Posts Tagged ‘the burning’

My Top 10 Favorite Slasher Films of All Time

October 5, 2010

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve decided to compile a list of my all time favorite films from my all time favorite sub genre of horror: the slasher film. From the inspirations drawn from the Italian Giallo genre, the slasher film exploded in the late 70s and early 80s. The year 1981 gave birth to hundreds of cheaply made slashers and each one of them made money. The simple formula of a crazed killer stalking and killing a group of unsuspecting teenagers one by one has been probably the most successful form of American horror next to the zombie film. It was a direct product of a cynical era still trying to come to terms with sexual freedom and the women’s movement. Some call the films puritanical rage against feminism and the casual sex and drug use of the late 60s and early 70s. Whatever it was that caused this pop culture phenomenon, I regard the slasher genre as one of the most honest and pure forms of horror ever created. To this day Hollywood continues to churn out slasher films for new generations of teenagers to enjoy. They are a rite of passage for young lovers and a good excuse to cling on to somebody in the dark. This is a list of my all time favorites…

1. HALLOWEEN (1978)

This is the undisputed classic that was such a huge success, it created a flood of copycats trying to cash in on its low budget money making magic, and it is the main reason the slasher genre was born. It is also the template for all slasher films to follow: Deranged, masked killer escapes on the anniversary of committing a horrible crime and kills every horny, pot smoking teenager he comes across. The “survivor” girl is a prudish, all American type who must confront the maniac one on one. This is also the first slasher to create an unstoppable killer who simply will not die, so he can return again in sequel after sequel. It is also the first of many “holiday” theme slasher films, taking the best of them for its own and creating the most iconic killer ever created, Michael Myers. Everything about this one is perfect. John Carpenter’s brilliant direction combined with Dean Cundey’s incredible steadicam photography, the erie opening theme music and Jamie Lee Curtis’ beautiful portrayal of Laurie Strode add up to greatness. This film also has the amazing Donald Pleasance as the greatest adversarial psychiatrist ever born. As Sam Loomis, he is the Captain Ahab to the boogeyman’s Moby Dick. This film is a genre definer.

Best sequel: HALLOWEEN II (1981)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

HALLOWEEN may have been the slasher film to start the wave of imitations, but John Carpenter himself was obviously inspired by this, the first holiday themed slasher film ever made. Although its inspirations are more Giallo than anything else, this is the movie that started it all. A crazed maniac has broken into a sorority house that’s emptying out for the Christmas holiday. He delivers frightening obscene phone calls to the few girls remaining and then starts killing them off one by one. The creepiest thing about this movie is the fact that you are never aware of who and why the killer is doing what he’s doing. Several red herrings are tossed around, but in the end the lunatic is still loose and never revealed. This is probably one of the most chilling and creepiest slashers ever made. If Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is the Father of the genre, BLACK CHRISTMAS is the Grandfather.

3. MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)

Another great entry in the holiday slasher formula. This one concerns an escaped madman named Harry Warden, who has returned to the town of Valentine’s Bluff on you guessed it, Valentine’s Day, to extract some vengeance on the towns people who left him in an collapsed mine shaft for way too long. Or is it really Harry Warden? There’s a romantic love triangle at work in this grimy, working class slasher that really changes the game in a very interesting way. The final reveal and ending scene are one of the most chilling I’ve ever witnessed.

4. THE BURNING

The “summer camp” slasher is another wonderful byproduct of the genre and a direct result of the success of the original FRIDAY THE 13th. THE BURNING stands out for many reasons. First, it was written and produced by the Weinstein brothers and industry mogul Brad Grey. Second, it features first time performances by Jason Alexander (with hair), Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter. Third, it breaks from the standard slasher formula in several unique ways: There is a mass group murder in which the horribly burned killer Cropsey chops up a raft full of kids with a pair of gardening sheers. Also, the “survival” girl prototype is abandoned for a “survival” boy. The gore effects by maestro Tom Savini are top notch and there is a pervasive theme of sleaze, voyeurism and aggressive male sexuality that makes this one a little grimier than the others.

5. THE PROWLER (1981)

THE PROWLER is another one of those slashers that fucks around with the spurned lover concept. This one opens with a WWII G.I. jilted in a Dear John letter who returns home with a vengeance. After killing his disloyal love and her new beau with a pitchfork, the movie jumps decades ahead to a dance thrown at the same sight as the previous murders. This movie is a total balls out slasher with some of the goriest and most creative kills ever produced by SFX master, Tom Savini. It also has a scary ass ending that’ll make you jump out of your seat with fright.

6. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Wes Craven really changed the game with this awesomely entertaining and atmospheric slasher that totally twists the genre in a unique way by inventing a killer who’s already dead and can only kill you in your dreams. Sooner or later we all have to sleep and that’s when the iconic Freddy Krueger gets you with his glove made of knives. The first one is still the most serious and the most scary.

Best sequel: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS

7. FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

This one owes just as much to Mario Bava’s Giallo classic TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (A.K.A BAY OF BLOOD) as it does to HALLOWEEN. The first of the “summer camp” slashers, it is also the first to really amp up the inventive and violent kill scenes. Tom Savini creates one brutal murder after another, as a mysterious killer starts offing a group of counsellors trying to open a closed camp. This is the first of one of the longest running slasher series ever made and the introduction to the iconic Jason Vorhees.

Best sequel: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 4: THE FINAL CHAPTER

8. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

There is a perverse joy I get from this film about a crazy orphan who dresses up like Santa Claus and butchers folks with an ax at Christmas time. A child is severely traumatized by watching a criminal dressed like Ole Saint Nick kill his father and mother (after raping her). He grows up to be a psycho who loses his shit at the holidays and starts offing the locals. The movie is cheaply made in Utah and features some of the cheesiest acting since TROLL 2, but there is something so delightfully WRONG about the movie, I just can’t help but love it to death. B-movie hottie Linnea Quigley impaled on a pair of deer antlers while topless and wearing a pair of Daisy Duke’s has to be seen to be believed. This movie was picketed by angry parents upon its initial release for degrading the holiday. Just another reason to love it.

Best sequel: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2

9. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1984)

If you’ve never seen SLEEPAWAY CAMP before, you haven’t lived a full and complete life. It is one of the craziest, weirdest, most off center summer camp slashers ever conceived. People are killed with boiling pots of water, beehives and a hot curling iron. The acting is unnerving at times. The overall ambience of the film is like David Lynch on model glue. And the ending! My god, the fucking insanity that is the ending must be seen with your own eyes, which you will need to wash out with powerful industrial chemicals afterwards. Only the 1980’s could produce a film this warped and fun to watch.

Best sequel: THE RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP

10. SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1984)

What happens when a feminist writes a slasher movie and it’s directed by another female? SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE is what happens, bitches! This film works as a parody of the genre, while at times it also appears to be playing it somewhat straight. The result is a hilarious send up of all the slasher standards that have come before it. A group of high school girls throw a slumber party and an uninvited guest shows up and starts killing them. The maniac is a very average looking guy clad from head to toe in denim and sporting a large drill that is used more than once as an obvious phallic symbol. The movie is what Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING trailer was. A very funny take on a worn formula.

Best sequel: SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE 3

Hope you enjoyed my Slasher Top 10. If I get a chance, I’ll do a list of the rarest and most seldom seen slashers of all time soon. Nerd out!

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2nd Annual All Night Horror Show @ the New Bev!

October 15, 2009
12 hours of mind roasting madness!

12 hours of mind roasting madness!

Last Saturday night I attended the 2nd Annual All Night Horror Show at The New Beverly Cinema and I’m still trying to recover from the mind roasting madness that oozed across my eyeballs! I got there super early so I could get my favorite seat and was joined by the lovely Grae Drake (her first time) and my buddy Wendell (vet from last year).

Ready to be scared!

Ready to be scared!

Last year was a blast and now with the addition of brand new and very comfortable seats, I was not surprised that it was a sold out show. My goal this time was to make it through the whole 12 plus hours and receive my “I survived the all night horror show” pin. I just couldn’t do it last year with the old seats. At 7:30 P.M. the show promptly began. The following is an account of what I saw, as it happened, filtered through a hazy, chemically enhanced memory:

Trailers for BLOOD FEAST, ZOMBIES (European trailer for the original DAWN OF THE DEAD) and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (featuring the oddly absent CLU GULAGER. We missed ya CLU!), and a D.A.R.E. drug P.S.A.

1st Movie:

dog-soldiers_1

dogsoldiers6

dogsoldiers1

NEIL MARSHALL’S DOG SOLDIERS screened first and it was great to finally see it on the big screen! Awesome flick about a group of British soldiers on a military exercise in the Scottish wilderness, that find themselves on the run from a pack of werevolves bent on having them all for dinner. Great movie, that’s like a mix of ALIENS, SOUTHERN COMFORT and THE HOWLING.

Trailers for DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE, FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER, and JUST BEFORE DAWN (tagline: IF ONLY THEY COULD DIE IN THEIR SLEEP).

2nd Movie: burning

CROPSY!!! HOLY SHIT!!!

CROPSY!!! HOLY SHIT!!!

FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

One of my favorite slasher films of all time, THE BURNING screened next and it was the second time I’ve seen it screened in a theatre since it was first released back in 1981. I had convinced my mom to take my friend Curtis and I to see it back then, after telling her it was all about camping. It wasn’t a complete lie, but my poor mother was horrified at what she had taken two small children to see, for it is one of the sleaziest slasher films ever made.

It tells the tale of a horrible prank gone awry that befouls one Cropsy, a caretaker at Camp Blackfoot, who is unfortunately set ablaze and covered with painful 3rd degree burns as a result of the gag. He’s released from the hospital burn ward 5 years later and decides to return to the woods and extract some vengeance on a few campers with his trusty gardening sheers.

This movie, in addition to being written and produced by the WEINSTEIN brothers, features a highly accomplished cast that includes first appearances by JASON ALEXANDER, FISHER STEVENS and HOLLY HUNTER!

Unfortunately the print had the best scene in the movie cut out of it, which is of course, the infamous RAFT SLAUGHTER SEQUENCE. It was obviously the work of some douchebag projectionist who screened it in the past and no fault of the New Bev, but it was a huge buzzkill nonetheless.

Trailers for DAY OF THE ANIMALS, Edgar Wright’s DON’T trailer from GRINDHOUSE and THE BEYOND.

3rd Movie:

house_by_the_cemetery

OUCH!

OUCH!

BOB?

BOB?

I’ve never seen LUCIO FULCI’S HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY completely through before. This is the plot according to IMDB: A deranged killer lives in the basement of an old mansion and pops out occasionally to commit grisly murders that include be-headings, ripped throats, and stabbings with a fireplace poker. The killer needs fresh body parts to rejuvenate his cells. He also has maggots for blood.

It opens with a vicious murder, where a woman is stabbed in the back of the head with a huge butcher knife by some sort of zombie-man. Awesome! Then a married couple and their creepy son Bob move into the same house and soon discover there are a lot of things really wrong with the place. You’ve got dolls missing an arm and a leg, crazy bat attacks and a creature with glowing yellow eyes that murders whoever is stupid enough to go in the basement.

Not one of FULCI’S best, but definitely a fun time. The film ended with this perplexing quote: NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW IF CHILDREN ARE MONSTERS OR MONSTERS ARE CHILDREN. – HENRY JAMES

Trailers for SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (featuring music by DEVO), a P.S.A. for mentally retarded children (very tasteful), DR. GIGGLES and a Fritos corn chip commercial.

?? Secret Movie ??:

talesfromthecrypt2

There were many guesses before, but nobody could have seen a 35mm print of the TALES FROM THE CRYPT T.V. show coming. There were three episodes from the classic series shown that included: LOVER COME HACK TO ME directed by TOM (FRIGHT NIGHT) HOLLAND, COLLECTION COMPLETED directed by MARY LAMBERT and ONLY SIN DEEP directed by FRED (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) DEKKER.

The reaction from the crowd was not very good during this. You could sense that a lot of people were upset by this choice and would have preferred a cool horror film instead. Not being the biggest TFTC fan myself, I kind of felt the same at first. But my girlfriend Grae is such a HUGE fan of the show and was so happy and O.D.ing on nostalgia from each episode, I couldn’t help but enjoy it along with her.

Trailers for TWICE DEAD, AMITYVILLE 3-D, a Shasta commercial and a Renault car commercial (What’s with all the commercials?).

5th Movie:

Superstition

There's something you don't see everyday.

There's something you don't see everyday.

1982’s SUPERSTITION is basically a slasher movie with a sharp clawed Witch doing all the killing. It seems that many years ago, said Witch was murdered by a gang of angry townspeople and she has returned to the 80’s to wreak vengeance on a few of their ancestors.

It’s a fun, cheesy horror film with some great “kills”, that includes a guy’s head exploding in a microwave! Cool!

Another commercial, this one for FLAVOS – AN “ORIENTAL” TREAT, followed by trailers for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, MANIAC and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

6th Movie:

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This came on at about 5 A.M. If you’ve never seen FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE before, it is probably one of the most intense, politically incorrect films ever made. I saw it a couple of years ago at the Grindhouse festival thrown by QUENTIN TARANTINO at the New Bev. The tagline is: 89 MINUTES OF SHEER TERROR and that’s no joke!

The plot concerns an unfortunate African American family that are held captive by a trio of escaped convicts, led by a racist white trash killer, played by a young WILLIAM SANDERSON. This movie is just wrong in so many ways and watching it with an audience kinda becomes like an endurance test for everyone. In addition to hearing a family of black people called every single racial epitaph ever invented, they are also forced to perform acts of humiliation and degradation at the hands of their captors. There’s also a scene where a little white boy (a friend of the black child) has his head beaten in by a rock! Not technically a “horror” movie, but one fucked up, terrifying film nonetheless.

Trailers for ALIEN and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS.

7th and Final Movie:

197230.1020.A

That's a cheap looking alien!

That's a cheap looking alien!

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

ROGER CORMAN’S GALAXY OF TERROR, a low budget ALIEN ripoff epic that stars EDDIE (GREEN ACRES) ALBERT, ERIN (JOANIE LOVES CHACHI) MORAN, RAY (MR.HAND) WALSTON, ROBERT (FREDDY KRUEGER) ENGLUND and SID (JASON OF STAR COMMAND) HAIG! The set dresser on this movie was BILL PAXTON (before he started acting) and JAMES CAMERON was the Art Director (you can see how he honed his skills on TERMINATOR and ALIENS in this film).

The movie is about the crew of a spaceship that encounters a weird pyramid that kills everybody one by one, by transmitting their deepest fears into them. In the best scene in the movie, SID HAIG chops off his own “infected” arm, only to have the severed appendage throw a giant throwing star into his chest, killing him. Nice!

The only time during the evening I fell asleep was during the first 20 to 30 minutes of GALAXY OF TERROR and I’ve seen that one several times before. My girl Grae had to leave during FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, not because the movie was too much for her, but because she just couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. But, Wendell and I made it to the end like we had promised ourselves we would and collected our “I survived the all night horror show” pin on the way out of the theatre. It was 8:00 A.M and time for some much needed sleep. Great times! Can’t wait for next year!

We survived the all night horror show!!!

We survived the all night horror show!!!