Friday, April 27, 2018

Worst to First Prom Movies- Carrie

When Carrie was released in 1976 it proved to be a shocking movie that no one would soon forget, the bloody image of Sissy Spacek unleashing hell still remains one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Despite the success of the film it would take 20 years to get a sequel along with a pair of remakes. I am listing the four movies in the Carrie series from worst to first. 

4. The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

This sequel was released over 20 years after the success of Carrie and focuses on Carrie's half-sister Rachel who is learning that she possesses abilities that she does not understand. The plot is similar to the first movie focusing on the effects of bullying as well as sexual predation and how Rachel reacts to those who wrong her and her best friend. Amy Irving appears in the movie reprising her role as Sue Snell, giving Rachel background details on her sister and the tragic night she died. There is no "Black Prom," but Rachel does get her revenge on those who hurt her friend as well as herself. The movie does borrow on a real-life event involving a group of jocks who made a secret pact to sleep with girls for points in a book they kept so this factors heavily into the revenge that Rachel seeks out in the climax of the film. The movie did not do well at the box office and was critically panned for its failure to capture what made the first film so effective as a horror film. 

3. Carrie (2002)

A made for television adaptation that starred Angela Bettis as Carrie and Patricia Clarkson as her mother. The movie is told in a series of flashbacks by survivors of the tragic "Black Prom" making this version different from the first despite telling the same story. The movie was planned as a potential pilot for a proposed television series focusing on Carrie, so the ending of the book was changed. This television series never came out, so the movie leaves Carrie's fate undetermined. Despite complaints that the flashbacks made the film seem like a rehash of the first movie the portrayal of Carrie by Ms. Bettis was praised by critics and fans who felt she best captured the spirit of King's novel. Due to the restrictions of television, the movie was toned down in the violence and language, but the movie still shows the prom scene and its aftermath effectively. Among the many versions of the movie, this one is often considered the lesser of the trio. 

2. Carrie (2013)

A contemporary re-imagining of the classic movie did little to change the plot but featured Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie and Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore as Carrie's mother. The movie is closer to the novel and includes some plot elements left out of the 1976 version but otherwise follows the movie in every way. Notable differences are the lack of nudity during the shower scene, and a stronger role for the Gym teacher Miss Desjardin played by Judy Greer. Although Miss Moretz is a great actress, her portrayal of Carrie is not as strong as Ms. Spacek or Ms. Bettis, yet it is adequate given the role she has to play. The movie does move at a faster pace than the first version, but it's apparent that cuts were made that left some key roles underutilized. The big prom scene is impressive thanks to the more significant budget, yet it does not seem as bloody despite the much higher death toll. For those who have not watched any version of this movie, this one will scare and entertain, but fans of the original will feel they are watching something that was already skillfully done. 

1. Carrie (1976)

Starring a cast that would provide many well-known Hollywood players, Carrie is both a sad and frightening tale of ostracism and revenge. "Crazy Carrie" as she is called is portrayed quite effectively by Sissy Spacek in a role that would standout in horror movie lore. Carrie is a loner, teased by her classmates and taunted by her zealously religious mother, but she has a secret. It appears Carrie has powers that seem to be barely under her control. When it seems that her peers are finally accepting her, we discover that they wish to play a cruel joke on her during the senior prom. Tragically, the prank pulled on her goes wrong, the release of pig's blood on her and the subsequent laughter by both students and teachers unleashes a fury of anger as she burns the school and kills everyone in her path. Her final confrontation with her mom is not only frightening but also tragic. Carrie earned Sissy Spacek her first Oscar nomination and was a commercial success for the filmmakers and Stephen King. With its excellent cast, good direction, and climatic finale we have a classic shocker that still has an impact today. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Worst to First Prom Movies- Prom Night Series

The Prom Night franchise has five movies that have little in common except for the name of the High School (Hamilton High) and the phrase "It's not who you come with, it's who takes you home." Besides Jamie Lee Curtis the big draw was Mary Lou Maloney who appears in two of the films but portrayed by two different actresses. While the first two films have become classics, the latter three are mediocre entries that can be found on Netflix.

5. Prom Night (2008)

Britney Snow appears in this remake of the 1980 slasher film, but it has little in common with the series except for a killer stalking teens at a prom. Prom Night is a bit of an anachronism given that most remakes of popular 80's slasher films featured more violence, nudity and were often made in 3D. The film gives away the identity of the killer in the opening act and is more about an obsessed stalker than the first film's revenge-driven plot that made effective use of red herrings and left you wondering who the killer was. The movie was rated PG-13 as the violence was toned down compared to most slasher films and the sexual content was mostly suggested with no nudity shown. This movie could have easily been a prom episode of a popular TV series with a few dead bodies thrown in.

4. Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1992)

A pair of Catholic school girls are looking forward to the prom but instead decide to ditch it in favor of a weekend with their horny boyfriends. Their weekend plans get sidetracked by a snowstorm that traps them in a remote house that used to be a monastery and a crazy possessed priest who is looking to punish sinful teens. Unlike the previous pair of sequels, Prom Night IV is a pure slasher film with no humor or self-parody in its story. Although the film does briefly feature a prom and Hamilton High School, the movie has more in common with an Exorcist film given the motives of the killer and the role the church played in trying to cover up his crimes. Of the five movies, this entry could have been released as a stand-alone horror film and seems like the Prom Night name was thrown in to tie it into the franchise.

3. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1989)

Mary Lou returns yet again to haunt a young teen and have him do her evil bidding in this uninspired sequel that borrows heavily from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Like the previous effort, this film focuses on the supernatural villain Mary Lou Maloney yet without the acid wit of Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou. Courtney Taylor does her best, but she doesn't capture the style that Schrage put into Mary Lou. Instead of Freddy Krueger, she is more like an evil Genie fulfilling the desires of the teen in her twisted way. The movie is a pure horror parody, yet the violence is surprisingly gory, and the deaths are quite creative.

2. Prom Night (1980)

Jamie Leigh stars in this classic which begins with a group of kids playing a tag game which leads to a deadly circumstance. Years later all the kids have grown into teens and are waiting for the big prom. Someone else has grown up too and remembers the fatal game, what follows is a standard slasher fare complete with a wicked beheading and goofy Saturday Night Fever Disco dance-off. Ms. Curtis made a name for herself as one of the most beloved Final Girls with her roles in Halloween, Terror Train and Prom Night, yet of the three films, this was considered the weakest film. Not quite the classic that many believe yet with Jamie Leigh and Leslie Nielson this movie stands out among the pack.

1. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

A flashback shows the bitchy, Mary Lou Maloney, doing whatever it takes to get the crown as Prom Queen, well she doesn't get to wear it and dies in a freak accident. 30 years later her ghost returns to claim her prize; she then possesses a busty teen, and the result is quite grizzly. This movie is an in name only sequel is quite decent and features some great special effects and some pretty gruesome murder scenes. The real star is Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou who with her witty one-liners and campy presence give vengeful bitch new meaning. It is a shame they didn't decide to make the Prom Night franchise focus on Mary Lou exclusively, she could have easily become another Freddy Krueger, but instead, the follow-up film would tone her evil spirit down and make her a more comical villain.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

From the makers of Saw- Only one survivor. Only one chance to escape pure evil.

The Collector (2009)

Arkin is an ex-con looking to make a better life for his daughter yet he is drawn back into his old habits when his ex-wife is in debt to loan sharks. He decides to break into the home of a wealthy client only to find that another criminal has decided to target this family leaving a series of deadly traps that he has to avoid at risk of death. Director Marcus Dunstan wrote many of the movies in the Saw franchise and influence of that series is evident in The Collector. The booby traps are elaborate and quite deadly as Arkin tries to find a way out as well as helping the family he has intended to steal from. The Collector is one of the more minor entries in the Torture Porn genre and blends home invasion into a bloody chainsaw of death and gore. Savaged by critics The Collector has become a hit with gorehounds for taking a tired genre and injecting some new blood, the film is similar to Saw in many respects, yet the antagonist is a mad genius who only wishes to kill and torture. Followed by a sequel that is equally gory.

The Collection (2012)

The daughter of wealthy man is taken by the masked Collector who then seeks out Arkin from the first movie to assist in her rescue. Teamed with a band of mercenaries Arkin leads the group into the heart of the Collectors bizarre menagerie of death and gore. This sequel to the 2009 gore cult classic picks up were the first one ended and places the band of armed mercenaries into the heart of The Collectors domain. The traps are more elaborate, and the sheer cruelty of the Collector is on full display with much more gore to include an opening sequence that rivals Ghost Ship in its bloody presentation. Unlike many sequels, The Collection does an effective job of matching its predecessor by amping up the action and terror with a bit of dark humor. Written and directed by the people who made the Saw movies this film will not disappoint those who enjoy good old-fashioned blood and gore.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Cool Website Mention on Shriek Freak Daily

My Friday the 13th page was linked to an outside website and included as part of its daily links. This is pretty awesome and looks like my Blog can get attention as I include more original content. Hope this is first of many links and nods.

Here is the link

Shriek Freak Daily

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Friday the 13th- The Worst to Best

12. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Once again Jason is back (Big surprise!), and this time he takes a bit of a holiday as he boards a cruise ship filled with partying teens and makes it into the "death boat." He kills some teens on board, and as the ship docks, we find our masked killer walking the streets of New York. Boy, do the street gangs have something to fear now!

Death Count: 19-21

11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
With a title that screams bloody bullshit we find Jason being cornered by Feds and gunned down in the coolest manner, and right before the opening credits! His death then reveals that there are many nonhuman things inside and a coroner decides he must eat its black, tarry heart. This, of course, brings the spirit of Jason back like the horror film The Hidden for yet another teen kill fest and the discovery that Jason had a sister.

Death Count: 24-27

10. Jason X (2001)

Ok, in the future the planet is pretty much a wasteland, so a school field trip with a group of students travel to a barren Earth where they find two cryogenically frozen bodies and one of them is named Jason. They, of course, make the huge mistake of bringing the bodies aboard to find that unleashing the hockey-masked killer was a bad choice. The ship somehow rebuilds Jason and makes him into a bionic killing machine as if he needed the enhancement.

Death Count: 25-28

9. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

It was no surprise that we would see yet another sequel, and in this one, we find a much older Tommy sent to a home for troubled teens. He suffers from nightmares and with a little help from the friendly staff Tommy tries to recover. We see a fellow patient murder an annoying boy, and his will death will lead to other similar murders. With no Jason Voorhees, we get a "who done it" that is so obvious the killer is practically waving his hand as he appears on the screen.

Death Count: 19

8. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Initially shown in 3-D, this third offering has the first appearance of Jason's infamous hockey mask as he cuts loose on yet another batch of teens. Although not as gory as the first films, the hokey 3-D effects make the film much more comfortable to watch for those squeamish types. With some intentional jokes and cool murder scenes, the film delivers well into its silly ending.

Death Count: 12

7. Friday the 13th (2009)

This remake of the 1980 Slasher Classic was an attempt at creating an origin story for Jason while portraying him with some sympathy despite his murderous nature. Instead, it is yet another slash and kill that was the norm for the 1980's. The movie blends elements of the first four movies with the primary plot focusing on a young man looking for his missing sister who was among Jason’s first group of victims. The movie did fairly well but failed to jumpstart a new series of sequels.

Death Count: 15

6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

In what is jokingly referred to as Jason meets Carrie, we find the hockey-masked killer facing a serious challenge in the form of a telekinetic teenage girl. Her powers unknowingly release Jason from his watery tomb, and she then spends the rest of the movie trying to put him back.

Death Count: 16-17

5. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

The first attempt to put closure to the series (we know better!) introduces Corey Feldman as Tommy, a shy teen who has a knack for making horror masks. Jason is sent to the morgue, and he comes back to life to catch up on those teens stupid enough to have sex in the woods and trip in the forest.

Death Count: 14

4. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

This mashup of two of the most famous slasher franchises focuses on Freddy Krueger trying to regain his mojo after people have forgotten about him. Thinking he can scare up new victims by manipulating Jason Voorhees he soon finds that Jason is too good at taking out victims forcing the two into an epic grudge match. This movie was quite successful and is a favorite of slasher fans who long debated who would win in this slasher deathmatch.

Death Count: 20-26

3. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

This time the director must have forgotten about the previous movie as we find a seemingly normal Tommy digging up Jason's grave. His attempt to cremate Jason fails as a bolt of lightning awakens the maggot-encrusted killer. With the typical plot that follows we find Tommy trying to convince the authorities that Jason is alive, yet he gets jail time for his effort.

Death Count: 18

2. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

The sole survivor from the first film finds herself quickly dispatched by an unknown killer who then returns to Camp Crystal Lake to avenge the death of the first film's killer. As with the first, we have another group of counselor's who are preparing to open the camp. We see a creepy campfire tale about Jason and have him appear as a hooded killer.

Death Count: 9

1.    Friday the 13th (1980)

Sean Cunningham and Tom Savini were little-known players when they used their talents to create a film which would forever change the horror scene and create a market for cheap slasher copycats. The opening of Camp Crystal Lake brings joy and excitement to a group of teen counselors who soon discover that crazed murderer is taking them out one at a time with axes, knives, and assorted garden tools. The film tries to come off as a mystery but it is quite obvious who the killer is, and we don't see them until the last 20 minutes of the film.

Death Count: 10

Saturday, April 7, 2018

If they can hear you, they can hunt you.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Dir- John Krasinski
A year after an unknown event has left the world largely empty of people a family somehow survives by keeping as quiet as possible. Despite all efforts to maintain as normal a life as the circumstance allows the threat of death looms closer as the family prepares for its future. Living in fear of a hostile outsider has been seen in movies with the antagonists ranging from native rivals to Nazis to rabid animals. How one can survive and fight back is portrayed quite effectively in this thriller from first time Director John Krasinski. The cast includes Krasinski's real-life wife Emily Blunt along with hearing impaired actress Millicent Simmonds who displays a fantastic range of feelings and emotions despite her handicap. The tension of the outside threat is offset by the internal conflict that the family faces as the parents struggle to protect their children while trying to raise them with some semblance of normalcy. A Quiet Place has an innovative yet straightforward concept that is directed quite effectively, the feeling of fear is ever present but hope still looms as the father finds ways to improve the situation for his family and shows the courage that is stronger than any fear he may feel. When confronted with the threat of death facing your family one can hope that we all would show this kind of courage no matter who stands in your way.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far!

Scream (1996) US

Dir- Wes Craven 
Well you know the routine, put in a bunch of generic teens, some big breasted bimbos, really dumb jocks, inept police officers and a killer with a cool mask and cell phone. Sounds so familiar, well this time Wes Craven deliberately makes it so to deliver a spoof which more then makes up for all those silly teen splatter flicks of the 80's. Scream is an homage to these and many other films which used buckets of corn syrup, bad jokes, and Xeroxed scripts to deliver gory splatterfests which lined video store shelves. The film stars Neve Campbell as a virgin teen who is being stalked by a killer who may have murdered her mother a year before. Courtney Cox is the intrepid yet sleazy tabloid reporter out to make a name for herself, and Drew Barrymore is a blonde bimbo who makes a big mistake by not paying enough attention to those silly horror films. In the course of the film, we have Campbell facing the attention of the police, media, and her friends as her boyfriend is nabbed for the crime and may very well be as innocent as the man she pegged as her mother's murderer. Who exactly is the killer, well I'm not gonna tell you!!! Craven blends plenty of blood and gore with enough clichés and cameos to make up for even his misfires of the 80's. Although the film does seem a bit confused on whether it is a spoof or a serious horror film with a few jokes put in, Scream is a rare horror gem that stands out because it is mocking the very clichés that plague films of this genre. In the twenty years since its release Scream would establish a new genre of self-aware horror spoofs called Meta Horror, that would include The Cabin in the Woods, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Shaun of the Dead and the three successful Scream sequels.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Five Horror Films for April Fools Day

On a day known for pulling pranks, I decided to check out and review some films that have April Fools Day as a theme. Strangely, three of the movies were released in 1986 and were all Canadian. The more recent films were released twenty years later and were both copycats of I Know What You Did Last Summer. I have ranked the movies from worst to best so enjoy them if you can find. 

April Fool's (2007) 
Dir- Nancy Norman

Another silly horror film that seems to have borrowed heavily from other revenge-driven slashers, this one should have been titled "I Know What You Did in the Hood Last Summer." A group of high school friends plays a cruel prank on the school nerd but end up killing him by accident. A year later each of them turns up dead as police try to find who is responsible. The movie is low budget and looks like a poorly made student film; the only highlight is the appearance of hip hop rapper Lil Flip who performs a few songs for the school dance. If the film intended to fool you into watching it, then it succeeded as the only reason I watched was to include in a list of other April Fool themed horror films.  

April Fool's Day (2008) 
Dir- Phil Flores, Mitchell Altieri

This movie calls itself a remake of 1986 classic "April Fools Day," but it should have instead been called "I know what you did last April Fools Day." This movie differs significantly from the first film and is an entirely different film with the only plot elements they share along with the name is having one character videotaping their activities and a twist ending. The original movie had a great setting, likable characters and was littered with April Fools pranks to lighten the mood. Instead, this "remake" is a very predictable "who done it" with a cast of actors you can't like except for Scout Taylor-Compton. As it is direct to video release the quality of the movie is lacking, it seems more like a movie of the week instead of a remake despite having the same producer from the original film. 

Killer Party (1986) 
Dir- William Fruet

Three college friends are pledging a sorority, and during the initiation one of the girls shows a genuine talent for elaborate pranks. This skill gets her into the sorority but only because her house sisters want to stage an elaborate April Fools prank in an abandoned house that is being used for a party. Someone or something does not want them to use the house for their event, and the party gets crashed by something paranormal. Killer Party was released in 1986 and was going to be titled April Fools Day until Paramount Pictures announced they were producing a film of the same name. The movie is notable for not one but two fake opening scenes that will confuse viewers who may wonder if they have the right film. Killer Party does not take itself too seriously, the death scenes are not too graphic and seem almost comical in execution. 

Slaughter High (1986) 
Dir- George Dugdale, Mark Ezra, and Peter Litten

Revenge is a common theme in most slasher movies; it seems like every killer was done wrong by someone in the past, most likely for being an outcast or for merely being weird. A high school nerd is humiliated by a group of students who then take it further by playing another cruel prank that results in him being burned and scarred by acid. Ten years later these same students are invited back for a class reunion only to face a masked killer who takes them out one at a time. Like so many slasher films Slaughter High follows a formula that had already become as derivative as overage actors playing teenagers. This movie does stand out for the sheer cruelty of the prank, those classmates are horrible, and the revenge sought by the killer is so well deserved. It is worth noting that the actor who played the nerd committed suicide after the production of the film, so one has to wonder if any of those on-screen taunts went too far. With three listed directors it does not surprise me that the film is such a mess, it is riddled with numerous fake jump scares, poor lighting and some deaths that are pretty implausible. Slaughter High has gained a cult following for featuring the beautiful Caroline Munro and has been released on Blu-Ray and DVD. Originally titled "April Fools Day" it was changed as not to be confused by the far superior Paramount Picture featuring Deborah Foreman.   

April Fool's Day (1986) 
Dir- Fred Walton

A group of college friends gathers together at the remote island mansion of their mutual friend Muffy as she hosts a weekend party to celebrate their forthcoming graduation. At first, the guests are met with silly pranks, but then the gags begin to cross the line as each guest finds their darkest secret may be known to someone in their circle. As the weekend unfolds, we find guests disappear and turn up dead. Meanwhile, the hostess seems to have taken a dark turn as her personality is now distant and far from the pleasant and beautiful lady they all thought they knew. Trapped with no way off the island and no telephone the remaining survivors face an uncertain fate as they look for ways to escape their seemingly homicidal hostess. April Fools Day arrived amid the glut of teen slasher movies in the mid-1980's but stood out for the seemingly restrained violence that is more present in the standard slasher fare. The movie also features a twist that once revealed will make you appreciate the film after repeated viewing. The standout, of course, is the beautiful Deborah Foreman who was quite a star in her day and a delight to watch as the hostess who may or may not have a dark secret of her own.