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John’s Horror Corner: The Brood (1979), Cronenberg’s approach to metaphysics, evil children and modern psychology.

November 21, 2017

MY CALL:  With all the best effects and most disturbing imagery limited to the final scene, this film remains powerful by virtue of its uneasy atmosphere, which persists throughout.  I expected more in the gore department, but was impressed nonetheless.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The BroodI’m reminded of Altered States (1980), Possession (1981) and The Manitou (1978).


DISCLAIMER: This review has SPOILERS (mostly in the form of images) and the images presented are very NSFW.


Canadian director and writer David Cronenberg (The Fly, Rabid, Videodrome) makes some serious statements about modern psychology and metaphysics in this 70s horror oddity.  One-on-one sessions between Doctor Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed; Venom, The Pit and the Pendulum) and patient Nola (Samantha Eggar; The Astronaut’s Wife, Demonoid, The Uncanny) strike me as intense to the point of perpetual creepiness.  Raglan roleplays Nola’s mother and daughter (among others), spelunking his way through Nola’s fears, secrets and trauma.  We learn that these sessions are quite frequent as Nola is undergoing therapy at Raglan’s private facility.

After a weekly visit with their daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds; The Dead Zone), Nola’s husband Frank (Art Hindle; Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Void, Black Christmas) becomes alarmed after discovering scratches and bruises on their five-year old.  Raglan defends Nola, who is not permitted visitation with her husband as she is at a “critical stage in her therapy,” and Frank becomes ever more suspicious.  Things escalate when Nola’s mother (Nuala Fitzgerald; He Never Died), father, and Candy’s teacher all turn up brutally murdered by diminutive killers.

Early encounters with “the brood” are akin to evil dwarf attacks. We witness destructive mischief and malformed creatures reaching for weapons, but we don’t see the twisted little assailants.  The first encounter with these monstrous little humanoids is neither scary nor gory, and is only brutal in concept (but not so in execution).  Subsequent scenes unveil more blood along with our killers’ deformed faces.  It seems that through an unexplained treatment protocol of psychoplasmics and her resulting physiological changes, Nola has physically manifested her rage in the form of her brood.

Following Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977), The Brood will not hold a candle to the gore or visceral brutality of Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983) or The Fly (1986)—three films which remain today much more visually pleasing than Cronenberg’s earlier work.  No, this film’s imagery doesn’t pack a punch anymore when viewed today.  What it does have is atmosphere.  The film’s focus on Nola’s therapy is off-putting yet intriguing, and it makes the final reveal all the more powerful (and still impactful, contrary to the film’s death scenes).

Many times, I couldn’t tell if I was being clued in or misled by the direction of Raglan’s roleplaying—but these scenes always held my attention and invested me in Frank’s effort to protect his daughter from a mentally unstable mother.  Moreover, we find ourselves constantly questioning if Raglan is a villain or ally or ignorant bystander to the true forces at work.

With all the best effects and most disturbing imagery limited to the final scene, this film remains powerful by virtue of its uneasy atmosphere, which persists throughout.  I expected more in the gore department, but was impressed nonetheless.


The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 3: Deadtime Stories (1986), Hellraiser (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 (1988), and Dangerous Seductress (1995)

November 20, 2017

This article is rich with images you do not want your boss to see when he’s looking over your shoulder at work. View at your own risk.

Transformation scenes are often the coolest things we see in horror films–especially when they’re executed with practical effects.  Some of my favorite transformation scenes are also the most gory and brutal.  In The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror Parts 1 and Part 2 we reviewed the transformations featured in Tales from the Darkside (1990; the short story Lover’s Vow), Zombeavers (2014), Wolfcop (2014) (the latter two are discussed in the Podcast Episode 17), The Company of Wolves (1984), Late Phases (2014), and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985).  Of course, coming as no surprise, there’s a bias towards werewolf movies.  Before we discussed films in which the transformations had the “new form” push its way out of the “old” (human) form much as a moth emerges from its cocoon…but deliciously GORIER as it tears its way out!  Transformations like these are gory, laborious and to the point; like the human skin was just an ill-fitting suit entrapping a monster.  The first films (that come to mind anyway) using this transformation method were the werewolf movies The Howling (1981), and far later by the werewolf character from Hemlock Grove (2013-2015; Netlfix show).  The Fly (1986) also utilized this method, in which Brundlefly’s transformation was a slow mutation and his human form was gorily “molted” off after phasic shifts.  I feel like an honorable mention is owed to Spring (2014), which features hints of on-screen transformation frequently and in interesting ways but limits all significant changes in form to off-screen events (i.e., revealing the final form but not witnessing the actual transformation beyond sounds and/or shadows).  If only that film had a larger budget–but then, that might have spoiled the more elegant tone of that special romantic horror film.


Much to the contrary of Parts 1 and Part 2‘s “molting” of old forms, today we’ll be discussing reconstitution (or reanimation, perhaps) scenes.  In case you’re wondering what that means–imagine a face/body melting slowly revealing the muscle and nerve tissue under the skin, the white tendon beneath that, and the blood and bone and organs in between.  Now–run that in reverse in your head.  Yes!  That’s how old school practical effects often handled these scenes.  That, or stop-motion animation for the lower budget endeavors.  To me, though, it’s all solid gold and one of the things that made the ’80s the greatest decade for horror!

Stay tuned for future installments in this series of articles…but for now, let’s dig into some gross scenes!!!!



Deadtime Stories (1986)–excepting the middle story, I really love this horror anthology. I loved it as a kid in the early 90s (when I rented it from Ellis Street Video in Haddonfield, NJ) and I still love it today. It’s an excellent, cheap B-movie with fun short stories of dark fairy tales. The budget is low but the effects are diverse and the music was surprisingly interesting.


The first story is about a young boy and the witch sisters he serves. They intend to resurrect their long dead sister (another witch). This dark fairy tale is surprisingly loaded with fun special effects. They use illusions to seduce a priest and make his disembodied hand crawl asunder from his arm. They then remove the heart from the corpse of their long dead sister, apply a magical potion to restart its beating, and return it to her chest cavity. What follows is a gross, slimy, stop-motion display as tendrils of nerves and sinew emerge from the heart and envelop the skeleton in a crust of cadaverous filth, from which their sister would then emerge. The effects, however low the budget may be, had me squealing in delight as it reminded me of the Hellraiser (1987) transformation scene.



Hellraiser (1987) was Clive Barker’s introduction to Pinhead in this ultra-creepy, practical effect gorefest with a solid story.  A crowd pleaser to horror fans of all ages, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser tells the story of a man who escapes Hell, the temptations he exploits in order to freely roam the Earth again, and the consequences that befall those nearest him.  This film steers clear of paradigmatic horror with creepiness and awesome practical effects.  In 1987 horror was already becoming predictable, but Barker takes us into uncharted territory that lacks the predictability of his peers.  Even the gore and effects take us down a more rare and satisfying path.  This film will fulfill your darkest pleasures.  The catalyst for the movie’s most famous scene is when some blood is accidentally spilled where Frank was torn apart by an otherworldly evil and this blood initiated the beginning of the transformation of his remains to a rather “incomplete” facsimile of infernal Frank.


This scene is a testament to the patient practical effects of the 80s.  We see organs develop from blood droplets and his body slowly finds form from a gory muck.  The scene is long and gross, and it includes some creepy stop motion of his decrepit skeletal arms and bloody resurrection.  This transformation scene is one of the most memorable scenes in 80s horror.


Deliciously gooey!  Now a skinless, weak, macabre husk of his formal self he tempts Julia (Clare Higgins) to “help” him by bringing him more blood.  And thus, the transformation actually progresses further with the story.



A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: Dream Master (1988) included a great early scene depicting Freddy’s resurrection in the junkyard (from the end of part 3).  In Kincaid’s dream, his dog Jason bites Alice (connected in the dream) warning that Freddy’s return is imminent and, subsequently, resurrects Freddy with a flaming stream of urine.  A crack opens a portal to Hell, his bones reassemble and, just like Hellraiser, fluids congeal and amass over his joints and skull to form sinew and flesh (like reverse time lapse melting of wax).

nightmare-on-elm-street-4-01 373650054_18


Much as Deadtime Stories (1986) and Hellraiser (1987) featured reconstitution/reanimation scenes with reverse-time lapse wax melting, so followed the meagerly budgeted Dangerous Seductress (1995).  This scene basically copied the aforementioned movies’ scenes, but with greater effects limitations.  Despite that, and the generally campy nature of the flick, it’s still a pretty neat scene.  Once reanimated the ’90s seductress in “incomplete,” looking more like Evil Dead 2‘s (1987) undead ballerina Linda.

Luckily there was a stray dog for her to eat to finish forming her other leg, right?


I hope you enjoyed these gore-slathered movie memories and perhaps you have been directed to new things you need to see for yourself.  Stay tuned for future installments…


MFF Special: The Joker Needed 65 Minutes to Setup the Weapon Circle in Suicide Squad

November 16, 2017

The visual of The Joker surrounded by knickknacks in Suicide Squad is an inspired one that says everything we need to know about the guy.

  1. He likes to organize things.
  2. He loves guns
  3. He has a lot of watches
  4. He is computer savvy because he figured out how to keep his tablets and computers from going into sleep mode.


When watching the film I couldn’t help but wonder who set all that up. I don’t think he would allow his henchmen to place the items because he seems like a control freak. So, I’m guessing that he put a list together and his henchmen had to gather everything from various places (storage, corner store, flower shop, black market, Best Buy).

Here is the list and time it took to place everything on the floor. It gives a pretty clear idea of what The Joker had to do.

Quick note: I put this list together via pausing the movie many times, looking at pictures on google and analyzing every angle of the eclectic setup. There may be a few missing items but I managed to piece together 475 individual items and figure out the placement via walking around my living room like a maniac.

Imagine that The Joker wrote this list on personalized stationery.

  • 50 Knives and 1 Hammer – 4 minutes 
  • 1 Captain Ron DVD – Just to Watch
  • 176 wooden things (Piano Keys) – 5.5 minutes
  • 10 Machine Guns – 1.5 minutes
  • 35 Roses – 1.5 Minutes
  • 2 Red Brawndos – Need Electrolytes and his thirst had to be mutilated
  • 13 Bags – 1 minute
  • 15 Watches – 1.5 minutes
  • 2 Massive Machine Guns – 30 seconds
  • 20 Cash Wads – 1 minute
  • 12 Glasses (two six packs)- 1 minute
  • 17 tablets – 20 minutes to place, find website page and switch to a non-sleeping mode
  • 6 laptops – 10 minutes
  • 1 Club Sandwich from great deli around the corner (tip well)
  • 4 Onesies – 1 minute
  • 3 Knives – 30 seconds
  • 52 Joker Cards – 5 minutes
  • 10 Grenades – 1 minute
  • 37 little tchotchkes – 4 minutes
  • 10 handguns – 2 minutes
  • 1 New Clive Cussler book (Preferably NUMA files)
  • 24 bottles of booze (4 boxes of six) – 2 minutes

After everything was collected and placed in easily totable bins The Joker set about placing everything. First, he had to lay on the floor to figure out the radius of the first circle (60 seconds). He started with the knives and worked his way out. Based on how many of the items he could hold at one time (or could be placed in bins) I retraced the steps very loosely and figured out he needed 65 minutes to set everything up. Since everything is organized and I’m guessing he had a plan that allowed him to work at a constant pace that was cautious and prevented double work. The biggest time suck was the configuration of the computers and tablets because he had to find a specific photo or website and make sure the computers didn’t go to sleep. I’m thinking he did this while watching Captain Ron in the background (see list for reference). 

There you have it! The Joker had a clear plan, made his henchmen buy/bring everything, and he set everything up in a direct and confident manner befit of a true madman. Director David Ayer obviously put a lot of thought into the circle and the plan was executed to time wasting perfection. 

Ending Note: I originally was going to attempt to figure out how the joker was able to setup up the massive cash pile in The Dark Knight. My guess is that underneath all that cash is a wooden frame that allowed the henchmen to build the cash mound from the top to bottom. That would alleviate cranes and hours of stacking cash that had to be in nice and organized stacks.

If you like my dumb data make sure to check out the other posts that feature more weirdness.

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. Michael Myers Hates Blinkers
  3. Jason Voorhees Can’t Teleport?
  4. How Far Did the Merman Travel in The Cabin in the Woods?
  5. How Far Did Matthew McConaughey Jump in Reign of Fire?
  6. How Fast can Leatherface Run?
  7. Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard
  8. How Far Did Michael Myers Drive in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  9. How Did the Geologist Get Lost in Prometheus?
  10. People Love a Bearded Kurt Russell
  11. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  12. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  13. Cinematic Foghat Data
  14. Explosions and Movie Posters
  15. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  16. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  17. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  18. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  19. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  20. How Fast Can the Fisherman Clean a Trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  21. It’s Expensive to Feature Characters Being Eaten Alive and Surviving Without a Scratch
  22. How Long Does it Take Your Favorite Horror Movie Characters to Travel From NYC to San Francisco?
  23. What was the Guy’s Blood Pressure in Dawn of the Dead?

Bad Movie Tuesday: I Finally Watched Swimfan

November 14, 2017


It would be great to see this turd squashed under a truck, preferably a semi.

Peter Travers – Rolling Stone

I never thought I would watch Swimfan. I’ve owned the DVD for many years and it’s become an inside joke amongst the MFF crew that I haven’t watched it. Just the knowledge that it was sitting on my DVD shelf was enough for me. However, after an airing of My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that riffs on Swimfan (Swimchan) my wife talked me into finally watching the movie. The result was a breezy and dumb 90 minutes that featured moped accidents, PED allegations, and shoddy police work.

The story revolves around a talented swimmer dealing with an insane person. The protagonist is the stereotypical cool kid who has an awesome girlfriend and has scouts from Stanford coming to watch him swim. However, he starts hanging around the new girl and they end up hooking up very quickly in a swimming pool. It all starts going awry for the kid and his stalker starts emailing him a lot and showing up at his house (yada yada yada).

The interesting thing  is that I got into Swimfan and asked questions I never thought I would ask

  1. Why would he cheat on Amy? She seems chill.
  2. Do you remember trucker hats?
  3. Who taught this teenage girl to be like the Terminator?
  4. How did she slip him anabolic steroids?
  5. I wonder what that dude from Detroit Rock City has been up to?

The movie is an absolute headscratcher that was written by two guys who haven’t done much since. However, if you can put aside the badness you will have a good time watching everything unfold exactly as you’d expect. It’s like the diet cola version of junk food which allows you to enjoy without feeling too much guilt. Swimfan won’t leave you feeling drained because it doesn’t create any investment (Think Fatal Attraction’s gut punch). If you are cooking dinner or vacuuming the floor this film will be an ideal watch. I don’t want you to think that I’m slamming this poor little thriller. Movies like this need to exist and they do a great job flooding cable with perfect background fodder that reminds you of the early 2000s.

Should you watch Swimfan? If you plan on cleaning your house this weekend the answer is “sure.”


John’s Horror Corner: Evilspeak (1981), Clint Howard summons demons, flies with a sword and explodes heads with his super computer.

November 12, 2017

MY CALL:  Overall, this is one of those B-movies that makes an awesome bad movie night while still holding up in to many of its zany early 80s peers.  The story is stupid but the effects are just entertaining enough to make up for the sluggish pacing.  MORE MOVIES LIKE EvilspeakI’m reminded of such odd fare as The Keep (1983), The Church (1989) and The Unholy (1988).

Not sure how—as I’m prone to enjoy obscure, low budget, and purportedly “bad” movies—but I somehow never knew about this movie until Amazon recommended it.  With a humble budget under $1 million, this may just be director Eric Weston’s (Hyenas) finest triumph—not that this is saying much.  My sole acceptance to explore this was that it stars one of B-cinema’s (and mainstream’s) greatest small role icons: Clint Howard (Leprechaun 2, Lords of Salem, Ice Cream Man, Ticks, Carnosaur).

Historical flashbacks of some evil monk tell of exile, gem-encrusted swords, and ritual sacrifice of a (naturally) naked woman.  We learn a bit about some sort of ambiguous curse…but the story is all over the place and no sense will ever come of it.

This poor guy gets driven pretty far by those bullies…

Then we return to present day to meet Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard), a military school cadet perpetually bullied by his classmates and who is mocked for being an orphan and a welfare case enrollment.  And it’s not just the students, even the faculty hates him.  What is it about high school coaches in the 80s…were they all evil?  The guy was plotting with a student bully that “if something were to happen to [Coopersmith]…” just to win more soccer games!

Many efforts are made to capture a dark occult atmosphere (e.g., the introductory flashbacks), but the film really only succeeds in the first cellar scene where Coopersmith encounters a cobwebbed time-forgotten library, lights about 1000 candles, leafs through cursed tomes best left untouched, and then an evil zombie fetus does…something that may or may not ever matter.  But no worries, he leaves with perhaps the most infernal of the entombed books (for his own study), which haphazardly ends up in the hands of the colonel-headmaster’s secretary.  This is another of many turns in the plot that goes nowhere and makes no sense.

Using his oddly intelligent HAL-like computer and a vastly superior 1981 version of Google’s Satanism program, Coopersmith follows dutiful instructions to summon a demonic spirit to exact his revenge. The story and rules are a bit dodgy, but what were you really expecting?  Sometimes the formless demonic spirit works on its own, it really likes controlling pigs, and eventually it possesses Coopersmith (or imbues him with infernal power, I’m really not sure).

The special effects were nothing special at all for the majority of the film (i.e., the first hour, but such is typical of lower budget horror).  Honestly, the first 60 minutes were rather boring excepting a few scenes.  A horribly fake naked mannequin is decapitated, a weak animated fetus moves around, there are some unimpressive man-eating pig attacks (attacking a naked woman, clearly to punish her for her needless exhibitionism as she undressed in front of a fireplace), and Coopersmith gets loads of instructions from his oddly sentient computer (like Latin translations, potion ingredients and real-time corrections when he does something wrong in the ritual…WTF?).

A lot happens in the end of the movie.  Coopersmith flies around like a sword-wielding fallen angel, there’s blood and fire everywhere, and people are being slaughtered in a church.  It’s zany.  The highlights of the effects (pretty much in the last 15 minutes) were a gory ripped-out heart and all the various beheadings.  A man’s head is twisted 180 degrees, another guy’s head basically explodes into gory chunks, and there are several sword decapitations.  I giggled a lot—they were a delightful mess of corn syrup and latex chunks festooning the set.  I giggled more at the crass campiness—a few nude scenes and a “Miss Heavy Artillery” pageant.

Overall, this is one of those classic B-movies that makes an awesome bad movie night while still holding up in production value to many (although more average) of its early 80s peers.  The story is stupid but the effects are just entertaining enough to make up for the sluggish pacing before everyone dies in the end.

John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), introducing zombie Jason to more camp counselors and some of the most fun death scenes of the franchise so far.

November 11, 2017

MY CALL:  Perhaps my favorite (meaning most rewatchable) in the series so far, just behind Friday the 13th Parts IV-V. So far, I’d rank the films (most to least rewatchable) as 6-4-5-2-1-3.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th Part VIObviously, Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) for sure.  Sadly, I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story continuity (it didn’t impress me at all, but many seem to highly favor it), but part IV: The Final Chapter (1984) and part V: A New Beginning (1985) were both quite redeeming.  For more classic ‘early modern’ slashers one should venture A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Burning (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Part 5 SIDEBAR:  Yup, Jason keeps getting “almost, sort of, nearly killed” and then keeps coming back alive and well like Wolverine.  Part IV ends after 12-year old Tommy (Corey Feldman; Friday the 13th Parts IV-V, The Lost Boys, Gremlins) killing Jason.  Likewise, part V ends with Tommy (now 17 or 18) (John Shepherd; Bless the Child) killing the Jason Voorhees copycat and gazing understandingly at the famed hockey mask. Yes.  In part V (and since the end of part IV), Jason Voorhees was, in fact, actually dead!  As for the timeline, part 1 took place in “present day” (1980), part 2 was 5 years later (so 1985), part III continued “the next day” (also 1985), and part IV took place in 1985 immediately after the events of part III starting with Jason in the hospital morgue (a la Halloween II).  Bucking the trend, part V jumped forward 5-6 years (so 1990-1991-ish).  Now, probably more of a writing flaw than anything, part VI takes us questionably about 10 years yet further into the future (soooo, 2001…?) since the actor playing the notably older Tommy was 28 at the time and no specific mention of his age comes into play.

In this third and final installment of the Tommy Jarvis story arc (i.e., parts IV-VI), we open in a graveyard to find the now-adult Tommy (Thom Mathews; The Return of the Living Dead I-II) unearthing Jason Voorhees to assure himself that the murderer is truly, in fact, dead.  Upon discovering the muck-slathered worm farm of Jason’s remains, a lightning strike actually resurrects the Crystal Lake killer into an undead monster.  And then, in a display of gory delight, that monster punches through a man’s chest with his hand holding the heart outside of the torso!  This was the most exciting opening sequence of the franchise so far—and it sets the stage for this fun movie!

Some members of the cast you may recognize include Ron Palillo (Hellgate), Jennifer Cooke (V), Darcy DeMoss (Sharknado 3), Renée Jones (The Terror Within II), Tony Goldwyn (The Belko Experiment, The Last House on the Left), Vincent Guastaferro (Shocker) and Matthew Faison (Freddy’s Dead, Puppet Master III).

Well after seeing Jason rise from the dead, Tommy is (understandably) frantic.  Of course, no one believes the guy who impersonated and massacred a serial killer and then spent half his life in mental wards screaming “Jason is alive…he’s more powerful now!”  No, sir.  Camp Crystal Lake and its town of the same name have changed their name to Forest Green to ease forgetting about all the grisly murders of decades past.

BIGGER, BADDER SEQUELS:  Jason just kept getting bigger, didn’t he?  Part VI’s Jason (C.J. Graham, 6’3”; Highway to Hell) is often shot with some camera angles making him look a gigantic 7’+ (e.g., the 2nd death scene).  In part V, our killer (Tom Morga; Halloween 4: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) was only 6’2”—however, he seemed bigger because the latex mask made his head look HUGE.  Likewise Ted White (6’4”; Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, The Hidden, Demonoid: Messenger of Death) followed Richard Brooker (6’3”; Friday the 13th Part III, Deathstalker), Warrington Gillette (6’1”; Friday the 13th Part 2), and “the boy in the lake” (Ari Lehman, 5’11”; The Barn, Friday the 13th).  No complaints about it—just an observation.

Whereas parts III-V punished seemingly random lakeside vacationers or residents who just happen to be in Jason’s cursed habitat, part VI returns to its roots of punishing the staff of Camp Crystal Lake (now Camp Forest Green).  Written and directed by Tom McLoughlin (Friday’s Curse), this was actually the first movie in the series to actually feature the kid campers and our first franchise appearance of a truly undead Jason.

Embracing his supernatural status, Jason is really enjoying his “fast walk.” No need to run any more—although his copycat killer wasn’t running in part V either, this is the first time “Jason” takes his time.  He’s in no rush to reach his victims, he doesn’t try to avoid being hurt (like, at all), and not even upwards of 20 bullets are going to stop him (far more and of greater average caliber than anything Myers endured in a Halloween movie).  Not only that, zombie Jason enjoys the same antics he did when he was very much alive.  He still likes to burst through splintered doors and ambush people from the water; he still likes his machete and uses it far more often than his hands, playing darts or improvised spears; and he still modestly hides his ugly undead face behind a mask.

Campy SIDEBAR: I felt that part III was incredibly hokey and parts IV-V were VERY campy (in this case, raunchy) in showing the breasts of nearly the entire female cast.  Quite to the contrary, part VI isn’t really campy at all (in the hokey or raunchy sense).  Outside of a clothes-on sex scene (and no nudity at all), this may be the least campy movie of the franchise.  I don’t even recall any profanity.  I’d call it the most “family-friendly” of the series were it not for about 18 grisly murders. LOL

I love these movies in general, but (assuming Jason can “enjoy” anything) Jason seems to have a lot more fun in this one!  The gore-o-meter is higher than ever.  After that spectacular chest/heart punch death scene, Jason (with his lightning rod fence post) spears a man and flings his body over his shoulder, squishes heads, cuts through multiple victims at once, and twists heads off with spinning neck breaks.  He even makes a metal imprint of a victim’s face (as the frying pan gag in a Bugs Bunny cartoon) and back-breaks the sheriff (probably inspiring Toby’s back-breaker in Paranormal Activity 3).  Parts IV-V were wonderfully fun to watch.  And while I may not quite call this one my new favorite (so far, in terms of story or overall quality), I feel it does boast the best combination or gore and death scenes—making it highly rewatchable.

This sequel completes the story arc of Tommy Jarvis from his childhood trauma, his late troubled teen years and into his late twenties.  Admittedly, the story gets a little sloppy (e.g., discrepancies between Jason’s purported cremation in parts V-VI).  But it rounds out a story with focal characters worthy of comparison to A Nightmare on Elm Street 1/3/7 (Nancy/Heather), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3-5 (Kristen 3-4, Alice 4-5), Hellraiser I-II (Kirsty), or Halloween 1-2/7-8 (Laurie).

Part IV was previously my favorite sequel, with part V is right behind it as my second favorite (so far) in terms of fun factor and rewatchability.  But with the solid death scene and gore quality along with the alchemically enhanced fun of an undead killer, part VI may now get my vote for the most rewatchable of the franchise (so far).

John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), more boobs, body count and masked killer shenanigans advance the Tommy Jarvis story arc.

November 10, 2017

MY CALL:  Perhaps my second favorite in the series (so far), just behind Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Less hokey than its predecessor, but way more raunchy. So far, I’d rank the films, best to worst, as 4-5-2-1-3.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th Part VObviously, Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) for sure.  Sadly, I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story continuity (it didn’t impress me at all, but many seem to favor it), but part IV (1984) was quite redeeming.  For more classic ‘early modern’ slashers one should venture A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Burning (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Part 4 SIDEBAR:  Yup, Jason keeps getting “almost, sort of, nearly killed” and then keeps coming back like Wolverine.  Part IV ends after 12-year old Tommy (Corey Feldman; Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, The Lost Boys, Gremlins, Bordello of Blood) impersonates “teen Jason” and kills him. But the credits freeze on a curious glimmer in his eye. We close with Jason’s skull impaled in the worst injury our killer has sustained in the franchise.  If you weren’t yet convinced he was dead, you ought to be now!  As for the timeline, part 1 took place in “present day” (1980), part 2 was 5 years later (so 1985), part III continued “the next day” (also 1985), and part IV took place in 1985 immediately after the events of part III starting with Jason in the hospital morgue (a la Halloween II).  Bucking the trend, part V jumps forward 5-6 years…

After the traumatic events leading to young Tommy killing Jason, he’s needed more than the occasional therapy session.  Now a teenager (17 or 18), after spending years in mental health facilities, Tommy (John Shepherd; Bless the Child) finds himself at something of a halfway house “camp” to help him transition to re-enter society.  About as soon as Tommy arrives, another troubled resident chops up one of his peers (over a candy bar) and subsequently people start getting killed by a hockey-masked killer.  Only one problem: Jason Voorhees was allegedly cremated!  So, who’s hacking everyone up?

Some members of the cast you may recognize include Anthony Barrile (Girlfriend from Hell), Todd Bryant (Night of the Creeps, The Puppet Masters), Dominick Brascia (Evil Laugh, Once Bitten), Bob DeSimone (Savage Streets), Juliette Cummins (Psycho III, Deadly Dreams, Slumber Party Massacre II), Richard Lineback (The Ring), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (The Return of the Living Dead, Leprechaun 4: In Space), and Marco St. John (Shadow People, Cat People).

Campy SIDEBAR: I felt that part III was incredibly hokey.  This sequel remains highly campy, but never really hokey.  How’s that?  Well, there’s also a LOT more profanity and we basically see the breasts of the entire female cast.  For real, there may be more nudity and a broader variety of boobs in this movie than all its predecessors combined (even considering part IV).  Back in my Piranha 3DD (2012) review, I dreamed up the movie metric called breast time. “If there was a movie Freakonomics calculation called breast time it would be measured in breast seconds—i.e., the total number of breasts in a movie times the number of seconds that each breast is bare.”  Let’s just say Jason saw a lot of boobage in this sequel.  It reminded me of other such classy cinema as The Haunting of Morella (1990).  Director Danny Steinmann (Savage Streets, The Unseen) never directed another film after this (part V).  Not sure exactly why, but I suspect he had trouble recruiting actresses once they understood he wouldn’t let them keep their clothes on.  Our final girl, naturally, is the only one who kept her top on.  But, just to keep things classy, she duels her murderous opposition wearing a soaking wet white blouse and no bra.

The effects were decent.  Some of the death scenes were uninspired filler (e.g., a few off-screen kills and slit throats), but overall the kills were pretty enjoyable.  Although weak as a death scene, I liked the “flare death”, and the outhouse death scene was a giggling favorite.  Most of the kills were conducted by axe or machete, but we find some garden sheers and head constricting antics peppered in for flavor.

Our killer remains much like Michael Myers in menace, especially in the sense that—for the first time in this franchise—our killer never actually runs.  And while he can clearly be hurt (being human still, at this point in the franchise), he doesn’t seem to “fear” his victims when they’re armed—but he doesn’t ignore the threat either.  Whereas the first two films punished the would-be staff of Camp Crystal Lake, parts III-V punished seemingly random lakeside vacationers who just happen to be in Jason’s cursed habitat.  We also continue to find rehashes of some tactics that worked well in previous franchise films.  For example, the old “grab from the back and stab through” (e.g., how his mother killed Kevin Bacon in part 1) and crashing through a splintered door.

 Jason just kept getting bigger, didn’t he?  At least, until now.  Ted White (6’4”; Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, The Hidden, Demonoid: Messenger of Death) followed Richard Brooker (6’3”; Friday the 13th Part III, Deathstalker), Warrington Gillette (6’1”; Friday the 13th Part 2), and even “the boy in the lake” (Ari Lehman, 5’11”; The Barn, Friday the 13th).  No complaints about it—just an observation.  But now in part V, our killer (Tom Morga; Halloween 4: The Curse f Michael Myers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) is only 6’2”.

This sequel is the first to really generate a story arc around a focal character.  We have followed Tommy Jarvis from his childhood trauma into his late troubled teen years and, if we’re being honest, it’s nice to actually know a character for a change.  I’m not complaining about movies that populate the cast with nothing more than backstoryless slasher fodder sequel after sequel (e.g., the Wrong Turn sequels). But with such an iconic franchise (entirely theatrical releases, by the way), this provides more synthesis (as with all the character overlap in NOES movies).

Part IV was easily my favorite sequel, but part V is right behind it as my second favorite (so far) in terms of fun factor and rewatchability.  We may not have that stage-setting nostalgia of parts 1-2, but these franchise installments are simply more exciting.

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