Apr 30, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS: SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE 2

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Directed by the esteemed Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, The Devil Wears Nada), Sorority House Massacre 2 is filled with all the breasts, blood, and big hair that the late 80s had to offer.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of raunchy teen girls settle into an old, abandoned house, despite the murderous events that took place there in the past. One by one, the girls begin to die off in painful ways. In between, there is a lot of giggling, drinking, and random undressing.

Wynorski at this point already knew what kind of movie he was making. Though this was Sorority House Massacre 2, it was, in essence, Slumber Party Massacre 5. The tropes for these films were already so set in stone that while Wynorski may have placed an obvious joke here and there, for the most part he played it very straight. It was a wise choice that adds to the movie’s charm. “We know this is bad, but we’re pretending it’s not,” etc. Additionally, while its title clearly indicates it is a direct sequel to the ho-hum Sorority House Massacre, it’s more of a ret-conned sequel to The Slumber Party Massacre. You see, footage from the last act of Slumber Party is shown, but all of its characters are redefined not as high school friends and their random basketball coach, but rather two teen sisters and their mother—all of whom are inexplicably murdered by their father/husband, Clive Hockstatter (the first movie’s driller killer). 

I’ve seen footage from a previous film used in its sequel to fill in the gaps. 

I’ve even seen a plethora of this footage used to pad out its sequel’s running time. 

But I can honestly say I’ve never seen footage from a movie that was entirely retconned by onscreen narration. This is like making a sequel to Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, but showing footage from Batman, as someone off screen says, “And then Ferris punched the Joker off a building, and the Joker’s laughing bag laughed at Pat Hingle.”

It doesn’t matter, really. Let’s just move on and meet our girls.

Linda: She’s British and kind of a scaredy-cat, and is the closest thing we have to a final girl.

Jessica: She wears skimpy outfits, but really shouldn’t, as every inch of her could be described as plentiful. Extra skin leaks out from between her midriff top and high jean shorts. She has a boyfriend who looks like her father.

Janey: She’s hot in that Betty Page sort of way and I’m pretty sure she’s the one who causes all this trouble in the first place with that stupid Ouija Board.

Suzie: She has big hair and even bigger panties, but in general she is quite short. Watch as our characters talk down to her throughout the movie…literally!

Kimmy: Whichever girl is the last one I haven’t mentioned yet. She’s mousy and kind of forgettable. She looks like Suzie, but is taller. She may or may not exist.

"Hey boys...got any donuts for me in that van?"

The girls meet outside the house they have bought—it’s to be the new headquarters of whatever sorority they’re in.

“When are the movers coming?” someone asks.

“6 a.m. in the morning,” Jessica answers, repeating and reiterating herself.

While unpacking, they meet Orville Ketchum, their new next-door neighbor. He is the most unsightly man anyone has ever seen, and the movie goes far out of its way to make you think he is the killer. At this point, I honestly can’t say if it was purposely over the top or accidentally so, but it doesn’t matter, because either way is fine with me.

He goes on to explain that he’s been keeping an eye on the place for all the time it’s been abandoned—sort of a glorified landlord.

“So all you girls are going to be living here? Guess you’ll be needing this,” he says and reaches directly inside his pants and fumbles around his cock area. As much as I don’t want to encourage the movie, I laugh anyway.

Instead of his fat man cock, he removes a key. “For the basement,” he says, grinning.

"I'll answer it; it's probably just the pizza gu--OH MY GOD."

The minute he leaves the girls begin to undress, one at a time, and we see pretty much every pair of potential breasts—even the main girl. (Thanks Jim.) Once the clothes come off and the nighties go on, the Ouija Board makes its appearance.

“Put your fingers on the divider,” someone orders.

“No one puts their finger in MY divider,” someone says back, which is weird, because all of these girls are clearly whores.

Suddenly the Ouija Board flies across the room!

CUE BAD LIGHTNING STOCK FOOTAGE!

The girls are suitably creeped by this until someone suggests that it was static electricity. I guess they believe it, because one of the girls begins to give another a massage. (Thanks Jim.) It doesn’t last, however, as they begin to fight over a boy. The girls separate as really bad music you’d hear in a Halloween store – the one with the robotic voices impossibly changing octaves – fills the screen with trademarked terror.

Janey grabs a bottle of tequila, sucks on the spout, and is then killed by a sloth hook. And in the lower right hand corner of the screen, check out the obvious hand that squeezes a bottle of fake blood all over the wall. (Thanks Jim.)

CUE BAD LIGHTNING STOCK FOOTAGE!

The girls split up to try to find Janey within the apparent labyrinth of their new home.

Susie goes up to the attic and steps into a bear trap (?) before being sloth-hooked.

Oh no, what will happen next?

Tits, that’s what. I guess we’ve spent too much time without some tits, so we cut immediately to a strip club to take a gander at a few. Look, there’s some. Oh, there’s some more. (Thanks Jim.)

Our two cops I forgot to introduce – Lt. Block and Sgt. Shawlee – sit at a booth and literally clap after one of the dancers finishes her act, which I'm pretty sure is not usual strip club decorum. (Also, Sgt. Shawlee is a she.) As the next stripper begins her act, Lt. Block looks pleased to be exactly where he’s at.

A stripper comes over to their table and sits down. She is Candace Hockstatter, one of the sisters who survived her father’s random and denim-jacketed massacre. She tells the police that their old neighbor, Orville Ketchum, always gave the family the creeps, and she believed he had something to do with the original murders.

No time for any more exposition, though, because we’re back at the sorority house as more girls get murdered. As someone gets a metal point shoved into her person, Linda screams for way too long, most likely waiting for the prop guy to shoot a load of fake blood into her mouth.

CUE BAD LIGHTNING STOCK FOOTAGE!

“Oh my god, our clothes!” screams one of the girls. “They’re still upstairs!”

Deciding that living > clothes, the girls fling open the door and run outside just long enough to get nice and wet, making all of their clothes see-through. (Thanks Jim.) Then they see Orville Ketchum standing outside in the street, so they run back inside.

“I knew he wasn’t firing on all his cylinders!” someone shouts, not quite getting the expression right.

Susie was overjoyed to be making a film where
it was a hook touching her nose instead of testicles.

The girls run up the stairs to the attic and the camera makes it a point to linger on each of their asses as they do so. (Thanks Jim.)

Ketchum bursts into the attic and Linda stabs him for being fat, hideous, and probably the killer. She flees into the bathroom and sees one of the girls dead in the blood-filled tub. Then Orville Ketchum bursts into THAT room and she slams his head into the toilet because he is probably still the killer.

Eventually Linda finds herself in the basement with Jessica, who it turns out IS the killer because she had gotten possessed by the spirit of Clive Hockstatter while the girls fucked around with that darn Ouija Board.

Linda screams and runs from the room, her breasts swaying hypnotically through her thin t-shirt.

“Too bad I’m not in a man’s body!” Jessica says. “We could have some fun!”

Linda looks terrified as I grin.

Hey, know who’s still alive?

Orville Ketchum.

Though he has knives sticking out of his body, he lunges into the room and fights Jessica, but he gets stabbed AGAIN and thrown to the opposite wall. Linda takes this time to stab Jessica in her thick body, thus ending the terror.

The cops rush in just in time to be useless, as one of them asks, “Wasn’t this the old Hockstatter place?”

Linda looks all googley-eyed and creepy, since I guess she’s possessed now, and then Orville Ketchum wakes up from death and steals a gun to blow her to smithereens. Then the cops unload all their bullets into the fat hero, who STILL survives.

The end.

This was a fun movie. My favorite part was all the shameless nudity and killing.

Apr 28, 2012

REVIEW: THE FIELDS



In 1969, America was glued to their televisions as news of Charles Manson and his murderous family hit the airwaves: Manson’s maniacal followers had slaughtered the very pregnant Sharon Tate (actress and wife of famed director Roman Polanski) amongst others in her own home. Following this crime, never was the generational gap between flower children and baby boomers more insurmountable. Americans just didn’t know what to do with this. How could this happen? In America? This kind of thing simply didn’t happen here

And ever since then, Charles Manson has been a pop-culture phenomenon. Idolized by shock rockers Rob Zombie and the name-stealing Marilyn Manson, the man’s face can be found on t-shirts, posters, bongs, and other paraphernalia sported by awesome, mall-dwelling teens. Even Manson’s music (Charles, not Marilyn) received a very underground release. (He was a musician, did you know that? And a shitty one, at that.) 

More than forty years later we have The Fields, a very unique and brooding film from directors Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni. A combination of Zodiac, The Strangers, and steeped in America’s shock and mourning over the Sharon Tate murders, The Fields is very much a different beast from your usual serial killer movie fare. Because this is not a serial killer movie. Yes, Charles Manson and his family play a large part in the events of this film, but this isn’t a blood-and-guts affair. It’s very much an examination of small-town life in 1973, and the effect that news of Manson’s possibly imminent parole has on its citizens. 


Steven, a young, curly-haired kid, is shipped off to the isolated farm owned by his grandparents (Tom McCarthy and Cloris Leachman) after a very ugly domestic dispute goes down between his parents (Faust Checho and Tara Reid). The parents need to sort out their issues, and both agree Steven should not be around to witness it. The Fields is told through his eyes, and his fear of Charles Manson being released from prison begins to take hold of him. Very strange and suspicious characters are scattered throughout the film, including Eugene, a farm hand with not too much going on upstairs. His first appearance is very unsettling, and with Manson-like floating arms and lilting voice, your immediate first thought is that young Steven’s fears have come true – that Manson has been paroled after all, and has come for him. 

But this isn’t that kind of movie. It’s much smarter than that. It’s very much about the duplication of evil in our world. It suggests that evil is cyclical, and that it’s born at home, in basements right beneath our feet. It is Steven’s fear of Charles Manson that drives the film, and because he is your narrator, you immediately question the things he is seeing – like the demented carnival he discovers after crossing through his grandparents’ cornfield, or the body of the young girl in this same field so very close to their front door… 


Cloris Leachman plays an absolutely wonderful part, embracing her role as Gladys and infusing it with equal parts Bad Santa and Barbara Bush. She brings a lot of heart to the film, and people less familiar with her dramatic side (I’m one of them) will find themselves very surprised. While tabloid/human mess Tara Reid delivers a typical Tara Reid performance, her screen time is limited, so her so-so performance is lost in a sea of great ones and does not up-end the film (though her awful wig threatens to). 

The film was produced by Tommy Lee Wallace, known to most horror fans as the director of Stephen King's IT miniseries, as well as having worked side-by-side with John Carpenter on some of his earlier films, most notably Halloween and The Fog.

As for the events of the film experienced through Steven’s eyes, you might find yourself asking: What’s real? What’s not? Unlike other films of its ilk, The Fields does answer those questions. And because of this, the audience might find their reaction to the film divided. Some like to have things spelled out for them (even if they don’t like the chosen path) while others like to use their own imaginations to determine what they have just witnessed. This may be The Fields’ only shortcoming, depending on what camp in which you tend to find yourself. Then again, this isn’t so much a shortcoming on behalf of the film as it is of the audience and their inability to allow themselves to go where the movie takes them. It’s certainly not for everyone; it has an established pace and it takes its time telling you just enough to wonder what the hell you’re being told in the first place. Despite this, it’s never a frustrating view, and for me was a pleasant surprise. 


Fans looking for something grislier should look elsewhere, but those looking for a meditative slow burn should seriously consider a trip to The Fields.


Apr 20, 2012

LEVITY

UNMASKED: KANE HODDER



Kane Hodder was the first actor whose career you could say I "followed," this being when I was very young and after I had gotten into the Friday the 13th series. Hodder, who played Jason in Parts 7-X, immediately became my favorite incarnation of the character. For whatever reason, his name became embedded in my brain. I began to keep an eye out for him like someone else would keep an eye out for movies starring George Clooney or Al Pacino. This continued for years, recognizing him in his brief roles in Daredevil and Monster and becoming almost giddy, wanting to poke someone next to me and ask, "Do you know who that is??" Because of my young age, and because I had barely scratched the surface of everything the entertainment world had to offer, Kane Hodder at that time had become my favorite actor. And I don't intend on demeaning him by implying I just didn't know any better or have more knowledge of film. Rather, it's that I was young enough to avoid all the baggage that I would later affiliate with the Friday the 13th series (the critical thrashings; the cynicism of the producers who saw the films only as cash cows; the studio who was embarrassed of the series and its success; that "normal" people looked upon the series as a joke) and just enjoy the films on their own merits...and because whoever this guy was that was playing Jason Voorhees scared the shit out of me. That was enough to get me to pay attention to his career.

In less-informed communities, horror movie actors develop a reputation as being sick, depraved, or completely out of their minds, due in no small part to the roles they play or the films in which they take part. And the exact opposite of this has been stated so much that it's almost become a cliche that the people who work in the horror genre are among some of the nicest and most down-to-earth people you could ever meet. They have problems, fears, and weaknesses just like everyone else. It could be easy (and maybe simple-minded) to think that the guy who has murdered legions of teenagers in his four performances as Jason Voorhees has no fear or weakness. How wrong you would be to think that.

In Unmasked: The True Story of the World's Most Prolific Cinematic Killer, Hodder lays it all out on the table. He gets into the deepest, most painful experiences of both his life and his career. And you get the mask, the machete, the whole damn thing. The book is very much conversational in tone, thus making it an easy read, but don't take that to mean there isn't an awful lot of content. Unmasked begins with his childhood, ends at Hatchet 2, and includes everything in between. He talks about the burn that ravaged much of his body. He talks about the disappointment of being denied his role in the long-gestating Freddy vs. Jason (which featured a very Frankenstein-like performance from new Jason Ken Kirzinger). He talks about the severe beating he suffered as a child at the hands of a bully, something that remains with him to this day, and how it shaped him into the person he is. He talks about his family, friends, career, Jason Voorhees, and Victor Crowleyhe leaves no stone unturned.

It's easy to "get to know" a celebrity by seeing the projects in which they star, reading about them in interviews, and observing them in on-set situations on DVD supplements. And if you're really intrigued by any specific person, there are multitudes of ways to find out even more. Sitting down to read Unmasked, I was curious as to how my view of him would change, if it even would. I'm happy to say that while the book delivered largely what I suspected I already knew about Kane Hodder, the other layers to his personal life didn't so much change my view of him as they did enhance it.

Kane Hodder, the man who has strangled you (and me) at horror conventions, is a human being. "No shit," you say. But no, I mean it. He's a living, breathing, fucking human being. He has his likes and dislikes, his moments of darkness and light, and very real fears and life-changing traumas. This becomes painfully evident when he relives the day of his horrendous burn incident, which occurred early into his career as a stunt man. In Unmasked, he explains that he had lied for years about how that incident came about, blaming it on an on-set incident while shooting a television pilot he had completely made up. In Unmasked, he confesses to his years of lying about the incident and for the first time ever lays down the real story behind what happened. Out of respect, I won't reveal the "real" story here, but I do want to share with you one specific and powerful part from Kane's painful recollection of the incident (which makes up a large bulk of the book's second act):
Though it was less than a second, it was like a giant steaming hot, wet blanket was wrapping around my entire body, pinching and pulling at my skin. The haze from the heat blurred my eyes and forced me to shut them tightly and bring a hand over my face—instinct I guess. The same reason I didn’t do the one thing you are told to do when you are on fire. Stop, drop, and roll is a good theory, and great for kids to know. But I’m sorry; your first and only instinct when you are suddenly on fire around your head is to run. Of course it’s not the correct thing to do, but it’s a reflex. Not a decision. If your body is the only thing on fire, you can have the presence of mind to stop, drop, and roll. When your head and face are on fire, everything is different. You hear your face burning. You hear your hair singeing. You are breathing in the flames. There are no words to describe how terrifying it is.
Kane's play-by-play of his burn is deeply disturbing, unsettling, and graphic. Seeing people catch fire in movies, no matter how graphic it may seem, cannot hold a candle (that's not a pun, believe me) to reading about it in explicit detail. He pulls no punches when he relays the incident, as well as his nightmarish four-month stay in what must have been the most incompetent hospital since the days of Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard. The incident left Kane with some psychological issues, which he again reveals in Unmasked for the first time. All the credit in the world goes to him, as the details he shares about his personal life will definitely give readers pause. What he admits to in this section are things most people would rather bring to their grave than ever utter aloud.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Those reading Unmasked to find out about his Jason-oriented career will not be disappointed. Myself a Friday aficionado, I thought I'd learned everything there was to know from Peter Bracke's Crystal Lake Memories, the His Name is Jason documentary, the deluxe editions of the Friday the 13th DVDs, and Fangoria Magazine. Unmasked will provide you with even more information and anecdotes you have never heard, and pictures you have never seen.


He shares a lot of stories from his non-Friday career, from on-set mishaps to celebrities he enjoyed working with, to ones he did NOT enjoy working with. Additionally, he pulls no punches in presenting himself as an over-masculine "guy." He likes to drink, curse, fight, and piss in your dressing room. But none of this ever comes across as forced. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting him in person, and feeling his strong hands gripping your throat, you know he's the real deal bad-ass he presents himself as in his book. Lastly, he's pretty damn funny.

One anecdote in particular made me laugh, which occurred a year or so after his burn incident:
...later that night, someone asked me about how they replaced my nipples after I got burned. I didn’t know what they were talking about so I asked them to repeat the question. They said that this guy, who will remain nameless, told them how they had to reconstruct my nipples with skin from my anus. I was shocked and pissed. Where did this guy get off making up these fucking stories about me? Especially crazy ones like that. Everyone at that party thought I had ass nipples!
The book also includes "intermissions," each which detail particular fights Kane found himself in throughout his life. Some he won, some he lost; some were amusing, some were most definitely not. It's an odd choice to include these stories in Unmasked, but I can only imagine it's because he's been asked about them repeatedly over the years.

The book is co-written by Michael Aloisi, who does an admirable job of putting down Kane's words into a chronological and coherent narrative. The year-long project was obviously one driven by passion, and that is reflected in the pages. Not one sentence of Unmasked is ever superfluous or boring. Any personprior fan of Hodder or notwill find something to like, and most assuredly find Kane's battles especially inspiring.

Lastly, Unmasked has a marvelous forward by Adam Green, director of the retro-slasher Hatchet, in which Hodder plays the killer Victor Crowley. It's a great opening to an even greater book, and while the two men are technically colleagues, what comes across more is that they are friendsand that Green grew up idolizing Kane much in the same way we all did.  

I learned an awful lot about Kane Hodder from reading Unmasked. I've learned that he is passionate, talented, kind of a dick (which he freely admits), incredibly fearless in particular aspects, and as broken and damaged by life as many of us are. But once you read the last page, you'll also feel inspired to go out there and achieve what you always feared was unachievable. Because it's not.
...one day I heard that [Friday the 13th] Part 8 was going to go into production and that they were going to cast a new Jason. Pissed could not explain how angry I was. I had become Jason, he was a part of me, and I wanted to do it again. That night I went home and called Barbara Sachs who had been a producer on Part 7 and worked at Paramount. As calmly as I could, I straight out told her that I wanted to play Jason in Part 8...she responded with a surprised tone. "Really? I had no clue you would want to play him again..." We set up a meeting for me to come in and get the particulars. During that meeting, I was hired to play Jason once again...

There was a major lesson I learned from that phone call. If you want something in life, go after it, go get it, and don’t wait for it to come to you. If I hadn’t made that call, I would not have gotten to play Jason again, and my entire life would have been different. Ever since then, I made sure to not sit around and wait, hoping I would get called back—I went out and made my future.

Apr 17, 2012

Apr 15, 2012

UNSUNG HORRORS: STIR OF ECHOES

Every once in a while, a genuinely great horror movie—one that would rightfully be considered a classic, had it gotten more exposure and love at the box office—makes an appearance. It comes, no one notices, and it goes. But movies like this are important. They need to be treasured and remembered. If intelligent, original horror is supported, then that's what we'll begin to receive, in droves. We need to make these movies a part of the legendary genre we hold so dear. Because these are the unsung horrors. These are the movies that should have been successful, but were instead ignored. They should be rightfully praised for the freshness and intelligence and craft that they have contributed to our genre.

So, better late than never, we’re going to celebrate them now… one at a time.

Dir. David Koepp
1999
Artisan Entertainment
United States

In a previous Unsung Horrors post, I lamented the fact that Copycat had been completely overshadowed its debut weekend at the box office after falling victim to the similarly-themed but heavily star-powered serial thriller Se7en. A similar fate also befell this film from Spielberg stalwart/go-to screenwriter David Koepp, adapting Richard Matheson’s simple novel of the same name to the big screen. Released by the now defunct Artisan Entertainment, Stir of Echoes had the extreme misfortune to open against soon-to-be juggernaut The Sixth Sense. And while M. Night Shyamalan’s film debut was nothing more than a rip-off of an "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" episode, Stir of Echoes was based on a book already forty years old at that point. Frankly I find that a little sad, given the high prestige only one of these spooky films would go on to enjoy. While The Sixth Sense is not a bad film – not at all – would anyone remember it if not for the pushing-it twist ending? The jury’s still out on that one.

Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is your every man. And he knows it. And he doesn't love it. He has a wife, Maggie (the adorable Kathryn Erbe), and son, Jake (Zachary David Cope), he clearly loves, but also a job where he "clips wires all day; a monkey could do it." Even when his wife tells him she's pregnant, his happiness is genuine, but delayed. His initial reaction? "Bummer." And again, it's not like he doesn't love and want his family, but his presence in his little-mentioned band suggests he may have wanted more for himself. He betrays this notion by admitting to his wife that he had wanted to accomplish more with his life – that he didn't expect to be so ordinary. And with this news of his wife's pregnancy, what is supposed to be joyous news instead reinforces the idea that his chances to be anything more than a husband and father are slipping away. "I'm a happy guy," he says, but doesn't altogether mean it, and it's a little saddening. This isn't just idle chatter, nor an attempt to garner false sympathy for our lead. This is important to know about Tom Witzky right up front, because it will ultimately determine how he reacts to the change that is soon to come.

Despite Tom's misgivings, life isn't so bad for the Witzkys. Their rented house, owned by their neighbor and friend Harry Damon (Conor O'Farrell) is clean and cozy. They are surrounded by good friends, including Frank McCarthy (Kevin Dunn) and his wife, Sheila. They live in Chicago, but despite the elevated train and police officers' uniforms, it feels like Boston. (It could be the tight knit community and the seemingly constant outdoor block parties, or the extra enthusiasm for the local high school football team that gives off more of a Boston vibe. Or maybe I just don't know shit about Chicago.)


At a party, Lisa begins to tell her friends about her experiences with hypnosis, and the things she has witnessed for herself. Tom, feeling good with his gut full of beer, challenges Lisa to hypnotize him, even going as far as to antagonize her into it. Lisa, wanting to show off, takes Tom up on his offer and puts him into a trance. She tells him to close his eyes and picture an old-fashion movie theater with black walls, floors, ceiling, and seats. Tom soon falls under before immediately (to us, anyway) waking right back up, disturbed, but unaware of the remaining experience of his hypnosis. Apparently while under he had admitted to certain buried secrets previously deeply hidden within his subconscious. We know right off the bat that Lisa has successfully put Tom under, and unbeknownst to him, Lisa has opened a door inside his mind, implanting a suggestion to be more open-minded in the future.

This new open-mindedness allows Tom to see the ghost that is haunting his family's house. She appears to him in nightmarish hallucinations, waking nightmares, and even in reality. Her image is pale, translucent, and flickers before him like a character in a flipbook held by unsteady hands. (Oddly, these visions of her cause Tom to become immensely thirsty, who starts off throwing back water like it's his job before moving on to stocking his fridge filled with orange juice. This odd little detail isn't quite rationalized in the film, but it's interesting nonetheless, and also makes for one particularly humorous scene later in the film.)


Stir of Echoes  is about growing up. It's about facing the fact that you're not going to live forever – and I speak not of the spirit haunting Tom Witzky, but Tom himself. He bemoans what life could have been had he been dealt different cards. And once he gets a taste of these new cards, he definitely straddles that line between intrigue/obsession and self-destruction. It's an interesting theme that Koepp injects into his film, only because it's less glamorous than one might expect. Other directors, such as Romero and Carpenter, have used the horror genre in the past to share big, dangerous ideas with you – harsh criticisms of American culture and/or government. Wes Craven's Last House on the Left was a direct response to the Vietnam War –  the violence we do, unnecessarily, to people we have never met, and who haven't wronged us in any way. By comparison, the ideas in Stir of Echoes seem pretty small – small ideas for a small man and what he deems his small life. And what might Tom learn, whether or not he survives his ordeal? Was he right to pursue these extraordinary circumstances? Would he be/feel justified? Or was he wrong to want for something more, failing to see the family before him is all he would ever need? As always, smart movies are subjective, and what you think and feel is the only message that matters.

Stir of Echoes draws interesting parallels between another similarly-themed horror novel-cum-film, The Shining. (Perhaps you've heard of it?) Like Danny Torrance, Tom's son, Jake, has the uncanny ability to communicate with spirits around him. In fact, the film begins with Jake talking with the very ghost that will soon turn its attention to Tom. And like Jack Torrance, the part of Tom that is also able to communicate will be woken up by the change he undergoes (in The Shining it was the Overlook; here, it's Tom's new-found ability to "see"). And lastly, like Wendy Torrance (more so in the book than the Kubrick film), Maggie Witzky is a fighter. She sees for herself that this radical change in Tom is causing him to lose his mind. She doesn't like the strange kinship he begins to share with his son about the ghost, and even her own "witch" sister can't provide much help. Maggie ends up on her own journey, finding help in Neil (the movie's version of Dick Halloran, if you will), a perfect stranger with the same uncanny abilities shared by her husband and son.

He tells her:
It comes and goes. Some people have it for five seconds, some their whole lives. He's a receiver now. Everything's coming in. He can't stop it; he can't slow it down; he can't even figure it out. It's like he's in a tunnel with a flashlight, but the light only comes on every once in a while. He gets a glimpse of something, but not enough to know what it is - just enough to know it's there.
And Tom knows this. He knows the change that's occurred in him. He knows there is a spirit in his house reaching out to him, and while he's reaching out to her, he's ignoring the signs she is giving him. His son communicates with her out in the open. He hums "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones. He even teaches his father how to play it on his guitar, pushing him closer to realizing what song it is he is unable to get out of his mind  – the significance of which he won't understand until the climax of the film.

"You're awake now, Daddy," Jake tells his father. "Don't be afraid of it." Eventually Tom begins to follow the signs, and the pieces start to come together. This isn't like The Sixth Sense in which Haley Joel sees random ghosts walking around; while creepy, they are not a part of "the big picture." In Stir of Echoes, every hallucination, every sign, every random development has everything to do with "the big picture." They are all leading Tom to one specific destination – nothing that he sees or experiences is superfluous. 

With Jake's help, along with the increasingly angry signs from the ghost, Tom follows the journey before him, but not out of fear or obligation, but because as he finally admits to his wife in a heated exchange, "This is the most important thing that's ever happened to me in my whole stupid life." He finally feels extraordinary. He finally feels like he is doing something with his life that is of value.

If Richard Matheson is a name with which you aren't at least a little bit familiar, there's nothing anyone can do for you. The man is a literary legend, and his work is still being adapted for audiences (most recently being Real Steel and The Box, based on short stories, and the Will Smith I Am Legend, based on his novel). He's inspired the likes of Stephen King, George Romero, and Neil Gaiman. It's been a while since I read the original novel A Stir of Echoes, but I do remember the movie veering off the main skeleton of the book after a while (but with thankfully positive results). Loving homage is paid to the man in the film, from a character reading his novel The Shrinking Man to the film Night of the Living Dead playing on television, whose own writer/director, George Romero, always openly labeled as an I Am Legend rip-off.


Writer/Director David Koepp hasn't found himself behind the camera for too many films. While Stir of Echoes was not his first job as director, or last, it remains his best. He's worked steadily as a screenplay writer and fixer since 1988, contributing to such films as Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park, Carlito's Way, and Panic Room. Subsequent directorial projects for him included the disappointing Stephen King adaptation of Secret Window, as well as the humor-injected supernatural farce Ghost Town, starring Ricky Gervais (an oddball version of Stir of Echoes considering its plot). Koepp manages to inject several creepy and shocking moments in the film, such as Tom's hallucination of Frank's son, Adam, shooting himself and maniacally grinning as he smears blood all over his own face; or the tired mirror trick, in which someone quickly closes a mirror, revealing the reflection of something standing just behind them – but this time with a twist: we can see the spirit, but our character cannot, which adds an extra level of creep to the proceedings.

Kevin Bacon never spends too much time away from our genre, diving back in from time to time as if checking in. With roles in Friday the 13th, Tremors, Flatliners, and Hollow Man, it's good to know he's one of us. And Stir of Echoes ranks up there with the best of his performances. Kevin Bacon is a great actor, but he's been relegated to supporting work for most of his career, willfully and partially disappearing into ensemble films. In Stir of Echoes, the movie begins and ends with him in the lead and he takes seriously a premise through which other actors might have slept-walk. You feel for him in the film's opening when he confesses to his wife that he'd always yearned for his life to have a bit more meaning. And during the scene where he sits alone outside on the front porch of a house in which a party is occurring, with the baby monitor by his side, there's a suggested sadness present. Sure, he may have wanted more for his life than what he was given, but that didn't mean he wouldn't die for his son, either. 

Kathryn Erbe as Maggie is thankfully fleshed out and fully dimensional. The role of "the wife" is often underwritten and included in genre films just so there is one more person around to disbelieve the ensuing ramblings and claims of our lead character. But she gets in on the spooky business from the very beginning, close enough to recognize the change that's occurred in her home, but far enough removed that she can approach it with an open mind and a clear rationale. Tom might be the one suffering through the increasing anger of the ghost, but it's Maggie who puts herself in real physical danger by descending to the seedier city streets to search for the mysterious Neil, the perfect stranger who might be able to shed light on just what the hell is happening to her family.

Illeana Douglas is goddamned fun in this. She was given the best part in the film and she knows it. She plays a witch and a kook and has almost every best line in the film. She provides great comic relief when the film needs a chance to breathe, but she also seems quite real. She's dry and flippant one moment to her sister, but then immediately apologizing to her the next - and meaning it. She's a well-rounded character who starts this whole thing in the first place, but never comes off vindictive – just more of a new-age, hippie liberal. Added to that is the very subtle dislike between her and Tom – it's not overbearing like your typical cinematic sister/brother-in-law dynamic, but it's definitely present. Tom doesn't respect Lisa because she seems like a grown up child, and Lisa doesn't like Tom because she considers him close-minded and small-dreamed – something he dislikes even about himself. They make a good, if at-odds, on-screen pair.


Kudos must absolutely be given to Kevin Dunn as Frank McCarthy. Most assuredly an audience will see Kevin appear on camera and say, "hey, it's that guy!" It's because he's appeared in literally everything over the years – from "Seinfeld" to Hot Shots to the Transformers films, and most recently 2011's brilliant Warrior. Again, Dunn has found himself in supporting character work for most of his career, but it's in Stir of Echoes where he shines. This underrated actor gives a career-best performance, rattling off rambling and comedic dialogue one minute and switching gears and becoming morose and somber the next, leading to an extremely powerful performance in the film's climax. He'd never before been given the chance to express so many different emotions within one character, and his performance displays his eagerness to show all that he is capable of as an actor.

The more cynical out there might say that Stir of Echoes isn't an entirely original premise; after all: main character sees ghosts + twist ending = standard Hollywood fare. But let's not forget Richard Matheson wrote the core concept back in 1958, when it was a little less standard. And don't misunderstand my argument; I don't intend to make it sound like Stir of Echoes should be grandfathered in just because its now-cliched concept wasn't so cliche in '58. Instead, it's like I've always said: I don't care how many times I've seen the same premise in a genre film – if you come at it with a passionate and well-told story, and so long as you're backed up by talented folks in front of and behind the camera, then that's good enough for me. And it always will be.

Apr 14, 2012

TEOS RECOMMENDS: CABIN IN THE WOODS


In my experience, not many movies live up to the hype. And Cabin in the Woods was built on years of hype - not just because of the amazing reviews it is receiving, but because this movie was announced, shot, and completed immediately after Cloverfied hit theaters, which was written by Drew Goddard, Cabin's co-writer/director. It was then shelved by MGM due to its woes. (Early teaser posters are below, baring the MGM logo and the movie's original release date.)

Cabin in the Woods, now coming to you courtesy of new owner Lionsgate Films, is so completely worth the hype. Normally I would post a trailer, but I won't. You need to go in fresh. And you need to go in knowing that this movie was a love letter to horror fans. It was written by us, for us. As a friend of mine put it, Cabin in the Woods pokes fun at the familiar tropes of the horror genre, but never in a mean-spirited manner.

Some folks are saying Cabin in the Woods does for the supernatural/"cabin in the woods" genre what Scream did for the slasher genre. In my mind, Cabin in the Woods is the superior film, because unlike Scream, it never falls victim to the traits it is trying to lampoon.

Plus it has a fucking wicked cameo.

I'm curious: if you saw it, do you think it was worth the hype? I'd love to know.



Apr 13, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS: JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


Abraham Lincoln’s last words were “Jason Goes to Hell is the biggest piece of shit in the world. And even though this bearded Confederate fuck is about to blow my head off, I want it on record that these were my last words: that Jason Goes to Hell is the biggest piece of shit in the world.”

He wasn’t kidding, folks. But before we get to reviewin’, let’s start with some history.

In 1980, a really cheap and simply-made horror movie, starring that guy who played the prep in National Lampoon’s Animal House, came out during the summer season. Its name was Friday the 13th, and its path to filmdom was paved when that movie’s screenwriter received a call from that movie’s director saying, “Halloween is making a lot of money, let’s rip it off.”

Actual quote.

Lineage be damned, Friday the 13th, the nothing-special-but-still-competently-made summer camp slasher movie, was released, and it was greeted by lines around the block, enthusiastic fans, and abysmal reviews.

One year later, Friday the 13th: Part 2 (originally simply titled "Jason") was released and introduced the world to the killer who took over for mama and made his name synonymous with Friday the 13th.

Paramount, though ashamed of the series, cranked these suckers out one after another on a yearly basis until 1988’s Jason Takes Manhattan, which due to poor box office, signaled the end of Paramount’s relationship with the hulked-out, rotting, retarded mongoloid known as Jason Voorhees.

Enter New Line Cinema in 1992. The rights to the series expired and New Line snapped them up, thus paving the way for Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, whose status as the most absurd entry in the franchise remains unchallenged to date.

So, for clarification:

June 13th, 1980: Mrs. Voorhees kills counselors, blaming them for the drowning death of her son, Jason.

August 13, 1993: Jason, having inexplicably been resurrected after his toxic waste exorcism at the end of the previous film and having retaken residence at Crystal Lake, is lured out into a field by an FBI agent in a bath towel, is blown up by a SWAT team, and has his heart eaten by a coroner, which leads to his spirit possessing the bodies of several people by way of regurgitating a giant worm demon thing into their unwilling mouths, his ultimate goal being to wriggle inside the vagina of his dead sister in order to be reborn in his meaty, stinky, lumpy, hockey-mask-wearing, machete-grasping body.

Yikes. And that happened in just thirteen years. (GASP—THIRTEEN!!)

"Hello, Space. ::narrows eyes:: See you soon..."

FBI Agent Elizabeth Marcus—undercover, naturally—shows up onsite at the former residence of the Voorhees family home in Camp Crystal Lake, NJ. Elizabeth walks into a cabin, flips a switch, and a light bulb sparks to life momentarily before pooping out and coating itself in brown goo, which is something I must say I’ve never seen a light bulb do. She then strips down, revealing her very unsexy and masculine body, to take a shower.

I’ll give her credit for knowing what draws Jason out.

Sho'nuff, Jason shows up, attacks her with his trusty machete, and sends her hurtling down over the balcony to crash into a coffee table.

Jason, despite the presence of the brutally brilliant KNB EFX, looks the absolute worst he has in this series. And not in the good way. His previous bad-ass visage consisting of an exposed spine and a face only a decapitated mommy head could love has been replaced with the look of a dumpy voo-doo doll and a big round head that looks like Aqua Teen's Meatwad.

I don’t approve.

Jason hauls ass after the toweled girl to the middle of a field, where spotlights suddenly flash on, and SWAT team members open fire on him (positioned in a circle around him, which means odds are in real life, some members on either side would have blown each other’s faces off).

An expertly-placed bomb blows Jason to literal smithereens, limbs, head, and heart flying in every direction.

Miles away from the explosion, Creighton Duke ("The X-Files'" [and The Blues Brothers'!] Steven Williams), apparently-famous bounty hunter, lowers his binoculars and gives a steely glance.

“I don’t think so…”

Sigh.

Say, since Jason is dead forever and ever now (ha ha) can I briefly ask if anyone else can hear a single fucking thing said in this movie? Why is the goddamned volume so low on this thing?

Jason’s remains are flown to Youngstown, Ohio, to be given a once-over by a couple of coroners who don’t take their jobs all that seriously.

As Older & Blacker Coroner performs his autopsy, Jason’s heart (which we learn is twice the size of a normal heart, kinda like the Grinch post-Christmas) begins to beat methodically, hypnotizing Older & Blacker Coroner until he literally picks up the heart, growls animalistically, and shoves it into his mouth for a huge bite.

Eating Jason's heart is grounds for death by alien lasers.

Hang on, folks, because we’re now officially in please-check-your-disbelief-at-the-door territory. Older & Blacker Coroner, (now Jason), finishes his hearty meal (OMG!) and stands around, waiting for something to happen.

And something does: Annoying Weiner Coroner (aka the movie's screenwriter).

Annoying Weiner Coroner walks into the room, having just been felt-up by some FBI agents (why security for a dead body is necessary remains unknown). Annoying Weiner Coroner begins showing what a man he is by calling the dead body of Jason a “faggoty, blown-up fuck.”

Then a probe gets up in his face.

As Jason, wearing the body of Older & Blacker Coroner, exits the room covered in blood, the FBI agents (one of whom is actually Kane Hodder, the man responsible for playing Jason in Friday the 13ths VII-X), says that Jason was “nothing but a big ol’ pussy, anyway.”

And for the second time in this movie, a part Kane Hodder is playing is cut very short.

Later, in the backroom of a diner located in Crystal Lake, a woman named Diana fearfully watches an episode of “American Casefile,” which is detailing the disappearance of Jason’s body from the morgue, and the path of dead bodies seemingly on the way back to Crystal Lake.

American Casefile” host Robert Smarmdude interviews Creighton Duke, who claims to know of Jason’s ability to possess people’s body.

During a round of word association, Robert asks Creighton what he thinks of when he says the name Jason Voorhees. Creighton responds with, “A little girl in a pink dress, sticking a hot dog through a donut.”

I’ve no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but it belongs on BrainyQuotes.

Creighton ends the interview with a nod to Jaws, offering to kill Jason for half a million dollars, which would include: “the mask, the machete, the whole damn thing.”

"A black cowboy? What is this, some kind of joke?"

Diana, who is Jason’s sister and was absolutely never mentioned before in this series, turns off the TV and goes back to work.

This is when we meet Steven (John D. Lemay, "Friday the 13th: The Series"), the dweebiest Friday hero so far. Steven, who was dating and is currently estranged from Diana’s daughter, Jessica, plans to meet Diana later on to discuss his failed relationship.

Later that night (in an obvious re-shoot), Steven drives to Diana’s, and picks up some hitchhikers who plan on fucking and doing drugs at Crystal Lake “now that Jason is dead.”

Good one.

Jason—smelling sex—shows up and slashes one of the girls in the face before proceeding to what will be the best kill in the series (just behind the sleeping bag death from The New Blood).

Jason picks up a tent spike and plows it through the belly of a girl currently giving her boyfriend the ride of his life, and gloriously rips it all the way up, out through her shoulder, splitting her into two very wet parts. The screaming boy’s head is then stomped in for good measure.

At the time of this movie’s shooting, the director was 21-years-old. Can you tell?

Later, Jason figures he’ll expand his horizons, so he kidnaps an old man, Deputy Josh, and shaves his buck-baked body, which is strapped down to a table in the living room of his old house. He even has a fire roaring in the fireplace (to make things as romantic as possible for the two dudes). Jason ’s got quite a big load for this old man, and he wants to be sure it will fit in his mouth.

Jason lovingly applies shaving lotion, shaves the man, and then some delightful kissing ensues, as Jason regurgitates some weird black-viscous covered thing into the man's throat.

Jason’s old body then drops dead, and after a few moments, Jason’s new body comes to: now that of Deputy Josh.

In that big list of things that people felt the Friday the 13th series needed, homoerotic shaving can now be checked off, just under a 3D eyeball, Horshak, and Crispin Glover’s frenetic dancing.

Steven gets to Diana’s house, where Jason also shows up.

Now, we don’t find this out for a little bit, but we eventually find out from Creighton Duke that Jason needs the body of someone in the Voorhees bloodline to be physically reborn, returning him to his dumpy potato-sack body, mask, and all.

So, in this scene, where Jason chooses to instead kill Diana, ignore her body, and go after Steven, you’ll wonder just what the fuck his problem is.

Steven pricks Jason with a firepoker and tosses him out the window. Luckily for Steven, the Sheriff shows up, sees his dead lady love on the ground and a bloody Steven claiming that the killer was actually the sheriff’s own deputy. Not to mention that, even luckier, the body of the deputy is now missing.

Dancing with the Stars got really intense
once Margot Kidder joined the cast.

Needless to say, Steven goes right to jail and does not collect $200. It’s at this prison where Steven meets Creighton Duke (locked up for strictly being a dick), who regales him with his expansive knowledge of the Voorhees family, and how Jason can finally be damned to hell for good...at the hands of a Voorhees. Welp…Diana’s dead, so I guess that leaves her daughter, Jessica…and Jessica’s newborn baby!

Plot twist!

Steven escapes from the prison and goes to the Voorhees house, where he spots an old book of spells and skeletons on the desk: The Evil Dead’s Necromonicon. Gosh, what a neat homage. If only it were in a good movie.

Smarmy Robert suddenly walks in talking on his huge cell phone about the truly exploitative segment he is planning on for his show: Secrets of the Voorhees House Revealed. He then details how he had (quite easily it seems) stolen Diana’s body from the morgue and planted it in the house in order to avoid the mistake Geraldo made many years ago. Jason then bursts in and kisses Robert, giving him the worm. Deputy Josh melts and Robert comes to, now more evil than even a TV executive.

After that it’s a race against time for Steven to get to Jessica before Jason does. Well, they kinda get there at the same time and Steven runs Jason over with her car as she screams and beats the hell out of him, leaving him on the side of the road to be promptly arrested.

Boy, this is exhausting, isn’t it?

Flash forward through a lot of bullshit, a talking Jason, and some glorious violence, and Jason is reborn when the demon worm slithers up into the vagigi of dead Diana.

Jason is finally actually in his own fucking movie, and it took 85 minutes.

Jessica, using the magic dagger given to her by Creighton, plants the sumbitch right into Jason’s heart. Big meaty puppet hands explode from the ground to grab at Jason and pull him down into Hell, slowly and awkwardly.

And in the now well-known shock ending to end all shock endings, Freddy Krueger’s glove bursts from the ground, grabs the mask left behind by Jason, and drags it down to Hell with him, laughing maniacally, and intentionally setting the stage for Freddy vs. Jason, the movie that everyone assumed was going to happen just a year or two later, and not the ten years that it actually took.

The filmmakers of Jason Goes to Hell pride themselves for taking on an iconic character and trying something new.

I don’t.

Had Jason actually been in this film the entire time, and with some slight plot modifications, and yes, even if the movie had just been a huge rip-off of Halloween (again), this still would have been one of the series' strongest entries. But these douchebags opted to add magic instead.

Drop Jason back off in the woods and leave him there. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to visit.


Apr 11, 2012

RANT: PLATINUM DUNES' HALLOWEEN

 
Perhaps you’ve heard the news. Perhaps not. If you haven’t, allow me to spoil (?) your day:

Platinum Dunes, the studio who castrated Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and John Ryder with their lifeless and atrocious reboots (you know that word? Reboot? Meaning an effort to restart each series with an eye on potential sequeling, unless of course the reboots were so piss-poor that any possible sequel was stopped dead in its tracks?), will be producing the next installment of Halloween. Whether it will be a co-production with current rights-holder Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company, or if PD plans to buy the franchise outright remains to be seen.

Regardless of the studio that unleashes it, know that it’s coming, people. The words “Halloween” and “Michael Bay” will be appearing together in that opening credit roll.

But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to feel about that. If you’ve read my Friday the 13th (2009) rant, you know that I found PD’s version of Jason abhorrent—offensive on every level, and not in the good way. Let’s face it, you’ve made a pretty shitty Friday the 13th if you can’t even manage to get a sequel off the ground—you know, like how the original series had the word “Final” in TWO of their entries’ titles, and STILL managed to make sequels afterwards?

Original series: 11 installments.

PD series: 1. Good work, you dumb asses. Failing to make a Friday the 13th sequel after the previous made money is like buying a prostitute and not getting laid. You look foolish for even trying.

It’s because of this that my readers (all two of you) would think that I would be immediately up in arms at the mere prospect of the PD geniuses going anywhere near my beloved boogeyman.

But here’s the thing: after what Rob Zombie did to the Halloween series, what else is left to do but hand over the reins to other filmmakers (and even other studios)? The Weinsteins clearly have no reverence for Michael Myers—during their ownership, they’ve produced 5 Halloween films, and only one of them (Halloween: H20) managed to be good, which was more of a result of Kevin Williamson’s story and Jamie Lee Curtis’ maternal shepherding. The Weinsteins’ Halloween track record is abysmal, and it’s time for some new blood.

There’s a lot of speculation as to whether PD will concoct a Halloween 3 that follows on the heels of the stupid, stupid Haddonfield Rob Zombie created, or reboot the series yet again (which is the most likely scenario, as well as my preferred one).

There are some people out there who like Zombie’s films, and some of these folks even believe they bested John Carpenter’s original. For future reference, think of these people as “retards.”

For instance, the guys at JoBlo, in a recent anti-PD/pro-Zombie rant of their own, said:
… [Rob Zombie] had a vision, he carried it through, he remade the first one, then did a completely original and totally kick-ass sequel with H2. Why try and reinvent the wheel here? Zombie rocked that shit, let him make another one!
I find it a little scary anyone on Planet Earth has any interest in making a sequel to what was supposed to be a Halloween movie, but somehow managed to feature a dead ghost mother on a white horse, a white-bread suburban town somehow filled with backwoods, white trash, foul-mouthed rednecks, and a total asshole Dr. Loomis. The box office returns of Halloween 2 alone prove that Zombie’s shtick got old real quick. His Halloween films are clear indications that he has no idea as to what made Carpenter’s film work in the first place. Zombie’s storytelling and direction is not subtle, and his “everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink” mentality is better suited for a remake of Someone Cut Off My Head Last Night, Oh Mother.

Yes, I just made that up. Zombie’s mentality is not fit for any film property—at least not a pre-existing one.

Let’s not forget that PD managed to release one good remake, 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and one semi-decent remake, The Amityville Horror. And while Chainsaw’s direction by Marcus Nispel was appropriately gritty, and Andrew Douglas’ Amityville was serviceable and creepy, the strength was their scripts by Scott Kosar (proven screenwriter of The Machinist, The Crazies remake, and the upcoming Concrete Island, which will reunite The Machinist director Brad Anderson and star Christian Bale). The man can clearly write, both original stuff as well as remakes—if no one from PD has called him yet, what are they waiting for?

Let’s face it, PD’s films are a brand—a product; and while most of their films have been mixed bags, they all managed to have capable people behind the camera (except for The Hitcher, which not only looked like a TV movie, but even dared use NIN’s “Closer” in the most clich├ęd way possible). Besides, outside of Chainsaw, none of PD’s movies reflect 100% the director’s vision. PD’s Andrew Form and Brad Fuller have their hands in the process at every turn. Internet suggests that both Andrew Douglas (The Amityille Horror) and Samuel Bayer (A Nightmare on Elm Street) both became disgusted during production and haven’t really discussed either of their films since.

You also of course collaborated heavily with Brad Fuller and Andrew Form who are very hands-on. How was that experience?
You know, we have a love-hate and hate-love relationship.
Naturally it’s a brief snippet from a full interview and easily taken out of context, but at the same time, it’s an indication of usual PD productions. Even the interviewer knows the guys are hands on. Their reputation precedes them. (Another thing I noticed about PD films’ coverage…Michael Bay seems to be the third silent partner. His name appears on the finished product, and he’s always present at the premieres but he’s clearly in it for the cash, not the appeal. He never has anything to say on the subject, except for the usual canned PR-ish “we’re honored by the chance to blah blah blah”’ press release announcing their latest conquest/rape of a beloved film property. It’s even believed he walked out of the Friday the 13th premier calling it “fucking stupid.” For once, he was right.)

Despite how much Form and Fuller might tamper, PD’s films usually look great, especially Nightmare. While its story was tepid and grossly stupid for ever trying to make the audience doubt that Freddy Krueger was as bad as he was made out to be (of course he is, morons), Bayer managed to try some interesting things, and for the most part, his direction was quite fine. I’d be interested in seeing a future Bayer film produced by competence and not the Devil. Basically, if PD has proven one thing, it’s that they produce good-looking pieces of shit. What they need to focus on is a good script.

The devils you know.

 Some fans are urging PD to pick up from where the first series left off with Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. While I appreciate the reverence and respect for the original series, these people need to wake up and realize that’s never going to happen. Halloween 6 had muddied up the franchise with so much explaining and ridiculous mythology that Halloween: H20 had to come clean up the mess and basically say nothing after 1981’s Halloween 2 ever happened. That was Curtis’ deal in making the film, and it was the right move to make. Laurie Strode’s reign as the victim may be (and should be) a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean other recognizable Haddonfield citizens can’t appear. Throw us a Tommy Doyle, a Sheriff Bracket, and a Dr. Loomis, and we’ll start to wonder if you are actually thinking of us after all…

I know the popular answer is “let the series die!” And I can see the point. Perhaps after Halloween: H20, I would have agreed. Myers had his head hacked off by his sister (and returning Jamie Lee Curtis). A fitting ending, and probably the best we’ll ever get. But no, they had to go ahead and give us Resurrection and Zombie’s two misguided films. At this point, there is no “class” left to the series. The bad entries now outnumber the good ones. The original will always be the absolute example of classy, low-budget film-making. Not even a Halloween 19 could ever take that way. So who cares if they keep making more? If we can get Batman and James Bond over and over again, why not Michael Myers? Is anyone out there suffering physical pain and crying with each Halloween installment? John Carpenter sure isn’t, as he comically runs from each meeting with two money bags clenched in his hands. If he doesn’t care, why should you?

Rebooting is the only option left. PD has the chance to make amends for all their previous wrongs. They have the chance to work extra hard in nailing down a great script (again, get Scott Kosar on the phone) and a great story. Good stories in this franchise are still entirely possible. Look to the Halloween: Nightdance comic series for proof of this. Forget the newest gimmicks (found footage, 3D) and get Michael Myers back to basics. Cut off his hippie hair, clean up his mask, ditch the useless incestuous undertone, and put a knife in his hands. You’re never going to live up to the original, but you can easily exist in its shadow, so long as you play your cards right.

Please…do it for us, the fans. We've made you rich, now make us happy.

You so owe us.