Halloween Scene: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Like a lot of people, Jaws is one of my favorite movies. As such, it is the standard by which I measure all over shark and water-based monster movies. This attitude has kept me away from a lot of movies of this ilk. But, you know what? That’s not really fair, is it? Halloween’s another favorite movie, but that hasn’t kept me away from slasher flicks, so why does liking Jaws make me not want to see shark movies? The obvious reason is that, if you can’t top the best, why bother? It’s a valid argument, but one that’s been keeping me away from a good movie like Deep Blue Sea. Another problem is that I’ve seen so many straight-up lifts of the Jaws plot, that I go into movies like DBS expecting them. Lastly, since Jaws was a widely accepted classic almost immediately, I think a lot of people with good underwater monster stories might have shied away. This is good because they would have been compared, but bad because it means the sub-genre is mostly filled with one great movie, lots of copycats and the occasional gem.

DBS is one of those gems. It’s not near-perfection like Jaws, but it’s a fun movie with a great cast, some alright effects and a plot that combines elements of Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure and your basic mad scientist flick. See, there’s this research facility out in the ocean that’s doing tests on sharks that will somehow help people. While doing the experiments, one of the doctors did a few things she wasn’t supposed to and now the sharks are super smart. They then start attacking the facility, killing a large number of the scientists and people there.

So, you’ve got the threat of not just sharks which are scary enough on their own, but super smart sharks with emotions and what not. Plus, you’ve got a mostly underwater locale which means there are plenty of scenes that made movies like Poseidon Adventure or The Abyss so creepy to me personally (I have a an unnatural fear of things that shouldn’t be under water, being under water). Plus, the cast include Sam Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Thomas Jane and more. There’s also quite a few winking nods to Jaws that let you know that director Renny Harlin knows the comparisons are being made. The first shark we see has a license plate in his mouth and the comparisons don’t stop there. I didn’t notice it on my own by SPOILER the sharks actually die in the same way that the sharks in the first three Jaws flicks die. Nice touch.

Another nice touch is the above closing credits song. I’m a big fan of horror movies (any movie really) that include a song at the end that’s actually related to/written for the movie. Sure it’s corny, but I guess I’m a little corny too. At the end of the day, I’d have to agree with a quick description I just read on YouTube while looking for this clip, it’s the second best shark movie I’ve seen. Now, I’ve heard that The Reef and that other movie where divers are abandoned at sea (can’t think of the darn name) are good too, but my Jaws-bias got in the way.

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.