Viewed – 23 October 2018. Cinema

The prospect of a new entry in this long running franchise, for me would always come with a degree of trepidation . Previously Rob Zombie attempted to reboot it with his remake and then the ill-conceived Halloween 2, one of the worst horror movies I’ve seen. So we come to this latest attempt … how does it fair?

A sequel set 40 years after the events of the original 1978 movie has Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode now a paranoid recluse, estranged from her family and still planning for masked-killer Michael Myers’ return. Seems like on Halloween night she’s finally going to get her wish. With production overseen by John Carpenter himself yet directed by David Gordon Green, from the start this feels like familiar territory. However unlike the 2008 reboot it’s only trying to pick up years after, reintroduce characters, see where they are now … and then get on with being a straight forward yet slickly made slasher movie. Gone is some of the tension and stalking but in place is a ferocious force of nature Michael Myers, who doesn’t need analysing or figuring out … he’s just pure evil. So of course it’s time for Laurie to stop him.

The movie gives ample screen time to new characters, most welcomely Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter and there’s several subtle, clever nods to that original classic. Add to this a newly commissioned score from Carpenter and this really feels like the sequel we’ve always wanted. The important thing here is that the film-makers respect and understand the material and it makes for a thrilling, often unnerving and very effective experience. Granted, it could have been bloodier, some kills being hidden by (a little too) fancy editing, and that lack of slow stalking weakens the atmosphere early on, but considering what’s come before … this remains a triumph.

Verdict: 4 /5

Friday The 13th

Viewed – 20 January 2012  Television

I have no problem with remakes, if that is they bring something new to the franchise / classic movie or at least show they are trying.  Good examples of recent worthwhile horror remakes include The Thing, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Revisiting one of the longest running horror movie series in memory however, is a different matter entirely.  Normally any horror fan has seen one of the Friday The 13th movies somewhere along the line, and everyone will have a favourite (mine is Part 4), so you would thing with such a wealth of material to take from, the makers of this would be able to come up with something new, fresh and relevant.  Did they buggery!

This treads the same old ground as many stalk and slash horrors over the years … sex mad teens, an isolated location, and a masked psychopath, picking them off one by one.   A ten or so minute opening pretty much wraps up the storyline to the first two movies, glossing over the most interesting aspect of the franchise (the killer’s mother) in a few seconds, and then its on to the pretty but personality-free cast as one man returns to camp crystal lake in search of his sister, who went missing months previous.  Now this could have been an interesting angle, but is overshadowed by the usual jock douche bags, bare breasted bimbos and dope-heads … all of which this viewer had no problem whatsoever seeing murdered.  Sadly killer nut job Jason Voorhees has lost much of his presence over the years, and now just ‘appears’ and kills without any particular imagination.  The murders are instantly forgettable, and what tension there could have been is lost in the fact the movie is almost pitch black dark most of the time, meaning its difficult to see exactly whats going on.  The epileptic camera work only makes this issue worse.

So it’s a real shame that a bit more thought or imagination couldn’t have been applied here … as at one time, Friday The 13th was good stuff, even if for me it was always the poor man’s Halloween.  What we have here is a badly made, imagination-free insult of a horror movie that nobody really needs to see – especially the fans.

Verdict:  1 /5

The problem with remakes

Not all horror remakes are bad, and some can bring a lot to an old concept, ultimately improving upon it … yet last night I sat down and watched on television the remake of Japanese cult horror The Ring.  Ok, it starred Naomi Watts, had a decent director (Gore Verbinski) and was fairly well put together on a technical basis.  Much like the original too, the use of a creepy videotape and hallucinations helped build an unnerving atmosphere.  Yet then the movie does the unthinkable, and humanizes the character of the evil girl, this time named Samara, by showing footage of her time in a psychiatric hospital, and instead of the horrible vision of a small figure with hair over their face, we see it’s actually just a very troubled child.  Naomi Watts over-acts somewhat from the very beginning and frankly her young son is creepier than Samara, which just baffles me.  Now looking back at the original ‘Ring’, I recall only glimpses of the girl, Sadako, a flash of a hand with no fingernails, the same creepy atmosphere, but very little humanization – and you never saw her face.  This then makes the ending something of horror legend, copied in the remake, much more terrifying as what crawls out of that TV and stands up to scare its victim to death, is not human, but pure evil – and just a close up of a blood-shot eyeball is all the viewer gets.  In the remake we see the girl, albiet zombiefied, but still a girl, with a stern pissed off look, and guess what – it’s not scary.  Well done remake.  You just killed the money shot! Continue reading


Viewed – 04 October 2007  Cinema

The original 1978 stalk and slash horror is probably one of the most influential films in the genre after Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and equally as iconic. John Carpenter’s take on the man in a mask psychopath created many of the clichés that have now been done to death – the horny teens getting killed, the virginal baby sitter who becomes the reluctant hero, the nerve-shredding music, and oodles of suspense.

New-wave rocker-turned director Rob Zombie has stepped up to the sizeable task of remaking a classic, and it has to be said I was very dubious about one of my favourite films being ‘murdered’ by a wannabe. Yet really it seems we were in safe hands this time thanks to a director who really knows how to get the feel of the genre’s more nastier entries, and deliver a true ‘video nasty’ experience. Here he gives us more of an ‘origins’ take on the story of nut job Michael Myers, showing him as a child and what leads up to his eventual incarceration. I wasn’t entirely convinced that enough was shown to really explain why he was the way he was – yes his mother is a stripper, his step dad is a loud mouth oaf, and his big sister shags around…oooh, what a terrible influence!! Even the school bullies don’t seem bad enough – maybe young Michael was just born ‘tapped’.

Yet after this interesting introduction, we’re soon back to Haddonfield and it’s a straight remake, with a surprisingly poor Malcolm McDowell as Dr Loomis (originally played brilliantly by Donald Pleasance), and some pretty teen as Laurie Strode, delivering nothing to diminish the performance of Jamie Lee Curtis way back when. So the casting fails…but Rob Zombie does deliver in plenty of violence, gore and a much more ferocious Michael Myers…and a bit scarier he is too.

So to close this still works as a remake and gives us more of an insight, but answers nothing and even ruins some classic moments. A good ‘tribute’ then but it can’t touch the original.

Verdict: 3 /5

Can Halloween reclaim its crown?

While I await eagerly the release of Rob Zombie’s re-imagining of the classic 1970s stalk & slash original, I can’t help but look to the countless sequels that just never did the first film justice.  Can a former rock musician turned freaky director (and responsible for House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects) really triumph where so many have failed? 

Either way this trailer looks promising – and thankfully that iconic muisc is intact.