The Great Chronological Slasher Franchise Project

Incredible art by Chris Labrenz

Last year I found myself in a strange place heading into the Halloween season, which for me usually starts sometime in September. In years past, I’d written posts about various movies and franchises for the dearly departed Topless Robot/Robot’s Voice site. I loved poring over these films, taking notes and then figuring out the best way to present them to an audience.

Oh do go on

Halloween Scene: New Movie Roundup

p9523329_p_v8_aaAs I mentioned in my first post in what felt like forever, I was awful busy looking at Halloween related material for work throughout September and October, which resulted in a lack of posts here on the site, a first if I’m not mistaken. Sure, Halloween season is technically over, but I wanted to write a bit more about a few of the newer movies I saw on Netflix in preparation for two Spinoff lists: 5 Recent Indie Supernatural Horror Movies Worth Watching and 5 Recent Slasher Flicks to Take a Stab at For Halloween.

First off a little background that I mentioned in those posts, but didn’t get fully into. While looking around for horror movies on Netflix Instant back in September, I realized that a lot of movies I’d heard good things about on Killer POV (my favorite horror podcast) were on there. I tend to avoid new horror movies out of a kind of fear, not necessarily a fear of being frightened by them, but a fear of being subjected to awful depravity. Let’s face it, that was the subgenre du jour for a while there. It seemed like every new movie I watched was just filled with torture. Not my bag.

john dies at the endBut after hearing about so many quality movies that had come out — many of which don’t work for everyone, which is fine my me — I decided to focus my viewing efforts this season on new movies from this decade. With only four years to choose from, I was a little worried about slim pickings, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the results. In fact, I think I enjoyed everything I watched (at least on some level).

Alright, let’s start with the Supernatural list. I covered them pretty well, but to take things a few steps further Don Coscarelli’s John Diest At The End and Resolution are two of my favorite scary movies in a long time. I loved The Innkeepers. Like I said in the review, between the on-screen scares and my anticipation of scares based on lesser films, I was pretty wiped by the end of that viewing experience. I thought about watching Ti West’s Sacrament, but wussed out.

rites of springI’d seen Odd Thomas on Netflix several times, wasn’t sure about it, but finally watched it and really enjoyed it. It kind of reminded me of Brick, but with less melodrama and more death-monsters. I liked it so much, I’m actually reading Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours from the library. It has the same feel as the movie. I’d like to see Anton Yelchin star in a series of films or, better yet, a TV show based on the character. I still can’t tell if All Cheerleader’s Die is a super clever film or I’m just reading too far into it, but it was definitely worth the watch.

Over to the slashers, this was another pleasantly surprising batch of films. I was especially surprised by how much I enjoyed Curse Of Chucky as that’s not exactly a series I’m in love with. I also wasn’t sure if Maniac would be my bag because I’ve never seen the original or its fellow real-killer-in-NYC ilk, but I found it chilling and Elijah Wood captivating in the lead role. I actually felt super creepy walking anywhere near a woman when I was going from the hotel to the bar during NYCC because of that viewing experience. Stage Fright was so much fun, but that might be solely because of my experience in high school musical theater. It’s goofy and weird, but I’m okay with that.

The-Innkeepers-PosterI’ll be honest, I didn’t actually watch Hatchet II again, but those films are still some of the best slasher flicks I’ve ever laid eyes on from any decade. I didn’t really think about it until I wrote that list, but it’s difficult to think of any other series with that much consecutive quality. Finally, I really liked the look and mash-up feel of Rites Of Spring. It’s on the shortlist of movies I watched this year that had a distinct color pallet and style. I found myself wondering if the Stranger was actually satiating a kind of crop god or just a crazy person throwing blood down on a man in a weird mask for decades. It would have been nice to get some of those answers, but I didn’t think they were necessary.

I also watched American Mary. I’ve got a blog post written that I’ll throw up this week. Here’s a preview, I thought it was pretty damn unique, but I’ll probably never watch it again. I still really dig the You’re Next viewing experience and do think I’ll return to that one at some point. Speaking of repeated viewings, that was the focus of my late-October horror movie schedule which will make up another post!

Halloween Scene: Child’s Play (1988)

If you were to ask the average person over 25 to name five slashers with their own franchises you’d probably end up with a list that includes Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Leatherface and…Chucky. When I started my horror odyssey so many years ago, I was way more interested in those first four than the fifth. In fact, I completely disregarded the Child’s Play series as a bunch of goofy movies with a doll trying to kill people. I’ve always had a problem with killer doll/toy stories because you can either melt them or they’re magic and you’re screwed. So, these flicks were never a priority, especially after seeing bits and pieces of the sequels on TV here and there and not being impressed.

But, since it’s a somewhat long-running and popular horror series–and the first movie’s on Netflix Instant, though not the rest–I figured it would make for perfect Halloween Scene fodder. And you know what? It wound up surprising me. Much like the Freddy flicks, the Chuky movies started out pretty serious and then bought into their own hype, making Chucky an over the top wiseacre.

As you probably know, Chucky started out as a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray who gets gutshot in a toy store and winds up doing a voodoo incantation over a Good Guys doll, thus transferring his soul. He winds up in the home of a young boy and his mother, slowly wreaking havoc in the process.

What surprised me about the movie is how long they play up the mystery as to whether the kid is actually nuts or not. He’s always saying the doll told him things, but you never see it. I don’t know if I ever really bought the idea that it could be the kid, though. I mean, obviously I knew the story going in, but I also didn’t think the kid showed enough creepy tendencies to be a murderer. The weirdest thing you see him do is make breakfast for his mom that includes lots of sugary cereal with extra scoops of sugar and completely burnt toast with an ice cream scoop’s worth of Country Crock. Heck, he looks scarier on the French poster above than he ever does in the flick.

By keeping the truth a secret, the film also builds the creepiness and withholds the wisecracks and profanity from the murderous doll until the end, when the mom is in on what’s going on and Chucky’s on a rampage. I’ll even say that the movie has some good gore/effects scenes in that end series of events, especially when SPOILER the doll’s all burnt up. I had a My Buddy as a kid and would constantly kick the crap out of it, so I had no problem seeing this facsimile getting all messed up.

I’m not sure how the rest of the movies go. I doubt there’s a Dream Warriors in the bunch that stands apart as an awesome movie on it’s own, but I’m a lot more willing to give them a look now that I know that they at least come from an interesting source.