Monday, July 13, 2015

Halloween Comes Early: Binge-Watching the 80s Super Killers

When I came into a little bit of money, as a treat I bought the Ultimate Halloween Collection that had been on my Amazon Wish List for a while.  It includes all 10 of the Halloween movies:  the original 6, H20, Resurrection, and the two reboot movies.

The original Halloween is still the best.  Sure by today's standards it doesn't have a lot of blood and gore and not much nudity either, but it really set the standard.  And really I always think it's better when a movie can be scary without being gross; that's real suspense.  Anyone can throw buckets of blood around and such, but it takes real craftsmanship to scare people without a lot of gore.  Plus it has that awesome theme song that's right up there with anything John Williams ever made.

The second movie was just really boring.  The mistake was setting it on the same night in a hospital that for some reason only has like four people inside of it.  So the main character is hobbled the whole movie from injuries sustained in the last movie, which limits how much they could do.  And again, what hospital has no one inside it especially on Halloween?  You think there'd be a few people who cut themselves carving jack o' lanterns or something.

The third movie is the only one of the ten to not feature Michael Myers.  Instead it's a nonsensical plot about an evil corporation that makes killer Halloween masks with pieces of a stone from Stonehenge.  Their whole elaborate scheme makes no practical sense.  They have 3 (wow, 3!) masks and for some reason every kid wants them and then at 9PM PST (which, hello, is midnight EST and thus not even Halloween) they're going to trigger some stupid computer graphic that will melt all the faces of the kids wearing the masks.  And only Tom Atkins can stop them!  The whole thing was completely ridiculous.

The fourth movie is better in that it gets back to the original formula.  In this case Jamie Lee Curtis is dead (supposedly) and her 8-year-old daughter is living in her old neighborhood, when of course Michael Myers shows up.  It's not as good as the first one but after the dumpster fire that was the third movie it looks a lot better.

In the fifth one Michael Myers returns to kill his niece (again) but this time they threw in some guy in black cowboy boots and a weird rune that was supposed to explain where he gets his power from.  It's got a lot of cheesy 80s stuff in it but it's passable.

If you ever watch Halloween 6 you have to watch "the Producer's Cut."  It's the version that actually makes sense.  The theatrical version they took out pretty much everything about the magic runes at the cost of pretty much making the plot nonsensical.  One of the reasons I wanted the box set in the first place is it has the Producer's Cut, which is really the one I wish they'd show on AMC and such instead of the crap version.  I think a lot of the changes were so they could add a big action sequence at the end instead of Paul Rudd using magic rocks to stop Michael Myers.  BTW, this is the secret origin of Paul Rudd!  Though really I think it came out the same year as Clueless.

H20 was a soft reboot in that you basically have to forget movies 3-6, which isn't really hard.  This is (unfortunately) the secret origin of Josh Hartnett and one of Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's first big screen roles.  Anyway, it returns Jamie Lee Curtis, who is running a remote boarding school in California until Michael Myers drives from Illinois to California in like a day to come kill her and her son.  Mayhem ensues!

Resurrection features an interesting concept in that it's about some college kids exploring the old Myers house while it's being broadcast on the Web.  Of course as they explore the house Michael Myers shows up to kill them one by one.  It's a concept that would have worked better now than in 2002, before there was YouTube, iPhones, Twitter, and all that stuff.  Though first you have a 20-minute prologue where Michael Myers finally kills Jamie Lee Curtis.  After that it's kind of fun and has a little nudity.  Plus a black guy survives, which is pretty rare for horror movies.

The first Rob Zombie reboot is weighed down by an almost hour-long prologue giving the needless origin story of Michael Myers, which in the original movies took maybe 10 minutes.  After that it's not quite a shot-for-shot remake but close to it until the last act, where there's a lot of running around the old Myers house and screaming.  It's OK but it's not as good.

The second Rob Zombie reboot starts out in a hospital to evoke the original Halloween 2, but that's all an extremely lucid dream and then it skips to 2 years later where Laurie Strode is an annoying Goth-wannabe fake tough girl who spends most of the movie screaming "fuck you" at everyone.  Dr. Loomis is an equally annoying prick who goes around pimping his book on Michael Myers.  It really makes you root for Michael Myers to kill them all just to spare us the whining and dickery. There's a lot of weird mystical bullshit featuring Michael's mommy and a white horse that I think was just an excuse to put Rob Zombie's wife in the movie again.

I think the problem with the reboots is like in prequels it doesn't really help to try to explain someone as evil as Michael Myers.  The audience doesn't really want to feel sympathy for him; he's supposed to be a badass killer!  Trying to give him this whole sorry origin story just wastes a lot of time.


On this Roku app called TubiTV they dumped a bunch of old Paramount movies that included Friday the 13th 1,2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 but for some reason not 3, 4, 9, or Jason X.  (And not the remake either.)   It was pretty fucking lame.

As you know if you watched Scream, the real killer in the 1st one was Jason's mother, who only did the movie because she needed money for a car.  It's pretty decent though with more blood than Halloween.

In the second one somehow not only is Jason alive, he's an adult now, who for whatever reason never went to find the mommy he loves so much all that time.  He doesn't have his hockey mask, relying instead on a bag over his head most of the time.

In the 5th one Jason again isn't the real killer; it's just some dude dressing like Jason.  But what the 5th one has going for it is a pretty decent collection of boob shots--if that's your thing.

The 6th one ignores the 5th one and begins with this guy digging up Jason for no reason and then despite that Jason is all decomposed and worm-eaten, getting struck by lightning somehow brings him to life and makes him super strong.

In the 7th one some kid with telekinesis accidentally reawakens Jason (who is even more decomposed but somehow still alive and super strong) and then takes him on.  If you ever wanted to see Carrie v Jason:  Dawn of Lame Crossovers, there you go.

The 8th one is supposed to be Jason Takes Manhattan but really should have been called Jason Kills Morons on a Boat That Eventually Gets to Vancouver Posing as Manhattan.  I mean it takes like 2/3 of the movie for him to get there and since they weren't actually filming in New York it's confined to mostly a dock and the sewers, where somehow toxic waste regenerates Jason into a little boy--or something.

Really none of it past the first movie made any fucking sense, but of course the only reason people watched was to see Jason kill people, not that you really see it most of the time.  You just see the lead up and maybe later the aftermath.  Besides the first one I really like Jason X which is kind of like if Syfy produced a Friday the 13th movie as it takes place on a starship in the future and has at least a plausible explanation when Jason regenerates into a killing machine.  The rest are just trash.


Nightmare on Elm Street 2:  Since I had watched Friday the 13th I sought out Nightmare on Elm Street for another 80s super killer.  (I already watched the Halloween movies in October on AMC.)  You can tell Wes Craven had no hand in this movie's production as it was so fucking boring.  For some stupid reason Freddy is trying to possess some wimpy guy who moves into the house where the chick from the first movie lived.  And well, mayhem doesn't really ensue.  For some reason in one part the kid's gym teacher is all dressed up in S&M gear and takes him to the school showers, which is about as scary as the movie gets. (1/5)

Unfortunately the rest of those are not on Netflix or anything so I haven't watched them.  Nor do I feel like buying them.  Here's a bonus 80s super killer you might not have heard of:

 Sleepaway Camp 2:  You have to wonder why anyone opened a camp for teens in the 80s as they always seem to be a magnet for serial killers.  The highlight of the first Sleepaway Camp is what a twist it had at the end--think The Crying Game.  Well in the second one psychotic teen killer Angela Baker is all grown up and working as a counselor at a different camp under an assumed name.  As the bratty campers start to piss her off, she disposes of them in various creative ways, like drowning one in an old outhouse.  Some of them I can't really blame her.  I couldn't help thinking her Ned Flanders-ish attitude about camp would have played better with little kids and not obnoxious teens, but then what fun would we have?  If you don't want to watch for the killing, there are plenty of gratuitous shots of female breasts.  If you want yet another reason, the killer is played by Bruce Springsteen's sister--and yet he doesn't contribute any songs to the soundtrack. Awkward.  (2.5/5)

Sleepaway Camp 3:  Second verse, same as the first!  I mean it's pretty much the exact same movie as the second one only this time the campers are divided between rich snobs and ethnic stereotypes.  Somehow Angela Baker passes herself off as a 17-year-old girl to enjoy another year of camp--and killing campers.  It's pretty much been here, done that, but hey, there are still plenty of gratuitous shots of female breasts, so that's something. (2/5)


3 comments:

  1. Did you ever see House of a Thousand Corpses and the sequel, The Devil's Rejects? Those movies are entertaining. It's been a few years, but The Devil's Rejects (the acting) is so over the top I was laughing out loud. The woman that plays the mama in the cast was in those old Police Academy movies. Anyway, they were meant to be made fun of which makes them B Grade Gold.

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  2. I agree that horror movies are much better when they use suspense rather than gore to scare people. Gore isn't really scary...it's just gross.

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  3. Your right, the original Halloween was the best, and set the standard.

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