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Posts Tagged ‘Wes Craven’

Vampire in Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

I don’t know why there was a Wes Craven movie that I didn’t bother to see in the theater and then didn’t bother to see on home video for over 20 years. Granted, everyone said it was terrible, and it seemed to be an Eddie Murphy comedy vehicle, not a real horror movie, and he started wearing fat suits and shit right around that time.

But these days you can’t take fresh Wes Craven movies for granted, so I decided the moment had come to watch VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. The verdict: it’s not an unheralded gem. But it’s also not what I had pictured. It’s a mildly interesting failure.

Murphy (DOLEMITE IS MY NAME) plays Maximillian, the only survivor of a tribe of Egyptian vampire who “traveled south through Africa and over the Atlantic to a beautiful island hidden deep in the Bermuda Triangle,” where they lived for centuries before the vampire hunters found them. There’s a certain parallel to COMING TO AMERICA, because he’s this confident, exotic visitor from another culture, looking for a woman. In this case it’s a specific woman, Rita (Angela Bassett, PANTHER, BLACK PANTHER), a rookie NYPD detective who doesn’t know there are vampires, or that her dad was one, or that she’s the last descendent and only hope to revive the race. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

I Am Nancy

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

These days most horror fans have heard of the concept of the Final Girl, whether or not they know where it comes from. But they at least know it’s the heroine of a horror movie, the one that’s left standing at the end, like Laurie in HALLOWEEN or Sally in TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or… the ones in the FRIDAY THE 13ths.

There are few as iconic, and almost none as pro-active, as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET‘s Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp. She’s the all-American girl next door (or across the street in Johnny Depp’s case), she gets terrorized by a supernatural dream killer, the adults don’t believe her, not even her overprotective cop father (John Saxon, ENTER THE DRAGON, THE GLOVE). But this is not a heroine who only manages to scrape it out and survive. Nancy gets shit done. She goes to the library and researches, figures out who Freddy is, uncovers his connection to her and her friends’ parents, teaches herself to build booby traps and comes up with a clever plan to go into the dreamworld and pull him out and try to kill him. And then she figures out the next step after that. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The People Under the Stairs

Monday, October 17th, 2016

tn_puts“Your father is one sick mother, you know that? Actually, your mother’s one sick mother too.”

I like THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS because it’s Wes Craven’s feverish impressionist portrait of American economic inequality circa 1991. It lacks the precise metaphoric aim and pulp effectiveness of THEY LIVE, but it’s Craven’s version of that same type of genre-film-as-angry-shout-at-The-Man.

In fact, one of the villains is even credited as “The Man” (Everett McGill, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY). He and “The Woman” (Wendy Robie, THE GLIMMER MAN) own a big old house inherited from their family, living off of the rent from the “half of the ghetto” that they own. One of their tenants is our 13 year old protagonist Poindexter Williams (Brandon Adams, GHOST IN THE MACHINE – and this kid looks really familiar for some reason), who goes by the nickname Fool after the Tarot card of some joker trapped between a fire and a cliff. That’s where he is now, because at his back is having to pay triple rent or get kicked out of the apartment so the Man and Woman can razed it and build condos, at his front is his sister’s friend Spencer (Ving Rhames, FORCE OF EXECUTION) trying to pressure him into breaking into the slum lords’ house to steal gold coins they can use to pay the rent and for mom’s cancer treatment. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Scream 2

Monday, October 5th, 2015

tn_scream2SCREAM 2 is a slasher sequel that had a rare level of difficulty. The fringe nature of the subgenre normally allows part 2s some leeway as exploitational cash grabs, making room for everything from an okay continuation (HALLOWEEN II) to an experimental misstep (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE) to a perfection of the formula (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) to a re-inventing masterpiece-in-its-own-right (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2). But SCREAM was such a mainstream smash hit, and it created such a new interest in horror among non-horror people, that it had different expectations to live up to.

Also, its horror-movie-where-the-characters-know-about-horror-movies gimmick positioned it as sort of above horror movies, so they couldn’t get away with a normal sequel, they had to also say something about sequels. At the same time it couldn’t really follow the template of the sequels it was supposed to be commenting on because it’s a series where the bad guys die and the good guys come back in sequels, so it’s a totally different type of story from most popular slashers.

As if all that wasn’t a tall enough hurdle to jump over, this was maybe the first movie production to get screwed by internet spoilers. A first draft of the script got leaked online, so they changed the twist ending during filming. (I bet Elise Neal was bummed she didn’t get to do her killer reveal speech.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Wes Craven

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

tn_cravenDamn, I never see these things coming. I sat down tonight to work on some writing and stumbled across the news that a favorite director has passed away today.

Before he directed the dirty, disgusting LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, Wes Craven was a college professor, and I’ve alway thought that made sense. To listen to him in interviews and commentaries he always seemed like the most thoughtful and literary-minded of the horror directors. He was interested in primal fears and ancient myths and where those intersect with modern lives. By directing SCREAM (from the screenplay by Kevin Williamson) he accidentally kicked off the meta era of horror, but I always felt he’d gotten there earlier in his own WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE, where he made the played-out no-longer-scary-ness of his own creation, Freddy Krueger, part of the mythology. In that one the ELM STREET movies were just that – movies – but they were also an important tool of humanity because they could keep at bay the primordial force that inspired the character. The real Freddy.

Think about this. In 1972 Craven directed LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, which helped kick off the slasher cycle of horror. In 1984 he directed A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, which started the supernatural slasher movies, and the ’80s era of slasher movie icons. Basically, Freddy became the Hulk Hogan of horror. (Even down to the racism, ’cause he said something pretty foul in FREDDY VS. JASON.) And think of what the Elm Street series meant for special effects makeup, with all those gooey, one-upping dream sequences they came up with each time. That’s why I was always a Freddy guy. I was into all that latex and crazy transformations and shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Shocker

Monday, October 28th, 2013

tn_shockerAfter the massive success of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in 1984, you’d think Wes Craven would’ve been sitting comfortably atop the horror director pyramid. Yet his directational followups were just the ’85 TV movie CHILLER, the ’86 silly robot movie DEADLY FRIEND, and a couple episodes of the new Twilight Zone. It wasn’t until ’88 that he did something he seemed passionate about, the pretty respected voodoo thriller THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. By ’89, only five years after the birth of Freddy, he was already at that sad “time to come up with the next Freddy” stage you’d expect him to go through eventually. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Scream 4

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

tn_scream4The SCREAM movies had their day in the sun. They arrived at the end of 1996, during what seemed like a horror drought. “Horror” was so out of sorts that the characters just call it “scary movies.” The actors, while promoting it on talk shows, called it a “thriller.”

We all remember that, but I thought it would be interesting to look up the specifics. According to my research there were only six other scary movie thrillers released theatrically that year: CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH, THE DENTIST, THE FRIGHTENERS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE* and THINNER. DTV releases included TREMORS 2: AFTERSHOCKS, CARNOSAUR 3: PRIMAL SPECIES and CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: THE GATHERING.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

My Soul To Take

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

tn_mysoultotakeI don’t know if “good” is an adjective I would apply to Wes Craven’s little-seen latest horror movie (his first writing/directing joint since NEW NIGHTMARE). Other than the synonyms for “strange” there aren’t many adjectives that really do the job here. So it’s hard to explain what this movie is like, exactly, but I’ll try.

MY SOUL TO TAKE looks like a pretty typical glossy teen horror movie, with characters that could be in FREDDY VS. JASON or a FINAL DESTINATION, plus your standard Marco Beltrami score infused with an occasional rock song. Although it’s not a remake, a sequel, a prequel or a prequmake it does fit your modern mainstream horror mold by being released in last-minute-post-production-3D (LMPP3).

Yeah, it looks normal from a distance, but when you get up close it’s clear that something’s off here. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (remake)

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

tn_elmstreetremakeLook man, I’m not completely racist against remakes. I hate the blatant wholesale creative bankruptcy of modern Hollywood as much as the next guy. But I gotta admit there are some remakes that are upstanding movies in their own right, that have richly contributed to our culture and society as a whole. Or that at least don’t suck. Two of the better modern horror remakes in my opinion are from Wes Craven movies: THE HILLS HAVE EYES and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Both have their problems, but they’re a good balance of disturbing and entertaining, they have some respect for the original themes and ideas of the movies but also put some new spins on them. Both were produced by Craven himself, by directors he handpicked. (well, I don’t know if he used his hands specifically, he probly just had seen their work and called em up.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

tn_newnightmareI’m not sure why I’m okay with the title WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE. It’s one of those dated titles, because it’s not new anymore. And is the actual title supposed to be “New Nightmare” and it’s presented by Wes Craven? Because I always think of Wes Craven as being part of the actual title, that it’s about his nightmare. I don’t know. Anyway, it fits.

WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE by Wes Craven is easily the smartest Freddy sequel and the one that most sounds like it could never work. I guess maybe some people might consider the premise ridiculous, but I always just went with it, it works like a charm on me (a very effective charm – I don’t actually know how charms usually work but this one works real good is what I mean). It’s the story of original NIGHMARE ON ELM STREET star Heather Langenkamp (uncannily portrayed by Heather Langenkamp) trying to stay sane in the face of some harassing phone calls, a series of earthquakes, some strange dreams and increasingly creepy happenings with her son. She and others keep having strange dreams – Freddy dreams. Meanwhile, Robert Shaye (Robert Shaye) and Wes Craven (Wes Craven) want her and Robert Englund (V’s Robert Englund) to return for a new Freddy sequel that Craven is writing. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.