Tag Archives: sequel

13 Days of Sequels: SLEEPAWAY CAMP II

With 13 Days of Sequels I’ll be reviewing horror sequels every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

Thanks in part to the massive success of Friday the 13th, the early ’80s saw a surge in horror movies set around the campfire, lovingly known as “backwoods slashers”. The Burning, Mother’s Day, Madman, Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone!, Just Before Dawn, The Forest, The Final Terror, and The Prey were all released before the decade had even reached its halfway point. The trend would all but dry up by the end of the ’80s, the only real notable exceptions being the franchises that had fostered the sub-genre and had outlived the random copycats.

One of those enduring films was Sleepaway Camp, the cult shocker from 1983 that became a surprise success (making $11M off its $350K budget) thanks largely in part to its bizarre climax – which is still being talked about today. Continue reading 13 Days of Sequels: SLEEPAWAY CAMP II

13 Days of Sequels: HALLOWEEN II

With 13 Days of Sequels I’ll be reviewing horror sequels every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

Sequels are historically hard to pull off – especially when it’s that first one out of the gate (meaning Part 2), and especially if the first film was an incredible success. (I clarify this, because at one time films actually had to be successful in order to warrant a sequel.)

Following the original film, that first sequel is under major scrutiny: the pressure to not only replicate the success of the first film but exceed it in every way possible isn’t just expected, it’s really expected. Part 2 has to be bigger, faster, and smarter, upping the ante in every conceivable way. Continue reading 13 Days of Sequels: HALLOWEEN II

STUFF THAT SCARED ME: A Home Recording of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3

It was the late-’80s, and we were smack dab in the middle of The Great VHS Boom. I believe it was Herbert Hoover who once promised, “a VCR in every home, and a membership to every mom & pop video store” – and that’s exactly what every family (including ours) had. And with the proliferation of VCRs came a wave of home recordings. No rental was safe from being recorded to a blank Kodak tape (or Polaroid, Sony, RCA, Fuji, et al.) You just had to make sure your recording speed was set to LP, and to put a little piece o’tape over that broken tab on the back, and you were in business. Sure, it was illegal. But it was the ’80s, and everyone was doing it. Continue reading STUFF THAT SCARED ME: A Home Recording of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3

“Dude Bro Party Massacre III” (2015) REVIEW

There is so much — and yet, somehow, so little — to say about Dude Bro Party Massacre III, so I’ll offer up both a short and lengthy review.

Short review: the movie, sadly, is a mess – both tonally and stylistically – and that’s a real bummer because the trailer looked promising, and my hopes were high. Whether intentional or not, the movie ended up being confusing, distracting, and (unfortunately) just plain unfunny. I kept checking to see how much longer until it was over, and that’s not a great reaction to have when watching a movie.

There, that’s the succinct review and I already feel like a jerk. If you’re interested in the details, read on.

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Perhaps the biggest sign that Dude Bro Party Massacre III was doomed from the start is the fact that it was made by the people at 5-Second Films. Now, I have nothing against 5-Seconds Films; I love their stuff. In fact, if you aren’t familiar with their work, do yourself a favor and go check them out right now — their videos are hilarious, bizarre, and creative (this one is my personal fave of their shorts.) However, the micro format is clearly their strong suit, and attempting to stretch that out into a full length film unfortunately just doesn’t work. It makes this 90 minute movie feel like you’re actually watching 1,080 of their shorts back to back; a very exhausting feeling. Another unfortunate side-effect of cramming a joke in every 5 seconds is that almost of all of them fall painfully flat.

The central plot is fairly straightforward: a college kid joins a frat that his dead brother was once a member of in order to solve/avenge said dead brother’s mysterious murder. There is a bizarre (and completely unnecessary) subplot involving a couple of bumbling cops (and a cult leader? And oranges?), but their involvement in the basic story is too confusing to explain. Interstitial bits and pieces of bad tracking, blunt cuts, and fake commercials are thrown in the mix, making even the most basic storyline that much more impossible to follow.

That’s another issue I have with the movie: it tries to cash in on the current very popular trend of making something look like it was shot on VHS tape. Films, Youtube videos, TV shows — they all want to achieve this ‘look’ without adhering to the restrictions that would actually result in an analog recording being shot on magnetic tape. (One of the greatest offenders of this rule is V/H/S, a horror anthology which inexplicably dedicates an entire segment to computer video chats [a digital medium], not to mention several other anachronisms such as a pair of glasses outfitted with a hidden camera [yet another digital medium.]) Let’s put it this way: if the movie Super 8 featured a kid lugging one of these RCA shoulder-mounted consumer camcorders around instead, people would cry foul. Dude Bro Party Massacre III commits similar bothersome acts.

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Animated words pop up onscreen, goofy sound effects occur, weird out of place transitions and obvious green screen effects abound. None of it makes sense in the context of things. The recently released Kung Fury — another VHS-style throwback — also commits these same acts, but the difference is that Kung Fury so obviously takes place within its own imaginary landscape, one that feels more videogame than actual movie, that it’s pretty much able to do whatever it wants and get away with it. DBPM3 wants you to feel like you’re watching an 80s horror movie taped off TV (it even tells you so with an opening crawl), but yet it doesn’t want to play by its own rules. (It also helped that Kung Fury was only 30 minutes long.)

Lastly, one final impediment: contradictory as it may sound, Dude Bro includes far too many references which end up hurting it doubly. The movie is loaded with 80s cliches, silly commercials, cheesy gore (the best part of the movie, actually) vapid characters, etc. DBPM3 is its own worst enemy because it fails to find a balance. Had it been played perhaps a little more straight-forward (and cut out about 2/3 of the jokes), it might have played a little better.

There is a crossroads — a junction where satire, homage, parody, and pastiche all intersect — that, if handled carelessly, can create confusion, blur the point, and distract the viewer. Ultimately, that’s what happens in Dude Bro Party Massacre III.

There are a few things that almost work — a montage where the bros clean up a dirty frat house to a dorky 80s song (ala Revenge of the Nerds) and a brief scene where a guy (Greg Sestero!) gets freaked out by several gardening implements in a tool shed (shot in a very Raimi way) — but those moments are quickly buried as the film eagerly jumps to the next weird joke/setting/character/edit/effect.

It has a great premise, a great title, and I do love the worn out videotape look, but there’s just too much going on. If you want a film that does a good job of spoofing a specific era, look no further than Wet Hot American Summer (a film I feel greatly inspired this one.) Or hell, just rent an actual shot-on-video horror movie like Woodchipper Massacre, Cannibal Campout, or Video Violence. Those movies are just as cheesy and silly as DBPM3, but are far less likely to induce seizures. If a 90-minute Tim and Eric sketch on speed is what you’re looking for, you will love this film. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling a bit let down.

GUILTY PLEASURES – “Pet Sematary II”

With “Guilty Pleasures”, I revisit some horror flicks that fans have almost unanimously derided and labeled “unlikeable”, but are ones that I inexplicably get a kick out of. This time around, it’s Pet Sematary II.

It can’t be easy making a sequel.

There are so many things you have to consider when crafting a follow-up: does it continue following the ‘rules’ set forth in the original film? Does it follow those rules yet subvert expectations? Will it appease the original film’s rabid fanbase while still offering something for people new to the series? Is it bigger and better than the first, but not so much so as to make a (inevitable) third entry a moot point? There are so many things to consider, one would think to skip the sequel route altogether. But then if we did that, we’d have no Jason X, Seed of Chucky, or Jaws: The Revenge, and the world would be a lot less fun. Continue reading GUILTY PLEASURES – “Pet Sematary II”

GUILTY PLEASURES – “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers”

With “Guilty Pleasures”, I revisit some horror flicks that fans have almost unanimously derided and labeled “unlikeable”, but are ones that I actually get a kick out of. This time around, it’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.

mike2 The Halloween series – like all of the memorable horror franchises – has carried on long past its expiration date. It’s had 7 sequels, 2 remakes, and even tried completely omitting Michael Myers at one point early on. Since its inception, the series has never gone more than 6 years without a sequel or remake of some sort so, as we approach the 6 year anniversary of Rob Zombie’s embarrassing and confusing take on the series, it should come as no surprise that there has been talk of yet another film to add to the anthology – apparently currently in the works. And it’s this laughable-yet-strangely-admirable refusal to stay dead that has time and time again forced dunderheaded writers and money-hungry producers to make awful, knee-jerk decisions which tarnished the legacy and caused puritanical fans to overturn tables. Sure, they tried the whole ‘telepathic niece‘ angle. And, believe it or not, they even had a CGI mask at one point (I’m never forgivin’ ’em for that one.) But for all the series’s trip-ups and missteps, no entry was harder to get on the screen in one piece than Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (aka Halloween 6, aka Halloween 666: The Origin of Michael Myers.) They had a hell of a time finding a director: at one point or another, Peter Jackson, Scott Spiegel, Jeff Burr, and Fred Walton were all attached to direct the film – and Quentin Tarantino was even attached to produce. Take a minute to wrap your head around that. And there was also last minute script switcheroos and onset bickering between the crew, leading most involved to disown the movie and swear to never be involved in another Halloween flick again. It was that bad. I mean, hell – even ol’ Jamie Lee starred in four of ’em (including the worst in the series) so you know making Halloween 6 had to be rough. It’s unfortunate that arguments, re-writes, and re-shoots caused what could have been (according to original screenwriter Daniel Farrands) a potentially dark and revitalizing entry into a hacked-up head-scratcher (The Man in Black? The Mark of Thorn? Cults, sacrifice, druids? I mean, we’re still talking about that guy from the Illinois suburbs who killed his sis when he was a kid, right?) But dang it all. I like it! I can’t help myself! I saw this in theaters the day it came out. I was 12 years old and I went with my buddy Arnold – I had my parents buy our tickets. I had just read issue #147 of Fangoria and I was pumped, baby! And for whatever reason – despite its numerous and obvious flaws – I still enjoy it. It pays homage to the original quite a bit, which is why I think I like it so much. I’ll try to help illustrate why Halloween 6 is, sadly, the last good entry in the series. (Don’t get me started on the infuriating Halloween H20, aka Halloween Water. That’s a separate article all-together.) rudd Starring and introducing Paul (Stephen) Rudd. Not only is it Rudd’s debut, but it was the first time in the series that a male had become the protagonist hunted by Myers. And he plays Tommy Doyle, a character in the original 1978 film, now a full grown man obsessivly watching over the Strode house from across the street – totally great idea! loomis A retired Dr. Sam Loomis, hidden safely away in a cabin deep in the woods, writing his memoirs. After years of battling Myers, this is how you wanna see old Loomis living out his remaining days. (Sadly, actor Donald Pleasance would pass away before the movie’s release.) mike1 Michael’s mask. Sure, he kinda has this Rawhead Rex thing goin’ on with his hair. But the mask is the closest thing to the original since, well, the original. haddonfield Atmosphere. Haddonfield looks dreary, empty and damp, like a town forever scarred by the memories associated with this autumnal holiday. It’s a look Halloween 4 helped to established and one I’m glad this entry reignited. Just ignore those pesky Illinois mountains in the background. tumblr_mwd70gpA3a1t0megjo1_500 Michael is actually spooky in this! Shot mostly in shadow and under the cover of night, he definitely gives off some eerie vibes in this one. doc Dr. Loomis gives one final “pure evil” speech, and though it is brief, it’s still poetry:

This force, this thing that lived inside of him came from a source too violent, too deadly for you to imagine. It grew inside him, contaminating his soul. It was pure evil. This house is sacred to him. He has all of his memories here, his rage! Mrs. Strode…I beg of you, don’t let your family suffer the same fate that Laurie and her daughter suffered.

pumpkin Smashed pumpkin reference. Tommy Doyle (Rudd) causes a boy to drop his pumpkin, much like how Doyle fell on and smashed his own pumpkin in the original. bakcyardAnother nice homage, using Michael’s presence in the backyard, alongside billowing white sheets on a clothesline. woman This creepy old woman gives a speech about Halloween that rivals Loomis’s ‘pure evil’ speech. It ends up being a bit exposition-y and injects a little too much unnecessary backstory, but damn if it don’t start strong! But extra points for her referring to him as ‘little Mikey Myers’. (Plus, Mike in the background!) guy This world class a-hole who you just know is gonna get it good. The original Halloween had a cast of bubbly teens you didn’t wanna see get killed, but every sequel from there on threw that idea out the window and made sure to have some jerk you just wanted to see get theirs (Bud in Part 2; Kelly Meeker in Part 4; pretty much everyone in Part 5, especially that little kid with the stutter.) 1 There’s a brief scene set at a live radio show on campus. There are people partying in costumes, barrel fires, twinkling bokehs – all being ominously narrated while we follow Rudd in slow-motion. It’s a fleeting set piece but one I really liked and wanted to see used more! 2 Radio host Barry Simms gets killed in his car – an homage to Annie’s demise in Halloween? I think so! Also, I’d like to point out that earlier in the film Barry makes a joke about “Michael Myers being sent to space”. Just six years later, Jason Voorhees would make that joke an awful reality. 3 “It’s raining, mommy. It’s raining red. It’s warm.” 4 In yet another homage, the damsel in distress runs to the neighbor’s house, banging on the door pleading for help – all while we see Michael slowly making his way across the street to her. Now that I mention it, maybe this article shoulda just been how Halloween 6 is one long homage to the original! 5 So it’s around this time that the movie kinda flies off the rails. The climax is set in a hospital (Halloween II, anyone?), and basically it’s just one long scene where Michael murders a boatload of doctors while strobe lights are going off – no, really. However, it’s a notable scene for one specific reason: it’s the first time since the original that you see Michael run! It’s brief – and I do mean brief – but if you look closely, Michael picks up the pace a little when chasing a doctor down some underground corridor. Michael hasn’t moved that fast since he scaled Loomis’s station wagon and escaped from Smith’s Grove! 6 The movie does its best to end with a ‘bang’, but goes out with more of a muted ‘poof’. The final scene sees Rudd thinking he’s beaten Michael to death with a pipe. He really wails on ol’ Mike for awhile with that thing. But after he and the other survivors leave the hospital, Dr. Loomis stays behind – only to be murdered (you can tell by his screams offscreen) by the still living Myers. It’s an entry not without its flaws, and major ones at that. But I truly feel it does a better job of honoring the original in many subtle ways than the glossy and pandering H2O does. In a way, this film was ahead of its time – maybe too ahead of its time. After all, it was written by a fan – and who better to do a horror franchise justice than its obsessive fanbase. Perhaps if the producers had just left the original script alone – and not beaten it to death with a lead pipe – we’d be singing its praises instead of cursing it. 7