It’s another edition of our podcast “Terror on Tequila” and we’re gonna cut right to the HEART of holiday slashers with our special BLOODY VALENTINE SHOW! Bartender, Jason Lucas, whips up some special Valentine Vodka with cranberries while joining Terror Dave Fuentes in a discussion revolving around February 14th Frights! You’re guaranteed to fall in love with our banter on MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009), and VALENTINE (2001)!
The horror world experienced some excitement this past weekend with the anticipated release of SCREAM 4. You wouldn’t think the fourth entry of any horror franchise would generate much buzz but, then again, the SCREAM films aren’t your typical brand of horror. Not content to simply render their own slasher tale, these movies take things a step further by revealing the “formula” of the sub-genre itself. In pointing out horror’s less original concepts, SCREAM managed to become completely original!
I remember going to see the first SCREAM at the theater its opening night. At the time of its release, I was officially in the latter portion of my twenties. Suffice it to say, I was anxious to see a revitalization of the slasher films I had enjoyed during my teenage years which, as it so happened, was also the most prolific period of these films; the 1980’s.
Iconic slashers such as “the usual suspects” above flourished during the 1980′s (Print created by Brian Maze – go to http://www.monkeygoatboy.com/ for these and other great original prints!)
It would soon become apparent, however, that I was not witnessing the “rebirth” of the 80’s slasher but rather the “death” of them. By the late 90’s, political correctness began to rear its ugly head, eliminating many of the exploitative practices that slasher film fans enjoyed.
At the same time, it was no longer acceptable to portray teen-agers as sex crazed, hormonally charged nit wits (another slasher staple). The success of SCREAM and TV shows such as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (which would also debut in the 90′s) illustrated that the public was more than ready to see teens portrayed as 3 Dimensional beings who, in many ways, were more astute than their denial-ridden parents.
With this new sense of self-awareness came the novelty of SCREAM. Via the film’s resident horror buff, Randy Meeks, the “rules” of the genre were lain bare and, in one fell swoop, the 80’s slasher (which had already been hanging on life support since the previous decade’s end) was given its official coup de grace. Ironically enough, this was done at the hands of SCREAM director, Wes Craven, who also directed A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (home to one of the 80′s most notable slashers – Freddy Krueger).
While SCREAM would close one chapter, it would briefly open another. As the Millennium turned, a new breed of slashers would enjoy a short run with films such as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, URBAN LEGENDS, two more SCREAM films, and a host of horror parodies sparked by SCREAM spoof – SCARY MOVIE. This new-aged slasher era, however, would prove far less prolific than the previous one. A politically correct slasher is an inferior one (entertainment-wise) and once the man behind the curtain was revealed, the “Wizard” had all but lost his allure.
Now, over ten years after SCREAM 3′s release, a 4th installment has finally hit the big screen. The film brings back many of the previous trilogy’s cast along with fresh faces and a new set of “horror rules” to accommodate the current “Me” Generation of viewers.
Ironically, while the film does a great job at being “hip,” it was the older cast members that, for me, stole the show. Neve Campbell’s “Sidney” returns to Woodsboro. Having embraced her role as the town “victim,” she arrives to tout a new book she’s written on surviving. She’s even forgiven Courtney Cox’s overly ambitious “Gale Weathers” who had given her so much grief during the original trilogy. The same contentment can not be said for Ms Weathers (now Mrs. Weathers-Riley) who is finding simple/small town life anything but satisfying thus causing stress on her marriage to David Arquette’s “Deputy turned Sheriff” Dewey.
As one would surmise, the “ghost faced” killer also returns, testing the coping skills of Sidney and her surviving relatives, the mettle of the overwhelmed police force, as well as providing Gale Weathers-Riley with a new sense of purpose (and possible escape from her mid-life crisis). The film is clever and, while you suspect virtually ever cast member as being the new killer at one point or another, the ending was a genuine surprise.
This is not to say I thought the film was perfect. The film’s early “false starts” started to get annoying and the killer seemed to be everywhere at once, while always managing to get away without notice. Interesting that a film that seeks to call out the “horror” industry should blatantly feature one of its worst attributes; the disappearing and reappearing killer.” The film also tended to get confusing at times and I imagine when it’s released on DVD/Blu-Ray I’ll, no doubt, catch something I missed.
Though far from a masterpiece, the film was entertaining and I thought Courtney Cox (whom I didn’t care for in the original trilogy) was fantastic in this one. While SCREAM dealt with the rules of horror, SCREAM 2 the rules of the horror sequel, and SCREAM 3 the horror “trilogy” – the newest entry focuses on the horror “remake.” This may have been an error in judgment. SCREAM 4 made a paltry 19 Million at the box office its opening weekend (previous SCREAM entries broke 30 Million). Perhaps some horror idiosyncrasies are just so obvious, that pointing them out becomes more redundant than original.
The Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN remakes are a divisive subject amongst horror fans. You either love or hate them - with very few in-between. Remaking a classic such as HALLOWEEN was, from the very beginning, a fool’s errand. Therefore, I give Zombie a lot of credit for not so much “remaking” these films as re-imagining them.
Zombie’s veritable “white trash extravaganza” casts aside all of the originals subtle charms, choosing instead to embrace the darker side of horror. Whereas Carpenter’s version contains very little blood and takes a more “old fashioned”approach, Zombie shows virtually no restraint and succumbs to all out violence and gore. This approach created a sort of “generation gap” in the horror world, as older fans shook their heads in disgust while the younger crowd stood up and cheered.
Despite his lack of restraint (or what appears to be his inability to “edit himself”), Zombie manages to delve deeper into the mind of Michael Myers than any of the character’s previous entries. He supplies a much more complex motivation for his behavior as opposed to Carpenter’s simple, yet effective, “he’s just plain evil.”
Humanizing Michael Myers was an interesting approach, and a bold one at that. It directly violates conventional “slasher” wisdom by involving a plot in a sub genre that has no use for one. Vintage slashers flourished based on two key ingredients: idiotic, horny teens and the creative killer who murders them. Though the original HALLOWEEN was a higher standard than many of the numerous films that followed, it still did not allow itself to venture too deeply. Whether Zombie’s addition of this third element along with heavy use of imagery and symbolism was successful depends on who you talk to.
I, like many other fans of the original, was offended when I first saw Zombie’s HALLOWEEN on its opening day. Since then, however, it has grown on me. By the time I had seen its sequel, HALLOWEEN II, my expectations had already been sufficiently altered enough that I ended up rather enjoying it. Many other fans my age (including my co-blogger, David), however, find it almost unwatchable.
Ultimately, the world of horror is large enough to accommodate both of these versions and it is certainly better than a “blow by blow” updated copy. Unlike other embarrassing remakes (such as 1990′s PSYCHO or 2005′s THE FOG) these films have generated enough of a cult following that they will never fall into obscurity and, like it or not, are here to stay. This could very well be proof that Rob Zombie is, in fact, one of horror’s most misunderstood geniuses.
Bridging the gap between the two HALLOWEEN franchises is Danielle Harris. Harris played the young “Jamie” in HALLOWEEN 4 & 5 who, as Laurie Strode’s orphaned daughter, spends much of those films trying to escape the relentless pursuit of Michael Myers.
Although HALLOWEEN 5 ended with the possibility that the child, herself, would carry on her uncle’s murderous rampage – nothing was to become of it. Donald Pleasance (Dr. Loomis in the first, second, fourth, and fifth installments) said in an interview once that if he had has his way, he would have made Danielle’s character “totally evil” and bypassed Michael Myers completely. This is an interesting and much more plausible spin as the survival of Meyers after the events of HALLOWEEN II stretches even the most vivid imagination. It is important to note that Zombie, from the very beginning, had no intention of allowing Meyers to become “immortal” as the sequel-heavy, original films ended up doing.
Zombie wisely cast the now young adult Harris in his films as Annie Loomis, Laurie’s brazen best friend. This decision immediately attracted the interest of fans from the older series.
When I met Danielle she was smiling and seemed very pleasant. I told her that HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS was the first HALLOWEEN I was able to see at the theater and that I enjoyed both of her entries in that series.
David enjoyed meeting Danielle Harris as well and they had a discussion regarding her autograph which, as it turns out, is every bit as legible as your average physician. She laughed and agreed with this assessment jesting that autograph collectors can take comfort in knowing that hers is one scrawl not easily forged.
Then it was time to meet Zombie’s “Laurie Strode” actress, Scout Taylor Compton. I think this is one area where older fans, like myself, REALLY have a hard time connecting to the newer films. Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode was a responsible, polite “girl scout” whose quick thinking and craftiness not only help to keep her alive but also generates sympathy from viewers. That being said, I was ill-prepared for the whiny, pill-popping, neurotic “basket case” Strode portrayed by Taylor-Compton.
There was a short line (that we would later note, remained steady all day) to see Taylor-Compton. While waiting our turn, we immediately noticed that she appeared to be having lots of fun and, at one point, stopped to admire a large reptile brought in by a fan. David found her to be very attractive (much more so than her HALLOWEEN character) and was also impressed by her amazing personality. I admired how engaged she seemed to be with her guests.
When it came time for a picture, she happily posed with David and I decided to see just how cool she really was. I risked upsetting her by asking, “Why don’t you make that whiny face you made all through HALLOWEEN II?” To my shock, she immediately did so without skipping a beat. It was at that very moment that David and I became instant Scout Taylor-Compton fans. If not as an actress, certainly for her sense of humor.
Ms Taylor-Compton gets a “10″ rating on the celebrity meeting scale because she was fun, didn’t take herself too seriously, and was VERY engaged to her fans!…..either that or she is a far better actress than this blog gives her credit for.
NOTE: Also in attendance at “Rock & Shock” was 3rd Zombie Halloween gal, Kristina Klebe. Unfortunately, Ms. Klebe did not show up that day until much later and, at that point, David and I were firmly set in George Romero’s long line (to be covered in a later post).
Happy Friday the 13th! This is the day that horror fans, like myself, don’t bother worrying ourselves over black cats and broken mirrors. Instead we fret over which of the numerous FRIDAY THE 13th slasher movies we’ll be watching that night. For more committed fans, you can even turn it into a marathon event. On one of last year’s Friday the 13th’s, I celebrated the occasion with an old friend….appropriately named Jason.
This year, however, there is even more cause to celebrate. 2010 marks the 30th Anniversary of the original, and without question, finest of the FRIDAY THE 13th movies. Throughout the 80′s it was often imitated (and recently remade) but has never been in any danger of losing its status as one of the best films from that golden age of slashers.
Not surprisingly, it has been deemed worthy of closer examination and analysis, most recently in the latest issue of Horrorhound Magazine, as well as last year’s 2009 documentary – HIS NAME WAS JASON. Since there is little I can add to that discussion, I’m going to focus solely on one of the film’s key players instead. Adrienne King played the character “Alice” in the first FRIDAY THE 13TH installment, and briefly in Part II as well.
Celebrity guest Q&A sessions can be a mixed blessing. Some guests give great insights and behind the scene stories, while others stare at the audience like a deer in highlights. These are the celebrities that usually respond to questions with, “Gee, it was a long time ago and I really don’t remember” or worse still, “It was just a job.” If you are a celebrity reading this post, take heed; Genre fans don’t want to hear that it’s “just a job” (even if that probably was the truth) especially when they’re prepared to stand in line and drop $20+ to meet you. And don’t think your celebrity status will protect you from us “fan boys,” either. As anyone who has ever participated on a fan “forum” can tell you, they can be some of the meanest places on-line!
I am happy to say that Adrienne King scores a perfect “10″ on the celebrity guest rating scale (which I just came up with). Not only did she actually remember her role in the film, she shared great stories and was receptive to her fans. She’s even developed her own wine label called “Camp Crystal Lake Wines.” This comforts her fan base even further as it proves she has embraced, rather than hid, from her role in the film (Kevin Bacon, anyone?). After the Q&A, I went to meet her in the convention hall. I noticed right away that she took a lot of time to talk with her fans while showing genuine appreciation for the attention she was given. When I came up to her she immediately said, “Hi! I remember seeing you during my talk.” I was very flattered that she noticed me, especially since I was joined in the audience by such colorful characters as a man holding a severed head and a full-figured gal wearing a “Wonder Woman” costume.
She also gets credited for selling some great stuff at her table. Aside from being able to order her special wines – in which she promises to personally call you on the phone and “thank you,” she was also selling her hand-painted “Crystal Lake” art pieces. If that wasn’t enough of a personal touch, she also had some GREAT pictures to sign that I can safely say, wasn’t ordered from a “Hollywood” stills catalog. I was drawn to a photo that was created from a shot she, herself, took with her Polaroid during the filming of FRIDAY THE 13TH. The shot was taken in Tom Savini’s studio and shows her and the gore master holding his prop of Mrs. Vorhee’s head! This was one of her newest pictures and she admitted while signing, “I’m still not sure where to write on this one!”
If you should discover that Adrienne King is attending a convention near you, I strongly urge you to meet her. Whether it’s Friday the 13th or not, it’s guaranteed to be your lucky day!
When asked to list their favorite slashers, most folks will immediately list the classics; HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. There is no question that these movies are horror masterpieces and the superstars of the slasher world (as illustrated by the number of sequels they spawned). There are, however, many more obscure ones worth checking out also. Often they are rip-offs of the aforementioned films, sometimes unique, and usually lots of fun. During the past 20 years, I’ve searched for as many slashers from the “golden age” that I could find. This era, most all fans of the genre will agree, lasted from the mid to late 1970′s on through the mid 1980′s. At this date, I have counted close to 140 slashers from this period.
There’s little I can say about the classics that hasn’t already been written. On the other hand, there’s lots to be said concerning the “lesser known” slashers. Reaching into the slasher movie vault, I’d like to pull out one of my favorites; MADMAN. Released in 1981, this film was a regular feature at the drive-in for several years. It was also a favorite VHS rental of mine back in high school.
Many horror enthusiasts, including myself, consider this to be one of the best examples of the 80′s slasher. Lots of parallels with FRIDAY THE 13th, but still having enough individuality to stand on its own. The movie takes place the week before Thanksgiving at a retreat for gifted children. Although there are teenagers among the group, this is one of the few slashers in which horny teens are not the victims. Instead, it is the adult cast that falls prey – though they are no less horny!
The film begins at a campfire, on the final night of the retreat. Max, an older gentlemen and the director of the camp, tells the local legend of Madman Marz. Marz was a farmer with a nasty disposition. Just how mean was he? After killing his wife and children with an axe, he calmly goes to the local tavern and orders himself a beer! The townspeople, outraged by his actions, send a lynch mob after Marz and hang him from a tree. The next day, they are shocked to discover that Marz, along with the bodies of his family, have mysteriously vanished.
Max warns the crowd that they must never utter the name of Madman Marz “above a whisper,” or he will seek vengeance upon them. Naturally, one of the teens in the group decides to test this theory, thus beginning Marz’s bloody rampage. Although a similar setting to FRIDAY THE 13TH, the chilly, fall season does make for an exceptionally creepy venue. While some of the campfire antics range from the sublime to the ridiculous, Max (Carl Fredericks) does make an excellent storyteller.
Madman is a cut above the average slasher. The cast displays acting abilities better than many slasher films (not great, mind you, but better) and fans of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD will recognize actress Gaylin Ross as one of the camp counselors. The movie is fun, though far from perfect. Some of the dialogue is amazingly corny and the goofy “hot tub love dance” number has to be seen to be believed! That, along with the Madman Marz “theme song” at the end, is one of the reasons I would also recommend this movie as an effective “Terror on Tequila” - if you’re with the right crowd.
Marz, himself, is an overgrown woodsman. He has a deformed face and fingernails sharpened to claws, making him an odd mix of man and monster. As far as being an iconic killer goes, he may not have been in the same league as Jason, Michael Myers, nor Freddy Krueger – but certainly had enough personality to warrant at least one sequel. This was not to be the case, however, and MADMAN remains a stand-alone slasher.
While this film had been released on DVD, it is now out of print. Those interested in acquiring this slasher gem, however, won’t have long to wait. On September 28th, 2010 it is slated for a special 30th Anniversary re-release. This one will offer a documentary feature and surely to be a worthy addition to any slasher enthusiasts collection. It has suitable gore, some nudity, and NEVER gets boring! You’ll enjoy MADMAN…even if you won’t want to admit it above a whisper.