A Nightmare On Elm Street Part One is my favourite horror movie of all time; The Elm Street series has been an obsession of mine since before I’d even seen a single film. When I was young, I used to visit the local video store with my family to pick up a few flicks for the week – usually something for the family, and something martial arts related for me and my brother to enjoy. While my family looked, I would inevitably find myself in the horror section – always off in the corner, and always filled from floor to ceiling with gruesome covers depicting terrifying characters who were maimed, mutated, or scarred, and with titles that would haunt my nights and days. Chief among these were the Elm Street movies and the central antagonist Freddy Krueger, whose burned face leered at me from every angle. I remember catching trailers for the movies, or snippets of scenes late at night on TV which both horrified and intrigued me, and would chat about them in school with friends. Flash-forward many years and the series has gone from strength to ridicule to infamy to respected horror canon. While I bought the series on DVD, I always felt that the features were a little light, so when it was announced that a massive retrospective documentary charting the entire series as a phenomenon was being made, that weird little boy inside me returned.
A New Line in the Murder Range
Never Sleep Again is a glorious piece of work for the fan, and a prime example of how to make a rewarding, entertaining documentary which both respects and pokes fun at a film series. With contributions from cast and crew who talk about their respective work on every movie in the series, as well as some of the spin-offs, it is an extremely well-researched and interesting feature. While it is clearly catered towards fans like me, I think those with a passing interest and even someone who hasn’t seen one of the movies would find something to enjoy within. Narrated by Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) herself, the feature documents the beginnings of the series in the minds of Wes Craven and Robert Shaye – how it catapulted both Director and New Line Studios into movie stardom, and how it was an unexpected commercial and critical smash. For those of who who have a particular favourite in the series, don’t be concerned that it will be passed over as each entry is given the same level of reverence and coverage, with witty stories on how directors were hired, how the stories were written, how the effects were made, and the impact the movies had on the lives of the cast members. At four hours long, we cover the 7 seven main films in the series, Freddy Versus Jason, and the short lived television series, with contributions from Craven, Shaye, each of the directors, and most of the writers and actors (no Depp, Arquette, Fishburne and a few others) who discuss their favourite scenes and how they approached the particular film.
Not only are the interviews entertaining and enlightening, but the duo who made the feature, Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch, along with Thommy Hutson should be credited for created such a coherent piece. With such an amount of material to wade through, and a massive amount of interviewees, they have assembled a masterpiece of horror lore, and a wonderful must-have accompanying piece to the series, one which deserves, nay, must be mentioned in any discussion of the series. We get nice animated pieces whilst moving between each film, and a friendly atmosphere which could only have been facilitated so well by dedicated, professional fans. The second disc contains bonus features which range from amusing novelties, to extended interviews, mini featurettes covering artwork, music, the Elm Street expanded universe, the fans and beyond. As if it wasn’t obvious, if you’re a fan of Freddy, then this is a must have. Due to the length of the feature, those who don’t know much about the series may be put off, but if you give it a shot, you’re sure to be sucked into the world which Craven and Co created, and I can only assume you’ll want to give the movies a shot.
Are you a fan of the Elm Street series? Which movie in the series is your favourite? How does the series hold up against rival series and which set of movies would you like a documentary of this size and scope to be made for? Let us know in the comments!
Definitely the second best in the series, Elm Street Part 3 brings back Nancy, the heroine of the first movie, and happily disregards the events of the fairly awful Freddy’s Revenge. Featuring a good cast- Langenkamp, Saxon, Fishburne, Arquette, and a decent script by Frank Darabont, Dream Warriors should not be seen as a rubbish sequel due to its many good points overcoming the handful of bad ones.
Since the events of the first film, Nancy has become a therapist/social worker for disturbed kids, specialising in traumas brought about by nightmares and fantasies. The film is situated mostly in a home/hospital for these kids, with Nancy bringing her expertise when it appears that an old enemy is up to new tricks. At first the kids do not trust her, but once she reveals herself as someone who has been through similar events they treat her as a powerful ally. Unlike the rest of the doctors, Nancy does not believe that they are experiencing some kind of group psychosis. The bond between Nancy and each of the kids feels genuine – a motherly bond that both she and them are lacking. It becomes apparent that Freddy is back, and is stalking more kids. The key to stopping Kruger this time lies with the gifts each kid has, a skill only they can bring into the ‘dream world’ with them, whether it be great strength or magic powers. However, the most powerful gift belongs to Alice (Patricia Arquette), who can bring outsiders into her dreams meaning they can all fight Freddy together. As they fight for survival one of Nancy’s colleagues, together with her estranged father (John Saxon) hunt for Kruger’s bones to give them a suitable burial which will hopefully end his curse.
The plot is wildly imaginative, and sometimes flies all over the place, but that is also what made the original original. Again the kids are alone and misunderstood, but it is Nancy who teaches them to have confidence in their own strengths and to not be afraid. Arquette and Langenkamp work well together, and the rest of the group includes the usual stereotypes of jock, nerd, addict etc. Unlike later films in the series, and most films of its ilk, we grow to care about these characters and want to see who, if any, will survive. We spend a fair amount of time getting to know them, their fears, and even see a little of ourselves in them. Being a horror movie though, we know that not everyone is getting out of this nightmare alive, leading to many gruesome kills including a few that are highlights of the series. The film has many excellent effects, although the series here begins to show a reliance on gore. There are a decent amount of scares and a fair amount of tension is built up before the climactic battle. Englund once again steals the show, but the one liners are starting to make an appearance – the more we get to know the bad guy, the less scary he becomes, and soon we are rooting for him and forgetting that he is a child-killing molester. Luckily this film doesn’t go too far down that road, but it certainly opens the door. Overall a very good horror film with so many ideas it could have been warranted being split over the course of two films as a nicely rounded trilogy. The DVD doesn’t contain any features of note, better to check out the Never Sleep Again documentary as it has plenty of extras regarding this entry.
What do you think of Dream Warriors – is it your favourite sequel, or does it stray too far into fantasy and away from horror? Let us know in the comments!
Aah, Halloween- the most wonderful time of the year. When even those who wouldn’t usually subject themselves to all manner of terrors decide to watch the odd scary movie or 2. Unfortunately for me, this part of the Spac Hole which I currently inhabit does not indulge in the season as seriously and joyfully as other places, so I have always felt a little deprived. Sure, we had some parties, sure we threw fireworks at Gerry’s house, and yes we would watch whatever limited choice of movies were on over the few days but compared to other places (particularly you festive folks in the US) it just didn’t seem as much damn fun. In my mind, the whole month of October should be a vessel for Halloween activities, from dressing up to trick or treating, to watching scary movies and hiding under the beds of people you don’t know with a chainsaw.
To that end I have helpfully made a few lists of classic horror movies which sould chill you to the bone, and add to the singular atmosphere of this most evil time of the year. This list of 31 movies was created so that you can split the fun over the entire month (alternatively you could wait until closer to the day and have a few marathon sessions) and let yourself tremble ever so slightly in the supposed safety of your own home. Just be sure to lock your doors and windows, close the curtains, and tuck up the kids tightly in bed (checking underneath and in closets for me) before turning off the lights. Maybe check those locks once more, you can never be too sure or too safe. Oh, what’s that? That noise from outside? I wouldn’t worry, probably just the wind. By all means go out and check, but that would mean going into the basement to find batteries for your torch. Really, just relax and watch the film, your paranoia can’t hurt you. The thing outside, yeah- it could hurt you. But you locked the doors, right?
These don’t have to be watched in any particular order, but some would suit the big day (or night) better than others. This is not meant to be a list of the best or even my favourite horror movies (though I love them all) but rather I feel these offer something of the atmosphere of Halloween. Enjoy.
An American Werewolf in London: This one has it all- gore, jump scares, atmosphere, action, humour, and a great plot with likeable characters. WereWolves, like Vampires have taken a rather glossy beating recently. This proves that you can wrap up a love story with horror without being teeny, without being sparkly, without being demeaning to viewers with brains. Classic Halloween scene: The Nazi section.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Wes Craven, Johnny Depp, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and Robert Englund- lovely ingredients for a tasty Halloween Pie. This is the original and best, before the horrific character of Freddy (Here just Fred) became a snuggleable, bantering chum. What could be better for Halloween than scaring yourself so badly that you can’t sleep- knowing that something terrible may be waiting for you in your dreams. A story with more depth than it gets credit for, dealing with the Craven standard of ill-advised parenting and how the children have to cope with the mistakes of the elders, this is full of genius set pieces and bloody action. Classic Halloween Scene: Nancy gets a bloody post coital surprise- but not what you’d expect. And did they say she was 14??
Alien: Often described as Halloween in space, or a Haunted House in Space, Alien deals with our fears of isolation, of being trapped, of being in s situation way beyond our control and way above our heads. Remove the alien, remove the setting, and this could be any slasher movie from the time. However, that would be taking away the fun, the fear, the atmosphere, and the ingenuity. This is dark, claustrophobic stuff, and the perfect film for Halloween to make you look out the windows into pitch darkness and wonder if something is staring back. Classic Halloween Scene: Dallas goes hunting, but realizes too late that he is the prey.
The Blair Witch Project: Similar to Alien this deals with our fears of isolation and the un-experienced unknown, but spices things up with issues of abandonment, paranoia, and things that go bump in the woods. A classic survival tale for city folk poking their ill-prepared noses where they don’t belong, Blair Witch succeeded because of it’s innovative filming and marketing techniques. It still succeeds today amongst a rubbish tip of similar films because the plot is solid, the acting is real, the rising tension and fear played out between the characters feels exactly like how we would react, the growing dread is almost unrivalled, and the climax is absolutely chilling. Classic Halloween Scene: The search for Josh in the freakshow house at the end will get you tingling and gripping the seat every time.
Creepshow: Halloween isn’t just about traumatizing each other, it’s also about good old fashioned camp-fire tales to warm the heart and soul. This is cheesy at times, but never boring or irritating, it feels nostalgic both for children of the 80s and of the 50-60s. The tales are brief, well written and acted, the effects are still top-notch with an earthy feel, and the scares are tense and fun. Classic Halloween Scene: Trying to convince your abusive wife to enter a box where a monster lives has never looked so enjoyable.
Candyman: Both Cliver Barker and Tony Todd are vital ingredients in any scare-fest- put them together and you’d better have a few spare pairs of pants lying around. An intellegent, sexy, city based horror which merges old world supernatural fears with the modern world of big business, CSI policework, snooping journalists, and end of the century hairdos. Barker at his height was a fountain of invention, bringing a freshness to the genre which made everyone else’s ideas look like old creaky mummy movies. Candyman merges urban myths with ancient folklore, mysticism with science, gore and shocks with beauty and lyricism. Todd’s presence is as powerful as any of the classic monsters, while Madsen gives a refreshing twist on the final girl character. Classic Halloween Scene: Hook through the chest.
Carrie: One for the teens this, though it may have aged some due to being so authentically 70s, the scares and the themes of abuse, loneliness, bullying, and separation are no less relevant or universal today. The story is simple but pumped up by ideas of religion, extremism, and psychotic mummies (not those ones). The acting by the main players is superb, there is something bleak about the whole sordid business, and we manage both to sympathize with and be scared by Carrie. And wish we had her gift. De Palma twists the tension knobs until they break off, though some of the intrusive camera guff is laughable now. Classic Halloween Scene: Everything between the bucket dropping and the school burning.
Child’s Play: The evil doll is a well worn sub genre of horror, but one which has very few, if any, classics. Child’s Play is amongst the best, and the series is certainly the most notorious. Like many 80s horrors, the series was unfairly derided for it’s supposed impact on our youth with some people going so far as blaming it for some grisly murders. As with most of these series, the quality decreased as the sequels increased, but the original remains surprisingly effective given the silly subject matter. If you don’t know the story- multi murdering maniac transfers his soul into a popular doll moments before his death, doll is picked up by young boy, doll begins murderous rampage again until it realises that it needs to sacrifice the boy to become human again. There are sure to be some laughs, some screams of just kick him in the balls and throw hm out the window!’, but maybe a few jumps too. Classic Halloween Scene: Chucky terrorizes the baby-sitter and we all jump when the phone rings.
Dawn Of The Dead: There is something quite special which you may not know about Dawn. If you watch it at Dawn- depending on where you live etc, try to time it where the film will just be ending as the sunrises. Then go for a walk immediately. It’s likely there won’t be many people around. The ones you will see will probably be shambling. The bleak nature of the film rarely hits harder than in these moments and you will surely look around yourself and feel a stark aura fill your being. There are few things more terrifying than waking up to an otherwise beautiful day and not wanting to be any part of it. Classic Halloween Scene: So many to choose from, from funny, to scary, to bleak, but I’ll go for the truck parking section as we realize that paradise can quickly become hell, and a haven can suddenly become a tomb.
Day Of The Dead: Surely the most grim of all the DEAD films, this is perfect Halloween viewing, not only because of the exquisite gore and effects. Claustrophobia and paranoia again play a large part, and you can’t help wondering why all these psychopaths keep getting in the way of your enjoyable apocalypse. Most people would be happily looting and whiling away their days watching DVDs, playing games, reading books, getting drunk, but there always has to be a crazy doctor or maniacal military group to spoil your good times. Halloween is all about good times, stick this on to reap the benefits. Classic Scene: When the Zombies step on the lift and it begins moving downwards- you just know all hell is about to break loose.
Dracula (30s): A classic to chill the bones of all comers, this still has the ability to… worry those who haven’t seen it before. A film that’s almost a hundred years old- how could that possibly be scary? Well, there’s a reason why this is still considered the best version. Classic Halloween Scene: When Harker first meets The Count.
The Exorcist: Now we get into the truly demanding territory. A rarity in the genre, The Exorcist was a massive financial and critical hit upon release, pampered with awards and then…uh, banned. It may not be as hard-hitting these days, but it’s still rough, creepy stuff. Plus it is played extremely coldly, and without a hint of humour. This is as bleak as horror gets, and even the supposed happy ending leaves us with a bitter, fearful taste. Excellent performances, bewildering jump scares, and freaky moments all conspire to chill the soul and ensure you cuddle up to your beloved in bed. Classic Halloween Scene: Spider walk.
The Evil Dead: This was mostly played for scares over the played for laughs sequel, and while there is humour here, the main focus is on sudden frights and wonderful, innovative camera techniques. You’ll have fun watching this one as each character gets picked off, comes back, and gets picked off again. Classic Halloween Scene: Cheryl at the window, not in the cupboard.
Friday The 13th: One of the original slashers and one of the most successful, this one has plenty of ideas and violence, and staples of the sub genre which have now become clichés. It has dated, it is silly and quite tame, but it was made with love and ambition and freshness. The ending is shocking, the performances are ok, and there isn’t a hockey mask in sight. Classic Halloween Scene: Arrow through the neck- don’t have sex kids.
Final Destination: Another rarity- an inspired modern horror film with great ideas which blends humour and genuine frights. We have a series of characters who rather than getting picked off one by one in an uncaring fashion, are shown to be real kids with real lives, fears, and concerns- and then they are picked off one by one in increasingly exciting, tense, and innovative ways. A film which deals with our fear of death, of inevitability succeeds on every level. Classic Halloween Scene: During a heated discussion in his car, one reckless character refuses to accept that his life is pre-destined or that death is stalking his every move. To prove the point he parks his car on train tracks with his friends as the train hurtles towards them. He soon realizes he was wrong.
The Fog: One of the great campfire spook stories, The Fog is still sadly underrated. Carpenter creates a wonderful atmosphere here which suits the season perfectly- even better if you’re near the sea or if there is fog around. Classic Halloween Scene: The introduction with the wizened old sailor sets the tone for the rest of the show, and should set the tone for your night.
Hellraiser: Another British one now, offering something different from our American cousins. We have sex, violence, lots of gore, and some S&M themed fun. This is gritty in an Eastenders sort of way- you don’t really want to look or have anything to do with these characters. Classic Halloween Scene: When Kirsty first meets the Cenobites- what is the finger in the mouth about?
Halloween: What more can I say? This is the movie which should be watched every Halloween- not only is it a genuine classic of the genre and a kick-ass movie no matter which way you look at it, it drips with and evokes that special Seasonal feeling that few things do. Make this the highlight of your night. After you’ve cut some throats. Classic Halloween Scene: Young Laurie runs screaming down her street being chased by a murderous maniac. She clambers to the front door of a neighbour, knocks and begs for help. A light is turned on. Then switched off. Did they think it was just kids messing around? Were they too afraid to help? Welcome To America folks.
Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers (70s): Some us like to dress up at Halloween as ghosts, vampires, or our favourite horror movie characters. Some people go further and pretend to be the person that the costume depicts. This definitive version of Bodysnatchers takes the idea of hiding behind a costume to dramatic and terrifying extremes- what if person next to you on the bus, your neighbour, your friend, your wife, or child was no longer the person they once were? In fact, what if some alien creature had taken their body as host and was walking around as an imperfect mockery of that person’s life? What if this alien race had designs on all your friends and everyone you’ve ever known, and what if you were next? This chilling view of a world snatched away from under our noses is all about loss of identity and mistrust, and makes for unsettling Halloween viewing. Classic Halloween Scene: The final moments. I’ll say no more.
Night Of The Living Dead: A staple of midnight viewing, the surrounding darkness makes the black and white all the more stark and cold; There are no easy answers or happy endings here. If you are watching this with a group of people, ask yourself which ones you would trust in a life/death situation. If your cosy home was surrounded suddenly by thousands of undead, who amongst you would come out as leader? Would you sit back, would you make decisions, would you think only of yourself or would you think of the safety of the group? Either way, you’re bound to get a chewing. Classic Halloween Scene: They’re coming to get you, Barbara.
The Omen: So far we don’t trust our neighbours and friends, but what if you thought your son was the Antichrist? The Omen is an apocalyptic film in more than one way and is filled with strong performances, gripping and bloody deaths, and a memorable, frightening score. Music is often pivotal in horror movies, and as you clamber the stairs to bed after this, with infernal monks chanting obscenities in your head, that corner of darkness you can’t quite see clearly may fill with unspeakable evil more readily. Classic Halloween Scene: Damian decides to ride his bike.
Prince Of Darkness: I find this to be Carpenter’s most underrated film mostly because it is awesome and should be mentioned in the same breath as Halloween and The Thing. Sure the plot is messed up with it’s evil green satanic liquid taking over zombies and bums mixed with time-travelling dream messages and psych jargon, but seriously it is awesome. It has more effective jump scares than any of his other shows and there is a creeping sense of dread and atmosphere throughout. In many ways it is classic Carpenter- a group of different thrown together in a building who have to team together or fall apart and stand against an overpowering threatening external force. It is a siege movie, it is clever for the genre though at times it doesn’t know what genre it wants to be. I think that was part of the fun though- like Big Trouble In Little China it is more than just it’s labels instead transcending notions of what it should or shouldn’t be, and is well ahead of it’s time. Classic Halloween Scene: The final survivors holding up behind some furniture while one of the crazies admires himself in a mirror with a large blade.
Ring: Please please please watch the Japanese version, not the abomination that is the remake. Sure the remake has plenty of jump moments, but it also has a deer on a boat, Brian Cox in a bath, and a director who decides it would be clever to cut away from the movie’s most important scene for the sake of a car chase. The original has Nanako Matsushima and Hiroyuki Sanada and if that isn’t enough of a recommendation then please remove thine eyes from mine page post haste. Watch this deep into the night, possibly as the last film, then play the lovely game of phone your friend once they have left to terrify them. Unfortunately the ideas first seen here have been so over-used that these games have become diluted, but the film still has an unflinching power. Not a drop of blood is shed, there are no knives, guns, or people bursting in from behind doors with a loud noise- this is the best horror film of the nineties and goes against everything that decade threw at us. And it’s a damn good story with excellent performances. Classic Halloween Scene: Sadako. TV. Sleep tight.
Scream: The second best horror movie of the nineties is the stuff of parties. By know everyone should have seen it, but many of you will have forgotten it and how good it still is. Plenty of shocks, laughs, scares, and action as well as a script the quality of which horror movies rarely get. And my beloved Neve Campbell is in it. Few horror films provide this much entertainment whilst still being scary, funny, and clever. The nods to horror movies will keep the nerds amongst your bunch happy and you can shout out when you spot a reference. Classic Halloween Scene: The final house chase scene as Neve doesn’t know where to run or who to trust.
The Shining: It’s rare for most people to get snow at Halloween, even more rare to be completely snowed in and surrounded. Try replacing the notion of snow with rain or darkness- would you want to go wandering outside if it was completely dark or hammering down? Anyway, this is another film which plays on isolation, claustrophobia, and paranoia. It’s probably best not to watch this one as a cosy night in flick with your little family- you’ll start wondering what the hell is going through each other’s minds. This is a giant of the genre with heaps of atmosphere and plenty of unsettling moments which deserves to be menti0ned at any Horror Movie Marathon. Classic Halloween Scene: Danny was warned not to go in that room. Prepare to be scared when Daddy goes looking too.
Silence Of The Lambs: The critic’s choice. Don’t invite any critics to your party as they will moan, groan, bore your girlfriends, and likely drink all your wine. There should be wine. This is nasty stuff from start to end as poor Jodie Foster tries to solve a murder whilst hiding her own fears from the unlikely Terminator Anthony Hopkins. This is better suited to smaller group viewing as it isn’t exactly cheery, blood n guts fun but it does the job when you’re on your own. Classic Halloween Scene: Anything with Bill really.
The Thing: In many ways the ultimate John Carpenter film, the ultimate macho man fest, and the number 1 examination of the paranoia which creeps into people during periods of isolation. The effects here still blow me away and they are only part of a long list of quality to describe this film- look at the cast, the performances, the music, the scares, the cinematography, and the way Carpenter drags the tension out of every shot until we don’t know who has been infected and who hasn’t. Great action adds to the great scares, but the special effects and story are kings here. Classic Halloween Scene: When the survivors are tied to chairs and Mac goes through each one by one to test if any are not human. Genius.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: This one still hurts today- it’s just so damn grim, dirty, and repulsive as to make the horror timeless. Sure they scares may be cliché now and the gore is almost non-existent, but the low down atmosphere, the miniscule budget, and the amateur (but good) performances all conspire to make this uncomfortable watching. I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who still think that there could be a family like this in their town, just as much as I’m sure that there probably are still families or people like this in the world- maybe not in your town, but possibly the next one over. And chainsaws are awfully easy to come by these days. Classic Halloween Scene: The entire dinner scene. Truly horrific, the use of sound and various camera techniques make this one of the most intense few minutes in any horror movie.
28 Days Later: A modern classic, and one of the few great British horror movies of the last few decades. Taking riffs from Romero and King this is a post apocalyptic survivalist’s wet nightmare. Empty streets, shops to loot, cars to steal- all great if it wasn’t for the hundreds of thousands of psychopaths charging towards you in search of your blood. This is the 21st century folks, and zombies ain’t got time to amble and stumble about- these are confident, successful, modern big business, stepping up to the plate, corporate bull-shitting zombies, and they won’t take closing a door in their face for an answer. If you can’t run fast, you’re screwed. And just to make things Mega Man 9 difficult- these fiends don’t even have to bite you to kill/convert you- one drop of their blood/saliva entering your body, through a gash, a scratch, a kiss, or a tear is enough it recruit you. And sheesh! They don’t even give you time to grieve for your fallen comrade- within seconds of getting exposed, your best friend will be diving for your jugular too. My advice- kill everyone you see and hide under a pile of coats till it all goes away. Classic Halloween Scene: An abandoned car sitting in the middle of an abandoned London- nothing to fear but technology.
The Wicker Man: Nothing to fear but religion. Look closely enough and all religions begin to look like cults; they all have a figurehead, the followers worship the figurehead unquestionably and offer prayers, thanks, songs, and sacrifices, there are certain rituals usually borne of centuries long since dusted, those involved are usually inviting to outsiders in person, but have a secret hatred, anger, or issue against them once backs are turned. So we have The Wicker Man, possibly the best British Horror Film of the whole sorry lot. Aah, the confusion of two worlds colliding as we watch a upstanding lawman and guardian of his own archaic faith fall victim ever so slowly to a cult even more decrepit than his own. He knows something terrible is amiss, but it isn’t until his toes turn to cinders that he realizes his fate was sealed the second his feet touched the land. Classic Halloween Scene: When we first see Mr Straw and realize our hero’s fate.
Paranormal Activity: Proof not only that horror movies still have the power to scare, entertain, and bring in the mega bucks, proof not only that a good story well executed can be more than a match for buckets of blood, but also proves that in this day and age of $200 million dollar movies that a small group with talent, an idea, and a few months worth of average salary can make a great movie. Romero did it in the 60s, Carpenter did it in the seventies, Raimi in the 80s, Myrick and Sanchez in the 90s, and now Oren Peli has continued the tradition. Using every trick in the book he has made a classic pastiche of the genre and a thrill ride akin to running naked through a field of land mines. The setting of the movie is perfect for Halloween viewing- primarily it is set in the home and most of the scares happen at night- the film invades you with a sense that you aren’t safe in your own house and makes you take a second or third glance at that cup that you swore you set on the table which now sits on the ground. Likely to lose its impact with subsequent viewings this is best served to people who haven’t seen it. The scares (while you sense them coming) are unexpected and rewarding and while the characters are painfully annoying, you’ll still soil your drawers. Classic Halloween Scene: NEVER leave your foot hanging out of bed.
Trick R Treat: Anthology movies have had their heyday- we had a succession of British hits in the 70s, then a slew of bloodier efforts in the 80s. Then for 20 years anthology fans didn’t have a lot to be excited about aside from a few cheap efforts (although Asia did produce some great ones at the turn of the century). Trick R Treat is good enough to kick start a revolution in the genre, or at least it would have been had it been released in any cinemas. Straight to DVD (yet with a decent budget and big name cast) Trick R Treat features four shorts linked by an over-arcing plot and is to Halloween what presents are to Christmas. This one is destined to be shown and loved every Halloween for years to come, possibly as a double header with Carpenter’s classic. Classic Halloween Scene: The creepy opener sets the tone for the movie and features everything we love about the season, dripping with atmosphere, and settling us in for a bumpy ride.
Please leave your comments and suggestions for films you think are best viewed at Halloween, and let us know which films terrified you when you were growing up at this time of year.
After years of legal disputes and fans’ wailing, two of the horror genres most loved bad guys finally got the chance to meet and fight. Managing to mix the trademarks of both the Elm street and Friday 13th franchises, Freddy vs Jason knows exactly what it is, and delivers- gory, violent fun with the right balance between scares and jokes. Ronny Yu gives the fans what they want to see, buckets of teenage blood from elaborate deaths, and of course Krueger and Voorhees facing off.
The hideous past of Elm street has been forgotten, pasted over by the current council and the old folks in charge. Along the kids who died have been put in the past as if they never existed, as well as the creature who killed them- Freddy. Scientists created some new drug which stops kids from dreaming, therefore preventing Krueger from ever coming back-if no-one knows about him he cannot hurt anyone. Those kids who remember though are locked up in a local asylum so that they cannot infect the rest of their town. Freddy though still exists, waiting in Hell for his chance. He finally comes up with a cunning plan involving another notorious teen killer, Jason who has issues with his mother. Freddy, in the guise of Mrs Voorhees wakens Jason and tells him he needs to escape from Hell because their are a new bunch of naughty kids at Crystal Lake who need to be taught a lesson they’ll never forget, or remember. Freddy thinks that once Jason is let loose on Elm Street and starts killing, the teens will get scared giving Freddy power, and that they will eventually find out who Freddy was, giving him the power to return as they will think he is causing the deaths. This goes according to plan at first with Jason killing anyone in sight, but Freddy begins to get annoyed that Jason is having all the fun and doesn’t appreciate being sidelined. So he plans to take down Jason himself leading to a final confrontation. Meanwhile, the kids of Elm street are trying to destroy both maniacs, trying to find their weaknesses and exploit the fact that they are fighting each other.
To mix two films was always going to be a difficult process, so the writers must be greatly commended for coming up with a good idea and good script. Admittedly once the premise is established all that is left is the usual-kids try to find out who is killing them, and find a way to stop them. There are plenty of homages to past entries in both series, and more importantly there is a lot of blood and plenty of inventive deaths. The films moves at a great pace, doesn’t, to its credit, try to be clever by over-complicating matters. Englund is very good again, and Kirzinger is OK as Jason, and the rest of the cast of teens are fine, as most of them are there to be killed. Keena is likable as the heroine, but is nothing like the strong figure of Nancy. Ritter as the hero locked away because of his past with Freddy is also good, and the obligatory love story between them does not slow down the plot or killings. The more interesting relationship is between Kia and Linderman, the feisty friend of the heroine, and the nerd who falls for her. Its always good to see a Destiny’s Child reject get slaughtered on film, though to her credit she is good in the role. For violent, silly horror movies, this is definitely one of the best recent efforts as it does not take itself seriously and features some good death scenes and plenty of gore and excitement.
This DVD is well worth the money as there are lots of extra features. The deleted scenes and alternativ endings are good, the two commentaries are funnny, and the documentaries are interesting.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts on the movie- did this crossover pay off, or would it have been better during the peak of both series?
Probably as bad as part 2, but I must give it extra credit for some funny moments and for a couple of good performances.
Freddy returns to find his daughter, and to kill the last child of the parents who killed him in Springwood. In doing so, Freddy believes the way will open for him to explore a whole new city and country of kids and their fears. To do this he must bring his child into the open, as she has long since escaped Springwood. However, he underestimates his daughter and her friends, and they stage a fight to finally destroy Krueger.
The plot is interesting- more so than other fims in the genre, but unfortunately there are far too many jokes, and Freddy is no longer scary. Instead of following the plot, smoothing over the holes, and finding a good complete cast, it relies on effects, which are not as good as previous films, and gimmicks- the 3D caper. Englund seems sad that the role he will be remembered for is no longer a horrific and evil character from who it is almost impossible to escape from, but a one-liner giver, and slapstic comedian. Even the flashbacks, which could have been very dark, are not effective. Zane is good, Lezlie Deane is excellent, Depp gives an interesting cameo but the other cameos are average, as are the rest of the cast. Kotto does well in a small part. If only the film had sought to be more like the first- dark, rather than humorous it would have been better. If you want to make a scary film, make it completely devoid of humour. If you want to make a mix of both work well, keep the humour very tongue-in cheek.
The extras on the disk are similar to the previous few films, nothing too exciting. Buy it to complete the collection, probably only for fans.
As always, feel fee to share your thoughts on the film- was this a final hurrah for the series or was it another dire outing?
As a fan of the more extreme side of cinema, I ask you to join me, as I explore the history of Cinema's most extreme movies with all the sex, violence and symbolism intact. I'm here to reflect on the extreme movies that have come and gone to see what they mean, see what makes them so extreme, and of course, see if they're any good.