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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

Special Post: Top 10 Horror Movies of 2006

October 1, 2010 4 comments

2006 proved to a great year for the horror genre, providing 7 of the 50 films that made my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade post.  Most seem to overlook the year of 2006 due to the great films that debuted in 2007, but luckily this proved to be a solid year for us horror fans.

10. Slither

- Slither brings back the feel of the glorious 80s horror films that bring much laughter, gore, and insane antics to the screen.  Great direction leads this film to be a fun and enjoyable watch, and although the story is pretty much a blatant rip-off of the 1986 classic Night of the Creeps it still delivers it’s own take on the same storyline and comes with copious amounts of gore and live-action effects as well.  For fans of cheezy no-brainer flicks that deliver heavy on the “goods” this is a must-watch.  Read my full review for this film here: Slither

9. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

- This is the first Troma film to hit the horror scene HARD since their 1982 claim to fame The Toxic Avenger.  The usual Lloyd Kaufman antics are heavily present in this watch, and it makes for the most ridiculous horror film on this list, and one that is respectable for its ridiculous material, a feat hard to come by.  I can honestly say that I have never come across a horror film centering on zombie chickens, and unlike most other ridiculously plotted low-budget flicks this one is a hilarious and awesome watch that brings us immense levels of gore, and classic zombie(chicken) action.  Read my full review for this film here: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

8. Saw 3

- Saw 3 closed out the original Saw trilogy, and posed as the last “great” Saw film.  Definitely the most tension-filled film in the series, Saw 3 holds a special place in the franchise as (unofficially) the first Saw film that Saw haters enjoyed.  Darren Lynn Bousman does a fantastic job executing this film(as he did with Saw II and IV), and the story comes with the usual twists and turns that you never see coming.  This is definitely where the series should have ended, which should shed light on the film’s awesome climax.  Read my full review for this film here: Saw 3

7. Silent Hill

- One of the most well-known horror video games of all time, the adaptation of Silent Hill came as no surprise due to the adaptations of Resident Evil and Doom, and this film beats them both.  The dark and gloomy visual tone of the film is beautifully brought to screen by director Christophe Gans(Brotherhood of the Wolf, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead) and thankfully the film comes with some greatly executed horror as well.  While we get a bit more CGI than I wished to see, the action and gore is top notch, and the scariest elements of the video game are brought to us on-screen as well.  Read my full review for this film here: Silent Hill

6. The Host

- This first feature film since his incredible Memories of Murder, South Korean director Joon-ho Bong brought us one of the better giant monster films of recent years with The Host.  Centering on a true event that destroyed US-South Korean relations in the 1980s, The Host brings us some of the best monster carnage I have ever seen in a film.  Beautifully shot and well executed, we get some mind numbingly awesome scenes sure to leave  you with goose bumps, including what I feel to be one of horror’s greatest scenes of all time…the “Han River” scene.  We hardly get giant monster films these days, and the ones that we do get are iffy at best(aside from the positive Cloverfield), but thankfully The Host provides for an enjoyable and awe-inducing watch.  Read my full review for this film here: The Host

5. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

- This film has notched itself forever in the realms of slasher lore with its fun pseudo-documentary take on Leslie Vernon, a “slasher” who allows a documentary crew to film him as he explains the tactics of a slasher, and takes them on a ride they soon regret boarding.  Much like the 1992 French film Man Bites Dog, which follows the same idea, we get some great laughs and good tension-filled scenes thanks to a superb job by writer/director Scott Glosserman.  To make matters cooler, we get numerous shout-outs to the three greatest slashers of all time, Jason Vorhees, Micheal Myers, and Freddy Krueger, as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon does for the slasher sub-genre what Shaun of the Dead did for the zombie sub-genre.  Read my full review for this film here: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

4. Death Note

- The obvious live-action adaptation of the extremely popular anime series of the same name, Death Note is my favorite film on this list, and with good reason.  We get a fantastic story involving a young man yearning to do his part in keeping the world safe, who one day stumbles upon a notebook which allows him to end the life of anyone he desires…a Death Note.  As he earns vigilante status for ending the lives of criminals who get off the hook, he is forced to do battle with those lawfully assigned to catch him, which forces him to do evil things.  To make matters cooler, a brilliant young man is brought in to help locate the vigilante, which proves to be the ultimate cat and mouse game between two of the most powerful minds on Earth.  The storyline is what really sells this film, and I found it so engaging that I never once felt the film drag or become overly slow despite its 2 hour runtime.  Fantastic direction and from Shusuke Kaneko(Necronomicon: Book of the Dead) helps sell this film, which although it is not the best HORROR film on this list, it is definitely the best FILM overall listed here.  Read my full review for this film here: Death Note

3. Hatchet

- Writer/director Adam Green’s  debut horror film Hatchet has remained one of the best, if not the best tongue and cheek horror film of last decade, and rightfully so.  Not only is the level of campyness the highest I have seen since a late 80s horror film, but we get a truly incredible slasher in…Victor Crowley.  The deaths and gore that result from Victor Crowley’s rage and anger are incredible to watch, and we get some good comedy as well thanks to a few colorful characters in this obvious homeage to 80s American horror.  This may be the most fan-loved horror film on this list, and while some may argue that this film should rank higher, I will not argue against the fact that this is the most fun film on this list.  Read my full review for this film here: Hatchet

2. The Hills Have Eyes(remake)

- In a time of numerous remakes, it was no surprise that this remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 film came about, but unlike most recent horror remakes…this one surpasses the original.  Writer/director Alejandre Aja(High Tension, Mirrors, Pirahna 3-D) brought on heavy levels of tension in this film, which is the main reason why this flick got the bump over Hatchet for the #2 spot on this list.  While the tension is high, we also get awesome carnage at the hands of the antagonists, good character usage, and numerous kill scenes that bleed awesomeness.  I remember being very surprised at how much the filmmakers were able to squeeze into this film’s R-rated theatrical release, and if you get your hands on the Unrated edition the carnage is even sweater.  Read my full review for this film here: The Hills Have Eyes(remake)

1. Them

- This under-appreciated French gem blows past each of the films on this list in regards to HORROR, and that is why Them receives the title of the Best Horror Film of 2006.  Relying little on gore, Them focuses on tension and intensity alone and for 76 minutes provides a truly haunting watch that leaves the viewer feeling that you can never be truly safe at home.  Shadows, atmosphere, and camerawork provide the majority of the scares in this film, which come in at an alarming pace when things get going.  For a horror film to rely little on gore and absolute violence yet still come off as a supreme watch gains much respect from me, which makes this not only the best horror film of the year, but the most respectable as well.  In fact, the 2008 film The Strangers is a pseudo remake of this film.  Read my full review for this film here: Them

Honorable Mentions

(Good But Not Good Enough)

Severance

- Christopher Smith(Creep, Triangle, Black Death)’s sophomore film put him on the map as a talented horror director harboring much potential, and this UK horror/comedy gave us that quirky style of comedy the Brits utilize so well, and it works well with the horror involved in this one.  Coming off as “The Office” of the horror genre, we get some great genuine laughs, good gore, and some original ideas thrown into this often used “backwoods survival” horror film.  Read my full review for this film here: Severance

The Gravedancers

- The Gravedancers emerged as the best and scariest film from the original 2006 After Dark Horrorfest, and still to this day I believe this film to be the scariest Horrorfest entry yet.  No-name director Mike Mendez did a fantastic job with such a low-budget in using good cinematography and excellent lighting to awesomely executed supreme horror.  The level of horror in such a low-budget and lesser-known film is surprising, and his usage of the ghosts in the film, the scariest I have EVER seen, was top notch.  I can honestly say that I have never seen a horror film with a plot like this one, and that counts as merit as well.  Read my full review for this film here: The Gravedancers

Cold Prey

- This Norwegian slasher film came out of nowhere in 2006 most likely due to the fact that we do not get many Norwegian horror films here in the States, and thankfully this one came with a very positive experience.  Slasher films taking place in the frozen tundra are not common in the genre, and this film takes full advantage of such an atmosphere given its isolated and nowhere-to-run scenario the protagonists are thrown into.  Cool kills and a unique slasher make this a fun watch, and one of the better foreign horror films of the year.  Read my full review for this film here: Cold Prey

Wilderness

- Wilderness is a film that snuck by under the radar for me, and regretfully so.  I have always been a fan of survivalist films, and when you mix that with horror the film just becomes even more awesome, and that is the case with this one.  We follow a group of worthless youths who are forced to do battle with a well-trained killer out for revenge for an act they committed against a weak and lonely individual.  Director Michael J. Bassett(Solomon Kane) brings on awesome tension and great and gory kills which are sure to please fans of vengeance like me, because who doesn’t like watching a bunch of scoundrels get what they deserve?  Read my full review for this film here: Wilderness

The Lost

- Adapted from Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name, The Lost is an awesome horror film thanks much to its truly cunning and psychotic killer.  In this film we get one of the most unique killers I have ever seen, with numerous mannerisms that bleed psychosis, yet a killer that smart and very manipulative.  Watching this brash antagonist do his work and laugh in the face of authority is awesome and in fact quite scary to watch, and writer/director Chris Sivertson(Wicked Lake) does a fantastic job bringing Ketchum’s incredible serial-killer to life.  Read my full review for this film here: The Lost

Other Notable Horror Films of 2006

(click the poster for the film’s review)

My Other Top 10 Horror Movie Lists

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 1980

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 1981

 

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2005

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2007

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2008

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009

- Top 10 Horror Movies of 2010

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Frozen – 6

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Adam Green

Cast – Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, Ed Ackerman, Rileah Vanderbilt, Kane Hodder, Adam Johnson, Chris York

Release Year – 2010

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Adam Green’s Frozen is a film I have been anticipating for quite some time due to the success of his epic 2006 slasher film Hatchet, and the fact that this is his first feature film since his positive 2007 psychological horror flick Spiral.  Deemed the aspen equivalent to Open Water, Frozen relies heavily on tension and what is NOT seen to move the viewer, and while Green did a fantastic job bringing on the tension he brought little else to the plate, which kept this from being an incredible watch.

Frozen follows Parker O’Neil(Emma Bell; The Walking Dead), her boyfriend Joe(Shawn Ashmore; The Ruins, X-Men trilogy), and his best friend Dan(Kevin Zegers; Dawn of the Dead remake, Fear of the Dark, Wrong Turn) as they wiggle their way into a ski-lodge/resort for a weekend of fun and the abandonment of their real life problems.  As the park begins to close for the night they manage to hitch a ride on the very last ski-lift of the night, which comes with dire consequences.  The park closes before they reach their destination, and the trio is left dangling 50 feet off the ground, and with uninhabitable elements closing in as night settles.  What was supposed to be a weekend of fun has now turned into a night of terror the friends will never forget…if they survive.

Given all of the positive buzz I had heard/read regarding this film, I think I went into this watch with overly high expectations.  The idea of setting a film in such a simple yet tense aspen environment excited me because in my mind I believed that it was going to force Adam Green to get really creative in his execution of the film, but I seem to have overestimated this one.  I enjoyed all of the tension written and executed in the film, but sadly the tension did not bring as strong of a presence in the film as I expected it to, and we were left with many scenes that were downright slow and somewhat uninteresting, sadly.  I know that this film was a fairly low-budget effort from Adam Green, so it really could be that budgetary constraints kept this film from moving to bigger and better things, and while I can forgive him for such things the film is what it is in the end.

As far as story goes the overall plot is obviously simple, and most of the tension comes from the usage of our three main characters in the film.  The mental anguish that would normally torment someone in such a situation is brought forth in the film, and thankfully this is pursued with social breakdown amongst the trio as they become more and more desperate for help and a way out of their immense dilemma.  The fact that they are exposed to uninhabitable elements adds to this tension because time is not of the essence, which forces them to decide on some very drastic measures that do not turn out for the better.  While we get some great tension regarding the scenes in which (possible spoiler) they try and escape the stalled ski-lift, this was somewhat ruined by the addition of the overly cliché pack of wolves that torments the friends.  I really saw this as cheap and a pretty lazy addition to what was already a positive film, and in my mind this was one of the biggest detriments of the film.  Aside from this , the downtime between the action was a bit too uneventful and uninteresting for my liking, which was probably unavoidable given the location of the film, which limits what the characters can do in the meantime.  Nonetheless, that is the risk you take giving this film such a setting.

Direction-wise Adam Green shows that he definitely still has some great talent and knows how to execute some good tension.  He does not show a whole lot in this film, and the fact that he was able to turn simple scenes into tension filled scenes is a testament to what he can do as a director.  His camera-work is top-notch, and he provides some good sets that helped bring about the tension he so perfectly executed, especially his gutsy call in actually filming the actors in a ski-lift suspended 50 feet in the air.  While I did not like the addition of the wolves in the film, he did manage to utilize them to bring some unsettling events to screen, events that had me feeling utter remorse for what was going on.  These were definitely the most hard-hitting scenes in the film, so despite the wolves idea being a bit cliché we at least get some positive out of it.

Unfortunately, the climax of the film is one I found uninspiring and pretty dull, just like many of the scenes we are exposed to during the film’s downtimes.

Overall, this is a borderline-positive watch that I really expected to be much better thanks over-hyping around the horror realm.  In the end however we still get some great tension at the hands of Adam Green, just be prepared to sit with the same helplessness as the lead protagonists during this film’s dull slow scenes.

Rating: 6/10

Wishmaster – 7

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Director – Robert Kurtzman

Cast – Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson-Landes, Tony Crane, Jenny O’Hara, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Dan Hicks, Angus Scrimm(voice)

Release Year – 1997

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Wishmaster has remained one of the genre’s most well-known films since its 1997 debut, whether or not horror fans have seen it.  Horror FX maestro Robert Kurtzman made his horror film directing debut with this watch, and thanks to his FX trade as well as a plot we can all relate to we get one of the most fun to watch horror films of the late 90s.

In ancient Persia a powerful Djinn is banished to reside in a rare stone after wreaking havoc throughout a kingdom.  His crime?  Granting the wishes of those who ask, but with horrible results.  Fast forward to present day and Alexandra Amberson, a young gemologist, is assigned to appraise a rare gem collected from an ancient statue purchased by private collector Raymond Beaumont(Robert Englund).  While running a scan on the ancient gem the powerful Djinn is unleashed, and all he must do to acquire his full power is grant three wishes to any three individuals, and easy and bloody task.

I really enjoy horror films that incorporate a commonly known element into the plot, and Wishmaster uses one common idea we all grew up relating to…a genie.  The Djinn in this film is nothing like the sissy Jafar from Aladin, in that his intentions behind granting someone’s wishes are intensely brutal, and I loved it.  The storyline is a bit cheezy, but for a late 90s film it gives the “right” kind of cheese we horror fans always enjoy.  The development behind who the Djinn is and the acts he was imprisoned for was awesome, and watching him expertly con anyone who crossed his path into asking him a wish(thus making him stronger) was a well written idea that came with some great gore as well.

Robert Kurtzman’s direction is positive, and it really is quite sad that he has not directed as many films as he should have with the talent he possesses.  His sets were well used, his camerawork was great, and his execution throughout the film was great as well.  I really loved how he used the Djinn, especially the look of the Djinn which is unlike any genie I have ever seen, and I dug that.  Due to Kurtzman’s FX abilities all of the important scenes involving the Djinn were used with live-action effects, and the gore was ever-plentiful and downright awesome as well.  I loved the scenes of chaos the Djinn would create, making him the ultimate “party crasher”.

To make things even cooler, we get a slew of horror legends thrown into this flick in small or supporting roles.  We get Robert Englund(A Nightmare on Elm Street series) as Raymond Beaumont, Kane Hodder(Friday the 13th part VII, VIII, IX, X, Hatchet), Tony Todd(Night of the Living Dead remake, Candyman, Final Destination, Final Destination 2, Hatchet), Ted Raimi, George ‘Buck’ Fowler(The Fog, Maniac Cop, Pumpkinhead, They Live, Body Bags, Village of the Damned), Dan Hicks(Evil Dead II, Maniac Cop, Intruder, 2001 Maniacs, My Name is Bruce), and Angus Scrimm(Phantasm series, Chopping Mall, I Sell The Dead, ) as the narrator,  all giving stellar performances that are sure to please fans of the genre.

Overall, this is a fun and awesome watch that I recommend to fans of cheezy 90s horror.  We get great gore and FX, a cool story, and good direction from one of the genre’s FX veterans.

Rating: 7/10

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – 6


Director – John Carl Buechler

Cast – Lar Park-Lincoln, Susan Blew, Terry Kiser, Kevin Spirtas, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Heidi Kozak, Kane Hodder, William Butler, Staci Greason, Larry Cox, Jeff Bennett, Diana Barrows, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jon Renfield, Michael Shroeder, Debora Kessler

Release Year – 1988

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Ever since I was a child I have loved this film, and although over the years I have noticed that it is not the great film I remembered it to be, I still find much joy in watching this flick.  With big shoes to follow after the success of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood gives us enough Jason action and the usual F13 tidbits we all know and love for this to be a fun watch for fans of the series, and unfortunately may be the last mediocre-to-OK film of the series before things went really bad.

It has been many years after Tommy Jarvis successfully chained Jason to the bottom of Crystal Lake, leaving him to rot for as long as the lake stands.  When a troubled girl with telekinetic powers named Tina accidentally frees Jason from his entrapment at the bottom of the lake, he begins his usual hijinks of hacking up all who have entered his domain.  As Tina’s neighbors are hacked up by Jason she comes across a startling discovery behind her psychological “treatment” at the hands of her psychologist, Dr. Crews, but that is the least of her problems when she comes face to face with Jason himself.  However, thanks to Tina’s telekinetic powers, Jason may have finally met his match.

OK, so the idea of having a girl with telekinetic powers face off against Jason sounds a bit cheezy, and it is.  Thankfully, I found it pretty fun to watch and not the moronic idea I first pictured it to be.  If you go into this film expecting another cheezy Jason movie then you are right on the dot, and you should hopefully enjoy this one as much as I did if you have the amount of love for Jason as I do, which is a lot.  Story-wise the telekinesis element will be hit or miss with most people, but during the ending sequence I found it enjoyable, so I am glad about that.  The rest of the story is the same old same old storyline of naïve teenage campers hanging out while boozing and fornicating with one another until Jason arrives and hacks them all up.  If you are down with that, then good for you, because I was.

Director John Carl Buechler, known for the infamous Troll, did an OK job with this film.  The pacing was good enough thanks to us getting a fair amount of Jason action throughout the film, and his use of the musical score was a nice touch.  Personally, I feel the Friday the 13th series, much like the Halloween series, just has fantastic musical scores for pretty much every film in the series, both good and bad.  We do not get as much gore as I wanted to see in this film, so that was a bit of a letdown for me.  Some of the kills in this flick were pretty darn awesome, and quite brutal as well so naturally I expected to see an equivalent amount of gore to go along with the kill, but that just did not happen.  I will, however, commend Mr. Buechler on introducing us to the greatest Jason Vorhees actor of all time.  Read on.

Kane Hodder has made a name for himself as not only the only actor to portray Jason Vorhees more than once, but the very best actor to portray Jason Vorhees PERIOD.  Simply put, this guy IS Jason Vorhees.  It takes a powerful actor to positively pull of a role that involves no real facial expression and of course, no speaking lines, and Kane Hodder shows us in this film that he has what it takes.  His mannerisms show the true brutality that Jason holds within him, and my point is proven with that fact that Mr. Hodder went on to portray Jason in the next three installments: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X.

Overall, this is a fun film to watch if you are a fan of the F13 series, but should maybe be avoided if you are not into the Jason scene.  We get some sweet kills and awesome Jason action but those looking for something “new” should maybe head elsewhere and leave this for the fans, who still might find this to only be a mediocre watch as I did.

Rating: 6/10

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