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Slasher Film

May 6, 2013

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Catchphrase

A Nightmare on Elm Street – Catchphrase

Say what you will about the horror genre, but from Dracula to Jigsaw, no other genre has given the movie-going audience more endearing, beloved, and downright frightening characters in the history of film.  Some of the most recognizable characters come out of the 1980s Slasher Film boom, and without a doubt, while I give Jason Voorhees a heaping helping of blood-soaked credit, you still have to give it up to Wes Craven and his greatest creation, Freddy Krueger from 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

“Nightmare” is the tale of a group of high school friends, including a young Johnny Depp, as they are plagued by the vengeful spirit of child murderer Freddy Krueger, who haunts their dreams.  One by one the teens are dispatched in often-graphic ways while they sleep.  While the plot might seem a little more far-fetched than your standard slasher film, that was the touchstone for “Nightmare.”  While still in it’s infancy, the slasher genre received a huge shot in the arm and deviated from the traditional “killer in a mask” scenario that was popularized by “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween.”  It was fresh, new, and terrifying.

What John Carpenter did to William Shatner masks, is what Craven did to fedoras and Christmas sweaters, he made them scary.  What also works for Craven was the timing of creating Freddy.  While Michael Meyers and Jason were scary, they didn’t talk.  With Freddy, we got a walking, talking boogey man who haunted us in our most sacred of places; our bed and dreams.  Dreams are supposed to be a safe haven, especially for kids.  We should be able to control our dreams, and escape from the daily grind of life.  But Freddy pretty much takes a piss on that notion, and whether its beds that eat you, or stairs that give way to quicksand, the Springwood Slasher was always there to haunt you.

Craven, usually known for some type of social or political statement in many of his films, created “Nightmare” with a fairly basic premise, by horror movie standards, but he did just enough to separate it from what people had been used to from the previous six years (using 1978’s  “Halloween” as a landmark).

While the sequels got goofier and goofier, and Freddy pretty much became the poster-boy for bad horror movie puns, the original “Nightmare” still stands as one of the most lasting horror films produced in the last 25 years.  The later sequels, including the fantastic “Freddy vs. Jason,” tried to really squeeze out a plot about a town conspiracy involving Freddy, the use of the sleep drug Hypnocil, and of course “A Dream Child,” worked for the jokes, but nothing else.  While I do appreciate the fact that the writers attempted to make sense and legitimized the series, what people really want is for Freddy to say a line or two, whip out his clawed glove, and killer teen stars from the 1980s.

On this “National Nightmare Day” (actually famed psychologist Sigmund Freud’s birthday) pop in your Blu-Ray, or even better, your VHS, slid on your favorite Christmas sweater, shout a one-liner, and enjoy “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  And after you get done with that, creep over to Slaughterfilm.com for more hot Freddy action with their video review of the genre classic.

See you in your nightmares!

October 12, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Grindhouse

Grindhouse – Ambitious

Here’s the problem with kids these days; they don’t appreciate shit!  I’m an old-school type of guy (and if I’m already a curmudgeon at age 28, well, you know what you can do), that’s why I hate crap like “Twilight”and any other abomination that co-ops things that were once bad-ass and turns them into little emo-bitches who sparkle, or shoe-gaze for over two hours.  Has any “scene kid”or emo kid seen “Dracula” from 1931 or maybe even “The Wolf Man” from 1941 (once again dating myself).  If Lon Chaney, Jr. or Bela Lugosi were alive to see what had become of their beloved characters, well, I’m sure Lugosi would get hooked back on morphine and Chaney would gladly take a few silver bullets to the heart.  I’ll give you this, if you’ve seen “The Lost Boys” I’ll give you a bye….but that’s it.

By the way, this review isn’t even about werewolves (well kind of) or vampires, I simply had to get that off my chest.  However, there is something special about taking something old and making it new again.  Take 2007’s “Grindhouse,” the two-movies-in-one masterpiece by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

“Grindhouse” while fantastic, was a flop, and to me, that’s frustrating.  People, and unfortunately the studios, either prefer shitty remakes (there are a few exceptions) or…….gulp……PG-13 horror (and shame on you if you dare defend PG-13 horror).  Rodriguez and Tarantino gave a big “F You” as they usually do, and decided to dig up old exploitation movies from the 1960s and 70s and make a three-hour epic of sleaze, blood, guts, sex, and even more sleaze.  Throw in some fake trailers, done by the likes of Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie, and Eli Roth, and you have something special.  Too bad people have the attention spans of circus fleas because I would love to see more films like “Grindhouse” make a comeback.

The first film, “Planet Terror” directed by Rodriguez, deals with, SICKOS, not zombies, but SICKOS, kind of like psychos, but instead they eat flesh and their balls melt.  Here are the major plot points; there is a chemical weapon unleashed, people get sick and start eating and killing each other, there’s a government conspiracy, a stripper loses her leg and has a gun reattached to the stub, and we have some “From Dusk Till Dawn” references.  Simple, right?  Yeah, it is.

The second film, “Death Proof” directed by Tarantino, is a take on the slasher genre which stars the awesome Kurt Russell as “Stuntman” Mike who kills young women with his “death proof” stunt car.  People say this is the weaker of the two films, but I highly disagree.  While it might not pack in as much action as “Planet Terror” the dialogue is good, acting solid, and like I said before, it has Kurt Russell.  What else do you need?

Rodriguez and Tarantino go back to basics for “Grindhouse” and it works so well.  It’s simple, stupid fun that is lost upon the modern horror audience.  Not everything has to be a love story between Kristen Stewart, a vampire, and a werewolf.  Or a ghost story shot with a shaky camera.  Or…….”The Wicker Man.”  Maybe that was too easy, but I will give Nick Cage props for this.

If you haven’t already, please check out “Grindhouse,” it’s so good, it’s scary.

Fun Fact:  Grindhouse cinema derives from the defunct burlesque theaters located on 42nd Street in New York City.

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