Black Christmas (1974) review

Black Christmas posterDirector: Bob Clark

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Keir Dullea, Marian Waldman

Also known as: Silent Night, Evil Night (USA title)

“Little baby bunting, daddy’s went a-hunting, gonna fetch a rabbit skin to wrap his baby Agnes in.” (The Killer, Black Christmas)

Although Halloween is credited as the film that kicked off the slasher genre and Friday The 13th is the considered the one that inspired a slew of imitations, Black Christmas pre-dates them both by nearly half a decade.

This makes it all the more impressive, then, that despite being one of the earliest proper examples of the genre, it remains one of the better slasher movies 40 years after its original release. Continue reading “Black Christmas (1974) review”

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) review

Halloween Resurrection posterDirector: Rick Rosenthal

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Brad Loree, Busta Rhymes, Bianca Kajlich, Sean Patrick Thomas, Daisy McCrackin

“Trick or treat, muthafucka.” (Freddie Harris, Halloween: Resurrection)

Miramax achieved the impossible by taking the flatlining Halloween series and resurrecting it with the back-to-basics Halloween H20.

With Michael Myers relevant and scary again, it was therefore inevitable that another Halloween would come, even though it seemed Myers was well and truly dead after the last film.

How did they manage to bring the pale pursuer back then? Well, I’ll tell you, because I’m nice like that. Continue reading “Halloween: Resurrection (2002) review”

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) review

Halloween H20 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, Janet Leigh, Chris Durand

JOHN – It just occurred to me today that I’ve never celebrated Halloween before.

MOLLY – And why’s that?

JOHN – Oh, we’ve got a psychotic serial killer in the family who loves to butcher people on Halloween, and I just thought it in bad taste to celebrate.

After the train wreck that was Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers I’m surprised Dimension Films and Miramax had the gall to bring ol’ paleface back yet again.

Still, bring him back they did, in a film made to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Halloween. And you know something? They actually did a decent job this time.

Perhaps realising the previous film had become a confusing mess with a plot consisting of evil cults, a convoluted bloodline, adopted children and Paul Rudd, Halloween H20 scraps it all and instead provides an alternative timeline in which the events of Halloween 4, Halloween 5 and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers never happened. Continue reading “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) review”

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) review

Sleepaway Camp III posterDirector: Michael A Simpson

Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J Pollard, Mark Oliver

CINDY – “Why are you doing this to me?”

ANGELA – “Because you’re a cheerleader, a fornicator, a drug taker, a nasty snotty bigot… and besides that, you’re real nice.”

Here’s some advice. If you’re ever at a pub quiz and one of the questions is “what do Sleepaway Camp and Back To The Future have in common?”, your response should be two sentences.

The first: “That’s a pretty fucking obscure film to be bringing up in a pub quiz, considering the public in general aren’t familiar with the Sleepaway Camp series.”

The second: “Nevertheless, the answer to your niche question is that both had their second and third movies shot back-to-back.” Continue reading “Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) review”

Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995) review

Halloween The Curse Of Michael Myers posterDirector: Joe Chappelle

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan

“Enough of this Michael Myers bullshit!” (John Strode, Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers)

It says a lot about a film when the stories of its behind-the-scenes turmoil and tantrums are more interesting than the story that ended up on the screen.

This was the curious condition inflicted on Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers, the sixth film in the Halloween series. Plagued by in-fighting and studio politics before a single frame was even shot, the conflict continued to escalate throughout production.

It’s said that the original script for the film was so powerful a Dimension exec couldn’t sleep the night after reading it, and Halloween regular Donald Pleasence (who had starred as Dr Sam Loomis in four of the previous five films) loved it too. Continue reading “Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995) review”

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) review

Sleepaway Camp 2 posterDirector: Michael A Simpson

Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Renee Estevez, Tony Higgins

Also known as: Nightmare Vacation II (UK VHS)

ANGELA – “I did my time. Two years of therapy, electroshock, was on every pill you ever heard of, plus an operation. I’m completely cured. If I wasn’t they wouldn’t have let me out. How do you know so much about me?”

SEAN – “My dad’s a cop. He helped arrest you. You should have heard him the day you got out.”

ANGELA – “That’s too bad. Wait until he hears what’s happened to you.”

Warning: The following review spoils the identity of the killer in the original Sleepaway Camp. However, it does not spoil its big twist ending, so if you don’t mind knowing who the killer was you can feel free to read on, safe in the knowledge you’re still in for a shock when you watch the original. Which you really should, you know.

Sleepaway Camp caused something of a dilemma. When you end a film in such a shocking, outrageous manner, how exactly can you follow that up? Sleepaway Camp II decided the answer was to give the original’s killer a completely different personality.

Years after butchering a load of kids in Camp Arawak all those years ago, Angela Baker has gone through extensive electro-shock therapy and psychiatric treatment. She decides the best thing to do is get a job as a counsellor at a new summer camp, seeing as everything went so well the last time. Continue reading “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) review”

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) review

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood posterDirector: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Lar Park-Lincoln, Terry Kisser, Susan Blu, Kane Hodder

“There’s a legend around here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake. A death curse. Jason Voorhees’ curse. They say he died as a boy, but he keeps coming back. Few have seen him and lived. Some have even tried to stop him. No one can.” (Narrator, Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood)

The Friday The 13th series has jumped the shark so many times I’m surprised Jason Voorhees isn’t dressed like Evel Knievel.

After apparently killing their iconic slasher villain for good in Part IV, introducing a copycat killer in Part V then resurrecting the original as a zombie in Part VI and chaining him to the bottom of Crystal Lake at the end, Paramount decided it was time to fill an entire swimming pool full of sharks, jellyfish and piranha and jump that instead.

Enter Tina Shepard, the heroine of Part VII: The New Blood. Not content with merely being the latest in a line of sole survivors in Friday The 13th films, Tina is different because (drum roll) she has telekinetic powers. Yes, she can move things with the power of her mind. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) review”

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) review

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives posterDirector: Tom McLoughlin

Starring: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, CJ Graham

“I went to go cremate Jason… but I fucked up.” (Tommy Jarvis, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives)

After pissing off long-time Friday The 13th fans by releasing a sequel in which Jason wasn’t actually the killer (see my review of Part V: A New Beginning), Paramount wasn’t taking any risks with the sixth film. That’s why Friday The 13th Part VI comes with a fairly definitive subtitle that states, yes, Jason is alive and well in this one.

Not that his resurrection makes a lot of sense, mind. After surviving a Friday film for the second time, Tommy Jarvis (now played by a third actor, the frustratingly spelt Thom Mathews) escapes from his mental institution, heading to Jason’s grave with his friend to convince himself he’s gone once and for all. After digging up the grave he sees Jason’s rotting body. Nice one, job done.

Except it isn’t, because Tommy decides he wants to drive a metal pole through Jason’s corpse, an act that comes back to munch on Tommy’s arse when a lightning storm hits the pole and brings Jason back to life, all zombified and annoyed and that. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) review”

Psycho II (1983) review

Psycho II posterDirector: Richard Franklin

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Meg Tilly, Vera Miles

“I don’t kill people anymore.” (Norman Bates, Psycho II)

NOTE: Spoilers for the original Psycho ahead – don’t read this if you don’t know (or don’t want to know) who the killer is in the original film.

When it comes to sequels created long after their predecessors, it’d take some doing to beat Psycho II. Released a massive 23 years after the original Psycho, the only thing even more amazing than this hefty gap is that despite the number of years that have passed the sequel still sees the return of Anthony Perkins in the lead role of Norman Bates.

Having spent more than two decades in a psychiatric hospital after the incidents of the first film, Norman is released on good behaviour and free to go back home. It doesn’t say much for the American justice system that he’s allowed to return to the house and motel where he committed two murders and start living there again, but there you have it. Continue reading “Psycho II (1983) review”

Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) review

Friday The 13th Part V - PosterDirector: Danny Steinmann

Starring: John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Melanie Kinnaman, Dick Wieand

“Jason Voorhees? You’re outta your fucking mind. You’ve been out in the sun too long. Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated. He’s nothing but a handful of ash.” (Mayor Cobb, Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)

Picture the dilemma faced by the studio execs at Paramount. They’d just released the fourth Friday The 13th film, one which quite clearly drew a line under the whole series with the title Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. And yet, people wanted more.

So, deciding to neatly brush the whole ‘final chapter’ business neatly under the blood-soaked carpet, Paramount greenlit a fifth film and decided to call it A New Beginning, the title implying that the first four films were still their own little series and now we were dealing with a brand new story arc. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) review”