Friday, February 28, 2014

Scarecrow's Slasher Summer 2014 Potential Movie List


Return to Horror High
1987
Beyond the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
2006
Slaughter High
1986
Silent Scream
2005
Silent Scream
1980
The Initiation
1984
The Burning
1980
Dark Ride
2006
Lake Death
2007
You’re Next
2013
Maniac
1980
Sorority House Massacre
1986
Happy Birthday to Me
1981
Curtains
1983
Shredder
2003
Unhinged
1982
My Little Eye
2002
Five Across the Eyes
2006
Intruder
1989
April Fool’s Day
2008



This seems to be a working list of the movies I would like to review for this year, but I am still mulling over perhaps adding Murder Set Pieces and Don't Go Into the Woods.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014



I do agree with a large majority of the critics (and imagine Zombie would perhaps) that once the film enters Haddonfield suburbia the director is inauthentic in presentation. I don’t believe the daughter (Laurie, Michael’s long lost adopted sister) would be talking about an old man wanting to touch her sexually with her mother while her father is grumbling, after bits of profanity, about a hardware store going out of business. The mother, while cooking eggs, shrugs her off in half-giggles. Not just this, but the follow-up, when we see “normal suburbia kids” in Haddonfield feels forced. Nothing against Zombie—he knows the characters he is comfortable writing in his films (it is what sets him apart and also stereotypes him)—but when he steps out of his comfort zone, I think you can sense the loss of interest. I think that is why accepting a remake can be a burden. It is as if some part of you feels obligated to give back to the original film’s fans, but in doing so your own vision is tainted. We already have Carpenter’s film we can go to when we want to see Laurie and her friends walking their neighborhood. Still, Zombie throws the old school fans’ a bone anyway and tries to honor the film although it feels forced and uninspired.













 
I did enjoy the trio meeting at Smith’s Grove (McDowell, Udo Kier, and Clint Howard) to discuss how Myers escaped and the consequences of it. Of course, Kier and Howard attempt to blame McDowell, while he is very accusatory of their inability to “play zookeeper” and keep “the monkey in its cage until it grows old and dies” (!!!). This scene is featured along with another trio (Scout Taylor Compton, Danielle Harris, and Kristina Klebe) talking about high school matters (like cheerleading, sex, faculty, hook-ups, and babysitting) that seem rather inconsequential and entertaining to them, unaware of the hell that is in store for them. Loomis knows that time is drawing short and Haddonfield is where Michael is headed while Laurie and her peeps are totally involved in their teenage world. Walking the neighborhood after a table talk in a local hangout, the girls chat while Michael looks on at a distance outside or off in the background. He’s always there, very much like The Shape in Carpenter’s film, and this is where Zombie stays close to the original’s roots. Zombie even plays music from the original film more here than at any point in his own film. Included is more of the family unit of Laurie, and her relationship with the girls is about on par with what we have watched in Carpenter’s film, although I simply prefer Curtis, Loomis, and PJ Soles as personalities and characters. Not to fault Zombie, Carpenter had help with Debra Hill in regards to dialogue and coaching for the girls. He got to write the words for Pleasence instead. Seeing McDowell besmirch "shirt-tuckers" Howard and Kier, belittling them in snarky fashion, had me laughing out loud.  Klebe using "totally" in her dialogue seems out of place and used specifically to return a homage to the delightful Soles.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fright Night 2



**/*****

Fright Night 2 literally opens with a bang as a young beauty pumping gas is attacked by a vampire at a service station. An attempt to blow up her car in order to kill the attacker doesn’t help. In fact, the security camera shows an “invisible” attacker bleeding the victim in the store. This feeding recuperates the burned vampire back whole and thus begins the sequel to a remake nobody called for. The remake actually entertained me somewhat, but it wasn’t a total success. It was decently cast, with some fun moments but, for me, doesn’t hold a candle to 80s classic. I didn’t see anything about it that warranted a sequel to it, though. The sequel came and went during October of 2013 with little fanfare. I recall seeing it advertised on Direct TV cinema but not long after fell into the mass of horror movies populating the “shelves” of stream/dvd Netflix. I always keep an open mind, although I just wasn’t holding my breath that this would be particularly worthwhile considering it never made the theatres or caught on while it was mentioned briefly in October of last year.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Michael is about to complete his wardrobe in Rob Zombie's Halloween





Obtaining the uniform is a step in providing Michael with the iconic "costume" that identifies him to the slasher fanbase. But the Shape mask itself puts the final touch (not to forget the butcher knife also tucked away under the floorboards of Mikey's house) on what personifies Michael Myers. The man behind the persona is also important I think. The sequels of the Halloween franchise offer examples of so-so Myers. Part 4 had a Myers that is basically a walking stilt, but Mane, for me, nails it out of the ballpark. I harken back to Pleasence's scene in Halloween as his Loomis talks to the sheriff about what lies behind the eyes of Michael. Pure evil. The devil's eyes. Black eyes. Mane, however a polite soul out of character, embodies the Michael Myers Pleasence speaks of in Carpenter's masterpiece. I think Zombie is at his absolute best and most inspired when shooting Michael Myers. The style really exemplifies adding the most intimidation and menace to Myers. His demeanor, the way he walks, how he seems to be larger than life, the silent rage sent off his mere presence; this Michael Myers is the whole package.

If you are a fan of Rob Zombie's Halloween 3-hour documentary, then this sequence with Ken Foree and Tyler Mane where two big guys duke it out in a truck wash bathroom stall will be especially memorable. It was meticulously storyboarded and obvious that Zombie created Big Grizz with Foree in mind. While Zombie's buddies from previous films (Easterbrook, Towles, and Moseley) were mostly relegated to extras after their scene was cut from future releases of Halloween, Foree made it through intact. It isn't a particularly long scene, but the sheer brute struggle and physicality leaves a lasting impression. I smile when I think about how Foree was concerned he would look weak in the scene but Zombie does enough to establish that he doesn't go down without a fight.












If you think about it, this whole turn of events was due to the simple truth that Michael wanted Big Grizz's uniform. It was a minor objective succeeded through a major brawl involving a knife that is the tool to obtain the prize of the uniform. Michael wins. This scene allows Foree to deliver choice dialogue centered around shitting in the commode. Dropping loads and releasing the beast in peace give Foree the Zombie zingers that have entertained horror/exploitation fans since the director debuted with House of 1000 Corpses in 2003.
Michael observes some of his handiwork right before escaping Smith's Grove in Rob Zombie's Halloween

Look, Michael had to get out of Smith’s Grove somehow. Carpenter didn’t really elaborate in detail how Michael did this in his film, but Zombie felt the need to do so in his. The theatrical version I watched had security guards waiting to transfer him to another institution, but in the version released to dvd, the rape of a female patient by Lewis Temple and his equally heinous buddy (also an employee of the establishment, stating that the place seemed to take any assortment of lowlife as staff) inside Michael’s cell (Temple just has this fixation on provoking Michael, and it goes perhaps to his fearless, ‘don’t give a shit’ personality that he does this). This whole sequence is shot as a shocker where these two employees are the lowest of low pieces of human excrement but their scumbaggery gives way to Michael’s release on a public not prepared for him. While it’s a head-scratcher why Temple would insist on poking the bear and using Michael’s cell for his sexual abuse of a female patient, this allows the killer free. This leads to Temple slammed up against a wall until he’s a pile on the floor. In a strange twist of fate, Temple actually gets off light compared to Trejo who always showed Michael kindness. Trejo finds other security guards massacred in the hall, runs up on Michael, attempts to comfort him into handcuffs, is pummeled, shoved into a sink of water, nearly drowned, and, while pleading with him to stop (and reminding him of how he always treated Michael well), is on the receiving end of a television set dropped on his face! This action against Trejo informs us that Michael doesn’t pick and choose…if he’s willing to do this to a friend, what will others in his path have coming to them?









This was a rare chance to see Trejo in such a sympathetic part. He's been a voice of support and encouragement to Michael over the long haul, but when a release from the institution (something that Michael, as a child, so longed for) is a definite possibility, nothing (or no one) will stand in the killer's way.
 
Loomis is awakened to learn that Michael is loose.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Michael is now grown up in the menacing form of Tyler Mane in Rob Zombie's Halloween
The film moved to the next chapter, with Michael now all grown up in the hulking brute body of Tyler Mane (in my opinion, a superb hire by Zombie; the guy looks scary and that is important when casting for a character that needs to be). Mane's eyes--like in the visual above as McDowell's pitiful Loomis, admitting surrender by waving the white flag, telling Michael that their "treatment" has lasted longer than his first marriage, and was, in a way, the best friendship he ever had (acknowledging how fucked up that is)--are seemingly soulless, black as pitch, and stone cold. Loomis tells him he must move on as Michael will remain in the institution. Michael stares and barely moves. He's like this pillar of stone that possibly contains an inner rage patiently awaiting release inside Michael until the opportunity arises.








Lewis Temple is introduced as an antagonistic prick hired as a security guard in the asylum to replace the soon-retiring (Uh-oh, you know that's a no-no in action and horror movies; characters that say they are about to retire all most certainly fall to peril right before being able to do so) Danny Trejo. Trejo is established as the lone ally of Michael. A voice of comfort and peace to a young boy needing it, Trejo offers a fatherly paternal affection to Michael. Temple mocks him and soon pokes fun at Michael. Michael's masks (cool image of his cell covered with masks of all types and forms) are just an object for Temple to use as ridicule. Temple is a racist, vile pig with a nasty comment for anyone and everyone. You have to know the moment he appears and begins to spew the garbage that forms his sick personality that Michael will kill his ass real good. What is ultimately tragic is what eventually happens to Trejo...this confirms to us that Michael doesn't capitulate to any humanity that might thwart attacking a friend.
Michael seems to have slipped away as the child has become killer in Rob Zombie's Halloween



Loomis is assigned by a judge at the extremely costly trial of Michael Myers to evaluate and analyze his mental state and try to find answers behind the murders committed by the kid. Within the confines of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael, the child, steadily worsens. A kindly janitor with some past history in prison tells Michael to hide within his mind and away from the walls as a way to escape, but this advice very well could have been a reason behind the kid’s gradual mental decline. Creating masks to wear to “hide his ugliness” and as he remains in the institution Michael begins to close off to Loomis and even his visiting mother. Michael seems to indicate in his first talks with Loomis that he doesn’t even remember killing his family, acting as if they were still okay and wondered when he would get to leave (he even asks his mom how the family’s doing during a visit). Never leaving and hiding his face more and more behind his masks, Michael soon quits eating and taking care of himself.








 
People have really been hard on Sheri Moon for her acting. I credit her for trying to pull off the heartbreaking part of a mother enduring a lot of tragedy until she finally can take no more. McDowell seems to convey frustration and a well meaning attempt to get through to his patient although he eventually fails miserably. Michael is a case that will follow him until his own tragic end in Rob Zombie's Halloween sequel. Here, he watches his patient decline instead of improve, even hugging and consoling Michael when the kid begs to get out of the asylum "imprisoning" him. Loomis tells him he done some horrible things while Michael seems oblivious to what he had done. He just feels trapped for no reason. Hence, the deterioration and eventual total absence of humanity.













 
His hair disheveled and the colors and warped states of the masks he wears, Michael seems to tell us that darkness has almost totally enveloped him. When he no longer talks to anyone and insists on leaving his mask on, Loomis and Michael’s mom leave him momentarily with a nurse watching him making a cutting remark about the kid’s looks while smirking. The cutting remark hits a nerve and Michael creeps behind her with a knife and the nurse lies on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Michael is considered a failure by Loomis and his mother, so overwhelmed with grief and trauma due to the loss of her family (including her son’s mania), commits suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound while watching old movies.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...