Curse Of Chucky (2013) review

Curse Of Chucky posterDirector: Don Mancini

Starring: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Maitland McConnell

ALICE – “Chucky, I’m scared.”

CHUCKY – “You fucking should be.”

The success of Bride Of Chucky and its follow-up Seed Of Chucky mean these days Chucky is commonly considered a horror comedy star. Despite this, there still remains a core following of long-time horror fans who have been hoping for years that everyone’s favourite killer doll would return to his roots and appear in another ‘proper’ horror film in the style of the original Child’s Play trilogy.

Curse Of Chucky is that horror film, with nary a dick joke, sex scene or zany sidekick in sight. Although it’s the first Chucky film to go straight-to-video, don’t let that put you off, because this is old-school Chucky doing what he does best – pretending to be a doll while trying to steal a small child’s soul.

Set four years after Seed Of Chucky, Curse begins with a mysterious package turning up at the house of Nica (Fiona Dourif), a wheelchair-bound paraplegic who lives with her mother. Predictably, the package contains Chucky, but Nica’s at a loss as to who would have sent this odd-looking doll. It’s a wonder she’s never heard of Chucky – she should probably get out more. Oh, right, the wheelchair. Continue reading “Curse Of Chucky (2013) review”

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) review

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter posterDirector: Joseph Zito

Starring: Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Peter Barton, Ted White

“Jesus Christmas! Holy Jesus! Goddamn! Holy Jesus jumping Christmas shit!” (Axel, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter)

Oh, you poor, deluded fools. To think there was once a time when the fourth film in the Friday The 13th series was supposed to be the last one ever.

Of course, hindsight tells us this couldn’t have been further from the truth – Jason would go on to star in a further eight movies – but for now let’s treat The Final Chapter as the concluding part it was seemingly intended to be.

Following on from the end of the third movie, an apparently dead Jason is carted off to the local morgue where he rests with his victims. Predictably, it’s not long before he’s up and at them again, killing a couple of doctors on his way out of the building. Continue reading “Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) review”

Friday The 13th Part III (1982) review

Friday The 13th Part 3 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner, Richard Brooker

“Is that all you’re gonna do this weekend? Smoke dope?” (Shelly, Friday The 13th Part III)

After the second Friday The 13th movie ended with the doors left wide open for a sequel, that inevitable follow-up sauntered through said doors just one year later in the shape of the imaginatively titled Friday The 13th Part III.

The second film concluded with the survivor conveniently blacking out and having no idea where Jason had gone, so the third begins just one day later as a still very-much alive Jason heads to a lakefront property called Higgins Haven, where he takes solace in a nearby farmhouse to rest his wounds.

As Jason’s luck would have it, yet another group of sexually active teens are on their way to spend the week at Higgins Haven, blissfully unaware one of the horror genre’s most notorious slashers is camping out in the building next door. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part III (1982) review”

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review

Friday The 13th Part 2 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Warrington Gillette

“I told the others, they didn’t believe me. You’re all doomed! You’re all doomed!” (Crazy Ralph, Friday The 13th Part 2)

It’s common knowledge among horror fans that Jason isn’t actually the killer in Friday The 13th, and it’s in fact his mum who wanders around coating the forests of Camp Crystal Lake with teenage blood. Eager to cash in with a sequel but realising they couldn’t pull off the same trick twice (not to mention the fact that Mrs Voorhees was decapitated at the end of the first film), Paramount decided it was time to finally introduce Jason himself.

Before opening with a short prologue to ensure the first film’s heroine is quickly done away with, Friday The 13th Part 2 jumps forward five years to introduce us to a new group of potential teenage victims. These cheery (and horny) scamps are headed to the countryside to take part in a training session so they can learn how to be camp counsellors. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review”

House Of Wax (2005) review

House Of Wax posterDirector: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton

“It is wax. Like, literally.” (Wade, House Of Wax)

I’ve had my own experiences with real-life atrocious wax museums in my life – the Movieland museum in Niagara Falls springs to mind – but at least I wasn’t turned into a wax model while I was there. Mind you, I’d have probably made for a more accurate Mr T than the one that featured there.

The original House Of Wax (1953) was a cracking, eerie film about an insane waxwork artist (played by Vincent Price) who turned real people into wax models. That concept – humans as wax models – is the only thing other than the title to remain in this remake. What’s been learned in the ways of suspense and film-making in the 52 years between each film? Not much, it seems.

I'm sure you can make up your own joke here about Paris Hilton getting a big rod shoved through her
I’m sure you can make up your own joke here about Paris Hilton getting a big rod shoved through her

The 2005 version of House Of Wax starts off, as so many generic teen horror films do these days, with a bunch of annoying students on a road trip. This time they’re heading to “the biggest football game of the year” (because presumably “The Superbowl” was trademarked) and decide it’s best to cut through the countryside roads to get there. As night draws near, they decide to camp out in the middle of nowhere.

Except it’s not quite the middle of nowhere because there’s an odd town nearby with a waxwork museum as its main highlight. When the group wake up the next morning and find the one of their two cars has been sabotaged they split up – some of them take the working car to the football game, the others stay behind to try and fix the car, ultimately finding the creepy town and House Of Wax in the process. Continue reading “House Of Wax (2005) review”

Halloween II (1981) review

Halloween IIDirector: Rick Rosenthal

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers, Dick Warlock

“He was my patient for fifteen years. He became an obsession with me until I realised there was neither reason nor conscience or anything about him that was even remotely human. An hour ago I stood up and fired six shots into him and he just got up and walked away. I am talking about the real possibility that he is still out there.” (Dr Loomis, Halloween II)

Everyone (including me) always goes on about how incredible the first Halloween was, and with good reason. It was a landmark in horror history and one of the first true pioneers of the slasher genre. It’s understandable then that its sequel doesn’t get quite as much recognition but it’s a shame because while it isn’t quite as innovative or genre-defining as its predecessor it’s still a strong slasher and a decent conclusion to what John Carpenter had only ever intended to be a two-film story.

Halloween II
“Sorry? In my beard? Oh, it’s a bit of bread. I was eating soup earlier”

Carpenter only wrote Halloween II, this time passing the directing duties to newcomer Rick Rosenthal. The film’s first five minutes are a recap of the last five minutes of its predecessor, reminding us of the final confrontation between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers, and the eventual saving of the day courtesy of Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance). After the original film’s ending, with Loomis firing six shots into Myers (though some dodgy editing means this time he actually shoots him seven times) and “the Shape” legging it, the rest of the film then takes place from that immediate point on and shows what happens over the rest of the night.

As Laurie is taken to the nearby hospital to be treated for her injuries from her scrap with Myers, Dr Loomis and the Haddonfield rozzers continue their search for him. While in theory this shouldn’t be too hard – after all, they just have to look for the guy with six or seven gunshot wounds – it turns out they’re wasting their time, because Myers is actually at the hospital, trying to find Laurie and kill her. Continue reading “Halloween II (1981) review”

Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989) review

Halloween 5 posterDirector: Dominique Othenin-Girard

Starring: Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Foxworth, Don Shanks

“I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.” (Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween 5)

While Halloween 4 wasn’t the greatest slasher ever made, it did at least have a cracking ending that suggested the inevitable fifth film would take the series in a twisted new direction. This makes Halloween 5 all the more frustrating then, because not only is it a pile of pish but its predecessor had practically spelled out how it could have done it better.

(spoiler alert for Halloween 4 in the next paragraph, folks)

Halloween 5
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he won’t stab me. No, I haven’t seen the other Halloween films. Why do you ask?”

Halloween 4 ended with young Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) going a tad mental and stabbing her foster mother while dressed up in a clown outfit, much like young Michael Myers did at the start of the original Halloween. Many took this to mean that Jamie was going to follow in her uncle’s footsteps and continue his killing spree. Instead Halloween 5 decides that her foster mum survived and Jamie was sent to a children’s psychiatric hospital, where she recovered. Bottlers.

(spoilers end now, innit)

When we join Jamie at the start of Halloween 5, she’s been in a psychiatric hospital for the past year. The trauma of the events in the previous film have led to her losing her voice, but her foster sister and her friend Tina (the annoying Wendy Foxworth) visit her regularly to bring her gifts and the like. She’s also got a little friend, a fellow nine-year-old called Billy who’s clearly trying to get fired in even though she’s not much of a talker. Good man Billy, beggars can’t be choosers. Continue reading “Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989) review”

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988) review

Halloween 4 posterDirector: Dwight H Little

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Lloyd, Ellie Cornell, George P Wilbur

“We’re not talking about any ordinary prisoner, Hoffman. We are talking about evil on two legs.” (Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween 4)

While Halloween III: Season Of The Witch wasn’t a bad movie by any means (in fact, judging by the films to follow it was one of the better entries in the series), many moviegoers were enraged when they found that the film they’d gone to see didn’t continue the story of evil stalker Michael Myers and was instead a completely different tale about a nutjob plotting to kill children with cursed Halloween masks powered by Stonehenge. A brilliant (if fucking insane) idea, sure, but you can understand people’s annoyance at paying for a Halloween film and not getting to see Michael Myers.

Halloween 4
“Oh, hello there. Um, this is awkward. You weren’t supposed to know I was here. Boy, is my face white.”

As explained in the Halloween III review, this was mainly down to John Carpenter’s wish to make the Halloween movies a collection of unrelated stories all based on Halloween. The first two films would be the Michael Myers story, the third would be the one about the cursed masks, the fourth would be something completely different again. When the fans turned on this idea and the studio told Carpenter they wanted a standard slasher with Michael Myers in it he decided “fuck you then” and ditched the series altogether.

Determined to to make some serious greenbacks with a Myers return, producer Moustapha Akkad decided to start work on Halloween 4, being sure to include “The Return Of Michael Myers” as part of its title to ensure people who’d abandoned the series knew they were getting him this time. In a rush to beat the writer’s strike of the late ’80s, the entire film was written in 11 days. The result is a movie that, while not great, did a decent job of bringing back “The Shape”. Continue reading “Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988) review”

Demons Never Die (2011)

Director: Arjun Rose

Starring: Robert Sheehan, Jennie Jacques, Jason Maza, Ashley Walters, Reggie Yates, Tulisa Contostavlos

“The truth is we’ve all thought about it at some point – death that is. Life can be painful, we’d like to know that we can end it all if we had to. The warning signs are there if you look hard enough. Those pretty girls who seem to have everything – smiles on the outside, but inside they’re broken.” (Bates, Demons Never Die)

Slasher films have been ten-a-penny since the early ’80s but Demons Never Die is to be commended for trying something different – it’s a slasher film where the victims actually want to die.

Set in London, Demons Never Die tells the story of a group of college students, depressed for various reasons, who have all agreed to carry out a suicide pact. They decide that they’ll all meet up somewhere in the near future and overdose on pills together. While they’re in the process of arguing the whens, wheres and hows of this grim little arrangement however, someone in a mask is offing them one-by-one anyway, annoying the other members of the group who think their chums are killing themselves on their own instead of sticking to the pact.

Here's the lovely Tulisa, double-checking the script to see if she's really only in the first two minutes of the film

It’s an interesting idea (at least initially), but one that throws up its own problems. Many slashers suffer in their inability to make the audience feel empathy for its characters – in between all the killings and screaming it’s often hard to develop a character enough that the person watching grows to like them and doesn’t want them to die. Since the characters here all start off wanting to die anyway, it’s very hard to build up some sort of sympathy for them and think “oh, I hope they don’t get killed”, since you know they’re going to run off and have a hundred Nurofen later anyway.  Continue reading “Demons Never Die (2011)”

Slaughter High (1986)

Directors: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra

Starring: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore

“They say he still roams the nuthouse, ever hopeful of a chance to escape, so he can take his evil revenge out on us all.”  (Skip, Slaughter High)

After Friday The 13th made the cheap slasher movie popular, a slew of imitators were quickly churned out over the following years. One notable example was Slaughter High, which was originally called April Fool’s Day but had a quick last-minute title change after it was noticed that Paramount had its own film called April Fool’s Day set for release that year. The moniker modification came so late, in fact, that the film’s title card still says “April Fool’s Day” with a hastily added “AKA Slaughter High” superimposed on the bottom! Turns out Slaughter High was a much better title anyway, because not only is it actually set in an abandoned high school, you can also do some tinkering with your video box and change the title to the far more appropriate Laughter High fairly easily.

Jamie Oliver's cookery class for forgetful people didn't go too smoothly

Slaughter High begins with a flashback in which the implausibly nerdy Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is coaxed into the girls’ locker room by the school hottie, Carol (Caroline Munro), for some apparent sexy times. What he doesn’t realise is that it’s April Fool’s Day and Carol and her friends are actually playing an elaborate practical joke on him. After an extremely embarrassing incident involving a surprising degree of male nudity and inappropriate touching, Marty flees to the emotional security of his beloved chemistry lab to continue his school project. Unfortunately, there he becomes the victim of another, harsher practical joke, one which sets the lab on fire and leaves Marty hideously scarred for life.  Continue reading “Slaughter High (1986)”