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Rating History

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I consider the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" the greatest horror movie that's ever been produced. The grisly realism and berzerk psychology on display is, and always will be unparalleled. I could easily argue that the site of Sally Hardesty breaking down into hysterical incapacity, while Leatherface violently wielded his chainsaw in a frustrated tantrum, brought the saga to a very satisfying conclusion. Perhaps, the story could have been expanded. Unfortunately, the original was never done justice with a competent sequel. In the genre of horror, a successful brand name is rarely laid to rest. No matter how inept the ideas for future chapters appear. It's an easy way to make money.

The first attempt at a sequel came from Tobe Hooper, the man who was responsible for the original. Unfortunately, Hooper never created anything memorable, or even good after "Chainsaw"( And yes, I'm including "Poltergeist"). Hooper's plans for the continuation of his masterpiece was to take the sequel in a new direction. So in 1987, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" was unleashed, with nearly no resemblance to its predecessor, whatsoever.

Instead of grim atmosphere and the ambiguous use of gore, the idea here was to go over-the-top. While the effects on display were probably state-of-the-art at the time, thanks to the talents of Tom Savini, the constant blood bath does little to sustain much entertainment value. It's just a matter of what you see is what you get. There's no substance, just shock value. This error in judgement was mild compared to other "artistic" liberties that were forced upon the franchise.

Apparently, Hooper was under the impression that the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was hilarious?

It's true.

Hooper considered his horror classic comical. Somewhere between the gritty realism, invalids being mutilated by chainsaws, sledgehammer assaults, and a girl being left alive hanging from a meathook, the humor was lost on the audience.

Imagine that.

So once again, Hooper's plan was to go over-the-top. What the audience got was "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2"... the dark comedy.

For the most part, I experience a massive disconnect when I view dark-comedies. If I want to watch something funny, I'll watch something funny. When I want to experience horror, I'm in a different mood. Not to mention, nothing in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" is actually amusing. It's just campy and extremely irritating. Nothing is as awful as the introduction to the film, featuring two rowdy students causing mischief on the way to a football game. The dialogue is absolutely painful, and what transpires is constantly insulting to the intelligence. It's just something that I'm embarrassed to watch. Even if the movie was able to recover from the shoddy opening sequences, which it doesn't, the introduction would still serve as a black eye to the remainder of the proceedings.

As far as the family is concerned, in the sequel Hooper decided to name the clan, the Sawyers.
Get it?
See that's the kind of highbrow humor that's on display here.
Brilliant, right?

Anyway, the Sawyers are completely overexposed in this film. Leatherface is completely emasculated as he falls head-over-heels for the Stretch character. You know, for some reason, the character is far less intimidating once we witness his premature ejaculation. (That's right, without going into the ridiculous details, that actually occurs. So there's a giant, wearing a dead skin mask, violently wielding a chainsaw, and he's not the least bit imposing, because someone thought that would be funny.) "The Cook" gets entirely too much screen time rattling off limp puns (No pun intended for the previously mentioned Leatherface scene). The most offensive addition to the clan is without a doubt, Choptop. Choptop is basically a poor man's imitation of "The Hitchhiker" from the original. Anyway, he hee-haws through the entire film, poorly executing pathetic dialogue, on his way to the losing end of a humiliating cat fight with the film's female protagonist. "The Grandpa" is still alive too. You see, he has to be. This is a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" sequel, so for some reason, the writers feel that they're obligated to recreate the infamous "dinner scene". Predictably, it was performed with the utmost sloppiness this time around.

The film's only redeemable quality was Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of the "Lefty" character. He's the only actor that was able to pull of a one-liner, in a film littered with quotes that would disgust Henny Youngman. Years later, Hoffman would go onto admit that "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" was the worst film that he ever participated in. He was right.

I hate this movie, and it's not even the worst sequel in the series. It has come to my attention that it's actually a lot of people's favorite chapter in the entire series. I suppose the original "Chainsaw" can be somewhat of a chore to sit through. Especially if you're not a fan of intense horror. This is much lighter, both in mood and substance. So I guess it's just a matter of taste. You know, one man's trash...

Friday the 13th
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's easy to understand why someone would want to remake classic horror films, especially the slasher variety. From a studio standpoint, it's a financial goldmine. All you need is a director, a low budget, and the star power of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, release it at the right time of year, and wait for the revenue to roll in.

Artistically, although most of the movies can be defended if a nostalgic connection exists, the truth is, a lot of them haven't aged all that well. Many of them weren't that good to begin with. Once you divorce yourself from the aforementioned nostalgia, this accurately summarizes the entire Friday the 13th franchise.

I was lucky enough to discover Friday the 13th as a youngster. So, there are times when I can go back and relive the ridiculous chapters from the 80's. This can be a real chore though. I still enjoy the premise and the Jason Voorhees character, so I more than welcomed an attempt to rejuvenate the franchise.

The maker's of the film didn't stray very far from the original formula. What unfolds is what you'd expect. Teenagers show up at Camp Crystal Lake to party, they encounter Jason, and they pay dearly for doing so. What you get is not a reimagining, but a contemporary version of fossilized pictures, that have lost the majority of their relevance.

What transpires actually borrows some coherent events from the first 4 chapters of the original series. So, it isn't just a remake of the original Friday the 13th. Which is a positive, because I have no desire to witness Pamela Voorhees in the slasher role. Let's be honest, one of the only reasons to watch, is to see Jason in action.

Speaking of Jason, one of the reboot's undisputed successes is their portrayal of this iconic character. What's presented here, is the quintessential version of Jason. This rendition is a fast,menacing giant with noticeable cunning and a pronounced mean streak. The writers wisely chose to avoid much backstory, which eliminated the undesirable effect of having the character come off as sympathetic. One of the better scenes in the film focuses on Jason sharpening a machete. During the task, Jason flashes back to his mother's decapitation. The thoughts launch the character into a violent tantrum. Witnessing the fit of rage, is not only unprecedented, but made Jason actually seem demented, as opposed to a nondescript zombie. It was a nice touch.

As expected, the film has its fair share of problems, but these are evident in all of the movies. First of all, it's very easy to feel apathetic toward the characters. To me, the film would be more exciting if I was actually invested in somebody's survival. As opposed to hoping that the characters are exterminated as soon as possible. It also wouldn't hurt to scale back the ridiculous antics of the teenagers. The "good times" are normally awkward celebrations that only serve to lighten the tension necessary to actually make the movie scary.

It is easy to dwell on the film's faults, and it should at least be considered a missed opportunity. If you hated these movies before, or you were hoping for a radical new direction, you'll want to run like hell from this too. On the other hand, if your expectations are to witness a good Friday the 13th movie, you shouldn't consider 2009's rendition that disappointing. These days, I'm probably more willing to sit down to this version than any of its predecessors.

Halloween
Halloween (2007)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The original "Halloween" is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was the first horror movie that I witnessed, and the impact that was provided, left a lasting impression on me. I've been a fan or the genre ever since. Unlike the majority of it's peers, John Carpenter's film is still creepy and suspenseful. Sure, it's not as horrifying as it was when I was 7, but it stands the test of time. "Halloween" is one of the few horror movies that didn't really require a remake.

While fans were losing interest in a long line of poorly conceived sequels, there was still a lot of money to be made off of the Michael Myers saga. That, and I can see why introducing "Halloween" to a new generation would be an attractive idea.

In 2007, the franchise was handed over to Rob Zombie. Zombie's debut, "House of a Thousand Corpses" was a complete and utter disaster, but he showed promise with his follow-up, "The Devil's Rejects". While the latter was hopelessly unoriginal and featured shaky storytelling, it was at least competent.

Unlike a lot of remakes, Zombie deserves credit for at least attempting to make "Halloween" his own. Well, that's at least half true. The movie can easily be divided into two chapters: an origin story followed up with the familiar return to Haddonfield.

The prequel chapters represent Zombie's vision of "Halloween". It is fairly well executed. In particular, the performance of Daeg Faerch as a young Michael, is very impressive. Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of the iconic Dr. Loomis is also superb. While the initial segments of the movie are the film's strongest, there are still plenty of weaknesses.

A lot of Rob Zombie's failures are glaring due to his shortcomings as a storyteller. Throughout his vision of Halloween, he has the tendency to miscast Michael Myers as a protagonist. This is aggravating to the nature of the film. During the origin phases, the body count is populated by victims that are far too deserving of their fates. Michael feasts on abusive alcoholics, bullies, and rapists. This makes the character seem less callous, and irresponsibly forces him into the role of an anti-hero. In my opinion, the desired effect is amplified when the characters haven't "earned" their eventual encounters with the slasher. The audience should fear Michael because he has no reasonable motivations. After all, he's a monster. Saddling the iconic "Shape" with a backstory easily lifted from a serial killer paint-by-numbers kit is weak, and ultimately unnecessary. The obligation to feel sorry for the character is alienating. One would figure that a horror aficionado like Zombie claims to be, would have these details figured out.

The second portion of the film is where Zombie begins borrowing heavily from John Carpenter's film. What unfolds nearly follows the original picture's chain of events to a 'T'. That said, the victims are executed with a harsh cruelty, that is no doubt, unprecedented for the franchise. I appreciate the heightened intensity. While the hostile nature of the direction keep the proceedings entertaining, the predictability and familiarity of what unfolds alleviates the necessary anxiety.

For his faults, Zombie does have the ability to make his movies look slick. His version of "The Shape" is aesthetically astute. The choice to use a former professional wrestler was wise. Seeing Michael tower over much weaker opponents makes the murders even more devastating. Zombie also uses clever direction to show Michael stalking his victims through windows and popping out of shadows. All in all, I think that Zombie's version of Myers was a great success.

In the end, 2007's Halloween is an entertaining movie. It's certainly heads and tails above any other sequel in the franchise's long history. That's probably not saying much though. I guess it also goes without saying, that the new Halloween falls miserably short of the original's greatness. Zombie's film succeeds with style, but falls short on substance.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead (2013)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I always enjoyed the original Evil Dead trilogy from the '80's. They're still fairly entertaining for what they are, and they're more than worthy of the cult status that they've achieved through the decades. That said, I never considered them to be great horror movies. Ever since I was a kid, I always considered the adventures of Ash, and the crude effects involved, more comedic than horrifying. I suppose the tongue-in-cheek nature of the films is part of the charm. Still, it's such a great idea, and with the upgrades in special effects over the years, whether it's blasphemy or not, I always hoped for a remake. I'm not a traditionalist, if someone can improve on a solid idea, I'm all for it. Progress is a good thing. The problem with most remakes, is that they rarely improve anything offered in the original. Even then, who cares? It was at least worth a try.

After failing to produce a remake of their own, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell handpicked the makers of a new Evil Dead. I started noticing the trailers in January, and I was immediately excited. The tone of the previews was sinister. My anticipation grew, as I wondered if this would be a full-blown and terrifying version of the Evil Dead, the one that I'd always wanted.

I'm happy to report that I wasn't disappointed. Not even close. This movie more than exceeded my expectations.

Fede Alvarez's version of the Evil Dead aims right for the jugular. After briefly becoming acquainted with the characters, the viewer is exposed to an all out assault on the senses. The picture is visually spectacular in it's wretchedness, with the content to match. What's offered is an all out barrage of downright brutality. The viewer is smothered in terror. Just when you think you've caught your breath from one episode of violence, at a cataclysmic pace, you're immediately confronted with another abomination. The hour-and-a-half is a claustrophobic journey, with no relief. Unlike the originals, there is no campy laughs to be derived from the proceedings, it is designed solely to make you uncomfortable.

The re-imagining of the Evil Dead is the best Horror movie that I've seen in a very long time. It's absolutely perfect.

If you're a fan of paranormal stupidity, where you jump when a door slams, you might want to sit this one out. You'll only embarrass yourself when you squirm out of the theater with soiled panties. If you don't like the idea of the originals being remade, sit in your Mom's basement watching the old ones in your Yoda pajamas. This doesn't require your approval. I give this movie the highest possible recommendation, if you think you can stomach it. Even if you don't enjoy it, I guarantee you'll cringe.

Friday the 13th Part 2
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This was the first, in what turned out to be several, Friday the 13th sequels. The original idea was to attach the Friday the 13th moniker to a Horror movie every year, without the movies having any continuity to the original film. The "Halloween" franchise actually practiced this idea, when they released, "Halloween III: Season of the Witch". The 1983 release entirely distanced itself from the main antagonist of the series, Michael Myers. It also went on to bore audiences to tears, on it's way to bombing at the box office. Five years later Michael Myers returned. Wisely, Paramount prevented the folly of straying from an established brand, and insisted that Jason Voorhees take over as the villain in the series, and millions of dollars later, the rest is history.

Stylistically, the film is nearly identical to the original. The direction of the film borrows heavily from the Italian slasher films that came before it. In this case, borrowed heavily is a gross understatement. Steve Miner, the film's director, went on to lift scenes directly from Mario Bava's, "Twitch of the Death Nerve". The most notable example is when Jason drives a spear through a pair of lovers. The scene is a shot-for-shot ripoff of the one that originated in the Bava film a decade earlier.

Plagiarism aside, there are plenty of other things in the movie that annoy me. The body count rises so it doesn't seem quite as slow as it's predecessor. Still, it's downright brutal watching the counselors, literally killing time, in between meaningful scenes. In "Friday the 13th: Part 2", we get to see counselors playing chess, arm wrestling, and screwing around with vintage handheld video games. All the while, engaging in tediously forced dialogue.

The plot holes that became a staple of the franchise are also very evident here. What's always bothered me, is how Jason ended up discovering the "Alice" character from the previous movie. I don't understand, did he just look her up in the phone book, or what? Well, he must have, because she received a creepy phone call, just minutes before her life was ended with an ice-pick. But that would have meant that Jason called her from within her own house, right? Or, maybe she had another deranged stalker. You'd think she would have explored some witness protection options. I don't know why I'm trying to apply logic here.

Speaking of Jason, he was far from perfected at this point. Watching the character run is awkward. While watching him struggle to overtake the "Paul" character in a wrestling match is shameful. Aside from that, when Jason's on camera, he is no more intimidating than any other inebriated imbecile with a pair of overalls and a bag over his head.

In case you haven't already figured it out, I'm not a very big fan of this chapter. I suppose it's taken on some sort of cult following, but that doesn't mean it's good. If you're set on watching all of the "Friday's", I suppose this is a necessity. If you just want to see a good slasher film, might I suggest, "Twitch of the Death Nerve". The makers of this film sure must've enjoyed it.