There is an obsessive, cultish hysteria surrounding the original Evil Dead trilogy. Very few film franchises have bred such a feverish fan base as that of the Deadites; it is as though the film its self was given license to possess the living. However, was the fanaticism born from the ferocious ingenuity of the splatter filled original, or was it congealed by the bonkers sequel with its unique take on slapstick horror? The answer seems clear when you realize no one quotes the original. All the classic lines: “Groovy”, “I’ll swallow your soul”, “Give me some sugar baby”, “This is my boom stick!” are from the later two films. Very rarely do you hear: “For god sake, what happened to her eyes!” or “Kill her if you can, loverboy”. This could be attributed to the fact the original film is less concerned with having fun and more interested in punishing the audience as sadistically as their little budget would allow. This overt mean-spiritedness makes for a film that’s less of a rip-roaring party and more of an intense attack on the senses that both rips and roars. What the remake of Evil Dead latched onto is this sense of unrelenting horror. All it wants is to make you squirm, scream and vomit, and it achieves all of these things admirably.
Author Craig Stewart
When was the super powerful malevolent force in a horror movie officially downgraded to a cruel prankster? It seems the new trend when you introduce an all powerful antagonist into the story – whether it be ghost, demon or indeed alien – the devious beast becomes preoccupied with committing mean spirited jokes on the helpless characters, rather than simply doing whatever evil thing it came to do. Since a horror film is usually driven by the depraved acts of its villain, scary movies that boast villains with a child’s temperament usually don’t turn out very scary at all. Dark Skies can certainly fall into that category as these alien intruders prove they have a sense of humour about as mature as an eight year old.
The simple ghost story structure has been transformed into a compelling drama with jump scares. Sadly, the resulting film fails in fully satisfying either genre demands. You’ll either get a mediocre horror film or a mediocre dysfunctional family adventure depending on your inclination. It’s the risk one takes in birthing a hybrid. However, regardless of the outcome, the courageous breaking of form can stand alone as something to be commended… or at least a pat on the back is in order.
At the risk of starting off with too grand a statement, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a truly rare filmic anomaly. However, let us be clear that this assertion does not reflect in any way on the film’s merits as a horror movie or even as an overly competent movie… Cause it’s pretty much meritless. What’s fascinating is that in 2003 the chainsaw franchise was already been “rebooted”; in fact, the reimagining of the original Chainsaw marked the beginning of the whole cataclysmic wave of horror remakes. Texas Chainsaw 3D goes back to the original 1974 classic and purports to be a direct sequel that is in no way associated with the remake. It’s kind of a satisfying feeling, like we get to discard the ungrateful, unwanted child and get back to the root of the terror. The last sentence would prove infinitely more satisfying if the film in question could have lived up to it, but unfortunately the buzz is not back.
On the fourth go around on this wild and bumpy paranormal Ferris wheel, we see a return to the original narrative thrust, which concerns little Hunter and his evil aunt Katie. Unfortunately, this carnival ride, despite its impressive ability to muster descent jolts, is becoming a little rusty around the hinges. That’s not to say it’s a terrible horror film. In many ways, it’s a step up from the unconnected ramblings of Paranormal Activity 3, partly due to an engaging, charismatic performance from Kathryn Newton that keeps the film grounded. However, something from the first film has been lost and the franchise is really starting to miss it.
When concerning yourself with a ghost movie, one should always wonder which next hot object is ripe for haunting. We’ve seen many frightful poltergeist activities emanate from classic traditional haunted houses, but evil spirits seem to have gradually moved to more obscure mediums such as the haunted book, haunted video tape, the haunted cell phone, or my personal favourite, the haunted lamp (see Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes). As technology grows, so does the possibility for spiritual invasion, and with that, the possibility for truly silly and preposterous scary ghost movies. Luckily, despite the haunting traveling to many different platforms, Sinister keeps its scares grounded and atmospheric. It takes ideas that might seem ridiculous, but packages them in such a way that you can’t help but get pulled in, or rather, dragged in by your heels kicking and screaming… and you will be screaming.
Exorcisms aren’t just for Catholics anymore. The Possession shows us that priests aren’t the only ones equipped to do battle with demonic forces. Unfortunately, it seems the battle is pretty much the same no matter what your faith. The basic rules are still the same: an evil force is after the innocence of a child and can only be dispelled by a godly man of god of some kind. It’s a surprisingly warm and fuzzy pro-religious sentiment, but it’s one that most exorcism movies embrace. Usually you’d expect a horror film to be as blasphemous as they come, but you could argue that even The Exorcist, especially the extended cut, has strong religious convictions.
When it comes to the spooky old mansion with creaky floorboards thing, this film has it in spades. Unlike the other recent haunted gothic period piece, The Woman In Black, which clashed between overtly cheap-o jump scares and classic spook tactics, The Awakening has an undeniable classiness, a kind of unshakable commitment to the ghost films of the past. Sometimes it works and sometimes the unwavering adherence to convention is a bore.
The entrance of a movie theatre is lined with the blood curdling posters of slasher films, each one teasingly more brutal than the last. As you walk past, a pattern begins to emerge. A villainous celebration is on display showing off an array of monsters from wolfmen to pin-headed demons, but what about that defiant woman poised for action in the foreground, is she not also the star? Behind every great horror villain, there’s a great heroine and too long have they been dismissed as interchangeable, superfluous eye candy. Ask yourself this, where would Michael Myers be without Laurie Strode? Probably at Camp Crystal Lake with a bunch of faceless teens.
The killer Piranha series has come a long way from the squealing rubber puppets of Joe Dante’s classic Jaws clone. It’s become a symbol of offensively gratuitous sexy violence. Much like in Piranha 3D, the screen overflows with blood and breasts; exposed skin and bone are in abundance. These shocking images are wrapped up neatly by a truly cruel sense of humor, which, if you’re feeling a little on the dark side, is incredibly infectious. It’s Piranha 3DD and it makes no apologies.