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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BLACK SHEEP STANDOFF- HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH VS. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING


     There are certain horror films that resonate with audiences, causing them to want more of the story and characters which leads to a long-running series of films that inevitably become a franchise- THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, JAWS, ALIEN, HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and so on. And there's always a black sheep of the franchise, that one film that everybody generally hates and is usually blamed for ruining said franchise. HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH and FRIDAY THE 13Th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING are two perfect examples of this and are generally brought up when it comes to "bad" films in a franchise- although they are usually lumped in together as if they're both equally bad.  And this is simply not true.


       I've said it before and I'll say it yet again- I grew up watching HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN 2 and I found Michael Myers to be very frightening in both films. I thought the original and the 1981 sequel made a great horror story and brought a truly iconic and frightening new movie monster to haunt our nightmares. And I was immensely ready to follow the whole Carpenter/Hill/Wallace crazy train of a brand new film to be released each October with an all new story and characters to form some sort of annual anthology like The Twilight Zone or Tales From the Darkside, but on the big screen. Which meant no more Michael Myers, as he died at the end of the sequel and was John Carpenter's wish that he never returned. No more Jamie Lee or Donald Pleasance. And you know what? I was totally fine with all this. Usher in HALLOWEEN 3, which we all know was universally hated because it didn't have Michael Myers in it. No. Audiences just wanted more Michael killing people.



     Which brings us to FRIDAY THE 13TH. The first four films featuring Jason Voorhees are prime examples of the 1980's slasher and honestly are the strongest slasher series of all time, if you ask me. I personally hated every HALLOWEEN movie after part 3, as they never even came close to capturing the mystery and terror of Michael in the first two films. Yet the first four FRIDAY films are solid entries and brought something new to the table each time. However, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING brought nothing new to the table as it was just a tired retread of the first four, whereas the third HALLOWEEN film is far superior in writing, acting, directing, editing, and camera work. There was obviously loads of talent that went into the making of HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH, it's just audiences weren't ready to embrace the dark undertones as it was ahead of its time. It's now a bona fide cult classic that generally gets tons of praise on its actors, the director, and cinematographer. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING had zero talent involved, and it's painfully obvious while watching. All the magic of the first four is nowhere to be seen in the fifth installment. It's crass and cheap and looks it- yet watching HALLOWEEN 3 today on blu-ray you're astounded at how well the film holds up. Now I'm not saying HALLOWEEN 3 is a masterpiece, as the film certainly has its own faults. What I am saying though is that a group of very talented people went out on a creative limb in a boldly original and downright ballsy move to make HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Had they resurrected Jason with the sixth installment (which is far superior), instead of the awful Part 5, well now that would be a different story entirely. There was simply no valid reason for making part 5- audiences assumed the last film was truly the final chapter and that was that. Besides, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET had exploded, so once again there was really no point in bringing Jason back. It was an anemic sequel that injected nothing new into the mythology of Camp Crystal Lake, and looked like it was made for about $100. I'm not shy about my disdain for A NEW BEGINNING, so there's that. Besides HALLOWEEN 3 has a much cooler movie poster and soundtrack. I'm just saying.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

VHS HALL OF FAME- A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

     Ah, memories... Hours I spent in the 80's and 90's browsing the horror section of any local video store, and you know you did the same.





Monday, September 12, 2016

HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE


     An 80's slasher that's really grown on me over the years is HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE, released in 1980. Yes, it was Tom Hanks' feature film debut and generally known as a low-budget HALLOWEEN clone, but the film actually is somewhat better than its reputation and has some charm to it. Following the massive success of HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH, many filmmakers responded and wasted no time in churning out tons of imitators- some great, others terrible.  I'd say HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE is one of the better imitators.


        Detective Len Gamble (Lewis Art) is hot on a manhunt for deranged Ray Carlton (Tom Rolfing). Seems a bride-to-be Marie (Robin Tilghman) is murdered in a movie theater and Detective Gamble immediately suspects Ray Carlton, who three years prior murdered his ex-girlfriend and who just happened to be Detective Gamble's fiance. She was killed on their wedding day, and apparently ole' Ray has a thing for killing brides before their nuptials, and has spent the last three years doing just that.


     While all this nasty bride-killing is going on, our heroine, Amy Jensen (Caitlin O'Heaney) is yet another bride-to-be who is spending her last free week with her friends, Joyce (Patsy Peasy) and Nancy (Elizabeth Kemp) while her fiance is out of town. In time-honored slasher fashion, crazed Ray sets his murderous sights on Amy and her friends, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.


     HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE was the brainchild of tv movie director Armand Mastroianni, and it's downright obvious while watching that Armand probably stole way too much from John Carpenter's 1978 classic. Even the music is a bit too close for comfort- but despite all that, I really enjoy HKYA. It comes across as much more classy and polished than most of the post-FRIDAY THE 13TH imitators, for one. Making the heroine a bride-to-be is a clever twist, and for once it's not horny teenagers getting offed- we're dealing here with young adults trying to find their place in the world. It's refreshing to see something other than horny teens being slaughtered.


     HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE is well-written and assuredly directed. And the cast comes off as quite likable and natural. My main gripe is the film's underwhelming climax set in a morgue. Mastroianni could have made better use of a creepy morgue setting, but the last ten minutes or so of the film are curiously flat. No sequel was ever filmed, and it's easy to see why the film quietly slipped into obscurity amidst the tons of other slashers being released at the time. HKYA isn't a flashy or gory slasher, it's not "edgy". However, it's got great characters and a good story, so it makes up for the lack of gore. Not that you need gore to make a good slasher, but you know what I mean.


     Overall, I've seen better slashers, and I've seen far worse. HKYA has developed a small following over the years as even Wes Craven homaged the great opening scene set in a movie theater in the opening of SCREAM 2. HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE is one of Joe Zaso's favorite slashers, and if you don't know who Joe Zaso is, google him immediately. I like this one, kids, even it's a bit flat at times. HKYA also has a great autumn setting, so it's an appropriate horror movie to watch around October.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

It's About That Time of Year Again...

     Guys- I'm sitting here in my kitchen with the windows open as a somewhat cool breeze is blowing the fallen leaves up against the house while the 1963 classic THE HAUNTING is playing on tv as we speak and I'm in such an October/Halloween mood I am literally bursting with fruit flavors right about now. I mean, September to me is the beginning of fall.  Kids are back in school, football season begins, and the leaves begin changing colors and falling.

    Even though it's scary movie season all year long at my house, when September rolls along suddenly scary movie season kicks into overdrive. Something about dark, overcast days with falling leaves just screams horror films, and I know you kids understand what I'm talking about. It's time for as many slashers and ghost stories I can gorge myself on, even some bad ones. So what do you say? Let's start the season off right.
THIS IS MY SHRINE TO ALL THINGS SCARY- MOVIES, BOOKS, MADE FOR TV, SOUNDTRACKS- I LOVE IT ALL.
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