Thursday, March 26, 2015


Has it been 30 years already? It feels like only yesterday that it was the films 25th anniversary! "Life moves pretty fast...". Wrong movie I know, but fitting words from another John Hughes film.

During my elementary school years there was this neighborhood kid that was in high school. We rarely hung out, but when we did I felt like the coolest person alive! This kid had it all. We're talking Atari, a train set, electronic NFL game, MTV, and he was the first kid on our block to get a Nintendo. The Nintendo wasn't until later, so a good portion of me hanging out was to watch MTV.

One day while waiting for the Thriller music video, one of his posters he had hanging on the wall caught my eye. It was the movie poster for THE BREAKFAST CLUB. He told me it was about high school and that I probably wouldn't “get it”. At the time he was probably right. But looking at the poster I recognized Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall from SIXTEEN CANDLES. It was from that moment on that this Fifth Grader couldn't wait to go to high school.

By the time jr. high rolled around, the films of John Hughes taught me everything I needed to know. I was ready. But unfortunately reality sucks and needless to say my high school experience was not cool. Nothing bad, it was just normal. But looking back it's amazing how much John Hughes got right!

It's hard to believe that THE BREAKFAST CLUB is 30 years old. Made in the 80's but the story and characters are timeless. Nothing about the film really shows it's age. Well maybe except for that stupid dance Emilio Estevez does when his character is smoking weed. By the way, what was up with that? When did smoking pot ever make you wanna get up and reenact a scene from FOOTLOOSE? Other than that, everything is timeless and relevant to teens still to this day.

You know the story. Five high school students; a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel, and a recluse meet in detention. There they poor their hearts out to each other and find out they have a lot more in common then they thought.

The truth about THE BREAKFAST CLUB is that the story itself is kinda predictable. You know why these teens all have their faults. The jock's father is a perfectionist, the prom queen has parents that show their love through material possessions, the rebel has an abusive father, you get the picture.

What makes the film work and work so well is that the movie has great dialogue. When these kids start talking to one another the conversation sounds genuine. Add some current events and you can make the same film today!

If you are familiar with my blog, then you might think that horror and action are my two favorite genres of film. You'd be correct, but the teen comedy genre is not far behind. I consider Hughes the master of said genre. FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF is my favorite John Hughes movie. The older I get and the more that I watch THE BREAKFAST CLUB, it may someday become my favorite.

There is more going on in the adventures of Ferris and Cameron, but the simplicity of dentition on a Saturday speaks volumes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


My favorite film is KILL BILL. Don't ask me what my favorite volume is, because I'll tell you that I like them both because it's one film. But there are some that just cannot except that, for whatever reason? So for those people, I am more partial to Volume 2 because of it's spaghetti western aesthetic. With KILL BILL being my favorite film, I love exploitation movies!

When I saw the trailer for EVERLY the first thing that came to mind was KILL BILL. Okay, we have a bad ass assassin played by the beautiful Salma Hayek, who is held up in an apartment killing a bunch of bad guys. Sold! Here movie, take my money! What impressed me more was that come to find out the Everly character wasn't an assassin, but yet a sex worker turned slave trying to get out of a dire situation and save her daughter. I was so set on her just being a professional killer, but instead got a far more interesting character.

While the film is a grindhouse shoot em up, director Joe Lynch messes with conventions of the action genre making EVERLY feel a bit original. In other words, he zigs when you think he's going to zag. Another hint of originality is the mash up of eastern influence. It's amazing how influential THE RAID and THE RAID 2 have already become. Another influence that I noticed was that of Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike.

EVERLY opens up with the characters knowing everything and us the audience knowing nothing. All we know is that Everly is having the worst day in her life. It's so bad that suicide has become a serious possibility. But she is stronger than that and in a awesome fight or flight moment she kills every henchman in the room.

The story of her predicament begins to unfold when Everly receives a phone call from the gentleman who is causing all of the chaos. Apparently Everly was at one time Taiko's girl (as in sex slave). She wanted out but Taiko wouldn't let her. I guess once a Yakuza bosses girl, always a Yakuza bosses girl.

Everly even tried to get the police involved but of course that never works. For her punishment, Taiko tells Everly that he is going to kill her and her family. After begging for mercy not to have her daughter killed, Taiko agrees. Making Everly the only target. Surviving wave upon wave of assassins the evening concludes with an epic showdown between Everly and Taiko.

We're still only in the 1st Quarter of 2015, but I'm pretty certain EVERLY will be in my top ten this year. It's refreshing to see an action film of this caliber. Remember me saying that director Joe Lynch zigs when he's supposed to zag? We'll he does. I was on the edge of my seat most for most of the films runtime because things happen when you least expect it. Or a shocking death scene will come out of no where. Speaking of which, there were several times where I thought Everly's daughter wasn't going to make it!

I think my favorite scene though was the crazy and weird part of the movie where the sadomasochist showed up. It was like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA meets Takashi Miike. Super weird and total grindhouse.

If you're a fan of action films then I highly recommend EVERLY.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


When I had heard Disney was making a live action Cinderella movie I thought nothing of it. A princess movie is not for me and I'm definitely not in the demographic. But I do like a good fairy tale. I like Disney. Growing up, I became a big fan of their classic animated movies and live action films. But two things happened; I got old, and I don't care for the reimagining trend that's been going on. MALEFICENT being a perfect example.

With zero desire of seeing CINDERELLA I got a text message from a friend telling me how he was excited for the Cinderella movie because Kenneth Branagh was directing it. Wait, what? Color me curious. With this new information and early positive buzz, I was honestly pumped to see the film. But thoughts of the dreaded MALEFICENT worried me.

Just as I thought, the movie turned out to be awesome. A excellent night at the movies! Before I talk about CINDERELLA, I wanna mention my thoughts on the animated short that showed before the feature. FROZEN FEVER was a disappointment. I stopped thinking about it as soon as the main feature began. For me the main culprit is that it's just too soon. Oh, and the fact that it was completely pointless. Forgettable filler.

Once CINDERELLA started I knew this was going to be something special right from the opening frame. A picturesque setting of a village that reminded me a lot of the old school Technicolor films from the 40's and 50's. Very British and very Powell & Pressburger (THE RED SHOES, BLACK NARCISSUS). I wonder if Branagh was influenced at all by those guys? It sure looked like it.

You all know the story, but here you go. When her father unexpectedly passes away, Ella finds herself at the mercy of her wicked stepmother and sister in-laws. Ella's courage and kindness find good fortune when she runs into a dashing stranger in the woods. Unaware that he is a prince, not merely an employee at the palace, Ella feels she has finally met a kindred soul. Yes, you know the rest. The prince has a party to find his princess. Ella wants to go but her stepmother prevents her. Saddened by this Ella gives up hope, but her fairy godmother has other plans.

With a little magic Ella who is now Cinderella can go to the ball and met her “prince”. She arrives and is the belle of the ball. But at the stroke of midnight everything is to turn back to normal so instead of a goodnight kiss Cinderella leaves the prince a glass slipper. Days go by and the prince has yet to find the girl with the glass slipper. And as the story goes he finds Ella, to which then if the shoe fits?

So everybody knows the story of Cinderella, therein lies the task of making a story known interesting. And Kenneth Branagh does so in a way that is so fresh but somehow timeless. Instead of making it cool and hip for the kids, he sticks with what works and that is the story. What a brilliant concept! Nothing dumb like the wicked stepmother just being misunderstood and Ella's parents being the real evil ones? My favorite thing about CINDERELLA was how it looked! It reminded me of watching a Technicolor film from the 40's. And the movie looked like film, not 4k Digital HD. The best special effect was Ella's transformation to Cinderella. It felt like it was ripped straight out of the animated feature, and it looks fantastic! Reverse roto-scoping, if there is such a thing. If you like classic Disney then I highly recommend CINDERELLA!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


All things must come to an end. I find it fitting that the end of the 80's also marked the end of the Friday The 13th franchise. The rate of returns started to diminish after Part 5, at least that's the impression I get looking back on the series. So by the time the eighth film came along Paramount said it was going to be the last one. And what better way to end it than to have Jason take a slice out of the Big Apple. Wait, what?

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN is the weakest of the original 8 (the Paramount years) and my least favorite of that series. Being such a big fan of the Part 7, I was interested in how they were going to pull off such a crazy concept? Still to this day I remember seeing the trailer in the theater and everybody laughing. So clearly these film had run their course.

When I finally saw the film on HBO the slasher genre was still something new to me and I had only the previous film to judge it against. On first viewing I liked it. Yeah it was silly but at the time I got wrapped up in the story of the movies main character. Her sub plot of when she was a little girl learning to swim at Camp Crystal Lake (of all places) and a young Jason grabbing her leg from underwater. Watching it now it's a pretty terrible film but back when I was 12 or 13 I didn't know any better. Sometimes I still don't.

The graduating class of whatever high school is in the same city as Crystal Lake is going on a cruise to NYC. So apparently Jason's favorite watering hole is adjacent to a river that flows into the ocean? Okay, I'm sorry but that's just dumb. Anyways. The Class of '89 aren't the only ones who want to party down in the city that never sleeps. Machete wielding manics need vacations too, so Jason climbs aboard the doom cruise.

Get comfortable because we are not going to see Long Island anytime soon. That's right, the films majority of run time takes place on the ship. And it's boring. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN has some of the most uninspired kills in the history of the franchise. It's as if they were tired of being bullied by the MPAA so they took it upon themselves to ease up on the gore.

But the lack of interesting kills is nothing compared to how terrible Jason looks. In the last film the make-up effects for Jason were amazing. The best the character has ever looked. Here they screw it up by having him just covered in slime. It just looks so cheep compared to what he looked like before.

When it comes right down to it, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN has only one good scene in it. And that's the one in Times Square. Jason is chasing his prey through the city and comes across some punks and their ghetto-blaster. He smashes the stereo into a million pieces. The punks yell at Jason with one even pulling out a butterfly knife. Jason just turns to face them and lifts up his hockey mask, and they run off. It's awesome! Seriously, check it out on youtube if you can.

My final thoughts on FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN are that it does not hold up very well or if it ever did at all. I watched it again for this blog and I can safely say that I'll probably never watch it again. Revisiting the film made me appreciate Parts 3 and 5. Heck. I love those films compared to this train wreck; however, come to find out this isn't my least favorite Jason Voorhees film. No sir. That would be the film I recently like to call the “anti” Friday the 13th movie, the piece of crap that is JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY.


The year was 1988 and I was becoming interested in horror movies. Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger were pop culture icons. At the mall it was hard not to have something Nightmare On Elm Street catch your eye. For Halloween that year I wanted to go as Freddy but the costumes and make-up kits were super expensive. Plus homemade costumes are a lot more fun. I had made a glove with cardboard knives and bought a inexpensive hat. The only thing missing was the make-up. Long story short, I bought a glow-in-the-dark hockey mask. So for Halloween 1988 I went as a Freddy/Jason hybrid.

By now the Friday The 13th movies were becoming frequent on cable television and HBO. But I was still too chicken to watch. Between quick channel flips and talking with friends at school, I got the gist of it. Then came along the Nintendo game, and the rest of my questions were answered. Or so I thought? At the time I thought that the Friday The 13th video game was a true adaptation of the film series. As far as I knew, the camp counselors in the game were characters from the movies. And yes that also means I thought Jason kept his mothers decapitated head deep inside a cave.

I remember renting that game and playing it with friends all weekend long. Not because it was a good game, but because it was hard, frustrating, and believe it or not fun. Don't get me wrong, the game is terrible. You can now go on the Internet and find numerous blogs and vlogs explaining how bad and broken the video game is.

But in 1988 we didn't know any better, as far as we knew the game was smarter than us. Luckily one of us was a computer geek and had a knack for “broken” games. In other words, he thought outside the box. I think he works for Google now that I think about it? As smart as he may be, none of us could kill Jason. We would either run out of time or not have enough characters with strong weapons.

In the years that followed whenever the Friday The 13th films were brought up, I mentioned the video game. Fast forward to 1990, the year I watched my first Jason Voorhees movie unedited and in it's entirety. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII – THE NEW BLOOD was my first official foray into the popular horror franchise. It continues to be my favorite “zombie” Jason make-up of the entire series.

At the time I didn't think anything about the MPAA taking a lot of the gore out of the movie. In fact I thought the movie was pretty tame. By now I'd seen more blood and guts in films like PREDATOR and ROBOCOP. But since FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII – THE NEW BLOOD was the first one I watched “unedited”, I couldn't compare the gore to the earlier installments.

It's been 20 plus years since the last time I watched the movie. Re watching Part VII was a trip down memory lane that was well worth the wait, literately. The film doesn't hold up that well until the last 20 or 30 minutes. It's laughable how edited the gore is compared to earlier installments and the horror movies of today. If the kill scenes were ever restored only then would the movie rival FRIDAY THE 13TH – THE FINAL CHAPTER as my favorite of the series.

While this movie is somewhat dated it does have two qualities that continues to make it memorable. One, It's the first appearance of stunt man/actor Kane Hodder in the role of Jason. Kane is the quintessential Jason Voorhees and my favorite to done the hockey mask. Instead of just being “the killer”, Kane for the first time brought personality to the character of Jason Voorhees. And FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII – THE NEW BLOOD is the best Jason has ever looked.

The second quality is that Part VII tried something new, and in my opinion it worked. And that something new was having Jason go toe to toe against a teenager with psychic powers. Yes, it's Jason vs. Carrie, more or less. Again, if the severely edited gore wasn't such a distraction for me then this movie would be my favorite of the franchise.

Years after the events of Part VI, Jason has laid dormant at the bottom of Crystal Lake. Saddened by the death of her father, Tina accidentally releases Jason Voorhees from his watery grave.

Taking a page from FRIDAY THE 13TH – THE FINAL CHAPTER, we see a return to the party setting. But these cast of characters aren't as interesting. They are more generic if anything. And 80's fashion has seemed to have gotten worse. Lazy canon fodder for Jason. This misstep would become the blueprint of the slasher genre from now on. Annoying personalities or lack there of so audiences can root for Jason .

I've never been a fan of rooting for the killer/monster is horror movies. For me it's always been about seeing who survives and who is gonna kill Jason, Micheal, and Freddy. Every fan is different and I know I am in the minority.

My final thoughts are FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII – THE NEW BLOOD is the last good film of the original series (the Paramount years). And it's worth revisiting because of it's awesome make-up effects and significance in horror history in it's casting of Kane Hodder, who is and who forever will be the best Jason Voorhees.


FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI – JASON LIVES is the funnest entry in the whole bunch. And it's probably my second favorite film in the franchise. That's right I said this film is fun, as horror movies should be. There are times to be serious (THE EXORCIST) and times to enjoy the roller coaster ride. This film is a roller coaster ride!

Part VI marked the return of Jason Voorhees. In the last movie the killer was a copycat and not Jason. The majority of fans hated this idea so the suits at Paramount told the producers to get Friday The 13th back on track. And they did. Director Tom McLoughlin introduced fans to my favorite iteration of the Jason character. Zombie Jason, or better yet Frankenstein's Monster Jason.

Now I normally don't root for the killer in these type of movies, but this isn't your typical slasher film. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI – JASON LIVES is a monster movie. And in monster movies you root for the monster. This is why I consider it my second favorite of the series.

It's been years since Tommy Jarvis hacked Jason to death at the end of FRIDAY THE 13TH – THE FINAL CHAPTER. Now an adult Tommy wants to face his fears and make 100% sure that Jason Voorhees is d-e-a-d dead. So he goes to Jason's grave to make sure. Not convinced, Tommy takes a metal rod and stabs the maggot infested corpse. Unfortunately it starts to rain and lightning strikes the rod and brings Camp Crystal Lakes favorite resident back to life.

Tommy escapes and runs to the Sheriff station for help. They think he's crazy so he gets put in cell for the night to sleep it off. The legend of Jason is nothing more than a faint memory for the town of Forest Green. Yeah, they changed the towns name to help people forget. And Sheriff Garris would like to keep it that way by giving Tommy a ride out of town. Tommy escapes the jail and goes on the hunt for Jason alone.

Meanwhile Jason has been out and about doing what he does best. It's just too bad the audience doesn't get to see it very well. Ever since Part 5 the MPAA have been a thorn in the side of this series. Critics and mom groups across the country have had enough of the gory slasher genre. So the MPAA obliged them and started rating these movies X unless the gore gets toned down. I'm not outraged by this like a lot of fans are, but some inventive kills do get edited down to awkward shoving matches. It wouldn't be until Part 7 that I actually care about the excessive editing. That film screams 'Director's Cut'.

As I was saying, Jason is killing teenagers and some grown ups. It's up to Tommy and his new friend Megan to find a way to stop Jason once and for all.

I won't totally spoil it for you but I love the final battle in this film. It's a classic monster movie climax. Tommy finds a way to stop Jason and it involves sending him back to the lake where he belongs. It's one of the better endings of the entire series. Gone are those retarded jump scare dream sequence things that don't make a lick of sense.

While I personally love the film I can only honestly recommend it to movie buff horror fans. For the new generation of horror fans I'd point them toward something like the Hatchet films. Those slasher films are definitely a response to the MPAA editing the gore out of slashers. But if you are into horror movie history and love a good monster, then by all means check this one out.