Archive for the ‘slasher’ Category
The 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre adheres to the pure and simple slasher movie formula: Introduce a gaggle of sexy young people, make vague gestures to distinguish them–Jessica Biel (Summer Catch) wants to get married and doesn’t like pot, so she’s our moral compass–then start hacking them to pieces one by one. The visual palette includes grimy crucified dolls, fly-specked pig carcasses, body parts floating in murky jars, a tobacco-chewing redneck sheriff, and many slender beams of sunlight cutting through dank, dusty interiors. The camera lovingly photographs Biel’s tank-topped bosom and sculpted abs as she’s running in terror from a bloated, chainsaw-wielding, human-skin-wearing maniac. This remake lacks the macabre comedy of the original; it’s all about the nauseating sensation of waiting for something to jump out of the dark. Also featuring Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under) and R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket, Mail Call). –Bret Fetzer
The films of Tim Burton shine through the muck like a jack-o-lantern on a foggy October night. After such successes as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands, it should come as no surprise that Sleepy Hollow is a dazzling film, a delicious reworking of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Dark and moody, the film is a thrilling ride back to the turn of the 19th century. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, a seemingly hapless constable from New York City who is sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to solve the mystery of the decapitations that are plaguing the town. Crane is a bumbling sort, with a tremendous faith in science over mysticism, and he comes up against town secrets, bewitching women, and a number of bodies missing heads. Christina Ricci, as beautiful as ever, is Katrina Van Tassel, the offbeat love interest who alternately charms and frightens Crane.
The film, while occasionally gory (as one should expect from a movie about a headless horseman), is not terribly frightening, although it is suspenseful. Both Depp and Ricci are convincing, and the art direction and production values give the village its harsh feel. Toward the end, once the secrets are revealed, the film does slow down; however, this stylistic horror film provides many tricks and even more treats. –Jenny Brown
Halloween is as pure and undiluted as its title. In the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, a teenage baby sitter tries to survive a Halloween night of relentless terror, during which a knife-wielding maniac goes after the town’s hormonally charged youths. Director John Carpenter takes this simple situation and orchestrates a superbly mounted symphony of horrors. It’s a movie much scarier for its dark spaces and ominous camera movements than for its explicit bloodletting (which is actually minimal). Composed by Carpenter himself, the movie’s freaky music sets the tone; and his script (cowritten with Debra Hill) is laced with references to other horror pictures, especially Psycho. The baby sitter is played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the real-life daughter of Psycho victim Janet Leigh; and the obsessed policeman played by Donald Pleasence is named Sam Loomis, after John Gavin’s character in Psycho. In the end, though, Halloween stands on its own as an uncannily frightening experience–it’s one of those movies that had audiences literally jumping out of their seats and shouting at the screen. (“No! Don’t drop that knife!”) Produced on a low budget, the picture turned a monster profit, and spawned many sequels, none of which approached the 1978 original. Curtis returned for two more installments: 1981′s dismal Halloween II, which picked up the story the day after the unfortunate events, and 1998′s occasionally gripping Halloween H20, which proved the former baby sitter was still haunted after 20 years. –Robert Horton
Though never a landmark in the slasher subgenre, the Canadian-made My Bloody Valentine (1981) was a favorite among gorehounds for its plentiful scenes of bloodshed; the 2009 remake sticks closely to the original in this respect, and ups the gross factor by rendering many of them in impressive 3-D. The core plot, penned by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, remains essentially the same–a series of gruesome murders appears to be linked to a terrible mine accident from two decades ago–but just as with the original, it’s largely just a framework on which to string the carnage set pieces, which are splattery enough to please even the most jaded Saw or Hostel fanatic. The Real-D effects deliver the required degree of heart-stopping jumps without the usual eye strain, and if one can snicker away old standbys like a tree branch crashing through a windshield, one has to admire the chutzpah of presenting actress Betsey Rue’s pursuit of a wayward bed partner while fully naked and toting a shotgun in full and vibrant 3-D, moments before the pickaxe-wielding killer descends upon her. Rue’s scenery-chewing performance is the best of the twenty-something cast, which is led by Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles and Jaime King; character actors Kevin Tighe and Tom Atkins deliver their moments like the old pros they are. Though by no means a new horror classic, My Bloody Valentine 3-D sets the gross-out bar for all future slasher remakes to surpass. – Paul Gaita
If you thought a bigger budget and an A-list producer (Michael Bay) would go to Jason’s head, well, forget it. The indestructible villain of so many bottom-of-the-barrel shockers isn’t about to change his shtick, and the 2009 Friday the 13th proves it. This, the umpteenth sequel (nope, it’s not a remake of the origin story) to the original 1980 movie, gives us a clever prologue that manages to fit an entire Jason Voorhees killing spree in a brisk and bloody 20 minutes. Jumping ahead six weeks, the film introduces a carload of clueless teens headed for a weekend at a lakeside cabin, plus a lone motorcyclist (Jared Padalecki) in search of his missing sister (Amanda Righetti). When the “lakeside” happens to refer to Crystal Lake, of course, there can be only one outcome. Cue the hockey mask, and pass the machete. Bay and director Marcus Nispel, who collaborated on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, are surprisingly indifferent to changing up the formula this time, although there’s more care taken in building up a few characters, and for once the comic relief (mostly supplied by Aaron Yoo and Arlen Escarpeta) is pretty funny. You might even regret the slaughter of a couple of these young folk, which is an unusual feeling in Friday-watching. The film’s Jason is quite the athletic fellow, and he’s assembled an elaborate underground corpse-hiding lair in the vicinity of Crystal Lake. How he’s been able to live down there for 30 years (if the film’s own timeline is to be believed) and had enough unwitting campers pass by to keep himself entertained is anybody’s guess. But if they keep coming, he’ll keep slashing. –Robert Horton
The extended Killer Cut is 106 minutes compared to 97 for the theatrical cut, and it’s hard to imagine choosing to watch the theatrical cut if you have a choice. In addition to some more of Amanda Righetti and of Jason, the extra nine minutes is mostly more gore in the gory scenes and more sex in the sexy scenes. If you’re squeamish you might not want those things, but if you’re that squeamish you probably don’t want to watch Friday the 13th in the first place, right? The longer cut will give you more of the stuff that you probably watch this movie for. There’s also an 11-minute featurette on the new movie and three deleted scenes (a different version of Jason getting his mask, the police response to the phone call, and a revised climax). –David Horiuchi
Clive Barker has unleashed a nightmare like no other; a deliciously depraved vision of hell on earth that changed the face of horror forever. Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Doug Bradley — as the iconic “Pinhead” star in this extreme saga of leave after death, pleasure beyond pain, an ancient puzzle box and the legion of Cenobites that feed upon human suffering. Now for the first time ever Hell Comes to Blu Ray.
Winner of 2009 Reaper Award for Best Re-mastering.
In the trinity of modern horror films, there’s the father (Michael Myers of Halloween), the son (Jason of Friday the 13th fame, a knockoff), and the unholy spirit, Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The spectral man who haunted the nightmares of unsuspecting teenagers with deadly consequences, Freddy (as played by Robert Englund) was a truly frightening bogeyman and icon for the ’80s. Unlike the hockey-masked Jason, who dispatched horny teenagers with mechanical and monotonous ease (he never talked, never took off his mask), Freddy was a truly creative and diabolical villain, with a sadistic and blackly funny personality. The hallmarks of the Nightmare on Elm Street series were imaginatively gruesome suspense pieces, set in the overactive imaginations of the teen victims. The first film of the series, Wes Craven’s truly intelligent and scary film, was so hugely successful it begat not one, not two, but six more sequels, each pretty much diluting the originality and horror of its predecesor. (Horror fans will fondly remember Drew Barrymore’s assertion in Scream that the first Nightmare film was great but all the rest sucked.) Still, there’s fun to be had in the remaining films in the series, seeing as a number of aspiring filmmakers cut their teeth on the continuing saga of Freddy. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) and Chuck Russell (The Mask) worked on the third installment, Dream Warriors (starring a young Patricia Arquette), and Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) came to prominence with the ingeniously macabre fourth film, The Dream Master, coscripted by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential). Craven and original star Heather Langenkamp did return for the last film, New Nightmare, which presaged the tongue-in-cheek postmodernism of the Scream films and resharpened Freddy’s ability to scare. –Mark Englehart