Tuesday, October 29, 2013


FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER is my favorite film in the franchise. Not the original you say? How come? I don't know really. Sure I'll acknowledge that FRIDAY THE 13TH is the one that started the slasher movie craze. And it is a classic in that respect, but I've never been a fan of Jason's mother being the killer. It wasn't till I was 12 years old that I watched my first Friday The 13th movie. The years leading up to that, Jason was the poster boy for these films. I'd see his image at the video rental store, on the cover of Fangoria, and even in a Nintendo game. Jason Voorhees was always the killer at Camp Crystal Lake.

I think of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER as the quintessential film in the series. It has a nice recap of the series, some of the best characters, good production value, some of the best camera work in the series, the best gore effects (before the MPAA really started to censor things ridiculously), and Jason actually dies at the end. Like I said quintessential, a best of the best if you will.

By now the slasher formula in these films is pretty much set in stone, but director Joesph Zito put a lot of heart and extra touches not found in the series until now. Instead of camp counselors we have teenagers looking to party at a lake house. Next door is a mother and her two kids. Even without going into detail, this is a refreshing change in dynamic.

Dead with an ax to the face at the end of Part 3, Jason Voorhees is presumed dead. At the hospital in the morgue Jason jumps back to life and kills a couple of morgue assistants. Now alive and kicking Jason starts to make his way back to Crystal Lake. We come across some teenagers looking to have a nice weekend at the lake house. These teens aren't your typical stereotype victims which became the norm sometime in the 90's with horror films. No. These kids all have personalities that make them seem real that way you can worry about them latter when Jason comes to kill them.

My favorite of the bunch is Ted and Jimmy. Jimmy is played by Marty McFly's dad, Crispin Glover. The character Jimmy at one point does a dance in the movie that has to be seen to be believed. Seriously go to You Tube and type “Crispin Glover dance”. It's amazing. What the heck is Crispin doing?

Next door to the lake house is where the Jarvis family live. Trish and her brother Tommy get to know their new neighbors and get invited to party with them. Along the way they meet a hitchhiker who in actuality is hunting down Jason in the woods to kill him. His sister has been missing and is presumed dead after the events of Part 2 and Part 3. The first time I saw the movie I thought this was an awesome concept, a bounty hunter type going after Jason for revenge. The end result is not as cool as you think it'd be. In fact it's kind of embarrassing. Let's just say the guy turns out to be a wus.

The inevitable happens and Jason starts killing off everybody one by one. In a way the events start to pan out like your everyday slasher film, but the slow burn leading up to it makes all the difference. Like I said before it's the time spent with the teens and Tommy Jarvis that set's this apart from the other movies.

The ending is the big enchilada with the death of Jason. Effects master Tom Savini was brought back for the “final chapter” and he did not disappoint with the gore. Seeing that this was planned to be the last “Friday”, the filmmakers went all out with killing Jason. It's my favorite non-zombie Jason death sequence.

Out of all the Friday The 13th films released by Paramount Pictures this one is my favorite because in my opinion it's the one that best represents the series. When I talk to people about these films I tell them there are two movies to watch, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER and THE BURNING. THE BURNING is another slasher film that has a camp setting. It's a rip-off of the Friday The 13th films, but it's a rip-off that truly rivals the majority of that series!

In 2009 New Line Cinema along with Paramount Pictures decided to remake FRIDAY THE 13TH. Instead of a shot for shot remake they combined the first four films together. On first viewing I really liked this idea (except for the lame ending). The main reason for liking it was because I really did not care for Part 2 and 3. I've seen the remake now four times and each time I started hating it more and more. Recently I have had a rediscovery of sorts with the originals and appreciate them more than I ever had. One day I may do a retrospective of the whole series?

If you ever watch 1 Friday The 13th film in your life I recommend it being FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER.


Saturday, October 26, 2013


Ever since 2010 I've wanted to blog about Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Probably my favorite film in the Alien movie franchise. I say probably because my opinion changes constantly between it being my favorite or the sequel, ALIENS. This is post is going to be about ALIEN but I do want to talk first a little about ALIENS, the one that started it all for me.

The year had to have been 1987 or 1988 the first time I saw ALIENS. I do know it was on HBO the first time I saw it. It scared the crap out of me. Looking at the film now as an adult, it's just a bad ass action movie in space with some spooky atmosphere. But when I was a kid it was the most intense movie I had ever seen. When the Colonial Marines first encounter the Aliens, it was like watching a living nightmare.

It wouldn't be until the early nineties that I finally watched ALIEN. With ALIEN 3 being released in 1992, the early nineties me and my friends were all about the Alien movies.

My best friend at the time had all the films on VHS. Not only that but he had comics, toys, novelizations, and he even had a ALIENS role playing game. When I told him I had never seen ALIEN he didn't act all that surprised. Knowing my tastes at the time he warned me that the film is a little slow and not action packed as the sequel. We watched it anyway and he was right, I was bored and fell asleep. I was such an amateur back then. It wouldn't be until 1999, the 20th anniversary of ALIEN that I would watch the film again. This was also the year that film was really becoming important to me. Along with ALIEN, I was blown away by other science fiction masterpieces such as 2001: A SPACE ODDESY and BLADE RUNNER.

With ALIEN I love how it's science fiction horror. You have the “space truckers” going to other systems mining for minerals. The blue collar aspect of these characters brings a sort of realness to it all that I really really love. The production design still to this day resonates a believability that 200 years from now this is what space travel could look like.

Not only is ALIEN a gorgeous science fiction film it's also a great slasher flick in space. There is a reason the movie's tag line is “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”. Fans should already know that director Ridley Scott was influenced by the horror film THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE when making ALIEN. And by golly there is a reason I watch ALIEN every year right around Halloween. The final act gets by blood pumping every time!

When it comes to these films as a quadrilogy, ALIENS is my favorite. But I like to think of ALIEN as a stand alone “haunted house/slasher flick” movie. The first hour being the “haunted house” when they explore the crashed spacecraft on LV-426. The mystery of the fossilized Space Jockey I still find fascinating and creepy as all get out. And of course the face hugger scene is still a classic.

The second half of the film is pretty much a slasher film in space. A cat and mouse game with finding the alien. To some this is when the film gets kinda predictable but I still find it pretty scary. When the crew split up to capture the creature and blow it out of the air lock, they have no idea just how big the sucker has grown. They are expecting to catch something no bigger than a cat when they go hunting for it the first time. So watching the movie with that in mind is still a scary thing.

The other day I watched a video review of ALIEN and it got me thinking about the possibility of the movie having an anti war message somewhere between the lines? My speculation has something to do with Weyland-Yutani wanting the creature for a weapon. I may dig into that when I blog about PROMETHEUS which I've been dying to do since last year.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Oh the memories of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Before seeing or even knowing about that famous slasher flick with Michael Myers, the third installment was my first exposure to the film franchise. No way did I watch it! Turning on the television and seeing a kid wearing a jack o lantern halloween mask that's rotting with snakes and bugs crawling out of it was enough for me. That image haunted me for years. For the longest time I just figured it was an episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE?

The year had to have been 1987 or 1988 when I first became interested in horror. It was probably on a Friday or Saturday night watching television when I came across the coolest thing ever on HBO. This guy using a chainsaw to cut off his possessed hand. Way too intense for me, but before I changed the channel what was once horror quickly turned to comedy. I quickly grabbed the monthly HBO program guide and learned what I was watching was called EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN. It wouldn't be till seven or eight years later that I really knew what this movie was or what it means to me.

While seeing Ash fight his possessed hand was the coolest thing ever, my real love of horror began with Freddy Kruger and the Dream Warriors. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS was the very first slasher film I ever watched in it's entirety. I watched it on late night broadcast television because I was so scared. Turns out the film was more funny and cool than scary. At school friends knew more about the Elm Street movies than EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN, so Freddy it was then.

So it's the mid nineties and me and my buddy watch one of the classics, John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. This film changed my life. How? That's a whole other post my friend. HALLOWEEN was the first horror film that I found important. If I remember correctly we did a double feature with the sequel HALLOWEEN II? My reaction to HALLOWEEN II made me a fan of slasher films for life. It's not my favorite slasher film but because of HALLOWEEN II the genre clicked with me.

So what's next, HALLOWEEN 3? My buddy had done his homework and told me this is one we can avoid, it doesn't have anything to do with Michael Myers. Which leads us to HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.

For many years I have hated HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. No Michael Myers in your movie? Lame. Thank goodness for HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. This was my line of thinking for the longest time. It wasn't until a few years ago that I wanted to watch “the one without Michael Myers” just to see if I could enjoy it as a stand alone horror film. The answer is kind of. The film does things I like about it, but as a whole I see the movie as a misfire. The attempt to make the Halloween film franchise a horror anthology was indeed a step in the right direction but with the box office boom of slasher flicks it was a mistake to try something different.

I could see myself enjoying this film as a double or triple feature with other horror movies. Or sharing it at movie nights with the uneducated.

Shop owner Harry Grimbridge is taken to the hospital after colapsing holding a Silver Shamrock jack-o-lantern mask. After an apparent suicide/murder Dr. Challis and Ellie, the victim's daughter immediately investigate. Their clues lead them to the small town of Santa Mira, California, home of the Silver Shamrock mask making factory. The two learn of Conal Cochran, Mr. Cochran is the sole reason for the towns prosperity. After meeting some townsfolk, Dr. Challis and Ellie get the feeling that something just isn't right about the town or the Silver Shamrock factory. Things get ugly when the two discover Grimbridge's car. They are captured and Cochran tells Challis of his evil plan to kill thousands on Halloween. The Silver Shamrock trademark on the masks contains a computer chip containing fragments of Stonehenge. When the Silver Shamrock commercial airs on Halloween night, the chip will activate, killing the wearer and unleashing a lethal swarm of insects and snakes, killing those around the wearer. Cochran explains his plan to resurrect macabre aspects of Gaelic festival Samhain, which he connects to witchcraft.

Will Dr. Challis stop this madman in time or will it truly be the “season of the witch”?

The idea behind the movie is cool but the filmmakers should have just stuck with Micheal Myers.

The few things that I like about HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is the fact that the film is indeed creepy from time to time. The cameos from actors that were in HALLOWEEN are cool. Listen for Jamie Lee Curtis as you hear her voice over a P.A system reminding the town of it's curfew. But the best thing about the movie is actor Tom Atkins! Such a cool guy. If you've never seen NIGHT OF THE CREEPS I highly recommend it!

Would the film have been more of a success if it had dropped the Halloween moniker? I honestly do not think that it would. It would have the same cult classic appeal that is does today. That's what I think anyway, who knows really?

I only feel comfortable recommending HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH to horror movie buffs like myself.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Director Robert Rodriguez got it right with the sequel MACHETE KILLS. From the very beginning you can tell this is what a Machete film should be. Pretty much everything about the sequel is better than the original. One could argue that MACHETE KILLS goes so far in not taking itself seriously that the film borders on spoof. This is a good thing. It goes hand in hand with the original concept/fake trailer.

The film is indeed spoof but the good kind of spoof. Not in the vain of early nineties spoof like HOT SHOTS or anything like that. Instead MACHETE KILLS reminds me a lot of a Roger Corman produced film from the late seventies or early eighties. Oddly enough FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES was another movie that kept popping up in my mind while watching the latest Machete film. Rodriguez toying with the notion that Machete cannot be killed I found very amusing.

This time around Machete has been hired by Mr. President to stop a Mexican revolutionary named Mendez who has a missile aimed at Washington D.C. Things get complicated when Machete finds out that the real threat comes from Luthor Voz, an eccentric arms dealing terrorist.

MACHETE KILLS is Rodriguez's James Bond movie. This film would work great as a double feature with LIVE AND LET DIE or MOONRAKER.

Luthor Voz (played brilliantly by Mel Gibson) is someone that could easily be on S.P.E.C.T.R.E's payroll.

There isn't much I didn't like about this movie. In fear of just sounding like a fanboy I'll just share a non spoiler reason why I'm a Rodriguez fan. I like the fact that when watching MACHETE KILLS I know 100% that I'm witnessing a Robert Rodriguez film. A filmmaker who loves movies that makes movies. A true B-movie exploitation auture.

I typically find entertainment even in his films that I consider failures. ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO frustrates me to no end but I find myself with a smile on my face every time I watch it. The same goes for MACHETE. Bottom line, he's a director that makes kid's movies for adults and I will always love that no matter if the film works for me or not.

I highly recommend MACHETE KILLS to fans of exploitation films. My only beef with the film is that it ends on a joke. Let's talk about the joke. So MACHETE KILLS begins with a fake trailer that's MACHETE KILLS AGAIN IN SPACE. It's funny, it's cool. It has some THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK imagery.

By the end of the movie certain events start to fall into place that set up the movie's story to conclude in MACHETE KILLS AGAIN IN SPACE. My first thought was this is getting really retarded. But the more I thought about it the more I recalled Star Wars knock offs like BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and STAR CRASH.

Now I am completely on board for a Robert Rodriguez Star Wars knock-off exploitation science fiction film!

I really hope it's not a joke because MACHETE KILLS AGAIN IN SPACE would be amazing!