Horror Movie Challenge: Day 17: Favorite Horror Franchise: “Scream”

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(mini reviews of all 4 in order from best to worst)

1. Scream 2 (1997)
Although at times I feel as though I am in the minority, I truly believe that “Scream 2″ is the best film in the Scream franchise. This is that rare sequel that takes everything that works about its predecessor and manages to take it to another level. The deaths are suspenseful, the characters are charming and likable, and the twist ending works better than it has any right to. I also truly believe that this is some of Craven’s finest directing and the “cop car” scene is a hide-your-eyes-behind-your-fingers chiller of a scene. More than that, this film is just a hell of a lot of fun from beginning to end.

2. Scream (1996)
Scream made horror movies scary again with a brilliantly constructed plot. One year after the death of Sidney Prescott’s (Campbell) mother, two students turn up gutted. When a serial killer appears, Sidney begins to suspect whether her mother’s death and the two new deaths are related. No one is safe, as the killer begins to pick everyone off one by one. Finally, something the horror genre was missing: a good old fashioned murder mystery. The performances all around are first rate from Neve Campbell as the vulnerable to Courteney Cox as the bitchy journalist willing to do whatever it takes to get a story Gale Weathers to David Arquette as the sweet, slightly dimwitted Deputy Dewey to Drew Barrymore’s doomed Casey Becker.

3. Scream 4 (2011)
“Scream 4″ is executed with an artistic flair of wit and style that long time fans and film buffs alike will love. While I sometimes wished there could have been a little more genuine tension and suspense, the final twenty minutes are just so off-the-wall that it makes up for any slow patches. All in all, this is bloody, fun, and very entertaining. The cast is clearly having a ton of fun, and most of them really put on a good show. This may be cinematic junk food but it sure is tasty.

4. Scream 3 (2000)
“Scream 3″ is the kind of movie that has a lot of great ideas mixed in with a few mediocre ideas. The film spends far too much time with Sidney away from the group, alone in the cabin. We want to see Sidney take on evil and put on a good fight. Something that doesn’t happen here until the final act. That being said, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers has never been better. Given a bitter rival to play against, played by a deliciously witty Parker Posey, she shines in every single scene that she is given. Overall, I think “Scream 3″ is a fun film. It may be the worst installment of the franchise but it is still a hell of a lot better than 90% of the horror that is released today.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 16: Favorite Indie Horror: “Halloween”

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With it being October and only 2 weeks away from our favorite holiday, there is only one movie that comes to mind when speaking of classic indie horror films; the one and only, Halloween. This 1978 slasher from the great John Carpenter helped changed horror as we know it and had an effect on fans young and old. We all know the story of Michael and Laurie and the mayhem that took place, but the people outside of the horror community really don’t understand the importance this film and it’s characters. The fan following Halloween has earned after all these years is extraordinary and has few rivals. Grade school age kids have found this film and fallen in love with it as if they were there opening night to see it the first time.

People young and old gravitate toward this slasher flick and are some of the most dedicated fans around. Slasher Studios has been around the festival circuit and Halloween t-shirts can be found on fans everywhere. Michael Myers art and apparel can be found at almost every other booth and fans dressed up and the Michael himself have become a standard. If you have been to a horror convention, you more than likely saw horror actors signing autographs. Well, when Jamie Lee Curtis attended last year’s HorrorHound Weekend, she took over and was the primary, and most likely the only focus of the of the attendees. This was her first and last horror related appearance and she did it all for charity. The fans stood for ours and days just to get that minute of Jamie Lee time. The dedication was undeniable. So, whether you are a fan or not, and I hope you are, Halloween is more than just a movie. For many slasher fans, it’s a way of life. Halloween has been there for them and they will be there for Halloween. Will there ever be anything like this again? Probably not and that is what makes this film so special. Hard to believe it all started as just an indie slasher..

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 15: Great 80’s Horror: “Humongous”

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“Humongous” is a fun, homage filled 80′s slasher that rips off a dozen other, better slasher films but still manages to be a lot of fun. Remember the scene at the end of “Friday the 13th Part 2″ where Amy Steel pretends to be Jason’s mother? This film sure does as the exact scene is repeated here to lesser effect. That being said, the kills are fun and characters are a tad bit better developed than most of the other 80′s slashers out there. David Wallace is particular is quite strong as our lead twin Eric. Most of the time in 80′s slasher, guys are given nothing to do but not so here. He almost becomes the film girl by being smart, likable, and even given a chance to emote. Lead Janet Julian possesses similar qualities and has a lot of fun with her “last girl standing” appearance. This is a must watch for fans of the early 80′s slasher genre. I can’t say that everyone is going to enjoy the film as much as I did as the film is quite slow and repetitive at times. Nonetheless, it is one of the better examples from the under-appreciated genre.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 14: Cheesy Horror: “The Last Slumber Party” (1988)

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Day 14: The cheesiest horror you’ve ever seen

Oh boy, where to begin… The Last Slumber Party is one film that needs to be seen in order to be believed. Cheesy to the max, this movie takes the term, “so bad, it’s good,” to another level. The story takes a few weird turns along the way and viewers are given the privilege of meeting some very memorable characters. A group of middle school kids could rival the overall production value and probably find better actors. The line delivery is atrocious and I love it! I love it almost as much as I love the Sesame Street poster in the teenage girls bedroom.

Although this film is just about as cheesy as it gets, it is one of those films that always seems to put a smile on my face. Just thinking of it now makes me want to watch it again. I can only dream that one day it gets a proper dvd or even blu-ray release that is packed full of extras to answer the extensive list of questions I still have. I need to know more about this film. Where did the filmmakers find these actors? How many days was the shooting schedule? How many hundreds of dollars was the budget? So many unanswered questions…

Even though The Last Slumber Party does everything wrong, in a strange way, that is why this movie is so fun to watch in all it’s amazing 80’s-horror-film glory. The acting and line delivery is cheesy. The camera work and direction is cheesy. The plot and killer is cheesy. And I loved every minute.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 13: Favorite Foreign Horror (Martyrs)

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“Martyrs” is the kind of movie that makes you want to take a shower immediately after viewing it. It is bleak, hopeless, and has a constant theme of despair. It is also brilliant in the way that it is able to depict the suffering that one human being can force onto another. It is gore but it is poetic gore with a clear message for it’s audience. I don’t know that I can or will ever watch this masterpiece again and it is too bad that the ending gets a bit too abstract for its own good but it is still a worthwhile watch. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 12: Gory Horror (Cabin Fever 2)

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Day 12: Goriest Horror I’ve Seen….Cabin Fever 2

“Cabin Fever 2” is a messy, gory, bloody cherry on top of a demented sundae. From the opening (poor Rider Strong) to the blood bath of an ending, nearly everything about this sequel works. This is one of those slasher movies where I just don’t understand the hate. Had this movie been made in the 1980′s and directed by Sam Raimi, horror fans would be praising this as the next second coming of horror. The gore is demented, the kills are extremely disgusting, and the central love story is actually quite sweet. I was actually touched at the sacrifice that one friend gave so another could live. So the epilogue doesn’t really work (poor Ti West got his movie taken away from him and had his ending completely butchered just to go in some producer cameos) but this is splatstick at its very best. If John Waters directed a horror film in the 1980’s, it would look something like this. Bloody recommended!

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 11: Most Psychotic Killer: Beverly Sutphin (Serial Mom)

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As Serial Mom begins we meet Beverly Sutphin (in a go-for-broke pitch perfect performance by Kathleen Turner). She appears to be a typical suburban housewife living with her dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) and their children, Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (Matthew Lillard) in the suburbs of Baltimore. Behind her Doris Day façade, however, she is a serial killer, murdering people over the smallest criticism, insult or slight. We open on the Sutphin family having breakfast and Beverly carefully taking care of family’s every needs until two police officers arrive to question the family about the mail threats and obscene phone calls to a fellow resident of the area, Dottie Hinkle (the wonderful Mink Stole). “Now who on earth would ever want to harass poor Dottie Hinkle,” Beverly states. Well of course it is Beverly. As we see a brief flashback, Beverly is still upset over Dottie stealing her parking spot at Jo Ann Fabrics. No, seriously.

The first murder she is known (the movie plays out like a true crime reenactment complete with time stamps) to commit occurs after Beverly attends a PTA where Mr. Stubbins, Chip’s high school math teacher, criticizes her son’s morbid fascination with violent horror films and recommends therapy for Chip. She runs him over with her car, killing him. How DARE he disrespect the horror genre! Bastard had it coming.

The following morning, Misty is upset when she gets stood up by a date, Carl Pageant, proclaiming her desire to kill him. Beverly cautions Misty about using words she doesn’t mean and subsequently sees the police investigating her trash cans and her car. Beverly skillfully deflects the cops’ questions before her husband asks the cops to leave. Later, seeing Carl with another girl at a local indoor swap meet, Beverly impales him in a men’s restroom with a fireplace poker that Rosemary, who came along, had purchased.

A death by blow torch for not wearing a seatbeat and a killing by rack of lamb to the tune “Tomorrow” from the movie Annie for not rewinding Ghost Dad are two more deaths for Beverly before she is arrested. Now it is on to the trial and this is where the movie really kicks into high gear. Selling everything from Serial Mom t-shirts to Serial Mom books…everyone is off to make a profit off Beverly. Even Suzanne Somers (in a wonderful tongue-in-cheek performance as herself) who plans to play Beverly in the soon to be made mini-series.

Serial Mom is that perfect pitch black satire Hollywood never makes. The film was a bomb on its initial release grossing only $6 million on a $14 million profit and that’s a shame. From the game cast to spot on direction from Waters, everything works. This is the type of movie that you will either find hysterical or you will wonder where all the laughs are. This movie makes me smile like a naughty little kid and I try to watch it every Mother’s Day with my mom. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 10: Favorite “Classic” Horror (Friday the 13th)

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My favorite classic horror film is easily the original Friday the 13th. I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it and I have watched it countless times since then. It had a huge impact on my desire to become a filmmaker and trying different filmmaking techniques. This piece of art has been not only influential on myself, but many, many other horror fans as well. I love the story, the characters, the deaths and just that classic overall 80’s feel.

The setting in Friday is picture perfect. The dense forest, contrasted with the wide open lake, creates cinematic beauty as this backdrop for the film has turned into an instant classic and makes Camp Crystal Lake is instantly recognizable. This setting has been a staple in the horror genre and with such a huge 80’s horror fan base in the world, this will only continue.

I have always been a huge fan of the characters. I really did enjoy them all. The main cast, including Kevin Bacon and Adrian King, had the acting abilities and screen presence to help make this film what it has become. But, in my mind, the real treats are the supporting characters. Sandy from the diner and Crazy Ralph are some of my all-time favorite movie characters and I still find myself quoting their quirky and classic lines.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 9: A Boring Horror Movie (Friday the 13th Part 3)

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Day 9: A boring horror: “Friday the 13th Part 3”

The 3D effects are lame, the characters are painfully bland, and the movie drags on and on and on. After the opening kill it is seriously at least a half an hour until the next death. You have the annoying fat kid, a group of bikers?!?!, and one of the most least likable final girls in Friday history. Yet somehow I still find some charm with this film. Maybe it is the fact that this is the only Friday shot in 2.35:1 widescreen (effects aside, the film looks great) or maybe its just all the cheesy goodness. I cannot in good faith recommend this film but it still isn’t the worst of the series.

Halloween Horror Challenge: Day 8: Favorite Horror-Comedy (Girlfriend From Hell)

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The devil is on the run and being pursued by God’s assistant, a devil chaser named Chaser (played with pitch-perfect comic timing by an underrated Dana Ashbrook). When the devil makes a wrong turn to a high school birthday party, the devil takes over the body of innocent and painfully shy Maggie (wonderfully played by Liane Curtis who displays the perfect amount of tart sweetness to the role). Maggie is on the blind date from..err…hell. The bodies pile up and the fun begins as we have assault rifle nuns, soul stolen during sex, a journey throughout time, and a religious woman holding onto her dead life by a floating cheeto. Seriously. “Girlfriend from Hell” never takes itself too seriously and is never boring. It is actually a lot of fun with a clever script and a breezy pace.