Archive for September, 2010

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: A SCREAM IN THE STREETS

Posted in 2010, Grindhouse, Slasher Movies, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories # 14 – A SCREAM IN THE STREETS
“The Epitome of 70s Sleaze…”
by Nick Cato

This week’s classic is a film I actually saw first on VHS as part of a double feature series titled “Harry Novak’s Frightful Flicks.”  Novak was an exploitation film pioneer during the 60s and 70s, producing and releasing countless “nudie cutie” films, cheap horror and sci-fi outings, and the following gem that just may be the world’s first “cop/buddy movie.”

A SCREAM IN THE STREETS (1973)—while fun to watch on VHS—was even more fun when seen in a theater alongside the DEATH WISH-esque VIGILANTE (which was directed by William “MANIAC” Lustig).  I don’t know if a more entertaining movie night was had by me during the year of 1983, when this twisted double bill pulled into the Fox Twin Theater in my hometown.

Knowing there was a good chance NO ONE else in attendance had seen A SCREAM IN THE STREETS, I put my feet up on the back row and anxiously waited for the crowd’s reaction to this soft-core sex film that Novak cleverly disguised as a slasher/police drama.

From it’s opening (nearly) credit-free sequence of a transvestite slashing up some poor young girl, to it’s closing shot of the same tranny slashing up someone else, this crudely directed “police drama” had most patrons either drooling over the extended peeping tom scenes, cringing over a brutal massage parlor beating or laughing whenever detectives Ed and Bob came on screen, each with the acting ability of a parking meter.

Ed and Bob cruise around downtown L.A., looking for perps (and pervs).  One poor girl who works at a massage parlor has to deal with some old freak, who—not satisfied with using his hands to spank—ends up chasing her around the joint with his belt, swinging at her (and occasionally connecting) in a scene so absurd most of the theater didn’t know what to make of it.  I found out a few years later (thanks to some horror fanzine) that A SCREAM IN THE STREETS’ massage parlor sequence was actually a peek into a “roughie” film, i.e. late 60s/early 70s sex films that used S&M and/or light bondage or hitting as a replacement for hardcore sex scenes.  Whatever the case, this was one of the more obscure things I’ve ever seen in a suburban cinema, and I’m sure everyone at this screening would agree.

Next, we’re treated to a peeping tom spying on two housewives who decide to turn their afternoon tea party into an experimental lesbian session.  Wouldn’t you know our hero detectives happen to spot this creep hiding in the bushes, but he escapes before they can bring him in.  A few more peeping tom scenes fill up the rest of the time in-between completely lifeless dialogue and some of the more hideous fashions ever committed to celluloid.

Our transvestite slasher (who rapes and kills girls for no apparent reason) is played with an emotionless smirk by Con Covert, an actor who starred in countless 70s soft core films (including 1974’s THE PLAYMATES IN DEEP VISION 3-D!) before landing a supporting role in the 1984 cult classic REPO MAN.  His face is partially covered by a bad wig and Sunday church hat to help hide his horrendous facial expressions.

A few people left the theater, either offended by the belt-sequence or off to get a large Coke to help caffeinate them through the rest of the film, which, while truly slow at times, does have that certain charm lovers of bad cinema have come to love.

While detectives Ed and Bob may or may not be the first “cop/buddy” team, A SCREAM IN THE STREETS is arguably one of the trashiest low-budget features to not only get a theatrical release (in 1973), but to be brought back ten years later as a back-up for Lustig’s semi-successful street justice actioner.  Director Carl Monson (who directed the pseudo-cult epic PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER, also in 1973), evidentally not satisfied with the transvestite or the peeping tom, also manages to squeeze some goofy-looking cokehead into the mix, and even throws in semi-underground star John Tull as a reefer-smoking hippie.

With more nudity than a nudist camp, worse acting than PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1958), choreography-free fight sequences, sloppy-aftermath gore “F/X” and one of the lamest slashers ever to hit the screen, A SCREAM IN THE STREETS is a cop/buddy movie that also features two of the lamest cops ever to be paired (but thankfully the tranny kills one during the suspense-free finale).

For belt fetishists and trash-film completists only.  (If you MUST see this, Something Weird Video released a deluxe DVD edition a few years ago…even I have yet to revisit it).

 

Transvestite slasher (Con Covert) meets cop buddies Ed (John Kirkpatric) and Bob (Frank Bannon) in the "thrilling" finale of A SCREAM IN THE STREETS (1973)

 

© Copyright 2010 by Nick Cato

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THE BURROWERS

Posted in 2010, DVD Review, Michael Arruda Reviews, Monsters, Pickin' the Carcass, Westerns with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by knifefighter

PICKIN’ THE CARCASS:  THE BURROWERS (2008)
DVD Review by Michael Arruda


As we pick from the carcass this week, we snack on THE BURROWERS (2008), and if we’re not careful, the title creatures from this movie will be the ones snacking on us.  Yikes!

I heard a lot of good things about THE BURROWERS (2008), and when I saw the trailer for the film, I thought, this movie looks terrific!  How can it not be a hit?  Well, the answer is quite simple.  The movie is not as good as its trailer.

THE BURROWERS starts out strong, with a quick pre-credit sequence that is genuinely frightening.  It’s the old west, and a frontier family is suddenly attacked in the middle of the night.  The family hides in an underground room, in a scene that reminded me of a similar scene in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009), only it’s not Nazis on the prowl, but the title monsters.  The family’s efforts to remain hidden fail, as they are discovered by the unseen predators.  It’s a scary way to kick off the movie.

When word gets out that the family has been kidnapped, presumably by Indians, the locals form a posse.  There’s John Clay (Clancy Brown), William Parcher (William Mapother), and Fergus Coffey (Karl Geary), among others.  They soon join forces with a cavalry officer and his soldiers, and the chase is on.

This is a good premise, and it drew me into the story immediately.  However, strangely enough, after this strong opening, the movie hits a lull.  There just isn’t that much suspense in the early scenes where the men set out in pursuit of the missing family members, and as the movie goes along, it oddly takes its sweet time getting to the scary stuff.

Eventually, the men discover large holes in the ground, and of course they speculate just what might be inside those holes.  When they capture one of the Indians, he tells them of “the burrowers” which they wrongly assume to be another hostile Indian tribe.

More creepiness ensues, including the discovery of a woman buried alive, who seems to be drugged and in a vegetative state, and finally- finally– as in the final third of the movie, we get around to the monstrous meanies of the film, the Burrowers, mole-like creatures who drug their victims and bury them alive so they can come back for them later and eat their “soft parts” when they’re hungry, which begs the question, why not just hunt when they’re hungry?  Why hunt first and eat later?

The Burrowers prove to be vicious adversaries, and after several encounters between our heroes and the Burrowers, advantage Burrowers.  This all leads to a surprisingly mundane conclusion that simply doesn’t satisfy.  It left me feeling hungry for more.

The scenes with the Burrowers are sufficiently gruesome and scary, but these scenes are few and far between.  I liked these scenes and thought they worked well, but there are simply not enough of them.

We don’t really see the Burrowers all that much either, as we only seem to catch occasional glimpses of the creatures.  This is too bad, because they look cool and definitely warranted more screen time.

Writer/director J.T. Petty does an average job at the helm of this western thriller.  While the Burrower scenes are intense, they suffer from the “Curse of the Drive-In Movie” in that most of these scenes are all very dark and difficult to see, the kind of movie that years ago you wouldn’t have wanted to see at the drive-in.   You don’t want to see it on DVD either.  Dark scenes, where you really have difficulty making out what’s going on, are not fun.  The darkness really prevents there being any memorable scenes in this one, as it’s hard to have memorable scenes if you can’t see them.

The acting here is fine, although no one really stands out nor dominates this film.  William Mapother probably fares the best as William Parcher, as he comes off as genuinely likeable, and Clancy Brown as John Clay [who we saw earlier this year as one of the parents in the remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)] is a fairly strong presence as well.

The biggest disappointment for me with THE BURROWERS was J.T. Petty’s screenplay. The story’s a winner and should have been a gold mine.  It’s got a compelling premise, a posse of heroes in search of kidnap victims who encounter underground monsters.  It has a creative setting, in that it takes place in the old west, and I’m a sucker for the western-horror hybrids, from films like JONAH HEX (2010) to the old black and white cowboy vampire flick CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (1959).  How can this story go wrong?

Well, in the case of THE BURROWERS, it goes wrong because the story lacks focus. Rather than home in on the mystery and horror of the Burrowers, the story gets sidetracked with subplots of violent Indians, a pigheaded cavalry officer, and the background stories of several of the posse members that just aren’t that interesting.  Think JAWS (1975) leaving its shark storyline and going off on subplots about pirates, while delving into background stories of more of its characters, spending more time on these things than the compelling hunt for the shark, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

As a result, THE BURROWERS never really rises to the level of intensity and terror its title creatures suggest, which is too bad because from what little we do see of the Burrowers, they’re very scary.  THE BURROWERS had the potential to be a first-rate horror movie, but with its story muddled by pathways that are far less interesting than the main story about the underground monsters, creatures I would have been only too happy to learn more about, it never quite reaches that elite level.

I can’t really recommend THE BURROWERS.  While there are flashes of terror here and there, these scary scenes are way too sparse to be all that effective, and in terms of creativity and spunk, this one’s has about as much vision as a backyard mole.

—END—

© Copyright 2010 by Michael Arruda

A Night with GUILLERMO DEL TORO and CHUCK HOGAN

Posted in 2010, Vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by knifefighter

Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – Live at the Brattle Theater 9/23/10
A review of a public interview and Q&A session by L.L. Soares

I went to see filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and crime fiction novelist Chuck Hogan being interviewed by the Brattle Theater’s Creative Director Ned Hinkle last Thursday. The Brattle is a venerable arthouse theater that has been showing movies in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., since 1953. Del Toro and Hogan were there to promote their new book THE FALL, the second book in their STRAIN trilogy, three books about modern-day vampires. They were interviewed for about half an hour, then took questions from the audience, and then there was a screening of del Toro’s 2001 modern classic film, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE. The event was co-sponsored by the Brattle Theater and the Harvard Book Store (founded in 1932).

Here are just some of the highlights of the interview and Q&A session:

  • They really aren’t writing the series with a movie version in mind. There’s a freedom in writing novels that they wouldn’t have in a movie or TV series. Although, before writing the books, del Toro did pitch a three-season television version that was rejected. They wanted him to make it a comedy!
  • Even though they do not write the books with a film version in mind, they do have characters who are sort of already cast to match certain actors. Exterminator Vasily Fet would clearly be a good match for Ron Perlman (a regular in del Toro’s films) and the Master Vampire would be perfect for del Toro stalwart Doug Jones.
  • del Toro became aware of Hogan after reading his novel THE BLOOD ARTIST. He then read Hogan’s PRINCE OF THIEVES and realized they would work well together to flesh out ideas del Toro has been working on since childhood about particularly vicious vampires.
  • Hogan’s novel PRINCE OF THIEVES was the basis for the new Ben Affleck movie THE TOWN (reviewed here yesterday by John Harvey). Hogan said the movie takes liberties with his novel, which is to be expected, but that he was very pleased with it. He said he had seen it five or six times and was excited that it was the number one movie in the country (in box office receipts) during its first week of release.
  • If del Toro had to use one word to describe himself, it would be “voracity.” He lives life voraciously and isn’t happy to work in just one medium. He loves doing other things besides movies, like writing novels, writing comic books, and he’s working on a video game script as well.
  • Del Toro has been a gamer most of his life and thinks some video games are more impressive than most movies. In particular, he mentioned SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS as influencing some of the imagery in his movies.
  • When asked about the genre of “magical realism” that has been applied to several Mexican authors over the years, del Toro said the label was a “slippery thing.” He said, growing up in Mexico, that every day was “magical realism.” Even his father, a very pragmatic man, is convinced that he has seen UFOs, for example.
  • The germ of the idea of the STRAIN series was in del Toro’s head since he was eight or nine years old. As far back as that, he had planned for various kinds of vampires, like one that had a stinger under its tongue. When he approached Hogan about collaborating, he had already outlined the series from beginning to end in a 12-page synopsis. It was going to run just three books, and each would be self-contained, with its own beginning , middle and end. Readers do not have to read previous books to figure out what is going on. del Toro and Hogan said they were in the middle of working on the third and final book now.
  • When asked about his close friend and fellow director Alejandro González Iñárritu, del Toro became quite animated, imitating the intense way his friend speaks. He also pointed out that Inarritu was able to cut out 15 minutes from his masterpiece PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006) and actually make the movie tighter before its release. Also, when they first met (through mutual friends), del Toro had been able to eliminate 17 minutes of Inarritu’s film AMORES PERROS (2000), even though Inarritu now claims it was just seven minutes. Aside from being friends, they are also each other’s harshest editors.
  • Del Toro said he has many “fetishes”, from the colors amber and cobalt blue, to the clockwork gears that appear as imagery in many of his films, and insects.
  • Del Toro’s first film, the offbeat vampire movie CHRONOS (1993) will be released soon as a Criterion edition with lots of extras.
  • Talking about their collaboration process, Hogan and del Toro said they usually start out by getting together and spending several days together, plotting the book and outlining the chapters. Then they do the rest via emails back and forth. They each take which chapters they want to do (and, in turn, which characters they want to work with) and write those. Then they give the chapters they wrote to the other person to rewrite for continuity. del Toro said the collaboration process is actually quite amiable. They have never had an argument and the writing goes quite smoothly.
  • Hogan said before he started work on the first STRAIN novel, his agent called to tell him that del Toro was interested in doing this project with him. This is about four months before PAN’S LABYRINTH was released in the United States. Hogan’s agent had seen the movie early on and said it was amazing. When Hogan finally saw it, he was suitably impressed and maybe a little intimidated at first. He said he definitely felt the need to bring his “A-Game” to the collaboration. In turn, del Toro said he was very impressed with Hogan’s novels, especially THE BLOOD ARTIST (which combines several genres), and knew immediately that this was someone he wanted to work with. Hogan is very good at writing police procedural fiction, and del Toro wanted to bring that to the STRAIN books.
  • Answering an aspiring writer’s question about advice, del Toro said he has avoided most “How To Write” books and doesn’t recommend them. Except for Elmore Leonard’s 10 RULES OF WRITING, which he says is brilliant. Hogan and del Toro also agreed that reading constantly is very important to the craft of actually writing well.
  • Del Toro said he is surprised by what he likes and doesn’t like within the horror genre. He said he was not a fan of the original 1931 DRACULA with Bela Lugosi (it’s like “an uncle in a cape”), and he wasn’t all that impressed with the Spanish version that was done at the same time with a different cast (although he thought the camera angles and acting were more interesting in the Spanish version). As far as vampire fiction, he said there were three novels that affected him the most. The first was Richard Matheson’s seminal novel, I AM LEGEND (which has been filmed at least three times), Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT, and the Jeff Rice novel that was the basis for the television movie THE NIGHT STALKER (1972).
  • He also said that he didn’t like Francis Ford Coppola’s version of DRACULA(1992) the first time he saw it (he left the theater “scratching his head.”) But that he has grown to love it and has seen it multiple times since. He even owns some props from the movie.
  • Del Toro said that he has tried to watch the show THE X-FILES on DVD several times but cannot get into it. He says it reminds him too much of the earlier series KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1974). KOLCHAK is very dear to his heart, especially the first TV movie, which featured vampire Janos Skorzeny (Barry Atwater), who was attacking women in Las Vegas. He also mentioned how well the newsroom scenes worked between reporter Carl Kolchack (Darren McGavin) and his editor Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland).

© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares

THE TOWN

Posted in 2010, Action Movies, Crime Films, John Harvey Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by knifefighter

THE TOWN Offers Cliché Buoyed By Great Acting and Good Action
Review by John Harvey

I’m putting THE TOWN down as one of the ten good-to-great movies that Ben Affleck needs to make before I’ll forgive him for SUM OF ALL FEARS (2002). Marking his second effort as a director (the first being GONE BABY GONE (2007)), Affleck now brings us a gritty crime drama set in blue-collar Charlestown, Mass.

Affleck also takes a leading role in this film as Doug MacRay, the brains behind a proficient and prolific gang of bank robbers doing the bidding of the local Irish mob boss, Fergus ‘Fergie’ Colm (Pete Postlethwaite). Backing him up on these jobs is James “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner stealing every scene he’s in) and two additional thugs who hardly matter except to fill out the gang (Slaine and Owen Burke).

Affleck’s Doug is matched to Claire (Rebecca Hall), a bank manager who is taken hostage in the film’s opening bank robbery thrill ride, and then released unharmed. He subsequently seeks her out to make sure she doesn’t know anything that can identify them, and falls for her while never revealing that his gang traumatized her. What follows is the story of Doug struggling to reconcile the love of his life with his criminal career.

There’s not a lot here that we haven’t seen before. Sweet, doe-eyed Claire, who loves to garden and work with underprivileged children, represents the life that Doug wants but can’t have because of the gravitational forces of his upbringing. Doug is the sensitive yet street-tough hoodlum who wants and deserves a different life. Predictably, Doug decides to do that ‘one last job’ and then escape with Claire.

Of course, it’s never that simple. The FBI, led by agents Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver), are closing in on the gang, quickly and ruthlessly. It doesn’t help that his closest friend and partner-in-crime, Jem, is a career criminal who is addicted to robbery and violence. Jem knows he can never leave Charlestown, and strongly believes that Doug should follow suit.

What saves THE TOWN from the mixed morass of crime drama tropes is the acting and writing. Ranging from the cameos (including Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper playing Doug’s jail-bound father) to the major roles, there isn’t a single bad performance in this film.

Affleck, whose acting ability varies wildly, settles into this role with a natural grace. Perhaps it helps that he wrote the script (along with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard), which was adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel, PRINCE OF THIEVES (2004). Renner’s performance is spot-on and riveting every moment that he’s on screen. That said, now that he’s played an intense sociopath in both this film and THE HURT LOCKER (2008), he may want to look at other kinds of characters in future projects. Rebecca Hall’s Claire, while performed well, comes off a little flat. This isn’t her fault so much as the fact that she’s been given the role of damsel-in-distress within a male-dominated crime movie.

It’s also worth noting that Boston, and specifically Charlestown, could be credited as another leading actor in this film. Affleck (who is from Cambridge, Mass.) did a great job of capturing Boston’s look and feel. He also used the city’s winding, narrow streets to great advantage during some exciting chase and action scenes. For Boston natives, you can breathe a sigh of relief regarding the often-overdone local accents. In THE TOWN, they get the accents right.

While THE TOWN has several suspenseful action sequences, it would be wrong to categorize it solely as an action film, or even a thriller. It’s a rare kind of film (in the same vein as THE DEPARTED (2006) and HEAT (1995)), in that it certainly is a genre flick, but it’s written for adults who like some substance with their flash. THE TOWN also goes another step toward proving that GONE BABY GONE was not a fluke. When it comes to directing, Affleck has some chops.

Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard|
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner
Rating: R
Run Time: 2hr 3min‎‎

– END –

© Copyright 2010 by John Harvey

September Monstrous Question – Response # 3

Posted in 2010, Horror DVDs, Monstrous Question of the Month, Remakes, Sequels with tags , , , , on September 24, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER 2010
(Monstrous Questions provided by Michael Arruda)

If you could remake one sequel, what would it be?  Why?  And lastly, for some added fun, what are some of the changes/improvements you’d make?

***

RESPONSE # 3

MICHAEL ARRUDA:

I’m going to turn back the clock a bit and go with DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), Hammer Films’ first sequel to their mega hit HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

Now, even though Hammer Films made a living out of making sequels, even though they made some of my favorite horror movies of all time, and even though I actually like DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS, I’m still choosing this movie as the sequel that I’d remake, and here’s why:

First off, I’d keep the entire first half of this movie pretty much the same.  Everything that occurs in this movie in its first 45 minutes, before Dracula actually makes his appearance, is dead-on (or would that be undead on?), from its strong sense of evil during the scenes at Castle Dracula, which play off the audience’s memory of Christopher Lee’s powerful performance as Dracula in HORROR OF DRACULA—you can almost sense Dracula’s spirit within the castle walls as he waits to be resurrected, to its most gruesome scene.  In fact, the resurrection scene is probably the most gruesome scene in the entire Hammer Dracula series, as Dracula’s servant Klove (Philip Latham) hangs a man upside down over Dracula’s coffin, and then slits his throat as gallons of blood pour into the coffin, mixing with Dracula’s ashes.  It’s a great scene.

But once Dracula enters the movie, things need to change.  I have three changes in mind.

Number one, I would give Dracula dialogue.  Even though Lee rarely spoke in any of the Hammer Dracula movies, DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS is the only film in the series where he speaks no dialogue at all.  Lee’s deep, resonating voice is sorely missed in this movie.  Of course, for those of you who don’t know, the reason Dracula had so few lines in the Hammer Dracula movies was that Lee cut the lines, claiming they were awful.  I’ve read copies of scripts with Lee’s notations, and for the most part, he was right.  The lines were terrible.

Anyway, in my remake, Dracula would speak dialogue, and he’d speak lots of it.

Second, I’d also give Dracula a reason for being.  It’d be nice to know his motives for doing things.  Since he doesn’t speak at all in the movie, it’s not exactly easy for the audience to know why he’s doing what.  He just follows the girl that got away and chases her across the country.   Well, my Dracula would spell out his intentions clearly:  yes, he would go all out to retrieve the beautiful girl that got away, that fled from his castle with her husband, but my Dracula would be more ambitious.  After re-capturing the girl, Dracula would plan to leave his castle and travel to London a la Stoker’s novel, and so there would be added scenes where Dracula would make preparations to travel to London.

Dracula is such an evil character.  He should be extremely difficult to destroy.  This was one of the flaws of the later Hammer Dracula films, that everyone and his grandmother could destroy Dracula.  That didn’t make for much of a scary villain if any old idiot could simply hold a cross at the king of the vampires and then drive a stake into his heart.  That was one of the best parts of HORROR OF DRACULA, that it pitted two extremely powerful characters against each other, Christopher Lee’s Dracula vs. Peter Cushing’s Dr. Van Helsing.  Either one could have come out the victor.

Since Van Helsing doesn’t appear in DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS, my third and final significant change to the sequel would be that Dracula would survive.  Yes, he’d succeed in re-capturing the girl, and he’d elude the woman’s husband and the knowledgeable priest who had made it their mission to destroy Dracula.

So my DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS would have a very dark ending.  Dracula would emerge victorious, which would set the stage for future sequels and send the following message:  the average guy doesn’t stand a chance against Dracula.  There would have to be some powerful, clever characters written in future movies to pit their abilities against Dracula, and perhaps even Van Helsing would return.  So, my DRACULA–PRINCE OF DARKNESS would have a certain EMPIRE STRIKES BACK feel to it, as the main villain would walk away unscathed, and the heroes and heroines would be left in a shambles.

My Dracula would be a Prince of Darkness indeed, and he’d make sure audiences knew it.

—END—

(That’s it for this month’s “Monstrous Question” – more in October).

September Monstrous Question – Response # 2

Posted in 2010, Horror DVDs, Monstrous Question of the Month, Remakes, Sequels with tags , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by knifefighter

SEPTEMBER MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH
(Questions provided by Michael Arruda)

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
If you could remake one sequel, what would it be?  Why?  And lastly, for some added fun, what are some of the changes/improvements you’d make?

***

RESPONSE # 2

L.L. SOARES:

This is a tough one, because there are so many lame sequels. Almost all of them could be improved upon.

I can think of a handful of sequels that were as good or better than the original. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) comes to mind, as does DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936), DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005) and HOSTEL PART 2 (2007).  I didn’t think James Cameron’s ALIENS (1986) was as good as the first one (Ridley Scott’s original was a horror movie, but Cameron’s sequel was more of an action movie), but it was certainly a respectable sequel.

The British studio Hammer made a business out of making worthwhile sequels.

The problem is, most bad sequels are bad throughout and should have been junked completely. In a lot of cases, they just weren’t fixable.

But if I had to choose one, I think I’d go with JAWS 2 (1978), mainly because the first JAWS (1975) was so great, and the sequel was such a letdown. And it was so not scary. With today’s special effects, I’m thinking a killer shark movie could be made that really scares the hell out of people. But you wouldn’t need to mess with remaking the original. Despite its flaws, the first JAWS doesn’t need reworking. But the sequel could have taken the basic concept and made it even scarier, and it didn’t. If I had a chance to remake JAWS 2, I’d ratchet up the scares considerably, and have a field day with the gore. Hell, it might even get the 3D treatment, if I could figure out how to give people heart attacks by having monster sharks jump out at them (I remember seeing JAWS 3 (1983) in 3D and being completely disappointed that there wasn’t a scene where a hungry shark swims right at you and off the screen). Unlike the recent PIRANHA 3D (2010), I’d play a JAWS sequel totally straight, no laughs and no winks, and build the suspense until it got excruciating.

Another sequel I’d be tempted to fiddle with would be THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986). While there are things I like about Tobe Hooper’s sequel, I remember seeing it in the theater and realizing it wasn’t scary. Not like the first one was. Despite the Sawyers’ winning a chili cook-off (my favorite scene) and Dennis Hopper doing the “dueling chainsaws” thing, it could have been something so much more visceral. You should have left the theater shaking a little. But it was a letdown.

The thing is, sequels, if they have to be made, should be a chance to take the good stuff from the first one and intensify those aspects even more. Not step back and let the whole thing fall on the floor.

—END—

September MONSTROUS QUESTION – Response # 1

Posted in 2010, Horror DVDs, Monstrous Question of the Month, Remakes, Sequels with tags , , , , on September 22, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER 2010
(Monstrous Questions provided by Michael Arruda)

As we discussed in our initial Monstrous Question back in May, remakes are all the rage these days.  Heck, in 2010 alone we’ve seen PIRANHA 3D, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, CLASH OF THE TITANS, THE CRAZIES and THE WOLFMAN, and the year’s not even done yet.

When we hear about these remakes, most of the time we moan and groan because in most cases, the originals were really good movies that we really loved!  Why mess with perfection, right?

Now, most of these original classics were so good they inspired sequels, and sometimes entire franchises.  Often, it’s the sequel that failed to measure up.

I got to thinking that the filmmakers have got it all wrong.  Why keep remaking these superior originals?  Why not remake the inferior sequel?

So, I ask you, for the SEPTEMBER MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH: If you could remake one sequel, what would it be?  Why?  And lastly, for some added fun, what are some of the changes/improvements you’d make?

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RESPONSE # 1

NICK CATO:

I know I’ll be ostracized for this, but here goes:

If there’s one remake I wish they could do all over, it would be EVIL DEAD 2 (1987).

Before you newbies kick me out of the horror community, hear me out:  EVIL DEAD (1983) was the first gore film that I found to be scary; the gore was off the wall, but the atmosphere and seriousness is what made it such a classic film.  I remember leaving the theater on opening night thrilled that there was finally an all-out bloodbath that those who don’t care for gore films might actually like…and many did.

So when the sequel was released, I’ll never forget sitting in the theater thinking, “MAN—why are they doing this?”  Sure, EVIL DEAD 2 has a lot of fun scenes and FX, but why they made it so humorous is beyond me—and this coming from someone who loves humorous horror.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s SILLY remakes.  EVIL DEAD 2 and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986) are the biggest culprits.

If I was at the helm of EVIL DEAD 2, I would have done everything possible to keep the serious tone of the original.  For me, the humor desecrated what could have been a great, scary series.  (Sorry folks—while I enjoyed ARMY OF DARKNESS (1993) for what it was, I was still fuming over EVIL DEAD 2, and to this day haven’t been able to give it a fair viewing).

Okay—heading back to the cabin to hang with the real horror fans…

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