Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013, Daniel Farrands)


Much in the same vein as the other great documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) which Daniel Farrands also made, Crystal Lake Memories is a quality horror documentary that is a comprehensive history of a well known franchise. Even it’s detractors have to admit that The Friday The 13th series has, for better or for worse, left a sizable impact on the horror movie genre. I’m a die hard of the series and thus I greatly enjoyed the whole thing.

A fair warning though: much like the A Nightmare On Elm Street documentary this one is pretty long. 6 hours and 40 minutes to be exact, last I checked. So I spent two days watching the whole thing, and it was cool to see so many different cast members and crew show up. Sadly a number of them have passed away over the years and several in this documentary either died during or after it was completed.

Not to mention the behind scenes material is fun to witness and hear from those involved. I’m eagerly waiting to see if they make another Friday the 13th, still for now my collection of the first eight movies and this horror doc will have to do. Also it’s narrated by Corey Feldman, the awesome Kane Hodder shows up as well, and every famous final girl from the series makes an appearance, which is pretty radical to me. Their idea of having the survivors come back to fight Jason sounds great to me. Ah, one can dream.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Jack’s Back (1988, Rowdy Herrington)


James Spader plays twins in a rather captivating and interesting performance in the 1988 film Jack’s Back, which works as both a neo noir and a slasher film. Someone is replicating Jack The Ripper in LA, an innocent man is framed and Spader must prove that it was someone else. Assisting him is Cynthia Gibb as Chris, who works at the clinic with one of the brothers, and helps him stay ahead of the cops who are certain they already have their man.

I loved the lyrical shots of LA, how intense Spader is in most of the film, and how the movie operates as a bleak nightmare for the most part. The film loves to keep the audience guessing, and has some pretty gruesome violent moments. Despite not being a great film this is a good one, and I rather enjoyed it. Definitely a nice change of pace from the typical 1980s slasher films.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Stage Fright (1987, Michele Soavi)


When it comes to Michele Soavi’s body of work, Stage Fright is probably one of the more straightforward of his movies. Yet even this 1980s giallo has a lot of weird touches, and that is what makes this psycho killer goes after theater people movie more interesting than most. Naturally the kills are brutal, and Soavi tries to present characters that are not as paper thin as the ones in a typical slasher movie. Oh and Stage Fright takes the cliche of “All the dead people rounded up” and dials it up to 11 with a great, memorable scene that can be found easily via Google.

Barbara Cupisti is great as the final girl, and David Brandon also is the crazed director who at time poses as much a threat to the cast as the killer does with his awful decisions. Even though the last act goes on way too long, and the ending feels tacked on, I rather enjoyed Stage Fright. As far as 1980s slasher and giallos go this one was one of the best, and is well made. Even hardcore cinema buffs can appreciate a movie that even if it is not great still achieves what it sets out to do, with some extra flair thrown in for style points.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Halloween (2018, David Gordon Green)


Michael Myers is back for another round with Laurie Strode, only this time the people in charge have decided this entry would only follow the original 1978 film. Laurie still has a family, but its one daughter (Judy Greer, who has a family of her own) and suffers from exteme PTSD. Who could blame her, considering on one night 40 years ago some psycho murdered her friends and tried to kill her. Jamie Lee Curtis does a fine job of conveying these feelings, although at times it gets lost in the made for TV spots gun firing scenes with her shooting at dummies in the backyard.

Honestly as much as I liked this film, the sequels did not set a very high standard and thus were able to be cleared rather easily. At least in this one Myers was made into a human being again, and so he was creepy in some ways, like in the original first two movies. I rather liked Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter-I think another flick could be based mostly around her, especially with how the movie ended.

Perhaps I had way too high expectations for this flick, yet I still really liked it anyways. A second viewing at home away from a nicely crowded theater would be a good idea. I did enjoy the crowd atmosphere, particularly the reaction to a character literally slitting his own throat. Since this was a hit, expect more Michael Myers in the near future: the Shape never dies as long as he makes money.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: The House By The Cemetery (1981, Lucio Fulci)


Finally at last I finished Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy, and the last one is the best of the three, so I guess that works out. The House By The Cemetery is a slasher film, a Frankenstein style mad scientist movie, and a ghost movie all rolled into one glorious Italian horror movie package. Its odd that as I grow older and see more of his films I have grown to appreciate Fulci, who certainly loved showing gore in his films but also worked in that same eerie, dreamlike atmosphere as his more famous and better liked colleagues.  House is also a clear influence on the great modern day horror film We Are Still Here, which I previously reviewed. A heartly thanks to Shudder for enabling me to see this 1980s classic.

Poor Bob keeps getting warnings telling him and his parents to stay away from that old creepy house in New England. These warnings should have been heeded, because there are freaky things lurking in the basement. The house, like so many old houses, keeps its own dark, ancient secrets. Norman and Lucy Boyle, Bob’s parents, wish to investigate since Norman’s former co-worker lost his sanity in that very house. Unlike the other two films in The Gates of Hell trilogy, which were zombie films, The House By The Cemetery works mostly as a slasher film.

Fulci was able to create some truly great moments despite his limitations, and The House By The Cemetery showcases those skills. The bat scene is freaky and gory, and there are multiple scenes that are intense and really creepy. Naturally it has a typically strange Italian horror conclusion, although its not too confusing by most horror movie standards. If anything this convinces me to further explore more of Fulci’s work, as I have already seen an okay amount of his movies. Oh and that score is unreal, another reminder that music matters a lot in cinema, period.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Sleepaway Camp (1983, Robert Hiltzik)


Ah the 1980s, a time full of goofy slasher flicks like Sleepaway Camp. Made at the height of the horror movie craze Robert Hiltzik’s movie reflects the typical 80s horror movie: low budget, full of mostly unknowns, featuring plenty of horrible deaths and some cheesy music. The end credits features something called “Angela’s Theme” and it oddly fits a movie where the unseen killer stalks their victims. Too bad I already knew who the killer was, having been spoiled already thanks to years of being online and the fact that this movie came out decades ago. Oh to have been in the theater for this one and seen the reactions; I had to settle instead for Joe Bob Briggs’ commentary and a viewing on Shudder, neither of which are bad yet getting to see this on the big screen would be a treat. I am not sure if this is a good movie, however I enjoyed it at its basic level, and that is all that matters.

The plot is fairly simple: kids go to a camp, some of them meet horrible ends. It all revolves around quiet yet eerie Angela and her cousin Ricky, who is very protective of her. Sent to camp by Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould in what is the strangest performance I have ever seen) they are at the center of a murder mystery. Naturally the film tries to hide who the killer is, and there were times when even though I knew who it was I wondered if maybe it was two people. After all there is the interesting fan theory that has Rickey helping the killer the whole time, which all things considered makes a lot of sense. I wish I could discuss the disturbing twist ending more, yet its one of those “You have to see it for yourself” moments in horror cinema. I have not viewed any of the sequels, although I sort of wish to just because its amusing that Sleepaway Camp actually had sequels. It’s an odd duck, the kind of movie after watching you ponder before moving onto something actually more interesting.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Hostel (2005, Eli Roth)


Literally this is a nice homage/quasi remake of the 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with some notable twists. A trio of friends travel to an Eastern European hostel and discover unknown terrors. Jay Hernandez is the main leader of the trio which also includes one other American and a guy from Iceland named Oli. Eli Roth lures us in with the first, quiet fun half, only to dive into a second, brutal act.

One scene that is blood curdling is when a man proceeds to cut a girl’s toes off. You don’t see it happening, though, and the scene is shot in a way that pays homage to the famous Chainsaw Massacre moment when Leatherface clubs someone and slams the door shut behind him. Another scene involves creepy and brutal torture, displayed in unflinching realism. Which is what the film got unfairly criticized for, along with other similar movies of that time period.

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I’m sure that better writers have dived into Hostel, Saw and other horror films that depict torture as being awful and morally wrong. Others, however, argue in favor of these movies being a mirror into American horror after 9-11 and the use of torture on terror suspects. I feel that such movies are, for better or worse, in line with the later. Particularly with the movies commentary on Americans, consumerism, and even class and social politics. Even if such thoughts are obvious or not quite well illustrated.

Despite this film’s flaws I think Hostel is an engaging slasher film with more bite than many of its breatheren. The slasher was mocked for being dumb so Eli Roth and James Wan, among others, decided to make the genre leaner, nastier and smarter. I think they succeded, and I would prefer more films like theirs than usual mindless fare, even though I do enjoy the dumb ones, too.

Horrorfest 2016: A New Beginning


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Hey buddy

Okay so at this point I’m just ripping off titles from the Friday the 13th series. Besides any good horror fan knows never to trust a franchise that promises the next installment is the “Last one, the final chapter, the main bad guy is finally dead!, etc.” I also am using this title because this year I’ve decided not to make any pre-viewing list this time. Instead I am just listing all of the movies I actually bother to watch from August to October, plus the few movies I usually grab to kick things off with. Reviews will still be posted, although they may be even more half-assed than normal. To the few readers of this blog I have a 40 hour a week job and thus don’t have the time I used to have to watch a million things. Plus I blame peak TV widely available online for a decrease in movie viewing. Enjoy regardless, and I hope to try and see more horror that I haven’t yet fully explored.

Alright so this concludes Horrorfest 2016. I have finally six months later reviewed every movie I viewed during a three month period. Here is my Top 10 List just because I only saw 40 movies:

  1. We Are Still Here (2015, Geoghegan)-95
  2. Spoorloos (1988, Sluizer)-95
  3. Session 9 (2001, Anderson)-95
  4. Dale & Tucker Vs Evil (2010, Craig)-95
  5. The Fury (1978, De Palma)-94
  6. Insidious (2010, Wan)-93, Family Video
  7. Jacob’s Ladder (1990, Lyne)-93
  8. Hush (2016, Flanagan)-92
  9. The Others (2001, Amenábar)-91
  10. They Look Like People (2015, Blackshear)-90

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WAZZZZZZZZUUUUUPPP!

1. Splatter (2009, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/horrorfest-2016-presents-splatter-2009-joe-dante/
2. Crimson Peak (2015, Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/horrorfest-2016-presents-crimson-peak-2015-guillermo-del-toro/
3. Coma (1978, Medical)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/horrorfest-2016-presents-coma-1978-michael-crichton/
4. The Old Dark House (1932, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-old-dark-house-1932-james-whale/
5. Murder Party (2007, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/horrorfest-2016-presents-murder-party-2007-jeremy-saulnier/
6. Jacob’s Ladder (1990, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/horrorfest-presents-jacobs-ladder-1990-adrian-lyne/
7. Hostel (2005, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/horrorfest-2016-presents-hostel-2005-eli-roth/
8. Insidious (2010, Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/horrorfest-2016-presents-insidious-2010-james-wan/
9. Session 9 (2001, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/horrorfest-2016-presents-session-9-2001-brad-anderson/
10. The Cars That Ate Paris (1974, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-cars-that-ate-paris-1974-peter-weir/

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He just wants to be your friend…

11. Byzantium (2013, Vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/horrorfest-2016-presents-byzantium-2013-neil-jordan/
12. Castle Freak (1995, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/horrorfest-2016-presents-castle-freak-1995-stuart-gordon/
13. Darling (2015, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/darling-2015-mickey-keating/
14. The Others (2001, Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-others-2001-alejandro-amenabar/
15. Goosebumps (2015, Monsters)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/horrorfest-2016-presents-goosebumps-2015-rob-letterman/
16. Curse of Chucky (2013. Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/horrorfest-2016-presents-curse-of-chucky-2013-don-mancini/
17. Holidays (2016, Anthology)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/horrorfest-2016-presents-holidays-2016-kevin-smith-gary-shore-matt-johnson-scott-stewart-nicholas-mccarthy-dennis-widmyer-kevin-kolsch-sarah-adina-smith-anthony-scott-burns/
18. The Hole (2009, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-hole-2009-joe-dante/
19. Demons (1985, Demons)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/horrorfest-2016-presents-demons-1985-lamberto-bava
20. Hush (2016, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/horrorfest-2016-presents-hush-2016-mike-flanagan/

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It’s a rock band yeah!

21. They Look Like People (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/horrorfest-2016-presents-they-look-like-people-2015-perry-blackshear/
22. The Sacrament (2015, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/7750/
23. We Are Still Here (2015, Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/horrorfest-2016-presents-we-are-still-here-2015-ted-geoghegan/
24. The Hallow (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-hallow-2015-corin-hardy/
25. Road Games (2015, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/horrorfest-2016-presents-road-games-2015-abner-pastoll/
26. The Invitation (2015, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/the-invitation-2015-karyn-kusama/
27. They’re Watching (2016, Witches)-https://wordpress.com/posts/drafts/madman731.wordpress.com
28. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962, Mad Scientist)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-brain-that-wouldnt-die-1962-joseph-green/
29. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (2010, Slasher)-http://wp.me/pRBID-22W
30. Puppet Master (1989, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/2016-horrorfest-presents-puppet-master-1989-david-schmoeller/

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Yeah? Who you calling psycho?

31. Genocide (1967, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/horrorfest-2016-presents-genocide-1967-kazui-nihonmats/
32. The Fury (1978, Psychic People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-fury-1978-brian-de-palma/
33. The Traveler (2010, Slasher)- https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-traveler-2010-michael-oblowitz/
34. The House On Sorority Row (1983, Slasher)- https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/horrorfest-2016-presents-the-house-on-sorority-row-1983-mark-rosman/
35. Bad Milo (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/horrorfest-2016-presents-bad-milo-2015-jacob-vaughan/
36. Stung (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/?p=8218
37. Wyrmwood (2014, Zombies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/horrorfest-2016-presents-wyrmwood-2014-kiah-roache-turner/
38. Grizzly (1976, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/horrorfest-2016-presents-grizzly-1976-william-girdler/?preview_id=8270&preview_nonce=6713d40f1d
39. Spoorloos (1988, Crazy People)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/horrorfest-2016-presents-spoorloos-1988-george-sluizer/
40. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015, Zombies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/horrorfest-2016-presents-scouts-guide-to-the-zombie-apocalypse-2015-christopher-b-landon/?preview_id=8331&preview_nonce=5cfb8ce467

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Final Terror (1983, Andrew Davis)


 

Andrew Davis’ cult classic slasher thriller The Final Terror is everything I wanted in a slasher film from the 80s. It’s a harrowing, eerie and suspenseful film that once things go south becomes relentless. I like that there is literally no soundtrack at times, and the film’s cast is quite famous for a low budget 80s horror movie. Davis went on to big budget films such as Under Siege and The Fugitive, two other famous thrillers. The wilderness setting is perfect for such a movie, although granted the I it doors was featured in many slasher movies released during that era.

The cast doesn’t hurt either: you have a young Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, Adrian Zmed and Joe Pantoliano. Although there are some typical slasher cliches I liked that this film has its own surprises and is better directed than many films of the early 80s. Davis showcased a natural talent early on and went on to fulfill that promise. If only more 80s slasher had been as great as this one.

Wes Craven’s Final Nightmare


Back in high school when I was starting out as a young freshman getting more into horror movies I saw a film called Scream. I also watched Scream 2 also that night, and both films left a good impression upon me. Shortly after I also viewed for the first time one of his classics, A Nightmare On Elm Street. This is a creepy and effective horror movie with a freaky jump scare near the end and some great performances from its young cast. Therefore last night I was bummed when I discovered that Wes Craven had died from brain cancer. It’s truly a shame as the guy helped shape and influence horror many times over.

I’ve seen other films of his over the years, from the other Scream movies to cult flicks such as The People Under The Stairs and The Serpent and the Rainbow. Both underrated and enjoyable movies that are examples of how Craven also was able to work in social and political commentary into his films. I also had a blast viewing Scream 4 in theaters-it’s a fine send off for the current bunch and it’s why for better or worse that there is a Scream TV show.

There is also other famous Craven films such as his classic revenge flick The Last House On The Left and A New Nightmare, which I dig a lot. Thanks to the Scream films Craven and Kevin Williamson helped bring horror movies back from the fringe in the 1990s, and for that alone he deserves to be celebrated. Few people have the luck and the talent to be a part of two major series and to change an entire genre more than once.

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