Friday, 13 November 2015

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

The slasher sub-genre really came into its own in the early ‘80s thanks to the film that spawned this franchise - the much maligned by mainstream critics yet phenomenal box office performer and crowd pleaser Friday the 13th (1980) with director Sean S. Cunningham getting the ball rolling on the gore factor. Shamelessly exploiting the success of John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ (1978) by aping the shit out of its template, everyone with even just an ounce of filmmaking knowhow was capitalizing on the slasher boom that Friday the 13th induced. Most were terrible but there were a handful of good ones and even a few great ones. It was an easy format to follow and sometimes due to fluking it or sometimes because of actual talent behind the camera there was a genuine sleazy vision that came through the cinematography and framing, lighting and SFX work. The sub-genre is quintessential comfort zone horror; it is the most basic of horror and it can often be very enjoyable horror. Its simplicity and predictability is its main draw and nearing towards the end of the early ‘80s, many entries started to veer towards campiness and cheesy shenanigans.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

The genre production and distribution studio Dimension bought the rights to the  Halloween franchise with a lot of baggage as they were forced into making a follow-up to the worst entry in the series at this point - 1989’s rushed ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’ co-written and directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard. This meant instant doom for the production. It would have been a wise decision to have rebooted here instead, as it would have spared us this trainwreck but with a storyline left dangling for over half a decade the core fanbase were demanding a continuation to tie up the loose ends. Therefore, this monstrosity was what was produced for a sixth instalment (fifth if you do not count the delightful 1982 standalone story ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’).

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Re-Animator (1985)

‘Re-Animator’ is Stuart Gordon’s loose contemporary adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s 1922 short story ‘Herbert West - Reanimator’, a parody of Mary Shelley’s most famous work the 1818 Gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’. An important genre work the film has deservedly achieved its legendary cult status within the horror community since its release 30 years ago at the time of writing. This is due to its extremely gory and imaginative set-pieces displaying SFX ingenuity with an abundance of offal showing us just how disgusting the human anatomy really is and because it has an exact right balance between this body horror and its black comedy elements. This is a campy and surreal experience that while is not particularly scary is shockingly disturbing in places, immensely grotesque and hilariously absurd. While Gordon’s vision perfectly gets to grips with the source material’s intended ridiculousness by Lovecraft it is hard to imagine these bat shit crazy proceedings working half as well if the filmmaker had not put together such a fantastic ensemble cast. There are also three main cuts and only one of which is the true version.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Lesson of the Evil (2012)

The prolific Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is one of the most endlessly interesting directors working in gene cinema today. I find the majority of his work that caters for the art-house and extreme horror crowds to be engrossing and fascinating that while depicts excessive amounts of graphic violence and also explicit sexual perversion there is always a great sense of eccentric blacker than coal humour. It distracts from the seriousness of the proceedings making the audience laugh at the most inappropriate moments; we know we should not be taking joy in what we are watching and it makes us feel guilty for doing so but it also provides buffers giving us release from what are intense visceral sequences. Along with fellow contemporary filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Miike is a master of juxtaposing violence with comedic elements and the unnerving and deeply disturbing yet strangely humorous at times ‘Lesson of the Evil’ - a psycho teacher and high school student drama - is a perfect example of this.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Humongous (1982)

Director Paul Lynch’s ‘Humongous’ is usually lumped in with all the Canadian slashers that came out during the period of 1980 to 1983 including Lynch’s own '80 contribution the rather good ‘Prom Night’. However, I actually do not consider it part of the sub-genre, as it is more of a monster movie that just features some of the slasher's elements using its structure to tell its story. It is very similar plot wise to the earlier 1980 Italian film ‘Anthropophagus’ directed by Joe D'Amato… except this is actually decent and not a dreary plodding mess. Although, the title in review here has its detractors accusing it of being just as dull and has wallowed in obscurity ever since its release while ‘Anthropophagus’ has undeservedly achieved cult status when really it should be the other way around. This is no classic but it does not deserve to be as under-seen as it has been these last twenty-three years and it certainly does not deserve its current pitiful 4.2 rating on IMDB.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Scars of Dracula (1970)

Much maligned by many critics and fans ‘Scars of Dracula’ has though its fair share of supporters including myself. It is the last truly good entry in Hammer’s Dracula franchise and is a step up from the mediocrity of I do not know why fan favourite Taste the Blood of Dracula released just previously in the same year. None of the sequels matches the magnificence of Terence Fisher’s lavish 1958 original ‘Horror of Dracula’ (the US title for Hammer’s ‘Dracula’ and my preferred title for it) but this one is the closest in recapturing many of its elements.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

American Nightmare (1983)

Released in 1983 but made in 1981, the little seen Canadian film ‘American Nightmare’ was shot at a time when the slasher became a horror sub-genre proper after the bloodgates opened for it the previous year with the phenomenal box-office success of Sean S. Cunningham’s simplistic yet effective Friday the 13th. This was Cunningham’s blood drenched contribution to the template innovated by John Carpenter in 1978 with the masterful ‘Halloween’ that itself took conventions from Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic ‘Black Christmas’ that is also a Canadian production.