October 31, 2012 § 6 Comments
It’s the most wonderful time, of the year
There be werewolves and demons
and teenagers screamin’
They’re full of good fear
It’s the most wonderful time, of the yeaaaaarrrr!
I was born and raised on horror movies. Well, that doesn’t sound right because it makes it seem like my mom forced me to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre before I could do my homework. I was born, then I was raised, and as that was happening I developed a love for the macabre. Probably to the point where other parents would say “that’s one weird fucking kid.”
Through the years I’ve gone through phases and stages where I’ll take a step back and not watch a scary movie for awhile, but then like a drug addict or food addict (as I know all too well) I will go on binges. There’s the Halloween Horror Challenge that I did where you watch 31 scary movies in October. (I completed the task in about two weeks.) Or the time I worked at Hollywood Video and they let you rent three movies at a time for free. (In the 6 months that I worked there, I watched over 300 movies.)
Still single, ladies!
With that being said, I’ve obviously seen a lot of horror movies and just about every horror movie franchise movie worth (and not worth) watching. Here are my favorites (and worst) of all those series:
Sleepaway Camp III (Imdb: 4.9)
Angela Baker (who is clearly not the woman on the cover, but is played by Bruce Springsteen’s little sister) was definitely one of my first killer crushes. I think I actually saw the Sleepaway Camp sequels before I saw the original, which is good because I might have never watched them if I had done it in reverse. The first movie is actually pretty boring, and then all of has a sudden disturbing and shocking ending out of nowhere, and that might have ruined me for the series (and “girls”) forever.
Pamela Springsteen showed up for the next two however, and everything was going to be okay. Sleepaway Camp II hits all of the right notes of a campy, cheesy horror flick that is desperately trying to nibble off of the leftovers of the Friday the 13th franchise, but it falls a bit short in one area that #3 excels in: Being terrible.
If I’m going to watch a campy, cheesy, gratuitous horror movie, then I want it to be as bad, cheesy, and gratuitous as possible. The premise of SC3 is that a program unites teens from bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods in order to build camaraderie towards the two sides, while camping. Because if there’s anything that inner city kids want to do, it’s camp with rich kids. If there’s one thing that rich kids want to do, it’s camp with city kids. And racism? The movie has plenty of it. Actors and actresses in their late-20s (and possibly 30s) playing teenagers? Hey, that’s the way of the world in 1989.
Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland is not a Waste-of-Time.
Worst: Return to Sleepaway Camp. A pointless attempt to revitalize the franchise without Angela.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (part 5) (Imdb: 4.3)
A close second was probably Jason X, the Friday movie that wasn’t afraid to say “fuck it, we’re going live!” and be so satirical that if you understood satire you’d absolutely love it. But Friday 5 has always been and always will be, my favorite Friday the 13th movie. Period. (The first one actually isn’t very good.)
Friday the 13th 5 has it all:
- Corey fucking Feldman
- Teens having sex in the woods
- Teens having sex in cabins
- A punk rock chick
- A young black kid named Reggie
- Reggie’s older brother “Demon”, who gets killed while taking a shit
- Crazy kids, because this one is set in a halfway house in the woods
- Seriously, the main character Tommy was attacked by Jason as a kid and so when he grows up where do they send him? TO A HALFWAY HOUSE IN THE WOODS! Don’t they have any city halfway houses?!
I could go on forever about this, such as the first scene at the halfway house where a teen murders another teen and saves Jason some work, or the surprise ending, but that’s plenty.
Worst: Friday the 13th Part II. Why?
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors (Imdb: 6.3)
Heather Langenkamp? Check.
Laurence Fishburne? Check.
A young, hot, and sexy Patricia Arquette? Triple-check.
Probably the best casting job of any of the movies (Sorry, Johnny), Dream Warriors manages to excel as both a good movie and a ridiculous Nightmare on Elm Street movie. The Nightmare movies provide value to the horror market because anything is possible in a dream. That’s where they can either go horribly right or horribly wrong (looking at you, Freddy’s Dead) but in this case it goes horribly right.
Set in a mental institution for teens that can’t sleep because of Freddy, Arquette and her new buddies struggle to survive as he comes and gets them anyway because if he didn’t… well, that wouldn’t be a very good installment in the franchise! In this case, the dream warriors use their powers to try and defeat Freddy because “Hey, we’re in the dream too, let’s make shit happen.”
The deaths are all solid (TV on the head, hell below the bed) and you actually feel something for the characters. About as rare a quality as you’ll find in any horror franchise sequel. And why not? Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont co-wrote the screenplay. It was also only one of three Nightmare films that Craven was credited with co-writing. Dream Warriors isn’t just one of the best in the Nightmare series, it’s one of the best horror sequels ever.
Worst: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) There have been some bad sequels in this franchise, but nothing compares to an almost shot-for-shot remake of one of the ten best horror movies ever made. Psycho’s remake seemed to have some kind of point, the Friday the 13th “remake” was an original story, but the Nightmare remake was the same thing as the original but incredibly worse. It was a fucking travesty and likely why the series looks dead for now.
Scre4m (Imdb: 6.2)
You can’t fuck with me on the Scream series. The original was the movie that shaped me as a movie fan, as a horror movie fan, as a person that wanted to write screenplays. The first two sequels were fine movies, but I knew in my heart that nothing could touch Scream.
“I’ve seen that movie twenty god damn times!!!” as Casey Becker would say. Except that I’ve seen Scream more like 100 god damn times. I wanted to memorize it word-for-word, stab-for-stab. So my expectations for any sequel would be both high (because it’s got Neve Campbell, my love, my heart, my inspiration) but low because it’s not the original. However, Scre4m (or “Scre-four-em” as I pronounce it) actually exceeded expectations by a mile. Tons of kills, lots of interesting characters, a good story, and the funniest installment in the franchise by far.
In fact, one of the best pieces of horror satire this side of Shaun of the Dead.
I have no idea if Scr5am could ever hope to match it, but Kevin Williamson is contractually-obligated to write it if they do make it, so it couldn’t be that bad.
Worst: Fuck you, there is no worst Scream movie.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (4.8)
Finally, it’s time to hit on the franchise of the day, Halloween. And it’s the most difficult one of all, but not for the right reasons.
1. Halloween is one of the best movies ever made. But it was great based off of suspense, not off of kills. John Carpenter never directed another installment, and subsequent sequels basically only had one thing on common: Michael Myers. Therefore, none of the sequels were ever that great and often blended together. They could never re-create the suspense of the original, instead trying to do what every other franchise does: Kill everybody in the world.
2. The franchise has taken serious turns and gone through incredibly different phases, much like an actual kid growing up. Could we say that Halloween: H20 is the best sequel, because it returns Jamie Lee Curtis and also has LL Cool J? Could we say that Resurrection is the best because it’s probably the most-watchable-terrible movie in the franchise and has Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes? Could we say that Rob Zombie’s Halloween is the best because it takes chances unlike any other in the franchise?
Yeah, we could probably say all of that. There are definitely installments that are terrible (I count 3 of them) but none that were ever phenomenal. They’re all flawed. So why Halloween 5?
There’s something about the character of Jamie Lloyd that I just always identified with. She’s one of the few horror “heroines” that I ever invested emotionally into. I cared about the relationship she had with the older females in 5 and wanted them to survive. I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about the plot, it probably doesn’t even exist, but I did care about Jamie. I can’t say that about anyone in Rob Zombie’s version, or about the one that had Paul Rudd, and definitely not about any motherfucker in Season of the Witch. Halloween 5 (and 4 because she’s in that too) are probably the ones I’d put on today if it were Halloween.
Holy shit, it’s Halloween!
The Worst: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch and Halloween 2 (2009)
I will never forget the disappointment I faced in sixth grade when on Halloween my friend Doug and I rented Season of the Witch from Blockbuster and then kept saying, “WHERE THE FUCK IS MICHAEL MYERS?!” What a piece of shit. But then 27 years later, Rob Zombie made a sequel to his own pretty-good version of the franchise and might have actually made Season of the Witch watchable in comparison.
Halloween 2 is one of the few movies I’ve ever turned off. I almost always finish a horror movie that I start. That’s how bad that piece of shit was and it probably ruined Zombie, a director that used to be one of my favorites, for me forever.
Stop trying so hard to be edgy and focus more on something that’s actually good. I know that you can, but you’ll never touch another Michael Myers film again. Maybe nobody should.
Happy Halloween, you fuckin’ freaks!