Film Review: Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Release Date: June 27th, 1995
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written by: David DuBos
Based on: characters by Mark Jones
Music by: Dennis Michael Terry
Cast: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Caroline Williams, Lee Armstrong, Marcelo Tubert, John DeMita, Michael Callan, Tom Dugan

Blue Rider Productions, VIDMark Entertainment, Trimark Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“There was an old man of Madras whose balls were made of fine brass. So in stormy weather they both clang together and sparks flew out of his ass.” – Leprechaun

I think that Leprechaun 2 and 3 are pretty close in quality and both films are a bit better than the Jennifer Aniston starring original. However, these movies are very far from great and they don’t hold a candle to other slasher-y franchises with iconic monsters at their center. And frankly, this is probably why when people want to have famous slashers fight one another in mashup movies, no one ever really throws the Leprechaun in the mix.

That’s not to say that Warwick Davis isn’t good, he’s as the British say, “brilliant!” He’s just unfortunately bogged down by a string of crappy productions that he singlehandedly keeps afloat just by being great in them.

One benefit that this one has though is Caroline Williams, who I have always liked since first seeing her in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and then several other horror films since then. She’s a pretty iconic scream queen and she plays an interesting character, here, who ends up having one of the best deaths in this franchise.

Additionally, I really liked the Vegas setting even if the casino in this film was obviously some warehouse in California that they simply rolled a few gaming tables into.

I also really liked the main female lead and thought that she was the best final girl in the film series. Plus, she’s absolutely stunning and I’m surprised that she never had much of a career.

The male lead on the other hand was pretty awful. But he would go on to have a pretty good writing career in the film business.

Overall, I guess this one is tied for first place with the second film. But I do like this one just a wee bit more because of the setting, the final girl and Caroline Williams’ inclusion.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Leprechaun movies starring Warwick Davis.

Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror (2019)

Release Date: October 6th, 2019 (Beyond Fest premiere)
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Stuart Gordon, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Lloyd Kaufman, Heather Langenkamp, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Brian Yuzna, various

CreatorVC, 264 Minutes

Review:

I was anticipating this documentary for a long time. So once it ended up on Shudder, I had to check it out. But holy shit!… I wasn’t expecting this thing to be four and a half f’n hours! Not that I’m complaining but I had to make an entire night out of this thing.

Realistically, this probably would’ve worked better as a documentary television series with an episode focused on each year in the decade. They could’ve expanded even further in that format but then this was crowdfunded and not a traditional production.

Still, this was a cool documentary and while it does jump from film-to-film too fast, it covers a lot of ground. Obviously, it can’t feature every horror film from the ’80s, as there were hundreds (if not thousands) but it does hit on most of the important ones.

This goes through the films in order of their release but it also has a few breaks between each year that focuses on other aspects of ’80s horror.

This is mostly talking head interviews with a few dozen different people, spliced together with footage from all the films they’re talking about. It kind of plays like one of those VH1 I Love the ’80s shows but it is a lot less smarmy. Well, for the most part. There is one guy that kept popping up that I wanted to punch because he was oozing with failed comedian smarm.

Overall, though, this was worth the wait. As I’ve said, I wish it could’ve given more on each film but even four and a half hours isn’t enough time to do more than just scratch the surface with the rich history of ’80s horror.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries about ’80s horror and horror franchises.

Film Review: The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

Also known as: Fair Is Fair (working title), Billie Jean (Greece video title)
Release Date: July 19th, 1985
Directed by: Matthew Robbins
Written by: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
Music by: Craig Safan
Cast: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Richard Bradford, Martha Gehman, Yeardley Smith, Dean Stockwell, Barry Tubb, Caroline Williams

Delphi III Productions, The Guber-Peters Company, TriStar Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“$608 dollars for the scooter your son trashed. That’s what you owe and we’re not turnin’ ourselves in til we get it. Fair is fair! We didn’t start this, we didn’t mean it to happen but we’re not givin’ up til you pay. Fair is fair!” – Billie Jean

I remember discovering this in the late ’80s on the shelf at a mom and pop video store. I thought Helen Slater looked really hot on the VHS box and it also had Christian Slater in it, who I was growing to like a lot around that time. Somehow this came and went in the theaters and my 6 year-old self in 1985 never knew of its existence. Granted, I couldn’t even get my parents to take me to Weird Science back then.

In the ’90s, I feel like this was on TV all the time. I don’t think a week went by without this broadcasting on TBS or TNT, usually on late at night or in a weekend block of ’80s movies.

The main character is named Billie Jean, probably to capitalize off of the super popular Michael Jackson song of the same name. Billie Jean and her brother Binx often times get harassed by local douchebag Hubie, who has the douchebaggiest name ever. Hubie steals Binx’s scooter and ends up beating up Binx and trashing his flashy moped. Billie Jean confronts Mr. Pyatt, Hubie’s dad, and asks for money to fix the scooter. Pyatt brings her upstairs and tries to rape her and tells her she’ll basically have to put out and get the money a little bit at a time. Things escalate, Binx accidentally shoots Pyatt and the kids go on the run, as Pyatt accuses them of robbing him. As the film rolls on, we see how the media spins the story and how Pyatt takes advantage of the situation and tries to profit off of Billie Jean becoming a cult hero by selling merchandise with her likeness on it. Ultimately, this is a film about youth not trusting their elders and about the cult of personality in a time before social media and the Internet.

The Legend of Billie Jean is a cool film and pretty underappreciated in the grand scheme of ’80s teen movies. It certainly has much more to say than the slew of teen sex comedies that were the norm. However, it didn’t do well theatrically and sort of built up its own cult following as the years passed. Sadly and frustratingly, it took a really long time before this ever got any sort of DVD release.

Helen Slater was really good in this and she carries the film. She was able to handle the tough task of her character’s evolution from sweet Texas teen girl to the leader of a generation of kids who had no one to look up to: kids who felt exploited by the adults of the world.

Truthfully, this is a sort of superhero movie, which is funny as Slater played Supergirl the year before this. But for people that said there were no female superhero movies before Wonder Woman came out last year, Helen Slater had already made two, three decades earlier.

The other kids in this: Christian Slater, Yeardley Smith, Martha Gehman and Keith Gordon all did a fine job too. Peter Coyote played the cop trying to bring the kids in but was also trying to save them from themselves. Coyote was very likable and the contrast between him and Dean Stockwell’s district attorney character was great.

The Legend of Billie Jean is a wonderful coming of age drama that is superbly enhanced by its stellar soundtrack, especially in regards to Pat Benatar’s “Invincible”, which really fit the movie to a T.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Gleaming the CubePump Up the Volume and Hiding Out.

Film Review: The ‘Hatchet’ Trilogy (2006-2013)

*written in 2015.

I never watched Hatchet or any of its sequels until this past weekend. I heard good things and they star Kane Hodder (the longest running actor to play Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th films) as the monster Victor Crowley. These films also star a plethora of other horror icons. The series grabs actors from the A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Candyman and Gremlins franchises. I’m sure I’m leaving some out as well.

Let me analyze each film in this trilogy separately.

Hatchet (2006):

Release Date: April 27th, 2006 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Directed by: Adam Green
Written by: Adam Green
Music by: Andy Garfield
Cast: Joel Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Joel Murray, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Richard Riehle, Patrika Darbo, Joshua Leonard, Tony Todd, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder

ArieScope Pictures, Radioaktive Film, High Seas Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, 93 Minutes

Review:

“But you only shot him once, right? Maybe you gotta shoot him more times. Like four- or six- maybe you gotta shoot him six times?” – Shawn

The first film is enjoyable. Although these movies are supposed to be homages to the great slasher films of the 80s, they feel more like homages to the late sequels of those films. What I mean, is that this movie plays like the fifth film in a slasher franchise, where plot doesn’t matter and things are just violent, insane and way more over the top than normal.

Hatchet follows a group of people on a haunted bayou boat tour outside of New Orleans. The boat crashes, the people are stranded and our brutal beast of a killer literally rips them apart.

While this is considered part of the slasher sub-genre of horror and Victor Crowley is seen as a slasher, he tends to rip off arms and pull people’s heads apart, as opposed to stabbing people with knives or using machetes. Granted, he does use some tools here and there, but he has the tendency to mutilate his victims with his bare hands.

The film is more campy than scary. It is more like splatter porn than a mysterious slasher film that builds suspense. Instead of characters hiding from a knife-wielding psycho and trying to survive the night with cunning and stealth, we have people running from a mindless berserker that wants to fertilize the woods with hundreds of gallons of blood. There really is no suspense, just intense insanity once the monster shows up.

The ending is horrible, by the way. The film just cuts off. But it isn’t so bad, if you immediately watch the second film, which starts right where this one ends.

Rating: 6/10

Hatchet II (2010):

Release Date: August 26th, 2010 (Frightfest)
Directed by: Adam Green
Written by: Adam Green
Music by: Andy Garfield
Cast: Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R. A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Alexis Peters, Ed Ackerman, David Foy, Colton Dunn, Rick McCallum

Dark Sky Films, ArieScope Pictures, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Come on, you hatchet-faced fuck!” – Bob

The second film is more of the same. It also continues into the next day following part one. Also, the main girl is suspiciously different looking. Oh, she’s now a different actress – Danielle Harris from Halloween 4 and 5, to be exact.

The sole survivor of the first movie, the new actress playing the old actress, returns to New Orleans to get answers regarding Victor Crowley. She then immediately heads out with a clueless posse to hunt him down because why the fuck not?

This one gets more insane than the first installment and is a lot bloodier and ridiculous. There isn’t a whole lot more to add really.

Same movie; ante upped.

Rating: 6.25/10

Hatchet III (2013):

Release Date: June 14th, 2013
Directed by: B.J. McDonnell
Written by: Adam Green
Music by: Scott Glasgow
Cast: Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, Caroline Williams, Zach Galligan, Robert Diago DoQui, Derek Mears, Cody Blue Snider, Rileah Vanderbilt, Sean Whalen, Jason Trost, Diane Ayala Goldner

Dark Sky Films, ArieScope Pictures, 82 Minutes

Review:

“I’ve seen some crazy shit, man. I was working on an Asian male; head severed off, uh, leg cut off below the knee. I’m telling you, man… He looked kinda like you, man.” – Randy

Like its predecessor, this one starts immediately where the last film ended. Basically, these three films happen over the course of three consecutive nights.

There is more splatter, more horror icon cameos but we are essentially just watching a single four and a half hour film instead of three separate movies.

Like the other films, this one ends somewhat open ended. I can only assume there will be a fourth chapter in the future.

These aren’t great movies but they are worth a watch and an entertaining way to kill a few hours. I don’t know how driven I will be to ever watch them again but I would check out another sequel. But I doubt that I would ride this out for ten films like Friday the 13th.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2 (1986)

Release Date: August 22nd, 1986
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: L. M. Kit Carson
Music by: Tobe Hooper, Jerry Lambert
Cast: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Johnson, Bill Moseley, Lou Perryman

Cannon Films, 101 Minutes

texas_chainsaw_massacre_2Review:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is not as good of a film as its predecessor but I still prefer it to the original. Maybe that is a controversial stance, considering that most fans of the original loathed the sequel, but I don’t care.

I find this one to be the most entertaining of the series and I like that it is a gory dark comedy that parodies itself. Besides, the first film didn’t have the blood and guts one would anticipate with a film featuring its name. This one, more than makes up for its predecessor, if blood and guts are your thing.

I’m not a huge gore hound but the way it is used in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, is fantastic. It is deliberately over the top, almost to mock the critics of the first film that didn’t get the violence they felt they were promised. This movie pretty much states, in the most bold way possible, “Here you go! Here’s your fucking gore!” The scene where Lefty knocks a hole in the wall, only to discover that the whole place is full of human viscera, is enough to make most people wince.

I think it was over a lot of people’s heads that this was satire. It certainly wasn’t marketed that way when it was released and it may have caught people completely off guard or just pissed them off. When I saw this as a kid, I was grossed out, but I loved the humorous approach. And while I didn’t understand that it was a parody, at the time, I appreciated that it upped the ante a thousand times over.

It also develops the psychotic cannibal family’s story more. You really didn’t know much about them in the first movie but now you have a better idea of what they are. You also see Leatherface, as a character, more clearly. The introduction of Bill Moseley’s Chop Top is a great addition to the family and this became one of his most iconic horror roles.

The opening sequence of this film, as nonsensical as it is, is still one of my favorite openings to any horror film. I never understood why the vehicles drove at the same speed, albeit slowly, or why the radio station couldn’t hang up the phone but it still works for me. Maybe it was the awesome Oingo Boingo track that accompanied the violent and bizarre scene.

The music in this film was really good. Well, the rock tunes were. The actual score is pretty horrid. It sounds like a ten year-old with a synthesizer trying to pound away with scary sound effects. It kind of fits the satirical nature of the film though and it blends in well, as the movie progresses.

As far as the sets go, I much preferred the family living in an old defunct theme park, as opposed to the gross farm house from all the other movies. The evil lair was surreal and the scenes of Caroline Williams running through its bizarre halls was infinitely cooler than all the other girls, in all the other films, running through the woods with Leatherface in tow.

The scenes in the radio station also provide a cooler atmosphere than the creepy house.

Dennis Hopper said that this was the worst film of his career but he’s an idiot if he thought that Super Mario Bros. was any better.

I like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I like it better than all the others in the franchise. Again, the first movie is better, artistically. However, this one is just a lot more fun and insane.

Rating: 7/10