Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scream Queens - Chainsaws, Coneys, & Haunted Houses



We've all been traumatized. And what we do with the hurt from that trauma defines who we are. Do we look inward and heal or do we take that hurt and turn it into anger and take it out on the world?

Admittedly there are parts of the show that are really kind of starting to annoy me a bit. Chad is starting to certainly grind on my nerves. As much as I like Roberts, her primeval bipolar Lead Heather act has become such a cartoon I’m waiting (no, check that, hoping…) for a real person to emerge from behind the mask, pulled away by Fred and the Scooby Gang.

I can see critics watching “Scream Queens” balking about how heightened the performances are (purposely exaggerated) making the characters so fake and unrealistic. Chad, for instance, never talks as a normal human being would. His face, speech, words, and whole idol worship of himself is equal to how Chanel is presented herself. When Chad breaks up with her over and over again she reacts like a spoiled little brat who didn’t get her extravagant Sweet Sixteen birthday party. Chanel bounces up and down on her feet, whimpers, burrs, and gets doe-eyed with a face that weeps and agonizes. The show obviously loves to mock these privileged people. Chad has this line of dialogue where he’s psyching up his frat bros that truly defines the stereotype he represents: I say we do the opposite of Take Back the Night. I say we get 'roided up, find a bunch of baseball bats and roam around the streets, yelling the red devil's name until he comes out and fights us. Because, in the ghetto, if you walk around with baseball bats yelling the red devil's name, they have to come out and fight you. Believe me, there's a whole code. Now let's pop some gym candy!

These Rodeo Drive preppies that snarled their noses at Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1991) are on the wrong campus in this show. They speak unfiltered and their prejudices and shallow personalities are unyielding. They are the poster child of the elitist pretty snob offered the world. In the episode, Chainsaw, there is a specific scene where Chanel finds Lea Michelle’s Hester Ulrich, having been condemned to a neck harness due to scoliosis, rummaging through her designer closet. Chanel goes on and on about her “uncle” just giving her the finest catalogue to wear. Chanel then transforms Hester into a Heather (Chanel) because she’s in need of “minions” to follow behind her and is desperate for an overhaul of her Kappas “image of cool”. So starting with Hester is what Chanel does. Obviously Abigail Breslin’s “Chanel #5” is pissed off and no in favor of “putting lipstick on pigs”. Chanel calls the designer closet her “second vagina”, precious to her! The dialogue is like that in this show. To say this show isn’t for all tastes is an understatement!

Speaking of Breslin, there’s this bizarre scene in Chainsaw where she is found in the “body disposal” meat locker by Chanel, where Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande) was placed and is now missing. In their conversation Breslin talks about a threesome with twins from Chad’s fraternity and explained that the reason she was in the meat locker because “she was bored” (?!?!). Chanel #3 has a “bonding” scene with “Sam” (Samantha Ronson nickname for the character), played by Jeanna Han in a “secret sharing” so she has an official “alibuddy” (alibi buddy). Chanel #3 (the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter, played by Billie Lourd) tells Sam she is the actual daughter of Charles Manson but her “unofficial” father is a billionaire! Swenson TV dinners not Swanson is her fake daddy’s claim to filthy richdom.

Chainsaw is Murphy and Falchuk just going crazy. Sure the previous two episodes have wild tangents the characters go on, but Chainsaw really goes off the deep end at times. M&F are known to operate at times without restraint and paint with broad strokes. Almost the entire episode of Chainsaw is broad strokes and off-the-wall colors that squirt like ketchup off the screen into your lap. For some it will be that abrasive.

For example, Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) declares to her students at a rally that the mascot will be updated from the red devil to a smiling Ice Cream Cone! The students look at “Coney” with stunned silence. It is so lame they are unable to break from their surprise. Then Coney becomes a momentary celeb around campus…and then Red Devil (and his/her chainsaw) cuts the head off the cone. Also Munsch tells 90s Kappa sister, Gigi (Nasim Pedrad), to leave “her man” (Oliver Hudson) alone, and the decision by the dean to stay at the sorority house leads to a “white noise machine” which plays animal sounds, disaster cries, and even a “slasher theme”.

Grace’s mission to find the killer and a security guard, who doesn’t carry a gun, played by Niecy Nash, have small spots in the episode, but Chainsaw really is an assemblage of subplots. No one real developing story overwhelms the other.

------


Haunted House kind of starts with what we all (or most of us, surely to God, I hope) more than likely felt as Chainsaw concluded…that Dean Munsch couldn’t have been the Red Devil with the chainsaw in the Kappa sorority mansion despite what Wes (Oliver Hudson) and 1990s sorority sister-turned-attorney, Gigi (Nasim Pedrad) insist to Johnny Law. Curtis can rattle off dialogue so confidently and assertively that her Dean sets the record straight, with no breath or pause. She runs through exactly why with details putting to bed how ludicrous such accusations sound. Getting past that immediately, Dean is linked to the baby mother death back in ’95 as someone eyeing upgrade in position at the school, encouraging the Kappas to dispose of the body and not worry about the infant. One of those Kappas who was forced to leave the school and escape possible criminal association to the death of the pregnant sister is found and spills the beans to Grace and her investigative partner, Pete (Diego Boneta, who does a mean Matthew McConaughey impression), later to be killed by Red Devil at her trailer park (during a viewing of Leprechaun (1993), no less!).

Haunted House sets up a new rivalry that I’m all for: Chanel now has some competition for her crown in Zayday, encouraged to pursue head of Kappas as the first African-American to do so by a fellow young man of color at Chad Radwell’s “Dollar Scholars” fraternity. Also revealed is that security “cop”, Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) was actually a pledge for Kappa back in ’95, leaving college in rejection because of her color, due to prejudice. Zayday has been a peculiar target of Denise’s, with their heated conversation at a reputed haunted house (hence, the title of the episode) setting up their own rivalry. Zayday perceives that her being a potential Kappa president at a time available while Denise was rejected and not so fortunate to have a similar opportunity. So spite and jealousy might be the driving engine for considering Zayday a major suspect in the killings on campus. Nothing in the film at all besides Denise’s suspicions point to Zayday.

Gigi, because of her ties to Kappa in the 90s, is an obvious suspect despite her being so rather ditzy and having the appearance of someone quite harmless. Her ties to an urban legend (later investigated as a real person by Grace and Pete) called “the hag on Shady Lane” add extra incentive to at least look at her as a suspect.

Grace confronts her dad about being the baby and why she has never been told more about her mother. She certainly makes no bones about how she’d feel if those details were actually true.

In previous episodes, Pete has a suspecting light cast upon him, a certain look on his face when seeing the Red Devil costume in his closet. Jonas brother opens his eyes in the morgue and removes a made-up neck wound. Gigi is shown in a robe inside the Shady Lane house surrounded by eerie, old dolls. Chanel is a sociopath with no redeeming qualities except her unflinching disregard for anyone “average” or “mediocre”. Lea Michelle, in or out of neck brace, eyes the crown and promises naughty relations with Chad if he continues to pursue her.

The show goes out of its way to give the audience as many suspects as possible. Why wouldn’t it? To keep us guessing and to offer any number of suspects, there’s plenty of jerking us around due to the cast of characters within the series format. Haunted House failed to diminish the numbers and remove an “a-ha” suspect from the show. It just introduces and bumps off a character of little significance except she’s a quirky device to continue the story going forward.

The Taylor Swift satire regarding "Chanel-O-Ween" has Chanel addressing "the little people", girls who idolize her and get all excited from "care packages" that celebrate the Halloween season (body part novelty items sent to feverishly jovial girls) didn't do anything for me but I reckon these kinds of scenes get the crew giddy to do them just to poke fun. Grounding "Scream Queens" into such a slasher genre box just isn't their bag. Murphy and Falchuk just have to be able to spoof and lampoon from time to time. It is their genre cathartic release...to go on wild tangents if so choosing. Chad, as some woman-bedding stud, goes to graveyards, reads the markers, and finds one in particular that arouses him, beating himself off as a result! Lea Michelle shows up and encourages him, that his behavior excites her, too! So characters speak to each other about depraved subjects that repulse a majority except them. When Chad speaks about Chantel's oral action on him or Michelle speaking about him "cracking" her somewhere dangerous/spooky, that is pure M&F "going there". Fox indulges them, too.

Another genre staple of the slasher making its appearance in Haunted House and the show is the discovery of bodies taken by the killer (killers) throughout the screen time. Then these bodies find their way into a location to surprise the heroes and soon the law enforcement, and Dean Munsch (once again cleaning up the mess of the killers) are in cahoots to keep media/publicity scrutiny away from the school. Nothing quite like seeing Lea Michelle pressing her finger into the dead leg of a victim and yellow puss squirting out. Attempts to keep other students from going to the house and discovering them fall on deaf ears...it just urges them to excitedly flock to the house to "see the dead bodies"!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Scream Queens***

What puzzled me most about the developing episode of Hell Week, as opposed to the Pilot episode, was the subservience accepted by the independent and initially defiant Kappa hopefuls played by Skyler Samuels and Keke Palmer. Skyler is the final girl, the pleasant, dignified, strong protagonist with a solid relationship with her widower father played by Oliver Hudson. Palmer is the take-no-shit, attitudinal friend to Skyler who decides, against her better judgement, to follow her to KKT. Both appear to be set up as antagonists to the old mistreatment through sorority hazing, Kevlar against Chanel and her sock puppet suckups played by the likes of Abigail Breslin, Billie Lourd, and Ariana Grande. Grande put in basically a cameo in Pilot because she is introduced to the devil and meets hell. Skyler as Grace, hoping to bring class and integrity back to KKT, seems like the perfect candidate to valiantly defy and resist the Chanels and proclaim victory. With a tough ally in Palmer's Zayday, you'd think both these gals would instigate change. Instead Zayday is one among the Lea Michelle-in-neckbrace Kappa hopefuls buried up to her neck, standing in bra and panties while Chanel grades their figures, and on the floor scraping up the burnt flesh from the House's maidservant whose face was dunked in cooking grease heated in the kitchen. Skyler also allows humiliation, although she does speak her peace and does grapple with Chanel more often than not. Skyler is the investigative tool for the developing plot...she's the inquisitive curiosity that peeks behind the shades, creaks open the door, shining a flashlight into the dark. Still, I was expecting these two to challenge and subvert the Chanels from onset to conclusion.

Scream Queens**

Hell Week ended on an intriguing note. The slasher film prides itself on the twist, the surprise that takes you aback, with a character or two revealed as more than he or she appears. Nick Jonas has primarily been a minor secondary character among the vast ensemble. What a series can do, that a film often can't, is grow characters and develop them beyond just background shadows and bit players, allowing the chance to initially see them one way, as a caricature or genre stereotype, with that merely serving as an introduction, a starting point. The clay that hasn't been molded completely. Jonas is Boone Clemens, frat brother to the narcissistic Chad who realizes he's gay. When Boone wants to lay in bed with Chad both speak on a different time when a sexual attempt was made. When Chanel barges in to apologise for breaking up with Chad, she sees the two of them, but Chad downplays it because he is so completely full of himself, he calls her out as homophobic and that he can't help he's so attractive both ladies and guys want a "piece of Chad". Yes, he talks of his self in the third person. Later Boone confronts Chanel about coming out official and joining the Kappas. He's shown flexing his muscles while weight lifting. He seems quite aware of his looks, as if a Chad for the guys. Then he's greeted by someone sinister...we're led to believe. He's found by his bros with a slit throat and they shriek like scream queens themselves!

The final scene is a wink and nod to the twist of the slasher genre. It tells you that don't always trust what you see because looks can be deceiving. Jonas, who up to that point had been a douchey prick hitting golf balls with Chad at collegiates active for charities on campus, and indicated he was part of something potentially more. As if he was "dancing with the Devil".

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Scream Queens *



Some things (criticisms, maybe) that are a bit bothersome in the first two episodes—Pilot & Hell Week—to me were how a few of the characters were drawn in the show early. Seeing Curtis as this dean looking to tear down the bitchy, vicious Kappa sorority sisters system, hoping to undermine the preppy, elitist, “me” image that casts a shadow of regal, arrogant prestige many girls seem to envy and covet was a pleasure for someone like me who obviously despises all they stand for, but the show also has us look behind the curtain to see her in a different light when she isn’t opposing Roberts’ Chanel Oberlin. Curtis’ Dean Cathy Munsch is presented also as a maneater. She is shown smoking some grass in bed with Chanel’s “popular stud” boyfriend, Chad Radwell (Glen Powell). Chad speaks of himself in the third person, is never shy about commenting on his status as the envy of all, and sits comfortably on his pedestal despite adversaries towards diminishing that idol he has created himself as. For instance, Dean Cathy says he’s dreadful in bed. He doesn’t even allow that remark, which is pointed and targeted with a type of direct arrow-to-the-heart sniper skill coolness only Curtis could deliver. He tells her he wants to call her, that he’s in love with her, and she couldn’t possibly mean what she says about his lovemaking skills. But Dean Cathy indeed means what she says. Cathy actually admits she blackmailed Chad into her bed, and I asked myself why. I guess it might be the power of finally achieving “Dean” after years of eyeing the position. It seemed that when Dean Cathy addressed her nemesis, Chanel, in her office and without restraint, just ditching caution, and deciding not to mince words, setting up their rivalry and what her goals were in repackaging KKT, this character seemed to have potential for quite the crowd-pleaser. She sits in a seat and says what so many would love to but are unable. Those “have-nots” always under the thumb of many fortunate enough to secure a direct path towards privilege without the struggle, heir-apparent elites with the red carpet laid out for them might never get their chance to sit in Dean Cathy’s seat and dictate the new “rules of the game”. Cathy
also tells the Chad of the college world he will do as she says and speaks to him with disregard and contempt, ridiculing his high opinion of himself. Neither—her unflinching plans to bring down the Heathers in the KKT and the harsh comments against the libido of the campus’ resident Male Adonis—really does a whole hell of a lot. Cathy then must coral the torrent of media attention towards the murder of a deaf Taylor Swift fan who agreed to have herself buried (along with other KKT hopefuls) up to her neck in the yard of the sorority house. She meets the father of a potential KKT (who sees herself as the chance to change the sorority for the better) played by Oliver Hudson (son of Goldie Hawn) and makes a pass at him! Oliver wants to take his daughter—he’s an overprotective father—out of the school to keep her from being killed by a serial killer and Curtis hits on him! She doesn’t really hide the fact that she’s very, very interested in lots of sex.

Scream Queens...



 & How the Slasher Hasn't Quite Died Yet

Being a fan of “Harper’s Island”, I did wonder who might attempt to try again with a slasher television series. I always felt that there was a chance with the right brains involved to make it work. I think, despite its inability to survive, “Harper’s Island” was a good show but the way it was orchestrated didn’t seem to indicate a second season would justify its existence…its conclusion felt like a definitive close. I’m unsure if there were ideas already in store or order for the second season, so the show ending didn’t necessarily bring about real vitriolic allegiance picketing those who pulled the purse strings that might warrant a return. I think with the American Horror Story folks at the helm (or as influences), the show might find and sustain an audience as each season would go in a different direction with new characters and situations driving the locomotive and tossing coals into the furnace. “Scream” on MTV this show isn’t. Good casting is essential to make a fun, entertaining show thrive and survive. Pop culture references can only get you so far, though. But the first season sure went to some pop culture (80s pop songs emerge and 90s references, too, kick open the door and say hi aloud) to openly welcome those of us who find such things irresistible. 

Jamie Lee Curtis and a killer in a devil costume (both points in its favor I can’t possibly defy) that sits up and tilts his/her head (the killer does so when a sorority “Chantel” tries to Facebook her danger, plunging his/her knife into the Kappa’s neck and head) are peace offerings to slasher genre devotees who gobble those nods up…like me, I’m such a sap, but I’m okay with who I am, so let them toss me some scraps to make me happy.

The show goes old school with its set up. A past incident could be behind what happens in 2015 on a campus, particularly at a sorority called Kappa Kappa Tai. In 1995, a teenage college sorority girl has a baby in the tub of her charter house in the bathroom as a party goes on in the main part of the building. While TLC’s “Waterfalls” roars, the sorority girls of KKT decide to live it up despite their fellow sister’s situation with the baby, lots of blood, and accidental birthing in the bathroom. When they return from their sing-sing, the sister is dead, her friend agonizes while holding the baby, and we later learn that there was a cover-up which might include certain characters later to be significant to who the killer haunting the campus in 2015 is and why he or she dons the school’s devil mascot costume, wielding a knife, and picking off certain folks tied to KKT.

Emma Roberts has found herself a home in the horror genre, but I can only imagine she’s aware she can venture outside and escape if the actress so chooses. “Nerve” is such an example of her testing the waters. Television is a medium Roberts isn’t afraid to nosedive into. Especially if Murphy & Falchuk are involved because they give her parts she can sink her teeth into. Scream IV was a place to start for her. She proved she could put on two faces and personas. It was very much a “slasher” proving ground that gave her access to a genre (horror and the slasher to a lesser extent if so choosing) that could very lucrative to her. American Horror Story doesn’t necessarily reside on that piece of property, though. It likes to squat for a while on one property and move to the next. Scream Queens will take some heavy lifting by M&F to chart different paths but remain faithful to the property it started. I’m curious to see where they can take the show. Fox sure has been the perfect studio to allow M&F a playground to work as mad scientists with a genre that allows all kinds of experimentation. They can feel free to push the boundaries the medium allows. Fox, unlike FX, though, might be a bit more difficult to go as crazy as they like. But after watching the Pilot and Hellweek, I’m optimistic on the rest of the season. It has its heart in the right place as this slasher fan sees it.

And more to come, I guess...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Black Christmas: A Novel

 Because I just couldn't stop fucking writing...

I was looking through the last few years of Decembers and I was startled to notice that I hadn’t written an official review for Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (1974). It is a film I think is one of the best horror films of the 70s, not just of the seasonal killer-in-the-house variety. I think Clark left a great legacy behind him with three very interesting horror films, a wonderful Sherlock Holmes film, three raunchy and lovable sex comedies, and a beloved Christmas family film. And yes, there were some ill-advised and regrettably ill-conceived “Baby Genius” movies that didn’t bookend his career on the right note. But I think Black Christmas, among others, is one hell of a way to start early in your career. Some gripe and complain about the use of humor in Black Christmas, but I think there’s some real genius in the way he balances it all. Look at how the girls of the sorority give their denmother a gown as a present (for which she truly loathes but puts on the best front she can for them) while Claire, upstairs in her dorm room, is being suffocated by a plastic dress cover. To think that while pleasantries are going on downstairs, a horrible murder is occurring unbeknownst to them upstairs. And to alternate both of these back and forth with you both in horror and amused is quite jarring…but I think it is clever. Sure, you might not agree. You might find it annoying. Perhaps you want your comedy, then you want your horror. But I kind of admire the guts to do that. Why not jerk you around?

The obscene phone call from “the moaner” (the killer in the film, upstairs in the attic, using the house’s own phone, running through memories of past, floods forth past mixed with madness and depravity to repel, confuse, and fascinate the girls) is absurd and creepy. But then foul-mouthed, boozing toughie, Barb (Margot Kidder) almost delights in the gross, insidious, sexually repulsive trash spilling out because it affords her a chance to give him right back what he’s dishing. 

Barb’s dirty mouth making a fool out of the college town deputy with “fellatio” the next day, gradually increasing her booze intake, with the funny, caustic and sarcastic attitude worsening into a toxic drunk with little left to amuse anyone.

Clark tries to dance with the tempo of his film, moving through a night and day during Christmastime (which turns to night as the film eventually ends) with equal parts disturbing and humor. It’s a dance I have been particularly volunteering to enjoy for years now.

Clark never fails to remind us that this is a horror film, though. A father visiting his daughter and her not showing up to meet him, later locating her sorority and finding her missing. If only she was just with her new boyfriend or some other simple reason. Not Claire up in the attic, placed in a rocking chair, the plastic that suffocated her still in place with the face fixed in death, mouth open and eyes staring with no life behind them. Clark gets this amazing, unsettling shot up in the attic where through the window we see Claire's dad and the denmother leaving, the lens pulling back to reveal who they are looking for, right where few are unlikely to look.
 
Keir Dullea was probably considered quite a big deal of casting, although 2001 was nearly six years prior. His character is quite an elaborate one although he’s “red herring” in every possible way. He’s considered “high strung” in description by girlfriend, Jess (Olivia Hussey; the class of the casting, although she’d fall prey to low budget horror after appearing in “Romeo and Juliet” when it appeared she might be a European star in the making), who has turned him inside out with her admittance of being pregnant, with plans of an abortion. To this day, I have asked myself why she just didn’t go and have it considering his feelings for her keeping it were never going to matter anyway. Her telling him does him no favors at all. He was in training for a major piano presentation in front of highly influential critics.
  • He wants to begin a family with Jess but she’s fully invested in her individual dreams, not at all wanting to be shoehorned into a long-term relationship. So just don’t tell him. She just isn’t ready to be deeply involved with him. It isn’t that she doesn’t care, I think that is realized. But it is clear she understands that he’s got his quirks and peculiar temperament. I asked myself if she wouldn’t have figured Dullea’s Peter would overreact and she’d be have to address an overly emotional “artist”. Not only does he overreact, Peter completely falls into a pit of despair, striking the keys of his piano with thunderous gloom, a discordant melody stinking up the nostrils of his onlooking judges. When the recital bombs, Peter responds afterward by destroying the piano! The film clearly spotlights him as a dark figure, complicit to fits of outburst. 
  • He also often talks with Jess in differing tones. At the end, his voice is calm and not the least bit ominous…it is when Jess is hiding from him. Prior to this, his calls to her about the baby are deeply agonizing and heart-breaking. It seems to transition to the calm by film’s end, seeming to indicate he worked through his emotional tidal wave and peace had finally settled him. For Jess, he was quite possibly the killer. Clearly it would have been quite impossible for him to be the killer considering his whereabouts when Claire was suffocated. But the characters in the film are not as secure in that belief. And they have a chat while the search party were out, encountering a girl murdered in the park. Who murdered her? Was it Billy? 
  • The chat goes as you might expect: Peter posits getting married and giving up his dreams of being a concert pianist. Jess has no desire to marry him, keep the baby, or give up her own ambitions. So let's get this over with: she tells him she's pregnant, wanting an abortion, right before his recital which would have secured potential for realizing his dream, a dream he detonates,  tells him she doesn't want to marry him, and makes sure to clear the air that he might have crashed and burned but she wasn't. Yeah, he might be a bit mad for a reason but she's all about "adult conversation." I have no qualms personally with her decision--it's her body--but the decision of when to tell Peter about it is a bit odd....almost as if she wanted him to just fall apart. 
  • But, quite frankly, I wonder why she's with him at all. They never show at all in this film why they make a right couple. We never see warmth, just angst. He tries, but there is an air of overbearingness about him, as if he tries to rein in this free spirit intellectual who will have none of it. How would this ever work? The two just don't seem compatible. 


For about thirty minutes, Barb had been a source of sarcastic and caustic humor. She’s an acquired taste but her Fellatio phone number that would make Sergeant Nash (Douglas McGrath; Pale Rider (1985)) the butt of a major joke that has his boss, Lt. Ken Fuller (John Saxon) and fellow detective (John Rutter) laughing out loud. Nash doesn’t take the Claire-is-missing complaint filed all that seriously (he’s in a college town so Nash has probably seen this a few times…) until her boyfriend, Chris (Cronenberg Canadian film vet, Art Hindle), hears from Jess about her not meeting up with her pops (James Edmond) and demands some action, for which Fuller listens. Then comes the police investigation which turns up a body…that isn’t Claire.

Barb, her glass sculptures and asthma, vulnerable in bed, and Billy discreetly/covertly waiting to "take care" of "Agnes (Barb must resemble his "sister") when carolers sing to Jess. It is the same situation that has existed twice before. Mrs. Mack (Marian Waldman), hearing her cat in the attic, right before she's about to leave the godforsaken sorority house, investigates and gets "hooked". Billy goes berserk and leaves the attic in tatters, with quite the tantrum. Claire, you know what happened to her. Barb, because to Billy she's "Agnes", is just sleeping when the unicorn is used to give her the premature dirt nap. 

The telephone has become a horror icon. The 70s especially loved the telephone. Instead of a device that helps to communicate in positive, helpful ways, the telephone was also a vocal horror show if whoever on the other end speaking had "derangement issues". The phone is certainly an icon in this film. It rings and what lies in wait is a chaotic gibberish of mania that forwards ahead non-stop garbage madness. This is Billy's tool and without it he is just some loon who sneaks about in a house and adds to his body count. With the phone, he gives you what exists in the padded cell of his mind. That scene, such a masterwork by Clark who has the ratcheted up score which pushes the right buttons and revs up the goose pimples, with the phone where it is learned the call comes from inside the house, and Jess learning of her peril (and John Saxon's reaction of "holy shit") is as well choreographed a piece as could be expected in the almighty 70s.

Clark goes the route of many in the 70s; it doesn't end with the happy ending. In fact, it doesn't conclude at all as we would expect. There is no code dictating that Billy is discovered, nor his bodies in the attic. There's no guarantee that Jess, dozing and under such duress she is near catatonic, in a bed inside the sorority house, with only a cop posted outside, will not wind up as Barb did. And the phone rings. And rings. And rings.

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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 ...