Halloween Scene: My Horror Toys Part 1

To say that this Halloween season will be unlike any other is like saying that Leatherface has a unique take on cosmetics. My wife and I are still taking the pandemic seriously (it’s incredibly stupid that anyone has to say that, wear a damn mask) so trick or treating for the kids is all but cancelled. We’re trying to figure out a new way to celebrate, but we’ll see how that goes. Personally, this year will be very different for me because I’ve got a house full of people who want nothing to do with horror movies (or are too young to see them). So, I’m doing my best to squeeze them in where and when I can, but am also focusing on a lot of comics and books. But, I also decided to decorate the shelf in my office with a small army of fiends in action figure form that date all the way back to my childhood!

Continue reading Halloween Scene: My Horror Toys Part 1

Halloween Scene: The Self-Promotion Post

I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis or knows me personally that I love a good scare (as long as its in book, comic or movie form, not real life). Since I don’t currently write for a site with a horror focus, that means I save up a lot of my best ideas for October. Luckily, I had a lot of ones that my editors also thought were good, which means I’ve been busily reading, watching and writing scary things since September. Now that Halloween’s hitting tomorrow, it’s time to toss out all the links for wider consumption!

My biggest project this fall by far was a series of posts at Marvel.com called Marvel Spooklights. Last year I did four of these shout outs leading up to Halloween. This year, I did 22, one for each weekday of the month. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and I got to check out a lot of books I hadn’t read before. Particular favorites include the Juan Doe-drawn Legion Of Monsters mini, Steve Gerber’s last Man-Thing story and the surprisingly good Journey Into Mystery #1. I read them all on Marvel Unlimited, which is an awesome Netflix-like service for comics.

In other reading news, I went way back to my earliest days with the genre and did a list for Geek.com about the best stories from the three Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books that I got a few months before from my parents’ house. The stories themselves are fairly simple, but those damn drawings still made me wince every now and then when I turned the page.

I also pitched a few lists for The Robot’s Voice that got approved. First, I tackled The 10 Best Stories From The Early Days of Eerie, a companion piece to the one I did about Creepy not too long ago. Reading these books is always a treat, I’d like to get them all. I also watched all the Nightmare On Elm Street movies and did a list of the scariest nightmares perpetrated by Mr. Krueger. Aside from Dream Warriors, I wasn’t much of a NOES fan going into this re-watch, but I actually really enjoyed the franchise for reasons I’ll get into in a separate post probably next week.

Finally, I tried focusing much of my post-NOES movie watching on newer horror movies so I could do a few lists for Spinoff. One focused on new takes on familiar genres, while the other was about the subgenre du jour these days, supernatural flicks. I’m planning on doing a movie roundup post that will get into this in more detail, but Babadook shook me to my core, What We Do In The Shadows reminded me of my all-time favorite show the UK Office and It Follows is problematic…depending on what you want from your horror movies.

And now, with all that out of the way and a super busy month behind me, I’m going to collapse into a little ball and watch scary movies until my kids come home.

Friday Night Fights: Freddy Vs. Jason

*Friday Night Fights presents crazy fight and battle scenes from movies with little-to-no context. If you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll probably want to skip the clip. *

 Freddy-vs-Jason

In honor of Friday the 13th, it seemed ridiculously appropriate to present the epic throw-down between two of horror’s biggest icons from the 2003 flick Freddy Vs. Jason. This fight is pretty much what we wanted the entire movie to be, but apparently you need scared teenagers for these kinds of things to work and not mutilated monsters trying to murder each other for 90 minutes.

Halloween Scene: A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989)

Holy crap, I love this poster. I know it’s in German and have no idea what it actually says, but how creepy is it? A portion of this image was used for some US posters, but flipped and cropped a bit. I prefer this one because it opens the image up to show everything that’s going on. Pretty crazy stuff.

Anyway, it’s been two years since I sat down and watched the first and second NOES movies and then the third and fourth in relative succession. Basically, I liked the first and third movies while the second and fourth were pretty unmemorable. Thankfully, NOES 5 did not fail to continue the pattern.

While I won’t say that Dream Child can stand on its own as a great movie like Dream Warriors can, I will say that there is a lot to like in this film. Director Stephen Hopkins does a great job of capturing the strangeness of dreams and actually created some of the better ones from the whole series (if memory serves). You’ve got the beginning one where we find out how Freddy was born that moves into the main girl’s bedroom and then the insane diving one which changes like eight times while a girl falls. He also did a great job casting Jacob who’s an intensely creepy kid.

The effects and camera work are also pretty damn solid here. There’s a lot of crazy angles that play up the weirdness of dreams. Each kill has a rad centerpiece that’s not always gore, but is almost always interesting and then there’s the last scene battle which takes place in an M.C. Escher painting, basically. All of which reminds me: PRACTICAL EFFECTS ARE THE BEST!

And you know what? The plot’s pretty solid this time around too. Our heroine, Alice who survived the previous installment, can control her dreams, but she’s pregnant and Freddy’s going through her baby to mess with her and her friends. That’s pretty ingenious. There’s also the character of Freddy’s mom who wields her own kind of power.

But, like I said, it’s not as good as 3. You know why? Because Freddy is way too annoying in this installment. He actually kind of ruins this movie. You go through this really crazy dream sequence/kill scene only to wind up with some doofus running around making dumb jokes and calling people “bitch” which basically makes him every drunk girl on every reality show. This balanced out a bit by the end of the movie which does some really cool things I assume will get discounted by the next installment which I’ll probably get to next week. If the pattern holds, I probably will not like it.

Oh, real quick, does anyone know who did the original comic art in the movie, the one that sucks the comic nerd in? It looked familiar, but I can’t place it and a quick Google search didn’t help out much.

Halloween Scene: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) & 4: Dream Master (1988)

As I mentioned in my review of the first two Nightmare movies, the concept has all kinds of potential that never really quite got reached, but Dream Warriors comes the closest. Widely regarded as the best of the bunch, I’ve got to agree so far. The idea in this sequel is that a bunch of kids in an asylum have to face off against Freddy with the help of Nancy from the first movie who is now a dream expert grad student and a helpful shrink.

Freddy starts to get a little snarky in this one, but for the most part, he’s still a pretty scary dude who has some fantastic abilities. For the first time, the kids actually seem to have some power by using their dreams to fight Freddy (like one kid dreams of being super strong, so he is against Freddy), though they are still mostly out of their league, so it leads to a good amount of tension. The story’s solid and the acting pretty good (including future stars Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne), plus we get to meet Freddy’s nun mom and hear a little about how he came to be, but the real draw in this film is the special effects.

Man, they’re cool. From the kid who gets turned into a meat puppet to the Freddy puppet to the syringe fingers, this one gets really close to if not flat out surpassing the effects in the first one. Really, though, it doesn’t matter if they’re better or worse, the Dream Warriors kills are so well thought out and so interesting, that it easily makes this the best of the bunch, though the Freddy skeleton thing doesn’t look so good.

I’d say, even if you’ve got no interested in Freddy or the Nightmare franchise as a whole, that you should still check out Dream Warriors. It’s that good.

Dream Master, on the other hand, was fairly unmemorable, which so far makes all the even numbered Freddy flicks nonstarters for me. Mind you, I was doing work while both movies were on, yet I remember much more about Warriors than Master, possibly because the story isn’t as well put together or interesting. It kind of picks up where Warriors left off with a few of those characters getting pulled into someone’s dreams. I don’t remember a ton, but there is the scene where the tough chick’s arm’s fall off to reveal huge bug arms and the kid karate fighting with an invisible Freddy and his visible glove knives. Oh and the person-in-the-waterbed gag which was a nice surprise because your mind automatically goes to exploding blood fountain from the first flick.

I really have to call “my bad” on this being a generally crappy review. After loving Warriors, this one left me flat and I can barely remember why thanks to me tap tap tapping away on the keyboard, though still in the same room. Oh, I also remember the crazy opening sequence back in the junkyward with all the cars and whatnot. That was fun.

I need to give this one another watch, though probably not anytime soon because, well, I just watched it and I’ve still got Dream Child, Freddy’s Dead and New Nightmare to get through.

Halloween Scene: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) & 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

This might sound strange coming from a horror fan, but I’ve only seen the Freddy movies I’ve seen once, which makes it my least-watched franchise. Halloween’s probably the highest with Texas Chainsaw, Friday the 13th and Final Destination definitely ranking higher than it on my repeated viewing lists. When I turned 16 and could rent movies from Family Vidoe, I immediately started going through all the franchises I could, but never went back to Nightmare for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean I never wanted to go back though, so I asked for the two 4 Film Favorite packs that include all the Nightmare movies including Freddy Vs. Jason which I have seen plenty of times and already owned. On Friday, I had myself a little double feature and watched the first two Freddy films.

I think the original Nightmare still holds up pretty well. I can’t say it ever actually scared me, but I can imagine someone first getting into horror movies could still appreciate the classic scenes like the glove-in-the-tub, room-spin and geyser-of-blood deaths. Plus, in this first entry there’s a lot going for the franchise. The concept is incredibly cool: a killer who can only get you in your dreams. Hell, the entire idea of building a movie and then a series of movies around the craziness of dreams sounds fascinating, especially after seeing some really cool dream sequences, like the ones in The Sopranos. And, of course, Freddy himself is very creepy and potentially terrifying.

The problem is that the series doesn’t really hold up to all of those potentials from what I can remember. Perhaps the remake will pick up on some of these and run with them in new and interesting directions, but all the trailers are showing me is that they will be doing all of the exact same gags, but this time with computers.

If memory serves, a lot of fans don’t go in for the first sequel which came out a year after the original. This time, instead of the kids only contending with Freddy in their dreams, they’ve got to worry about Freddy actually taking over a dude’s body and killing them that way. It’s an interesting concept that gets ignored for the rest of the series from what I recall, but it seems like a logical next step for the narrative.

The film also has some pretty good effects itself, like when Freddy bursts out of the dude’s chest and brushes him off like Jay-Z does dirt off his shoulder. I will say that the film isn’t particularly memorable. I was working on some freelance while I had it on and I remember the main kid having to contend with a weirdly strict father who demands he empties the boxes in their room (they recently moved into the house on Elm Street from the original) and then dating a blond girl who becomes the final girl for lack of a better word. The main guy makes friends with a guy who seems mostly like an enemy who doesn’t go to the big party at the end of the movie. Oh, and the parents of the girl throwing the party go inside the house to have sex. As soon as they do the kids are like “Let’s really party!” and start blasting the music. Guys, they just went inside, it’s not like they hopped a flight to Crystal Lake.

Anyway, the film ends in the party scene where Freddy is free to run around and go after plenty of teenagers, but doesn’t really do anything but stumble around. Maybe he was enjoying a pool party of his own before crossing into the real world? Like I said, I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember enjoying the movie, or at least not being put off by it.

Actually, here’s something I’ve never thought of: what does Freddy do between terrorizing children? If he’s got all this power, he’s probably got a pretty rad set up in dream world. Ooh, I wonder if Morpheus from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman created him. Okay, I’m getting off track. I dug these two movies enough. I’m glad I’ve got them around along with my Friday the 13th box set and collection of Halloweens 1-5, but still prefer those other franchises so far. One thing I do remember liking about the series, aside from the next installment, is that I appreciated how they continued to build on Freddy’s origin, even if it got crazier and crazier as it went on. I don’t necessarily need an origin story for this psychopath, but I like that they tried to build on the character after a fashion. Oh, plus the covers to these movies are CRAZY.

New Nightmare On Elm Street Trailer

I just realized that I never really talked about the Friday the 13th remake on here. Well, it was the last horror movie I saw in the theaters (the first in over a year I think) and I dug it, which was great, because I didn’t really like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and hated the Halloween one. I’m long past being outraged over these kinds of remakes, I mean, you can always go back and watch your favorites again and we’ve all seen what happens when these franchises go on for too long and, if nothing else, maybe they’ll keep our favorite horror icons in the consciousness enough to get kids to check out those old movies.

Anyway, with all that being said, today /Film linked to the new Nightmare On Elm Street trailer.

A Nightmare on Elm Street in HD

I’m no NOES expert–I haven’t watched one of the flicks since my burgeoning days as a horror fan as it was one of the few series’ that they had all the tapes of–but it seems like they used a fair amount of material from the first flick. I’m looking forward to a mix of both old and new, but hopefully not so much new that I already know all the beats. What I don’t want is too much back story on Freddy, which is what the trailer starts off with. That’s where the Halloween remake went wrong, so hopefully that’s not where we’re going this time around, but we shall see. Plus, getting Jackie Earle Haley to play Freddy was a stroke of genius, so that’s at least some early points in the positive column. This trailer adds a few more, in my opinion.