Halloween Horrors-Hammered!! #16-30

Well, this is going to be a long blog entry.  My Halloween Horrors got HAMMERED this year, so this post contains 14 different pieces of my October madness.
Hammer and I have a weird relationship.  When I was a young lad, back when televisions had coat hangers attached to them, I was obsessed by Creature Double Feature.  I quit playing baseball as to avoid missing the latest monster film or adventure of Draculatic proportions.  I loved the Dracula movies…but as time went on I left them behind.  While some of you may not appreciate the slasher boom, it was MY time for movies.  I sneaked in to Friday the 13th entries every year and Jason became my Frankenstein-literally in Part 6-and cable TV took away my Saturday ritual.
I loved Dracula, but we just lost touch.  I remembered the skinny face of Peter Cushing from the occasional Frankenstein adventure, which was how I saw most Hammer films. Adventure films. They lacked the gore and oh so forbidden nudity (in the TV prints) that Jason and Freddy would offer me.  They just seemed old and creaky by comparison.  Herbert West (who I’ll get to later) was Dr. Frankenstein for me.
So, I was inspired this year.  I’m particularly proud of the achievements of my friends Neil Vokes and Bob Tinnell as they unleash FLESH AND BLOOD on the world.  It is a Hammer inspired bit of Sequential Cinema that I’ve long waited to enjoy.  But…well…I found that my appreciation for it as a comic book was deep, but I was not really skilled enough in the ways of what they were referencing to truly get it.
And when I want to get something it gets got. With obsessive desire to understand I looked squarely at the Obsessive Science Monster-FRANKENSTEIN.  Watched all of them.  Then moved on. And on.  Groovy negligee.  Buoyant breasts. Blood and Beards.  Hammer.  I need to get a printed copy of Flesh and Blood. I need a flashlight. I need to get under the covers of my bed.
I’m HAMMERED now and it won’t stop.  Inspiration comes from odd places sometimes, and it is best when it is from the success of your pals.
I originally planned to write individual reviews, but again I felt under qualified to really add anything to the mountain of study that has been put forward on these films.  Not a lack of confidence really, just not sure what I can give.  So, here are my quick thoughts.  Nothing deep, but an unskilled look at a small splattering of Hammer Horror.  I told my friend Bob Sargent that “these Hammer guys take their films fucking serious, man” and I meant it.  So, use the lens of cinematic love that colors all my writing on this blog and enjoy some observations on my viewings. They will probably be re-watched in coming years-I can’t wait to read what I thought “back when I re-discovered Hammer for myself.” 

Curse of Frankenstein was my first foray into this new Hammer period in my cinematic trip and I loved it.  Christopher Lee hits a grand slam and gives a stunning performance as the monster-I didn’t even realize it was him!!  The Baron is a nutcase, but likeable in an obsesso-wacko kind of way. I was really struck by this being made when it was and how it stacked up to the monsters from Roger Corman and crew. This was an entirely different ballgame!  Terence Fisher puts so much visual style to the world that the soap opera “But I love you!” sequences fall by the wayside as I was marveling at how much weight the bandaged monster body seemed to be carrying.  And that monster!!!  Wow! WOW!  Hazel Court is great in what could have been a simple Screaming Mimi role as well.
As an 80s kid I have to say this one reminded me tons of Re-Animator (yes, I know it is the other way around of course).  With the re-animation of the animal. The co-conspirator repulsed by the actions of the mad scientist and the beautiful lady.  See, Hammer already made me appreciate how much it has done already. 

Revenge of Frankenstein was a let down.  I am certain a repeat viewing would help now because it definitely fits well as Frankenstein escapes the blade of justice to rename himself Dr. Stein (hah..creative fellow) and get cracking at the dead tissue and solving that whole unlife problem.  The biggest upside was the look of the film and it’s setting up Frankenstein as a Science Adventurer that seems to have more than a few morality issues.  I really liked the entire bit of business involving the Doctors Union trying to bring Dr. Stein in to line!  Hah, you can’t tame Frankenstein and it really sets a very original character in motion for Hammer.  Cushing puts the arrogance of the Doc, which always seems to lead to his folly, across with little motions so well that I completely got the character from here on out.  He doesn’t have time for you, he has things to do!!

Frankenstein Created Woman was what I watched next and this is where it totally took off for me.  What an incredible film!!  There isn’t an ugly shot in the entire movie, and it has a bunch of relentlessly creative elements sprinkled atop the atypical plot of a beautiful woman containing two souls-one of which is bent on vengeance. The SOUL EXTRACTOR and the ideas that power it are easily the things I’ll take away from the series.  Not content just to play with flesh anymore, the Baron goes straight to the ethereal here.  The only odd complaint I had was that the three naughty ne’er do wells that need to die are seemingly done in reverse order.  I bet there is a reason, but I can’t see it yet.  The worst (and most awesome) of the batch is Anton, played by Peter Blythe, is dispatched and I really didn’t care about the others-which dampened the climax.  Ah well…I also became a big fan of Thorley Walters with this one. He is just fun to watch.  This is probably the film I’d pick to show new Hammer viewers a Frankenstein film if I had to pick one.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is almost as awesome as Woman, if not a dead tie.  Cushing gets to ride the insanity coaster over the edge as now Frankenstein crosses not only the lines of good taste in dead bodies, but even presses the live flesh of Veronica Carlson as he breaks a completely different moral code.  As I watched along in the series this one was probably the most disturbing and interesting for me.  Frankenstein is blackmailing a young doctor and his fiancee (over coke smuggling!) into assisting him as he jams the brain of a colleague into a new body in order to find out what the man knew when he died.  It blows up in his face though, because the Monster is more man than Frankenstein at this point, and he/it tries to settle his worldly affairs with compassion (as opposed to the Doc who keeps around Anna to make coffee) and methodically attacks and tries to destroy Frankenstein.  You want to root against the Baron? This is the one to do it with.
Bonus note, this is the movie that made me question Peter Cushing and Hammer’s choice of footwear.  Jeez, in the opening scene the little shoes made me think it was a prostitute wandering the streets, not Frankensteena Ballerina!  Now when I rewatch these I’ll be obsessing over feet!

Evil of Frankenstein was one I missed in it’s proper viewing space, and I really enjoyed it. NOTHING like the others, this is Hammer Road taking a short cut through Universal Way.  It doesn’t match, Cushing tries to sell this more…pathetic…Frankenstein.  Why me…boo hoo…dead flesh…boo hoo.  But it does feature an awesome Box Head Beast of a monster and some wickedly wonderful sets.  I really loved the scene of the monster in the ice.  Dr. Franck. Dr. Stein.  Fah, having the Baron meet up with his creation as randomly as he does here is a great stretch of believability!  Yeah, it’s fun and for folks with Comcast HD it was on for free On Demand. GREAT print too.
This movie did make me appreciate the remainder of the series, especially …Woman.  After trying to play nice with established Frankestein-ia it seems the Hammer crew was charged up to do something much more unique.  They succeeded and while this one will probably stay more a footnote to the series than a beloved classic, it belongs in a way that shows what could have been done if less effort, and unique minds, had made these films.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is a trash film epic.  We have mouth to vein, brain dropping fun all around. Frankenstein gets another young couple to help him as he turns the table on the administrator of an asylum and takes over for his own twisted experiments.  Cushing has gone around the bend here with Frankenstein. He looks gaunt and tired (which is pointed out in the dialog at points) and builds up a giant of a Neanderthal styled mega monster with a heart.  Frankenstein has lost all perspective. I almost dropped over laughing when Cushing casually tosses out the lines about getting the creature to procreate “the usual way!”  Just…wow.  Total entertainment and a bittersweet ending as the Doctor remains unbowed by his massive failure, ready to roll on.
I wish they had rolled on.

Horror of Dracula was my first Dracula in several decades and again, I was blown away by the production and quality of it!  Lee is Dracula and having him pursued  by Cushing as Van Helsing is just too much fun. The entire cast is game, I loved seeing Micheal Gough as the straight man to all the bizarre goings on.  There are a few little bits that were off however.  I thought John Van Eyssen was pretty wobbly as Jonathan Harker. It seems like the script had him in the know about Dracula’s evil powers right up front. And then…he just stands around, unhip to the fictional script.  The opening scenes of this film are fantastic, but this performance didn’t work for me at all.  Not that it matters much in the longer scheme of the film of course.  I have to say though, THIS is a horror movie to me.  Even though I’m in on the mystery of the monster (as audiences were even upon release), Lee creates elements of mystery to his performance that I want to look at again and again.

Countess Dracula knocked my socks off.  It felt like a dirty fairy tale with Ingrid Pitt getting naked and scrubby bubbly with blood.  There is romance. There is intrigue. There are the truly OO-ER MISSUS breasts of Andrea Lawrence to adore!  I was totally absorbed by this film, it was fun to watch Nigel Green try to keep up with the aging Countess. The man just wanted a little action lady…this all could have been avoided.  A must see in my opinion.
Flesh and Blood note: The mighty BEARD of Dobi is so very Vokes to me it is beyond belief.  That was some frickin’ work I’d wager.
This film may also contain some of the fastest “falling in loves” ever.

Twins of Evil led me to realize that the Karnstein Trilogy was going to be MY Hammer.  I don’t even know how to summarize it briefly, but this is a busty and lusty little fantasy film that features vigilantes against vampires and ample twins all over the screen.  The plot is so simple. Two girls, twins…a vampire in the woods. One girl is naughty and the other nice.  Finally, one is evil, the other…not so evil, but in the line of fire (literally) from fearful villagers.  I love this film.  I have to say, it wasn’t until later that I learned that this was the final Karnstein entry. It is pretty much divorced from the others outside of the busty lusty bits and stands tall on it’s own.
Favorite line has to be Karnstein by the inverted burning hot crucifix rubbing up his naughty twin and saying “for you…all pleasure shall be supreme!”  I mean, is that not Sex Monster 101 or what?? BRILLIANT!!!

Scars of Dracula contains my favorite image of the Hammer experiment, Christopher Lee punishing his man servant (Doctor Who??) with a burning sword is incredible.  While it is in dire need of proper bats on strings, Scars piles on the gore and is one of the most entertaining of the lot so far.  Jenny Hanley from The Flesh and Blood Show gives me proper stake wood, so we are already in good stead Scars, but what really jumped out at me was that this has many elements of the original novel that weren’t present in Horror of Dracula!  And Dracula is a sadistic badass, he seems less interested in pursuing his prey than outright devouring it and moving forward for more more more gore!  Also, is it me or does Dracula get easier to revive, but grander in the way he does it here.  From start to finish this is a ton of fun.  Lightning??  YEAH!

Satanic Rites of Dracula is an oddball, it didn’t feel like a Hammer film to me, more like a cheaper knock off one-using the same stars.  It features a Psyhomania styled gang of vampiric thrall toughs, a little groovy “what the hell kind of law enforcement branch is this” tele-thrill and Christopher Lee giving a very very odd performance as D.D.Denham.  What, Dr. Franck and Dr. Stein were out of town? 
But you know what I like best—this is a TRASH FILM!!  We have goofy Dracula and some naked chained vampire women (whose discovery by our heroes is a real highlight) AND we have Peter Cushing chainsmoking and looking gaunt and unsure as a descendant of Van Helsing.  When the evil plot of BUBONIC PLAGUE is revealed I was excited to see Dracula the World Killer idea, but it plays out even better as we witness bubbling flesh of those that would serve Dracula. 
I like this better than A.D. 72 because it dispenses of groove and keeps 70s grime and grit!

Vampire Circus is awesome, I know this from a viewing back when the Carlton DVD was released.  There are a shedload of groovy images coming out of the beast people angle and the amazing performance from the lead gypsy woman of course, but the story and how original it is amongst vampire films really makes it a must watch.  From the Plague Borders and the adventuring in relation to that, the lustful villagers falling prey to animal desire and my favorite Thorley Walters moment to date as the ridiculous bumpkin Burgermeister finds himself in a mirror ball of amusement and mayhem!  If you haven’t seen this, or are as inexperienced with Hammer as myself-it is a great place to start and see a bunch of sides to the output.  A little stagey, full of great images and trashy spectacle, this is a circus you’ll be ready to climb into the clown car with.

The Vampire Lovers.  The Vampire Lovers. YES!!  Busts. Busts. BUSTS!!!  Bites. Bites. BITES!!  The saga of Mircalla Karnstein is a full throttle bit of sex and violence cinema that manages to satisfy the junk cinema fan, but tosses in unique flavors at every turn.  OK, I like the women-we can probably all agree on that. But what I can’t stop thinking about is Ingrid Pitt and her portrayal of the doomed sex monster.  The character does a lot of things for a lot of different motivations, but with this performance she keeps it all straight (probably the straightest thing in the film) for us.  I wanted her to win?  Go figure.

The opening segments are also really interesting, very stylish and it got me right into feeling the unique funk these Karnstein flicks are laying down.  From the lascvious monster to the lewd lady of the house right on up to the dagger crosses and teleporting nighties-I’m digging it. Also, I have decided that Madeline Smith can use her stunning lung power to make me feel rather uncomfortable.
Thankfully, she does it in a nightie. What else?

Lust For A Vampire was my “Gotta get to it” flick for the month and I did!  I’m so glad…first and foremost, I like this Mike Raven guy.  He has a great vampire look going, he may have swiped THE Count’s cape and stuff, but he is cool.  COOL!  Well, dead cold I guess.  Anyway.  Yutte Stensgaard is easy on the eyes and again we have the awesomely revived Mircalla / Carmilla saga underway. But wait. It’s a girls finishing school. Were bare breasted neck rubbing is totally cool.  And ya know…just being a writer and hanging around is good enough to fall in love with, and solve, a vampire mystery.  Cool.  Great bit of toady prostrates himself before beautiful vampire and pays big price scene too.  Loaded with Lust and Shivering with Stakes-this is a blast and if I’d seen this, uncut, as a lad I’d be one of those guys that takes his Hammer to bed and pounds out a few.  HOLY CRAP.  Great bit with a cross being absorbed into vampire cleavage so deep…so wonderful…that it takes a bit before the wicked woman can make the ‘rut roh face! 
I need to return to the Karnstein trilogy in a few months and watch them again.

Well, there we have a bunch of Hammer films that I enjoyed watching. I can’t wait to read Flesh and Blood again and appreciate not only what it is, but what it springs from and pays proper tribute to.  The hours of viewing were fun and I know they will pay off. 

Hammer TIME!


Halloween Horrors 2011 #15 The Last Zombie

Brian Keene wrote one of the really great Zombie novels (that hit just before the Zombie renaissance sadly) in THE RISING.  I didn’t much care for the sequel to that one, and have checked in on his work on occasion, but his first full on comic book venture, The Last Zombie, caught my eye.  Could it be good?  Antarctic Press puts out good quality product and the first series is out in trade as the second series entitled Inferno rolls out monthly. 
Hey, they must be doing something right, because I see the issues coming out regularly and on store shelves! 
Short review, The Last Zombie is a cool zombie tale in a sequentialscape littered with corpses both weirdly groovy and atrociously poor.  Sadly, it will most likely be swallowed up, but does deserve a look from any horror fan.

We join our protagonist Doctor Scott on Day 27 of THE END OF THE WORLD as he is being transported across a zombie infested city by a military escort full of soldiers straight out of the Aliens Colonial Marine school.  He was supposed to be married on this day-and instead is being taken to a government secured station for big brains, away from his fiancee.  The story jumps ahead two years when her installation goes offline and the same military personnel, now deadened to the dead by more than 700 days of apocalyptic acceptance. 
Much like THE RISING, the lead character is on a quest to find his family through zombie territory.  But there is a trick.
The Dead are dead.  Again.  The world has gone back to the beginning as survivors make their way after the end of the world, making things no less harrowing. 
So…The Last Zombie?  Well, it is a surprise that I don’t want to ruin for readers-because it is rather clever and has me interested to read the new series once it is finished and collected. 

The artwork by Joseph Wight is very good, stylized without looking cartoony (look for an awesome shot of the crew meeting a bear on the road) and he manages to keep the characters looking individual in similar gear and making military gear look like it has some actual weight.  The zombies are gross and the sequences with the leper colony are wonderfully gruesome.  The only presentation problem I have with this is the choice of lettering style. You can clearly see it in the page above-look at the letter “E” and ask yourself what is missing. 
I have NO idea how this is supposed to look good to be honest, it looks like hatch marks all in the lettering, because the vowel E is prEtty important in thE schEmE of lEttEring.  Ugh, I hate this, it is distracting as all get out.  But if my biggest gripe is lettering on E then I guess we are doing pretty well.
The story is interesting and certainly feels like Brian Keene’s storytelling that I’m familiar with.  The characters are interesting and there are some new spins to old tropes that I liked a lot.  The only issue I can point out is that the pace is a bit flaccid in spots.  The world of The Last Zombie is nice looking, but it isn’t so unique that it merits so much space as a character to itself.  That might work in a book like Fist of the North Star, but not so much here. 
Maybe I just wanted to get to the meat of the matter a bit quicker-call me impatient.  I think I’ve been burned by so many independent series that don’t make it to completion that I wanted to see a little more closure, but as a first act, The Last Zombie-Dead New World is a good shock show that zombie fans will enjoy.  I hope that Zombie Hangover doesn’t keep horror fans leery of indy comics away.  It’s the real deal.

Halloween Horrors 2011 #14 Hellraiser: Revelations

Yep, Doug Bradley doesn’t play Pinhead.  Yep, the new guy doesn’t look very good or sound right.  But this is the NINTH film in the Hellraiser series!  Anyone that gets really revved up over the honor or dignity of this heavily exploited series may want to really relax and be surprised by this incredibly short-yet nasty-follow up to the last batch of straight to video episodes.  Unlike several before it, Hellraiser: Revelations is not a retooled idea with a cenobite or two jammed in. Nope, this one is what it is…an exploitation of Hellraiser. The first one at that.  Ninja Dixon can add some perspective to the series by the way, check it out here.

I love these direct to video sequels-not so much for each one that appears, but for the fact that they define what horror fans sometimes forget.  These are made to be cash ins.  I used to marvel at the amount of people cursing as the screen as they would leave movies like Friday the 13th Part 7 or Halloween 5 in the theater.  Why?  You know when you pay your money that you are most likely getting an echo of what you once loved, but sometimes you get one that is so much fun it either makes you appreciate and enjoy the spirit of the original or admire the spunk of the guy that had to make the 8th sequel to a film that was made 25 years ago.
And sometimes they suck. Badly.  Ah well…

So Hellraiser: Revelations, what is it?
This time around we meet two strapping young lads (and their video camera) as they go to Tijuana for some thrills. They find them, leaving behind warm puke and a cold dead hooker in their wake.  They also get offered “THE BOX” (yeah, I know what it is called…but I like the word BOX) by a spooky word spouting vagrant.  They take it…THEY come.  Flesh is peeled.  But whose?
The kids parents (one of the families is named Bradley, they had to shoehorn the name in there somehow right?) get together to drink wine and wonder about the boys, and lucky for us there is a hot sister, Emma (Tracey Faraway) that was also dating the other kid.
When Emma plays with the box it brings back her brother from hell!  But…uh, who is Pinhead initiating into Cenobiticism in hell.  Who is wearing that flesh?  I saw the original Hellraiser in the theater and know what is up of course, but it is still worked in nicely.
In the “Budget Stretch” section of the still short film there is an extended showdown in a living room before the Cenobites show up and whoop ass, flay flesh and make blue light go through hellish shutters.

Hellraiser: Revelations is a gory flick, though very little is unique stuff that we haven’t seen, it is well handled and barring Pinhead’s bloaty face the Cenobite make-up is really solid as well. The filmmakers are at a real disadvantage since the HD video bits will expose every rubbery bit-yet they still pull it off.  There is one new Cenobite the plot puts in and I loved his look.  I was also surprised how many effects, between creatures, hook flesh rending and smashed heads the film crams in. Even “Skinned Frank-furter” makes an appearance!  Also, on the cheap the “mobile hell” of the Cenobites looks surprisingly accurate.

Dear Clive Barker. You signed off on CD FACE, how the hell can you not sign off on this? The checks are probably smaller, but the reputation doesn’t shrink any further in my opinion.

As a film it is alright at best, I think the “found footage” aspect is handled so ineptly that it becomes a weird style of it’s own. We watch a character watch video footage, which switches between handheld and the situations the camera was held in.  Uh…well, so it goes.   The performances are all over the board. Nick Eversman has the unenviable task of doing the “Frank” routine and definitely tries his best.  It just runs too long at times and shows the weakest element of the film isn’t the make-up, but getting solid delivery on grand fleshy proclamations from actors.  Speaking of unenviable, I wouldn’t want to have been Stephan Smith Collins when he looked in the mirror headed to set.  Pinhead IS Doug Bradley-even though he is bald and has a thinish face, he looks like he ate Butterball! Also, how hard would it have been to deepen his voice a bit more on the soundtrack?  Ah well, Chatterer looks groovy.

If you already hate this movie, don’t bother.  If you want a short and surprisingly nasty Hellraiser film that is actually trying to be one instead of a script or two being combined and remixed like some of the early films than give it a shot.  Skip the end credits and you are out before an hour and five minutes pass.

One thing that is a little puzzling, though few will Lament it (har har, see I know my Hellraiser) is that IMDB has this listed as a one shot from PUZZLE BOX FILMS which would suggest that Dimension went and found the lowest priced company they could.  However, Neo Art & Logic is credited right at the top of the opening scene.  They have worked on the series since Bloodlines (with additional filming) and also produced the FEAST films.  So, why is this important? I don’t really know, but it suggests that this isn’t something that was handed to complete amateurs or even those unfamiliar with the series.  They probably did have a lot less money though.  

And here is a clip from the awesome DAILY GRINDHOUSE interview with Doug Bradley as to why he chose not to appear.  He is far less negative than most horror fans or Clive Barker.  Read the entire thing, it is a fascinating look at the man behind the pins!

“No, that was offered to me and I turned it down. It just didn’t seem like a serious attempt to revive the franchise or move it forward. My understanding is that it was made for political reasons. It was shot in two weeks and had a minuscule budget. I read the script and it was okay but it was 8 years since I had the latex and nails on and I had drawn a line in my head with it. I was looking for somewhere to go with the character, something new. The screenplay just didn’t have it. It had a germ of something but it wasn’t screen ready but good luck to everyone involved.”

Halloween Horrors 2011 #13 – The Spider vs. Satan’s Murder Machines

You can never go wrong with a Spider adventure!  Moonstone has released SATAN’S MURDER MACHINES in a limited hardcover edition that includes some nice artwork (especially the stunning Mark Wheatley cover) and a short bonus manuscript style story. 
This time around Wentworth is extremely busy dodging his friend Kirkpatrick and the police force when he is set up and has to go head to head with a gang of  ROBOT BEASTS that are as vicious and formidable a sci-fi pulp pounding band of rogues as I can remember.  These things fry people. They fling full cars. They smash buildings and Wentworth with his trusty fellows (and lovely Nita ‘natch) has to stand tall at every page turn. 
I loved it…this may actually be the best Spider story I’ve read for sheer pace and thrills. 

“Slowly the right arm of the monster lifted…and Wentworth remembered that its forefinger could spurt lead and death!”
If you enjoy pulp action and want to enjoy some exclamation laden prose and tons of action, this is a great book for your Halloween nights-the robot suits make it.  The book is surprisingly nasty, especially once The Spider figures a way to defeat the pilots of the suits.  Anyone making a Spider movie and looking to go heavy retro should check it out. 

Moonstone puts together a nice package as always, and while the cover price may seem a bit steep, it is nice to have a hardcover Spider book on the shelf and a good story at that.  Interior art is a mix of pulp and new stuff, and I liked the look of the monsters as drawn by James Sherman a lot.

I definitely did not appreciate the dedication taking a swipe at the creators of Iron Man as if the character “Iron Man” in here was anything like the character of Marvel Comics Iron Man. If you paid for a hardcover Spider novel I would think you are the kind of buyer that respects writers and creators. It isn’t necessary and seems like preaching to a choir that doesn’t need the message. I’d take another page of original Spider art over this anytime.

The Spider is a classic character and Satan’s Murder Machines will satisfy anyone that purchases it. 

Halloween Horrors 2011 #10 and #11 Friday The 13th Series

Ah yes, the Friday the 13th series. It is like the bagel at breakfast time. I’ve had ’em a bunch of times and enjoyed the flavors and when I need something to fill my horror needs, this series is always a splattery treat.  I could not resist the incredibly cheap collection of DVDs that was just released (with a nifty little Jason mask to boot)-and I’m tired of waiting for Blu Ray.  I’m glad I made the jump, because each of these films offers not just a fun watch, but a step back into when the series was new and I would sneak in (or just buy a ticket since it ran long enough for me to be of age) to see them.

Halloween Horrors #10 — Friday The 13th Part 2
What is instantly recognizable about the 1st sequel is that it stays tight with the formula of the first film, but the “legend of Jason” makes it feel very different.  Especially since we see the original Final Girl dispatched in the opening sequence by Jason, who packs up mom’s head to drive the point (of a screwdriver) into the skull of the sole survivor of the original film.  Jumping ahead 5 years (seriously, Jason X seems about right if you time line these out) another merry band of camp counselors hook up, party and die in gruesome fashion. There is something to be said for staying to formula here, because just as with the first film, the counselors and red herrings are all fun to watch, especially the antics of the girl that wants to hook up with the wheel chair bound arm wrestler. 
Jason is also fun, and interesting in retrospect.  With his bag head and lumbering gait, he is a lot less Ghost Monster and more Ed Lee backwoods marauder.  He stumbles around a lot more, but his sense of “I’m gonna scare the shit out of you before I kill you” is already in place.  I love the scene with him getting kicked in the groin near the end of the film as the truly excellent Amy Steel sprints through her Final Girl paces.
So, is this just a clone of the original?  Well, with the same basic plot being converted from a murder mystery to a monster movie, I find it satisfying as a unique film not just compared to the original, but in the overall series.  Jason is unique, his legend is clearly outlined and he feels much more limited-as if the survivors ALMOST have a chance against him.  Later on, we know that they don’t…
Also, I have to thank the costume designer of this film. The women all wear these tiny little outfits and while it isn’t my particular taste, the guys do as well.  The only film that has tighter pants on the guys is Sleepaway Camp-where I swear they were trying to be funny with the itty bitty man package poppers.  Extra points for my young self popping out to remember that skinny dipping sequence. It holds up and stays up.

My 2011 viewing of F13 pt. 2 was a lot of fun, with so much being made (by me, to myself) of getting these on Blu Ray I think I glossed over just how cut up this installment in the series is.  There is not a lot of gore, and the set ups tend to not pay out the way they would later on.  Too bad, but it still stands tall in the running, name yelling and machete to the face down the stairs backwards in a wheelchair sweepstakes! 

Halloween Horrors #11  Friday the 13th Part 3 3-D

Well, nothing beats sitting in my home with a pair of 3-D glasses on and watching Jason shoot implements out of my TV at me!  This entry is a favorite even when shown without the glasses for mostly nostalgic reasons. Jason gets his hockey mask, the BARN OF DEATH is featured and you have one of the goofiest “gangs” I’ve ever seen. They make Ripper and crew from Demons look like The Warriors! 
Jason is back, and before we even get to the smallish group of counselors he is running amok and making his presence known.  As I mentioned about part 2, Jason likes to play with his victims, and the 3-D use really plays this angle up as we run through hanging sheets and layered Whack A Victim scenarios as Jason lurks about in the backgrounds of shots before delivering his special brand of slasher mayhem.
Then it goes to formula for a bit as our counselors / carnage fodder are introduced 
Shelly is one of my favorite SlashNerds of all time, he is the doofy guy that is here to make his pals look good, even though they are really generic compared to earlier films in the series.  Instead of having a big band of campers to crush, this entry adds in a gang that isn’t going to take Jason’s shit lying down.  If they are ineffective and funny as “toughs” it is another fun element that makes the movie breeze along. 
But are we here for characters?  Nope! This is a 3-D fun ride and it lives up to the idea with style!

I love this film, and if you do as well then I suggest a revisit.  In the age of bigger (and wider) televisions for many of us, it was great to sit down with the red/greens and marvel at the depth while wondering exactly what color pants anyone was really wearing while filming.  My favorite bit is the speargun shot, and this time I couldn’t stop chuckling at watching Jason line up where the speargun would be in a few separate shots so that the wire and the gun would be aligned correctly in the center of the screen!  Watch it again and you’ll see what I mean. 
The DVD also contains a flat version, which I watched through to check out the clothing as well as some of the highlights.  The image is clean, but the 3-D doesn’t always work for me–it was fun to watch Jason’s first appearance as the hockey mask ghoul in 2-D and I recommend it.  I was really surprised to see that one of the girls was wearing red pants when I assumed that she couldn’t possibly be doing that in the 3-D print. 

Viva Jason!!  Halloween wouldn’t be the same without him / it!

Halloween Horrors 2011 #9 -Escape From The Planet of the Living Dead

The PLANET OF THE LIVING DEAD series I’ve been covering for Halloween Horrors continues right now!  Escape From The Planet of the Living Dead is a really interesting entry, looping back to the initial book to continue the story in slam and bang fashion.  We get a little romance, a bunch of zombies and an escape…as promised.  

In some ways this is one of the most entertaining entries into the series, because it features an actual bit of closure (or does it??) and moves along some of the characters that were previously introduced.  I enjoyed the fact that we see the 2 year journey of our original group that was abandoned by the sinister Jek, but bummed out we actually DON’T get more of the bad guy.  It’s a must for any reader of the series…but…well, it looks pretty different.
The previous issues artwork was really interesting and loaded with detail.  For this big finale the art is completely different in style, which is doubly hurtful to the continuity since it is a continuation instead of another tale set apart as the past issues were.  From the detailed and glossy (if not a bit ID like in the last issue) moderately manga style of earlier installments, we go rough and sketchy here with Brian Denham.

It really stiffs up the feel of the series and will be really jarring if the entire thing is collected.  Too bad…  but there is a caveat.  I actually prefer this art to the previous installments overall.  There is a ton of energy, even in the static talking sequences…Denham has a nice layout style and cuts loose when the time is right. It may not match the series, but I think I might have enjoyed the entire thing even more with this artwork style.  Go figure.
While not a good starting point for readers, if the series is collected I would recommend it!

Halloween Horrors #8 – The Theater #1

Another trip to the Sequential Sarcophagus today with Zenescope Entertainment ushering us in to THE THEATER with this new series that promises cinematic thrills and chills.
We get some and that is certainly a good thing. 

After a quick intro has a couple head into a theater to watch THE CHANGE we get a set up for a future zombie invasion that sets the stage well.  A father and son try to make their way in this dead new world until fate intervenes and the parent is bitten.  He changes and…well, you have to take a look to find out.

The story is really solid and well written. Raven Gregory has a solid style of storytelling and sharp narration for the characters that makes it really compelling.  Any zombie fan will enjoy it, and they will certainly like the artwork by Martin Montiel with colors by Micheal Garcia is really cool.  It feels like a less stylized early issue (by Vince Locke) of Deadworld enhanced by colors that maintain the linework and skips over the candy puke coloring so prominent today. 
I liked this book a lot.

I do have one issue however, as a fan of horror cinema, seeing THE THEATER as the draw in I expected something cinematic.  The Change is a solid zombie story, but it has a LOT of monologue and is exactly the opposite of what I guessed would be inside.  I guess I would not have looked at COOL ZOMBIE STORIES WITH STRONG WRITING AND COOL ART #7883437, so Zenescope’s title pays off. But…I hope this isn’t how the rest of the series goes or I’ll be disappointed.

Good story, strong art, self contained.  A nice way to spend some time reading comics for Halloween!