Release Date: October 6th, 2020 Directed by: David A. Weiner Written by: David A. Weiner Music by: Weary Pines Cast: Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Joe Bob Briggs, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Chris Jericho, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Diana Prince, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Corey Taylor, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Tom Woodruff Jr., Brian Yuzna
CreatorVC, 263 Minutes
Everything I said in my review of the first film in this series still holds true for this one. Reason being, they’re exactly the same in what they are. It’s just that each one features different films.
I think that I like this one a wee bit better for two reasons.
The first, is that I already know what I’m getting into now. I know that this will just fly through dozens of films and not give them the proper amount of time they deserve. As I said in the previous film’s review, I’d love to see each section spread out into a full episode and have these films actually be a streaming series.
The second reason, is that I like that the films are getting more obscure, as there were a few here I hadn’t heard of. With that, I walked away from this with a list of shit I need to watch and review.
Apart from that, this was more of the same. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just wish that these documentaries didn’t fly through films and other topics so quickly.
I still like these, though. I know there’s a third one coming, which I look forward to, and there’s also one coming out on ’80s sci-fi flicks.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: the other documentaries in the In Search of… series, as well as other documentaries on ’80s horror.
Release Date: October 13th, 2006 Directed by: Jeff McQueen Written by: J. Albert Bell, Rachel Belofsky, Michael Derek Bohusz, Adam Rockoff, Rudy Scalese Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Ed Green (narrator), Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Malek Akkad, Greg Nicotero, Amy Holden Jones, Stan Winston, Rob Zombie, Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer, Harry Manfredini, Felissa Rose, Robert Shaye
For being one of those film history documentaries made by Starz, it’s pretty good.
Granted, this isn’t great and there are much better documentaries on ’80s horror, slasher films and many of the specific movies this one discusses.
As can be expected, this is a series of talking head interviews edited and presented to tell a narrative. In the case of this film, it goes through the history of slasher films from the ’70s and up to more modern times. I kind of lost interest once it got midway into the ’90s but that’s when Scream came out and kind of wrecked the genre.
This does miss a lot and doesn’t even really touch on the things in film’s history that inspired and paved the way for slasher cinema.
It felt like a missed opportunity to examine Italian giallo and how that subgenre of horror (and neo-noir) laid some groundwork for what would become the American and Canadian slasher flick empire.
Still, this was entertaining and I enjoyed it even if I didn’t learn much of anything new.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other documentaries on ’70s and ’80s horror.
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
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.
Also known as: House: Ding Dong, You’re Dead (video title) Release Date: December 6th, 1985 (Victoria, Texas premiere) Directed by: Steve Miner Written by: Ethan Wiley, Fred Dekker Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz
New World Pictures, 93 Minutes
“Hey, it’s great to have a new neighbor. Woman lived here before you was nuts. Biggest bitch under the sun. Just a senile old hag really. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone just got fed up and offed her. Know what I mean?” – Harold, “She was my aunt.” – Roger, “Heart of gold though. Just uh, a saint really. And uh such a beautiful woman, for her age.” – Harold
I never liked this movie. In fact, I remember not being alone in that based off of what other people said about both House films when I was a kid. But in the last few years, I’ve heard people talk it up like it’s a classic or a hidden gem. Being that I hadn’t watched it since the mid-’80s, I wondered if I had missed something as a kid. Was it maybe too adult for my eight year-old sensibilities?
The short answer is “no”.
I still think that this is a pretty bad movie. The main reason is because it is dreadfully dull.
This is like a family friendly horror movie of the worst caliber. It’s like a terrible episode of Amazing Stories and then it’s even worse than that.
The story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, it’s really just a total fucking mess and it is hard to care about any of the characters because you can’t take any of this seriously enough to connect to anything.
Sure, this has some good comedic actors with William Katt, George Wendt and Richard Moll. Their talents are mostly wasted though. Katt is a wee bit charming but he’s too goofy and thus, it’s hard to sympathize with his turmoil. Wendt has some funny lines but he’s not in the film all that much and he’s sort of just on the sidelines. Moll wasn’t used in a comedic way at all and it’s such a departure from the Moll audiences would have been used to due to his time on Night Court. In fact, I wonder why the cast him in the first place.
The special effects are pretty hokey, even for 1985. Although, I was impressed by some of the matte painting work.
In the end, I still think this movie sucks. I’ll probably watch the second one in order to review it but I’m not enthused about it.
Rating: 4.25/10 Pairs well with: its sequel and other films that Italy merged into a series of unrelated pictures called La Casa.
Also known as: Bad Company, Grim Company, Krug & Company, Night of Vengeance, Sex Crime of the Century (working titles) Release Date: August 30th, 1972 Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: David Alexander Hess Cast: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David A. Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler, Martin Kove
Sean S. Cunningham Films, The Night Co., Hallmark Releasing, 84 Minutes, 64 Minutes (heavily cut), 91 Minutes (original cut), 82 Minutes (R rated cut)
“How’d we get into the sex-crime business anyway? My brother Saul, a plumber, makes twice as much money as I do and gets three weeks vacation, too.” – Fred “Weasel” Podowski
I’ve never liked this film. To be honest, I’m not a huge Wes Craven fan, even though A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of my favorite horror films of all-time. Outside of the Nightmare series, Craven just hasn’t resonated with me.
This isn’t a good film but hardcore exploitation and grindhouse fans like to convince people that this is some sort of masterpiece. While I don’t mind gore and horrible things and I actually like grindhouse movies, I’ve never been a fan of gore for the sake of gore or shock just to shock. These are cheap parlor tricks and without substance surrounding them to give them purpose or more meaning, these tricks really don’t mean anything.
The Last House On the Left is a rather pointless film that just uses its time to try to disgust you for no other reason than it came out in a time where filmmakers could really do anything that they wanted and young filmmakers, especially, had to push the bar as high as they could just to get noticed. But when everyone is doing the same thing, you’ve got to push the bar so high that the average person on the ground will never see it.
The film is comprised of two halves, which completely ignores a three act structure but hey, Wes Craven is the king or something.
The first half is a long drawn out torture and rape sequence that takes up more than half of the film. The second half is the parents of one of the victims getting revenge on the psychos. Somehow, these parents turn psycho themselves, instead of just calling the cops when these evil people are actually just squatting in their house.
Nothing in this film makes much sense. It’s supposed to freak you out by showing people just being psychotic for no other reason than psychos gonna psycho.
The acting is terrible, the camera work is worse than terrible and the film’s music almost made me go psycho.
Some people think that this is a classic. It’s far from a classic. It’s gratuitous and even then, I’ve seen much worse in that department. Most of all, the film is really fucking slow and boring. Maybe it was effective in 1972 but considering it only appealed to an audience of miscreants jacking off in rundown Times Square porno and grindhouse theaters, this probably was just a regular Tuesday for them.
Rating: 4/10 Pairs well with: Other exploitation films of the era with a high emphasis on gore and horror: I Spit On Your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust, The Hills Have Eyes, Cannibal Ferox.
Friday the 13th was a cultural phenomenon when I was growing up. While I have always been a bigger fan of Freddy Krueger, I still loved these films, which followed Jason Voorhees, as he murdered sexually active teens that got too close to Crystal Lake.
This is one of the most successful film franchises in cinema history, despite being panned by critics. There have been a total of twelve films between sequels and a remake, as well as an entry that saw Jason fight Freddy of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame. There was even a television show that didn’t directly tie into the movies but was inspired by their tone and spirit.
It is rumored that there is a new films and a television show currently in development. Although things seem to be at the very early stages.
In this review, I am going to cover the first three films. The second review will cover what I call The Tommy Jarvis Trilogy as Parts IV, V and VI focus on the character of Tommy Jarvis and his three film battle with the masked killer. Part three will cover Parts VII, VIII, Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X – the films featuring Kane Hodder as Jason. I will review Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 remake at a later date.
Friday the 13th (1980):
Release Date: May 9th, 1980 Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham Written by: Victor Miller Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Irwin Keyes
Paramount Pictures, 95 Minutes
The first film was created to cash-in on the success of its slasher predecessor Halloween. It was also the first film of its type to be distributed by a major studio – Paramount Pictures. The studio heads were geniuses taking a risk like that because it turned into a massive franchise. Well, they sold the rights to New Line Cinema years later but someone definitely got a huge bonus.
The first film sets the tone for all the others. It even features a young Kevin Bacon.
What makes the first film so unique, is that people have come to associate these films with Jason as the killer. However, in the original film, Jason was not the killer. I thought this was pretty much common knowledge until my girlfriend watched it with me and was shocked at the reveal. While she had seen many of these films, the first movie was not one of them and it was cool to see someone effected by the reveal for the first time.
This seems to be considered the best film, despite Jason only being in it for a few seconds. It’s a good slasher movie but I don’t feel that it is the best, as the films evolve and develop over time.
It still plays well today, and it is still effective despite aspects of it coming off as cheesy. The practical effects still look better than modern CGI blood splatter and gore but I constantly beat a dead horse with that point in my reviews of older horror movies.
The atmosphere of this film is great. It has a similar environmental vibe to Wes Craven’s Last House On the Left but it is lighter in tone, with comedic elements being sprinkled in. It certainly doesn’t make you as uncomfortable as Last House On the Left. Oddly enough, Sean S. Cunningham, who directed and produced this film, worked with Craven on Last House. He wanted to distance himself from that film and wanted to create something a bit more approachable and fun. He succeeded.
Friday the 13th, Part II (1981):
Release Date: April 30th, 1981 Directed by: Steve Miner, Sean S. Cunningham (additional scenes) Written by: Ron Kurz, Phil Scuderi Based on: characters by Victor Miller Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Stuart Charno
Paramount Pictures, 87 Minutes
The second film picks up with Jason looking for revenge. Revenge for what? Well, watch the first film, if you don’t know.
Jason is finally the killer and introduced as a menacing hulk for the first time. Although he doesn’t have the hockey mask yet and walks around with a potato sack over his head. While that is bizarre, there is still something scary about it and about his one eye – peering through a small tear in the sack.
Another group of teens show up at Crystal Lake and the body count starts to rise.
This isn’t as strong of a film as a few of the later installments but it does set the course for the franchise. It becomes the template to follow, even more so than the first part. There is more violence, more boobies and the most important element: Jason!
The only real negative about this chapter, is that they kill off Crazy Ralph. That dude should have been in every Friday the 13th movie.
Friday the 13th, Part III (1982):
Release Date: August 13th, 1982 Directed by: Steve Miner Written by: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson, Petru Popescu Based on: characters by Victor Miller, Ron Kurz Music by: Harry Manfredini, Michael Zager Cast: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker
Paramount Pictures, 95 Minutes
This was a 3D film. It is funny to watch because there are all these bizarre shots done that were made specifically for the 3D format. So when you watch them now, they look bizarre and out of place. But even if you didn’t know this was a 3D film, it is made pretty obvious with some of the gags and angles.
The most important thing about this movie, is that Jason finally gets his hockey mask! And even though it takes three films to get to completely familiar territory with this franchise, I do love the slow build over three movies. While it wasn’t necessarily intentional at the time, it now plays out really well. It also keeps the films from becoming too similar, up to this point.
Another group of teens show up because Jason likes killing a specific type of people and a senior citizens convention wouldn’t be as exciting.
Teens die, other people die, Jason fucks shit up and then we get our final battle of the heroine versus the monster. Not to give too much away but the final fight sees Jason take an axe to the head, which is how he got that iconic mark at the top of his mask.
This film is more comedic than its predecessors, especially in regards to the marijuana jokes and hippie characters that were obviously put in the film to appeal to the Cheech & Chong crowd at the time.