Category Archives: Horror: Slashers

Slasher movies. Final Girls only, please!

Curtains

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1983
Stars:
John Vernon

Samantha Eggar

Linda Thorson
Writer:
Robert Guza Jr.
Director:
Richard Ciupka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 1, 2011

I picked this up due to seeing the trailer.  It looked like it had potential.  Which it does.  It has a great deal of potential.

It just doesn’t make it.  Close enough, though, but…

Hey.  Why don’t we just check it out for ourselves.  This one’s a bit more rambling than usual (despite the short length), so beware of that.

Oh, and least I forget, here is a couple of notes:

One: It may help to preview the following essay on Slasher movies I’ve prepared. It covers my beliefs on what the sub-genre is and how a good Slasher flick should run, with various terms. If you know what a Final Girl is, you might not need it. Otherwise, feel free to click here and catch up.

Two: Rule of thumb here, I write the upcoming Viewing Experience first and everything else after that.  (In fact this part of the review was ironically the last one worked on.)  While I mop up afterwards, it’s sort of my thoughts as I watch.  Things don’t always mess neatly there and elsewhere.  Sort of like this film.

Blathering done.  Let’s get to business.

My Bloody Valentine

Date:
1981
Stars:
Paul Kelman

Lori Hallier

Neil Affleck
Writer:
John Beaird
Director:
George Mihalka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
February 16, 2013

My Bloody Valentine, in simplest form, sound very familiar.  In a small town, there was once a traditional dance that everyone loved.  But, due to a horrible tragedy, it hasn’t been held in years.   Until this year, when a group of youngsters decide the past the past and fun is fun.  Except someone doesn’t like the idea and is perfectly willing to kill people over it.

This is the exact sort of set up The Prowler has, and it’s deeply interesting (at least to me) how two films can take a similar premise and come up with two completely different films.

And that’s not because one’s set in a mine and the other isn’t.  With The Prowler I found the main characters likable, while the ones featured in My Bloody Valentine…  Let’s be nice and say less agreeable.

We’ll leave the comparisons between the two at that, as it’s just an interesting thing, rather than any sort of negative.  Both films do their job quite well.  I haven’t seen the unrated version of My Bloody Valentine, but the R version holds together quite well and is well worth seeking out (1.5 points).

I like My Bloody Valentine quite a bit (1.5 points) and just this little rewriting here makes me want to seek it out.  Hell, not a big gore guy, but I might even go unrated.  Or even… Well…  Maybe not far enough to see the remake.  But at least consider it.

If you’re looking for a Slasher movie to watch, you could do MUCH worse than watching My Bloody Valentine.

Overall Score: 3 total points out of a possible 4

Curtains

Date:
1983
Stars:
John Vernon

Samantha Eggar

Linda Thorson
Writer:
Robert Guza Jr.
Director:
Richard Ciupka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 1, 2011

Curtains details the true horrors of the movie scene.  A group of women brought out into the middle of nowhere by an eccentric, probably sadistic director, in the desperate hopes of getting the lead for his next film.

Perhaps too desperate.

Curtains is a mishmash of the visions of two very different directors. It has very little gory, a lot of unnecessary nonsense, and, surprisingly enough, a cast of characters you don’t want harm to come to.

Well, most of them.

Curtains has issues, true, but all in all it is superior Slasher fare (1.5 points). I liked it, but I’m not quite sure I’d ever watch it again (1.5 points). Instead of watching the usual Slasher cast of teens slaughtered by the usual Slasher suspects, you might just want to give this Slasher film a chance.

Overall Score: 3 total points out of a possible 4

Intruder

Date:
1989
Stars:
Elizabeth Cox

Renée Estevez

Danny Hicks
Writer:
Scott Spiegel
Director:
Scott Spiegel
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on August 27, 2011

A closing market means everything in the store must go.  Prices will be slashed.  And so will the employees.  There’s an Intruder walking the aisles this evening, and nothing will be the same again.

Which is a description that can be used for most Slasher flicks.  But leave us not dwell upon such technicalities.

For the most of Intruder‘s run, things run smooth.  Not too terrible acting, some good scenes, and, if you like it, some gore all await the viewer.  Perhaps in enough quantities and qualities to satisfy.

My problem is that the moment Intruder reveals the killer, the flick turns to crap.  Really, really irritating.  Almost as bad as the ending itself.

But wasting Bruce Campbell in a small cameo?  Unforgivable!

Now this is a critic thing, and perhaps to a greater degree a Cullen thing.  You might not find irritating what I found irritating, you might think it better than a mediocre (1.0 points).  Then again, you might really dislike the little stylistic games the film makers play with the audience, as I did  (.5 points).

In any case, if you need a Slasher flick, seeking out another title would be the way to go.

Overall Score: 1.5 total point out of a possible 4

Friday the Thirteenth: Part 2

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1981
Stars:
Amy Steel

John Furey

Adrienne King
Writer:
Ron Kurz
Director:
Steve Miner
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on January 18, 2014

And here we go again, back to Crystal Lake.

With this film we finally meet that loveable lug Jason Voorhees. He isn’t quite right yet — no hockey mask — but that won’t slow him down much I’m sure. At least, not any more than death did.

Before we begin, let me reiterate a few germane points. To start with I am not a fan of Slasher flicks, nor am I a fan of this particular series. Should the score above be higher than 2 points (I am writing this before viewing) it should suggest something. Whether it’s about the quality of the film or how my tastes have declined in my old age I will leave to the reader to decide.

It seem silly bringing this up if your reading these reviews chronologically, but once again, if you have no idea in the world what I meant by Final Girl, might I suggest boning up on the topic with my little essay on Slasher flicks before hitting the next part of this series? It might help.

Then again, as incoherent as my writing sometimes gets, it might not.

That all said, on the next page there’s a new camp opening, with new councilors come to test the knives of the killer.

And the patience of the viewer…

Friday the 13th

Date:
1980
Stars:
Betsy Palmer
Adrienne King
Jeannine Taylor
Writers:
Victor Miller
Director:
Sean S. Cunningham
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on May 29, 2012

Before we start, let me tell a couple of things. First off, I’m not a fan of Slasher movies. At all. Don’t get me wrong, I watch them. But when I go into them, I go in expecting the worst. Meaning I’m putting money on not being entertained. When I am, I tend to be most pleased.

Second of, of the Slasher flick series, Friday the 13th happens to be my least favorite. This particular film, the very first in a long, long series, is atypical for reasons that will become clear as we go on. That I liked it as much as I did comes as no little surprise to me.

And yeah, I remember that I gave it a mediocre rank above. That’s my point.

Finally, let me make the following declaration: Final Girl. If you have no idea what that means, you might find the following essay helpful in finding out where I’m coming from here. Or not. Depends really.

In any case, let’s take a little ride in the Wayback machine to the last campground anyone with any sense would ever want to go to… Or perhaps just turn the page.  Safer that way, really. After all, anyone who goes to Camp Crystal Lake is of course doomed…

Friday the 13th: Part 2

Date:
1981
Stars:
Amy Steel

John Furey

Adrienne King
Writer:
Ron Kurz
Director:
Steve Miner
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on January 18, 2014

2016-link-box-002

The Crystal Lake sage continues in Friday the 13th Part Two as a counselor training center gets training of the horrific kind by a masked man with an affinity for sharp objects.  Will anyone escape the slaughter?  Or are they all destined to get the point?

I am not proud of that last sentence.  Despite the fact it’s a beloved joke for me.  And will no doubt be used again on this site.

Often.

Now on to more serious things.

I’m rewriting this little minnow for the reboot, and I see the sentence “The second trip to Crystal Lake doesn’t work as well as the first.”  Which is vastly interesting as I’m pretty certain somewhere else on site I’ve proclaimed Friday the 13th Part Two “the Good One”.  What gives?

While the characters in this flick are a little less irritating to me than in its progenitor (fancy word alert: let’s race to our dictionaries to see if Cullen got it wrong again), they are still little more than cardboard cut outs. Added to this, there’s no real terror or horror involved. Just a series of Jump Scares that on reflection are almost insultingly dumb. When you add an inconclusive end to the mix, that’s makes for a bad movie (0.5 points).

However, and here’s the important part, as irritating as this movie got to me (and it did irritate me a great deal), I’m still rather fond of it.  Like it was an old friend. An old, really stupid, obnoxious, why the hell do I like this person kind of friend. (1.5 points).  You know the type.

And no, none of my friends think that of me.  Because I ain’t got no friends.  So neener neener neener.

As it stands, this is the pinnacle of the series for me.  I have yet to go ahead with the rest of the series (review wise), but if you have to watch one of the series and have never seen one before, Friday the 13th Part Two isn’t a bad one to start with.  A lot of the mythology, such as it is, comes into existence here.

Overall Score: 2 total point out of a possible 4

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Friday the 13th (1980)

Date:
1980
Stars:
Betsy Palmer
Adrienne King
Jeannine Taylor
Writers:
Victor Miller
Director:
Sean S. Cunningham
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on May 29, 2012

2016-link-box-002

In Friday the 13th an unseen individual watches as a group of young people gather to reopen a long abandoned summer camp.  Before long the body count begins to rise.  Will anyone survive the experience?

Man, writing a spoiler free paragraph shouldn’t come as hard as that last one didAnd really, with this movie, is there really a point?

Friday the 13th starts one of the most significant Horror film series of the Modern Age.  If you know anything the genre, you know of it.  Maybe as a celebrated classic.  Maybe as a foul stench in what was a noble field.  Depending on where you stand, obviously.

Judging by this film alone, it’s hard to see why it had a sequel, let alone such an influence. Paper thin characters, a lot of bland “character” moments, and the questionable (albeit occasionally effective) decision to keep the killer hidden from the audience all work against it. Had there been a little more flair to the direction or the writing, this might have almost been good. Instead, it’s just a mediocre Slasher flick (1 point), one of entirely too many.

Still, I can’t say I disliked watching the movie. It will never be one that I seek out again, but if there’s nothing else on, I might watch it again. Or study the walls instead. Whichever, whatever. (1 point)

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

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Friday the 13th (2009)

Opening Thoughts

Date:
2009
Stars:
Jared Padalecki

Danielle Panabaker

Amanda Righettie
Writers:
Damian Shannon

Mark Swift
Director:
Marcus Nispel
WRC Score:
2/4

It’s not surprising that the Father of the Modern Slasher film was remade. What is surprising, to a degree, was how long it took to get made at all.

See, originally Friday the 13th was a Paramount exclusive. It went through a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy is a better word) amount of sequels, then petered out in the late Eighties. At some point the rights to its… um… protagonist Jason Voorhees went over to New Line Pictures. And about that’s all that went over. The bulk of the mythology, such as it was, remained with Paramount.

Thus making an honest remake a wee bit hard.

But the potential for mountains of money can move any obstacle in Hollywood, and towards the end of the first decade of the 2000’s Paramount and New Line worked out a deal between themselves to bring this ever so necessary remake into the world.

Thrilling. I know.

This was one of the many, many remakes I managed somehow to miss when they were in theaters. Don’t know how that is, exactly. Beyond having better things to do with my time, a dislike of Slashers and most modern Horror flicks, a complete absence of a social life, and so on and so forth.

So why am I reviewing it now?

A video store closed near me and the disk was on sale. What other reason did I need?

This particular version of the film is the “Killer Cut” of the film, or at least that’s what the box told me. As I’ve seen the original and its first sequel in recent memory, expect a few digs on how the remake simply doesn’t compare. Then after that, we’ll see just how true that is.

Our getaway to Crystal Lake begins with but a turn of the page.  So to speak.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Date:
2009
Stars:
Jared Padalecki

Danielle Panabaker

Amanda Righettie
Writers:
Damian Shannon

Mark Swift
Director:
Marcus Nispel
WRC Score:
2/4
2016-link-box-002

Friday the 13th presents the age-old story of a man protecting his land from intruders.  In this case, though, the man in question is the monstrous killer Jason Voorhees, and the intruders are young folk looking for a good time who would gladly leave if he asked politely.  Which, of course, he never does.

Now, what do I think about this flick?

On the surface Friday the 13th is just another Horror flick to add to the lists, one on first glance better put together than most. It has a competent cast, its well-directed and well shot, and its effects are effective.

When compared to other Friday the 13th movies, it might well be the best made. It also might be the best Horror remake this century. Not that the competition is that hot and heavy, mind.

That said, it’s not the greatest Slasher flick running around. Too many characters, not enough characterization. Too much time wasted at the beginning that could have been better spent elsewhere. The usual crap where Jason pops up wherever he needs to be to do his killing, even if it defies all logic.

This is, of course, standard for the series. But with all the other good bits here and there, it really stands out and, I think, hurts the film. Maybe not as you watch, but definitely after. Not a bad film, but definitely not a good one, either (1 Point).

As for what I feel about the film, well, I want to like it a lot more than I actually do like it. Watching it and reflecting on it, I find it doesn’t have the same charm for me as the original series films. Nor is it really better enough for my tastes (1 point). Given a choice, and despite its quality, I’d probably watch the old ones over the new.

Score: 2 points out of a possible 4

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