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: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) & I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

In an attempt to quell my fears with all the craziness yesterday, I put together a dresser and watched a bunch of horror movies starting off with Urban Legend, which I had never seen before. That flick reminded me of other late 90s slasher flicks like Scream and the IKWYDLS movies thanks to the cast of well known actors getting hunted down and slaughtered by someone who had been wronged in the past by one or more of them. I’ve had the two IKWYDLS movies sitting in my to watch pile ever since I was at Wizard and they cleared out the DVD library and gave away a bunch of freebies. Unfortunately, I didn’t find either of them nearly as enjoyable as Urban Legend. Oddly enough, this movie starts off with a similar discussion of the same “boyfriend on the car roof” urban legend I mentioned in yesterday’s review.

The plot revolves around a group of friends–Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Jennifer Love Hewitt–who accidentally hit a dude with their car and instead of calling the cops and doing the logical thing, they decide to dump him in the water and act like it never happened. Well, one year later, someone starts leaving notes that invoke the title. People start getting killed (including Johnny Galecki), mistrust spreads and eventually the killer is revealed and some people survive.

This movie was kind of destined to fail with me from it’s very inception. I hate movies or stories that rely on people making stupid decisions and then feeling like they can’t tell anyone what they’re dealing with for fear of getting caught. Had they called the cops when they should have or even right after someone started threatening them, it would have been okay. Heck, they weren’t even friends anymore after a year of college. If someone threatens to kill me, I don’t care, I’m going to the cops, no matter what Ryan Phillippe says! That’s a motto I live by.

The only really draw here is for vintage SMG and JLH hotness (two of my biggest teenage crushes) and I would assume the same goes for the fellas in the movie as well. I’m going to get into a little SPOILER territory here so get into another reason why I dislike the movie. Here goes. So, the killer winds up being some guy involved in the hit and run, but not the one they thought it was. Keep that in mind because it makes a lot of things make very little sense. For instance, they throw a red herring into the story–Galecki–and then immediately take him out by having fall victim to the killer. How would the killer even know he was there? He had just been hit by a car and was on the other side of a guardrail over a cliff. So, it doesn’t make logical sense, but it also doesn’t make story sense because you’d want to keep that red herring around to draw suspicion away from the four leads. Once he’s dead, you have to assume it’s either one of the kids or the guy who got hit. The twist that it’s some guy they don’t even know lessens the impact of the story and makes it a lot more complicated. In fact, I think I’ve already thought about this movie way too much. Moving on.

I guess I liked I Still Know What You Did Last Summer better than the original, but not by a lot. This time around, JLH is in college where she rooms with Brandy who’s dating Mekhi Phifer. Prinze is still back in the little town all the murders from the first movie took place in, which is why JLH doesn’t want to return for the Fourth of July vacation. JLH also has this dude named Will who’s sweet on her and, when Prinze decides not to go with her on a trip they win via radio contest to the Bahamas, Will winds up taking his spot. Once on the island, a storm picks up which cuts off all communication to the island as well as boats, so it winds up just being the leads and some of the hotel workers (including Jack Black as a white dude wanting to be a Jamaican rasta, Jeffrey Combs and the always lovely Jennifer Esposito) against the rain slicker-wearing killer.

There’s some interesting suspense moments like when JLH gets locked in the tanning bed (those things make me nervous anyway) and SPOILER Will’s reveal that he’s in on the killings was great “Because it’s not my blood.” But overall, it winds up being more complicated that necessary. Ben Willis (the killer from the first movie) used to live on this island and had a son who turned out to be Will who played a long con to get this group to the island. Much like the dudes in Scream, the level of acting chops a psychotic murdered has to have is pretty impressive.

The Scream sequels suffered from the same clunky explanations for their sequels. It’s always an unexpected relative or the original killer coming back (“They never found a body”). I think I prefer my killers to be supernaturally charged so the filmmakers don’t have to waste too much time thinking of why they’re back and killing. Michael Myers got up, Freddy lives in dreams. Done and done. I can not imagine the lengths they went to to explain the 2006 straight to DVD I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. Blech, no thanks.