RETURN OF HHMC, PART 4
excuse note: Due to this bullshit closing out last October, the final two RETURN OF HHMCs didn't make it up. Rather than post them last November, I decided to hold them off until this year, so they'll make a nice appetizer for my third annual Halloween Horror Movie Challenge. October is upon us, so get psyched assholes!!]
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Not completely unlike Dark Castle Entertainment, Platinum Dunes started up with the (initial) intention of resurrecting dormant ’70s and ’80s horror franchises. Chainsaw was their first offering, and to this day it remains their best. The dirty guerilla-esque look of Tobe Hooper’s original is predictably replaced by much slicker camerawork, but director Marcus Nispel compensates by desaturating the colors and keeping things as bleak-looking as possible. It’s a remake in the loosest way, as very little seems lifted from the original. One glaring omission is the infamous dinner scene; in fact, the whole cannibal family aspect is largely downplayed here. Leatherface is the main attraction, and rightfully so. But something must be said of R. Lee Ermey as the sadistic sheriff (a character not in the original) – he basically steals the whole fucking movie, as half the stuff that flies out of his mouth is golden. [Nitpicky side note: Whoever decided to open this movie with "Sweet Home Alabama" certainly gets an F, not just because it's a totally cliched song choice, but because the movie takes place in 1973 and the song wasn't released until 1974.] Box office success it was, you can pretty much blame Chainsaw for opening the floodgates for the many other horror remakes, but judged on its own it’s a decent one. And if you don’t believe that, try watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. 3/5
- Take a drink whenever you see shots of stuff in Leatherface’s man cave with water inexplicably dripping over it.
I saw this piece of shit in the theaters against my better judgment, so I guess watching it again just makes me a glutton for punishment. Now that my memory is disgustingly refreshed, it’s amazing Venom even made it to theaters – it’s basically a direct-to-DVD crapfest that somehow got a theatrical run. The only recognizable face in the cast is Method Man as a deputy, and he gets eviscerated pretty fucking quickly. I guess they couldn’t afford him and his weed budget for the whole movie. ANYWAY, the movie’s about this redneck tow truck driver who, while trying to save an old voodoo woman from drowning, gets killed by a bunch of poisonous voodoo snakes. So naturally, he comes back as a Jason Voorhees ripoff. Set in the swamps of Louisiana, Venom sorta tries to be a cajun-flavored horror movie, but its release mere weeks after Hurricane Katrina earned Dimension Films (or more notably, The Weinsteins) top honors at the Bad Timing Awards. But it’s really just your standard pile of by-the-books crap, right down to the cast of wannabe Hollister models playing characters you stand no chance of giving a fuck about. People who love pointing out that black characters are usually the first to bite it in horror movies will find plenty to chew on here, as the first four (!) deaths all happen to be black characters. Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this movie (which is saying a lot) is the fact that a sheriff character is introduced in the scene following the voodoo chick’s death, and then you never fucking see or hear from him again – even after his deputy and a half-dozen other people are killed. Poor guy, the screenwriters must’ve forgotten about him. 0.5/5
- Take a drink every time you hear the killer’s keys jingle. Better make it hard stuff.
Writer/director/perpetual manchild Kevin Smith kicked up some minor controversy earlier in the year, after “buying” the rights to distribute his movie himself, then taking it on the road and charging people upwards of $60 to see it (with a Q&A afterward). Red State isn’t terrible, but Q&A aside, any person who’s not a rabid Smith fanboy must’ve felt pretty ripped off. The movie barely clocks 80 minutes, and it’s as simple as they come. Billing this as a horror movie was a mistake; despite almost beginning as one, it quickly derails into an action movie. It starts out with a group of high school boys who go on a little road trip under the notion that they’re gonna participate in a gangbang (way to be Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith). They’re soon abducted by a group of religious nutbags, headed up by Michael Parks as a sorta Fred Phelps on more crazy pills. After witnessing them execute a gay man, one of the kids manages to escape long enough to inadvertently signal for help. Enter John Goodman and his merry band of government agents, and a standoff and eventual shootout ensue. Smith makes the government look just as crazy as the religious wackos, with Goodman’s character finding his morals being tested. Smith’s admitted lack of filmmaking skills actually suits this movie in a weird way, lending a handheld, guerilla style to it. Parks and Goodman are on fire here, and kudos to Smith for filling in some of the smaller roles with good actors too. But there’s an overwhelming sense in the end that Smith – despite having a loud mouth – really didn’t have a whole lot to say. He paints in the broadest of strokes, and tries way too hard to make this movie shocking and unpredictable, but when all’s said and done it’s pretty half-baked. 2.5/5
- See how many beers you can pound during Parks’ 12-minute sermon.
Freddy vs. Jason seemed to please most fans upon release (and made some nice coin at the box office – more than any previous movie of either franchise, I believe), but for some reason more and more fans have dismissed it in the years since. The chief complaint I tend to hear is that the plot is preposterous. I guess the people who think this aren’t aware of the various scripts and treatments for this movie that have been floating around during the 10+ years it floundered in development hell, ever since Freddy’s glove popped out at the end of Jason Goes to Hell in 1993. Some ideas (or full scripts) involved Freddy and Jason on trial, Freddy and Jason being used by the military, Freddy and Jason as pawns in Lucifer’s chess game, and other random, hilariously shitty ideas. My point is, be grateful for what you got. Because really, the plot here (Freddy uses Jason to kill for him, so he can generate enough fear on Elm street to get his strength back) is about as good as you can reasonably expect from a movie that attempts to fuse two very different characters and franchises together. It ends up being more of a dumbed-down Nightmare movie with Jason thrown in than an even-handed combination, but that’s probably because the Nightmare mythology was always richer than that of the Friday series. Another big (and totally valid) complaint involved longtime Jason actor Kane Hodder getting the shaft in favor of the taller Ken Kirzinger for the role, so it takes a bit of wind out of the movie’s sails knowing that it’s basically an imposter playing Jason. Plus, his revamped look is questionable at best. But the final battle is fucking bad-ass, and director Ronnie Yu piles on the blood to near-comical levels. If you turn your brain off and take it for what it is, it’s a good time. 3.5/5
- Let’s keep it classic – take a drink for every kill.
Yeah, I know I reviewed this back when it opened, but a second viewing a few months later helped (I think) finalize my feelings for it. Scream 4 remains unquestionably better than the third one (which still makes it a minor success), but there’s no doubt in my mind that it trails not just the original, but Scream 2 as well. One of my biggest gripes with it is its under-use of series regulars Dewey and Gale; neither are given much to do, and Gale is pretty much written out of the second half, reappearing (albeit vitally) for the climax. I guess I should have expected this, since the movie naturally wants to spotlight its new, younger cast of characters, but the problem is the new characters aren’t as enjoyable as the old ones (save for – surprisingly – Hayden Panetierre’s character). My other main problem is that they actually went overboard with the gore in some places; the movie takes a shot at the Saw series in its opening scene, and then seemingly tries to match it later on with senseless blood & guts. I would still recommend Scream 4 to any fans who didn’t catch it in theaters (which apparently are a lot, since it didn’t perform as well as expected), but more specifically, anyone who felt let down in the wake of Scream 3. 3/5
- Take a drink every time a character makes a reference to social media/technology, or to a horror remake or reboot. Prepare to get thoroughly ripped.
The Human Centipede 2
It’s almost like director Tom Six caught wind of how boring I thought the majority of his first one was, cause by most accounts The Human Centipede 2 goes out of its way to be one of the most disgusting and offensive (there’s a difference, of course) movies I’ve seen. In fact calling this a “movie” would be stretching it; this is more like a series of repulsively gory ideas stapled together (sometimes literally) into one big shit quilt. The story, interestingly, takes place in the “real world,” where a chubby, asthmatic parking garage attendant named Martin sits in his booth obsessing over the first movie (he owns the DVD), and wonders if he could make a human centipede of his own. Actually he doesn’t wonder too much, cause right away he’s out intercepting people on the way to their cars and taking them to an abandoned warehouse. Conveniently, there’s never more than one couple wandering his garage at the same time, the police don’t seem to exist, and though Martin is short, out of shape and prone to multiple coughing fits and asthma attacks, he’s never overpowered by his potential victims. In fact at times the whole thing seems like it could just be a fantasy playing out in Martin’s head, and the ending flirts with the possibility that it is. There’s so many over-the-top and offensive ideas at play – especially in the final 20 minutes – that it’s hard to even take this seriously enough to be offended. Unless, of course, you actually paid money to see this. 1/5
- Chug a beer every time Martin has a coughing fit and/or asthma attack.