Double Feature: Maniac (1980) & Matilda (1996)

Taking a moment to get back to our alphabet double feature as we continue onto the M selections. The first is a 1980s slasher Maniac followed by 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name Matilda. Let’s check it out!

Maniac (1980)

Maniac 1980

Director: William Lustig

Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper

A psychotic man, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree? – IMDB

Maniac is an odd film. Its not a particularly long one and the premise itself is rather spine-chilling. There’s this appeal of the abrupt attacks that this serial killer deals with its victims. The aftermath of taking the scalps and the whole killer by himself is all fairly well-done psychologically especially in terms of its final act to the actual final moments that are actually the best part of the film in terms of delivering its final surprise.

However, Maniac has a lot of elements that didn’t quite work for it. It could be that the film didn’t really age too well from the 80s until now or its the general lack of appeal that I’ve had lately for 80s films. I feel like its more of a personal preference element. One thing that I truly didn’t appreciate though was how each scene of killing or hunting its victim was filled with this overlap of heavy breathing sounds that seemed like it was added in afterwards to make the scene more nerve-wrecking except it was more annoying and retracted from those scenes.

Its obvious that Maniac didn’t quite work for me (or my husband). The story itself has something there so I’m interested to see whether the 2012 remake will land a little better.

Matilda (1996)

matilda

Director: Danny DeVito

Cast: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, Paul Reubens, Tracey Walter, Kiami Davael

Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable. – IMDB

Having read a few of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels when I was younger, Matilda has been one that I’ve never read before although I might have owned it at some point (or it might be in a box somewhere when I moved, I can’t remember). However, its been a movie on my radar for all the time that its been released since Mara Wilson in the child actor days was absolutely fantastic. Matilda is something of an odd movie but yet its one that’s a tad over the top in all the characters especially when it comes to the actions of the principal Trunchbull, played amazing by Pam Ferris. But then, children’s films tend to have these silly and ridiculous moments to give it that extra entertainment value.

Mara Wilson is definitely the charming element of this film. As well as her parents played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman which was downright hilarious as they were simply ridiculous parents. They almost seem like the inspiration behind the parents in this year’s Netflix animated film, The Willoughbys (review). As she learns about her abilities, Matilda is so much fun to watch since she uses her powers essentially to payback the adults that have been mean to her. Sure, we’re not supposed to encourage the concept of revenge but its all about teaching a lesson to bullies who deserve it and standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, just like taking on this actual bond with her teacher, Miss Honey played by Embeth Davidtz.

Matilda is fun children’s movie. The premise is good and while I haven’t read the source material, its one that I would like to check out for fun. The cast is incredibly colorful and suitably over the top as it fits the genre.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen this two films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: I Kill Giants (2017) & I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Moving right along with our double features into the I selections! Trust me when I say that I don’t deliberately choose movies in decades apart, it just happens. The first is 2017’s fantasy film I Kill Giants paired with a movie that, believe it or not, is a first watch, 90s slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer. Let’s check it out!

I Kill Giants (2017)

I Kill Giants

Director: Anders Walter

Cast: Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade, Rory Jackson, Art Parkinson

Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Friday Film Club*

Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants also has its writer as the movie’s screenplay writer as well. I Kill Giants is a fantasy drama about a young girl called Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who lives in this world inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and baseball player Harry Covelski where she is defending her hometown from giants with her handmade weapons and traps. With this important task at hand, she keeps mostly to herself until one day, a new girl from Leeds, Sophia (Sydney Wade) comes to town who befriends her. As Barbara finally opens up about her world to Sophia, her fantasy world starts colliding with the reality as Barbara has to face the new school psychologist Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), the school bully Taylor (Rory Jackson) as well as her older siblings who doesn’t understand her like her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), as they all try to get pull her back to face the reality that she’s running away from.

While I Kill Giants does drag a little here and there, the imaginative and creative story that it tells is one that is fairly poignant. Visually, its also really captivating. Right from the beginning shots when we see Barbara clad in her bunny ears head band running through the forest, avoiding a giant and pouring this jam-like liquid onto the trees. The cinematography is done incredibly well. At the same time, the fantasy creatures, both giants and the harbingers also are well-designed and fun to watch. The story itself is expected that it would take a more psychological turn as it creates a twist for the character of whether this fantasy world is real or only in Barbara’s mind.

I Kill Giants also packs in an interesting cast with Imogen Poots and Zoe Saldana both having key supporting roles to this younger actress. Not to mention that Madison Wolfe captures Barbara incredibly well. The story itself tackles a lot of issues from school bullying to unhappy circumstances, escaping from reality and eventually finding joy in the reality. There’s a lot to like about this adaptation whether its the message or its creativity.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

i know what you did last summer

Director: Jim Gillespie

Cast: Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Muse Watson, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki

Four young friends bound by a tragic accident are reunited when they find themselves being stalked by a hook-wielding maniac in their small seaside town. – IMDB

Like I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I Know What You Did Last Summer is indeed my first watch. I might have seen snippets on TV before but never have seen the film in entirety but I’m a big fan of movies like Scream (review) and 90s slasher since they have this cheesy dialogue factor that I really love a lot. I Know What You  Did Last Summer definitely does tick those boxes really well. It was a lot of fun to watch. Not exactly a very scary movie but there was a few tense jumpscare moments that worked really good. The best moments are anticipating a jumpscare but not knowing when it will land and still feeling startled.

If we look at the cast, the four main leads in 90s reflected the general criteria of 90s slasher films. There was a good balance of the characters needed in this group of four friends of what slasher movies usually would have.  The dialogue is definitely one of the elements that is full of cheese and actually some of it is a bit wooden but somehow the 90s slasher films always seem to have those very cringe-y dialogue that brings a lot of enjoyment. Of course, this element is one that differs between people. While its something of an enjoyment here, the acting in reality leaves a little to be desired. Some of the characters are a tad over the top. One of the surprises was seeing Johnny Galecki in this for sure.

Overall, I Know What You Did Last Summer is pretty fun. Its one that easily can be compared to Scream, which in my opinion is better overall in terms of all the elements and the tension, but this one is just entertainment. The mystery and how the four try to figure out who they killed and how the story itself is executed is done well. There are issues with this one but its not enough to prevent me from wanting to watch it again.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Child’s Play (1988) & Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time is part one of a 2-part double feature of the same franchise. I know I’m missing a few films to complete the franchise but they aren’t currently available on any of the streaming services and I didn’t want to rent them. First up is the original 1988 Child’s Play and its direct sequel, Child’s Play 2. I’ve actually never seen Child’s Play so first time watch for this franchise. Let’s check it out!

Child’s Play (1988)

child's play

Director: Tom Holland

Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Dinah Manoff, Tommy Swerdlow, Jack Colvin, Neil Giuntoli, Alan Wilder

A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer. – IMDB

As I go through the many horror franchises over the years and understand the horror movie genre a little bit better, its really great to finally see Child’s Play and see this killer doll called Chucky come to life. In fact, there is a lot to love about Child’s Play and while the effects themselves are very much 80s, the origins of how Chucky becomes the killer doll and the lore behind it as well as the whole bonding with a boy and manipulating him while killing still manages to add quite a bit of tension. It has a lot to do with how everything is rather well-executed.

Chucky has always been this very popular link to possibly the origins  of killer doll slashers (or one of..I’m not very well-versed in killer dolls). There are some interesting kill moments here and its creative to say the least. At the same time, Chucky is one of those villains which has an understandable revenge plan that links to the beginning and lets the audience in on the secret while watching the characters being deceived or misled or end up in bad situations. On that level, Chucky is a fairly smart villain and the backstory itself makes him legit. If you think about, Chucky’s kind of like if Pinocchio went bad except Chucky really just wants to get back into his human form to undo the voodoo ways he had to use to not die in the first place.

Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Child's Play 2

Director: John Lafia

Cast: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Christine Elise, Brad Dourif, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Haskell, Beth Grant, Greg Germann

While Andy’s mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the young boy is placed in foster care, and Chucky, determined to claim Andy’s soul, is not far behind. – IMDB

I’m always a little wary on sequels nowadays, especially when it comes to long-winded franchises that started in the 80s. Child’s Play 2 picks up 2 years after after the events of the first movie. Andy is sent to foster care and while no one believes in the whole story about the killer doll, Chucky finds a way to get back to him after being revived at the Play Pals factory in an effort to relaunch the doll after the negative publicity. Of course, as the remains of Chucky is put back together so does the villain possessing it and it sets off once more to find Andy and capture his soul before he becomes one with the doll exterior. Its a bit of the same thing as the first movie just in that this one has a slightly older Andy who acknowledges the dangers and tries to save himself so the differences are still there in terms of plot.

It still is a decent watch if not a little familiar and predictable. However, the characters here and choosing to follow the plot from the first makes it feel grounded and believable. The logic behind Chucky and how long he has to capture Andy’s soul and how all that works is a bit blurry. At the same time, Chucky still has quite a few moments to find his ground and still is a pretty decent villain in the situation. The only issue with this film is just the familiarity of it. The final act was however quite decent as Andy finds an ally that believes him and it all goes back to a dangerous location for the finale but a fitting location as well.

Child’s Play 2 is not quite as strong as the first one but its still a decent sequel. It has a lot of good elements to it and still relatively well-executed.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen the Child’s Play franchise? Thoughts?
Part 2 of the Child’s Play double feature is coming up soon! 

Double Feature: Turbo Kid (2015) & Hell Night (1981)

Next up in the double feature is the continuation of our catch-up for the New Year’s viewing with a movie set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in an alternate reality then hopping back to watch some 80s slasher as we work through some of the Shudder selections that we often forget to check out.

Turbo Kid (2015)

Turbo Kid

Directors (and writers): Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Cast: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari, Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland in 1997, a comic book fan adopts the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord. – IMDB

Turbo Kid is a wonderful little full feature debut for RKSS, the team that contains the director trio, Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Together they put together this alternate 1997 post-apocalyptic wasteland setting filmed in the secluded Thetford Mines in the province of Quebec where asbestos mining used to be its main activity. Suffice to say, the thought of the setting already gives it a lot of extra points. The 1997 setting also gave this film a lot of the charm with its music selection, its effects, the color palette as well as the outfits of the characters.

turbo kid

On the other hand, the character designs are equally fun. Leading the movie is Munro Chambers who plays The Kid, who finds his heroism through his comic book fandom for Turbo Rider. The Kid lives by himself and has found a way to survive on his own since he was young and the film takes its time to gradually reveal his backstory. At the same time, his subtlety is quickly contrasted by his new friendship with a mysterious and very bizarre girl with an over the top enthusiasm called Apple, played by Laurence Leboeuf. If anything, Laurence Leboeuf does steal the show a little here as her character is colorful both physically an emotionally. There is something so odd about her that makes her the more intriguing to discover. With any hero movie, there has to be a villain and of course,  its not hard to soon discover in the harsh wastelands played masterfully by Michael Ironside, a towering bad guy called Zeus who pretty much controls the scarce resource: water. It doesn’t help that his masked henchman , Skeletron is also as intimidating.

There’s a lot to love about Turbo Kid. Its packed with a lot of creativity and creates an alternate reality that works in a wasteland that makes sense. The acting and characters all have their stand-out points. It also manages to blend comedy and action adventure elements really well to keep it fun while having some more dramatic moments as well.

Hell Night (1981)

hell night

Director: Tom DeSimone

Cast: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neumann, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtevant

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier. – IMDB

80s slasher films probably mean more to others than it does to me. To myself, its really just a fun little killing romp with a lot of the similar kind of deal. There’s always some kind of bad effects (usually because of the film not aging well) and then it has some disposable dialogue (that at the best of times is very fun to laugh at) and of course, a certain flow of events of the final girl syndrome and the couple having sex that gets killed first and the likes. I’m not well-versed in 80s slasher and really have just mostly seen the main big franchises so I probably don’t appreciate it as much as the connoisseurs out there.

With that said, Hell Night is okay. It has its very similar moments with a lot of the other 80s slashers and falls pretty much where I’d expect it. It drags in the middle a little and its incredibly predictable. The slasher scenes or death scenes aren’t very fulfilling as they just kind of happen and hope to get multiple scares as other characters discover the deaths. The acting itself is rather lackluster and its not helped by some pretty bad dialogue which merited some eye-rolling or laugh out loud moments. There’s some really silly moments in Hell Night.

Honestly, Hell Night is a lot of what you would expect of 80s slasher films, especially the earlier ones. Its not great but it has some entertaining elements that comes with the time. Its not quite as good as some of the more known slasher films but then, I think slasher film has its audience and if you happen to haven’t seen it, its okay. Save it for a rainy day or something.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? What are your thoughts?

BITS 2019: Puppet Killer (2019)

BITS 2019 banner.jpg

Puppet Killer (2019)

Puppet Killer

Director: Lisa Ovies

Cast: Aleks Paunovic, Lee Majdoub, Lisa Durupt, Richard Harmon, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Kyle Cassie, Geoff Gustafson

While celebrating Christmas at a cabin in the woods, a group of high school students are stalked by a psychotic killer obsessed with horror movie icons. – IMDB

A lot of indie film concepts grow from wanting to make their own take while paying tribute to some great horror film that the team loves. In some ways, Puppet Killer is a film that like. Its script and scene choices put a lot of heart into having a killer that loves horror movies and is using them to execute and chase after this group of teenagers. We’ll be talking about the odd casting choices soon because that’s one of the head-scratchers here. Let’s not let the title mislead you though, Puppet Killer is the literal term that probably would have worked better as “Killer Puppet”, but it does somehow give it a little room for questioning whether the puppet was controlled by an actual human or not.

puppet Killer 2019

Just like creepy kids, puppets (or things in the same category like dolls) being alive can also be rather unnerving. As much as this is a horror comedy, there are some serious moments of tension and very effect atmosphere built up to make the scene pretty creepy. Its a bit crazy to think that a pink puppet that looks like The Muppets is scary because of its tiny size and its very catchy color but its the misleading elements of childhood and innocence that makes it even creepier to watch and not to mention the color contrast on screen that also gives it a lot of style. How the puppet moves and the way its revealed one step at a time to give it much more fleshed out kill scenes: all this is done with a lot of care and it all works very well.

Puppet Killer 2019

Now, we’re at the casting choice. While the acting itself is pretty decent, plus it has The 100‘s Richard Harmon in a supporting role and the Mexican-Canadian director & actress Gigi Saul Guerrero in a acting role, the casting choices are very odd as the characters themselves, especially the main character is a much older actor playing a teenager. There’s a whole inner debate of whether this was deliberate or its just working with what is available within the budget of this film. As much as that is a hurdle to get through in the school scenes at the beginning, the acting was done pretty well and along with the Puppet Killer executing the movie in a way that shifts over to the cabin in the woods rather quickly, its easy to gradually forget that this is a group of teenagers and when the horror hits, the whole set up and atmosphere places the initial “confusion” even more in the background.

Puppet Killer 2019

Puppet Killer is a fun little horror comedy romp. It has some well-executed scenes and definitely should appeal to those who can catch all its iconic horror movie moments. If you don’t, it might feel a little more random but as this film does build fairly good atmosphere, more and more so after its climax, its easy to overlook a few of its shortcomings. Plus, its an alternate Christmas movie choice and we can never have enough of those.

Puppet Killer has a screening in Blood in the Snow Festival on November 21st at 9:30pm. You can find more info HERE.

Fantasia Festival 2019: Aquaslash (World Premiere, 2019)

Aquaslash (2019)

Aquaslash

Director (and writer): Renaud Gauthier

Cast: Brittany Drisdelle, Nicolas Fontaine, Lanisa Dawnsen, Paul Zinno,

Aquaslash is a 2019 horror film about a high school graduating class who goes to a water park to celebrate when someone puts razors in the slide.

Before we start, its important to make a few things clear. One, the Aquaslash version seen at Fantasia is most probably not the final edit. Its a work in progress where the visual editing had not been completed yet resulting in some scenes to be dark and some to be in the day. There were also some sound issues that weren’t polished like ear piercing whistle sounds. Two, the director Renaud Gauthier referred to this version as The Director’s Cut. Its put together in the way that he would want it to be presented. Also, pretty much confirming that it won’t be this way upon its release. With those two points clear, there won’t be so much about the visuals but more the story, the characters and its 80s vibe and of course, the slasher elements.

Aquaslash is a fun movie. It has its flaws. Despite its short run time, it actually spends a lot of time in the characters’ drama. Its not all teenage drama but a lot of it is girls and crushes and love triangles and the likes. It uses this time to create the characters as well as some shenanigans and make some comedic moments. Aquaslash is meant to be reminiscent of the 80s with the park, the style and satisfyingly the background music and soundtrack.

The best thing about Aquaslash is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. Because of that, a lot of it is much easier to accept. There are a lot of moments that sometimes might feel disjointed or completely random. Yet the tone the movie sets never shifts into taking itself too seriously. While that might sound like a bad thing, its a compliment to be able to do that and stay consistent. Looking at the effects and the slasher kills, they are not quite so abundant however, there is a reminiscent feeling of the 80s slasher here that works. The most memorable one is for the razor blades slide set up and how it is done. Because it all happens around the fun idea of a race down three entangled slides, there is a suspense who will inevitably meet their end at the razors. Things get out of hand and there is a great amount of entertainment in how it all unfolds.

Aquaslash, in this version, has its flaws and in the visuals and effects polish has obvious further work to do, but putting that aside, the idea is a pretty good one especially since it seems like such a clever idea of instilling fear in a family destination like a water park and yet, doesn’t feel like its been done before. Its something of a guilty pleasure movie filled with some 80s reminiscent entertainment. It will be interesting to see what the final cut after all the post production is done will be like.

TV Binge: Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

I watched Wolf Creek quite a few years ago. The movie was quite memorable to say the least and one of the highlights of the movie from what I remembered was Mick Taylor, the villain of the movie. Recently we subscribed to Shudder and with it came the first season of Wolf Creek. We had no idea where this would go but just in case, we rewatched the movie as preparation before starting it. The movie absolutely still holds up today. Here’s my original review of it. Now time to take a look at the TV series.

Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

wolf creek

Cast: John Jarrett, Lucy Fry, Dustin Clare

An anthology series which centers on different characters being targeted by crazed serial killer Mick Taylor in the Australian outback. – IMDB

Wolf Creek is one of those series that gave me incredibly mixed feelings. Its really a mini series length which works for what it tries to accomplish. It focuses around a sixteen year old girl Eve whose family gets killed by Mick Taylor on a camping trip in Australia. The reason for the trip was for her recovery from drug addiction, mostly of the pain killer variety and she heads out to track down the killer that she feels is linked to many disappearances in Australia on her own when the police doesn’t seem to be able to help her or believe her. The first season tells the story on her side, the policeman and Mick Taylor’s side as well. The angle they choose is great but the best way that I can describe this series is it felt like a tease and not enough follow through. Don’t get me wrong. The pacing and the length work very well to the advantage of the series. The episodes take place over various areas of Australia and it almost feels like a lethal cat and mouse game except they are somewhat chasing each other while adding in the policeman Sullivan into the equation who tries to follow the girl’s traces.

wolf creek

Other than the beautiful Outback setting here and the road trip style here that works really well, the main characters are all done really well. Eve is played Lucy Fry and she carries herself very well especially as her character is written with a lot of development as she matures and learns from her mistakes over the course of the episodes and her chase of Mick Taylor. She grows tough and learns how to blend in and even cover her tracks a little while picking up a few femme fatale traits. Her vengeful mind and her constant resistance to her addiction takes into an intriguing journey to say the least. The cop here, Sullivan, also sees a side of his story from his personal story to his trail to find out more also makes him a pretty great character to watch. He also gets a good bit of development here however what stands out for him is his rugged personality. Then of course, there’s Mick Taylor, as always played by John Jarrett. I think he’s a great fit for this character and the fact that Wolf Creek has managed to get him to join back in for the TV series is pretty fantastic.

Wolf Creek

With that said, the part which I disliked the most about the series went to all these supporting characters that these characters meet along the way and seem to want to build up and develop halfway and make its audience care and then takes them out of the equation abruptly. I’m not exactly a fan of that. While I understand that TV series will have constant change and each of these characters may have been a little bit of a guiding light and purpose to Eve’s revenge journey, and they can’t always keep everyone on forever, it seems slightly silly to keep removing people out and it somewhat bothered me.

Overall, the first season of Wolf Creek is pretty decent. The main characters do a decent job and the structure of the show works pretty well. I had some minor issues on not letting some supporting characters of bigger roles but then, looking at the show being an anthology style per season, it seems to make much more sense. I do like the anthology idea which seems fitting for the emphasis on Mick Taylor rather than his victims.

Halloween Marathon: Scream 4 (2011)

The first feature franchise of this year’s Halloween Marathon is rounding up with Scream 4. After a not as exciting Scream 3, we are interested to see how the franchise picks up after over ten years. As for where we are going after this one, I will be looking at a mini series and a TV series and a movie before starting up the second feature franchise, Evil Dead, next week.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves and jump right into Scream 4!

Scream 4 (2011)

 Scream 4Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella

Ten years have passed, and Sidney Prescott, who has put herself back together thanks in part to her writing, is visited by the Ghostface Killer. –IMDB

Scream takes a nifty turn of events. Scream is the original horror. Scream 2 plays with turning true events into a movie and Scream 3 looks at the franchising of this Stab series and the 4th features none other than the revampimg and remake or reboot of a series. While those are the premise of the stories, we also have Neve Campbell as the title role Sidney. In fact, it makes Randy (in Scream and Scream 2 played by Jamie Kennedy) and all the horror fans’ awkward knowledge about making horror movies more legit and somewhat mocks the industry but educates the audience about what makes a good or effective horror movie whether it is the original, the sequel or the remaster. In many ways, as I think about this review, I realized this as an after thought and it is pretty brilliant. However, Scream 4 is still not where Scream 1 &2 but it was rather entertaining, at least more than Scream 3. The bonus of it all is that this was like a CW/ABC characters reunion, kind of. We had Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210), then Kristen Bell and some other girl, followed by Britt Robertson and … On top of that, Adam Brody (The OC) is also in there. And more recently, Emma Roberts (Scream Queens) is also in this playing Sidney’s younger cousin. It is like a mini TV reunion right there. If that doesn’t peak your interest, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette takes on their characters again and that is always a plus as far as I’m concerned.

Scream 4

 Scream 4 is pretty good. While most of the cast listed above from all those TV shows get killed off pretty quickly, Emma Roberts is a key character here as kind of like the remake next generation version of Sidney. She’s the equivalent where Ghostface seems to be targeting her now. I’ve seen quite a few movies of Emma Roberts and this one is before all of those ones. She is a pretty good actress with lots of potential and while horror movies promote more of a scream queen aspect (funny since she is in Scream Queens), I still like her character quite a bit. However, this last installment of the franchise is getting hard to talk about. It is hard to not know the tricks up their sleeves and in fact, I guessed the killer for the most part. Maybe it is because of the next gen idea and remake and then how the characters are presented. This isn’t out of the blue and actually makes sense in my mind when the reveal was there. Still, Scream 4 has a decent pacing and some pretty clever kills. Plus, there is a great revival of the witty humor here which is a key element of why I have enjoyed this series so far.

Scream 4

Another great part is to show the progress the original characters have made over the years, especially since it has been ten years since the last event (for us and maybe the movie timeline but I don’t remember anymore). For one, making it completely feasible and banking on the emphasis that the director hasn’t changed for all four movies, it has a nice continuity to it as we see Sidney has reentered the society but now as an author for a self-help book. She was doing some phone counseling in the previous movie and it makes sense for her to teach other people how to deal with trauma. Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers is a fiction novelist and finally married to Dewey, although it seems that they have a somewhat rocky relationship as well. Despite the clumsiness, Dewey is the sheriff of Woodsboro now and has to make some tough calls. As Gale Weathers comes back out to help with solving the crime and the characters from the previous movies are more bonded than before, there feels like a lot more at stake just for that. One of my favorite scenes is the barn house party where they show the Stab series with Gale and the cameras and Ghostface.

Scream 4

There are some flaws to Scream 4 and at this point, it is small things like slight predictability because it follows somewhat of the same formula except changing up the idea of horrors based on true events, sequels, remakes, etc. That angle is a great twist to the slasher genre as they somewhat psychoanalyze their own movie and in turn makes for some great jokes. Then there’s the young cast which sometimes has some awkward acting bits but for the most part carries their roles out rather well. There may be some lengthy bits and then the constant wonder of how Dewey is Sheriff and acts somewhat like a goof and the fact that whoever is Ghostface always gets beat up and destroyed and outsmarted but then also keeps up his slasher abilities. Except at this point, all this doesn’t matter because especially with the constant players of the Scream franchise, they are there in all the movies and we care for them now, making this one much more forgiving than it might actually be. It doesn’t live up to the first or the second but it is still a fun time to be had.

Overall, it wasn’t easy to review this one but Scream 4 is probably more entertaining to those following the franchise than those starting off with this one. While it is self-contained to a good extent, Scream 4 is not quite as good as the first or second movie but better than the third and for the most part, it banks a lot on the love and returning fans of the franchise and the characters like Sidney, Gale and Dewey who have been with us all these years as those characters and have built a relationship with them. The Scream franchise is possibly one of the shorter but definitely more solid franchises with enjoyable movies in every installment.

Have you seen Scream 4? Which is your favorite in the Scream franchise?

Halloween Marathon: Scream (1996)

Welcome to the Halloween movie marathon!!!

The first franchise we are working on is SCREAM! We have to get that Wes Craven love back after last year’s highlight of Nightmare on Elm Street. I’ve only ever seen Scream 2 so getting the franchise in is going to be really cool. For the record, I think the scariest mask is Ghostface for some absolutely odd reason. I don’t even know why. When I see that mask, I tell myself that it is just some dude with a mask on but it creeps the heck out of me. It might be because Scream 2 is actually one of the first slasher movies I saw when I was young. My family is not huge on horror so this genre was a much later discovery.

We’re done with the rambling! Time to check out the first movie, SCREAM!

Scream (1996)

scream

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy

Sidney, attempting to cope with her mother’s mysterious murder, and her horror movie-obsessed friends are stalked by an unknown killer who seems to have a hard time letting the past go. – IMDB

Just a quick question before we start, does Scream feel like it has similar tones to Nightmare on Elm Street? It would make sense because they are both directed by Wes Craven. Scream was definitely something a little different from what I expected. Don’t get me wrong. It was an extremely fun and full of jumpscares experience. That is what Wes Craven was really great at: building the atmosphere and winding up the audience. Scream does not fail at that. For the most part, Ghostface is actually less scary now that I’ve seen Scream. I still think that mask gives me the shivers at times but the tone of Scream ranges from scary and creepy to silly in just a single moment. That is what I totally love about it though. It captures a fine balance between witty and creepy.

scream

Other than the masterful atmosphere here, the characters are pretty cool. Neve Campbell is iconic as Sidney. She isn’t a wimpy girl to say the least. She holds her morals and ethics high and has suffered loss that keeps her apart from others. Sidney is a strong girl and for the most part, the best part, is that she can hold her own. In many cases, it seems like she can outsmart the slasher quite a few times. While the rest of her friends are a bit more cliche and fits the slasher formula. The standout goes to her best friend Tatum, played by Rose McGowan. Her boyfriend Billy, played by Skeet Ulrich is also rather good. He is a little mysterious and weird but sweet in other moments. The same goes for his buddy who feels a little more unhinged but really just a simpleton. Of course, there is also the nerd of the group Randy, played by Jamie Kennedy, that adds a little horror movie cliche references. They all balance the film and propel it forward. However, the silliest part of Scream goes to some of the dialogue which can be extremely random at times.

Scream

Among all the characters, nothing beats the entertainment value of Courtney Cox and especially David Arquette. These two characters both are rather simple minded but seem to have some more depth in a way. Courtney Cox, as a TV reporter is fighting for a belief and suspicion and doing her job. David Arquette is just a young silly cop who seems to be out of place because he has a gentle heart and the best intentions. Let me say, his expressions and dialogue was awesome.

Scream

No one can get out of looking at a slasher flick and ignoring the slasher itself. I actually think the reveal was pretty clever. It sure fooled me for the most part. However, while Ghostface is incredibly.creepy at times, there is still a Freddy Krueger silliness here especially when we have that one scene where Ghostface creeps behind the bushes weirdly, then suddenly stops and looks into the camera and keeps going in a weird walking or exaggerated sneaking style. It is these moments that make the slasher feel less deadly when the slasher is. As weird as it is, that might all be to relieve some existing tension and also let the audience know what the characters in the movie doesn’t so we can wonder who goes next.

Overall, Scream is an entertaining and fun slasher flick. In all his silliness, Ghostface is still very creepy and deadly. Neve Campbell brings to life a great character in Sidney who is smart and strong and can hold her own. David Arquette is funny to watch as the young cop and the early interaction with the reporter played by Courtney Cox gives it some fun moments as well. Plus, we get a young Drew Barrymore cameo in the beginning.

Have you seen Scream? Did you like it?
Later this week, Scream 2 review coming up!

Netflix A-Z: Detention (2011)

I’m back into watching Netflix! I’m going to be honest that it is hard to focus on movies when there are so many updated TV series hanging about. As this goes up, I may or may not have finished or closed to finishing Orange is the New Black Season 4. I’ll hold off my thoughts on it until the TV Binge post coming up soon. As for the D selection, its Detention! If I remember correctly, my awesome cohost Melissa from The Creative Fox Den had mentioned it to me before airtime before. We all know she has fantastic taste in movies so I was honestly excited to watch it but just needed to find the right moment to do it.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Detention (2011)

Detention 2011

Director (and co-writer): Joseph Kahn

Cast: Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Aaron David Johnson, Spencer Locke, Dane Cook, Parker Bagley, Jonathan Park, Tiffany Boone

As a copycat killer named after movie villain Cinderhella stalks the student body at Grizzly Lake High School, a group of co-eds band together to survive while serving detention.-IMDB

I don’t even know where to start with Detention. Its a really quirky and fun movie for one. It plays on a lot of horror movies or maybe even other movies. It exaggerates the cliches. The characters are a little weird at times and there are some awkward scenes but it always seems to work in favor of the movie as a whole. Detention feels like watching a surprise. You kind of know where things are going but then you never quite know whats going to happen exactly.  The things they stay are modern but retro 90s in a way. There’s mascots, time travel, slasher, high school drama, romance and a lot of other stuff. Detention is kind of like Breakfast Club but with a slasher. I can seriously go on.

Detention

Thing is we have two main leads here: Shanley Caswell as Riley and Josh Hutcherson as Clapton. Riley is kind of the loser girl in school. She’s the person inside the mascot and she does silly things and just a nobody. Clapton is kind of a somebody since he’s a jock. He gets along with everyone and has a hot cheerleader girlfriend but then he’s targeted because of the ex of his girlfriend. Behind all this, Clapton and Riley are also neighbors and pretty good friends and well, Riley has a massive crush on him. At times, it feels like he likes her too but then with all that happens, it gets a little lost in the mix as we try to find out who the slasher is and their motives. The even better part is that the slasher copycat actually wasn’t too obvious. It adds to how its a fun watch. Not to mention Cinderhella is a pretty great villain.

Detention 2011

Overall, there isn’t really too much to say about Detention. Its a little gem that doesn’t seem to known to a lot of people. At least I haven’t heard people talking about it. The story is fun. I like films that mock the cliches or play on them. Josh Hutcherson and Shanley Caswell along with a ton of the cast are entertaining to watch. Its just so much fun! I kind of want to revisit it again!

Have you seen Detention?

Next indie Netflix A-Z is E! Can you guess which movie it is?
Hint: Its made by a production company that is pretty huge on YouTube.