The Slasher Cycle Theory

Today some deep thoughts on slasher cinema from that deep thinkin’ pumpkinhead, Jeff Carter, author of Criterion from Crossroad Press and keeper of the Compendium Of Monsters.

Hallowe’en greetings, Ed-Heads.

I like to watch and review an entire horror franchise every October (see previous posts here and here). While every franchise has its ups and downs, nothing could prepare me for the mind shattering downward spiral of the Howling sequels. To spare you that suffering, I’ve pulled back for a wider look at the franchises in general.

In film school we were taught about Christian Metz’s ‘Genre Cycle Theory’. He wrote that each film genre begins in the Experimental Stage, evolves into the Classic Stage, devolves into the Parody Stage and ends in its Deconstruction Stage. With luck, the genre is reborn and the cycle continues.

You can see these rhythms play out across all forms of cinema. Without the masterful deconstruction of the Western genre in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’, we would never have received Paul Hogan’s ‘Lightning Jack’.

In my analysis of the great horror franchises, however, I have discovered strange mutations undreamt of by any stuffy French film critic. I give you Jeff C. Carter’s ‘Slasher Cycle Theory’.

These are more than just common tropes. They are essential rites of passage, and every great horror franchise must eventually pass through some or all of them:

The Original

Hilarity Ensues

3D!!!

Die Monster Die

Missing Monster

Magic!

Spaaaaaaace

Return to Roots

Das Preboot

Hilarity Ensues – while this sounds like Metz’s ‘Parody Stage’, these are not outright parodies like the Wayans brothers’ ‘Scary Movie’ series. This is when humor is injected into the horror, for better or worse.

Examples: Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4, Friday the 13th Part 6, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Child’s Play 4, Howling 3, Phantasm 2.

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This doesn’t even scratch the surface of Howling 3: The Marsupials

3D!!! – For a genre that must constantly innovate, the gimmick of jumping off the screen is irresistible.

Examples: Nightmare on Elm Street Part 6, Friday the 13th Part 3, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 7.

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Get ready to dodge Dream Demons.

Die, Monster, Die – Slashers are notoriously hard to kill, but sometimes a tired franchise needs the promise of a ‘final chapter’ to get its viewers back.

Examples:  Nightmare on Elm Street Part 6, Friday the 13th Part 4, Halloween H20

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Fairly convincing….

Magic! – Sometimes the monsters are human, and sometimes there is a supernatural evil at work. During the Magic! stage, however, we get into some Harry Potter sh*t. I’m talking spells, dream demons and magic swords.

Examples: Nightmare on Elm Street Part 6, Friday the 13th Part 6, 7, 9, Halloween 5 & 6, Howling 2

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When being a werewolf is the least interesting thing about you…

Missing Monster – Probably the strangest mutation is when sequels lack their own main character.

Examples:  Friday the 13th Part 5, Halloween 3, Hellraiser 8

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Doesn’t count.

Spaaaaace – In these movies, no one can hear you scream.

Examples: Jason X (Friday the 13th Part 10), Hellraiser 4, Leprechaun 4

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Houston, we have a problem.

Return to Roots – With luck a franchise will shake off the gimmicks and return to its roots. Unlike the ‘Classic Stage’, which codifies the core elements, this is a hard won perspective about what audiences love about the series. Next to the originals, these are often the only scary movies in the franchise.

Examples: Nightmare on Elm Street Part 7,Halloween 7,Child’s Play 6, Phantasm 5

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You can’t keep a Good Guy down.

Das Preboot – The unhallowed graves of infamous monsters are rarely left undisturbed. More often than not they are desecrated, updated and demystified with lousy prequels and reboots.

Examples: Nightmare on Elm Street 9, Friday the 13th Part 12, Halloween 9, Howling 4, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 5.

Robert says

How can the ‘Slasher Cycle Theory’ help you? Let the growing pains of our favorite franchises inspire you. The next time you’re feeling stale, try some magic, or take a trip to space. If that doesn’t help you return to your roots, perhaps you can go Back 2 Tha Hood.

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My Halloween Movie Repertoire Must Be Destroyed!

Hey ghouls and ghasts, I’m trying once again to watch a new horror movie every day for the month of October. No predetermined list this time out, just whatever I can get my hands on.

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Day #1
Never Take Sweets From A Stranger – It’s from Hammer and it’s horrific, but not strictly horror. Every year a couple non-horror movies somehow make it into my viewing, and this year I kicked it off that way.  A British family moves to an insular Canadian town so the father can assume the position of principal for the local high school, only to go head to head with an untouchable old money family and their supporters when their daughter and the little girl next door falls prey to the lecherous, pedophilic old patriarch. A sobering and bold take on the subject for 1960, well done.

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Day #2
The New York Ripper – Well I guess this is one of those misogynistic movies all the kids are always talking about. A homicidal maniac who taunts the police in a duck voice stalks the women of NYC. Every other line of dialogue drips with contempt for females, to say nothing Fulci’s horrendous (if admittedly well executed) gore sequences, which seem particularly geared towards maligning the female form. Interesting to see the Big Apple in all its early eighties sleazy glory, but I felt like I needed a shower after this one.

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Day #3
Alone In The Dark (1982) – Four homicidal mental patients take advantage of a power outage to besiege a family in their home. It was neat to see Dwight ‘Murdock/Barclay’ Schultz in a leading role, and Jack Palance, Erland van Lidthe, and especially Martin Landau play their psycho roles with aplomb. Of course Donald Pleasance as yet another bad psychiatrist is always fun to watch. And I liked The Bleeder, a killer who hates to show his face and gets a nose bleed whenever he kills, but a winning cast and some neat moments don’t entirely make this a success.

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Day #4
Possession (1981) – A bizarre, surreal, and hypnotic study of the deterioration of a marriage. Sam Neill is the cuckolded husband, and as usual, it’s fun to watch him lose it. Isabell Adjani fully commits to her role, shrieking and rolling in milk, blood, and bile. There is some great psychological and really effective body horror, but eh, this is for the Mother! crowd.
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Day #5
Tombs Of The Blind Dead – My first real ‘find’ of the season! In this Spanish film, a band of Knights Templar looking for a ticket to immortality begin worshiping Satan and drinking blood. Hanged for their crimes until crows pick out their eyes, when the bell of their ruined abbey tolls in the night, they rise blind and undead from their graves, hunting the living by sound. A really neat and imaginative premise and a killer ending. Really enjoyed this one.

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Dead Of Night (1945) – A man arrives at a house in the British countryside full of people and can’t help but think he’s been there before. The guests tell four supernatural stories. Most of them are pretty familiar, and seem to have been tapped for Twilight Zone episodes (“Room for one more!”). One humorous story about two golfers comes off a bit tedious, but the ventriloquist story at the end makes up for it.  My favorite Batman villain is The Ventriloquist and Mr. Scarface, so maybe I’m biased. BUT! It’s the nightmarish resolution of the bookend story that really elevates this movie into something special.

Day #7 – Taste of Fear – A paralyzed young woman returns to her father’s house only for her stepmother to inform her he’s gone missing. His corpse starts appearing to her in odd places around the estate, but by the time she informs someone, the body is always gone when she returns. Neat little thriller with a good twist ending and some great photography. Christopher Lee plays the family surgeon.

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Day#8 – Sadako vs. Kayako – The ghost from Ringu meets the ghosts of Ju-On. I’d been anticipating this little ‘grudge’ match for a while. I’ve had a deep love of these monster mash crossovers dating back to Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman. This one plays like a Godzilla movie with a lot of human story build-up and a measured fraction of monster action, but I was expecting that, so I wasn’t really disappointed. Had a lot of ‘oh s_it!’ moments, particularly when the heroine pops in the VHS tape and little meowing Toshio gets lassoed into the TV.  Worth it for the Seikima-Il theme song alone.  

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Day#9 – Prom Night – Dull as dishwater amalgam of Friday The 13th, Halloween, and Carrie with not much original to recommend it and nary an actual teenager in sight. The killer is so unmemorable that when they’re unmasked I had to check wikipedia to even realize who they were. The repeated three disco tracks are so monotonous they eventually come back around the other side to being catchy. Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen are in it….yeah, that’s all I got.

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Day #10 – The Invasion – It seems like it’d be hard to screw up yet another remake of Invasion of The Body Snatchers, but this one almost does it with some choppy, bizarre editing choices and a weird ‘happy’ ending that doubles as a condemnation of humanity as a whole. The viral infection eschews the previous movies’ creepy subtlety of succumbing through sleep by adding on infection via projectile vomiting. Also, the process being reversible sort of negates the horror. I was reminded of the remake of Village of The Damned or Dawn of The Dead for some reason, where tweaking minor ‘rules’ established in the original renders the whole premise nonsensical. Stick with the 70s remake or Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers (my personal favorite).
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Day #11 – The Addiction – Speaking of Abel Ferrera, I watched this stylish, starkly composed vampirism-as-drug addiction movie, about a philosophy graduate student who is pulled into an alley and bitten, rendering her somehow even more insufferable.  Seriously, Lili Taylor’s great, and Christopher Walken shows up, as well as Fredro Starr of Onyx and a couple of Ferrara’s regulars. It’s interesting if you’re in the mood for its deep (and often very Catholic) questions, but it’s a slow, heady burn.

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Day #12 – Malevolent – The trailer for this Netflix supernatural exclusive drew me in but beware, it pretty much spoils three fourths of the movie, and the remaining quarter isn’t all that good. A team of ghost hunting/spiritualist hucksters make money off the grief of families till one of them begins seeing actual ghosts. They are hired for more than their usual amount by an elderly lady in a big country estate who ‘just wants a quiet house.’ An intriguing premise at the start and an interesting twist  midway through unfortunately doesn’t quite click together as it devolves into unwieldy PG-13 torture porn and  a pretty basic escape scenario. Had promise, but gets clumsy and falls on its face in the end. It does boast one very good jump scare, but again, it’s spoiled in the trailer.

Image result for stephanie netflixDay #13 – Stephanie – Effective little monster movie about a little girl hiding from an unknown threat all alone in a large suburban house with the corpse of her older brother and ominous news reports flickering in the peripheral. Then mom and dad come home.  Decent performances and a slow reveal of the nature of the antagonist make it hard to talk about this without spoiling anything, but I enjoyed it.

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Day #14 – Night of The Creeps – I wasn’t too ‘thrilled’ in the end by this schlocky but self-aware 80’s B movie about a college campus plagued by body snatching slugs from space, but Tom Atkins elevates it in a quirky performance as a haunted police detective with a pack of quotable one liners.

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Day #15 – Await Further Instructions – A xenophobic British family is less than welcoming to their son’s Muslim girlfriend over the Christmas holiday as news reports intimate the onset of some kind of terrorist attack. A wall of black chords encircle the house in the night, trapping them inside, and a series of ever-increasingly odd instructions start coming in over their television set. Despite the world’s strongest and most secure interior doors, this has a great cast (David Bradley is particularly scummy in his jerky patriarch role), and some surprising, cringe inducing turns. Echoes of Lovecraft and Cronenberg. I recommend.

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Day #16 – The Haunting Of Hill House – I’m breaking a rule a bit here and posting, well, I can’t call this a television show, because I can’t imagine a reason for it to have a second season. I’m thinking of it as a miniseries. It’s a revisit of The Haunting, one of my all time favorite ghost movies, based on the novel by Shirley Jackson. This series and Hereditary are the two finest works of horror entertainment I’ve seen this year thus far. This is an imaginative take on The Haunting from the perspective of a family attempting to ‘flip’ Hill House over the course of one summer. It spans two timelines, playing deftly with notions of space and time, familial love, loyalty, dysfunction, and loss, and delivering in the end, a really moving family drama ensconced in deft allegory and some of the most genuinely disturbing scares I’ve experienced in recent years. I’m not speaking solely of FX and jump scares, of which there are a few very effective ones, but of harrowing existential reflection. Some of the most terrifying imagery is implanted in the mind via the stories told by tertiary characters, an example of really masterful writing and acting. Unforgettable. Wonderfully realized.  Something I hope to revisit with my kids during some future Halloween season.

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Day #17 – Paranoiac – Oliver Reed is a rich, alcoholic good for nothing, next in line for the family fortune after the accidental death of his parents and disappearance of his older brother – only his neurotic sister stands in the way. Until his long lost older brother Anthony returns. Some nice shots but pretty by the numbers and predictable.

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Day #18 – Revenge (2017) – Brutal, borderline gonzo rape-revenge-survival thriller about the careless young mistress of a rich French reprobate raped in his desert love nest by one of his two lowlife hunting buddies and left for dead. Gobsmacking, pulpy ultraviolence stylistically realized, it builds to the most blood soaked, tense climax I’ve seen in years. The camera goes from worshiping actress Matilda Ann Ingrid Lutz to practically fetishizing her brutalization. I loved how her transition from thoughtless trophy girl to resourceful, red-painted peyote-fueled valkyrie is gradually depicted right down to the loss of her blonde hair dye. Not for everybody, but I was wowed.

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Day #19 – Hostel – Three entitled jerks backpacking across Europe are enticed into visiting a Slovakian hostel by a pimp and soon find themselves participating in a brutal ‘art show’ in which the sadistic wealthy pay to torture people to death. In spite of my avowed dislike of all things Eli Roth (I haven’t enjoyed Green Inferno, Cabin Fever, or Hemlock Grove), I decided to give this a shot. Although it started off supremely annoying, in the end I was pleasantly surprised. This really isn’t the gratuitous ‘torture porn’ movie I had been led to believe it was. Although there is some Italian level gruesomeness, it’s not the bulk of the movie. However, I can’t tell if this is an extremely xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic bro-movie or if it’s actually a self-aware satire of American exceptionalism. Anyway, the increasingly grisly fate of the utterly unlikable main characters amused me, as did the quick Takashi Miike cameo. And of course, revenge against the unscrupulous 1% is cathartic.

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Day #20 – Hostel Part II – The Hostel ‘mythos’ is expanded pretty well in this sequel, which spices it up by changing the protagonists to three young women and includes a look from the other side of the….pliers?…..by following a pair of rich alpha dawg a-holes who have taken a weekend in Slovakia to indulge their basest urges. All the familiar faces from the first movie are back and get fleshed out a bit more, including the mop-haired desk clerk and the weird gang of half-feral kids. Some neat script-flips in this one, including a couple laugh out loud moments. I have to admit at this point I’m a fan.

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Day #21 – Hostel Part III – I guess the ‘magic’ of Hostel was assuredly Eli Roth, because this direct to video sequel doesn’t seem to quite ‘get’ the other two. The action moves to a Las Vegas chapter of the Slovakian ‘Elite Hunting Club,’ and instead of isolated backpackers or tourists, the victims are a bunch of American dudes on a bachelor party weekend – which doesn’t really make sense at first, till the ‘twist’ happens and kinda excuses it. I think it just would’ve been more interesting to follow a vacationing foreign couple instead. There are a couple cool ideas and kills, and they do alright with the obviously cheaper budget, but it’s easily the weakest entry.

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Day #22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) – Well, I never had much use for Freddy Krueger. At first I thought it was the bad one liners and lame jokes. I was terrified of the TV spots when I was a kid, and had nightmares about silhouetted Freddy chasing me around a pool, his face obscured by the shadow of his hat. When I finally worked up the courage to watch the movies in high school, I found them pretty silly. I halfway enjoyed New Nightmare (till Freddy actually showed up, cracking jokes again). But now, in adulthood, I think I have always disliked the character because, well, he’s a child molester. In TCM, F13, Halloween, you tend to kinda root for the killer. Of them all, Jason Voorhees is the one I’ve always liked best. He’s got a legit grievance (at first), and actually, never attacks any children, being a kind of child himself (in Part IV he goes after Tommy yeah, but mainly because Tommy interferes in the killing of his mother and sister. And in VI, the only movie where kids actually show up at the camp, he spares them every time). This remake with Jackie Earle Haley doesn’t pave over the character’s skeevy origins, which results in me finding Freddy even more unlikable. As to the movie itself, it’s aptly executed, and the stupid puns are thankfully missing, but it’s kinda ho-hum. Same old same old.

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Day #23 – Apostle – An ex-priest heads to a remote island to rescue his sister from an Utopian commune and winds up face to face with its occult secrets. I think my favorite subgenre of horror is folk horror. I love The Wicker Man and Curse of The Demon, love Kill List, Black Death, The Devil Rides Out, The Witch, Lair of The White Worm, Viy….masked cults out cavorting in the fields give me life. I also love Gareth Evans, who blew the top of my head off with The Raid and put it back on upside down with The Raid 2 (I still firmly believe Gareth Edwards got a Star Wars job because he was mistaken for Gareth Evans). So why don’t I like Apostle? I can’t really put my finger on it. It’s overlong, at two hours and change, but I usually don’t mind that if the story’s compelling. It’s well made, looks great, has a suitably gruesome central secret….I just don’t know. It feels….restrained. I’m all for an artist trying something new. My own writing jumps all over genres. But it just feels like a movie by somebody uncomfortable in the constraints of the genre. There are flashes of frenetic, violent action that seem out of another movie. The brawls are where Evans shows flashes of his brilliance. I’m thinking of when the priest disarms and stabs two guards with their own spears, and the knock down drag out fight in the mud near the end, and when a would-be assassin gets checked by the cult leader’s pike bearing guards. But this isn’t an action movie, so those little scenes feel out of place. I guess it feels like a guy not too thrilled with the subject matter being overjoyed when he gets to depict the ‘good parts.’ I detected a lack of passion. I’m making it sound bad, but it’s far from that. I just found my attention wandering a lot.
Image result for seven in heaven netflixDay #24 – Seven In Heaven – OK this is a great premise. Two teenagers at a house party play the seven minutes in heaven game where they get randomly put together and shoved in a closet for seven minutes, only to emerge in a parallel reality where everything is different. But don’t watch it. It took me a week to finish it. The mechanics of the universe hopping are nonsensical and somehow involve old fashioned nudie playing cards (not actually nude, because this is PG-13), the acting is bland (maybe a fault of the uninspired writing), and the plot is uninteresting. Seriously. It sucks. You got me again, Netflix.

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Day #25 – The Witch In The Window – A man takes his internet-scarred son from his estranged wife in the city to the country to help him restore a rural home, only to find the previous occupant has not quite abandoned it yet. Very well done, introspective drama with fully realized characters and some bona fide creepy moments. Surprisingly warm familial message. Definitely a worthwhile watch this season.

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Day #26 – Captain Clegg – This Hammer movie, also known as The Night Creatures, was billed as horror, but isn’t in the least, unless it’s in the Scooby Doo vein. Basically it’s an adventure potboiler about the Navy using a deaf and dumb pirate to hunt down his old captain, who may be hiding in the peaceful island community led by a goodly parson (Peter Cushing) and haunted by these skeletal night riders that look a bit like the Cobra Kai on Halloween night.  It’s fine, but 100% predictable.

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Day #27 – Mr. Boogedy – A made for TV Disney movie about a novelty gag salesman and his family who move into a house haunted by Pilgrim-era spirit with a magic cloak and a young boy with a runny nose. Imaginative 80’s style FX and a compelling central mystery, though the goofy humor wears kinda thin at times. I liked that the shop vac was  an instrumental ghost fighting device.

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Day #28 – Castle Of Blood – Edgar Allen Poe convinces a skeptical journalist to spend the night in a haunted house where he witnesses its ghostly inhabitants reliving their final, violent hours…and there’s something they desperately need from him. Sergio Corbucci and Antonio Margheriti bring forth a masterful ghost story dripping with mood and sensuous texture. Ingenious FX. I loved the ‘breathing’ corpse and black humor of the mercenary denouement, right out of one of Corbucci’s spaghetti westerns. “I’m sorry, but I need to collect my wager. Now you can mourn.” A brilliant Halloween watch.

DT Moviehouse Review: The Cabin In The Woods

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today, and a perfect fit for the Halloween season, I review Drew Goddard and Josh Whedon’s The Cabin In The Woods.

Directed by Drew Goddard

Screenplay by Drew Goddard and Josh Whedon

Tagline: You think you know the story.

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What It’s About:

33d5bfc8College students Dana (Kristen Connolly), Holden (Jesse Williams), Marty (Franz Kranz), Jules (Anna Hutchinson), and Curt (Chris Hemsworth) depart for a secluded weekend at a remote forest cabin and ‘accidentally’ summon up an undead clan of pain worshipping murderers who begin to stalk and kill them one at a time. But is all as it seems, or are they being manipulated for some mindbending, sinister purpose by office managers Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford)?

Why I Bought It:

After a premature run-in (in a dark room no less) with the head twisting scene in The Exorcist when I was six or seven years old, I actively avoided watching horror movies for about nine years, finally breaking the ‘fast’ with, ironically enough, Exorcist III.

CITW_-_floaty_girlI’m really lucky that Exorcist III was such a great flick, or I never would have backtracked and sought out all the scary movies I’d missed.

And I never would have ‘got’ The Cabin In The Woods.

I never actually realized what a horror hound I had become until I saw this.

This is probably one of the greatest horror movies ever made, period. It’s so enjoyable it almost seems like every single horror movie that has gone before was created specifically so this could come into being.

Make no mistake, to fully appreciate the greatness of this movie you have to have at least a passing familiarity with Hellraiser, The Shining, Dracula, An American Werewolf In London, The Mummy, HP Lovecraft, It, The Ring, Suspiria, Evil Dead, Halloween, Juh On, David Cronenberg, George Romero, Scream, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Troll, Poltergeist, Alien, and Friday The 13th.

5pR6aThis is really a movie that benefits in a huge way from going in entirely blind. What a hard movie to cut a trailer for! Being kind of jaded about the summer slasher movie genre, the very title The Cabin In The Woods was a turnoff for me. I’m not into the torture porn genre made popular by stuff like Hostel and Saw and assumed this was going to be more of the same. It looked like yet another vanilla cookie cutter teens in peril flick. There would be some topless scenes, some beer drinking and pot smoking, and in the end, the smartest guy (or more likely, girl) would go through hell at the hands or claws of some inbred hillbilly stereotype or a zombie or plague crazy gutmuncher and maybe get away in the end, maybe not.

Then a couple people whose opinion I trusted started sounding off that this was great, but wisely (and I thank them) refused to give details as to what was so great about it.

Just watch it, they said.

So after a long time of not thinking about it, I finally rented it.

Little did I know that Cabin In The Woods would contain just about every clichéd trope in my aforementioned laundry list….and yet still somehow manage to be entirely original. Thrillingly, awesomely original, and more, a hilarious, subversive in-joke directed solely at horror fans.

This is not to say that you have to be a horror junkie with an all-encompassing knowledge of everything the genre has to offer. It’s just that it offers so much more if you’re a nerd.

Surface-wise, the plot alone is entertaining and the tag line says it all. Going into it, you think you know what’s going to happen. The very title evokes a paint by numbers scenario. Early on though, you realize something weird is going on, when the movie opens not with the teens gearing up for their weekend, but a couple of middle-aged salarymen in suits preparing for some big to-do at their white, sterile workplace.

Of course, then we get the obligatory scenes where get to know who’s who and who’s with who, which is the jock, which the brain, which the burnout. Yet there’s still something just a little off. Our football hero has in-depth knowledge of socio-economic theory. Our stoner and his wild conspiracy theories make more and more sense as the movie progresses. The boy’s aren’t slavering pussy hounds – when one discovers a two-way mirror looking into the object of his desire’s room and she starts to undress, we don’t get the voyeuristic topless scene. He knocks on the wall and lets her know what’s going on (does she do the same for him later on?).

As we go deeper down the rabbit hole of Cabin In The Woods, our expectations start unraveling. A bird hits an invisible force field. The office guys are shown to be having some effect on the behavior of the kids. There are tantalizing hints toward some greater purpose being fulfilled. And when the kids start acting like we expect them to, it’s unexpected.

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W.T.F! Yeah, Cabin In The Woods is kinda like this.

By the time a character we thought was dead returns, we know this same drama is being enacted all over the world for some strange reason and I doubt anybody who hasn’t seen this movie or read about it beforehand can guess what the heck is happening. Yet it’s not all some fly-by-night-pull-it-out-of-your-ass-make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing. By the time Sigourney Weaver shows up to explain it all, it’s like the last piece of a puzzle is fitting into place and you think to yourself, “Ahhhh that’s perfect.”

It’s a real treat to be surprised by a movie, and it’s even better to be totally delighted by it as a genre fan.

cabinboardFor me, the movie really takes off when they go down into that cellar and find it packed to the gills with thinly disguised items from other movies. The puzzle ‘ball,’ referencing both Hellraiser and perhaps Phantasm. The diary with the incantations right out of Evil Dead. It’s all intercut with that wonderful whiteboard the office workers are all betting over, crammed with achingly great references to threats from across the horror spectrum. When that scene passes and you realize what’s about to happen, you love it, but a small part of you thinks in the back of your head, “Aw man, it would’ve been so great if they’d gone with the BLANK instead.”

And then, maybe twenty or thirty minutes later, they hit the Purge button and it’s Christmas morning, as every monster and beast, every ghost and murderer on that board floods your screen.

The_Monsters_The_Cabin_in_the_Woods-1024x426Cabin In The Woods that does the impossible. It’s a flick with a one off plot twist so great you can’t possibly expect it to be rewatchable once you know it’s coming. But you do watch it again. And you rewind and pause and slow mo it to death to see all those white board monsters tear their way through the complex. Geez there’s even a 50 foot woman in one of those cages.

One of the most supremely satisfying movies I’ve ever seen.

And, like the complexity of the plot itself, it’s smart. You can still delve a level deeper beyond the monsters and uncover a rich examination of the movie fan himself. There’s a great scene when Hemsworth and Hutchinson are being manipulated via hormone gasses, temperature, and lighting to have sex in the woods, and the team of manipulators are shown hanging on the scene from their viewing room, waiting for Hutchinson to show her breasts and groaning when she initially defers. How many guys have sat together watching a horror movie at home or in a theater and experienced the same audience reaction? It’s a funny scene, and yet the makers bring it back a step when Hadley and Sitterson dismiss the greater portion of the crew and put their full resources toward getting Hutchinson to disrobe, ostensibly for the viewing pleasure of the Old One (is the band of randy office drones a stand in for the moviegoing audience, which is funny, or is it the Old One, which suggests something more unseemly). Their expressions completely change. They’re almost sad to do it. But the Old One must be appeased. The tropes of the ritual must be adhered to.

When Marty says early on that the world needs to crumble, but everybody’s afraid to let it crumble, he speaks of the loss of privacy, the invasion of nebulous government watchers and dropping of sanctions on private life. This foreshadows the situation of the kids in the cabin, but doesn’t it also reflect on the fears of modern life in America?

What is the change Mary is calling for if we apply it to ourselves? Should the Old One rise up to completely tear down the system? Is popular entertainment an opiate used to keep that giant from waking up and breaking out? Maybe this is ham-handed political commentary to some, but then again how many of the general movie going audience came away with this message from something as innocuous seeming as a summer horror movie?

Cabin-In-The-WoodsIt also cleverly breaks the horror movie cliché down into a thematic, seemingly ancient codification. The athlete, the fool, the whore, the virgin. These are mystical concepts that really do occur throughout the history of human storytelling, and are most clearly represented in the cards of the Waite Tarot. The fool is often considered the stand-in for the questioner in a card divination. In Arthurian literature it’s the fool, often Sir Dagonet (as in Tennyson), Percivale (Perfect Fool) or in some cases (TH White) Merlin, who can look beyond the confines of his own story to comment on the greater meaning. The fool sees the strings, and can follow them to the storyteller. The fool attains the Grail, the greater, hidden knowledge, often to his detriment, as is the case with Marty here.

One wonders what cultural tropes the Old Ones in Japan need to see to keep them sleeping.

A thing I’ve said this in other reviews, but a good movie is entertaining. A great movie ‘moves’ the watcher, either moving their heart to experience some emotion, or moving the mind into a previously unconsidered mode of thought.

I would say The Cabin In The Wood is a great movie.

Best Dialogue/Line:

Marty’s weirdly funny and cryptic (and ultimately prophetic):

Cops will never pull over a man with a huge bong in his car. Why? They fear this man. They know he sees further than they and he will bind them with ancient logics.

Best Scene:

Without a doubt the best scene is the monster Purge I’ve already described above. This flick has a lot of funny moments amid all the horror. Mordecai on speakerphone comes to mind.

But if I had to pick a scene that never fails to make me laugh because it’s totally indicative of the multilevel enjoyment I get out of this movie, is when Hemsworth’s Curt tries to escape the area by jumping the gorge on his motorbike.

6487After their camper is blocked from escaping through the tunnel by an unexpected explosion which results in a cave-in, Curt devises a plan to jump the gorge and escape on his motorbike, vowing to return with the police, the national guard, the ghost of Steve McQueen the LA Raiders, and ten thousand Roman gladiators to get his friends out, and especially to avenge the horrifying death and post mortem beheading of his girlfriend.

He assures them he can easily make the jump, and cuts a heroic, Thor-like figure for a moment, revving his bike and nodding to them his assurance.

“You can’t hold back,” his friend Holden warns him. He has to achieve maximum velocity to make this leap to freedom.

“I never do,” Curt growls.

He cuts loose, leaps the bike into the air, and it looks like he’s going to make it, until he smashes head on into the invisible honeycomb field enclosing the area. His bike explodes in a fiery ball and we sees his lifeless body tumble down the long length of the shield wall, bouncing as it goes, giving us a glimpse as to how deep it really goes (perhaps it’s there to keep the Old One penned in?).

For the victims in the story, it’s a horrible, hope-smashing moment.

For the guys in the control center, it’s a sigh inducing close call, which if you think of the movie in the terms that they are actually the ones trying to preserve the world and all human life on it, is kind of a time bomb cut the blue wire hero moment for them.

And for me, I just burst out laughing. Is it a guilty laugh? Maybe upon multiple viewings, but the first time, no. I just found the failure of Curt’s heroics unintentionally hilarious, like a somebody calling their shot in a game and then fumbling utterly, or Jack Burton exuberantly shooting in his gun in the air before the big fight in Big Trouble In Little China and then getting knocked out by the falling plaster.

I wonder if this made the Old One chuckle in his bed too?

Next In The Queue: The Call Of Cthulhu

‘Tis The Season Over On The HWA Blog

There are traditionally beloved movies for the Christmas season – A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, etc.  So what are my picks for the Halloween equivalents of these holiday classics?

Head over to the Horror Writer Association’s blog at – http://www.horror.org/blog/halloween-haunts-2013-halloween-animated-specials-by-ed-erdelac/

and give it a read.

 

Hasta pronto,

EME

Published in: on October 14, 2013 at 8:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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DT Moviehouse Review: The Brides Of Dracula

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today I review the atmospheric Hammer gothic horror classic The Brides Of Dracula.

(1960) Directed by Terrence Fisher

Screenplay by Peter Bryan, Edward Percy, Jimmy Sangster, and Anthony Hinds

Tagline: The most evil, blood-lusting Dracula of all!

brides_of_dracula_poster_01

What It’s About:

brides-of-draculaIn 1890’s Transylvania, Marianne (Yvonna Monlaur), a French schoolteacher stranded on the way to her appointment at an all girl’s academy, accepts an invitation from the elderly Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt), to stay the night in her castle. When Marianne sees a handsome young man out on the veranda, the Baroness says it is her son, who remains confined to his room due to an affliction of madness. Yet later Marianne investigates herself, and finds the Baron (David Beel) chained. He pleads with her to let him go, claiming his mother has imprisoned him to assume control of his lands. When she releases the Baron, his hysterical midwife, Greta (Freda Jackson) shows her the body of the Baroness, dead in a chair with two red holes in her neck. The Baron has fled. He soon turns up in the local village though, and the peasant girls start turning up dead. The local priest has called in an expert, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Peter Cushing).

Why I Bought It:

cushingcauterizeFor the longest time, this was one of my ‘lost’ films. I must’ve seen it on Son of Svengoolie as a kid in Chicago and only remembered snatches of it. Van Helsing sliding a crucifix the length of a banquet table to repel a vampire, the vampiric mother (she looks a bit like Cinderella’s stepmother) being transfixed by a stake, a woman rising from her grave, and David Beel with his incongruous blonde curls, gray cape, and fangs.

I watched a couple of the Lee/Cushing pairings, and while I liked them, I couldn’t quite find this picture. Knew from the look of it it was either Hammer or Italian. Then a couple years ago my friend Greg Mitchell posted a screenshot of it and I got the same deep down thrill I got when I rediscovered Return Of The Five Deadly Venoms after nearly twenty years of looking.

graveopenThis is one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, and a top three Hammer pick. Before the plot even begins, the backstory is unique and compelling, completely independent of the Dracula legend, yet complimentary of it. The Baron Meinster was an associate of Dracula, a hanger-on and a bon vivant who attended decadent parties with the count and hosted opulent balls at his own castle, eventually becoming one of Dracula’s bloodsucking thralls. His mother, enamored of her own son and the sophistication (and perhaps the supernatural glamor) of his strange company, at first went along with Dracula. Ultimately she was repelled by her son’s undead condition, but whether out of motherly love or something more unseemly, she opted to keep him imprisoned and alive, trolling the villages for young girls to feed his unholy thirst and keep him alive. All of this has driven the housefrau Greta to the brink of insanity.

The decadent, gothic tragedy of the film is well played out. When Van Helsing snoops about the castle he finds the baroness now a pitiful vampire lamenting her fate.

cushing-leaning-forward_1800Once the initial act ends, the draw of the movie swiftly becomes Cushing as Van Helsing. His professor is vibrant and brave, as assured of his purpose as he is ingenious in his methods. Not one of these brooding, angst-ridden anti-heroes who sympathizes with his prey (he does show pity for the baroness, but that doesn’t stop him, when she moans that there’s no way out of her curse, from assuring her pointedly, ‘there is…one way’), he’s a refreshing classic hero who dives right into the fight, barely standing still when the time comes to fight. He tackles vampires, pounds stakes, and flings holy water. He doesn’t even despair when he awakens to find himself bitten, but fills his bite marks with holy water and slaps a hot iron to his own neck as the baron’s lovely vampiresses look on in almost comical disbelief. Cushing’s Van Helsing is God’s bloodhound, not content to fort up or defend himself. Dracula’s death hasn’t allowed him to exhale. He’s determined to run down every evil that has resulted from the deceased count’s touch, and he pursues David Peel to his end, finally trapping him beneath the improvised shadow of a cross, cast by a giant blazing windmill.

shadowofcrossThe women of Hammer movies are always a joy to look at, and Brides Of Dracula is no exception. Yvonne Monlaur is lovely, but the titular vampiresses, Marie Devareaux and Andree Melly, are knockouts, particularly Melly, who has this amazing facial structure, a slightly protruding overbite, that lends itself very well to her ultimate ‘look.’

The other bit parts, Fred Johnson’s earnest Father Stepnik, Miles Malleson’s comical Dr. Tobler, Vera Wang’s Innkeeper’s Wife and the couple that own the women’s academy, all do a fine job as well.

Best Dialogue/Line:

Baroness: Who is it that is not afraid?

Van Helsing: Only God has no fear.

Baroness: Why have you come here?

Van Helsing: To find your son.

Baroness Meinster: Then you know who I am?

Van Helsing: I know who you were…

Best Scene:

gravemidwifeWhen the innkeeper’s daughter falls prey to the Baron and is buried, she is interred in the churchyard. Van Helsing goes one night to investigate her grave, and finds Freda laying with her ear to the mound, muttering into the freshly turned earth.

“Yes my dear, I know it’s dark. No, I can’t help. You’ve got to push….”

The scene has a really macabre intensity, and the unmistakable allusions to childbirth play out perfectly, with Freda, already established as having nursed the young Baron from infancy, playing the part of an encouraging midwife as the innkeeper’s daughter’s pale hand slowly breaks through the ground and she is ‘born’ as a vampire, emerging at last from her coffin, pale and fanged.

Next In The Queue: Bronco Billy

Danse Macabre: Close Encounters With The Reaper

Bitten By Books is hosting a multi-author release party for EDGE Publishing’s Danse Macabre: Close Encounters With The Reaper anthology from editor Nancy Kilpatrick and featuring my story The Exclusive.  I’ll be there off and on fielding questions, so stop by. You can also enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

http://www.bittenbybooks.com/57920/editor-nancy-kilpatrick-multi-author-book-release-party-and-50-00-amazon-gift-card-contest-live-here/#comment-539024

Contributors – Brian Lumley, William Meikle, Lisa Morton, Tom Piccirilli, Gabriel Boutros, Brad Carson, Suzanne Church, Dan Devine, Lorne Dixon, Tom Dullemond, Opal Edgar, Ian M. Emberson, Sabrina Furminger, Stanley S. Hampton, Sr., Brian Hodge, Nancy Holder & Erin Underwood, J. Y. T. Kennedy, Tanith Lee,  Morgan Dempsey, Timothy Reynolds, Angela Roberts, Lawrence Salani, Lucy Taylor, Bev Vincent, and Bill Zaget.

From the publisher –

People die from old age, illness, accident, violence, despair. They can die before they are born. The happy and the sad, the sane and insane, the rich and the poor, the law abiding and the criminal, the genius and the fool, the saint and the sinner. Some face death consciously, others die in their sleep. But we all die and Danse Macabre is a kind of universal melting pot for death. My goal is to create an anthology that is a literary version of the Danse Macabre artwork, showing the same range of humanity in a variety of situations and encounters with death.” — Nancy Kilpatrick

This anthology is the most unusual and original collection of stories you’ll ever read! It is a literary version of Danse Macabre “Plague art”. Twenty-six literary reflections that embody those themed, classical artworks devoted to the spectrum of humanity’s intriguing interactions with the Angel of Death.

My own story, The Exclusive, is about a crusading frontier newspaper editor who finds himself with a unique opportunity to interview the most accomplished killer the world has ever known, Samael, the Angel of Death. The story ties directly into Merkabah Rider, so for fans of the series, it ought to be worth checking out.

-Hope to see you there,

Hasta pronto.

Jeff On Jason: The Top Ten Friday The 13th Movies

Hey all, turning the blog over today to my friend and sometime collaborator Jeff Carter (his story of submersible terror, The Wager, appeared beside my own Tell Tom Tildrum in Tales From The Bell Club, and we’re working on an RPG together for Heroic Journey Publishing), whose blog, The Monster Compendium, can be found on my sidebar. Check it out – it’s a trove of obscure stuff from around the world, general geekery, and of course, all things Carterian.

Jeff, like me, is a horror movie fan, and he hosts our annual Black-O-Ween celebration, in which we view one or two African American themed horror movies from the golden age of blaxploitation (past showings include Blacula, Blackenstein, Sugar Hill, JD’s Revenge, The Thing With Two Heads, and most recently, Abby and The Beast Must Die).

For the past couple weeks he’s been viewing the Friday The 13th film series, which holds a dear place in my heart as the novelization of Part VI: Jason Lives by Simon Hawke is one of the first books I ever read that made me want to write.

As an end result, he’s put them in order of enjoyment.

Happy Friday the 12th.

————–

Howdy!

Ed’s posted a lot of movie reviews here, as well as his  annual Halloween list of must-see horror.  I thought I’d toss my hockey  mask into the ring with a list of the top ten Friday the 13th movies.

Not many movies get eleven and a half installments and a remake.  Few  characters can take that kind of punishment, but Friday the 13th has  Jason Voorhees, an unstoppable killing machine with an endless hatred of teenaged hijinks.  Having a lead character that wears a mask and  disposable casts of unknowns helps too.

So let’s take a look at the first ten, leaving out Freddy VS. Jason and the 2009 remake.

I reached these rankings through a complicated algorithm that tabulated  kills, scares, the ratio of serious to goofy, amount of Jason or other  core elements, cameos, and continuity.  And no, I will not show my work.

So here they are, from worst to best:

10) Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

This movie has a lot of detractors, but the algorithm nearly spat this out for one fatal flaw:  Jason is not in the movie!

Just a guy

9) Friday the 13th Part 7: New Blood

This was a powerfully close tie for last place.  The story: A psychic  girl  accidentally uses one of her 9 million powers to resurrect Jason from the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake.  Most of the kills occur off screen, a  strange choice for a slasher flick.  In the movie’s defense, the MPAA  apparently cut it to ribbons before its theatrical release and then slashed it even more viciously for home video.  That being said, the end result is boring and inane.

8) Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

This movie was almost hallucinatory with its surreal, incoherent jumbled plot. Psychic visions, drug addled gangs of rapists, nuclear waste.  The Crystal Lake High graduating class take a cruise ship to New  York…from Crystal Lake? Via Canada?  I don’t understand the geography, but distances clearly don’t matter in this film.  Jason teleports,  TELEPORTS, more than once.

Why take public transportation when you can teleport?

Perhaps this can all be explained by a certain shift: Marijuana has been  replaced with cocaine as the drug of choice.  Don’t miss the cameo by a young Kelly Hu, who is tempted to snort up with the line “the night  time is the right time”.

7) Jason X

Many would say that this half sci-fi/half farce cyborg flick is the worst of the series, but  clearly the rankings say otherwise.  Yes, the movie was goofy and cheesy and cheap, but unless you were kidnapped and brought to a sneak  preview, you must have known all that going in.

The movie was set  in the distant future to avoid any continuity conflict with Freddy VS.  Jason, which was being developed at the time.  So let’s talk about  continuity – in my algorithm, continuity not only addresses the  preservation of the established timeline, facts, and use of core  elements, but also the broader scope of the Friday the 13th events and  their impact on the wider world.

In this future world Jason is still infamous.  Scientists and soldiers both want his body for his  amazing regenerative properties and black market collectors will pay top dollar for such a gruesome piece of history.

The movie is campy  and self aware, and I really liked it.  I must confess that I had  thought it would be higher in the rankings than the extremely silly self parody of Part 6, but the algorithm does not lie.

Look for the cameo by Director David Cronenberg and a fun performance from genre veteran Peter Mensah.

The highlight is a clever gambit by the space students to distract Jason: a holodeck simulation of Camp Crystal Lake, complete with vapid,  indestructible teenagers.

Jason is going to work out some issues.

6)  Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives

This was a relaunch after the supposed ‘Final Chapter’ Part 4 and the  failure of Part 5.  This was also a parody, an inevitable stage in the  cycle of any genre.

The ‘kid who would be Jason’, Tommy Jarvis  from Pt. 4, digs up Jason’s grave to destroy his remains.  Jason is brought back to life by  lightning.

Jason has now transformed from tough, super strong mutant to indestructible  super zombie.  A magic ritual of sorts is also used to ‘bind’ and trap  Jason at the end, hinting at the mystical nature of Jason’s past.

I didn’t care for this one.  The forced attempts at humor undercut any  sense of horror.  I don’t need a movie to parody itself, I can mock it  just fine, thank you very much.

There is a nice nod to another long running series in the intro that I rather liked, however.

“The name’s Voorhees. Jason, Voorhees.”

5) Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter

Now we’re talking.  This movie had a lot of meat for the algorithm to chew  on: Cameos (Crispin Glover! Corey Haim!), Core elements (fighting Jason  with psychology!) and tons of kills and scares.  In the continuity  department, we see Pamela Voorhees’ tombstone and the character Rob, who is seeking revenge for his sister who got killed in Part 2.

“I’m YOU, Jason. And you are cool, so I popped my collar.”

4) Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes To Hell

I know people hate this movie like O.G. Star Wars fans hate Return of the Jedi for its ewok shenanigans.  Fortunately, the algorithm is beyond  your petty emotions.  It’s all in the data.  Consider the cast: Erin  Gray (Buck Rogers!) as Mrs. Kimble nee Voorhees, Steven Williams (21  Jump Street! X-Files!) as the world’s most ruthless serial killer hunter and John D. Le May, who stars in this movie AND the Friday the 13th TV  series!

This movie has world building in spades.  It features the  Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the ACTUAL book of the dead from the Evil Dead  movies!  Jason is such a well-known terror that the FBI forms a special  task force to lure him out and destroy him with overwhelming firepower.

When they succeed (or did they?) the entire country watches TV news reports  about the incident with relief.  One local business celebrates with a  “Jason is Dead” sale and special hockey mask shaped burgers.

I could totally go for a Jason burger right now

This movie suffers from a lack of Jason – after the FBI blows up his body,  the evil energies that inhabit his body begin to leap from body to body, seeking a body with the cursed Voorhees bloodline that can either  resurrect or destroy him.  This is another stage in Jason’s life cycle,  from deformed child to hulking freak to super zombie to this, the dark  scion of a strange occult ritual.  Fortunately, Jason is in the  beginning and end of this movie, and does a lot of crazy killing in  between.

The final cameo opened the movie up, in a big way that  blew the minds of horror fans everywhere:  after Jason is destroyed by  his ancestor with a magic sword/knife/demon broadsword, Freddy Krueger’s glove bursts up from Hell to snatch the iconic hockey mask.

MIND…BLOWN.

3) Friday the 13th Part 2

Taking the bronze medal is part 2, a strong sequel to the original with an  almost perfect score on continuity and core elements.  Jason steps out  of the lake and onto the center stage, killing teenagers and preserving  his mother’s rotting head and grody sweater on an altar.

Some people put their mother on a pedestal. Some put them on an altar.

A savvy co-ed dons the crusty sweater at the end to mess with Jason’s  mind.  The only core elements missing are the machete and hockey mask – at this point Jason is rocking a sack with an eye hole in it.

The bag-heads soon switched to fat suits, but it was not until they adopted gangsta personas and renamed the group CB4 that they reached stardom.

This movie also has the original harbinger, crazy Ralph.  This colorful  local warned the teenagers in the first movie to stay away from Camp  Crystal Lake.  They didn’t listen, but crazy Ralph was so iconic that he became part of the slasher genre formula.

“It’s got a DEATH CURRRRSE!!!…and many scenic bike paths.”

2) Friday the 13th 3D

Ah, back when all movies with a part 3 were in 3D.  It was a simpler time.

This movie exploited the full potential of the third dimension more fully  than James Cameron’s AVATAR.  Seriously, if it could swing, float, jump, fly or pop out at the audience, it was comin’ atcha.  Not just spear  guns and pitchforks, either.  Yo-yos, popcorn, snakes, EVERYTHING.

Comin’ Atcha!

The tone was a little more silly, but only to pump up the cheap thrills.   There was plenty of scares and violent, creative death to go around.   Jason finally gets his hockey mask here, which is why part 3D gets the  silver medal.  The only thing missing is Jason’s mother…

1) Friday the 13th

The origin story of the most gifted, prolific and hardest working slasher  in history.  We learn who Jason was, meet his devoted mother, and learn  our way around Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees, is easily one of the most original and compelling characters of any  slasher film.  That wild eyed old lady in the christmas sweater with the blade?  She’s fueled by grief, maternal love and righteous fury.

“Kee Kee Kee Kee…Kah Kah Kah Kah can only truly be whispered through dentures.”

JAWS stopped night swimming. This stopped lake swimming.

This movie ends with the only image from the series as iconic as the hockey  mask: the slimy body of a freakish child erupting from depths of a  watery grave.

——

Jeff C. Carter’s most recent work in print appears in AVENIR ECLECTIA Volume 1, now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.  Get more Halloween stuff at his blog Compendium of Monsters and say hey on Facebookand Goodreads.

My Halloween Movie Repertoire Walks Among Us!

Well the world’s in it’s sear and yellow leaf, the pumpkins are smiling, and tooth decay is on the rise! Must be Halloween, kiddies!

Some say print is dead, but this is the time when the dead walk. Shambling off the shelves come tentacular extraterrestrial monstrosities by HP Lovecraft. A little further from the north are slews of nameless unutterable nightmares courtesy of Stephen King. Maybe Clive Barker’s got his hooks in you. Maybe you’re a Twilight fan (and if you are, my condolences at the untimely passing of your taste – haha). Can I recommend some Richard Matheson, or some old fashioned terror tales by Poe or my personal favorite, Ambrose Bierce?

Yours truly has a couple scary books out. I’m the only ‘Erdelac’ on Amazon right now, so go and take a look.

But enough with the shameless plugging.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to curl up with a book (or have a book curl up with you), every year I update my holiday movie viewing lists, and it’s time once again to resurrect the old Halloween Repertoire, new and improved for 2012.

So what am I watching this year?

Every year my buddy and fellow author Jeff Carter hosts an evening of horror themed blaxploitation movies. We kicked off the inaugural year with the classic Blacula, and have moved through it’s sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, Blackenstein, Sugar Hill, The Thing With Two Heads, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, and JD’s Revenge.

Up this year its the ‘black Exorcist’ classic Abby —

and the Peter Cushing werewolf whodunnit The Beast Must Die –

We may also screen the classic Kolchak episode ‘The Zombie’ with Antonio ‘Huggy Bear’ Fargas, which features a voodoo queen resurrecting her murdered son to kill a bunch of numbers racket mobsters.

On with the list –

My favorite ghost stories – The Haunting (original), The Others, The Sixth Sense, Kwaidan, Poltergeist 1 and 2, The Shining, Stir Of Echoes, The Changeling, The Crow, The Screaming Skull, The Orphanage, The Entity, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, The Ring, The Woman In Black.

Bubba din’t do it!

Devils/demons and diabolical witches can be found in – Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Exorcist III, The Sentinel, Angel Heart, Night Of The Demon, Inferno, The Devil Rides Out, Hellraiser, Black Sabbath, The Craft, Burn Witch Burn, The Believers, Cast A Deadly Spell, The Omen 1 and 2, Suspiria, The Skeleton Key, Masque Of The Red Death, Pumpkinhead, The Devil, Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch, The Evil Dead, Constantine, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Gate, Child’s Play.

Vampires get your blood racing?

Let me suggest – Near Dark, The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Todd Browning’s Dracula, The Hunger, Blacula (yes Blacula – it’s awesome), Kolchak The Night Stalker, Vampire’s Kiss, The Brides Of Dracula.

If the homicidally deranged are your bag, you can’t top – The Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Bad Seed, Audition (Odishon), Psycho (original), Misery, Deep Red, Halloween 1 and 2 (I also liked the remake of 1), Friday The 13th Part III, Silent Rage, Pin, Magic, Frailty, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, House Of Wax (original), Se7en, Peeping Tom, Silence Of The Lambs, Deep Red.

Werewolves are a sadly under-represented pack of beasties. I like – Wolf, The Wolfman (both Lon Chaney Jr and the remake), Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, An American Werewolf In London, Ginger Snaps, The Curse Of The Werewolf, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Silver Bullet, Dog Soldiers and for a switch, Wolfen.

If you like your yucks with yuks, these horror/comedies are a good bet – Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland, Fright Night Parts 1 and 2, Student Bodies, Saturday The 14th, Dead Alive, Tremors, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Cabin In The Woods, Love At First Bite, Evil Dead 2, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken.

Zombies anyone? I likes ’em slow, bitey, and numerous. – Dawn Of The Dead (original), Night Of The Living Dead, Land Of The Dead, Survival Of The Dead, Zombie, White Zombie, The Serpent And The Rainbow, Sugar Hill, The Dead.

If you like your terror from beyond the stars – Village Of The Damned (original), Body Snatchers, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (70’s), Alien, Aliens, Phantasm, Predator, Event Horizon, The Thing, The Call Of Cthulhu, Horror Express, Lifeforce, Attack The Block.

If, like Chunk, you hate nature, these will get your fur up – The Killer Shrews, Alligator, Pirahna, Night Of The Lepus, Arachnophobia, Kingdom of the Spiders, Food Of The Gods.

Halloween For The Kids – It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, Monster House, Hotel Transylvania, The Halloween Tree, Monster Squad, Mad Monster Party, The Garfield Halloween Special, Disney’s Ichabod And Mr. Toad, Eloise’s Rawther Unusual Halloween, any of the recent Scooby Doo Movies.

Some gems that just don’t fit anywhere else – Creature From The Black Lagoon, Lair Of The White Worm, Trick R Treat, Christine, Pan’s Labrynth, Creepshow, Nightbreed, Fiend Without A Face, The Fly (both the original and the remake), The Fly II, Carrie, The Other, Trilogy Of Terror, Monkey Shines, Todd Browning’s Freaks, The Descent, The Mummy (Original), Manster, The Manitou, 28 Weeks Later, Grimm Prairie Tales, Ravenous, Dumplings.

In the words of my biggest junior high crush, “Unpleasent Dreams!”

Published in: on October 5, 2012 at 12:41 am  Leave a Comment  

HWA Halloween Haunts Blog

Hey all,

For the month of October the Horror Writers Association is running a cool blog feature with thirty one guest posts a day from thirty one different writers, sharing stories of Halloweens past, excerpts from their latest works, giveaways, and cool Halloween related stuff.

Take a look at the lineup and schedule!

Oct. 1 James Chambers
Oct. 2 Russell James
Oct. 2 Laura Benedict
Oct. 3 John Taff
Oct. 4 Allyson Bird
Oct. 5 David Riley
Oct. 5 Kenneth Cain
Oct. 6 JG Faherty
Oct. 7 Roy Robbins
Oct. 8 Lisa Morton
Oct. 9 Annie Neugebauer
Oct. 9 Cher Green
Oct. 10 Rocky Wood
Oct. 11 Stefan Petrucha
Oct. 12 Rebecca Cantrell
Oct. 12 Marty Young
Oct. 13 Linda Addison
Oct. 14 Ed Erdelac
Oct. 15 Carol Jahme
Oct. 15 Nancy Holder
Oct. 16 Lincoln Crisler
Oct. 16 Adrian Ludens
Oct. 17 Derrick Hussey
Oct. 18 Jennifer Harlow
Oct. 19 David Annandale
Oct. 19 Brick Marlin
Oct. 20 Brad Hodson
Oct. 21 Benjamin Kane Ethrdige
Oct. 22 John Skipp
Oct. 23 Greg Chapman
Oct. 23 Peter Salomon
Oct. 24 Bryan Thao Worra
Oct. 25 Teresa Lo
Oct. 26 Douglas Wynne
Oct. 26 Max Booth III
Oct. 27 James Kendley
Oct. 28 Joe McKinney
Oct. 29 Patrick Thomas
Oct. 30 Charles Day
Oct. 31 Hugh  Sterbakov

October 14th I’ll be on there, talking about my latest book, Terovolas, and talking about Abraham Van Helsing and others of his ilk. There’ll also be a giveaway, so be sure and check it out.

Just click on the cool banner below, created by Greg Chapman.