a great performance from lead protagonist Timothy Olyphant.  Read my full review for this film here: The Crazies

9. Dream Home

- Dream Home is most likely the least-known film on this list, and in the horror genre that is never truly a bad sign.  This film gives us something we hardly EVER get in the horror genre…a female slasher film.  Coupled with a unique storyline that intercepts a thoughtful and relatable back-story about a woman’s who has worked her life to give her grandfather the comfortable life that he deserves with current gory events, this flick was a fresh breath in the Asian horror scene not only because it did not involve any ghosts with long black hair…but did not run longer than it should like most Asian films do.  Read my full review for  this film here: Dream Home

8. Black Death

- Christopher Smith’s 4th straight positive film since his initial entry, 2004’s Creep, Black Death gives us horror fans an element that I personally had not seen used previously in the horror genre…the bubonic plague.  Set in 14th century England, we watch a group of the Catholicism’s finest soldiers and a young monk travel to a secluded village believed to be using pagan acts to successfully escape the plague, and they encounter a horror similar to the pagan horror we are given in The Wicker Man, one of my favorite films.  Aided by a great screenplay from Dario Paroni(Wilderness), Christopher Smith once again delivers a very well executed horror film that I believe has solidified himself as one of horror’s premier directors.  Read my full review for this film here: Black Death

7. Piranha 3D

- Piranha 3D was not a film that I was looking forward to this year, and that came as a surprise to me due to my love for writer/director Alexandre Aja(High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors).  Why was I not excited?  Because the film’s level of CGI looked very high, and I am not a fan of 3D films.  Well, I was wrong to think that I would not enjoy this film, and I found Piranha 3D to be one of the most fun horror films of the year.  It bears close resemblance to the original, but carries enough of its own weight to still give us a unique horror experience.  Alexandre Aja did a great job executing this film, and he included lots of fun gore and zany kill sequences that left me not just forgetting, but APPRECIATING the CGI usage in the film.  Read my full review for this film here: Piranha 3D

6. Predators

- It has been a long while since we were last given a standalone non-AVP Predator film, so I was pretty stoked when this film debuted, and thanks to producer Robert Rodriguez(From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror, The Faculty) and director Nimrod Antal(Vacancy) we were given another solid entry into the Predator series of films.  We are given a unique plot that opens the door for lots of Predator vs. Human action, and I loved every second of watching mankind’s most vicious killers battle a superior alien race merely using us for their own entertainment.  Filled with lots of non-stop gun battles and ass-kicking elements, Predators is respectful to the Arnold Shwarzenegger-starring Predator, and gives us fans what we want to see.  Read my full review for this film here: Predators

5. Hatchet II

- This was the film that I was looking forward to the most for 2010, and it gave me exactly what I wanted to see…more HatchetHatchet 2 takes off right where the first concluded, and delivered more gore(241% more gallons of blood), more insanely awesome deaths, and more laughs than the first delivered.  Adam Green obviously went for utter cheese in this one, and he delivered.  As if he hadn’t already, Victor Crowley has solidified himself as one of horror’s greatest killers/slashers ever, and I must give him extra props for the hilarious kills he has delivered.  With acting roles from Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Tom Holland, and Danielle Harris, Hatchet 2 is a delight for fans of good ole American horror.  Read my full review for this film here: Hatchet II

4. Paranormal Activity 2

- I honestly expected this film to suck when I read that a no-name writer and director were attached to this sequel to the very successful Paranormal Activity, which is a big reason why I enjoyed this film so much.  Once again, lesser-filmmakers delivered a creepy watch that surpasses 90% of what big-budget studios put out.  More of a “companion” film than a sequel or prequel, Paranormal Activity 2 delivered heavily on the scares, and included possibly the absolute greatest “jump” scare that I have ever seen.  No other film on this list made me jump and receive goosebumps like this one did, and that says a lot nowadays in a day and age where horror films do not SCARE me anymore.  Read my full review for this film here: Paranormal Activity 2

3. Shutter Island

- After many decades delivering fantastic films, famed director Martin Scorsese has finally made his mark on the horror genre with Shutter Island.  Some may argue that Shutter Island is not a devout horror flick, and I respect that, but I believe the film harbors enough elements of fear and horror to warrant inclusion in this list.  From the get-go Scorsese sets up the film’s gloomy and creepy atmosphere, and from then on out he expertly delivers the film in fantastic fashion.  Great performances, awesome camerawork and sets, and Scorsese’s ability to make the viewer do and feel what he wants them to do make this film a memorable watch and one of the year’s best films overall.  The horror involved is of psychological nature, and this well crafted story from Dennis Lehane’s novel by the same name manages to keep us in the dark and in the same paranoid mindset as the film’s protagonist.  Shutter Island might be the “least” horrific film on this list, but this fantastic effort has earned its no. 3 spot.  Read my full review for this film here: Shutter Island

2. Black Swan

- Darren Aronofsky joined Martin Scorsese as another film giant who has finally decided to enter the horror realm.  Black Swan debuted to the masses just in time to make this list, and left me with the task of having to revamp this list to include it.  Focusing heavily on the element of psychological horror, we witness the deterioration of a young dancer’s mind as she strives for perfection in the claustrophobic world she lives in.  Reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s early psychosexual films Repulsion and The Tenant, Black Swan lives to tell the terror we put ourselves through to attain the feelings we seek in life, and comes with some nice horror as well.  Much like Shutter Island, Black Swan’s horror is not outright horror, but psychological and visceral, leaving you to put yourself in the protagonist’s shoes and experience what they are experiencing, which is truly horrific in nature when you consider what is going on around them.  As a film this is the best entry on the list, but this is not a list of the best films of 2010, but the best horror films of 2010, which left Black Swan with only the no. 2 spot.  Read my full review for this film here: Black Swan

1. Let Me In

- Let Me In was possibly the most surprising horror film of this year due to the immense amount of backlash over this “remake” of Sweden’s Let The Right One In.  Many expected Let Me In to fall flat, but thanks to writer/director Matt Reeves(Cloverfield) the film not only silenced its numerous critics…but stands on it’s own, not as a remake.  Because Let The Right One In was sourced from John Alvid Lindqvist’s novel of the same name, it is an adapted story, which is the same case for Let Me In, meaning that Let Me In is NOT a remake, but an adaptation just like the incredible Swedish film.  Let Me In perfectly blends the art-house feel of the first entry with a level of horror not touched in the previous adaptation, resulting in a much more horrific watch than expected.  Reeves’ execution of the film is nearly flawless, with high levels of tension, despair, and some great horror as well.  Some have referred to Let The Right One In as the artsy entry and Let Me In as the “monster” film, and I believe that comparison to be true.  Great performances from all those involved sell the film to the viewer, and although the love element is not as strong in this film in comparison to the Swedish masterpiece, it is worthwhile and aided the film’s horror in achieving this no. 1 ranking.  This is not my favorite horror film of the year, but in my honest opinion Let Me In is the best horror film of 2010.  Now who would have thought that?  Read my full review for this film here: Let Me In

Honorable Mentions

(Close But Not Good Enough)

Devil

- M. Night Shyamalan(Signs, The Sixth Sense, Lady In The Water) had fallen from grace as both a writer and direction after the mediocre The Happening and the horrendous Avatar: The Last Airbender, but Devil, the initial entry into his The Night Chronicles, has shown that he still has some good writing in him.  If you know me then you know that I LOVE nowhere-to-run scenarios, and I really cannot think of few situations more desperate than being stuck in an elevator with an unknown and unseen killer.  Director John Erick Dowdle(The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine) does a great job keeping the tension high and doing what he could with what little the film had to offer(given most of it takes place in the elevator) and in the end Devil delivered the positive horror experience that I expected from M. Night and Mr. Dowdle.  Read my full review for this film here: Devil

Monsters

- Nearly every year we get a low-budget surprise flick that gains attention and delivers to the fans, and that is the case with Monsters.  Debuting at this year’s film festivals and still lacking a DVD release, Monsters may be hard to get to for many, and only time will tell when this film will achieve the time of day.  I have always been a fan of alien-oriented films, and this flick gives us a unique story involving a NASA probe that discovered alien life on another planet and upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere crash-landed somewhere in Mexico.  Great FX and awesome looking Lovecraftian-creatures made this an engaging watch for me despite a high level of character drama between our two protagonists, but Monsters managed to deliver the horror nonetheless and is one of the best low-budget horror flicks for 2010.  Read my full review for this film here: Monsters

Saw 3D

- The Saw franchise has been one of horror’s most successful in recent history, and has become the only series in horror history to deliver 7 films in 7 years.  Well, Saw 3D(aka Saw 7) is said to be the last installment of the franchise, and while the film was not as good or epic as it should have been for a series closer, it delivered some good horror.  We get the usual unique yet grotesque traps that Jigsaw’s victims are thrown into, and the tension remains fairly high throughout most of the film’s runtime.  I really wished that this closer would have hit harder, especially when considering it did not a shocking climax like the other entries, but nonetheless Saw 3D gave fans of the series what they went to see…and hopefully put an end to the saga.  Read my full review for this film here: Saw 3D

The Wolfman

- A re-imaging of the 1941 classic The Wolf Man, The Wolfman surprised me as a cheezy yet enjoyable watch adorned with some sweet kills and enjoyable action.  Hugh Jackman does well as the man tormented by his inner beast, and we get solid performances all around from Anthony Hopkins, the under-used Hugo Weaving, and Emily Blunt.  The film would have  been improved with more live-action gore and less CGI, but for a big-budget Hollywood watch The Wolfman gave me enough of what I wanted to see.  Read my full review for this film here: The Wolfman

Frozen

- Preceded by the ever-awesome Hatchet and followed by the insane Hatchet II, Adam Green’s Frozen seems to have suffered the raw end of Hollywood politics.  Green fought hard to get this film the very limited release that it was given, and while Frozen is not a moneymaker by Hollywood standards(the reason it was given no love), it is still a darn good showing of how something very simple can be truly horrifying if you execute it properly.  Focusing on a group of friends who take a late joyride on a ski-lift and are left stranded aboard the lift overnight, we watch them suffer extreme conditions which force them to make extreme decisions that never end well.  I have always been a fan of “what you don’t see is scary” horror, and Frozen delivers much of that.  Read my full review for this film here: Frozen

My Other Top 10 Horror Lists

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 1980

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 1981

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2005

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2006

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2007

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2008

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009

Thank you for reading.

Hatchet II – 8

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Adam Green

Cast – Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Tom Holland, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Alexis Peters, Ed Ackerman, David Foy, Colton Dunn, Rick McCallum, John Carl Buechler

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Writer/director Adam Green first broke onto the horror scene in 2006 with Hatchet, an utterly fantastic gorefest of a slasher film, and has since delivered positive efforts in Spiral and Frozen.  However, all of his post-Hatchet success was overshadowed when word hit that there would be a sequel to the film, and that due to numerous incursions with the pathetic hominids known as the MPAA…would be released in theaters UNCUT and UNRATED.  The first horror film since George A. Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead to be released uncut and unrated, Hatchet II delivers heavily on the gore-induced antics that occurred in the first film, and along with numerous quality laughs we are given another modern day American classic horror film from Adam Green.

Marybeth(Danielle Harris; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5, The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond, Urban Legend, Halloween remake, Halloween II remake ) has survived her deadly ordeal with the grotesquely deformed vengeful swamp slasher known as Victor Crowley, but she will not end the saga until she can return to Crowley’s swamp and retrieve the bodies of her now deceased father and brother.  With the help of Dr. Zombie(Tony Todd; Candyman, Night of the Living Dead remake, Hatchet, Wishmaster, Final Destination, Final Destination 2, Masters of Horror: “Valerie on the Stairs”), the town’s voodoo priest, she learns the truth about her family’s connection to Victor Crowley, and she returns to the swamp with Dr. Zombie, her uncle Bob(Tom Holland; Director: Fright Night, Child’s Play, Thinner), and an army of the area’s best hunters/outdoorsmen to kill off Crowley and not only make their swamp safe again, but satisfy Martybeth’s thirst for revenge.

If you enjoyed Hatchet then you are sure as hell guaranteed to enjoy this awesome sequel.  Right from the get-go we are thrown into Crowley-induced carnage, and from then on out the film never really slows down and keeps delivering the goods.  This is a common benefit that sequels tend to reap given the original film spends much required runtime setting up the storyline, so this is an unfair advantage, but a positive nonetheless.

The story is nothing truly unique, and focuses mainly on Marybeth’s thirst for revenge against Victor Crowley for what he did to her father and brother, although her family’s connection to Crowley, the “twist”, was a nice touch that made the film all-the-more enjoyable.  Just like in the first entry, we get quite a few colorful characters, with Tony Todd getting much more screen time as Reverend Zombie.  Reverend Zombie was not a huge character in the first entry, but in this film he plays a strong supporting role, and delivers numerous laughs as well.  I was surprised at just how funny this film is, and it was not the overly silly Scary Movie type funny, but some simple yet high quality funny that left me laughing out loud on numerous occasions.  We also get some pretty creative kills written into the film, which brought back that warm feeling I got as a result of the awesome kills from the first entry, except in this film there are more of them.  The overall storyline is fairly simple and does not contain much more than what I have already explained, and it is Adam Green’s execution and direction that sell the rest of this watch.

What Green brings to screen not equally as awesome as what he wrote for the screen, but in fact MORE awesome than what he wrote for the screen.  He basically accomplished everything that he wanted to accomplish, and gave us Hatchet fans exactly what we wanted to see…more Hatchet.  The biggest selling point of the film is the same selling point we had in Hatchet…Victor Crowley’s gory kills.  In Hatchet we were given 55 gallons of fake bloody goodness, and according to Bloody-Disgusting.com(whom I also write reviews for) Hatchet II delivers 136 gallons of fake blood!  That is right folks, a whole 81 gallons more than the original, a 247% increase.  To make matters cooler is the level of fun involved in these kills, which were mostly downright ridiculous in nature and had me laughing at times due to how utterly awesome they were.  It is obvious that Adam Green went out and had loads of fun without taking himself too seriously with this film, and I love it.

Kane Hodder(Hatchet, Friday the 13th Part VII/VIII/IX/X) once again delivers a great wordless mumbling performance as Victor Crowley, which he has perfected due to his experience with such characters, a trait he has possessed since his days as the greatest Jason Vorhees ever.  Tony Todd also delivers a great performance, and is definitely the most charismatic of the actors involved.  In all honesty, I cannot see anyone else portraying Reverend Zombie, and that is due to Todd’s immense voice and his uncanny ability to be portray this unique and awesomely sarcastic character.  Now hold on there, Adam Green is known for his shout-outs to the horror genre, and the shout-outs don’t end at him using horror legends Kane Hodder and Tony Todd, as he also thrown in famed horror director Tom Holland as Uncle Bob, and the popular Halloween 4/5 actress Danielle Harris.  I was very surprised at how well Tom Holland portrayed Uncle Bob in this film, and for a man mainly known as a director he did an awesome job selling his role.  Now, despite my love for this film there is one major fault that I truly hated…and that was Danielle Harris’ acting.  She did a good job with her childhood roles in the Halloween series, but ever since she became an adult I have never found her acting mostly non-worthwhile, and it shows in this film.  I found her completely unlikable, and I blame that on her acting performance and now on how Adam Green wrote her character.  Every line she spewed felt forced and overdone, and whatever tears and emotion she showed were most likely coming from her realization of just how bad of an actress she is.  Thankfully, everything else in this film is intense and awesome, which drowns out her bad performance despite her being the lead actor in the film.  Plus, we all know who the real star of the Hatchet series is…and that is Victor Crowley.

Overall, this is an awesome sequel that is sure to please fans of Hatchet with Adam Green’s awesome direction and usage of Victor Crowley and the insanely gory kills he delivers.  Green once again delivers another American horror classic, which comes with a nice humor element and close to 90 minutes of nonstop cheezy goodness.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – 5

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Rob Hedden

Cast – Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, Barbara Bingham, Peter Mark Richman, Kane Hodder, Martin Cummins, Gordon Currie, Alex Diakun, Vincent Craig Dupree, Saffron Henderson, Kelly Hu, Sharlene Martin, Warren Munson

Release Year – 1988

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Friday the 13th series was my favorite horror series growing up, and still remains my favorite horror series to this day.  My very first memory of Jason Vorhees came as a result of this film, which was playing late one night on television.  I was born in 1985, this film debuted in 1988, so it was around 1989-1990 that I saw my first Friday the 13th film, and while this is one of the lesser efforts in the series I HONESTLY remember being scared shitless right from the opening scene.  Well, I am a big boy now, and while this film does not scare me like it used to it still provides me some awesome fun Jason action that despite some ridiculous moments still manages to be a decent watch for fans of the series.

When two young lovebirds accidentally resurrect Jason Vorhees from his underwater grave deep within Camp Crystal Lake, Jason manages to latch on to a passing vessel containing a high school graduating class celebrating their introduction to the real world.  Onboard the vessel is a young woman, Rennie Wickman, who has been suffering a terrible trauma every time she comes in contact with water, a trauma caused by a near-fatal drowning accident in which she believes she was pulled underwater by none other than Jason Vorhees during a summer trip to Camp Crystal Lake.  When the body count of the young graduates rises and terror onboard the ship ensues, she soon realizes that her greatest fear has come true…Jason is alive.  The students manage to reach the port of Manhattan, but we all know that Jason is never far behind, and Manhattan meets the infamous Jason Vorhees with gory results.

Right off the back I can say that this is a film that would only appeal to fans of Jason Vorhees, and even then it requires a generous mindset from even such a fan to enjoy this one.  The series has come with its fair share of ridiculous antics, although I must say that this entry may be the most ridiculous of them all.  Yes, it does give Jason X a run for its money.  Thankfully, I found the ridiculous elements mostly enjoyable due to how damn cheezy they are, but I cannot expect everyone else who views this film to feel that way.

You should not be surprised that somehow a group of unwitting and soon-to-be-dismembered teens unleashed Jason from death once again, but how else could Paramount and its filmmakers going to give us another Jason film?  Well, aside from that I must say that the story does give us a unique idea in that Jason is on board a boat, something that had not previously been used in the genre.  I enjoyed this because it provides a nowhere-to-run scenario given the students are miles away from land, plus the boat consists of numerous dark spaces for Jason to lurk and dismember his victims in, which is always a nice touch.  Rennie Wickman’s fear of Jason is a positive touch as well due to the conflict it provides, and had it not been for that this could have been a pretty one-dimensional boring movie.  What obviously sells this film to anyone, aside from Jason himself, is the fact that he is taken to none other than Manhattan!  I will always enjoy a film that “moves”, so I found it captivating that we would go from a cool nowhere-to-run scenario to a huge booming city full of many potential victims.  It is also just plain funny that the maniacal behemoth that is Jason Vorhees would make the transition from his country boy Crystal Lake atmosphere to the big city, without of course changing his appearance, heh.  This idea, despite its ridiculousness, worked for the film when you consider its unique traits.  We had never seen Jason really venture out of Crystal Lake in previous films, and writer/director Rob Hedden gave us some fun elements of the big city thrown in as well when Jason makes an appearance at none other than Times Square.

Hedden’s direction is fair, although you cannot expect any good scares to be thrown in unless you are a youngster like I was when I first saw this.  His execution of Jason is good, especially given the film stars the true Jason Vorhees, Kane Hodder(Hatchet, Hatchet II, Frozen, 2001 Maniacs), and as usual Jason delivers some awesome and pretty gory kills as well.  I will admit that it was odd seeing him slash away inside a luxury cruise liner, a far-fetched environment compared to the alpine woods he usually does his work in, but Hedden made the most of this idea and I believe it worked for the film, although I wish to never see the big city element used again in the series.  The acting performances we get are all pretty bad, but it is obvious Mr. Hedden went with the most stereotyped characters imaginable, which is almost required in every 80s horror film and in my opinion only makes the film all-the-more fun to watch.  His pacing is good, and we really do not get any needless scenes thrown in, just good Jason mayhem and characters you’d love to see fall victim to him.

Overall, this is a bad film if you are looking for good horror, but an enjoyably bad film if you want to see Jason deliver his goods in a unique environment for a change.  The cheeze is high and we get some ridiculous things going on in the film, but if you know what  you are getting yourself into then this should do just enough to satisfy your Jason fix.

Rating: 5/10

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