Archive for Franchise

DVD Review: The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Posted in Ghostface Girls with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS**

As it is every year, us horror fanatics don’t always get to see all the genre movies we’d like therefore the new year is the perfect time to catch up. I’m not exactly sure how The Purge: Anarchy slipped me by, it made its way onto my list of most anticipated horror of 2014 and played an integral role in  mine and Caitlyn Downs home invasion podcast episode and article as we debated whether the film would begin a whole new horror franchise. Up until viewing I attempted to avoid any sort of spoilers surrounding the crimes/deaths in the film, however when I glimpsed at some of the reviews and imdb forums it appeared that The Purge: Anarchy hadn’t made the expected impact. It even made its way onto some of the worst films of 2014 lists which wasn’t reassuring.

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The Purge: Anarchy is set in a dystopian near future, it uses exactly the same concept from the 2013 James DeMonaco original. The new founding father’s created The Purge, one night of the year where all crime is legal including murder. The Purge is essential to the survival of American society meaning that throughout the year crime, poverty and unemployment statistics are amazingly low. Unlike the 2013 film where the focus is on one middle class suburban family with a home invasion plot, this sequel diverts from that taking the concept in a whole different direction, depicting the wider impact of The Purge on several members of society and also provides a deeper insight into issues of race and class.

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There’s some powerful imagery that suggests a power struggle between upper and lower class, particularly with the masked thug who has ‘GOD’ written on his forehead. As seen in the original film there was prejudice and tension relating to the poor African American male that sought refuge in the Sandin family’s home, this time round the masked thugs are in fact African American, but rather than kill they capture anyone and everyone who are on the streets in exchange for money. An African American protester named Carmelo (Michael Kenneth Williamsis also at the forefront of the chaos, bravely speaking out against the new founding father’s and is joined by Dwayne (Edwin Hodge) the bloody stranger previously mentioned from part one. For everyone involved its all about survival. The sick and twisted ideologies of the upper class is exposed which is most startling with the image of a group of wealthy aristocrats ready to slice up a poor, ill man they have bidded on with a machete in order for him to leave some money behind for his struggling family. The scene is simply implied with no blood or gore in sight but is enough to evoke fear, demonstrating how the purge is designed for the rich to take the upper hand especially with the use of the flashback meaning that his family are too late to save him.

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If you’re a fan of the first, The Purge: Anarchy is unlikely to disappoint. The characters are well written and on the whole likeable which is not always the case with mainstream horror. Its about a group of strangers from different walks of life with different agendas that come together and are forced to trust each other in the ultimate fight for survival.

There’s mother and daughter Eva (Carmen Ejogoand Cali ( Zoë Soulwho are brutally forced out of their home. As an audience we experience the fear along with them as the two are almost brutalized based on their race and status. Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul are electrifying as terrified women who keep away from the carnage every year only to be thrown into it to realize their full potential and strength when it counts.

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Frank Grillo plays the mysterious sergeant Leo Barnes, the anti-hero with an ambiguous agenda. He risks it all in order to protect others but what is his dark secret and what was he doing on the streets during the night of the purge?! Grillo’s performance is intense, everyone’s lives are in his hands and it leaves us to question, can this man really be trusted?

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Finally there’s unfortunate couple Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) who’s car breaks down minutes before The Purge commences. The couple face a difficult stage in their relationship however after being caught up in the chaos of the night, will they make it out alive or will their problems cause distraction? While being the least favourite characters within the film, Liz and Shane are harmless enough and certainly don’t deserve the devastation and panic endured by their unlucky situation.

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Acceptably The Purge: Anarchy won’t hold appeal to everyone especially those not sold by the first one. For me, its still a slick thrill ride of suspense, action and danger with some disturbing yet interesting ideas at play. Its far more explosive than the original and is bold in what it does by not sticking to a repetitive formula. The hybrid of genres with it being a horror, action and thriller makes it all the more gripping. While I wasn’t sold on the idea of any more sequels, The Purge 3 will be hitting cinema screens this summer on the 1st July. DeMonaco is at the helm once again as director therefore it’ll be interesting to see how he refreshes the concept for a third instalment. Admirably the consistency so far of DeMonaco’s vision strengthens the films as a franchise. They are far more intelligent than the churned out Paranormal Activity sequels for sure. The Purge: Anarchy is certainly worth a watch as it once again demonstrates how dangerous a human being can turn if given the ultimate permission to kill!

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader (2014)

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: INCLUDES MINOR SPOILERS**

With certain horror movies its important to remember that not all of them should be taken seriously as more than likely its what the filmmaker intended for it. The ‘midnight movie’ or exploitation flicks have been around for decades, in place to satisfy gore hungry genre goers late at night in independent cinemas known as grindhouse and alternatively drive-in theatre’s. Nowadays they’ve become an integral part of the horror festival experience, us fans will grab a beverage of choice and sit down with a group of like-minded friends (or fiends!) to watch plenty of  blood splatter with added titillation.

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Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader due to receive its premiere on June 21st at NYC’s Tribeca Cinemas is a modern embodiment of this type of horror piece. From Darkstar Entertainment and Director Michael Hall, KGD2 appears to be a labour of love, made for audiences who relish in the demented world of axe-wielding maniacs and plenty of boobs and blood. As stated, movies of this kind aren’t made to be taken seriously, their crazy, bloody fun and in place to celebrate and to an extent critique and parody a genre fans have identified with for years. Ultimately this is what KGD2 is all about however at the same time there comes a point where even the most dedicated horror fan gets a sense of ‘seen it all before’.

There are two plots intertwined within the film, it continues where the first one allegedly left off, focusing on ‘final girl’ Casey (Leah Rudick) who sets out to locate the enigmatic author Charles Carver (Steve Buja) who created a novel (the cover being incredibly referential to 80’s slashers such as Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine) that foreshadowed the brutal murder of her brother. There’s also a typical teenage house party in full swing, complete with the expected horror archetypes, the slut, the jock, the smart girl, the outsider etc. all lined up ready to be sliced and diced by a masked maniac; which again is homage to the 80’s decade mainly responsible for the on-going trend of slasher flicks although their introduction did emerge during the 60’s and 70’s.

In order to capture the essence of us being in a midnight movie is  charismatic, horror hostess Peaches McNeil. She breaks the fourth wall to give her own take of what’s going on within the movie and how it represents existing horror conventions, e.g. the status of the final girl and the repetitiveness of the franchise. Her scenes pop up quite frequently, which at the beginning were both entertaining and clever however the more appearances she has the more irrelevant and overexposed she becomes. The intercut scenes where she doesn’t really  push the plot along does take away the attention to the pace of the action unfolding on screen however her tongue is firmly in cheek throughout.

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The inclusion of the meta-narrative is pretty inventive and slightly strays it away from being just another generic slasher film but at the same time it doesn’t really offer anything that several other similar movies haven’t done before. There’s a homage to the iconic scene in Psycho (1960) which again has been referenced the hell out of for years. I think there has come a point where all that needs to be said about the slasher film has been done to the death even if the film has been intended as a love letter to all the films that have inspired it. It’s a shame as the films opening sequence from the grainy video-tape technique on Darkstar Entertainment’s Logo, to Peaches intro and the first kills really pack a punch!

In terms of production value, KGD2 is of a professional standard. The photography is sharp, the scenes featuring Peaches McNeil are stylish in terms of the fonts and colours used, creating a grindhouse aesthetic. The practical effects are very well executed, there’s attention to detail with the gory moments which adds that extra sense of brutality to them. There’s definitely more of an 80’s/90’s look and tone rather than the grimy alternative present in many films of this nature. The performances are quite enjoyable, the cast appear to revel in their characters, offering up some overblown, teen slasher caricatures. There’s definitely some Dawson Casting at play here with the usual suspension of disbelief that they really are high school kids.

Despite a mixed bag, Kids Get Dead 2: Kids Get Deader knows exactly what its doing and the type of audience its aiming to appeal to. If it influences a new generation of fans then great, but when it comes to the more desensitized viewer there isn’t much there to really challenge in terms of existing tropes; but as a homage it works to some effect. Society has changed, gender roles have changed within the genre and there’s far more interesting angles to explore rather than creating the same type of film over and over again.

Check out the website for info regarding the premiere, promotional material plus merchandise and much, much more:

http://www.kidsgetdead.com/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

 

 

Love Horror: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) Review.

Posted in Love Horror with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

My latest contribution to LoveHorror.co.uk is a review of the latest DVD/Blu-Ray release of ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ (2014). The Marked Ones is the fifth installment in the popular found footage franchise however my review is not very favorable as I decipher how the series has become incredibly tedious even though this entry stepped away from the characters and settings seen in the previous films. Click Here to check out my thoughts.

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Hayleys Horror Reviews will soon celebrate its third gory year of non-stop horror blogging and reviews, I’m open to topic suggestions for a special review to mark the occasion. Feel free to comment via here, facebook or tweet me at @hayleyr1989.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Halloween III Re-boot. (Poll)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following speculation on Bloody Disgusting last month, Dread Central have now confirmed that the Halloween franchise reboot will continue with  the next installment, Halloween 3D. News of a third film emerged at the Cannes film festival, allegedly the Weinstein company are keen to bring Michael Myers back to the big screen however no names are currently attached to the possible third sequel, although a screenplay is in the works. Rob Zombie’s re-imagination of the classic John Carpenter 1978 chiller was released back in 2007 with a direct follow-up in 2009 with Halloween II. Last year Zombie stated that he would not be directing the next Halloween film if anything was to come of it. This leaves the door open for several possibilities and direction that the franchise can be taken in. At this stage its uncertain whether this intends to be a direct sequel to Zombie’s Halloween or a whole new fresh take on Haddonfield’s masked murderer. Let’s not forget that the original Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) stepped away from Michael Myers slashings with its own sinister story surrounding a mask making company, Silver Shamrock. As a cult classic for many, a remake of Season of the Witch wouldn’t be welcomed as it’s a well-loved, stand alone film that didn’t make a massive impact and doesn’t require a re-boot of any kind. Continuing the Myers story could be intriguing especially if a fresh idea is developed set in the present day, it can’t be left at Halloween: Resurrection (2002) surely? The 3D on the other hand feels opportunistic and gimmicky due to the title. Hopefully us Haddonfield horror hounds will hear more developments soon.

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What do you think of yet another Halloween installment? Especially since its hot on the heels of the upcoming Friday the 13th part 2 reboot.

 

For the latest Ghostface Girls Debate on whether The Purge should become the next mainstream horror franchise, click here.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: Curse of Chucky (2013)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS**

Prior to its Fright Fest Premiere back in August, I discussed both my interest and excitement for the new installment from the Child’s Play franchise, Curse of Chucky (2013). With any horror sequel, especially one derived from a long-running series, there’s going to be plenty of skepticism. Does the film need to be made? Will it offer anything distinctive? Will it hold up well with fans? On some level, yes the film was a welcoming addition to the series and ends Chucky on a better note than the atrocious Seed of Chucky (2005) did. I wouldn’t say it offered anything particularly new but it does work well as a suspenseful and scary horror film that does exactly what it sets out to do and meets expectations. As stated, this film was owed to the fans due to the disappointment of the previous film and there is a lot there to enjoy.

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As Curse of Chucky is a new release I won’t give too much of the good stuff away but merely allude to why this is worth watching for Child’s Play and general horror fans alike.

So, Chucky’s back and meaner than ever! The tone of the film differed greatly from the cheesy,  horror comedy of the Bride/Seed of Chucky sequels in favor of a more sinister approach. Director Don Mancini  stated that his intention was to incorporate a different style in comparison to the previous film, and on the whole I can say he achieved this well. The prime setting is a dated, gothic mansion, complete with an old-fashioned elevator that looks eerily similar to the one that Frank-N-Furter makes his entrance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), creating a set up for plenty of scares!

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Nica (Fiona Dourif- Brad Dourif’s real life daughter) is confined to a wheel chair and has let life restrict her due to caring for her mentally ill mother Sarah (Chantal Qusenelle). We see glimpses of their strained relationship however its soon cut short by the mysterious arrival of Good Guy Doll Chucky (the vessel of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, who was gunned down in a toy store and transferred his soul into a doll- for those that didn’t know!). Nica discovers her dead mother and assumes it was suicide. We then meet the rest of the characters, her snobby sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti), she’s pretty much unlikable but there is an interesting twist to her character that challenges the stereotypical dominant career-woman/wife and mother who has a blatant identity crisis. There’s her adorable daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) who does very well in the film for her age, especially acting innocently to Chucky’s crude manner. A favorite line had to be when she uttered “Chucky, I’m scared” during a storm sequence, his reply, “you f***ing should be!”, her reaction is priceless. There’s Barb’s put-upon husband Ian (Brennan Elliott) who may be more self-aware of his families issues than meets the eye, he also seems attracted to their Nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) who is bizarrely being paid $400 an hour to take care of their daughter. Father Frank (A. Martinez), a reverend is also there to console the family but its doubtful that religion will go down too well with the murderous Chucky (Voiced by Brad Dourif).

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So what can push a dysfunctional family over the edge even further? Well throw in a killer doll of course, hell bent on revenge. Chucky has a score to settle, one that began twenty-five years ago with Nica’s family. This film is the missing piece of the puzzle, we get an insight into the backstory of Charles Lee Ray, before he terrorized innocent Andy Barclay all those years ago. The discovery gives him a bit more depth, even though it isn’t a particularly shocking twist. I’m assuming Mancini intended to provide a sense of empathy for him however it doesn’t translate too well as he is irredeemable by this point. That said, uncovering the mystery of what Chucky wants with the family throughout the film is pretty enjoyable viewing.

Tension is built up well however is slightly drawn out at times. The viewer is brought to the edge of their seats and are pushed that bit further, especially during the family dinner scene. During the tense moments, a lot of close ups are used, conveying a sense of uncomfortableness not knowing when Chucky will jump out around the corner or when a false alarm will occur. There are some genuine jump scare moments, which shows that Mancini has upped his game in terms of improving the series by using old skool techniques to create a sense of suspense and fear, a favorite would be the creepy elevator scene. The original film is echoed back to a great deal in this sense, visually, with Chucky menacingly running around, through using close ups of his feet and POV shots.

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Why is Curse of Chucky one to watch this Halloween, You ask? Its always fun to check out a new horror movie however this one obviously has the nostalgia factor. “The 80’s were awesome!” exclaims Ian as he recalls the popularity of the Good Guy Dolls, however I do wonder why it wasn’t discontinued after being associated with numerous murders! Fiona Dourif’s Nica is very likeable and is much stronger and resourceful than the rest of the characters, especially when it comes to taking matters into her own hands, she certainly holds her own when encountered with the evil doll. There’s some hilarious yet dark one-liners, Chucky is back on top form and his killings have got a bit more gruesome and with the perfect 18 certificate the gore goes all out! The ending is surprising with a twist that will be very appealing to its fans. Its also a very good introduction to Chucky for those unfamiliar with the previous installments as it shows him at his dark best and provides a clear backstory. With relief the series has also avoided the inevitable horror remake making a sequel of this kind more welcoming. I could go as far as saying this is my favorite film from the series but I have a lot of affection for Bride of Chucky as well as the original trilogy! For a fun, scary and suspenseful recent horror film, be sure to indulge in Curse of Chucky this season.

Hayley Alice Robers.

Halloween Month: Friday the 13th (1980)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Thirty-three years following its release Friday 13th has proved to be one of the more influential slasher films of all time. The film kick-started a franchise with a total of ten direct sequels, one spin-off with the Elm Street franchise and one remake. Not only that, it paved the way for the popularity of many others of a similar vein such as the Sleepaway Camp Movies and The Burning right up until the present day with the Hatchet trilogy. While stalk n’ slash movies bled onto 1980’s cinema screens left, right and centre, Friday 13th had something the majority of them didn’t- success! Part of this is down to having Paramount Studios behind them, one of the most well-established, highest-grossing distribution studios of all time, however back in 1980 critics displayed disgust that a big studio would release what was considered a low and violent form of entertainment. Friday 13th was the first of its type to achieve backing from a major studio, resulting in it becoming one of the most profitable films of all time and over the years developing a cult following. Paramount went all out and spent a fortune on marketing the film which lifted the box office figures greatly, providing the slasher film with a more commercial appeal. Therefore if anyone is to blame for endless, over-the-top as they go on sequels, its Paramount Studios. But we’re all horror fans here so we love them!

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Creator/Director Sean S. Cunningham developed Friday 13th, after gaining inspiration from John Carpenter’s Halloween. Cunningham was no stranger to the genre following working with Wes Craven on The Last House on the Left (1972). His intention was to create something truly terrifying which had comical elements at the same time. The film’s original title was A Long Night at Camp Blood during the early writing stages. Cunningham had already set his sights on his gory, upcoming movie as Friday 13th. He did everything in his power to ensure he could secure the title in order to avoid any copyright lawsuits. Eventually he was successful in obtaining it despite being threatened by someone behind a lesser known title Friday 13th: The Orphan, rumour has it that the person was paid off and Friday 13th was shot in the September of 1979. Cunningham now had the opportunity to make his “real scary movie”.

When anyone thinks of Friday 13th, a flood of images come to mind. The main associations come in the form of brutal killer Jason Voorhees, his hockey mask, machete, the sinister whispers of “kill, kill, die, die” and what appears like super-human abilities. Other than Jason, the setting is key to this film series, Camp Crystal Lake, where the body count is high and the blood shed vast, a number of the films are primarily set there, unless you care to remember Jason Takes Manhattan or Jason X. Camp Crystal Lake is what Haddonfield is to the Halloween franchise. However, while the original film is considered the best of the series and most well-remembered, interestingly it barely features Jason and he isn’t even the killer. The nice, humble Mrs Voorhees takes to the blade first time round, out for blood-thirsty revenge on sexually-active teenagers who were too busy fornicating to notice her precious son was drowning to death in 1958. Her reign of terror doesn’t end there as the re-opening of Camp Blood in 1980 causes our favourite female psycho to unleash a new rampage of revenge on a group of unsuspecting teens, including a relatively unknown Kevin Bacon!

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Arguably, Jason could technically still be the killer in the original in spirit, telepathically communicating through his deranged mother.  That, or she’s just completely crazy using a split personality in order to project the grief she has for losing Jason, muttering classic lines such as “Kill her Mommy” over and over, played wonderfully by Betsy Palmer. But that depends how you want to interpret it. Palmer admittedly only took the role in order to purchase a new car and despite not thinking highly of the movie, famously saying “What a piece of shit! Nobody is ever going to see this thing.” she eventually came round to thinking fondly of it and even agreeing to perform a cameo appearance in the sequel the following year. Palmer, without a doubt contributed to creating one of the most iconic female roles in the genre with her unforgettable performance.

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Jason’s iconic image of how we love and know him today didn’t make an appearance until the third film, Friday 13th Part III: 3D (1982). In part one he’s the mutated boy in the lake, in Part 2 he hides his identity by wearing a brown sack over his head. Allegedly Part 3 was intended to be the final film in the series. The filmmakers did not foresee back then that the hockey mask would ultimately become Jason’s trademark nor was it intended to be. The decision was made in production during a lighting check where the hockey mask was placed on Jason actor Richard Brooker as the special effects crew had decided they did not want to apply make up just for the purpose of checking the lighting, therefore the entire thing came as a complete accident. Part 3 did receive generally negative feedback from the critics, despite grossing highly at the box office on its opening weekend. Its pretty fascinating that a well-recognized image, famous in pop culture happened by accident in a film that wasn’t highly regarded or even as well-remembered as its original. However its not unusual to hear people discuss the original Friday 13th with reference to the iconic monster that is Jason Voorhees. In theory, it separates itself slightly from its two big rivals, the Halloween and  Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, where the main killers are established from the first instalments.

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A kind of moral backlash did flare up following the film’s release. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were the most vocal  reviewers about the disgust they harboured for the film, deeming it exploitative against women and a new low in American cinema. Ebert stated that the films portray women in films of this nature as “helpless victims” while Siskel voiced that because more of these sort of films were being frequently generated, that was the principal image of women, tortured, attacked or raped that was being depicted to the country at the time. They were incensed that audiences were identifying with the killer rather than the victims, providing a very disturbing cinematic experience for them and saw it as an attack on the women’s movement. Placing the audience in the same position of the killer had  already been done in earlier films such as Peeping Tom (1960), the difference is, when that film was released there was uproar and it compromised director Michael Powell’s career, however by 1980 this was becoming a more prominent feature of American horror films and a “trend” as Siskel and Ebert described.

Even though Siskel and Ebert raised interesting points against 1980’s horror, their views are problematic when they primarily focus on women’s role in slasher films but don’t take into consideration there are also male victims and female serial killers, especially in our beloved Friday 13th. Mrs Voorhees motive echoes back to Psycho’s legacy with the maternal instinct subtext. A mother would do anything for their child and for me, this is what the film’s ultimately getting at. But for some its hard to see passed the violent imagery in order to dig deeper regarding the film’s message. Friday 13th acted as a fable for the youth, using the horror metaphor to emphasize that actions will have consequences, the main one being sex. Siskel and Ebert felt films were simply exploiting this angle in a sleazy manner. But in Friday 13th’s case it didn’t just capitalize solely on women’s behaviour, it demonstrated how both male and female characters were so self-indulgent that they didn’t notice the death of a child. However nothing had changed from the 1950’s to the 1980’s as the youth were still engaging in the same behaviour. The young people who were oblivious to Jason’s drowning were the camp counsellors and failed to act responsibly in the situation. With the fear of AIDS and teenage pregnancy rife in society at the time, its no surprise that films were fictionalizing people’s fears for future generations and it sort of encourages the practice of safe sex and for teenagers not to be identified solely by it. Therefore I would conclude that Friday 13th is about accepting consequences and to act responsibly rather than exploiting women and their bodies in sadistic ways which is how Siskel and Ebert interpreted the film. Their reaction came across as fearful especially warning prospective audiences from seeing the film which in my view was extreme. By advising against the film and announcing its twist ending in the hope it would affect box office figures was more likely going to drive audiences towards it rather against it. Cunningham’s intention with the film was purely to scare and clearly evoking these reactions demonstrated that he did a good job.

Friday 13th was a film I adored as a gore-curious thirteen year old, however after many viewings over the years, I would argue that overall its not the most well-made film ever. Its possible that from growing up into a generation where CGI was becoming more prominent that myself and those around my age are spoilt when it comes to film. That said, I do appreciate the classics and as a horror fan I did turn to all the older films to get my fill of blood, guts, gore and ghouls even before the surge of remakes unleashed hell upon our beloved genre, the majority I usually avoid. For me old skool FX are far more appealing than CGI as they provide a raw feel and DIY approach. By that point the most recent horror movie I had seen was Final Destination (2000). After re-watching Friday 13th in 2013, I’d say it still has its merits, the glass smashing, bursting the title onto the screen accompanied by the score still gives me goosebumps and remains a powerful title sequence in horror. The kills are brutal and Pamela’s performance just makes the film for me. Its not overly scary however and comes across as comical and campy throughout featuring caricatures rather than actual characters. I don’t feel the same for the characters in this as I do for Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson or Sidney Prescott. Arguably, Alice Hardy isn’t considered the best final girl in the franchise, Ginny Field from the second instalment occupies that title. Its barely a masterpiece or even unique but enjoyable all the same.

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What does make Friday 13th more popular than other films that came out in the same era in a similar vein?  Well, it stands out for its importance to the slasher sub-genre and the horror genre as a whole. Mark Kermode hit the nail on the head when he emphasized that the reason the film has maintained such a legacy is because it was the type of film that had never been associated with mainstream cinema before or distributed by a successful studio. It transcended seedy, violent horror from grindhouse cinemas to more commercial audiences. Kermode pin points that at the time this was a “novelty” but since then has been done over and over again. But back in 1980 this movie did something special for the genre. Horror wouldn’t be horror without the series as its influence still carries on to this day.

So, why should you take a trip to Camp Crystal Lake this Halloween? Well, for one its a classic and a must-see for any horror fan, its interesting as a film for its significance on mainstream horror cinema, its suspenseful with some cool, memorable death scenes, an arrow through through the throat and the axe to the head are personal favourites and who could forget Mrs Voorhees beheading! It features a female serial killer which was revolutionary for its time and it began a legend.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

SOURCES:

Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut by J. A. Kerswell (2010).

http://www.fridaythe13th.wikia.com

Halloween Month: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , on October 1, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Undeniably, John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of my favourite horror movies and undoubtedly a classic within the genre. The success of the film spurned a sequel in 1981 continuing the story  of murderous maniac Michael Myers and was intended to be the final Halloween film. The creators of the original, John Carpenter and Debra Hill were less than enthused about continuing the series however agreed to a third instalment as long as it differed from the previous two and didn’t include any of the characters associated with its predecessors, meaning no Michael Myers, Laurie Strode or Dr. Loomis. The film could be considered experimental in terms of trying out a new concept in an already established film series. Season of the Witch was most definitely a risk but what makes it so interesting is despite the fact it didn’t succeed in a well-known franchise and failed to spawn a Halloween anthology, the film is still well appreciated as a stand alone addition and has gained somewhat of a cult following over the years.

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Halloween III is certainly a film that really captures the essence of the Halloween season and puts its audience in the mood for the annual spooky festivities. Due to this, there really is something special about it. Its clearly an obvious choice to review considering the season but from the captivating setting and general iconography present in the film, it really encompasses the spirit of things. The film has one main connection with the original film, in a clever intertextual reference, the 1978 Carpenter film can be seen playing on the TV during a couple of scenes, which when you take Scream into consideration, it further supports the fictional world of Haddonfield and Myers and uses it in a film context within a film. To an extent, it could be argued that Halloween III was one of the earlier self-referential horror films, aware of its own tropes.

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The main plot focuses on Silver Shamrock, a Halloween, mask-making corporation who have some sinister plans to kill a number of American children and their parents through the consumptions of the masks themselves, in an elaborate plan conceived by businessman Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy). Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins), an on-call doctor stumbles upon a sinister murder/suicide of an unknown man clutching a Halloween mask who warns him with the impending message “they will kill us all”. He begins to investigate alongside the man’s grieving daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), the duo soon find themselves caught in the middle of the corporation’s malevolent ways and it really becomes a battle of man vs. consumption as Challis attempts to stop the television stations  broadcasting Silver Shamrock’s infectious commercial before its too late.

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Season of the Witch incorporates a spooky story that acts on a deeper level with its view on early 80’s American society. It is a critique of anti-capitalism, the rise of television and places children in peril demonstrating a kind of fear of future generations, all of course within a horror metaphor. The evil head of the corporation Conal Cochran secretly implants  computer chips containing small bouldar fragments from Stonehenge into the masks in order to unleash an ancient, Celtic ritual on Halloween night. The struggle of old society against new is heavily present here, however Cochran must use the means of modern technology to suck in unsuspecting victims into his evil plans. Later research has shown that academics have taken an interest in the film, deciphering the critiques of American culture at the time. For example Martin Harris suggested that the film has “an ongoing, cynical commentary on American consumer culture.” While Nicholas Rogers described its portrayal of the successful, corporate businessman as “oddly irrational”, it therefore highlights an exaggerated, if not fantastical perspective on the fears present in late twentieth century America. Consumerism has always been a major factor within the US and the film clearly puts forward the idea of how its encouraged among the general public. With its memorable/irritating commercial jingle “Eight more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween” etc. it demonstrates how the repetitive and catchy nature of the images and audio provided feeds into their brains to ensure the products will appear attractive to them. It has to be argued that despite what is generally thought of the film, it has managed to intrigue the likes of academics and critics with its strong commentary and themes which have proven to be pretty interesting to observe and discuss. Another mystery that surrounds the film apart from the history of why it did not succeed as the beginning of an anthology is the ambiguous ending. Forever audiences will wonder if Challis managed to defeat Cochran’s evil plan or did he perish along with the rest of society? Audiences are free to choose which ending they prefer however leaving it so open ended leaves an empty feeling for the viewer, its never resolved therefore, it remains scarier not knowing for certain.

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By all means, the film isn’t a masterpiece but for a genre fan like myself, it holds appeal as a charming horror sequel. It certainly isn’t the worst ever created or the worst entry from the Halloween franchise, that can be handed to Resurrection, which in my personal opinion ruined all that was set up about the franchise.  As previously stated, it displays a lot of interesting themes and did make a statement on the period in time that it was made. In theory, it hasn’t differed from what most horror films attempt to do. It will always remain a curiosity as to whether Halloween could have ultimately worked as an anthology, however critics differed otherwise. The late Roger Ebert gave the film a thumbs down feeling it took too much from other movies he considered “better” and deemed it as a “low-rent thriller”, while others did not adjust to the absence of the Myers character. Arguments like those against the film are fair but its mainly down to personal taste. Season of the Witch tried to break itself away from its predecessors while including  similar stylistic elements, for example the jack-o-lantern primarily associated with the credits of the previous two. Interestingly, it was the only film of the franchise that delved into notions of the sacrificial aspects of Halloween.

So, you ask, why is this early 1980’s, cult sequel one to watch this season? Well, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without watching one of these movies. If you look at it on a deeper level its themes are truly thought-provoking. Plus, its a definite old school, seasonal piece and a crucial example of horror and cult cinema. Its also guaranteed that the Silver Shamrock theme will linger in the mind well after the film is over! mwhaha!

Sources: Halloween Movie Wikia.

Hayley Alice Roberts.