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John’s Horror Corner: Hellraiser VII: Deader (2005), a trippy, cult-driven mystery of resurrection.

October 25, 2016


MY CALL:  It might be fair to say that the Hellraiser sequels continue to drop in quality with each subsequent release.  However, they remain quite watchable and enjoyable, even if not “good” Hellraiser movies at this point.  This, like parts V and VI, is a standalone movie with a horror-mystery edge.  I think it’s worthwhile for the adventurous or Hellraiser completists.  MORE MOVIES LIKE DeaderBe sure to see Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) first, of course. Then maybe Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) and Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996).  Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) and Hellseeker (2002) are more standalone films, along with this part VII.

*************How it fits in the franchise (minor franchise spoilers)*************

Directed by Rick Bota (Haven, Hellraiser VI-VIII), this seventh installment to the Hellraiser franchise follows Inferno (2000) and Hellseeker (2002) by presenting another stand-alone story.  Hellraiser was a dark chamber thriller fueled by lustful desire, Hellbound more of a curious exploration of Clive Barker’s Hell-ish Labyrinth and his Cenobites, Hell on Earth was a troped-up action/horror movie chronicling Pinhead’s own escape from Hell, Bloodline an anthology story illustrating the creation and lineage of the Puzzle Box, Inferno a crime thriller neatly packaged in the dark trappings of the Puzzle Box, Hellseeker yet another murder-mystery crime thriller, and now we follow in the steps of parts V and VI (Inferno and Hellseeker) with crime, cults, mystery and mysticism.  From its very start we expected Hellseeker to be playing out the flashbacked fantasies of someone already condemned to Hell and, like Hellseeker, Deader isn’t overly predictable.


There may be an admittedly significant drop in quality in the third and fourth films from the original two, and yet another such drop for the fifth, sixth and this seventh direct-to-video installment, but it remains comforting that we never seem to find the same story simply recycled and retold with different victims.  And more importantly, despite the drop in quality, I still enjoy them a lot!  A major fault of Hell on Earth and Bloodline was the nuisance of over-exposition. I didn’t find that to be a problem in Deader (at least not until the third act) nor in parts V-VI.

The franchise continues to expand the Hellraiser mythology, although with less impact here than before. Whereas parts I-IV revolve around the Box or Pinhead (Doug Bradley), parts V-VI and this chapter are illustrative of what experiences befall those damned souls who open the Box. Thus, we see much less of Pinhead and focus more on our curious and potentially damned souls—as it probably should be. Now with part VII, Amy’s journey begins as a rational investigation of something potentially supernatural, shifts to supernatural experiences of her own, and ultimately steers us into what feels like a surreal dreamscape of her life.

***************How it fits in the franchise ***************

Meet Amy (Kari Wuhrer; Eight-Legged Freaks, Sharknado 2), a top-notch undercover investigative reporter.  She does whatever it takes to nail the major scoops and now she’s been recruited to investigate the “deaders,” a group of Romanian cultists who appear to be able to resurrect the recently deceased following ritual suicide.


Upon arrival in Bucharest everything seems…well, appropriately wrong given this is a Hellraiser movie.  A lead’s apartment wreaks of rotting flesh and flies, and houses a dead body clutching the Puzzle Box artifact after an apparent suicide.  A video from the suicide victim admonishes us not to “open” the box.  Which, of course, cues Amy’s interest to do exactly that.


From the moment the Puzzle Box is opened we are struck with the hooked-chain urgency of the old days.  Well, perhaps it’s a bit weakened by the CGI.  But whatever, they’re trying.  An unfortunate trend in this franchise is that the effects go from “Holy Shit Awesome” (for their time and even today) in parts I-II, to pretty good in III-IV, to typical direct-to-DVD in V-VI.  But fret not, it’s all still quite entertaining and Pinhead’s tissue-rending hooked chains get their pound of flesh.  Some sloppy gory scenes are present, but it’s just not exactly in the dire theme to which we’re accustomed.


If anything about this film specifically bothered me, it would be that the new Cenobites don’t even seem to matter.  Chatterbox is here… and some others.  But they’re really just “there,” offering no substance.  These Cenobites are more akin to Christmas tree ornaments.  You may stop and enjoy noticing one here or there for a fleeting moment, but it’s the tree (i.e., Amy’s relationship with the Box) that we truly “see.”  Even Pinhead is quite downplayed.

At times this movie tries to be a bit too neo-contemporary and, for all its effort to appear in-touch, this makes it feel momentarily out-of-touch…like it’s trying too hard to impress us with its self-awareness and social sub-cultured edginess.  Much as Hell on Earth tried and failed to capture the big city club scene, so does Deader fail to capture whatever “this” all is… whether it be afterlife-challenging cultists or trippy underground punks.  Speaking of whom, the Romanian underground subway seems to be a nihilistic Satanic sex trade loaded with disconcerting imagery.


Of course, Amy locates the cult, ends up in over her head, and this is the point at which the film sadly turns to heavy exposition to tell its story.


The final act is weird, bloody, weird, trippy, weird, culty and more weird.  The film ends on a dark cyclical note after a finale offering honestly no satisfaction other than a gory rending, but that’s perfectly fine with me.  I enjoyed most of the movie, so I won’t let the last five minutes ruin the experience.  Although I was a bit bothered by how the ending seemed to violate our understanding of Pinhead’s influence and control regarding soul ownership and Box openers.


Parts I-III of this franchise should be watched in order. After seeing them, there seems to be no consequence to seeing part V, VI or VII before part IV outside of the fact that Bloodline is much better. This film is nothing special, nor is it even a “good” Hellraiser story—yet it’s not bad either.  I take it for what it is and appreciate of it what I can. I didn’t regret watching it, and—while I wouldn’t necessarily “highly” recommend it to viewers—I have, in fact, seen it about four times now.  It’s pretty neat.


Overall, I was pleased with this as a direct-to-DVD horror film, but disappointed as a major Hellraiser fan.  In either case, I’d still recommend it (to a choice few of you).  But only AFTER seeing parts I-IV.



The MFF Podcast #75: Cinematic Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst

October 24, 2016


Hello all. Mark here.

You can download the pod on Itunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF podcast is back and we are diving further into my dislike of jet ski action scenes. Instead of simply ranting about jet ski action scenes, I’ve crunched the numbers and figured out that both critics and audiences aren’t fans either. There is just something about these action scenes that simply don’t work. Many movies have tried (Waterworld, Hard Rain, The Transporter 2, The Transporter: Refueled) to make them exciting but they’ve fallen short and become a statistic.


As always we answer random questions and discuss Hulk Hogan’s appearance on Baywatch.  It is a weird 80-minutes that will change your perception of jet skis and force you to accept the cruel reality that they just don’t work in action films.

Check out the MFF pod on Blog Talk Radio or head over to Itunes and listen to the randomness!

If you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

Ernest Scared Stupid: The Story of a Snot-Nosed Troll That Wrecked My Youth

October 24, 2016


What makes a creature scary? The first thing is that the creature has a single purpose. Nothing on the planet is more valuable to the creature than that one thing he wants. There is no negotiation with the creature. He won’t enter into a conversation about anything. Physically, he must be menacing, He swings his arms when he is walking. The pitch of his growl has the ability to stop you in your tracks. And, most of all, there is snot.

John Cherry – Ernest Scared Stupid Director


Ernest Scared Stupid destroyed me for several months back in 1991. I legitimately couldn’t sleep and I was convinced a snot-nosed troll would attack me at any moment (check out my fear in graph form). This must seem like a joke, but I am totally earnest when it comes to my fear of Trantor the troll. I watched countless horror films as an unsupervised child of the 1990s and I lost zero sleep. Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Michael Myers and and all the others didn’t scare me because they had a pattern, stuck to summer camps and slaughtered teenagers. I was never afraid of the killers because the situations didn’t feel familiar. I didn’t go to summer camps, my parents didn’t burn a killer, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a psychotic brother in a mental hospital.

There was no safeguard against the little bastard and even the director John Cherry admitted he made the troll too scary in his book Keeper of the Clown: My Life With ErnestIn Cherry’s quest for a terrible villain he shot himself in the foot and later admitted:

It turns out the troll was too scary, and it hurt the box office by $10,000,000.

I’m still amazed at what Cherry was able to get away with in Ernest Scared Stupid. Children were straight up hunted and Trantor’s style was so unpredictable that nobody knew when or where he would strike. The little shit attacked at random and when he missed one opportunity he would move on to the next with no plan. His only plan was to kidnap children in any way possible. For instance, in what might be the most frightening PG-moment of all time Trantor decided to capture a young girl by waiting for her on her bed.


The scene is cruel because it messes with your head. You initially think Elizabeth is safe because there is nothing under the bed and she seems relaxed after the ordeal. However, once she lays back down Trantor is staring at her like an evil punk*ss demon spawn. Who thought this was good for kids? Did anybody at Disney think this was too scary? The crazy thing is I remember that the adults next to me jumped when the troll appeared. Adults were scared! I distinctly remember leaving all the lights on in my room and looking under the bed from my bedroom door. I took every precaution to not become a wooden statue, but I always knew my attempts would be futile against such a determined killer.


There have been characters that hunted children in films before, but none of them had so much snot. I remember watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and thinking I could beat up the Child Catcher. I wouldn’t have fallen for the Child Catcher’s lame ploys and I was annoyed that so many people were scared of him.


I never thought I could fistfight Trantor, and I was pretty certain my parents wouldn’t allow me to always carry milk around with me. I just accepted the fact that I would inevitably become troll fodder. Before I watched Ernest Scared Stupid I loved riding my bike around the surrounding neighborhoods because it felt like freedom. However, after the viewing I rode my bike as fast as I could and stayed away from the woods surrounding my house. What initially felt like a vast wonderland became a terrifying area filled with countless places I could be attacked by a troll. It didn’t help that Ernest was a grown man with a big truck and he couldn’t bruise the immortal troll. Take a look at this clip and you will realize how powerful Trantor was.


Ernest Scared Stupid was meant to be a children’s film that featured a grown man being cheeky. However, it became a nightmare factory that scared the life out of thousands of unsuspecting children. If you have young children please don’t show them Ernest Scared Stupid. If you do, I guarantee you’d rather have your hand stuck in a dumpster than deal with the justifiably frightened children.

John’s Horror Corner: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), so much more than “Ouija 2,” Flanagan delivers a more mainstream horror movie LOADED with excellent scares, writing, acting and a creepy possessed child!

October 23, 2016


MY CALL:  We have horror films and horror movies. Make no mistake, this is a horror movie.  But it’s a horror movie crafted by a true horrorsmith and solid writer, acted on point by an excellent cast with a sensible story, and depicting a truly creepy child possession.  Very scary, very fun.  Enjoy!  MORE MOVIES LIKE Ouija: Origin of Evil:  Well, Witchboard (1986) also happens to involve a Ouija board-catalyzed possession. But in ceoncept I’d instead suggest the deep slowburn White Noise (2005) or, in style, Insidious (2010).

Written and directed by acclaimed horrorsmith Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus, Hush), Origin of Evil seems to be an effort by a stylish director to make a more mainstream horror film.  This may lack the full Flanagan treatment of nuance and style we’ve seen from him before, but I couldn’t be happier to see this anyway.  His past films have been dark, intense, jarring and cerebral.  Origin of Evil has just enough of these elements to elevate the film above most of the slapped-together-plot horror releases that plague theaters, but not so much Flanaganism as to divide fans and critics with too many questions (as was observed with Oculus).


Ouija: Origin of Evil only seems to be given the subtitle to avoid direct association with Oujia (2014), a dastardly menace of a film that snuck past the direct-to-DVD Gods and somehow poisoned theaters with its inane stupidity.  This was originally titled Ouija 2—thank God, good taste prevailed.  So much more than “Ouija 2,” Flanagan delivers a more mainstream horror movie LOADED with excellent scares, writing and acting!  But it is connected in that the mouth-stitched ghost of Doris we met in Ouija (2014) now has her full story told in this prequel.

Providing an emotionally comforting service to her bereft and grieving clientele, Alice (Elizabeth Reaser; The Twilight Saga, Stay) and her two girls—the younger Doris (Lulu Wilson; Annabelle 2, Deliver Us from Evil) and high schooler Lina (Annalise Basso; Oculus, Dark House)—run a scam séance and fortune telling business out of their house in the 1960s.  It’s all an act, but when handled appropriately, it helps people who never got to say their goodbyes or apologies to move on.  But everything changes when Alice brings home a Ouija board as a new professional prop and Doris finds a special connection within it.

Believing that they have made contact with the benevolent spirit of her deceased husband, Alice and Doris end up opening the flood gates to a hostile apparition and, much as with Insidious(2010) Lipstick Demon, this spirit is one that had never been among the living; a demon.


From the initial contact with the other side, we all know something is very wrong. But it doesn’t make it any less creepy.  In fact, it is the process of Doris embracing the established contact that terrifyingly reveals the true nature of things and some of the brief “corner-of-your-eye” imagery will smite any sense of comfort you once had.  From there the physical manifestations are quite disarmingly uncomfortable (in a good way, of course).


I love that we get to know and really care about these characters. Flanagan and his cast makes it seem so effortless as both the acting and writing were splendid—especially our child actor Lulu Wilson as the transitioning innocent-to-Satanic Doris. WOW! The Catholic school principal Father Tom (Henry Thomas; Don’t Look Up, Dead Birds, Fire in the Sky, ET) is an excellent supporting character in identifying when things are amiss, and when they are malevolent.  And watch out for the brief creature-acting of Doug Jones (Crimson Peak, John Dies at the End, Legion) as, well, you’ll see. It’ll be obvious.


In a scene introducing us to the 1960s view of the “game” Ouija, we have a creepy and utterly hilarious experience watching one of Lina’s classmates react to the notion of contacting the dead.  It’s a real treat and it transcends the typically laughable jump scare of a “surprise cat” or loud junk unexpectedly falling out of the closet.  This may have been one of my favorite scenes.  But really, I had many favorite scenes, particularly in the first 60 minutes.  They packed a LOT of creepy in this and I don’t even want to mention most of it.

So where did Flanagan go more mainstream?  There were some components that felt stereotypical to the genre almost because they were easy, and these scenes were biased to the third act of the film.

For example, the rules of Ouija suggest that you never play alone, and never play near a graveyard.  Why no “graveyard play?”  Did the makers of the game know too many spirits in one place was a bad thing, or was this just an example of the movie being ironic when the evil spirits’ origins are revealed?  And not play alone?  Because it’s creepier?  These things were all in good fun.  But they weren’t so necessary and the graveyard reveal harkens back strongly to Poltergeist (1982).

Then the demon seemed a bit too much in the style of the Insidious(2010) lipstick demon, more in presentation than actual appearance.  I think the fault here is in showing us what this demon looked like at all.  It wasn’t necessary, all be it fun and quite shocking to watch!  And with the spiritual abduction came The Last Exorcism (2010) back bend—not that it was the first film to feature such a possessed bodily distortion.

While effectively scary, was the stitched mouth gag meant to be a direct callback to Ouija (2014), which did the very same thing? And the effects were a lot like Neo’s sealed mouth in The Matrix (1999)?  Don’t get me wrong, though, sealed and stitched mouths are creepy AF!

Then the often utilized “they” (or group of impostor spirits pretending to be your friendly spirit) of the other side manipulating the vulnerable or desperate among the living (e.g., Poltergeist, Insidious, White Noise).
k4uis4exx2dkwfzbypt9The ending gets a bit bonkers with Exorcist (1973) wall-crawling, whited out eyes, evil grimaces and slack-jawed evil.  I guess this is also Flanagan going for a more mainstream approach.  Not that this imagery didn’t work…it was terrifying! LOL.

Doris, while being manipulated by evil, gains quite a bit of power.  She lures victims into insecurity and menace in different and satisfying ways, and the special effects behind her evil manifestations may readily disrupt your sleep.  But while this movie packs a lot of excitement and dread, it complements it with a great deal of sound storyline and practical plot development.  Kudos for that!  The writing in Origin of Evil reduces the Ouija (2014) script to something written with those fat Crayola markers on construction paper by someone with cerebral palsy.


I’m not calling this a great horror “film.” This is not a Flanagan caliber film in the sense of his last three conquests.  However, this is one of the better “mainstream style” horror movies of the year along with Lights Out (2016).  No one will be talking about their critical acclaim, but people will absolutely be buying these and enjoying them as fun, re-watchable popcorn horror.  And I’m one of those happy customers!  I hope you will be, too.  So please watch, leave your “film critic” hat at home, and enjoy.


John’s Horror Corner: Mutilations (1986), a 70-minute B-movie with a Claymation Gorn alien monster.

October 22, 2016


MY CALL:  Boring, boring, and more boring–not even really “so bad it’s good.”  The best part of this movie was its silly Claymation, and they overplayed it so much that it became more annoying than entertaining.  Hard fail.  MORE MOVIES LIKE MutilationsAlien Predators (1985).  Or even Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) comes to mind just for the cheap claymation.


So why am I watching this?  I had never heard of it.  No one had recommended it.  And that is the reason.  I could say the same for the quite obscure Nightwish (1990) or The Night Feeder (1988) which, however poor and boring, did have a most bizarrely interesting payoff in the end with a tentacle-tongued brain-sucking mutant baby—not that I’d recommend it.  These are the often somewhat regrettable films that I just can’t help myself but to need to see from time to time.  And this is another one…

We open with an astronomy professor explaining the basics of the thousands of stars visible during an evening class trip with his students, of one which asks if any of those distant “specs” (i.e., the stars) could have life on them.  The answer is NO.  A burning star (i.e., a SUN) would fry any lifeform!  The planets that we cannot see, however, do have a shot at housing life.  Next question. LOL.

The same night, using the light from his hobo garbage fire, a vagrant reads in the newspaper about recent cattle mutilations as a meteor is revealed to actually be a UFO.  About as casually as approaching the new neighbors across the street, he casually approach the spaceship to meet a slimy-clawed reptilian alien—a more menacing Gorn (Star Trek) monster really.


Our astronomy class takes a trip out to the remote area where some “lights in the sky” sightings have been made and cattle have been mutilated.  They find the most terribly (yet hilariously) mutilated Claymation steer.  It’s pretty poor, and you can actually “see” the green screen separating the actors from the flayed-inside-out steer as it thrashes.  It’s pretty goofy.


Speaking of not taking this at all seriously, our professor uses phrases like “conduct legitimate scientific research” when he really means “gaze at the sky” with his students, and he identifies his job title, specialty and institution to basically everyone he meets. In fact, almost all dialogue in this movie is exposition, and often needless.


The effects are pretty entertaining (even if dumb). A victim is strangled and his head shrivels and transforms into a sloppy gory mess.  The finale includes some tentacle-armed Claymation aliens (looking like the Gorn and Brundlefly had a baby) against green-screened students armed with harpoons and flashlights.  And, of course, there was that Claymation steer.


Officially listed at 1:07:30 (67.5 minutes), there were 2.5 minutes of opening credits with no scenes taking place in the background—just empty space and theme music—and the closing credits begin at 1:05:00, leaving this haphazard film barely over 60 minutes.  Although that might be something of a blessing considering how boring it is.


This 60-minute B-movie was written, directed and produced by one-and-done filmmaker Larry Thomas (no other credits) and stars almost entirely actors who had never been in anything else, nor would they ever.  The acting is on the verge of robotic, like they were reading cue cards completely unrehearsed and limiting the filming to single takes.


As much as the Claymation scenes made me smile, they were overused and often repeated the same footage several times.  And as silly as the premise was, the movie was too boring to really embrace its badness.  It was almost as if they were trying to make a “real movie” on a shoestring budget and an inexperienced cast, rather than realizing what this truly was and running with it.


Just terrible.  I recommend this to no one unless you have a group of friends and a case of beer.


John’s Horror Corner: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), continuing the evolution of Freddy Krueger’s influence.

October 19, 2016


MY CALL:  The kills remain highly creative, Freddy gets sillier, the characters get pithier, and the re-watchability remains top notch for this stellar franchise.  This movie is excellent for a fun popcorn horror night!  MOVIES LIKE Dream Master: First off, you should first see the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  Other classics everyone should see include Poltergeist (1982; discussed at length in our podcast episode #16), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Hellraiser (1987).  For more recent horror with a similar sense of humor try Wishmaster (1997) and Hatchet (2006).


As is typical for the franchise (but not at all boring or played out), we open with a surreal dream. Kristen pulls Joey and Kincaid into her nightmare as we are reminded of the excellent scoring and soundtracks that continue to grace this franchise and complement the spectacles of a most eerie atmosphere.  Whether for use of shadows, our villain’s skin-crawling chuckle, or elaborate set design, the mood is persistently uneasy when it should be.  This is a sequel worthy to follow the mighty Dream Warriors.


Dream Warriors ended with the unusual circumstance of three teen survivors: Joey, Kincaid and Kristen (replacing Patricia Arquette is Tuesday Knight; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare)—instead of the standard “final girl” survivor theme.  Contrary to the beginning of part 2 and part 3, both of which reference part 1 without really being “direct” sequels of the story, part 4 now continues with our three survivors back in high school after their apparent release from the mental health facility.

I love that we get a good sense of these characters, their relationships with each other and what they’re like individually—a luxury we typically don’t enjoy while watching horror movies, yet a thankful staple of the NOES franchise so far.  Their actions reveal their relationships instead of having a poorly written script “telling” us who’s who.

In addition to Joey, Kincaid and Kristen, there’s the nerdy Sheila (Toy Newkirk) who doesn’t pay attention to boys, the shy and virginal Alice (Lisa Wilcox; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Child, Watchers Reborn), her dapper martial artist brother Rick (Andras Jones; Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama), his jock buddy Dan (Danny Hassel; A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Child), and the man-hungry fitness fanatic Debbie (Brooke Theiss; Beverly Hills, 90210).  Continuing the franchise legacy of prohibitively mettlesome alcoholic absentee parents, our protagonists must defend themselves against more than just Freddy.  So they have only on each other to rely.


By this fourth movie, Freddy’s menace has almost completely wicked away like his cindered flesh, leaving now the outwardly iconic sick sense humor left completely uncaged in Dream Warriors.  If there was any question about his heavy transition to comedy please take, for example, his beach sunglasses and Jaws (1975)-homaging shark fin claw.  Yeah, things are getting silly even for Freddy Krueger.  He’s peeling apples with his claws, speaking like a wise 1800s kung fu master, playfully eating pizza topped with teenage meatball souls, and feistily pelting out adages like “no pain, no gain,” “you can check in, but you can’t check out,” and “sayonara”—all appropriate to the murderous situation and all delivered with the shamelessness of a sitcom dad gleefully embarrassing his kids.


Freddy’s kills continue to entertain with creative flair.  Kincaid is killed after his dog’s flaming stream of urine resurrects our clawed killer; Joey succumbs to yet another way out-of-his-league topless dream girl (Hope Marie Carlton; Hard Ticket to Hawaii, Savage Beach, Slumber Party Massacre III, Slaughterhouse Rock); the nerd is life-sucked to a drained husk a la Lifeforce (1985) or Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988); and a fear of roaches and an evil bench press spotter lead to a grossly insectoid transformation death scene.

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Freddy (Robert Englund; Wishmaster, Hatchet) has fully embraced being a known entity rather than the mysterious boogeyman he was in part 1 and Freddy’s Revenge.  Not only has Freddy evolved, but so has Freddy’s dream world.  Whereas Freddy once held all the power in his realm, with Dream Warriors the once defenseless teen dreamers became more empowered.  Playing on that notion of power as Kristen, the last of the Elm Street kids, dies she imbues Alice with her power sort of like a Highlander movie (1986, 1991).  Now Alice can pull people into her dreams and, after Rick dies, she can use nunchucks, too!


Even if it’s just a product of directorial flourishes, Freddy’s influence likewise continues to expand with each sequel. Two examples include Freddy being resurrected somehow by flaming dog piss and Alice awakening to find a postcard that ignites while she is clearly awake.  In part 1 Freddy’s realm of influence was only in dreams, then he used a dreamer’s body as a conduit (part 2), and his reach continues to ebb into reality leaving the line between dream and reality ever more blurred.


SIDEBAR: This is the kind of sequel the franchise deserves!  Not just for how it has evolved, but for what it retains.  Like every sequel before it, Dream Master calls back to the paramount NOES themes.  Parts 1-3 featured the steam-spewing boiler rooms, the power plant where Freddy worked and the junkyard where his remains were hidden, and here we revisit all of them.  Instead of face impressions on Nancy’s bedroom wall, Freddy’s form emerging through Jesse’s stomach, and Freddy manifesting himself through a television set, we find the impression of stolen souls trying to writhe free from Freddy’s body.
eeWhere once the perverted Freddy licked Nancy through the phone, licked a young girls stomach, or tongue-tethered a teenager’s limbs in a sick fantasy, he now lecherously flicks his tongue and “sucks face” to kiss a teenager to death.  And rather than slicing off his own fingers, revealing his own brain, or uncovering his soul-embedded chest, he now reveals that he is literally filled with the souls of his victims.  Also continuing to flavor the franchise, we again revisit Nancy’s dilapidated house on 1428 Elm Street and the unnerving little girls, likely the ghosts of Freddy’s victims.


I must emphasize that I still enjoy all the practical effects in all four of the first NOES films that are now 30 years old.  Sometimes the simplicity makes it more gross, weird, off-putting, or even a bit more funny; and thrillingly FUN.  I especially enjoyed Freddy’s resurrection when his bones reassemble and, just like Hellraiser (1987), his fluids congeal over his joints and skull to form sinew and flesh (like reverse time lapse melting of wax).


The effects of the animated writing on the physics exam and the life-draining kiss were also noteworthy.  But Debbie has the most spectacular death since the Dream Warriors wrist tendon marionette.  She slowly turns into a roach—a creature for which her hatred is firmly established—first through her arms torn asunder, then she finds herself in one of her own roach motels and the glue gooily tears off her face!  And Freddy’s defeat in the cathedral finale is decidedly unique as the souls trapped within him manifest as slimy flayed arms emerging from his body, tearing him open while trying to escape themselves.  It’s quite a sight and a testament to 80s practical effects.


Despite the rapid release of sequels (following the 1984 original in ‘85, ‘87, and now ‘88), this movie triumphs with heavily diversified and interesting sets, and the deaths remain elaborate and creative…as are many of the themes of the film.  Director Renny Harlin (Deep Blue Sea, Exorcist: The Beginning) even tunes in to our childhood sentiments with The Wizard of Oz (1939; Alice’s ruby red shoes and the gale force wind pulling her into the black & white movie), another dream-like world ruled by someone with magical powers and beaten by a young woman who gains strength from her friends.


If I had one disappointment it would be that Dream Master does nothing to build on the mythology of Freddy Krueger after Dream Warriors gave us Amanda Krueger, the ghostly nun who told the story of Freddy’s rape-conception in a mental hospital.  That said, we do clearly observe a continued and gradual evolution of Freddy’s influence which will continue in subsequent sequels (Dream Child & New Nightmare).e1

If Dream Warriors was the “fan favorite” sequel, I’m tempted to say that Dream Master might be at the very least tied for the “most fun sequel,” ranking quite high for re-watchability.  Not only that, but I decree that anyone who fancies themselves a horror fan should own NOES 1-4.


Enjoy and pleasant nightmares.


John’s Horror Corner: Night of the Demons 2 (1994), yet more boobs, more gore, more lipstick, and more fun cheesy demonic possession than part 1.

October 16, 2016


MY CALL:  I consider this sequel to be a far better film and far more fun than Night of the Demons (1988). Featuring everything you loved from before, but with more of it and more handsomely packaged.  If you only see one of the four Night of the Demons movies, make it this one.  MOVIES LIKE Night of the Demons 2Night of the Demons (1988), Night of the Demons 3 (1997) and The Hazing (2004).

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith (Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space) picks up where Kevin Tenney (Night of the Demons, Witchboard 1-2) left off.  We find the now permanently demonic and prettier Angela (Amelia Kinkade; Night of the Demons 1-3) residing in the same haunted house where we left her possessed by a demon in 1988.


And staying true to the somewhat raunchy path paved by Tenney, Trenchard-Smith doles out the nudity early and heavily by suggesting that bedtime in the Catholic school girls’ dormitory means “panties and topless time.”


“Is that really what you wear to bed?”


Creating a more formal continuity, the end of Night of the Demons (1988) is recounted as a dormitory ghost story noting that everyone was found mangled and dead except for Angela, who was missing and presumably remains a part of Hull House.  This ghost story is particularly troubling to Mouse (Merle Kennedy; May, Dollman, Leprechaun 3).


The actors in this sequel glow compare to those who came before them.  Both written and acted more convincingly, they include Z-Boy (Darin Heames; Dr. Giggles, Alien Nation: The Enemy Within), Rick (Rick Peters; Leprechaun 4: In Space), Terri (Christine Taylor; The Craft, Campfire Tales, Room 6) and Kurt (Ladd York; Leprechaun 4: In Space).


For his aptitude regarding the occult, Perry (Robert Jayne; Tremors 1 & 3 & TV series) seems to be modeled after Christian Slater’s role in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), and Shirley (Zoe Trilling; Night Terrors, Dr. Giggles, Leprechaun 3) appears to be assuming Linnea Quigley’s Night of the Demons (1988) role as the raunchy girl with the demonic lipstick-eating breasts.

Father Bob (Rod McCary; also Father Bob in Leprechaun 3, 976-Evil II, Komodo vs Cobra) and Sister Gloria (Jennifer Rhodes; Halloween, Slumber Party Massacre II, Charmed) run the Catholic school and both characters offer a lot of flavor and fun personality to this movie.

During preparations for the Halloween dance Perry’s interest in demonology inspires him to perform a summoning ritual using the dark tome called the Necronomicon (not sure where he got that exactly) and Shirley rounds everyone up for a Halloween party at Hull House.  So what could possibly go wrong?  How about demonic possession?  Much as in the Evil Dead series (1981, 1987, 2013) and Demons 1-2 (1985, 1986), demonic possession is quite contagious.

Like its predecessor—but bigger and better—it has its raunchy moments, taking every opportunity to deliver boobs, bra and panty shots, more boobs, some sex scenes both demonic and human, and a LOT of sexy dancing.  Sexy demon-possessed dancing actually turns out to be a theme in this franchise, and Angela has returned to defend her title!


The raunchiness is heavily complemented by the campy yet clearly deliberate cheese factor.  For example, like in part 1 either injury or kissing transmits demonic possession like an STD… and more often than not, it’s girl-on-girl kissing or forced kissing.  We also have demon heads in toilets, deliberately lame creepy shadow stalking and randomly “poof” appearing demons, a nun arming herself like she’s Rambo, filling water balloons and super soakers with holy water, sexually aggressive demon hands and infernal trouser snakes, multiple sports references involving a severed head, a ninja turtle head-poking nun, during the sacrifice finale Angela actually seems to use the Force to paralyze two teenagers, and at one point they play stock footage of part 1 Angela (with shorter non-permed hair) floating down the hall.  It’s all quite delightful.



Note the hairstyle change.


This sequel is to Night of the Demons what Evil Dead 2 (1987) was to Evil Dead (1981); a remake masquerading as a sequel.  Only in this case, it builds on the story much as The Thing (2011) was a prequel that replayed key scenes from the 1981 original as if it were a remake.  And like The Thing (2011) and Evil Dead 2 (1987), it offers a lot “more” of everything.  More boobs, more melty demons, more raunchiness, more cheesy ploys, more sexy dancing, more “lipstick scenes” and more gore.



The effects and gore include more demonic faces with mangled demon teeth, an infernal acidic handshake, bloody decapitation, a phallic lipstick demon parasite, holy water-soaked gore-slathered demons melting like Gremlins (1984), snake monster Angela and a deliciously chunky gory explosion. There is a solid range of horror effects entertainment.

Additionally, this sequel makes a great callback to the fan favorite Night of the Demons “lipstick scene.”  The very lipstick Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) inserted into her breast is discovered again.  After an attempted mouth-rape impregnation, the lipstick transforms into a fleshy tendril and crawls up into a girl like the Evil Dead (1987, 2013) tree rape—it was not consensual.  It’s gross and quite provocative, and now it’s possessed this young lady and imbued her with demonic breasts which then literally attack someone!


In the end evil is vanquished and the demonic lipstick is found outside of the Catholic school to usher in another sequel…which does in fact come along in 1997 followed by a 2009 remake.

However campy this sequel may be, the writing is far more credible (i.e., less silly), the acting is superior, and there is actually some substance and reason to the story.  Whether you love gore, boobs, or gore on boobs (yep, that happens), this movie is for you.  Honestly, even if not a single breast populated this movie, it would still be a popcorn favorite of mine.  It’s loads of fun, it’s never slow, and there is a broad range of gross effects waiting to entertain you.


Highly recommended for a laugh while unwinding after your Halloween party, or as an installment to mark on your 31 Streaming Films for 31 Days “Horror Calendar.”


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