Critters (1986) review

critters_posterDirector: Stephen Herek

Starring: Dee Wallace Stone, M Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, Scott Grimes, Billy Zane

CRITTER 1 – “They have weapons.”
CRITTER 2 – “So what?”
<Critter 2 is blown up>
CRITTER 2 – “Fuck!”

As I’ve explored in numerous reviews in the past, such as Bride Of Chucky and Puppet Master III, there comes a point in some horror films where it becomes clear that the killer isn’t very intimidating.

There are ways to deal with this. The Puppet Master solution was to turn its killers – the titular puppets – into the heroes and make the audience root for them.

The Bride Of Chucky solution, meanwhile, was to acknowledge that the concept of a killer doll was a daft one and therefore the best thing to do was not only make Chucky the hero but also play the film entirely for laughs.

Critters instead takes the Gremlins approach (the first one, not its sequel), which also aims for comedy but at the same time steadfastly refuses to accept that its killer creatures are anything other than nasty little bastards. And it works. Continue reading “Critters (1986) review”

Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) review

puppet master 3 posterDirector: David DeCoteau

Starring: Guy Rolfe, Richard Lynch, Ian Abercrombie, Aron Eisenberg

“Herr Toulon has developed a method of animating his puppets without string. It’s as if they were alive.” (Lt Stein, Puppet Master III)

When you’ve got a film about killer toys you can only go so far with it before the concept loses all sense of terror.

The minds behind the Child’s Play films realised this by the end of the serious-but-iffy third film, following it up with the more comedy-focused Bride Of Chucky instead.

Full Moon, the studio behind the Puppet Master series, realised it sooner than this. By the end of Puppet Master II, in which the killer puppets are double-crossed by their evil owner, the audience is expected to start feeling sympathy for them.

Puppet Master III, then, takes things one step further and makes the puppets outright good guys. A horror film in which the killer dolls are the heroes? Who could the villains possibly be, other than Nazis or something? Continue reading “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) review”

Jason X (2001) review

Jason X posterDirector: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Derwin Jordan, Melyssa Ade

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” (Professor Lowe, Jason X)

I can just imagine the conversation that potentially took place when Jason X was originally conceived.

“We need to make another Friday The 13th movie boss, but we’re running out of ideas.”

“Running out of ideas? Are you mad? It’s a slasher movie. Put gore and tits in it and you’re good.”

“Yes sir, but Friday The 13th fans expect something more, some sort of twist. We’ve already had a 3D one, a copycat killer one, a zombie one, one shot in New York and a possession one. What now?”

“I don’t care. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s fucking Jason In Space, just get tits and gore in it and have it ready by the summer.” Continue reading “Jason X (2001) review”

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review

Jason Goes To Hell posterDirector: Adam Marcus

Starring: Kane Hodder, Kari Keegan, John D LeMay, Steven Williams

STEVEN – “Duke! The part about being reborn through a Voorhees woman, does it have to be a living woman?”
DUKE – “No.”
STEVEN – “Duke, that thing is in the basement with Jessica’s dead mother.”
DUKE – “Mother of God.”

Here’s the story. After Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan died on its arse and drew the lowest ever box office in the series’ history, Paramount was done with it.

Step forward New Line Cinema, who owned A Nightmare On Elm Street. New Line had been itching to make a film pitting their own Freddy Krueger against Jason for a while, but the fact that they owned Freddy while Paramount owned Jason meant it was a logistical nightmare.

New Line’s solution was impeccable: buy Jason from Paramount at a low price while his name is mud at the studio, make him popular again then make the Freddy vs Jason film everyone wants to see. Continue reading “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review”

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review

Friday The 13th Part VIII posterDirector: Rob Hedden

Starring: Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Todd Caldecott, Tiffany Paulsen

“I think the time has come for your first swimming lesson. You don’t wanna end up drowning like that Voorhees boy, do you? He never learned how to swim, either. And he’s still at the bottom of this lake.” (Charles, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)

By the time the Friday The 13th series had reached its eighth incarnation it was clear ideas were running a bit thin on the ground.

After all, there’s only so many times you can recycle the whole ‘masked killer stalks horny teens through the woods’ routine without eventually jumping the shark.

By this point though, Friday The 13th had jumped more sharks than Evel Knievel at a poker tournament. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review”

Puppet Master II (1990) review

Puppet Master 2 posterDirector: David Allen

Starring: Elizabeth Maclellan, Collin Bernsen, Steve Welles, Greb Webb

“No one escapes.” (Andre Toulon, Puppet Master II)

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Puppet Master series, as you’ll already know if you read my review of the first film a while back.

This second outing for Full Moon Pictures’ wooden wonders offers more of the same, with stop-motion puppetry, supernatural skullduggery and sub-standard acting the order of the day.

The movie begins with our anti-heroes, still living at the Bodega Bay Inn, facing a dilemma. You see, the reason they’re alive in the first place is because their titular puppet master, Andre Toulon, developed a serum that could bring life to inanimate objects.

The problem is, the serum’s running out, and Andre Toulon pebble-dashed a wall with his brains in the ’40s when he shot himself to avoid capture by the Nazis, so if they can’t get any more serum soon they’ll be a bit fucked. Continue reading “Puppet Master II (1990) review”

Phantasm (1979) review

Phantasm posterDirector: Don Coscarelli

Starring: Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm

“You think when you die, you go to heaven? You come to us.” (The Tall Man, Phantasm)

When most people think of iconic horror movie villains they tend to reel off the usual suspects: Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, Chucky and the like.

However, one particular evildoer was doing his nefarious deeds long before most other slasher baddies got their blades wet. His name is the Tall Man, and he’s the villain in cult ’70s horror Phantasm.

The film takes place in a small Californian town which, when we join it, is mourning the apparent suicide of one of its residents. We’ve already seen in the opening scene that it was actually a murder, though, so it’s clear hijinks are due. Continue reading “Phantasm (1979) review”

AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review

AVP Alien vs Predator posterDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner

They’re not hunting us. We’re in the middle of a war. It’s time to pick a side.” (Alexa, AVP: Alien vs Predator)

How do you bring two of the most iconic sci-fi monsters together so they can meet and fight each other?

Hmmm. What if there was some sort of common ground they shared, something that could be used to force a meeting?

Let’s think. On one hand you’ve got the Alien, the penis-headed xenomorph that made life hell for Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. Which lives in space.

Then there’s the Predator, the alien hunter that made life hell for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Predator movie. Which lives in space.

Right then, with that in mind it seems pretty obvious how a storyline for Alien vs Predator could come about. Yup, you guessed it, a fight to the death in an ancient underground pyramid 2000 feet below the ground. In Antarctica. Continue reading “AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review”

Robocop 3 (1993) review

Robocop 3 posterDirector: Fred Dekker

Starring: Robert Burke, Remy Ryan, Rip Torn, Nancy Allen, Mako, Stephen Root, CCH Pounder

MCDAGGETT – “In twenty seconds, everything within 30 metres of where we’re standing will be atomised. We’re dead, you stupid slag!”
ROBOCOP – “Don’t count on it, chum.”

The general consensus is that Robocop 3 is a bucket of pish. Oddly, I don’t agree with this.

Maybe it’s because I appreciate the way this one tries to do something different, even if it isn’t always successful. Maybe it’s because I like the Frank Miller script.

Or maybe it’s because I have my own website dedicated to shit films. Continue reading “Robocop 3 (1993) review”

Robocop 2 (1990) review

Robocop 2 posterDirector: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan, Gabriel Damon

CAIN – “You want me?”
ROBOCOP – “Dead or alive.”
CAIN – “One of us must die.”
ROBOCOP – “Dead, then.”

Spare a thought for Alex Murphy.

Having gained recognition as a top-notch cop, he was soon transferred to Detroit where he was promptly peppered with bullets and literally blown to pieces before his first shift had even ended.

Then, rather than being allowed to rest in peace, his head and brain were slapped inside a big robotic body and he became Robocop, a living test subject created as a prototype for the future of law enforcement.

Finally, as if he hadn’t been humiliated enough, he had to appear at a WCW wrestling event to help one of the wrestlers get out of a tiny cage. Christ. Continue reading “Robocop 2 (1990) review”