After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
Halloween is over once again and I’m sad. Don’t worry about me though, this happens every year. The one time of the year where the general public embraces horror and scary things is a joyous one and now we have to ready ourselves for family and to be filled with holiday cheer. Blech! Sounds horrible doesn’t it?
Preston: He’s going to do horrible shit to you. You know that? Horrible fucking things. Gross, gross fucking things. I mean, they make me sick.
So who, or what, is this secret organization? Good question. That’s one you will ask from the first few minutes all the way until the credits roll. One of this film’s downfalls is that much of the why/how is never delved into. This group is a big deal – they seem to have unlimited funds, many employees who do things from making crazy dangerous weapons to medical personnel. Is their purpose just to cater to this chrome-faced killer who gets his rocks off killing chicks? I’m sure there will eventually be some answers, in the form of another sequel, but I want to know now dammit!
Maybe they didn’t have time to explain anything, right? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt because they have to make time for the girls’ info and the cops. No. There was plenty of time taken out for plot but in all the wrong places. The biggest downfall of the film is the script. I wouldn’t say that it’s horrible, because I did quite enjoy myself, but for all of the other strong points in this film it’s a shame the script can cause so much confusion. Most of the other problems are minor ones that plague many horror films today, studio or low budget. It’s too dark much of the time and if that’s not enough, the shaky “steadicam” is anything but steady. Granted some of the footage comes from the camera that Chromeskull keeps mounted on his shoulder to capture the kill, but also from Jess’ little Flip cam that she cannot keep still for anything. At least the whole thing isn’t found footage style, but this is a problem plaguing not only this genre, but modern filmmaking all together. Whatever happened to the good old days when people would lock off a shot and just roll the camera?
Now for the things done right in this film, of which there are quite a few. One that stands out is how Chromeskull and the organization handle cell phones. These devices are commonplace and it really makes it hard to explain in today’s horror why people don’t just call for help or use their phone’s GPS. One of the HMN attendees watched Laid to Rest the night before and had a big gripe about cell phone centered plot devices. Can’t say that I disagree. However, in the sequel there is some sort of system running throughout the building that picks up any kind of signal and sends an alert throughout via loudspeakers. Think of the annoying sound you can get by having your phone near a computer and when a call comes in, that digital sound now tips off the bad guys that you’re contacting the outside world. Pretty good stuff; though I wonder why they even let the girl keep her cell in the first place. She was overpowered and brought in unconscious at some point so you would think they’d at least see what was in her pockets.
There are some great members of the cast like the return of Dekker in the Tommy role and newcomer to the series Green who some might know from a little show called Beverly Hills 90210. He really shakes any kind of preconceived notions I had about him by artfully handing the best, and arguably darkest, performance of the film. The only downside is you’ll find yourself wanting more Brian than what you get. Also back in the sequel is Nick Principle playing our baddie. He does a great job of silently and expressionlessly stalking and slashing his prey whilst donning that sweet, shimmering mask.
The real reason everyone wanted to watch this movie is the gore and FX and that is where this movie will blow your mind. Hall has directed a few films but he is probably still most well known for his FX group Almost Human Inc and for working in that department on numerous films and television shows. These kill sequences are old school awesome with mostly practical FX and a little computer enhancement for certain things to work. It really shows how much Hall and his crew know about this when you see how well the two styles are incorporated to create some of the most realistic looking FX sequences I’ve seen in a long time. There are many sharp things and they hack and slash their way through the film taking time to fillet off the side of a young girl’s face in close-up, gory detail. It’s wonderful. But nothing compares to the cheek splitting spring loaded six-blade knife that makes its way through a female cop’s mouth and skull. Awesome, just awesome.
One thing that was brought up during our post-movie discussion is that someone thought it was weak how easily Chromeskull is “defeated” by use of a psycho character vice. He thought this was kind of a lame loophole but I see it as standard when it comes to most slasher films. The majority of the time in this subgenre the killer is brought down in a manner that is a kind of trickery or utilizing some sort of weakness he/she has. Take Jason Voorhees for example – at the end of part 2 he is taken out because the girl puts on his mom’s sweater and convinces him that she is his mother. Right. Maybe it’s just lazy on screenwriters’ parts in these films but I forgive it and can overlook it as well. Guess that’s my problem.
This film is one that I do highly recommend. The plot may be lacking anything really new but the ride is quite enjoyable. Hell, the brain scrambling FX work is worth watching the film alone but it doesn’t hurt that there are also some cute girls – and Brian Austin Green for the ladies.
Until next week – gore is good!
Body Count: 14
First Blood: 1:30
Best Kill: Six-Bladed Knife Deep Throat
Gratuitous Boob Shots: 2
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-11/9/11: Death Bed (1977)
-11/16/11: Cathy’s Curse (1980)
-11/23/11: Monster Shark (1984)
-11/30/11: Creepazoids (1987)