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Fear Clinic (2014) Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: Contains Spoilers**

Seeking to combat your worst fears?  Then fret no more, as acclaimed Doctor Andover’s fear chamber is ready for you…

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When a group of survivors who endured a brutal shooting attack are left traumatized, they are miraculously cured after a visit to the Fear Clinic run by the renowned doctor Andover (played by the legend of Nightmares himself, Robert Englund). A year later, all is no longer well; their  individual phobias begin to manifest themselves once again and they also begin to develop more frightening hallucinations that keep them awake at night! Sara (Fiona Dourif) naturally unnerved, pays Doctor Andover a visit to relay her concerns, determined to enter the fear chamber once again to lay her demons to rest once and for all. Following the unfortunate death of survivor Paige (Bonnie Morgan) Andover is reluctant, what is he afraid of? and what is creeping in the dark corners of his invention? Will he be able to save his patients before its too late and fear itself literally consumes them?

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Based on the 2009 FEARnet. web series, Robert Green Hall’s Fear Clinic is an exercise in ultimate terror. Englund reprises his role as the fearless Doctor, however horror stalwarts Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris who starred in the webisodes are notably absent. Instead we have Fiona Dourif (daughter of Brad Dourif of Chucky fame) who’s making a distinct name for herself within the genre as a result of her powerhouse performances. Impressed by her roles in long-awaited Child’s Play sequel, Curse of Chucky (2013) and Chelsey Burdon’s short shocker She (2014), Dourif steals the show in Fear Clinic, portraying a strong, uncompromising, edgy female heroine who’s prepared to go to any lengths to protect her fellow survivors. Sara is an inspiring character. She is beyond determined to conquer her fear and begin to live her life again. She will not allow the horrific shooting incident dictate who she is, allowing the audience to be completely on her side as she continually persuades Andover to let go of any reservations he has and to act in his patients best interests.

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Fear Clinic marks the début acting role for Slipknot and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor as Bauer, one of the security and maintenance workers at the clinic. Taylor relishes in his performance and its clear that he’s having so much fun acting in his favourite genre alongside the iconic Englund. Bauer provides light relief in an otherwise dark film, showcasing Taylor’s ability at comedy, he plays him as endearingly obnoxious. A few cheeky references to Slipknot are thrown in for good measure. Bauer can’t resist placing a mask on his face to sneak up behind and scare his colleague Gage (Kevin Gage), a nod to his mask-wearing persona in the band. In a flashback sequence a child character also donnes a Slipknot t-shirt  and Taylor’s band Stone Sour provide the one and only soundtrack number in the entire film titled The Dark, an energetic and fierce piece of hard rock. A sample of the track is heard during one of Taylor’s funniest as well as indulgent scenes and is played in full during the end credits. With several successful albums under his belt, most recently Slipknot’s phenomenal 5. The Gray Chapter, Taylor is a welcome addition to the cast and hopefully he’ll have a good future ahead of him as a genre actor as well as being a talented musician.  

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Visually, Fear Clinic is an eyeful of creative and strange imagery, a chance for Robert Green Hall to show off his talents. Hall comes from a make-up artist background, previously having worked in visual effects on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and a number of horror movies. He brings in something unique with the imagery on offer in this feature while also providing a throwback to the twisted visuals present in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, allowing Englund to feel right at home in his horror comforts. The cinematography is stunning and makes the most of the on-screen effects. When Andover is forced through the ambiguous door that has been created through his fear chamber he is bound into a snowy scene where he comes across a corpse-like Paige. There’s a chilling aesthetic on show, capturing the weird yet serene moment. Megan’s (Cleopatra Coleman) arachnophobia sequence is grizzly and heightens a sense of discomfort as she experiences something nasty crawling away inside of her, enough to make us squirm! The ending is a complete spectacle in effects which will leave the audience in amazement, its a Robert Englund transformation like never before!

Fear Clinic is a slow-burning lesson in horror. It has some really strong set pieces and is incredibly well-acted with some interesting ideas all round. It has a couple of weak moments, for example the out of place sex scene between Caylee (Angelina Armani) and Dylan (Brandon Breemer); it doesn’t help that these two are probably the most unlike-able characters in the movie with their incessant angst and moodiness. Thomas Dekker is outstanding as Blake, a victim of the tragedy who bared a worse brunt than the other survivors. Wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged and mollycoddled by his over-bearing mother, Blake has more to overcome than the others and proves to be Andover’s most challenging patient. He must come to terms with his inner demons. Along with Sara’s help and guidance, progress is made but it all leads to a startling revelation that will change the dynamics drastically.

Robert Green Hall has created something triumphant with Fear Clinic, it seeps with potential for future ideas, maybe another possible series that deals with new characters and all kinds of different phobias? or even a sequel despite the conveniently tied-up if not rushed ending that leaves one or two questions unanswered. Defying expectations, the dream team (or should I say nightmare team?!) of Hall, Englund, Dourif and Taylor is a must-see if you love psychological horror movies that tap into the sub-concious.

Following its World Premiere at ScreamFest 2014Fear Clinic is available to own on DVD in the US & UK!

Listen to/ Watch the Fear Clinic themed music video for Stone Sour’s The Dark:

 Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

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Women in Horror Month 666: Top 6 Fierce Females of Recent Horror.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

February means one thing for the female horror fan and no it’s not Valentine’s Day! Although if you’d like to get me a fresh, warm, bloody beating heart or a bouquet of red roses, I’m not complaining! (Just Kidding!). It’s the sixth annual Women in Horror Recognition Month. The cause began as a way to reflect and promote female talent within the genre and give support to various groups in horror who are under-represented mainly relating to race and gender and on the whole both together. Horror has been a male-dominated genre for decades and for a long time the traditional horror heroine came in the shape of the all-American white girl. While we’re not completely there yet, things have started to change; we have a range of female directors showcasing their bloodthirsty visions on screen as well as more dynamic roles being created for women in modern horror.

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You can’t really discuss Women in Horror Month without mentioning the twisted twins Jen and Sylvia Soska who have inspired a new generation of female filmmakers and fans alike. Most recently they teamed up with WWE Studios to create the sequel to See No Evil, and just completed their second collaboration with WWE with the action film Vendetta, proving they can take on any genre! 2014 saw Australian director Jennifer Kent gain well-deserved success on her terrifying and unique addition to the genre, The Babadook. All-rounder Jessica Cameron debuted her first directorial effort, inspired by Dead Hooker in a Trunk, titled Truth or Dare which I’m told is incredibly twisted and violent! On the short film circuit, Jill Sixx Gevargizian has recently garnered attention for Call Girl, a menacing little piece that’s interestingly shot, starring Tristan Risk and Laurence R Harvey, and in 2013 Isabel Peppard created an innovative and beautiful stop-motion animation titled Butterflies which was most recently screened at Australia’s Monster Fest. A groundbreaking all female anthology is also on its way, the eagerly anticipated XX that’ll feature segments from Jennifer Chambers Lynch and Mary Harron to name a few.

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For more information on Women in Horror Month 2015, visit Hannah Neurotica’s wonderful website: http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/ which includes AxWound, a blog dedicated to gender and horror. Its a great way to look out for talented women working in the genre today, including an interview with award-winning actress, director and artist Gigi Saul Guerrero. Take a look at the Massive Blood Drive PSA where several of the above names have created short segments to encourage blood donation. This year has proven to be an awesome collection of twisted gender-bending and goreific effects:

As a female horror fan there have been plenty of strong women characters in place over the years to identify with, problematically they have all been created by men and if you agree with Carol Clover’s theory their purpose is to provide an outlet for a male audience which links to iconic characters such as Laurie Strode or Ripley. There are so many ways in which horror needs to move forward and this is just the beginning, we need to see horror movies with a diverse range of strong female heroines of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Genre women are beginning to find their voice and despite the obstacles and challenges we must continue to support this movement so these voices continue to be heard.

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As a dedicated horror fan and reviewer my contribution to raising awareness for women in horror is a countdown of some of the most intriguing and dynamic characters from films all over the world to have emerged from the genre over this past year. This is a look at the well-written and developed characters that made the top titles of 2014 the most talked about horror films. Will they become future genre icons? There’s a strong possibility and here’s why…

WARNING: There will be some spoilers. 

  1. Amelia, The Babadook, Portrayed By Essie Davis.

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While she may not be the most glamorous of characters, single mother Amelia is an unforgettable force that drives the terror in the critically-acclaimed, The Babadook. Suffering from terrible nightmares re-living the tragic night of her husband’s death and the birth of son Samuel, Amelia struggles to hold down her job, care for her boy as well as deal with snide comments from fellow mothers. Amelia is a fragile character, which is interesting in terms of this expectation where lead females in horror have to be strong and kick ass. There’s most definitely a human quality about her as she’s written with honesty and realism which then corresponds wonderfully in how she copes with the threat of the ‘monster under the bed’ trope. For those of you who have seen the film, you’ll know that with Amelia there is more than meets the eye. For a seemingly ordinary character there is much more to her than first imagined.

 

  1. Kylie Bucknell, Housebound, Portrayed By Morgana O’Reilly

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Twenty-something tearaway Kylie Bucknell is an unlikely heroine in Richard Johnstone’s highly entertaining horror/comedy Housebound. Moody, cynical and antagonistic, Kylie is the opposite of the traditional lead female protagonist in terms of likability. She isn’t best pleased to be put under house arrest after she is caught robbing an ATM machine. What makes matters worse is she is forced back under the same roof as her overbearing, yet well-intentioned mother who has her suspicions that their house must be haunted. Johnstone claimed he wanted to create a leading lady that ‘wouldn’t scare easily’ which works perfectly as along with Kylie the audience is able to remain as sceptical as she is until further developments are revealed over the course of the film. There is certainly something different about her, she’s frustrating yet endearing to a degree. Her characterisation comes full circle as she shows she isn’t afraid to take risks and proves to be resourceful when it comes to saving the day.

 

  1. Anna Peterson, The Guest, Portrayed By Maika Monroe

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Anna is the only daughter of the grief-stricken Peterson family, the subjects of Adam Wingard’s fantastical love letter to 80’s action flicks, The Guest. Smart and sophisticated, Anna is one step ahead of her family in figuring out there is something darker at play when it comes to their mysterious new house guest, David who claims to have fought alongside their deceased son in war. Incredibly stylish with an awesome taste in music, Anna is no fool and will do what it takes to survive and protect her family even if it means taking on an unstoppable force in the shape of experiment-gone-horribly wrong David. Anna carefully researches who she’s up against, aligning her facts before facing confrontation. On the whole she is just an average girl in an extraordinary situation however manages to outlive a number of armed military men! Anna is The Guest’s standout female character and a surprising survivor.

 

  1. Louise, Spring, Portrayed By Nadia Hilker

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Beautiful, mystical and enchanting, Louise is the core female character in the most romantic genre film of the year. She captures the heart of protagonist Evan in the idyllic Italian setting. Louise harbours a dark secret that threatens their entire romance but also enhances the vulnerability behind the confident exterior she projects. Louise is charismatic, charming and fun but also enigmatic and fearful. She has a naturalistic quality to her under the monster movie metaphor as she represents the fears and anxieties of beginning a new relationship and having that jeopardised if the other person was to discover something ‘different’ about the person they’re with. At times she comes across as a lonely creature that holds herself back but at the same she has a lot to offer. Louise is a captivating yet complex character and unique within her own mythology (you’ll have to watch the film to find out more!).

 

  1. Amy, See No Evil 2, Portrayed by Danielle Harris

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If you read my review of the Soska’s most recent feature See No Evil 2, you’ll be aware I wasn’t 100% sold on the film. Its redeeming feature for me was Scream Queen Danielle Harris’s portrayal of morgue attendant Amy. Amy is forced to cancel her birthday plans when a number of blood-soaked bodies slaughtered by serial killer Jacob Goodnight arrive at the hospital causing her to become stuck on the graveyard shift. Her loyal friends subsequently bring the party to her, unknowingly offering up fresh victims to the not-so-dead killer. In typical post-modern slasher style, Amy has been written with depth, allowing the audience to empathize and root for her as we should for a traditional final girl. What makes Amy all the more heartbreaking is her view on life and reasons for working in the morgue instead of chasing her ambitions as well as the unexpected twist on the character making her part in the film all the more meaningful. Amy is See No Evil 2’s saving grace, strong, intelligent and endearing, there’s a reason Danielle Harris is the ‘final girl’ because she plays roles like this incredibly well.

 

  1. Eva Sanchez, The Purge: Anarchy, Portrayed By Carmen Ejogo

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A character unaware of her full potential until her whole world is thrown into chaos. Eva Sanchez is a hard worker, trying to get by and earn whatever little money she can to provide for her ill father and teenage daughter. After her father offers himself up for purging to the wealthy in order to pull his family out of debt, Eva locks down her apartment and hopes that she and her daughter make it through the night. However when a scorned enemy breaks in and attempts to murder them, Eva and Cali are thrust out onto the streets. Luckily they join forces with a mysterious protector named Frank who has a hidden agenda, followed by a young couple also caught up in the anarchy when their car is jacked. Eva proves headstrong and somewhat of a leader as she works along with Frank to ensure the groups safety. Eva is compassionate and fierce; she comes to realize her true strength when faced with a harrowing ordeal.

Do you agree with my choices, are there any other kick ass females of recent movies that should have made the list? Feel free to comment below or tweet me on @hayleyr1989.

As a special extra, here’s something a little Nasty from the Ghostface Girls:

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

See No Evil 2 (2014)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS**

Earlier this year I discussed which genre films I was eager to see in 2014 and anything with the Soska name on it was most definitely going to appeal. Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia have brought something groundbreaking to a male-dominated genre with their unique and versatile films, Dead Hooker in a Trunk (a love letter to Grindhouse and proof of what you can accomplish on a low-budget) and of course the beloved American Mary, the darkly stylish, character-focused and empowered 2012 hit. Since then the Twisted Twins have been hot property on the horror scene and fans around the world anticipated their next project. When it was first announced that they would be collaborating with WWE studios on a sequel to a forgettable 2006 slasher, See No Evil the scepticism set in. Working within the confines of a studio would place restrictions on the twins creatively dark minds, however one thing’s for certain, their take on See No Evil would be far superior than the original.

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Prior to watching Jacob Goodnight’s latest slasher outing, I decided to check out the 2006 instalment for background as admittedly I hadn’t heard of the film until the sequel was announced. See No Evil is arguably one of the laziest slasher films ever created. It came at a time when the horror genre was dominated by extreme, shock cinema most popularly Saw and Hostel. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a stab at the sub-genre much like Adam Green successfully achieved with Hatchet, See No Evil added nothing. Its story is flimsy to non-existent, its poorly acted and Jacob Goodnight (played by WWE Superstar Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs) can’t be taken seriously as a villain, especially with the bits of dialogue he gets that comes off as unintentionally hammy. Kane comes across as a really awesome guy but there isn’t much material he could really work with. Clearly all that was expected was for him to emulate a Jason Voorhees type-monster because its proved successful in the past. See No Evil was as if Friday the 13th met Carrie in a really bad way and let’s not forget the cartoonish CGI effects. When going in to the first one, I had been pre-warned that its as generic as they come however I didn’t expect it to get my back up as much as it did. Therefore, it was certainly going to be interesting to see how Jen and Sylvia would improve on what can be described as a tedious and poorly-executed film.

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The result:  What’s most striking about the sequel is how flawless the cinematography and direction is, the twins demonstrate their love and appreciation for the genre as well as blending in the stylishness of American Mary, especially in the wonderfully constructed opening sequence which is a true treat for fans. Visually the film has a certain edge about it, there’s some excellent performances on show and some chilling, unexpected moments but despite this, I wasn’t entirely sold on the film which partially could be down to high expectations from two of my favourite female filmmakers and dismissing the fact that they didn’t have full creative control as with their previous projects. Or maybe because I wasn’t a fan of the first one this was also unlikely strike a chord.

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See No Evil 2 picks up literally where the first one left off. Jacob Goodnight and the bodies of his unfortunate victims are rushed to the morgue following the bloodbath at the Blackwell hotel. Amy (Danielle Harris) is then forced to abandon her birthday plans and deal with the aftermath of Jacob’s massacre. Her friends decide to bring the party to her, their a quirky group who get more than they bargained for when a few drinks turns into a fight for their lives after Jacob mysteriously wake’s up ready to slaughter all over again!

The morgue setting is a great choice, its dark, confined and death is everywhere, Jacob has a string of different weapons at his disposal as the latest bunch of characters attempt to run and hide! In this sense the film really does show a glimmer of promise.

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While See No Evil 2 is an improvement on the first, some of the same problems remain in the sense of it being generic and a million miles away from what the Soska’s are truly capable of. The characters have very little to offer and are stereotypical to the point that they could be found in any slasher movie. There were suggestions in the trailer that this would probably be some kind of satirical commentary on typical slasher films and that it would potentially push the boundaries due to the Katharine Isabelle dry humping Kane’s body scene. But sadly it is what it is, a conventional slasher made to cash in on the genre, a financial boost for WWE. As its so formulaic, by the time the film challenges what its set up, it comes in too late.

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With that said, seasoned Scream Queen Danielle Harris is phenomenal as Amy, she’s a character we care for and the twist on her final girl status is interesting. Amy is the only real character is written with any depth with the others as throwaway. Harris of course shows us why she is incredible at the leading female role. Kaj-Erik Eriksen is sympathetic as love interest and co-worker Seth, probably the nicest character in the film, which is again superior to the original as there wasn’t one likeable character in it. Katharine Isabelle plays Tamara vastly different from Mary Mason which proves her talent as an actress. She clearly has a lot of fun with the role as its completely over the top but for me that was to the point of obnoxiousness. Tamara is similar to Gibb, Isabelle’s ‘party girl’ role in 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason but a bit more kinky and twisted, its a shame that wasn’t expanded on some more.

The whole premise of See No Evil 2 and the original does just feel senseless. Its a forced plot with a generic killer. There’s attempts at ‘humanizing’ Jacob but he’s just too underdeveloped for that. The repressed ‘mummy issues’ as a motive has been done to the death . There’s something about it that feels rushed and not thought through very well. Its a shame the twins didn’t get the opportunity to write it as we could be seeing a much greater film. Seeing them work with another screenwriters script is interesting. Their signature style is there but the content itself doesn’t match up to it.

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The disappointment is that I really wanted to like this a lot. Jen and Sylvia Soska are incredibly talented people and idols to women within the genre and fans of the genre alike. It just seems that they are worth more than a run-of-the-mill slasher. See No Evil 2 is wholeheartedly better than the original and its clear a great deal of effort was put in this time round but its fair to say Jacob Goodnight should really say Good Night!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: Halloween: 20 Years Later, H20 (1998)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

It wouldn’t be Halloween month without a revisiting a film from this well-loved franchise. This time round we’re swapping Haddonfield for sunny California; where Laurie Strode returns under a new identity for a showdown with her murderous long-lost brother, 20 years after the night HE came home. Halloween: 20 Years Later or most commonly referred to as H20 (easily confused with the chemical name for water!) unsurprisingly returned to the slasher screen following the resurgence in popularity for the sub-genre thanks to Scream. Miramax’s genre based film company Dimension garnered success with Scream and also owned the rights to the Halloween franchise so it made perfect sense to attempt to generate another horror hit. Considering fans were disappointed with the outcome of the sixth film in the franchise, The Curse of Michael Myers following negative feedback at test screenings that resulted in cuts, another film in the series was therefore a must.

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Twenty years following the Haddonfield Halloween Massacre, Michael Myers breaks into the home of Dr. Sam Loomis and steals confidential papers that contain information about his long-lost sister’s whereabouts while slashing his way through some brand new victims including Joseph Gordon-Levitt in an early role. Now, we’re in the post-Scream era, there needed to be a big important opening death scene to convey that anything can happen. Nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) Loomis’s nurse in the first film was therefore one of the first to be butchered by Michael. Under the new identity of Keri Tate, Laurie is now a headmistress at Hillcrest Academy, still living in fear of the traumatic events she suffered at the hands of Myers while raising a teenage son and turning to alcoholism to cope. Soon enough Laurie is confronted by her past as Michael continues to kill until he gets to her.

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In the late 90’s every slasher poster was constructed by featuring images of the cast posing with their ‘afraid faces’ at the forefront, spawned after the success of Fisherman stalk n’ slash flick I Know What You Did Last Summer. Typically a famous rapper of the time (in this case LL Cool J) would also star and be a main attraction on the cover to y’know be hip! In all fairness LL Cool J gives an entertaining performance in the movie, much better than Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection but we’ll talk about that insulting film later!

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While it wasn’t the worst idea in the world to resurrect this franchise and provide the grizzly showdown fans had been waiting for, H20 goes by in a blur with a short run time of 86 minutes, making it the shortest of all the Halloween movies to unsatisfying effect. There’s heaps of potential there to explore while placing the story in a 90’s context. Laurie Strode’s arc is strong, Jamie Lee Curtis packs a punch in her performance and updates Laurie from frightened teenager to a headstrong but damaged woman. Ultimately, H20 is Laurie’s story however the inclusion of younger teen characters didn’t bring as much depth as it could have which has its short run time to blame; causing the film to feel rushed and underdeveloped. Fresh off the new teen show at the time, Dawson’s Creek, Michelle Williams starred as Molly Cartwell. Williams is the one actress in the film that didn’t receive enough screen-time which was a shame considering how talented she is, there was potential for a new scream-Queen in the making rather than just the ‘girlfriend’ archetype. To its credit, while slightly bloodier than the 1978 original, H20 didn’t go down the gratuity route with the camera lingering on gruesome death scenes like studios had insisted on with previous sequels in order to keep up with horror trends. It managed to keep the spirit of Halloween while generating its own edge to determine that a Halloween movie could translate into post-modern 90’s horror.

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In general the Halloween franchise is a problematic mess in terms of its story arc. H20 decisively ignored the presence of IV, V and The Curse of Michael Myers. Part IV indicated that Laurie Strode had died in a tragic accident leaving a daughter she had around 1980 in the care of foster parents. Her apparent husband only referred to as Mr. Lloyd was also killed. Clearly the idea was to awaken the terror all over again, ten years after the Haddonfield massacre with Laurie 2.0. Same story, different characters with links back to the original. Young Jamie Lloyd (the first horror role for Danielle Harris) was subsequently targeted by her psychotic uncle throughout the span of three films. Jamie (later played by J.C. Brandy) eventually met her demise in the sixth part, The Curse of Michael Myers, prior to that she had a child.

Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s forgotten daughter.

 

In H20, its revealed that Laurie faked her own death to escape her evil brother all those years ago. There’s no mention of the daughter she would have practically abandoned or the notion of a grandchild, however as mentioned Laurie does have a teenage son John Tate (Josh Hartnett). John is seventeen in the film to make it all the more fitting that he’s the same age his mother was when she was originally targeted by Myers. The time span between Laurie faking her own death and then having another child doesn’t really add up, considering John would have been born in 1981.  It has been said in  Kevin Williamson’s (Writer of Scream & Scream 2) original idea, there was to be a scene where the Jamie Lloyd arc was acknowledged. A bitchy student at Hillcrest Academy reads out a class report on Michael Myers reign of terror discussing what happened to Jamie. The revelations become too much for Laurie, who is seen to flee the classroom to throw up. Many fans tend to place the 1978 movie, 1981 sequel and H20 as in canon with parts 4-6 set in a separate universe while avoiding the horrible Halloween: Resurrection completely.

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Laurie’s seventeen year old son, John Tate.

 

The idea for Halloween: 20 Years Later initially came about when Jamie Lee Curtis expressed interest in developing a movie to mark the anniversary of one of slasher film’s greatest. Excitingly John Carpenter was named as a possible director and Curtis eagerly wanted to collaborate with him again. Carpenter did agree to direct but with a starting fee of $10 million which he deemed as fair after some financial problems with the revenue following the original Halloween. His salary for H20 would have been his compensation however when he was refused the money he made the decision to step away from directing a further sequel. The directorial reigns ended up in the hands of Steve Miner, director of Friday the 13th Part II and III. Its possible that if Carpenter had been director then fans may have experienced an even better film than the final product despite Miner’s horror background.

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As previously mentioned the initial treatment for H20 was written by Kevin Williamson. Known for his edgy and witty dialogue and ability to challenge horror conventions incredibly well. If Williamson had written the finished screenplay and teamed up with Carpenter as director, much like his pairing with Wes Craven two years previous then H20 could have been even bigger than Scream. There were attempts in H20 at being meta. When the characters of Sarah (Jodi Lynn O’Keefe) and Molly (Michelle Williams) are preparing for their Halloween party, the scene where Cici Cooper (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is terrorized by Ghostface in Scream 2 plays on the television. The purpose of this was to break the fourth wall. In Scream, Jamie Kennedy’s character Randy Meeks dissected and analysed the first Halloween film as part of constructing the rules of the horror genre. Incorporating the Cici death scene in H20 came as a homage. Originally, it was said that Sarah and Molly were to be watching So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) with an in-joke that they were watching a film starring Mike Myers which in terms of irony works a lot better. The Scream 2 clip was added in post-production as a nod to Williamson’s involvement.

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Another reference to Scream is where Laurie tells her son and his girlfriend to “go down the street to the Becker’s house” which is of course referring to Drew Barrymoore’s short-lived character Casey Becker who spectacularly opens the first Scream movie. However in Halloween, there is a similar line which is “go down the street to the McKenzie’s house”, it was also uttered in the Barrymoore death scene. The most meta aspect of all was the casting of Jamie Lee Curtis’s real life mother Janet Leigh as her secretary Norma. Leigh was of course famous for her portrayal of Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960) and is even accompanied with the original car from the legendary film. Having these two appear together in the film is a real joy for fans especially with the tongue-in-cheek dialogue between them. Curtis and Leigh had starred alongside each other in John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) however their characters did interact as much, sharing only one scene to my recollection. P.J. Soles was asked to play the role of Norma Watson initially but was sceptical toward the idea of playing a different character to Lynda, her character from the 1978 film who was killed off.

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John Ottoman composed the score for this instalment but was however displeased after part of the Scream score by Marco Beltrami was placed in during post-production as producers opted for a darker, 90s slasher edge. The inclusion of Mr Sandman performed by The Chordettes to open the film on the Dimension logo added in a nice touch and brought in a reference to the old school Halloween. Another controversial aspect of production that was discussed in documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006) was a dispute regarding the masks used for Michael Myers. Several re-shoots were done with a CGI mask inserted over footage of Chris Durand (The Myers Actor) and in total 4 masks were created.

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H20 opened  in the August of 1998 to a mix of reviews. Many were disappointed with its ignorance of previous instalments while other criticized its slow pace. It is a difficult film to watch considering the knowledge of what came after it especially with how final this film feels. Laurie’s battle with Myers is one of epic proportions, providing the satisfying closure the series deserved as she unapologetically slays him with an axe. It is considered one of the more favourable sequels and is second highest grossing instalment within the franchise, next to Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake.  As a stand alone it has its moments. The cinematography is stunning, romanticizing the Halloween season, capturing the holiday incredibly well. Even though underdeveloped the young cast do well with the given material. Josh Hartnett is believable as Cutis’s teenage son and Curtis herself delivers a phenomenal and unforgettable performance.

Laurie face to face with her evil brother is one of the film’s most iconic moments.

H20 is one to watch this Halloween because despite its flaws it wouldn’t be Halloween without it and it has Laurie Strode kick some psychopath ass!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

See No Evil 2 Trailer (2014)

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Forget 50 Shades of Grey, the first trailer for See No Evil 2 is now available online. Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska’s eagerly anticipated follow up to their 2012 hit American Mary looks set to be a crowd pleaser, full of dark humour,  tongue in cheek slasher references and entertaining performances with an equally grim tone. The film also marks their first collaboration with WWE, with wrestler Kane reprising his role as psycho killer Jacob Goodnight. This time round sees him terrorizing a group of unsuspecting medical students. A major highlight will be seeing Scream Queens Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Ginger Snaps) and Danielle Harris (Halloween IV & V, Hatchet II & III) on screen together. Isabelle looks as if she’s set to bring in an entertaining and comedic performance while Harris proves why she plays the strong horror heroine incredibly well. October 17th sees the On Demand and Digital HD release while it will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on the 21st according to Bloody DisgustingSee No Evil 2 looks a real treat for fans, and I’m sure Jen and Sylvia once again will show us why they’re growing icons of the genre.

Check out the trailer here:

Hear from the Twisted Twins themselves discussing the movie at the San Diego Comic Con, where they announce that See No Evil 2 contains a never before seen murder sequence in any movie!

 

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (12-10)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

To continue the celebration of the fifth annual Women in Horror Recognition month, here’s some more feisty, fearless and fiendish females to sink your teeth into.

I would like to thank everyone for all your kind comments on Twitter regarding my work on this site and collaborations with Caitlyn Downs, it is very much appreciated and I’m glad you all enjoy the HORROR as much as I do!

Again there will be spoilers included therefore if you have not seen the films that feature these gory girls I’m about to discuss you have been warned!!

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12. Nancy Downs, The Craft (1996)

  • Played By Fairuza Balk
  • Directed By Andrew Fleming
  • Written By Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming

Nancy-the-craft2  Welcome to the witching hour! This is the first supernatural woman of horror to feature in this countdown. 90’s fantasy/horror The Craft tells the story of four teenage witches who dabble in the occult for their own gain. It has become a  quiet, cult hit over the years and for me was one of the most significant films that dealt with both concepts of witchcraft and female empowerment. I first saw the film during my younger teen years, it proved impressionable and did influence me to dabble a little bit in Wicca without the negative effects of course! As mentioned The Craft featured four, young teenage girls all with their own issues and abilities however the standout character has to be troubled goth Nancy Downs. Fairuza Balk plays this antagonistic character with malice and a side of kookiness in an expressive performance. Nancy is the witch that takes her spell-casting too far, raising her levels of insanity as she loses control of all the destructive events in her life. When we first meet the gothic witch she is reluctant to accept new girl Sarah (Robin Tunney) into her coven which also consists of Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True) but caves in when Bonnie insists they require a fourth member and Sarah is definitely “the one”. Nancy’s jealousy of Sarah grows throughout the film especially when her user ex boyfriend Chris (Skeet Ulrich) develops an interest in Sarah. In this case she demonstrates notions of sisterhood warning Sarah of Chris’s notorious reputation, also informing her she contracted an STD from him. When it comes to the crunch she provides him with his just desserts by using her powers of telekinesis and glamouring  to push him out a window. Her home life isn’t much better, her mother’s seedy boyfriend often makes inappropriate remarks toward her and is abusive toward her mother, when enough is enough she uses her powers to cause him to have a heart attack.

Essentially Nancy is a murderer and grows more and more psychotic as the film goes on. Nancy’s hostility is down to rejection from her school mates, broken home life and negative sexual experiences. She is treated like an outsider and does embrace that to a degree by manipulating the elements around her. Nancy grows into a very powerful witch which is presented as a metaphor for a deep addiction. Her complex relationship with Sarah is interesting to watch, in the beginning she uses Sarah as a gateway to explore her own powers, they do bond however Sarah becomes frightened of what Nancy is capable of. Sarah’s only choice is to strip Nancy of her powers leaving her completely insane by the film’s end. The last we see of her is locked away in a mental institution unable to harm again. This is where Fairuza Balk really showcases her acting talents in an unforgettably disturbing scene. Nancy is one of the most feared women on this list and left a trail of destruction behind her. Twisted, stylish and completely derailed Nancy deserves a worthy place as a woman of horror  as an example of a woman who’s perhaps too influential with more than she can handle.

11. Feral Woman, The Woman (2011).

  • Played By Pollyanna McIntosh
  • Directed By Lucky McKee
  • Written By Jack Ketchum

thewoman  The Woman is undeniably one of the most thought-provoking and disturbing pieces of horror to emerge so far this decade. The character of the feral woman is an interesting and different addition to the countdown as unlike the other characters included she hasn’t been conditioned into being an empowered female through specific gender ideals within society or her relationships with men. She is independent through her own means and has had to be tough through surviving in the wild. She is a fascinating study of a person who lacks social experience, displaying animalistic tendencies and how that contrasts women born into a society dominated by men. Through being known as simply “The Woman” it evokes a sense of ambiguity as to who she is and who she potentially could be. The film’s prime focus is on one middle-class male’s twisted experiment to “civilize” her into being submissive to him just like he’s enforced on his own wife and daughters. Unfortunately for sicko Chris Cleek (Sean Bridges) he may have asked for more than he bargained for! Through tormenting The Woman with torturous devices he only maintains a certain level of control. Cleek can only restrain The Woman but without those means the level of control is reversed and without knowing right from wrong she is not held responsible for what she is capable of. The Woman herself signifies the core of what it is to be a female being by taking away all the teachings and expectations women have been put upon and forced to accept throughout history. For Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), Cleek’s conflicted daughter, The Woman represents an outlet for her to explore her full potential, signifying strength and independence. The Woman is a character that’s so close to the bone as she defines an overwhelmingly strong female, challenging the concepts set out by traditional gender roles and society’s expectations. The Woman certainly entices and welcomes feminist readings as her character construction of what she symbolizes is intriguing in several ways in relation to how she’s compared to the more obedient women within the film.

10. Marybeth Dunston, Hatchet II (2010)

  • Played By Danielle Harris
  • Written and Directed By Adam Green

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell  With Adam Green’s 80’s throwback, splatter-fest Hatchet series, as well as a recognizable new killer, the films have presented the ideal, modernized final girl in the shape of Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris). Despite being played by another actress, Tamara Feldman in the first Hatchet installment, it’s legendary “Scream Queen” Danielle Harris’s performance that has shone through in the follow-up sequel as the young woman, tormented and hell-bent on revenge against murderous monster Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). The strength that lies in Marybeth’s character is that she is self-aware, determined and fearless, willing to go to any lengths in order to defeat her opponent. She originally encounters the grotesque Hatchet-Face when its discovered that her father and brother were brutally murdered following a fishing trip to the murky swamp. With only one culprit in mind, Marybeth enlists the help of the cryptic Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) and a number of hunters and gunmen to assist her in yet another swamp visit to obliterate Crowley once and for all. When it comes down to the crunch, Marybeth is the one left standing as the bodies pile up. She certainly doesn’t hold back in the badass stakes as she takes Crowley on head first releasing all that pent-up anger by repeatedly bashing his head in with his own weapon. She then fittingly finishes off the job with a shotgun with no qualms about getting covered in blood! Marybeth is always one step ahead and outsmarts Reverend Zombie with his own dark plans to rid the world of Hatchet-Face. This also means that Marybeth has to deal with more than one villain in order to gain what she desires but still emerges the hero. Adam Green has written a final girl who is feisty, sophisticated, resourceful and capable. Marybeth’s character is the embodiment of what audiences need to be seeing from a final girl in recent times. It’s as if she represents a particular stock character who has evolved as the decades have gone on and is horror’s strongest  current example. Instead of hiding from the killer, she takes matters into her own hands, she doesn’t play the victim and has a clear idea about what she wants. Head-strong and smart, Marybeth is the prime reason to watch the Hatchet films, strong women don’t get any better than this. I’d like to note that I’ve yet to see the third Hatchet film. Despite hearing some unpopular opinions it will still be an interesting watch to see what Marybeth does next when she is faced yet again with the gruesomely gore-tastic Victor Crowley.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: Hatchet (2006)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

In last week’s entry examining Friday the 13th I briefly discussed its influence on the slasher movies that came after it. Hatchet is one of the most recent examples of taking the slasher formula and updating it into a modern setting with characters that play the scenario straight resulting in comic effect. Despite wreaking of everything that screams ’80’s horror’, when Hatchet was released in 2006 it was the refreshing film that gore-hounds craved. That year, remakes were becoming more prominent with re-imaginings of The Hills Have Eyes, When a Stranger Calls and Black Christmas. A couple of less-good sequels to popular modern franchises also emerged such as Final Destination 3 and the terribly unnecessary I’ll Always Know what you did Last Summer and due to the success of films such as Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005), torture porn had gained immense popularity. Hatchet was all about bringing back the old-school slasher film and offering us a whole new murderous monster to hack n’ slash a group of hapless unsuspecting victims, who haven’t quite comprehended the tropes of the horror movie. But the real treat for genre enthusiasts was seeing the legends that are Rober Englund (Freddy Kruger), Tony Todd (Candyman) and Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) starring in the same movie together, making it a cut above the rest of the offerings that emerged that year.

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Hatchet incorporates a sinister swamp setting with wildlife around every corner as well as the spooky Mardi-Gras theme that was also the main setting in Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (1995). The plot is your typical horror fare, a group of misfits take a ‘haunted’ boat tour of an abandoned swamp. Despite being forewarned by Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) the local voodoo shop owner, college students Ben (Joel David Moore) and Marcus (Deon Richmond) decide to go ahead with the plan so that Ben can take his mind off his recent break-up. They soon meet Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) a young woman who knows more than she’s letting on about why she seeks out the swamp. Its soon revealed that her father and brother have gone missing during a fishing trip and she’s hell bent on discovering their whereabouts. Viewers already know they’ve been brutally murdered during the films opening sequence. Also along for the ride are tour guide Shawn (Parry Shen), a comic relief character, an older married couple Jim (Richard Riehle) and Shannon (Partika Darbo), Doug Sharpio (Joel Murray), a pervert who promises young girls an acting career while exploiting them through getting them to display nudity for his own gratification and the air-headed eye candy duo Misty (Mercedes McNab) and Jenna (Joleigh Fivoravanti). These characters are in place as exaggerated caricatures of expected horror victims,  ready to be sliced and diced by the Hatchet face himself. The amount of comedy in the film does verge on parody as it doesn’t take itself completely seriously. Let’s just say it sits firmly in between the Scream films and the Scary Movie spoofs. Director Adam Green stated in the behind-the-scenes featurette that his intention was to separate the horror and comedy. There’s plenty of blood and boobs galore, but Green admitted he wanted to present female nudity in the film as comical rather than gratuitous, gently poking fun at the amount of scantily clad women who were hacked up in the films of the past. It actually works well, the death scenes are in-your-face, and the comedy provides laugh out loud moments, nicely complementing each other.

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Victor’s back-story is firmly established yet developed further in the 2010 sequel Hatchet II. The illegitimate child of Thomas Crowley and his mistress, Victor was born deformed due to a curse placed on his mother by Thomas’s wife seconds before her death. The shock of his appearance kills his mother following childbirth leaving Thomas to bring him up alone. On one fateful night, three young boys play a prank on poor Victor, setting fire to his home. Thomas returns in time and attempts to save his only son by breaking him out of the inferno with a hatchet. In a cruel twist of fate, Thomas accidentally catches Victor in the face with the weapon, killing him instantly! Thomas then died of a broken heart. Years later, Victor now haunts the swamp and anyone who dares venture on his land will end up dead by his hands!

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Adam Green, the mastermind behind the macabre, is a self-confessed horror fan and intended to make the movie for die-hard genre enthusiasts like himself who were craving something more than what was being offered. The legend of Victor Crowley was something that Green had on his mind since childhood. He became fascinated by the genre after being shown classic horror movies by his brother including Friday the 13th which is a clear influence on Hatchet. Green was banned from summer camp at the age of eight after learning of an “urban legend” known as the “Hatchet Face”. He developed the story further and recited it to his peers who became totally terrified. It could be fair to argue that Green was a master of horror in the making and as a filmmaker has a lot of potential. Green comes across as confident, knowing exactly how he envisioned the project which in turn gained him a lot of support to finally get the film made. He was precise about how he wanted shots framed and made the decision to shoot the film on steadi-cam to provide an edgy, authentic feel to the piece. It became an honour to have the three big horror stars or ghouls involved in the production and every fans dream to cross paths with Englund, Todd and Hodder. Green intended to provide empathy for each of his characters including Victor, while the ensemble cast do come across as stereotypical, they are likeable enough compared to most horror movie victims but its not too devastating when they’re bumped off. Adam Green is inspirational and proves that gaining creative control of the film you want to make is possible as well as obtaining a recognisable and talented cast.

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The tagline gets straight to the point and describes the film at its best, “Its not a Remake. It’s not a Sequel. And it’s not based on a Japanese One.” Demonstrating the film delivers exactly what it sets out to do while providing a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the state of the horror genre. Ironically, Green used this particular tagline as it came to him in the shape of a rejection letter from a major studio, who liked his script but didn’t feel it fit into the criteria of what was popular in horror during that time. Victor Crowley is a hideous monster echoing back to the inbred’s from films such as The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn. He certainly doesn’t hold back and is one of the most brutal screen killers. By the time Victor’s done killing in elaborate and gruesome ways, it gets pretty messy in terms of gore. The special effects team impressively went back to basics when creating nasty kills for the film, disregarding CGI in order to bring back some authenticity. But Victor’s screen presence is down to more that just his hideous make up effects, Kane Hodder has already mastered the role as the hack happy serial killer after playing legendary Jason Voorhees on a number of occasions. Hodder brings both brutality and empathy to the role spawning yet another potential iconic role for the actor. He plays two roles during the film, the second being Thomas Crowley, Victor’s heartbroken father and he does so make-up free which provides an interesting contrast.

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Marybeth acts as the embodiment of the modern final girl. She’s resourceful, sharp and attractive. She knows what she wants and will stop at no lengths until she’s defeated the beast. She’s likeable and easy to relate to and the driving force of the film. Tamara Feldman delivers a decent performance, however my preference does lie with Danielle Harris’s portrayal in the sequel. She’s the perfect Scream Queen and brings in an even feistier performance, if you’ve seen the ending of Hatchet II you’ll know what I mean in terms of how badass she is. The reason behind Feldman’s absence in the future Hatchet films was allegedly due to Green deciding she wasn’t in a good place in terms of the career choices she was making, therefore let her go. Sadly, she lost out on the opportunity of creating an iconic modern final girl. Green admitted he was unsure about casting Joel David Moore for Ben, the male lead. Eventually he came to the decision that despite unconventional, he was ideal for the role and it goes to show as he plays the insecure adorable geek to Deon Richmond’s confident, self-assured best friend archetype.

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Hatchet comes ten years after Scream re-vamped the horror genre. In an interesting comparison, Scream was revolutionary for killing off one of Hollywood’s biggest actresses, Drew Barrymore in the opening moments. Hatchet takes this trope and challenges it further in its opening sequence by killing off Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund. It demonstrates the development of post-modernity by making one of cinema’s legendary horror icons one of the first victims. In an attempt to shock the audience and similarly to what Scream set out to do, shows them that anything will be possible during the reminder of the film. Hatchet doesn’t attempt to outright critique the genre, but it does incorporate a few self-referential moments, an example would be Misty’s ringtone playing “I don’t want to wait” by Paula Cole, the theme song for the successful teen show Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003). Dawson’s Creek was of course written by Scream writer Kevin Williamson and provided a sense of actor allusion for Mercedes McNab who guessed starred in the show during its fifth season in the episode Downtown Crossing (#5.15) in 2002.

The use of Marilyn Manson’s This is the New Shit during the credit sequence at the beginning just adds to the film’s awesomeness. Instead of a set score, it shows how a modern soundtrack can operate and evoke a powerful response within the audience, setting the tone for what they’re about to see. The song is harsh, heavy rock and suits the piece perfectly as it blasts in after the first kills, enhancing the viewing experience.

But was the film enough to turn horror on its head? Unfortunately no, despite being a labour of love and appealing to genre fans, critics gave mixed reviews. The majority deemed it as too ironic to carry a horror film despite it echoing back to he old school. Rather than offering something new, Hatchet provided fans with what they wanted to see. Its a reminder of how brutal and funny real horror can be and what made us love the older films such as Friday 13th, My Bloody Valentine and Sleepaway Camp in the first place. That’s the reason you should head to the swamp, avoid the alligators and don’t piss off a vengeful ghost this Halloween! I also recommend checking out Hatchet II, it ups its game and is slightly superior to the original. There’s more Tony Todd, the deaths are even more extreme, the backstory unravels further and Danielle Harris’s Marybeth is on top form, the comedy also cuts back in favour of emotional depth.

So if you like extreme 18 rated gore, your favourite horror stars and the essence of black comedy, Hatchet is the film for you!

Sources:

Adam Green, Shock Till You Drop Interview.

The Making of Hatchet from Hatchet DVD (2007).

Hayley Alice Roberts.