Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Nightmare on Remake Street

Hey folks what is more enjoyable than an original horror movie? Why, the remake of course.  Those are always delightful.  1, 2 Freddy’s coming for you. 3, 4 better lock your door. 5, 6 grab a crucifix. 7,8 stay up late. 9, 10 never sleep again.  This is A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Spoilers return from the dead...

Based on Wes Craven’s creation music video director Samuel Bayer (Green Day: Bullet in a Bible, Blink 182: Greatest Hits and Absolute Garbage) must have felt qualified to tackle this character of 20 years of terror and camp and breathe new life in it.   This film was literally shot for shot identical from its predecessor.  Writers Wesley Strick (Final Analysis, Wolf, The Saint and Doom) and Eric Heisserer (Stranger Adventures, The Thing 2011 version and Final Destination 5) hacked Craven’s simplistic creation and my blood went completely cold realizing director/producer Michael Bay (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, Transformers and Friday the 13th) felt the need to produce this wonderful magnum opus. 

Several teenagers in Springwood Ohio are having reoccurring dreams of a burnt man with a glove with blades attached to the fingers.   Going on the basis of the original concept of making Krueger a pedophile and dragging four kids to his Uncle Touchy’s Naked Puzzle Basement; several parents of these children that he abducted sought him out and burned him to death or did they?  Dun dun dun!!!
The story arc starts up its focus with Kris (Katie Cassidy of Click, Black Christmas, Taken, Harper’s Island and Gossip Girl) with her intense moments and emotions and blah blah blah.  A handful of teenagers Nancy (Rooney Mara of Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, Dream Boy, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner of Smallville, Veronica Mars, Jennifer’s Body, The Haunting in Connecticut and Red State) discover that memories where lashed together with nightmares.  In essence Freddy is just messing with their heads and admittedly the teens actually don’t even get to bother develop as an archetype of clich├ęs and platitudes.  
A few points of the remake versus the original, the remake had a substantial budget, some great 35mm HD along with a bit of CGI and this version of Freddy is a bit more sadistic, intelligent and warped. The cinematography and the SFX is a vast improvement.    No zany puns and whacky comments. Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley of Little Children, Watchmen, Shutter Island and Dark Shadows) torments the kids with cruel slow and messier deaths.

Now the effects are a vast improvement of the lack of budget in the original, story is actually scarier but Bayer has never heard of tension or build-up and the proper execution of this.   Every scare is yet another series of timed jump scares that once you catch the rhythm it is predictable as fish on Friday.  Musical cues must have a button on standby to blat out on the film.  Nice try Bayer but no cigar.  I am not stating the original is genius but it was original and clever.  This isn’t.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

His name was Jason...

And there on the handle was a hook…OoOoO… ah we all enjoy our campfire tales while toasting marshmallows but some stories can be more than a little spooky.   So grab your pup tent, let’s make s’mores and settle in.  This is Friday the 13th Part 2.

Legend tells of a spoiler that resurrects from the beyond.

It is five years later after the massacre of Crystal Lake and Pamela Vorhees has been killed and the young girl that survived, Alice (Adreinne King of Friday the 13th, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and While You Were Sleeping)attempts to live her life beyond that nightmare only to feel as though she is being watched. Her small apartment is filled with drawings of a disfigured boy that drug her underwater. She peers into her refrigerator to find the severed head of Pamela Vorhees , then has an ice pick driven in her right temple.    A group of teenagers come to Crystal Lake to reopen the site and set up a new camp and the head counselor Paul Holt (John Furey of A Killing Spring, The Gali’ndez File and A Little Thing Called Murder) his wacky sidekick Ted (Stu  Charno of Christine, Just One of the Guys and Once Bitten) and his psychologist girlfriend  Ginny (Amy Steel of All My Children, Guiding Light and April Fool’s Day) this camp will be good for the upcoming children’s summer.   Unbeknownst to our happy campers that Jason Vorhees somehow survived his drowning and was lost in the woods, living off wild life and vegetation like a confused creature of the wild.   Could he be fact or fiction?  Is he right behind you even as you read this!!??  No dummy he is the stuff of fiction.  
As most of the camp crew head into town for a little partying a smattering of counselors remain at camp to keep the home fires burning.  Obviously to have sex, smoke some local reefer and have a few beers; which as we all know this is a recipe for disaster via the killer’s perspective.  One by one they are being systematically slaughtered without provocation as Jason is a big time moral crusader against pre-marital sex, drugs and alcohol.  You would think the MPAA and he would be natural allies but I digress.

Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part 3, House, Soul Man, Warlock and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken) takes over for Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th, A Stranger is Watching, Spring Break, The New Kids and DeepStar Six) after the first movie from his former associate producer title he held.  The tagline alone is worth viewing.  The body count continues.  Granted the murder effects of Tom Savini is not in this film but in fact done by Carl Fullerton (Friday the 13th Part 3, The Hunger, Spasms, The Return of Swamp Thing and Warlock) and as always the musical score but Harry Manfredini ( Scores for Friday the 13th 1 through Jason X, Wishmaster, Bad Karma, the Omega Code and Terminal Invasion)The acting was not over the top, the lighting and sound was phenomenal and frankly there were some real scary moments rather than the expected point of countless jump scares.  Feel free to give this one a viewing if you are a slasher fan. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gem of the Month- Sundown: Vampire in Retreat

What do you get when you combine vampires, substitute for blood and Utah?   Well here’s a hint: Not True Blood.   No, this is Sundown: Vampire in Retreat by Director Anthony Hickox (Waxwork, Waxwork II and Warlock the Armageddon) and written by John Burgess.  Deep in the heart of…okay not Dixie but Utah exist a town called Purgatory.  A town filled with incredibly pale people that are covered from the sunshine with parasols and large brimmed hats.   This town of vampires has rejected the ways of the night and preying on the innocent is lead by master vampire Count Mardulak (John Carradine of Kung-Fu).  The town has a processing plant that is making an artificial blood to curb the need to feed but it breaks down and only one man can repair or refurbish parts for it.  Enter the Harrison Family.  John (Jim Metzler L.A. Confidential and Bad City Blues) brings wife Sarah (Morgan Brittany of Love Boat and Dallas) and their two kids to this remote and isolated town where neither of them is the wiser to this odd little bit of Americana.   Seriously they are so thick you could clock them in the coconut and it might not register until a day or two later.  On the trail of Count Mardulak is fearless vampire hunter Robert Van Helsing (Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead, Spiderman and Burn Notice) determined to end the evil that is a bloodsucker only to be smitten by lovely vampire Sandy (Deborah Foreman of Valley Girl and Waxwork) John’s former rival for Sarah’s affection Shane (Maxwell Caulfield of Waxwork II and Empire Records) who happens to be the town’s chief engineer but he needs John’s expertise.
  The Harrisons’ little girls note the townsfolk seem a bit different and are clued in that there are two factions of vampires.  One attempting to repent and the other is return to the old ways.   The Count attempts to maintain the peace while his right hand man Ethan Jefferson (John Ireland of Gunslinger and Waxwork II) tells vampires that they have nothing to feel guilty about and they should revel in their powers.   How does one solve those differences?  Why with a shoot out of course.   This film combines comedy, horror and western all in one unusual package.   My favorite thing about this film is the three brothers Milt (Bert Remsen of The Bodyguard and McCabe and Mrs. Miller) Merle (Sunshine Parker of Tremors  and Roadhouse) Mort (M Emmet Walsh of The Flash, Bladerunner and Chasing 3000) Bisby.  They all run this tiny gas station and look like they are just a gnat’s wing flap away from brutalizing humans.  Mort knocks the head off of this coked up jackass for being rude and abusive.   The two campers were really unnecessary characters as a whole.

Admittedly the film did seem like there was filler thrown in and John Carradine’s performance did seem a little off (methinks drinking days still), and sure he and Bruce were hardly in any of the scenes but dammit it was a fun movie.   The movie finishes off at 104 minutes and while it dragged a bit you got the scope of what the director was trying for. I ask you to find me a vampire story with conflict, romance and gunfight worthy of the OK corral and in general, an amazing cast.   A lot of tongue in cheek humor combined with a potential love triangle story line sprinkled with some rivalry and a few odd gore effects and you have a fairly decent film.  

Gem of the Month Idea!

It was brought my attention by a good friend of mine that all I write on here is horrible films, and I hurl bile and venom at it.  So at her suggestion I bring you what I call the Gem of the Month.  Each month I will praise a film, TV series or video game.   This will give you something to look forward to rather than roll your eyes and groan at bad puns and an askew sense of humor.   With that being said; I shall bring you the first ever Gem of the Month.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

There Can Be Only...confusion?

It’s a kind of magic.  This TV series is just that.  Taking place in 1992 at the height of the ill-fated sequel Highlander 2: The Quickening, The reluctant hero Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert of Highlander, Highlander 2, 3) has a fellow clansman 75 years younger than him, Duncan.  Duncan (Adrian Paul of Love Potion No. 9, Merlin: The Return, The Breed) took himself out of the immortal game of fighting to the death and claiming his opponent’s quickening or life force until a sinister immortal named Slain Quince(Richard Moll of Night Court, House and Batman TAS) seeks Duncan out, wanting his head.  Connor intervenes and frightens Quince off.  Eventually Duncan cannot sit on the sidelines any longer and must confront Quince.   This premiere episode launches a starring role of Duncan MacLeod for the next seven years of which becomes a phenomenon in captivated worldwide.  

 A show where MacLeod fights not only other immortals of tremendous age and skill with a blade but mortal elements such as terrorists, freedom fighters and organized crime.  Admittedly it is the clique right man in the wrong place at the right time.   Each episode carries out a flashback sequence to an earlier portion of Duncan’s life and the people he met through history.   Establishing that all immortals were completely human until a fatal accident or slew in battle, this series did their level best to adhere to historical reenactments, period costumes as well as sets and one of the finest sword masters (Bob Anderson sword master of The Master of Ballantrae, Highlander, The Princess Bride, First Knight and Die Another Day) assisted guest stars who had not so much as held a blade to mastering the finer points in just a few short days.   Over the series guest stars ranging from rock n’ roll legends like Joan Jett and The Who’s front man Roger Daltrey to Babylon 5’s Traci Scoggins and 21 Jump Street’s Dustin Nguyen

Highlander has taken place over Bordeaux France, British Columbia Canada, Seattle Washington and even Scotland where the character was originated.  While some of the storylines may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this character driven series is worth anyone’s time if you have a fondness of sword battles, gunfights and a little martial arts thrown in.  In the end however, there can be only one.