Tucker & Dale vs…. a plot.

After months of being hyped as the best movie streaming on Netflix (which is the equivalent of being dubbed the sweetest smelling turd in the toilet—or smeared on the wall, if you happen to be using a public crapper) I finally gave in and watched Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010).

The premise: A group of bratty college kids take a camping trip into Deliverance country, where they encounter bumbling bumpkins Tucker and Dale. When the kids start dying off one by one they suspect the aforementioned hillbillies as murderous masterminds and hilarity ensues.

For the most part, the flick lives up to its reputation. Alan Tudyk is brilliant as Tucker. Well, as brilliant as one can be when portraying a backwoods buffoon, but Tucker’s antics and accidents are the highlight of the film. Tyler Labine’s Dale, the redneck rendition of an idiot savant, is laughable and lovable enough from the start but loses some of his charm as the movie drudges on.

The only likable spoiled college kid is Chloe, the big-breasted blonde with the hooker shoes, and probably only for those reasons I just stated.  (Extra Credit: Chloe is played by Chelan Simmons, who’s first movie role was Laurie Ann Winterbarger, the little girl killed in the opening sequence of the 1990 TV Miniseries IT.) The lack of likability in the liberal arts majors is perfectly acceptable, since most of them end up as corpses anyway. It would spoil the side-splitting slaughterfest if we became emotionally attached to the victims.

This is mostly a refreshingly new take on the age-old tale of horny rich kids embarking on an odyssey of debauchery into the wilderness only to be gruesomely slayed. However the writers did get more than a little lazy when two different kids at different times meet their death by being impaled by tree branches. This isn’t Slingblade; repetition doesn’t work here.

I’m sure I’ve been spoiled by the golden standard set for horr-coms (comedorrors? Horredies? Shut up.) by the never-boring Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, which I realize is an unfair rubric by which to judge a movie’s worth. However, Tucker & Dale spent nearly an hour living up to the genius of the genre (whatever the fuck that genre is called), but when the fun faded it faded FAST.

Do yourself a favor and turn this movie off with ½ hour left so you can remember it for the cleverness it displays before it commits filmocide by attempting way too late to force a plot, turning the whole thing to a steaming pile of shit. Coincidence is what built the movie; diabolical deliberateness destroys it. Why add a villain to a film that thrived without one? I don’t want to spoil it for you (because the writers already did that) but there’s a damsel in distress scene that looks like it was lifted straight from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, only without the likability or comic relief.

Overall, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil was a good movie that would have been great if it had just continued the haphazard flow that made it work so flawlessly in the first place. So watch the first hour and then turn it off, while you’re still happy. The only chuckle-worthy part you’ll be missing (Hint: Beyonce would demand a ring to be put on it) isn’t worth the torture.


5 reasons Evil Dead 2 always makes me happy.

Everybody has that one movie that always makes them happy. Most people watch some silly melodrama, or a black-and-white classic to take their mind off their troubles. Not me. This is my go-to choice for viewing whenever “real” life gets me down. I just pop in my trusty copy of Evil Dead 2, and all my cares seem to disappear like Ash’s hand…

Reason #1 – You can never have a worse day than Ash does.

Seriously. This has to be the worst 24 hour period anyone has ever had. Poor Ash just wants to go out for a secluded getaway with his main squeeze, Linda. As soon as they arrive for their romantic date, they quickly find an old book in the cabin and learn that someone has been summoning demons. Linda is sucked out the window and possessed by evil, and Ash must decapitate her with a shovel and bury her in a shallow grave. This all happens within the first six minutes of the movie!

Reason # 2 – The giddy use of low-budget special effects and stop-motion animation.

There is a reason I reach for Evil Dead 2 over the original, and it is the sense of ridiculous humor present in almost every scene. Consider how they simply toss skeletal rag-dolls at our hero to fight off. Or the brilliant physical comedy Bruce Campbell displays while his hand is inexplicably possessed by demons. The blatantly unrealistic stop-motion animation used to re-animate Linda for her dance. The screeching monkey sounds as Ash fights the demon from the fruit cellar. I love it all, in it’s cheesy goodness!

 

Reason # 3 – This.

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Reason #4 – Ash, the good-natured hero.

Ash Williams, as portrayed by Bruce Campbell, has become an icon of the every-man. He is no one special, just a guy who got dealt a shitty hand on his romantic weekend. But, man, does he roll with the punches! After decapitating and burying his love in the opening minutes of the movie, he gets randomly possessed, beaten up by his own hand, and locked in the cellar with a monster. The director, Sam Raimi, confesses in the special DVD features that many of the scenes were written in just so that he could torture his good buddy Bruce.

Despite his many unexpected clashes with inexplicable evil, he keeps his enormous chin up. Ash is a hero, because he deals with this madness the best way he can, and laughs along with the uncontrolled chaos he finds himself facing.

 

Reason # 5 – The thing in the woods.

The scariest things are always the things we do not see. We learn all about this demon resurrected by the book of the Dead, and see it possessing the cast of the film, compelling them to eat hair and such. But we never actually see the thing haunting the woods. It is shot in great first-person fashion, gliding through the woods at a relentless pace, knocking over trees and obstacles to get at our hero. But it is just something out there in the woods, and we never see it eye to eye, much to the film’s credit. The best effects are ambiguous, and Sam Raimi perfected it all those years ago, with this film.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this look at one of my all-time favorite movies. Leave some comments, and let me know what you guys think.
And if you have never seen this masterpiece, do your homework!

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


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The Human Centipede Part 2 (Full Sequence)

The Human Centipede Part 2 : Full Sequence  (2011)

I’m sure all the deviant degenerates enrolled in this class have done their homework, and are most certainly aware of the Human Centipede films. Some people seem to write them off as pointless gross-outs for the lowest common denominator. Roger Ebert gave both films zero stars and blasted them for being merit-less. They definitely are nasty films, notorious just for the concept. But director Tom Six seems to be smarter than his critics give him credit for, and he definitely has made films that worked.

I assume you all have seen the original Dutch film where a German doctor kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a “human centipede”.

Well, the protagonist of Part 2, Martin, has seen it. In fact, he apparently watches it repeatedly on his lap-top while he works as a security guard in some dark parking garage. Despite the fact that Martin has no spoken dialogue, we learn he is an odd, socially maladjusted weirdo who lives with his deranged mother.

He spends the first, slow-moving half of the film watching the original and collecting victims for the experiment he would like to make, a 12-person centipede. Of course, Martin is no doctor or scientist, just a deranged madman who masturbates with sand-paper. His performance is dialogue-free, punctuated only by moans and grunts. Off-screen, however, he is placing calls to the agents of the stars of the first film, hoping to trick them into being a part of his creation. Oh yeah, and bashing in the heads of random people and dragging them to a secluded warehouse…

After a few more murders, one of the actresses from the original film is lured in to audition for Quentin Tarantino, and all the pieces of Martin’s creation are within grasp. He sets to vicious work, knocking out teeth and cutting tendons in their knees. He goes to work on them with a hammer, scissors, and a staple-gun. During the assembly process, two of the victims die so the centipede can only be made with ten people instead of twelve.

This is where the “medically innacurate” twist of the sequel figures in. The villian of the first film was a trained physician and scientist. Martin is merely a deranged troll who has seen too many movies, and cant distinguish fantasy from reality. Dr. Laser made his centipede as a scientific experiment ; Martin has made his as a toy. So, the lack of precision in Martin’s assembly work makes for a messy climactic sequence.

Without a doubt, the last half hour of this film features some of the most depraved and disgusting shit ever put on film. It works on your senses on a level rarely seen, pushes boundaries far enough for you to question yourself and why the hell you are even watching this.

But that is the thing. It does work. If you are watching a movie called Human Centipede 2, and don’t know what you are getting in to, you are the only one to blame. I will admit, it takes a lot to gross me out, but this movie goes to some stomach-churning places.

Director Tom six knows we all came for the spectacle. This guy says he can gross us out, let’s see what he’s got.
And he brings it. He has plans for a third Centipede film, to complete his trilogy, which he says will make this one look like a Disney film…

We will see. In the meantime, check out this one for the sickos. You have never seen anything like it, to be sure. Those of you with a weak stomach or easily offended, it seems obvious for you to skip this one.

Grade : B

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


Original Vs Remake : A Nightmare On Elm Street

I am sure everyone here has noticed the disturbing trend of all your favorite movies getting remade. Everyone bitches about it, but we keep going to them so they keep making them. Well, if they are going to keep making them, then I at least am going to keep complaining about them, right here on my very own website.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) is a modern classic, a new kind of slasher flick at the time. Where Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees were hulking silent stalkers, Freddy was nimble, playful and funny. Here was a new kind of maniac, with no mask to hide his horrible face, who toyed with his victims before he slaughtered them in clever ways.

He was a cackling, unstoppable maniac, even more frightening because he came to you in your dreams. And everyone knows if you die in your sleep, you die in real life. The thing that always made Freddy the scariest, to me, was the fact that nothing could hurt him. In fact, the first time you ever even see the character, he cuts off his own finger then laughs about it.

Here was a true villain, a reputed child-killer that was wrongly set upon and put to death by angry, heart-broken parents. He was a killer, yes, but he had a reason to be pissed off. Fred Krueger’s spirit was so filled with rage that he somehow came back from death and haunted the dreams of his killer’s children to exact his vengeance. The details of his misdeeds and demise are purposefully vague, but you get the sense that Freddy was wronged in life, and that he wont rest until he settles the score.

In my opinion, this is where the remake (and most modern remakes) fails. The unknown and mysterious is what is scary, in all things. Wes Craven knew this in 1984, and deliberately kept Fred’s real motives and history vague and ambiguous. All you needed to know was that this monster was out to kill these kids, and he didn’t care about his own well-being, and there was no escaping it.

As the years passed, and the sequels and spin-offs piled up, the mystery was slowly deconstructed and explained to death, so much so that it didn’t even make sense anymore. It has happened to many of history’s fictional and real monsters ; once you know too much about the devil, he ceases to be frightening. It is a case of information overload that has infiltrated all parts of our society, the overwhelming desire to know WHY someone does what they do.

Which brings me to Nightmare On Elm Street (2010).

While I didn’t completely hate it, I did have many problems with this remake. The main problem is the one I mentioned before. The new script was written with the obvious intent to make the main character Fred Krueger more relatable and understandable. This is where the film gets it all wrong.

They remove all the mystery from the character, and he is no longer scary. The original 1984 film was about Nancy, and her struggle to adapt and survive against a new kind of monster. The new version focuses on Fred and his re-written origin story, trying to force us to like him because he was wrongfully-accused of his crimes. The original character’s crimes were always more ambiguous, which made his inexplicable popularity with children even more frightening.

To me, this is another clear example of the way the powers that be are softening things up for us consumers. Freddy Krueger is no longer the deranged boogeyman with a sense of wicked humor ; he is now a misunderstood monster, a persecuted man who is doing the best he can…

The next big mistake is in the casting. Obviously re-casting and re-designing a classic character took some balls, and like it or not, Robert Englund was forced to hang up his razor-glove. Jackie Earl-Haley, who was so good as Rorschach in Watchmen, takes over the role for the remake. He tries to make the character his own, adding new flourishes like rubbing the blades of his glove together as he approaches his victims, but as a whole the new Freddy is a failure. The new make-up job is meant to look like the more realistic scars of a burn victim, but who the hell wants realism in their slasher movie?

Which brings me to my next point : the only reason one could possibly have to remake an already effective, classic movie should be to improve on it. The great advancements made in special effects technology since 1984 should prove to enhance this new version, right? Surely the film-makers would take great advantage of this and blow us away with some outstanding nightmare-sequences, right? Not so. The dream scenes are weak and boring, the CGI really detracts from the whole film. For example, they try and replicate the great scene where Freddy pushes himself through the wall over Nancy’s bed while she sleeps…

In the original film, this effect was accomplished simply, with the actor pushing against cloth, to create this creepy effect. In the new version, this scene is done with jarringly obvious digital effects, that probably cost twice as much to be half as effective.

The 2010 version fails in almost every way, in my opinion, and pales in comparison to the creativity displayed in the original film. Watching it made me feel strange, like I had remembered my life wrong. Like someone had somehow taken my childhood memories and scrambled them all up to make something similar, but somehow just wrong.
This is why I prefer to stick with the originals….
Until next time, kiddies. Keep it real.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) Grade : A

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) Grade : D

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


The Woman

The Woman (2011) is Lucky McKee’s notorious new film. If you are not familiar with his work, do not start here. Skip to the bottom of this article immediately and order yourself a copy of May, his first film, then come back to this one later.

The big news about this film was that it was barely distributed in theaters, due to its controversial nature. In fact, the director himself gives this warning on the film’s official site: “The Woman is an exploration of the very definition of horror. It is designed to incite feelings of fear, shock, nervousness, dismay, anxiety and disgust. On a surface level, the film will make you jump, it will make you squirm, and for the more sensitive, it might even induce nausea.”

So, of course, all of us horror fanatics have been drooling in anticipation of this one.

The film’s premiere at Sundance made a huge splash, with an irate viewer standing up during the Q & A with the cast and crew and berating them all as sick people. He went on to question what “value” this film has for anyone, before being escorted from the theater. His anger at the “sick” and “demeaning” treatment of the fictional characters on display here (and the subsequent youtube video of him acting like an ass) only fueled interest in the film, and made it more notorious.

Finally, it has made it to a DVD release, and we get to see it at last.

It begins with the camera following the titular “Woman” as she hunts and gathers for herself in the woods. She is clearly not to be messed with, although “feral” may be the wrong word. The viewer can see her makeshift coverings are culled from old tents and shreds of forgotten cloth; a tattered blood-encrusted flannel from some unfortunate soul is wrapped around her midsection. She is clearly independent, not like Beyonce, but independent from all of the trappings of society.

Soon, we meet the Cleeks, the unassuming “average” family that has recently purchased and moved into the property where the woman has made her home. You can really tell that great effort was made for this to be a “character-driven” horror film. The Cleek family appears completely normal, but as you get to know them, specifically the alpha-male head of the household, you really begin to question things. As Angela Bettis, who plays the wife, said of the film in the DVD special features, “It really makes you wonder about what your neighbors are doing.”

When Chris Cleek spies the feral woman out minding her own business, washing and gathering, and of course, stalks and traps her, and chains her up in his wine cellar. Suddenly this man has made it his charge to “civilize” this woman, and she reacts aggressively. This character is completely disturbed with a self-righteous god-complex and violent temper, who rules his family with an iron fist. As Sean Bridgers, the actor who portrays Chris Cleek said, “This is a guy that actually believes the fallacy that we can control things, which I don’t believe is true. We can manage things, but life is chaos.”

Obviously, his master plan is bound to go wrong, and things spin wildly out of control, with quite a few shocks and surprising twists in the plot. The unpredictability of the violent nature of this domineering do-gooder provides great tension. You never know when he might lash out next, and at whom. I don’t want to go into too many details, but the film is very dark and ends on an ambiguous, hopeful note, and I really enjoyed it.

Highly recommended to all you horror geeks out there! Watch this shit, then make your way over to the chalkboard so we can discuss it! See you there.
Grade : A-

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits

 

 


Trollhunter

Ah, Trollhunter! My favorite film of 2011.

Set in the gorgeous mountain terrain of Norway, where the legends of trolls and giants originated, the director André Øvredal created a truly original and scary film using some tried and true tools. Where the hand-held “cinema verite” technique is a trend I am getting tired of seeing in new horror films, it is used to great effect here. For once, the characters operating the camera are likeable and natural, and don’t instantly grate on your nerves.

The set-up is that this group of do-gooder college kids are following around a suspected bear-poacher, filming him for some kind of expose of the Wildlife Board. They snoop around in the dark, following his battered RV to and from his campground in the middle of the night. He is a standoffish and mysterious character, until one night when he comes screaming out of the dark woods, exclaiming, “Troll!”

After this, there is of course much panic and running, one of the students is mauled by something in the dark, and they return to find their car destroyed and covered in troll-slime.  It turns out that Hans, the alleged bear-poacher is really a Troll-hunter working for the Norwegian government.   In a series of interviews Hans reveals that he actually works for the Troll Security Service (TSS), which hired him to help keep trolls a secret and to kill any that leave their territory and come near populated areas. He explains that there are a number of varieties of troll, and that the one he killed the previous night was a Tosserlad and therefore could not be the same one that Hans has been seeking, a Ringlefinch. The trolls are acting aggressively and have begun to leave their territories more often than usual, and Hans must get a blood sample from the Ringlefinch to try and help determine why.

The students team up with Hans, who asks if any of them believe in God or Jesus, as the trolls can detect the smell of Christian blood. This made an interesting conundrum for the film’s main characters, as one of them apparently lied about his choice of faith, and put the lives of his friends at risk. Hans brews up a hearty batch of “troll stench” for his interns to slather on themselves as to go about undetected.

The students accompany Hans on another hunt and, using live goats on a bridge and the blood of a Christian man as bait, Hans successfully attains a blood sample from the Ringlefinch troll. He then turns it to stone with giant ultraviolet lights, and they all watch it explode. In a creative twist, our heroes  learn that the trolls’ adverse reaction to sunlight is due to their inability to convert vitamin D intocalcium, which causes their bodies to overreact and explode.

Hans reveals  that some years ago he was forced to massacre an entire troll population in a certain mountainous area, and does not like to go there. The group sets off with a new Muslim camera-woman and begins finding signs of aJotnar, a giant mountain troll, 200 feet tall. Hans takes them deep inside troll territory, and a phone call from the veterinarian reveals that the blood from the Ringlefinch came back positive for rabies. It is likely that a rabies epidemic among the trolls is causing the unusual and aggressive behaviour and must be stopped.

The film ends with a real news clip of the Norwegian Prime minister inadvertently admitting to the existence of trolls, though the press fails to take notice. After the end credit sequence three mountain king trolls are seen for a split second advancing towards the camera from their lair…

This was a great, entertaining film, class. It is incredibly well-done and convincing, one of the best of the year. Highly recommended.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

 


Clive Barker’s Visions of Heaven and Hell

I have been a fan of Clive Barker for many years.

I started reading Stephen King books in my pre-teen years, and after tearing through virtually all of them in a years time (give or take), I moved on to anything else weird I could get my hands on.

If there was one guy I felt I could trust (at that time in my life and his career) it was Stephen King himself. So, when I started seeing these books pop up by this crazy British author Clive Barker with King exclaiming, “Clive Barker is the future of horror!” I took notice.

I started reading them all. The Hellbound Heart was the novella the movie Hellraiser was based on. Fans like me have been waiting years now for the impending release of The Scarlet Gospels, featuring the characters and universe that first appeared in The Hellbound Heart centering on the character of Pinhead and Harry D’Amour, from The Last Illusion, The Great and Secret Show, and Everville.

Cabal was a great short novel and was the basis for the awesome movie Nightbreed. This movie was a teenage favorite of mine, and I still proudly retain my VHS copy, which is probably older than some of you students.

I devoured the notorious Books of Blood, and his other collections, The Inhuman Condition and In The Flesh. In the earliest days of his career, Clive Barker quickly became a master of short, mean, often sexually-charged horror stories. The Books Of Blood were instantly regarded as classics, and re-published again and again in various interesting editions.

Then, he moved on to the great epic adventures of Imajica and Everville. These were complex, long books with many interweaving plot-lines and interesting characters. Set in universes filled with magic and evil, these books, along with The Great and Secret Show were an awesome escape for me during my high school years.

I even went along for the sweeping historical homo-erotic romances he wrote in the late 90’s, like Galilee and Sacrament.

Clive consistently followed his own paths, even as he became less and less commercially successful. At the same time he became more and more creatively interesting, trying new venues of artistic experimentation like video games ;

comic books ;

and action figures :

Especially notable are his paintings. He is as prolific a painter and artist as he is as an author. His work is shown consistently at galleries around the world and proudly displayed on his website linked here!

He released his amazing artwork collection, “Visions of Heaven and Hell” in 2003, and gave his fans amazing insight into his mind and creative processes.

The young readers’ fantasy series Clive has worked on for the last decade, Abarat, is continuing with the amazing freshly-released third book in the series, Absolute Midnight. He paints portraits of all the characters and landscapes concurrent with the writing of the story. This world he has created, where each island is a different hour of the day, is very much reality for him. It is a great series and a wonderful alternative to all the mainstream Harry Potter knock-offs flooding the young readers’ market now.

abarat-ii

If you still don’t believe me, check out this awesome trailer for the 3rd book in the series. It looks truly terrifying, and demands to be read!

What a shame that as I wandered through the local chain book-store the other day, I couldn’t find a single title by the prolific author. He is truly a one-of-a-kind artist, and deserves much more attention than he has received lately.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the internet, where we can easily find all of these treasures that were once so hard to locate.

Do your homework, children. Thank me later.

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


Stake Land: a film about Vampires, Humans and the New Age

By Merkin Muffley—HorrorHomework Instructor
Vampire films seem more immortal now than ever before. The genre can’t be killed, even with bad films such as Twilight and Dracula 3000 having seen the light of day over the last decade or so.

Luckily, there are some flicks that have come out in recent years which make it easier for film freaks to separate the wheat from the chaff.

One such film is 2010’s Stake Land, directed by sophomore filmmaker Jim Mickle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLiZSQ3kUnM

The premise

Basically the film revolves around Martin (played by Connor Paolo, “Alexander”) an American teenager who is saved by the mysterious veteran vampire hunter Mister (played by film co-writer Nick Damici, “World Trade Center”), in a vampire assault which claims the lives of his whole family before his eyes.

After the attack, we find that a mass vampire epidemic has nearly destroyed North America. Martin and Mister make their ways north to Canada, to a place known as “New Eden”, where vampiric activity is nearly non-existent due to the frigid climate.

In this world, where life is rare yet disposable, our antagonists fight their way to an uncertain sanctuary in the north. Along the way, they collect comrades who share their need to survive.

Why you should watch it

Stake Land is a great movie for many reasons. First of all, it’s free of that teeny bopper vampire pageantry we have all grown to loathe. It was even produced on a relatively small budget of just $4 million, according to imdb.

Just gimme a small shot of vampire to go with my glass of estrogen.

Stake Land is a coming-of-age film set in a post-apocalyptic world where survival is the fabric of society.

There are no sexy and stylish vampires to woo the characters and audience. The film’s ever-present nocturnal blood suckers resemble zombies more than vampires. The premise doesn’t get too technical on these grounds—a breath of fresh air when compared to other vampire flicks.

They really Nailed what a vamp should look like in this one.

To compare, this film resembles a few acclaimed stories; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Mad Max, directed by George Miller.

What themes do these stories have in common with one another, class? And how are they different? What do such stories accomplish when considering the human condition?

As we follow the two characters on their adventure, Mister trains Martin in the arts of killing vampires and staying alive. The two encounter all manner of people who have survived along their way, in small towns in a barren and cold landscape.

Despite the dimly lit setting and the dun-colored patrons therein, the story is rich with religious and economic undertones.

At one point, we find that many survivors have taken to religion as their cornerstone for existence, meaning that all non-believers are just as killable as vampires. The towns which Martin and Mister make their way through come equipped with trade, entertainment, prostitutes, assholes and booze—all the facets of a functional society! It’s like a Western, on those grounds.

What this story does is comment on the human condition in a very unique way.

As Martin learns to assimilate into this new way of life, he grows and matures. The survival skills he learns open the door to an old but very important concept in human history: filial piety—reverence for those who can teach.

This film was not made with the “blockbuster” philosophy of film production, thankfully. It has something to say and show the audience. It doesn’t have to prove anything. It’s just bad ass.
For extra credit, what does the class think of this film?


Behind The Mask : The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

416904_258453500904910_1119559100_nBehind The Mask : The Rise Of Leslie Vernon 

There are no original ideas left, cynical people often say.

However, there are original ways to create new things from the old ones. This film, despite the clunky forgettable title, is a perfect example. This film was made for us, the horror movie geeks!

The “world” of this movie exists in an alternate reality, where the movie slashers we grew up with in the 80’s actually existed, and the characters in this film reference that consistently and casually. Half of the joy of this film is in spotting the reference to the old school of slasher horror. It starts with a great opening scene of our reporter and heroine Taylor talking up the exploits of Leslie Vernon, a new generation slasher, against shots of Haddonfield, Elm Street, and Crystal Lake. Kane Hodder, who originally played behind the Jason mask, is pictured as living in the famous Elm Street house in a knowing nod to all of us horror fans.

les1The classic references don’t stop there. Leslie’s real last name, Mancuso, is a reference to the producer of most of the Friday the 13th films, Frank Mancuso, Jr. In the scene where Leslie is suiting up, a song from the soundtrack of The Shining can be heard and blocks in the background spell out the word “redrum”. Eugene’s wife, Jamie, is named in homage to Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the final girl role in the originator, Halloween. The three young girls skipping rope outside of the high school are dressed the same as the girls from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Leslie has a bottle of “Stay Awake” on his mantle, the same medicine featured in ANOES. When Eugene and Jamie are giving Leslie his doggie bag, the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser can be seen next to a lamp. Also, Leslie’s pet turtles, Church and Zowie, are an allusion to two of the pets in the Pet Sematary films.


The references to these classic films may seem like they would be intrusive, but, I haven’t yet mentioned how ingenious and convincing the entire film is. You are completely immersed in this bizarre alternate universe, where all of those guys who you used to tell yourself were “just a movie” when you were a kid really exist, and there is a new generation out there, building on the foundations built by Fred, Mike, and Jay. The first half uses the now-tired “documentary” style to great effect, since the brazen young serial killer, Leslie Vernon, has agreed to let Taylor and her crew film his life and give them unheard-of access to the preparation and work it takes to stage a mass murder that would stand up against the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The second half switches out of Steadicam mode, and turns the classic slasher flicks on their head. The creepy short lady with the creepy voice from Poltergeist is the first victim chosen to be Leslie’s “red herring” and spook his intended final girl. That is when Robert Englund (Freddy himself) shows up as Doc Halloran (a reference to Scatman Cruthers character in The Shining)  to put a stop to this senseless killing, much like the classic Dr. Loomis character from the original Halloween. They refer to him as an “Ahab”, and Leslie is excited to have a nemesis on his tail.

All in all, this is a smart low-budget flick with the street cred and heart to make it all work. The story twists and turns at a quick pace, and sometimes things escalate to pure horror before you know it, punctuated with knowing laughter.

In one of the deleted scenes, Leslie is asked what he has been doing, and he mentions having “spent some time in Texas, helping a friend kind of reinvent his thing,” which is an obvious allusion to Leatherface in the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Highly recommended to all horror geeks.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


Red

Red (2008)

Jack Ketchum is one of my favorite authors ; Lucky McKee is one of my favorite modern directors. Brian Cox is a character actor I am always happy to see when he shows up. Red, the novel, is one of my favorite books. Stir all of those ingredients together, and sprinkle in a pinch of Robert Englund, Tom Sizemore, and Amanda Plummer and you have cooked up a stew that I would be happy to dip my Biscuits in…

Red is one of the best films of the last ten years, in my opinion. Even though McKee was inexplicably fired and replaced after shooting much of the film, his expert fingerprints are all over it. This is a near-perfect film, and should be taught in any film class about how to translate book-to-movie.

The always excellent and ubiquitous Brian Cox plays old man Avery Ludlow, a peaceable fellow in small-town Maine, who runs his own general store and enjoys spending time with his old dog Red, fishing down by the lake. The story is simple enough : some young hoodlums show up to disturb Av’s relaxing afternoon, harassing and bullying him with a shotgun and tough teen talk. One of the kids is ripe with an extra-mean streak, and ruthlessly shoots the old man’s faithful companion, then they stroll off, laughing about their blatantly destructive behavior.

The plot moves along briskly, as all of the characters react to things in a natural and reasonable (to their respective life situations) fashion, and tension escalates quickly. Av searches out the kids and their parents, hoping only to see the boys punished and made to feel “damn sorry” for what they have so callously done.

The greedy, rich father (expertly played by the real-life maniac Tom Sizemore) backs up his kids, even though it is clear that they are tripping over their own lies. Unfortunately for them, Av is not the kind of man to back down from doing what he believes to be the right thing. He enlists the help of the local towns-folk, who have known him for years, an old lawyer friend of his, even a local news-reporter with a conscience.

The film goes to dark places, to be sure, but the characters never seem contrived or manipulated. Even when things are at their craziest, the viewer can still see the logic (albeit twisted at times) that each character is using to try to ensure their own survival.

In the end, it is a story of one man making a bold stand for the things he believes to be right, and fighting for it, at the cost of his own life if necessary. Great storytelling all around, and a thoroughly engaging and beautiful piece of film-making. I give it my highest recommendation.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

PS : Here are the links to buy the movie and/or the book from Amazon.com. If you are going to purchase the DVD or the book based on this recommendation, please do so from this link. Thanks, and enjoy!

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