Archive for Wes Craven

What’s Your Favourite Scary Movie? 20 Years of Scream.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

It started with a sinister phone call and ended in a bloodbath. The genre-defying horror movie of the 1990’s turned twenty years old this week commemorating it’s USA release on the 18th December 1996. It wasn’t released in the UK until May 1997. Scream was one of the first films that pulled me into horror and without a doubt has left a lasting impression. Back in 1996 following the surge of popcorn slasher flicks throughout the 1980’s, the genre fell into a rut. It’s very common to hear that Scream was the film that had revitalized the slasher film as it challenged and critiqued all the tropes and conventions fans had become all too familiar with. While the early 90’s did produce some great horror films such as Candyman (1992), Misery (1990) and of course Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) which broke new ground and brought the Elm Street franchise into a fresh new light, Scream is always the film that is viewed as the turning point for horror.

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What stands out about Scream is it’s slick, post-modern and scary. It brought the slasher film into an updated setting ready for the next generation of gore lovers. Both the tension and comedy aspects are well balanced in equal measure. At the time the most striking element of Scream was it’s ability to re-create a traditional slasher narrative while being self-referential and poking fun at itself. Having characters who knew and loved the genre well and used their knowledge to survive was ground-breaking stuff. Of course, the most iconic moment is the opening sequence which made the statement that “all bets are off” and “absolutely no one is safe”. The killing off of Drew Barrymoore’s Casey Becker was a genius idea proving that Scream wasn’t afraid to take risks.

DREW BARRYMORE Film 'SCREAM' (1996) Directed By WES CRAVEN 18 December 1996 SSI32760 Allstar Collection/DIMENSION **WARNING** This photograph can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above film. For Editorial Use Only

I can’t recall a time where I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ghostface. The costume was always popular around Halloween season and seemed to draw my attention. I actually did go trick or treating as the character complete with my fake knife and voice changer at a young age, further fuelling the fascination. I had wanted to see the Scream films for the longest time in the hope I would get absolutely terrified.  The opportunity finally came when I had not long turned twelve years old. The film was screening on Channel 4 in a late night slot and by then I had my own TV in my room which became the staple of late night horror movie watching. Whether consciously or not I had always gravitated towards darker media and have previously spoken about being freaked out by Nicholas Roeg’s The Witches (1990), re-watching Return to Oz (1985) and getting nightmares from an obscure CITV episode titled Frighteners (1996, TV) during childhood. However now was the time to experience some real, adult horror films, it was time to see if this highly anticipated movie would actually make me Scream!

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Instantly, I was impressed. Scream showcases some exceptional set pieces. It’s an exercise in pure tension that builds up really well before going for the jugular! The death scenes were well crafted and suspenseful but most of all the characters were multi-layered and easy to invest in. This was probably down to them being written with self-awareness which made them feel less generic. Neve Campbell plays Sidney as a final girl an audience can root for and gave an emotional performance. However the character who stood out the most was of course fan favourite Randy (played by Jamie Kennedy). Randy was the underdog, he never got the girl but what he did know was his horror movies and used his knowledge as a tool to survive, all these qualities make him endearing and to a degree somewhat relateable to horror obsessives. The “horror movie rules” party scene is cleverly constructed establishing that Randy is the character to take advice from in surviving a maniacal killer.

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The killer reveal is an absolutely twisted, jaw-dropping moment. It questioned the idea of does a killer really need a distinct motive to drive him/her to murder while the other side of it being rooted in pure revenge. The whole plot and build up of two years of torment from the killers is harrowing ending in a brutal cat and mouse game that leaves the audience reeling. Instead of being afraid of the on screen events I was deeply fascinated and realized it was possible for me to watch and enjoy horror movies. I’d tasted blood and wanted more!

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Scream was pretty much my introduction to the horror genre. It led me literally where I am today. It encouraged me to seek out all the films it referenced, I couldn’t wait to discover the fiendish frights of Jason and Freddy and from then on a whole lot more, there are so many great horror films I’m still discovering. Scream as a film and as a franchise has a very special place for many fans. It’s one of those where I remember exactly where I was and what I experienced when I first saw it. Twenty years on it’s still very much a significant film and a staple of the genre. Thank you Wes Craven, thank you Kevin Williamson for introducing me to horror and ultimately changing my life.

Happy 20th Anniversary Scream.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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**Fifth Anniversary Review** Hayley’s Top 10 Favourite Horror Death Scenes Of All Time

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Five years ago I was a film and television student in my first year at University. I decided to start a blog as a side project separate from my studies. It began as a way to express my views on recent films both independent and mainstream that I’d seen from all genres. Naturally, the first review I ever wrote was of Scream 4 (2011) then eventually I made the site completely horror specific and Hayley’s Horror Reviews is what it is today. Several great opportunities have come my way since beginning the blog, including the chance to get to know and review the work of a number of talented filmmakers. I am now very lucky to be writing for the Horror Movie review site LoveHorror.co.uk and working alongside Caitlyn Downs (from Scared Sheepless) on our collaborative project Ghostface Girls where we provide festival video coverage and record podcasts. Our next event will be the UK’s Horror Con in July 2016!

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In previous years my anniversary reviews have covered My Top 10 Horror Films of all time (since 2011 it has more than likely altered!), Urban Legends on screen and behind the scenes, why we watch Horror Films and last year my favorite underrated slashers. This year I’m taking on a countdown of a subject I’m surprised I haven’t covered by now. It’s all about the visual effects as I reveal my personal favorite horror movie death scenes. Death scenes are at the core of horror movies, even if a film might be particularly badly executed sometimes the saving grace can be some good old splatter. On the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes it’s what you don’t see and what’s implied that can really get under the skin. There’s also nothing more heart-breaking for a horror fan than when one of your favorite characters is hacked to pieces leading to emotional trauma!

Here are my top Horror Movie death scenes of all time! Remember folks, as always its subjective.

There will be spoilers, so get that TV on if you haven’t seen any or some of these films and come back to this article.

**WARNING** This Article will include blood, guts, gore and strong language. Not for the faint-hearted! 

Comment below if you agree or disagree with my choices or tweet me on @Hayleyr1989.

10. Final Destination (2000): Terry Chaney is splattered by a bus!

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To kick things off is a death scene so quick and unexpected it’s pure brilliance! This moment marked the beginning of the darkly twisted sense of humour in the Final Destination franchise. Up until this point Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his friends have survived a harrowing plane crash and are grieving over the apparent “suicide” of best friend Tod (Chad Donella) whose brother died on Flight 180. Both scenes deliver a suspenseful build up with gruesome results. This moment however takes place in the middle of the day, Alex and love interest Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) are trying to figure out death’s design. Enter rival Carter (Kerr Smith) and girlfriend Terry (Amanda Detmer). Carter is convinced that Alex is to blame for the deaths of the plane victims as well as Tod but he soon gets more than he bargained for! While antagonizing Alex, his long-suffering girlfriend finally snaps. In an ironic speech, Terry speaks about never wasting another second of her life and states Carter should have better things to do than fight with Alex. She then utters the immortal lines of “you can just drop fucking dead!”. Backing into the road Terry is hit by an incoming bus and the remaining survivors recoil in horror as her blood splatters on their faces. It’s the twisted irony of this scene that makes it surprising and thrilling letting the audience know that anyone can go at any time by any means.

9. Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA. Zombi 2) (1979): Eye Splinter Scene

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Even without context the eye splinter scene from Lucio Fulci’s notorious ‘video nasty’ Zombie Flesh Eaters is an iconic cinematic moment in horror. The scene is so sqiurmworthy as you (literally!) see it coming a mile off but it doesn’t let up on the suspense. Paola, the wife of Richard Johnson’s character Dr. David Menard is alone in the house when a zombie breaks in. Actress Olga Karlatos displays a genuine look of horror as her vulnerable character attempts to bombard the Zombie from entering the house. Unluckily for her she is dragged through the door and impaled right through the eye with a piece of splintered wood. Her eye is pierced right through in a masterful visual effect, we see the eye squelched and the object penetrate right through her skull!  The moment sets the tone for the carnage to come making it one of Italian Horror’s nastiest kills.

8. I Spit on Your Grave (1978): Blood Bath

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The second video nasty on this list. I Spit on Your Grave is unapologetically exploitative cinema centering on the brutal, unrelenting rape of a young woman. Aspiring writer Jennifer (Camille Keating) retreats to the backwoods as she works on her novel, but she is horrifically brutalized and gang-raped by a group of local men. However, it wouldn’t be a rape-revenge film without a nasty dose of payback! After some time has passed Jennifer is back tougher and stronger than ever as she sets about to seek vengeance on her attackers. In one of the film’s most gruesome scenes Jennifer lures ring leader Johnny (Eron Tabor) into her car, inviting him around for some wet, and bubbly fun…or so he thinks! Jennifer hides a knife under the bath mat and as she begins to seduce Johnny when he least expects it she takes a knife to his most sensitive area!! It takes him a few moments to comprehend what’s happening while Jennifer leaves him there to bleed to death. She proceeds to lock him in the bath room and makes her way downstairs while Johnny yells that he can’t stop the bleeding. She drowns his screams out with a nice bit of classical music. The scene is particularly disturbing as Jennifer allows herself to be in a sexual situation with her rapist. Johnny completely goes along with it showing what a horrendous character he really is. It’s so well executed and unsettling, making ‘blood bath’ from I Spit on Your Grave one of cinemas best revenge death scenes of all time.

7. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987): Welcome to Prime Time Bitch!

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There are many inventive death scenes in the most highly regarded Elm Street Sequel Dream Warriors but this one had to be selected as it captures Freddy Krueger’s (Robert Englund) darkly menacing, twisted sense of humor. While the Puppet Master moment and Needle fingers sequence are exceptionally creative and unique death scenes it’s difficult to overlook fame-seeking Jennifer’s (Penelope Sudrow) TV demise. This moment is fourth wall breaking and surreal as Freddy possesses the television, manifesting himself onto a late night talk show. The television turns static encouraging Jennifer to approach it. In a crazy visual effect mechanical arms emerge from the sides of the television, clutching Jennifer. Freddy materializes from the top of the television set sprouting antennas. He then smashes her skull through the television set uttering the iconic line “Welcome to prime time, bitch!”. The Elm Street franchise is known for its elaborate and creative death scenes that are more entertaining than a man in a mask just slashing with a knife. This scene is a solid example of how the franchise utilizes its special effects accompanied with quirky dialogue enhancing that when it comes down to Freddy Krueger anything is literally possible!

6. The Burning (1981): We’ve found our canoe!

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The Burning appeared on my list last year as one of my favorite underrated slasher films. It centers on a scorned caretaker who seeks revenge on the inhabitants of a summer camp where he suffered a horrific accident several years previous. It’s under the radar due to the success of Friday the 13th (1980) but then became infamous in the UK once it appeared on the Video Nasties list, and this death scene is the reason why! Tom Savini’s sensational gory FX during this scene cemented The Burning as being one of the first to receive it’s ‘video nasty’ reputation. A few of the camper’s head down the lake on a makeshift raft in order to fetch their canoe back. The typical teenagers argue while rowing but become excitable as they get nearer to the abandoned canoe. The scene is set up well using a sense of dread as they become closer and closer. No matter how many times you watch it and are aware what lies ahead it’s still shocking as the killer Cropsy (Lou David) appears from the canoe with his shears and the bloody massacre commences! This moment of the film features the image that appeared on the iconic cover art of Cropsy’s silhouette holding up the shears. It’s pretty harrowing as unlike the majority of slasher films the teenagers cast in the film genuinely look their age rather than having 25-year-old’s playing a 16-year-old’s. The fact that it takes place in broad daylight in an idyllic location makes this deadly moment even more horrific.

5. Hellraiser (1987): Jesus Wept

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This scene is one of my earliest, goriest cinematic memories and has made the list for being downright gruesome. At a young age this was one of the coolest death scenes in horror that I’d ever seen. It’s time for Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman) to get his just desserts at the hands of the Cenobites. Wearing the meat suit of his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) he attempts to kill niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) in the attic but thankfully (as thankful as it gets in a horror movie situation!) Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his demons appear ready to drag Frank’s damaged soul directly back to hell. Pinhead promised he had “such sights to show” us and this unrelentingly proved what the Cenobites were capable of. There’s an otherworldly presence to the scene with the bell chime ringing and the mist surrounding the attic. Hellraiser was famed for its dynamic make up effects, with Pinhead’s appearance making him an intriguing horror villain; but it’s Frank’s demise that is as grizzly and gory as it gets. As he raises a blade to Kirsty he is stopped in his tracks with a hook through the hand, chaining him to the Cenobites world forever. Hooks pierce his skin, tearing his face. As Kirsty recoils in sheer disgust Frank says “Jesus Wept” before being ripped apart, with blood and guts galore!

4. Inbred (2011): Dwight’s Dirrrrty Death!

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Over the past five years Inbred has become one of my favorite horror films. One of the several reasons is due to its creatively nasty death scenes. It stands out in what it does, with strong character development allowing the audience to empathize with its protagonists, as well as a twisted sense of tongue in cheek humor that equally puts us on the side of the villains. It’s somewhat of a black comedy but goes right for the jugular with a set of cruel and mean spirited methods of bumping off its victims. The warped villagers of Mortlake attend a show put on by local landlord Jim (Seamus O’Neill). Having already killed off one of the young lads involving vegetables and a horse, this time the Inbred’s capture Dwight (Chris Waller), the remaining protector of the group. Sacrificing himself for the safety of his care worker and fellow youth offenders, Dwight is subjected to a rather dirrrrrrty demise! Tied to a chair and forced to wear a wig, he is cruelly tormented by a man resembling a droog from A Clockwork Orange (1971) who proceeds to empty a hosepipe of shit down Dwight’s throat until he explodes all over the unusual members of the audience! It needs to be seen to be believed but commended for its use of old school FX over CGI giving us an old school backwoods bloodbath!

3. Der Fan (AKA. Trance) (1982): Killer Obsession

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Der Fan is a film I’ve mentioned a bunch of times on the site. An undiscovered gem that screened at Celluloid Screams in 2013, Der Fan enters unexpected territory with an unforgettable and bizarrely crafted death scene. A German Exploitation film, it pushed the boundaries with its female lead being played by a 16-year-old. Household name Desiree Nobuch of Radio Luxenburg fame played psycho fan Simone and did full frontal nudity in the film as well as acted out a scene of murder and cannibalism which certainly would not be done in cinema today! Simone sleeps with R (Bodo Steiger), a Gary Numan inspired pop star who she’s absolutely obsessed with. When reality bites and Simone becomes another used fan girl to R what happens next is completely out of the left field. In my original review I described it as one of the most “chilling and extreme” deaths in cinema. It’s lengthy, horrific, controversial and unsettling leaving the viewer feeling grubby once the credits roll, making it feel like a completely different film from the one that started. This is one I won’t spoil for you however if you’ve already had the experience of watching this underrated exploitation check out my original review.

2.Scream 2 (1997): Randy Meeks Death Scene

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Master team Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson taught us no one was safe in their iconic slasher-revival Scream. When Drew Barrymoore is killed off in the opening moments of a film it’s guaranteed that anything can happen! Scream 2 is the strongest sequel in the franchise as it raised the stakes. There are so many excellent set pieces in the entire film from the cinema slashing’s at the beginning to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s brutal demise being stabbed in the back and thrown out of a window; however, the death that really cuts close to the bone is that of Jamie Kennedy’s popular character Randy Meeks. Self-confessed “movie buff” Randy survived Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) reign of terror in the first installment closely following the horror movie survival rules. But even he knows that he could be disposable as a new Ghostface stalks the campus of Windsor College. Randy’s death scene is well executed and unexpected. The most shocking aspect is that unlike the previous deaths this one takes place in broad daylight. He is pulled into Gale’s (Courtney Cox) news van and stabbed repeatedly. It’s horrific as it goes unnoticed by crowds of people on the campus. The camera focuses on the van’s wing mirror as Randy is brutally killed, a group of students unknowingly walk by with a boom box drowning out his screams of pain! His bloodied face is then revealed. It’s tragic and heart-breaking as he never does get the girl and is a missing presence from the dynamics of the core characters. It’s certain that it’s Mrs Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) who murders Randy as she viciously attacks him for speaking “poorly” of her delightful son Billy in an act of revenge. The most ironic element of Randy’s death is because he knows the rules of a horror movie inside and out the killer cleverly catches him at the most unexpected moment and doesn’t wait until dark. Craven and Williamson kept the franchise fresh with surprises like this!

  1. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): Death of the Beauty Queen 

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What sets I Know What You Did Last Summer apart from its slasher counterparts is the well written and well-acted main characters. Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a tragic performance as Helen Shivers, the former Beauty Queen who loses her future after being involved in a hit and run and an ill thought out cover-up. After she witnesses the murder of her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe) at the hands of the psychotic fisherman; the police do next to nothing to help her. Helen’s death scene is harrowing as she almost makes it to safety. There’s a slow-paced build-up of tension from escaping a crashed police car to running for her life and hiding out in her sister’s store; Helen fights for survival. Her death isn’t shown explicitly but is incredibly effective and atmospheric set to a chilling score composed by John Debney. Helen falls from the stores window but then finds an alleyway leading to the 4th July Summer parade. Fireworks blast into the air and there’s a sense of relief; albeit momentarily, Helen then approaches the parade but becomes distracted and looks behind her. She is then face to face with the evil fisherman and slashed with his sharp hook amongst a stack of tires. There’s quick cuts, flashing lights and the sound of screams but one thing is certain, the true heroine of the film has met her demise. Helen’s body is later discovered by traumatized best friend Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) on the fisherman’s boat officially confirming there is no return for her within future films in the series. It’s Gellar’s helpless performance as the doomed young woman that hits hard with emotional impact. As sad as the scene is it’s essential to the progression of the film as many fans agree if Julie had been the one to meet her maker it wouldn’t have achieved the same upsetting impact. Helen’s death goes to show that you don’t need to go gory to execute an effective and gut-wrenching death scene.

As always thank you for reading and supporting Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

….

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Halloween Month: Top 5 Wes Craven Films to watch this Spooky Season!

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The loss of one of genre cinema’s greatest directors is still very raw amongst fans. So, if you’re planning on a movie marathon this Halloween season then what better way to celebrate than pay homage to the beloved Wes Craven, the ultimate master of our nightmares! Here are my personal (and of course subjective) top picks of Craven films  to enjoy this October. So sit back, relax with some sugary treats and don’t forget to Scream!

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**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

5. Red Eye (2005)

Red Eye is Craven’s strongest genre film from the noughties and one of his more underrated in his overall career. Its Final Destination meets Scream in a calculating thriller about a hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) who is terrorized on a routine flight by a sinister stranger (Cillian Murphy) linked to a menacing and dangerous plot to assassinate a politician. With the threat of her father being killed dangling in front of her, Lisa is trapped yet surrounded by people. She is threatened and unable to say a word, otherwise she risks everything. Red Eye is well executed, slowly introducing the main characters, keeping Murphy’s Jackson Rippner charming and charismatic before revealing his nasty intentions. Its edge of your seat stuff, as the conspiracy unfolds. The primary setting of the plane ramps up the tension signifying the notion of no escape. Lisa has to be careful of every move she makes. She is reminiscent of Sidney Prescott with her resourcefulness and mannerisms; allegedly the role was considered for Neve Campbell at one stage and it does feel as if it was written for her, Rachel McAdams however delivers a powerhouse performance. Its a cat and mouse game with intense direction from Craven. Catch Red Eye on Netflix.

4. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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This bleak homage to Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was Craven’s second feature film. Following his controversial début The Last House on the Left (1972), Craven continued with a similar gritty tone as a family become stranded in the desolate Nevada desert only to be brutalized by a group of cannibals. The Hills Have Eyes is exploitation at its finest and an example of Craven’s earlier and more seedier work before his more polished offerings years later. Adding to the grubbiness was the fact that Craven rented the camera to shoot the movie from a well-known pornographer. He had a lot of dark ideas when creating The Hills Have Eyes, including toying with the idea of killing off a baby but instead settled with the dog death which is harrowing enough for any animal lover! The film kick started a career in Horror for Dee Wallace (most famous for playing Elliot’s mother in ET) before going on to roles in 80’s flicks Cujo (1983) and The Howling (1981). Michael Berryman’s hillbilly villain named Pluto is one of the most iconic monsters and is instantly recognizable as a significant horror character. On the whole the film is extremely disturbing and doesn’t hold back on the malice, the burning scene being one of its most harrowing. The Hills Have Eyes legacy lives on through inspiring a number of inbred themed films, the Wrong Turn franchise being the most well-known. It received the remake treatment in 2006 which was actually pretty well-executed. One of the most interesting and violent films of Craven’s earlier career, The Hills Have Eyes is worth watching this Halloween if you’re looking for something macabre and brutal.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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The only film in this countdown that Craven didn’t actually direct but he did contribute towards the screenplay. Every horror fan knows that Dream Warriors is the most well-regarded Elm Street Sequel as it went back to the origins of both Freddy and Nancy’s story arcs. It was one of the first horror films I recall really getting into at a young age. Set in a hospital, our heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkampis now a psychiatrist helping teenage survivors of Freddy Kruger fight back using their dreams against him. The teens include Kristen Parker (played by Patricia Arquette this time round) who became a significant part of the franchise in her own right. Chocked full of mesmerizing imagery (gory puppetry scene) and containing many memorable death scenes (“Prime Time, Bitch!” being an exceptional highlight). Dream Warriors was a major improvement on the second instalment Freddy’s Revenge (1985), guaranteeing Kruger as a relevant horror villain for years to come. The original idea Craven had intended for the film was what eventually became 1994’s New Nightmare which was completely ahead of its time and a prelude to Scream (1996). If you’re going to watch an Elm Street sequel this Halloween, make sure its this one!

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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The movie that guaranteed that we’d never sleep again. A Nightmare on Elm Street completely speaks for itself and was the film that put Craven on the map to success. This imaginative and terrifying concept has frightened generations for years to come. It’s the movie that Johnny Depp owes his entire career to and also made an icon out of Robert Englund. If you want a classic movie this year, Nightmare on Elm Street is the one to go for. Also, there’s a chance to see it on the big screen at Celluloid Screams Horror Festival’s All-Nighter, in honour of the master of nightmares!

1.Scream 2 (1997)

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Scream 2  is one of the strongest slasher sequels out there if not the best. Slicing its way onto cinema screens a year after Craven’s 1996 post-modern masterpiece, Scream 2 delivered more chills, more blood and more scares as it continued the Sidney Prescott story to university. Our beloved characters were brought back including Courtney Cox’s feisty news reporter (now author!) Gale Weathers and movie buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). Scream 2 took risks (killing off Sarah Michelle Gellar in her second film written by Kevin Williamson) and some unsuspecting turns as it taught us no one is safe! It also provides a witty commentary on sequels, the status of race in horror as well as reverted to the classic tale of revenge paying homage to Friday the 13th (1980). Scream 2 upped the ante making it the most compelling sequel out of the franchise. For me, its incredibly nostalgic. If you’re ready to Scream this Halloween, this is the sequel for you! After Craven’s distaste for his nightmarish creation Elm Street being transformed into a franchise, he truly proved here that this is how a follow-up to a successful film should really be done!

Read my Ghostface Girls Debate Article on which is the best Scream sequelhttp://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/27/ghostface-girls-debate-which-is-the-best-scream-sequel-2629914?lt_source=external,manual

Which Wes Craven films do you plan on watching this Halloween season, what would be your top picks? Feel free to comment below! Or Tweet @HayleyR1989

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

He gave us Nightmares and Kept us Screaming! RIP Wes Craven

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , on August 31, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The Horror world awoke to a devastating shock today with the news of the passing of Wes Craven. In a career spanning over 40 years Craven has been an inspiration for genre fans and without him, horror will never be the same again. The legendary director created one of horror’s most iconic monsters in Freddy Krueger and went on to to direct the four films in the slick and post-modern Scream franchise. In the 70’s his début feature The Last House on the Left generated controversy cementing him as a filmmaker that was guaranteed to make his mark.

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Wes Craven’s films were an exercise in pure tension and fear, he pushed his audience to their limits; the gritty rape scene in Last House, Casey Becker’s death in the opening of Scream and Tina’s demise in A Nightmare on Elm Street along with the reveal of Freddy Krueger being just a few examples. His popularity continued in the late 00’s which saw his most iconic films get the remake treatment in mainstream horror, but of course they were no match for the originals! Craven’s legacy will live on through his films and fans. He truly was a Master of Terror.

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RIP Wes Craven, 1939-2015.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Mother’s Day Special: The Top 6 Psycho Mom’s!

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome mum’s out there. In the horror film, mother’s have played an integral part in the makings of some of our beloved psycho killers. So, what better way to spend mother’s day than counting down some of my personal top five maniacal mother’s who have created carnage on our blood-splattered screens for several decades. These martriach’s would go to any warped lengths for their children and that’s why we love them! I’d like to dedicate this review to my own mother as a thank you for introducing me to the horror genre at a young age, attending some of the UK’s best festivals with me and for generally being awesome.

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6. Mrs Koffin, Mother’s Day (2010)

  • Played by Rebecca De Mornay

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In a performance uncannily similar to that in 90’s thriller, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992); Rebecca De Mornay yet again plays an unhinged woman with maternal instincts. This mother will do all she can to protect her sons, even kill! When a bank robbery goes wrong, the three Koffin brothers turn to their mother for assistance in occupying their old house while taking the new owners and their friends hostage. Initially Mrs Koffin acts friendly towards the frightened individuals, but once she questions them about supposed money her sons had sent her to that address and the group fail to comply in giving back what’s rightfully her’s, things get nasty! With a calm and collected exterior, Mrs Koffin soon shows she’s not to be messed with, permitting her sons to carry out unspeakable acts of violence on the innocent victims. Ambiguous and unsettling, this psychological thriller keeps the audience on edge unknowing what the mother will do next! Mother’s Day was originally a 1980’s exploitation, Troma film directed by Charles Kaufman that has since garnered a cult following, but in this case Darren Lyn Bousman created a glossy, loose re-telling to fit in with today’s Hollywood standard of remakes. That said, Rebecca De Mornay proved to be the perfect casting choice in an overall enjoyable film.

5. Beverly Sutphin, Serial Mom (1994)

  • Played By Kathleen Turner

Serial Mom Year 1994 Director John Waters Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner is superb as the crazed suburban housewife who gets her kicks out of murdering those who don’t comply by her rules! In John Waters warped social commentary on media violence and its effects on society, deranged Beverly Sutphin becomes somewhat of a serial killer celebrity gaining empathy and support from her adoring public. She is most defensive when it comes to her two teenage children Chip and Misty, she brutally runs over her son’s Maths teacher who claims he needs psychological help due to an “unhealthy obsession” with horror movies and graphically impales her daughter’s love interest when she spots him with another girl. Beverly isn’t the most subtle of serial killers, she doesn’t cover her tracks well and is pretty much suspected from the off. She gets her thrills from terrorizing her neighbor with obscene phone calls and isn’t afraid to be vocal about her distaste for others behavior. She is however a lot smarter than first assumed and manages to defend herself in court, getting the backs up of her antagonists and influencing the jury to set her free. In a extraordinary Waters style twist, Beverly’s husband and children are fiercely loyal to her, campaigning for her release while unashamedly basking in the fact their mother has murdered six people with some gruesome methods. In a film very much commenting on the changing society of the 90’s and media influence, Beverly is a glorified serial killer much to do with the fact she embodies what a lot of women could relate to, the fairly normal housewife and mother archetype who is not to be underestimated. The themes in this black comedy such as blame on media violence and the glamorization of murder trials still holds relevant. Beverly is one quirky killing mother not to be messed with. Remember, always recycle and rewind your video tapes!

 

4.  Mrs Bates, Psycho (1960)

  • Played By Anthony Perkins

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Arguably one of the most iconic mother’s in horror, Mrs Bates is integral to son Norman’s psychosis and despite being a rotting corpse she makes a prominent presence in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic adaptation. Driven by jealousy, in life Mrs Bates behaved in a controlling manner towards her only son, forbidding him any romantic involvement and claiming any woman with her as an exception were “whores”. Norman lived isolation with his mother for several years until she embarks on a relationship with Joe Constidine who encourages her to open the infamous Bates Motel. Feeling his mother slipping away from him following neglect, Norman cruelly poisons her and her husband to be in a staged suicide attempt. Unable to deal with his loss with guilt weighing heavy on his shoulders, Norman brings his mother back to life in a sense as she becomes a section of his personality, motivating his psychotic tendencies against women he develops an attraction for. Norman dresses in her clothes while maintaining her mummified corpse. By the film’s end Norman becomes institutionalized with his mother’s personality consuming him. She acts as a justification for his murderous ways. Mrs Bates was heavily influential on one of the suspense genre’s most well-remembered killers. When Hitchcock released Psycho he achieved a hair-raising effect on his audience especially with the reveal of this macabre mother’s decaying corpse and Norman Bates’s disturbed split personality. Her legacy lives on!

3. Mrs Loomis, Scream 2 (1997)

  • Played By Laurie Metcalf.

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In an unexpected twist, the second ghostface killer reveal in the highly anticipated Scream sequel was one menacing mother hellbent on revenge for the death of her equally psychotic son Billy Loomis. Mrs Loomis is extremely crafty in terms of how she goes about getting her vengeance. Following some plastic surgery, she creates a new identity for herself as Debbie Salt, the over eager news reporter who rubs Gale Weathers up the wrong way. Popping up at the crime scene following some of Windsor College’s gruesome murders she has the perfect cover, innocently “reporting” the incidents. Her plan is calculating as she intends to frame college student and partner in crime Mickey Altieri for all the murders while taking out Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers in the process for their part in the death of her son from the first installment. Channeling Mrs Voorhees from Friday the 13th (1980), she is purely motivated by grief and revenge. Billy became a murderer after she abandoned him following her husband’s affair with Sidney’s mother and she continues his legacy. She blames Sidney heavily for the breakdown of her family unit and won’t stop until she has her dead. Mrs Loomis is remembered for killing fan favorite and movie buff Randy Meeks who met his maker from speaking poorly of Billy. When re-watching Scream 2, its clear at which moments feature Mrs Loomis donning the ghostface attire as she is left handed when she takes to the blade. She does not succeed in her thirst for revenge as she is killed by Cotton Weary who was framed for killing Sidney’s mother in the original film. Sidney shoots her in the head one last time to make sure she’s well and truly gone. Mrs Loomis was the first female killer in the Scream franchise making her the original Ghostface Girl before myself and Caitlyn!

2. Margaret White, Carrie (1976)

  • Played by Piper Laurie

margaret white

You can’t create a list of Horror’s most psychotic mother’s without the inclusion of Margaret White. With origins in literature through Stephen King’s novel, Margaret White is the fanatical religious mother of telekinetic Prom Queen Carrie. The most memorable portrayal of this character comes in the shape of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. With an emphasis on anything to do with sex or the female body as a sin including Carrie experiencing a traumatic first period, Mrs White is the worst mother any teenager could possibly have. She raises Carrie with extreme restrictions, sheltering her from reality. When she becomes aware of Carrie’s abilities she behaves fearfully and deems her a “witch” frequently reading passages from the bible. She meets her demise following Carrie’s blood-soaked rampage at her prom. Carrie returns to her home broken and drained then Mrs White viciously stabs her, this causes Carrie to use her abilities to impale her mother in a symbolic killing mimicking a religious figure. Piper Laurie gives a somewhat hammy yet unsettling performance, this is due to her allegedly perceiving the script as a comedy but it does work well in creating an unhinged, mentally unstable character.  Due to her performance as Mrs White, Piper Laurie achieved some award nominations for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Playing this insane mother ultimately relaunched her career.

1. Mrs Voorhees, Friday the 13th (1980)

  • Played By Betsy Palmer

Mrs._Voorhees_1

Channeling Psycho’s Mrs Bates within the films aesthetics, the mother of the iconic, hockey masked wearing, machete wielding killer Jason Voorhees occupies the top spot. Mrs Voorhees is one of horror’s most unforgettable and unexpected twists. In a flip reverse of what Psycho achieved, Mrs Voorhees motivations stem from grief following the death of her son Jason at Camp Crystal Lake. She also has a split personality, bringing Jason through as she commits murder, slicing and dicing sexually charged youths. Like the majority of the mother’s on this list, Mrs Voorhees is overprotective and will do what it takes to shelter her child from harm. She was a teenage mother with a son born with  hydrocephalus (water on the brain), in order to protect him she shielded Jason from a regular childhood, denying him schooling. While working as a cook in Camp Crystal Lake in 1957, Jason was exposed to constant bullying and teasing. While unattended, Jason went swimming in the lake’s murky waters, unbeknown to the camp counselors who were busy with certain other matters. Jason subsequently drowned sending Mrs Voorhees on a murderous rampage seeking revenge on any teenager who sets foot in the aptly nicknamed “Camp Blood”. She reveals herself in 1979 following the camp’s re-opening and several other grisly murders. Final Girl Alice Hardy ultimately decapitates her ending her bloody reign of terror. Mrs Voorhees death is responsible for avenging Jason and beginning a franchise of  gory horror films with an emblematic serial killer at the helm. She has proven influential particularly in the construction of the previously discussed Mrs Loomis. Betsy Palmer initially dismissed the film not expecting anyone to watch it however she created a cult character and a highly memorable performance of a psychotic mother who certainly won’t let things lie when it comes to her only son. Click here for more on Friday the 13th (1980) from this site.

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Hope you enjoyed this countdown. Feel free to comment or tweet (@Hayleyr1989) on your favorite psycho mom’s! Also check out my latest debate with Caitlyn (Scared Sheepless) on Wolf Creek (2005) currently available on moviepilot.com.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

 

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (3-1)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here is part five and the final piece of coverage celebrating the fifth annual Women in Horror Recognition Month. Earlier this month I began a countdown of who I consider to be the bravest final girls in horror as well as the most psychotic and deadly women. Narrowing it down out of a vast range of characters that have made an impact on our blood-splattered screens for decades has been tough and there’s plenty more I’d have liked to have included. A follow-up countdown next year may be a possibility. Now we’re onto the top three, it’s time to analyze my ultimate favorite genre women. The criteria set for these three is down to the impact they’ve had on the genre and on myself, their iconic status within Horror, how they’ve either set up recognizable tropes or challenged them and just for being downright awesome.

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I want to thank everyone for their support in reading my work. For all the shares, likes, re-tweets and comments. Your feedback is always more than welcome and its always brilliant to speak to like-minded fans. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices. Who do YOU think should be THE Woman of Horror?

I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Hannah Neurotica who has set up this amazing cause to address the restrictions and prejudices that many women have faced in the industry and to celebrate a genre that has so many phenomenal female contributors. Let’s all keep raising awareness for Women in Horror Recognition Month. Long may it continue…!

WARNING: There will be Spoilers!!

3. Mary Mason, American Mary (2012)

  • Played By Katharine Isabelle
  • Written and Directed By Jen and Sylvia Soska.

amermary01  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sadistic surgeon Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) slashed her way onto this list. Interestingly, she is the first character included in this countdown who has been written and directed by women, which to a degree emphasizes the lack of strong, iconic female characters written by women for women within the genre. But when Mary splattered onto the Horror scene back in 2012 she certainly made her mark as the fabulous filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka. The Twisted Twins) worked incredibly hard to promote the film, generating plenty of interest via social media and the film wound up being one of the most ‘must-see’ events in the horror genre that year. It also resulted in major studio Universal acquiring the rights to the film making it’s female directors a modern day industry success story. The film itself actually laments the disheartening experiences the Soska’s went through as striving filmmakers echoing the negativity and sleaziness they encountered amongst the film system.

One of the most fascinating pieces of horror to emerge this decade, American Mary is a modern day Universal Monster in every sense of the word. She is a deeply complex character with so many layers its hard not to be compelled by her story arc within the film from promising medical student to rogue body modification surgeon to psychotic woman. Mary is the embodiment of a woman who can be both highly intelligent and sexy. With an array of stylish yet provocative outfits, Mary looks amazing whether she’s covered in blood in a PVC apron or in the designer green dress created for her by Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). She knows what she has to do in order to survive and is not to be crossed with as deadly consequences will arise. The majority of the time Mary is cool, calm and collected which is vital as she carries out some obscure and unconventional methods of surgery in order to either please her clients or torture her victims. When a horrific incident happens to her she takes matters into her own hands enlisting the help of smitten club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo) and gentle giant, bodyguard Lance (Twan Holliday) in order to act out her revenge.

A master at her craft, its evident she relishes in the work she does, which molds her into a creative, beautiful yet feared woman. The majority of the time Mary is sarcastic and deadpan which underlines her disillusion with her unfortunate experiences. Her relationships with the other characters in the film is interesting. She doesn’t quite let them in and deals with her problems mainly alone. Her quasi-friendship with Betty Boop lookalike Beatrice (Tristan Risk) is one of the film’s highlights, with contrasting personalities and attitudes Beatrice tries her hardest to get to know what’s behind Mary’s exterior more so than other characters. Through Billy’s eyes she is seen as sensual yet frightening, comparatively to other women he hires at the club he holds more respect for Mary and there’s a genuine fondness on his part. She also manages to deceive Detective Dolor (John Emmet Tracy) for as long as she can demonstrating how double-crossing she can be while protecting herself and her unique body modification “business”.

A complex and compelling character, Mary continues to gain cult and iconic status providing Scream Queen Katharine Isabelle with another memorable role under her belt next to Ginger from Ginger Snaps (2000). Whether feared or admired, there’s certainly something about Mary!

2. Laurie Strode, Halloween Series (1978, 1981, 1998, 2002)

  • Played By Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Directed By John Carpenter
  • Written By John Carpenter and Debra Hill

laurie strode  Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is one of the earliest examples and arguably the most famous of the ‘final girl’ trope. Despite not being the first horror heroine to come up against and survive a maniacal killer in the slasher territory (See. Jess, Black Christmas (1974) and Sally, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as earlier examples) she holds a great deal of significance. Laurie’s character and status as ‘the final girl’ has been famously examined by Carol Clover in Men, Women and Chainsaws and its become pretty much concrete that Halloween (1978) set the standard for the slasher films that came after it and coined several of the tropes that have been recognizable ever since. The term ‘Final Girl’ came from Clover who stated the attributes as being a strong female character and one that was distinct from other females within slashers. As us horror enthusiasts know if you’re the slutty blonde cheerleader your more likely going to die but if you’re the shy, bookish, virginal girl, you’re going to survive! The final girl is the one who realizes the extent of the threat facing her and its even suggested that once she confronts the killer and more than often stabs him with a knife (a penetrative motion) its used as a metaphor for her sexual frustration.

It seems as if ‘Final Girls’ during this period of horror were constructed as masculine, with their feminine qualities suppressed, they were in place more as an experience for cinematic terror. By having a female figure rather than a male the intent was to convey fear as women aren’t viewed as physically strong as men. It created more vulnerability when the final girl would face up against a killer twice her size.

Another attribute of ‘The Final Girl’ is having a gender neutral name which supports this idea that the role of the female in slasher films is for a male audience to be able to identify with. Clover’s theory however has been criticized for being problematic as it doesn’t suggest that the heroine reflects female identity and anxieties. Laurie in fact does display several of the characteristics Clover set out. Despite thwarting the killer at the climax and surviving, Clover’s focus on a male outlet has been argued against as Laurie is ultimately rescued by a male character Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Through this she is not entirely an ‘active’ final girl who seeks out the killer herself but she is one step ahead of the other characters as she remains continually cautious and is smart enough to keep herself alive. Laurie is an early reference point for the trope however she does evolve over the years. In the sequel she is hospitalized but still displays more awareness, warning others about the boogeyman who attacked her, the doctors dismiss her fears and continue to sedate her. In Halloween II (1981) Laurie makes the connection that her attacker is in fact Michael Myers and also her brother. With that knowledge she is able to defeat him once more with the help of Loomis. During Halloween IV (1988)V (1989) and The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) she is presumed dead leaving behind a young daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) who becomes Myers next target. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) its discovered that Laurie is alive and living behind a secret identity. Fragile and unable to cope with her past, she is on medication and a shadow of her former self, which makes her more human. This time round she has her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett) to protect as Michael targets his little sister once more. By the end Laurie gains the courage to fight back and finish off Michael Myers once and for all, beheading him with an axe. By this point Laurie had molded from the vulnerable teenager in the first installment to a stronger woman. Unfortunately Halloween:Resurrection (2002) exists, destroying everything the previous film had intended with the evolution of Laurie’s place as a final girl, by having Myers kill her off in an asylum in the films opening minutes. Allegedly Laurie had decapitated a security guard rather than Myers in H20.

As stated Laurie Strode is one of the most emblematic heroines to emerge from the genre. Even though she does fall into several categories that make up the traditional final girl, its not to say that she doesn’t display any feminine qualities. She begins as a teenage girl with insecurities and becomes a strong woman which is plenty for a female audience to relate to. Laurie is without a doubt the first notable final girl in the slasher sub-genre and a huge influence on all the strong horror females that came after her.

1. Sidney Prescott, Scream Series (1996, 1997, 2000, 2011)

  • Played By Neve Campbell
  • Directed By Wes Craven
  • Written By Kevin Williamson

scream4_06  The countdown has now reached an end and its time to finally discuss the feistiest female in Horror and that is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from the slick, post-modern Scream franchise.

If Laurie Strode was responsible for evoking ideas about ‘the final girl’ then Sidney Prescott was in place to challenge them. The 90’s were upon us and the horror genre was in dire need of a re-vamp. Precisely everything had been done by this point and filmmakers needed to find a way to keep on terrifying audiences who were now all too aware of the cliches and tropes thrown at them. Enter Kevin Williamson, a complete godsend. Williamson re-invented the genre with his quick-witted, self-aware but also brutal Scream (1996) along with the experienced genre director Wes Craven on board. Instead of re-hashing the same tired conventions, Williamson challenged them by creating a slasher film where the characters were conscious of being in one yet still met a bloody demise at the hands of an all new sinister serial killer, Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) who knows these movies inside out and through the knowledge of the conventions is able to outsmart the targeted teens.

As a final girl Sidney on one hand does qualify for some of the attributes Clover discussed. She has a gender-neutral name and has intimacy issues. On the other hand she is clued up on how females in horror are constructed yet when faced with a slasher-type situation she acts on instinct rather than logic. That’s until the sequels where she becomes even more savvy on how to outsmart the knife-wielding masked murderer. The previously mentioned intimacy issues are down to trauma rather than just playing the good girl. Sidney’s mother was brutally butchered before the events of Scream (1996) however she eventually bows down to pressure from suspected boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and sleeps with him right before the blood-curdling climax. Even more of a turning point is Billy does turn out to be one of the killers meaning in this instance rules have changed and Sidney not only has sex, she has sex with the villain which establishes what audiences thought they knew about horror conventions is about to change.

By Scream 4 (2011) Sidney has encountered and defeated seven serial killers that donne the Ghostface disguise all out for her blood. Sidney achieved somewhat of a sick, celebrity status as ‘everyone’s favorite victim’ even though she yearns for a normal life where she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder. She overcomes more than most, the death of her friends and her only stable boyfriend Derek (Jerry O’Connell) as well as family members attempting to massacre her yet she still comes out on top. There has been rumors over the years that if another Scream installment was to be made there is the possibility that Sidney may be killed off however that would be disrespectful to her character and legacy and would be taking it down the previously mentioned Halloween:Resurrection route, which would just be awful! What’s empowering about Sidney is she isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and takes no second chances when eliminating the threat. There has been criticism that technically Sidney is as bad as the killers in the franchise as in self-defense she murders them in equally bloody measures however given the situation any rational person would react similarly in order to save themselves and remaining friends. She does all she can to protect herself, in the sequel she stays around her friends and is given two bodyguards, in the third installment she is a broken woman who isolates herself in a highly-secured house before deciding to come out and face the danger rather than pushing her surviving friends away. By the fourth and most recent film Sidney is wiser and displays more confidence, she even becomes an author recounting her traumatic experiences as a way of catharsis.

Sidney Prescott is my number one female of horror because she is strong, empowered, determined, will always fight back and has a well-rounded character arc. Sidney is a survivor who has left just as much as an impact as Laurie before her through turning conventions on their head and giving genre audiences much more to expect from what a final girl is capable of.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.