Halloween Scene: Halloween H2O & Zombie Island Massacre

Hey, even though things aren’t all rosy, doesn’t mean you can’t depend on me for reviews of old movies you’ve either seen or have no intention of seeing. Yesterday, on what will be my last Train-Ing Video in a while, I watched Halloween H20 (1998) for the very first. time. As long time readers will remember, from my posts about the Halloween movies last year, I had seen the first 5 movies in the original series and then watched Rob Zombie’s remake, but I watched Curse for the first time and hadn’t seen H20 or Resurrection yet.

So, it wasn’t a bad movie. It had Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin (from Chicago Hope), Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Nash Bridges AND Prison Break!) and Janet Leigh (who I had forgotten was Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom). The whole ignoring-4-6 and being a little too Scream were definitely annoying and don’t make the series hold up in the long run, but I can see how it would be a good introduction to teenagers in the 90s who maybe hadn’t seen the originals yet. I’m not going to really get into it, because, frankly, BC over at HMAD summed my thoughts up pretty well in his review from 2007 (except for the whole “different opinion every time he sees it” thing, cause, you know, I’ve only seen it once).

I do think it would have been cool if this was the end of the original series of movies, but, not having seen Resurrection, but still reading a few things, I know that Michael got better from that decapitation (or it was a paramedic or some such nonsense?). While I’m not planning on seeing Zombie’s Halloween 2 any time soon, I probably will check out Resurrection relatively soon and let you know what’s up.

I also watched a little movie called Zombie Island Massacre (1984) on NetBox this morning. Yes it’s stupid, and SPOILER, no, there aren’t any actual zombies in it (hence the lack of the “zombie” label), but any movie that starts with a white guy in a tribal mask sneaking up on his girlfriend/wife who’s taking a shower, then jumps into Hatchet-territory with a tour group going to see some weird stuff, then it kind of gets into Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and Night of the Living Dead zones. It really is a pastiche and it’s not bad, but it’s also not good and if you’ve ever seen a movie like this you’ll know what the twist ending will be.

One question I had though: how did they take a bus to the resort’s sister island? I could have easily missed a simple plot point about this, but I still laughed later once I saw the bus. Oh well. It’s got very little gore, but enough nudity to kind of make up for it.

Halloween Scene: Friday the 13th Part III (1982) & The Final Chapter (1984)

2008-11-04
7:56:28 pm

As I mentioned before F13 is a weird series. Not until Part 3 do we get the world famous hockey mask, picked off the body of a dead jokester, no less! Three also doesn’t take place on a camp (nor does 4, but they’re all around Crystal Lake still).

As many of you probably know, part 3 was originally shown in 3-D, which makes me totally jealous that I haven’t gotten to see a horror movie in 3-D (I can’t wait for My Bloody Valentine 3-D!). I also wish they would have released the DVD in 3-D because it’s very clearly shot with the 3-D audience in mind (the yo-yo dropping down towards the camera, TWO eye balls jumping out at you and countless ends of farming tools sticking out at the audience). The shots just look kind of strange without being in 3-D.

The basic idea is that a group of friends go to a cabin the day after the events of F13 Part 2. They run afoul of a trio of bikers and Jason and start getting killed off one by one. There’s a few interesting characters. One of which is the main girl who had a run in with Jason in the woods a few years ago when she and her parents still lived in the house. She ran away from home and fell asleep in the woods only to be dragged away by Jason and end up in her own bed (?). Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it was kinda cool to see Jason post Part 1 and pre 2. There’s also the fat kid with low self esteem who keeps playing tricks on people to get a scare and (hopefully) a laugh. He’s really freaking annoying. We’ve all known people like this in real life. And not only is his character annoying, but his antics and the fake-out scares that come along with them get real old real quick. And why the heck does he have a working harpoon gun? Or a hockey mask? Oh well, his one positive contribution is that hockey mask. So I guess that’s cool.

The kills are fun, and the creative team really had fun with the kills, especially everything that happened in the barn. There’s a scene towards the end where the main girl gets the upper hand and actually hangs Jason. She thinks everything is cool and opens the door to see Jason hanging just inches off the ground. He seems dead at first, but then he pulls himself up (and shows off his mutilated face) and continues to attack her. Great stuff.

It even looks like Jason might be done for as he’s lying there at the end and the beginning of Part 4. Of course that doesn’t last as he wakes up in the morgue as a dude’s trying to make out with a girl. Creepy. From there we move to another group of kids renting a house, but with this flick we also get a mother and her two kids (one of which is horror mask and computer obsessed Corey Feldman) AND a hunter/woodsman who turns out to be avenging his sister who died in Part 2. Oh and a pair of twins who just happen to show up in the woods.

One of the soon-to-be-murdered kids is a young Crispen Glover! I love playing spot the future star in horror movies. And you get TWO in this one, which kind of makes up for the lack of big names in 2 and 3. Instead of the low self esteem guy you get the over confident smooth guy who never gets the girl. In this flick he ends up watching a stag film for the last 20 minutes of the movie while his friends get killed throughout the house. Until, of course, he dies.

What I like about this one is that you’re not really sure who’s going to survive. There’s about three candidates towards the end and one of the potential survivors doesn’t make which kind of surprised me (even though this is the F13 flick I remember most clearly, probably because it was the last one that Rickey and I watched when we lived together). The actual ending’s pretty crazy as Corey Feldman’s sister keeps running back and forth between her house the other one while Corey’s up in his bathroom shaving his head (which he must have done at super speed) all in an attempt to distract Jason by dressing up like a young Jason. Make sense? I guess the inhuman killing machine is actually pretty dumb (he got tricked by a girl who put on his dead mother’s sweater and pushed her hair behind her ears in 2). Anyway, it works for just enough time so that sis can stab Jason in his maskless (and gross) face with a machete which he then falls forward on and we see it carve through his face. Whew, glad that’s over. BUT WAIT, his finger twitches and Corey goes bizonkers smashing him in the head with the machete. Awesome, thanks again to Tom Savini.

As you can probably tell from the title this was supposed to be the last flick in the Jason storyline, but they do end it with a weird freeze frame focusing on Corey as he looks creepily at the camera. I’m not sure what the plan was supposed to be for him, but I do remember the character comes back in a later flick. Oh, also, sidenote, no more kids in horror movies named Tommy please. I’m psyched to watch the rest of this box set. Yeah!

Halloween Scene: Friday the 13th 1 (1980) and 2 (1981)

2008-11-02
6:26:01 am

I know, I know, Halloween was yesterday (or two days ago, technically, I guess by now), but I’m not done with my favorite holiday. In fact, I’ll probably keep the Halloween Scene reviews coming all year. I’m also thinking about giving November a “What I’m Thankful For” theme, but we’ll get there when we get there.

For now, I’m gonna talk about the first two Friday the 13th movies, which I’ve been watching over the past few days. I’ve found that I’m able to stay up less late every night, so it actually took me three freaking days to watch Part 2. It’s embarrassing. Anyway, F13 is, I think Rickey’s favorite slasher series partly because of his love of camp movies. Halloween’s still my personal favorite but that doesn’t mean I don’t love me some Jason. In fact, this year I picked up the F13 box set used on Amazon on a lark. So let’s get into it.

As Scream should have taught those of you who didn’t already know, Jason’s mom Pamela Voorhees is the killer. What really blows me away about the F13 series is that the creators really just set out to make one kind of movie and then it morphed into this completely different thing. The original has a mom killing slutty camp instructors because her son died due to irresponsible counselors years before. It’s not a good reason by any means, but it makes sense. There’s not even any mystical stuff until the very end when Jason comes leaping out of the water looking like a too-cooked hot dog. And from there they ran with it. Two’s got a Jason who still seems like a regular dude, just a real angry one. Heck, he doesn’t even have the hockey mask until 3. How crazy is that? Think about it, it’d be like Michael Myers not getting the Shatner mask until part 3…er 4 I guess.

So, again, Part 1 features a young dude trying to restart Camp Crystal Lake, or Camp Blood as some people refer to it. As usual, we’re not dealing with camps full of kids, but only older counselors getting things ready ahead of time (cause it would just be weird of those Voorhees folks were killing under agers). Mrs. V is killing people at the very camp that her son Jason died at many years ago because…um…she’s not a fan of forgiving and forgetting. Anyway, the only counselor of note is one Kevin Bacon who dies a pretty rad death thanks to Dawn of the Dead effects master Tom Savini (a personal favorite of mine). Tom’s deft hand offers up good looking death scenes all around.

What really gets me about F13 is the idea of this old broad being the killer. Who’d think of that now? I mean, it’s fairly implausible as she takes down a number of young, nubile teenagers. Good show Ms. Voorhees.

Part 2 doesn’t have any famous faces (outside of the horror world at least), but it does feature Jason as an adult. It’s interesting because this one takes place five years after the original which really came out one year apart. I’m guessing they did it that way so that Jason could be a teenager by now and ready to kill people on his own. And how does he start out? By hunting down the one that got away from the original and icing her in her house. But, like I mentioned above, this isn’t the Jason you’ve come to know and love as he sports a pair of overalls, a blue checkered shirt and a bag over his head with only one eyehole cut out. Come on Jason, I bet you’d be able to aim that pitchfork a little better if you cut yourself a second.

This time around the story revolves around a guy setting up a camp on Crystal Lake, but not in the exact same spot as the infamous Camp Blood. But, hey, that’s Jason’s hood (no pun intended), so he’s not too happy about it and starts killing teenagers. This time, instead of the campers sneaking off to go make out and what not (which still happens), they get split up as half go into town to a bar and the other half stay the camp. The ones at the camp buy it first and then the ones who come home. It’s a nice way to split things up and at least it doesn’t completely mimic the first one. The kills are pretty good in this one too.

Man, I really do love these old school horror franchises. As you know I had a problem with the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakeTexas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but kind of liked it’s sequel. But what really bugs me about the remakes is that they cut off the possibilities for future sequels. I’m actually excited about the F13 remake or reboot or whatever they’re calling it, but I’m bummed that I won’t get a F13 part 11 in the same old continuity. Sure, some of the movies start to suck, but there’s something cool about being in a long line of movies. It’s probably the comic book fan in me that just loves continuity and all that. Ah well, I’m still excited about the remake rolling the first three movies into one and making Jason more of a fast outdoorsman. And, let’s be adult about this, I can always go back and watch the originals. I’m not one of these people who considers my childhood movies sacred. Get over yourselves. Just because they made a Lost Boys 2 or an Indiana Jones sequel you didn’t like, doesn’t do anything to the other movies you love. You can always go back and enjoy the originals no matter what anyone does to the franchises down the road, that’s why we’ve got DVD players folks.

Halloween Sccene: House (1986)

2008-10-25
8:13:07 pm

I went to Blockbuster last night looking for something without really know what. I went through the new releases and there wasn’t really anything I wanted to watch on my own (Em hates horror movies, so I watch them after she goes to bed). I found myself in the not great, but not awful horror section looking around and found two movies I wanted to check out. One was Halloween H20 which I still haven’t seen. That was going to be the pick until my eyes panned down and I saw a DVD copy of House. I knew nothing about this movie, but remember seeing it all the time when I used to go to the video store with my parents. The creepy hand always freaked me out. I’m not sure why I never rented it once I turned 16, but that’s another story. The cover I remember seeing is below:

House won out over H20 (partly because I haven’t watched H5 or 6 yet this year), but I ended up falling asleep around 11:30 last night. I did wake up around 1:30, tried to watch it then, but kept getting freaked out by the old lady as I fell in and out of sleep and decided to just call it a night and go back to bed.

I lucked out today and Em took a nap, which gave me time to check House out and I kind of love this movie. It’s not a great film and it’s not all that scary, though I do really like the practical demon/monster/zombie make up and effects. It’s kind of creepy, well acted and just well put together, but it’s also fun.

Just check out the people who helped put this movie together. It’s directed by by Steve Miner who also did Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3 and Halloween H20 (weird coincidence, huh? that I was choosing between two Miner movies). The script was based on a story by Fred Dekker, the dude who wrote Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps (a former Manly Movie Mamajama pick). Plus you’ve got William Kat who used to be the Greatest American Hero, Cheers’ George Wendt and Night Court’s Richard Moll in starring rolls. Seeing Richard Moll in a monster roll kind of validates all of the weirdness he gave off on Night Court (anyone else remember the series finale where he got beamed up by aliens?).

House is basically a haunted house movie with some monster, zombie and Vietnam War moments thrown in as well. Katt plays a writer who decides to live in his aunt’s old house after she hangs herself. It’s also the house that he and his wife lived in when their son mysteriously disappeared. He’s there working on a book about his experiences during the Vietnam War, but also getting hassled by a very cool looking monster in the closet and other tricks the house is playing on him to get rid of him. Meanwhile George Wendt plays his nosey neighbor who gets pulled along for the ride because he can’t mind his own business. Moll plays Katt’s army buddy who he refused to kill and ended up getting captured by the enemy. His ghost comes back later and looks AWESOME. We’re never quite sure why the house is being such a jerk, but it doesn’t really matter as the story focuses on Katt beating the house and eventually getting his son back. It’s kind of a fist pumping ending which I appreciate. And you know what? I don’t need an explanation. As long as the movie makes enough sense to not make me mad, I’m happy with it.

House isn’t Jaws, Halloween or TCM, but it is a fun movie that kept my attention the whole time. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a movie like this nowadays. It’s somewhat lighthearted, funny when it’s supposed to be, happy, sad and sports some of the coolest looking practical effects I’ve seen in a while.