Thursday, December 2, 2010

Something Rank (#20-17)

All I can say in response to the delay of this countdown...

Four franchise fiends,
36 fantastic (to middling) films.

Previous entries:
(#36-33) (#32-29)
(#28-25) (#24-21)

(#20) A Nightmare on Elm Street 5:
The Dream Child

"It's a boy!" --Freddy Krueger

Freddy's reborn and born again -- product of his mother, a sister to the Church, after being gang raped by the criminally insane. When exactly did he get that job as small town custodial staff? Anyhow, Springwood survivor Alice has a pregnancy scare, seeing as her offspring might be born with razor claws and a Christmas sweater.

The film kicks into high gear with sex, a splashy shower scene, and the inmate gang bang that led to Freddy's immaculately sinful birth. The nightmares are amongst the dreamiest and vast in scale for the series, with expansive production design and practical effects. It's all to the aid of a magically deranged dreamscape in which Freddy calls people "Bitch" a lot. Among the spectacle there's Freddy's mad mutation of man into machine, a mother hassling her daughter to eat so much that it kills her, a comic artist left in comic shreds, and Freddy's emergence through Alice's face. Much like the miracle of birth it's equal parts charmed and absolutely grotesque.

Killer Looks:

Like Father Like Son

Abortion to Archvillain

Tetsuo to Top Chef

My Thoughts Exactly...

(#19) Halloween III:
Season of the Witch

Michael Myers is swapped for Stonehenge after being charred in Haddonfield Memorial Hospital as the Halloween series takes to new, altogether ridiculous routes (though no more or less so than usual). This holiday "The Night HE Came Home" is now "The Night Nobody Comes Home," as children are turned to mush and snakes because of irritating promotional tie-ins. The Silver Shamrock corporation, with their singular masks and catchy jingle (think "It's a Small World After All" if it made you melt into roaches), have taken to massacring the spirit of a holiday as only Hallmark had before.

Tom Atkins, dependable horror hero, is on the case after a bizarre murder-suicide and is drawn into the mad world of murderous masks, Druid-fueled drivel and well-dressed androids. It's an excuse to cheat on his wife (a cameo by Nancy "Loomis" Kyes!) and save humanity from a dastardly plan for world domination. Like This is Spinal Tap or Troll 2, the brainwashed bayside town of Santa Mira is mystified by the great magic of Stonehenge, and just like those films, here it's laughable at best. Baffling and inane given the series departure, it's wacky inventiveness far surpasses many of the later attempts to plug Michael Myers into the signature mold. Even in its complete distance from Halloween lore, it still manages to feel like the partial product of John Carpenter. The pulsing techno score, the widescreen scope, the casting of Carpenter regulars, and even a special screening of the original holiday classic... It's a full-fledged sequel in spirit. Halloween III is its own unique oddity (it's nonsense) and a memorable break from the series' usual reign of terror. Besides, for those who see more trick than treat, Michael Myers will be back after these messages...

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

The Silver Shamrock Corporation:
Banking on your child's
lack of creativity for over 30 years!

The Modern (hench)Man:

Conal Cochran:
Evil mastermind
and master of the evil slow clap

My Thoughts Exactly...

(#18) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Michael Bay producing a glossy remake of the seminal scare classic with the star of 7th Heaven? Sounds like studio-sanctioned cannibalism!

What could easily have been the bizarre meld of rotted flesh and the sculpted abs of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog actually fares better than it has any right to. Tobe Hooper's still scarring classic seems unlikely to translate to the studio system, but there's enough general sickness in its premise to ensure bits of grueling goodness. Besides, the entire Chainsaw franchise has basically been an entire series of pseudo-remakes, so it's to no fault when this film feels occassionally chainsaw-by-the-numbers. Leatherface never really progressed into a supervillain like Freddy or Jason, but has remained a misunderstood country bumpkin making meat out of the tenderized flesh of hapless tourists.

The remake toys with its taut scenario, replacing a visit to granddaddy's grave with smuggling pot over the border. It's inessential really when all roads lead to the slaughterhouse. Director Marcus Nispel's nightmare vision is a more typical view of backwoods brutality with its obese women and toothless toddlers in trailer homes, but with the aid of cinematographer Daniel Pearl (returning to Texas territory after the original), there's enough gristle and raw dread to excuse Jessica Biel rescuing an infant, or the presence of that kid from The Ring. Despite a few unnecessary additions to a story fueled by its simplicity, Leatherface is more-or-less a figure of fear once again. For a franchise makeover it feels mostly refreshed, especially considering it's pretty much just dressed up in dead skin.

Killer Looks:

1) The best slaughterhouse employee
is a noseless slaughterhouse employee

2) Leatherface in business attire /
3) Leatherface in Eric Balfour

My Thoughts Exactly...

(#17) Leatherface:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

Viggo Mortensen's (sexy) history of violence stems way back to this oft-ignored entry in which two travelers' Texas detour mostly turns up roadkill (and Ken Foree). Director Jeff Burr's film feels the spirit of Tobe Hooper's manic sequel while filling the tasty formula for inbred brutality and black comedy. Action-packed and humorously sadistic, it's a recipe for righteous bloodshed and BBQ.

"The Saw is Family," but a suspiciously new family entirely. Leatherface must have been adopted by a new backwoods brood once the Sawyer clan's BBQ business went bankrupt due to their no longer existing after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The new clan is more female-friendly than we're used to, with a gruesome granny and devious daughter, and Leatherface himself continues to (d)evolve. He's seen mastering the English language via a Speak & Spell and trading his meat-mallet for more maternal instincts.

Killer Looks:

The Mirror Has Four Faces

My Thoughts Exactly...

Up Next: #16-13

Jason wages war against a pervy, underage Corey Feldman!


Jaime Grijalba said...

Halloween III was boring for its first 50 minutes and then became so good I was almost angry at the first 50 minutes. I didn't even care it wasn't about Myers, it didn't matter, it just was boring.
Texas III lacks blood and that's what it all boils down to, because that's what it went for and it was severely censored.

Glenn Dunks said...

Halloween III: Season of the Witch did LOOK good, but... it sorta just felt pointless. Maybe if they'd kept the idea of making yearly films "about" Halloween then it wouldn't have felt that way in retrospect, but as it is it's like... why am I watching this? It's a Twilight Zone episode at feature length and has nothing to do with Halloween.

I love the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I say it often. I've never seen the Viggo film, however. I remember the VHS cover destinctly from my frequent travels to the local video store horror section, but I never saw it and it has since never been released on DVD (in Australia, anyway).

Adam said...

Agreed that "TCM3" feels castrated. Why would anyone deem to censor a film that's solely about gratuitous violence? Need to see the unrated cut for more gore, and apparently, Joe Bob Briggs!

As for "Halloween III," it is pointless, and if anything, I think that's to its benefit at this point. So many bad choices culminate in... a bad choice. But one that is often damn entertaining.