Sunday, April 10, 2011

Something Rank (#6-5)

4 Beasts, 36 Bloodbaths,
Bottomless Blog Posts

Previous Entries:
(#36-33) (#32-29) (#28-25)
(#24-21) (#20-17) (#16-15)
(#14-13) (#12-11) (#10-9)

Halloween II (1981)

Love is... never having to say you're sorry for shooting your brother's eyes out at point blank range (upon your first time meeting). Laurie Strode's first bout with her Boogeyman kin began on the back streets of Haddonfield, Illinois in 1978 and ended in the dank, sanitary halls of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, that same fateful night in 1981. Jamie Lee Curtis's wig is as untended as the hospital patients once the nurses take to steamy hot tubs and doctors get piss drunk. Lucky for Laurie she seems to be about the only patient. Mental case Michael Myers takes to the halls to administer his own treatments, leading to all sorts of medical malpractice.

John Carpenter and Debra Hill reluctantly took to writing a sequel to a film without intricate story. Forced to add new elements, they wisely chose to extend the first film's night of horrors, but also a new plot element or two. The key device -- familiar to fans of daytime television -- makes Michael's motivations clear in his attempted murder of that innocent babysitter also being his estranged baby sister. Needless exposition perhaps but it's also become essential part of the series legacy. The sacrificial solstice of Samhain becomes Michael's tie to the source holiday, and it all acts as precursor to Michael's eventual dabbling in Druid lore throughout the series' eventual slog.

Director Rick Rosenthal, who would go on to see Michael's Resurrection and simultaneous demise, actually does a strong job at keeping Halloween's essential atmosphere even in a mostly new setting. Much thanks to DP Dean Cundy's reprisal as well, Rosenthal's film (with additional aid from John Carpenter) still manages the high suspense and considerably restrained slaughter -- although distinctly less elegant this time around. There's even a nice nod to the classic Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) as a nurse gets a facial in a boiling hot tub, and generally Halloween II manages to be eerie while ushering in the slaughter-heavy staples of the 80's slasher. The body count rises, the blood flows, and the singular soundtrack gets a pulsing, synthesized reinvention. Michael, too, still maintains sufficient menace - now half-charred and riddled with bullet wounds. One of the longest nights in horror history goes out with an explosive bang, leaving Laurie Strode to still beg Mr. Sandman to bring her a dream man that isn't prone to stabbing, and ideally isn't her own brother.

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

1) Michael Audrey Myers:
Brother to Laurie and Judith.
At least until he kills them.

2) A tearful reunion.

My Thoughts Exactly...

(#5) Friday the 13th (1980)

Just singing "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" gets the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake all hot and bothered (also possibly giving that song sordid new meaning). What the campground lacks in childcare and smores, it more than makes up for in softcore lust. Sean S. Cunningham's horror cash cow learns all the right lessons about slasher delights while dosing some punishing morality tales. In hopes of reopening the campgrounds, our teen ensemble (see: generic fodder and Kevin Bacon) gather to dust-off the dooming legacy of "Camp Blood," and makes sure there's no blood left on the bunks before the fresh-faced tots arrive.

Little Jason Voorhees drowned in Crystal Lake while his counselors took to toking and poking in the nearby cabins. His death must be avenged, gruesomely and on the unluckiest night of the year. Jason's psychotic and scorned mother, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), picks up the axe (as well as machetes, spears, bows and arrows) and teaches the local teens about prioritizing strip poker with tending to the handicapped kids. Pamela's maternal madness remains one of the series' sole motivations - losing her mind and her head to protect the legacy of Jason's lakeside demise. If Jason Voorhees is the official face of the Friday films, he owes it all to his mother's undying love and support.

Unlike many of the franchise classics, Friday the 13th barely has the content or class to rank as high in regard, but enough crucial elements to build a suspenseful, oddly satisfying brand of slaughter. Our Final Girl Alice (Adrienne King) is more efficient than empowered, while her rowdy friends are more or less placeholders for sharp objects. Nevertheless, the tried-and-true slasher era unfolds. Key to this classic's success though is the iconic lakeside setting offset by a settling storm, Harry Manfredini's stirring stalker anthem, and Kevin Bacon getting stuck like a pig. Mood, perhaps accidentally, still permeates most of the mayhem, making it a go-to for gorehounds and fans of atmospheric horror as well. Jason does do Pamela proud eventually, but his mom's place in horror history still provides a more somber, stylish scare. Like a truly loving mother, Pamela gave her son a solid life and legacy to build upon. She's the reason he's the man/beast he is today.

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

1) Proud Pamela:
Devoted, thick-sweatered mother.

2) Jumping Baby Jason

My Thoughts Exactly...

Up Next: #4-3

Meeting Freddy to Meta Freddy

1 comment:

Jaime Grijalba said...

These two are the best around, slasher wise, the second Halloween is miles away from the original, but it's still the best of the sequels.
Friday the 13th is not spectacular, but it's the best of the whole series.