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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Miner’

Friday the 13th Part III

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

“‘Oh shit’ is right! Let’s get out of here!”


FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III, a.k.a. FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D, picks up near the end of part II. It replays much of the climax, but at the part where he seems to be dead (before the whole thing where he comes back with no mask on) he sits back up and suddenly THE MOVIE BECOMES THREE-DIMENSIONAL! At least if you’re seeing it in 3D, which is how I fortunately got to see it on two occasions at all-night horror marathons in the ‘90s and early 2000s. (Man do I wish I had the equipment now that that version is available on blu-ray.)

In the tradition of the first two, the opening titles are what are known in the parlance of our times as “absolute bangers.” The logo looks really cool flat, and even better in the proper format, where it emerges from the screen at you. But the excellent graphic design almost doesn’t matter because the topper here is the synthy-disco-ish theme song, honestly one of the most badass horror themes of all time, at least if you like them danceable (which I absolutely do). It’s credited to “Hot Ice,” but it’s Harry Manfredini with Michael Zager, a producer who worked with The Spinners, among others.

Steve Miner returned as director, but with new screenwriters – the husband and wife team of Martin Kitrosser (writer/director of SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOYMAKER) & Carol Watson (MEATBALLS PART II), with an uncredited rewrite by Petru Popescu (Peter Weir’s THE LAST WAVE – no shit). And they got a new Jason (Richard Brooker, DEATHSTALKER) and new makeup crew headed by Doug White (THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, C.H.U.D. II, DESPERADO), who gave Jason a new look. It’s the next day and the hair’s completely gone, so I guess we gotta infer he stopped somewhere to shave himself bald. (read the rest of this shit…)

Friday the 13th Part II

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

“I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason.”


Sean Cunningham kinda messed up. He hadn’t been trying to become a horror guy, he was just trying to cash in on the popularity of HALLOWEEN real quick. But FRIDAY THE 13TH had been so successful for Paramount that they wanted a sequel immediately. By distributing the film, they’d invented the “negative pickup” – basically, they would let indie producers go through the trouble of making the damn thing, and the studio just had to market it, so they made lots of money. Though not everything had sequels in those days, this seemed like a good chance for one. But Cunningham wasn’t about to dedicate his life to this shit.

So they promoted from within. Steve Miner (previously credited as Stephen Miner) had worked as a p.a., assistant editor, second unit director and other roles on Cunningham productions including THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HERE COME THE TIGERS and MANNY’S ORPHANS, and he’d been associate producer of FRIDAY THE 13TH. Part I screenwriter Victor Miller didn’t return, so Ron Kurz, who’d done some uncredited rewrites on that one, took over. He’d also pseudonymously written two Ken Wiederhorn movies: the notorious fart comedy KING FRAT (1979) and the in-my-opinion-underrated slasher/suspense movie EYES OF A STRANGER (1981). Fortunately his work here is more like the latter.

Frank Mancuso Jr., the 23-year-old son of the president of Paramount, became the associate producer for Part II, by most accounts staying quiet but very handy. They found there were problems the kid could solve with a phone call.

I called FRIDAY THE 13TH “in many ways the Platonic ideal of a slasher movie,” but I think Plato would agree with me that FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II is actually better. It’s mostly the same formula, but the simple act of telling us it’s Jason allows for more significant onscreen struggles with the killer, whose identity doesn’t need to be hidden. I also think the very fact of being a sequel adds a little more fun, wrapping up the events of part 1 and coming up with a crazy way to continue the story despite the decapitation of the original antagonist. I kinda dig how in the first one everyone in the area was haunted by these past events going back to ’57, and now the events of part I have been added to the list. Also, we hear a new (true!) legend about Jason being alive that apparently the “old timers” believe, even though they didn’t think to mention it last time. Or maybe it just started to proliferate in the 5 years between these two movies that were released less than a year apart. (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

Friday, October 30th, 2015

tn_H20Earlier this month when I reviewed HALLOWEEN II I wrote that it was “easily one of the best or the best HALLOWEEN sequel they made.” I was being a little cagey, saving it for today to reveal my opinion that the actual best sequel is 1998’s HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER. First I watched it again and verified that the verdict still stands now that we’re only a couple years away from being able to make HALLOWEEN H20-20: HALLOWEEN H20 TWENTY YEARS LATER. Also this time I learned that it plays even better when watched immediately after II.

It seems designed for that, because it begins with “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes, the same thing that played as Laurie rode off in the ambulance at the end of II. Unlike the other sequels it leaves Loomis dead after blowing himself up with Michael (Donald Pleasance had passed away by this point anyway). But Laurie isn’t the only major character to survive II: there was also Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), Loomis’s nurse colleague. That’s who Michael comes after first.

Marion’s still working as a nurse, and still chain smoking. She comes home to her house in a different Illinois suburb besides Haddonfield and finds it broken into. The police take their sweet time coming, but two neighbor boys (one played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, SHADOWBOXER, KILLSHOT, LINCOLN) keep her company while she waits. I like that because in HALLOWEEN Laurie tried to run to a neighbor’s house for help and they turned off the lights and wouldn’t answer the door. Marion does have helpful neighbors, but things don’t turn out any better.

Of course this is the opening kill scene, but it’s also a strategic move by Michael, who ransacks Marion’s office, searches her files and leaves an empty one labeled “Laurie Strode,” signaling that he’s figured out the whereabouts of his sister (a triumphantly returning Jamie Lee Curtis), last survivor of the Halloween Murders. She’s in California, working as headmistress at a boarding school attended by her 17 year old son John (introducing Josh Hartnett) under the assumed name Kari Tate. (read the rest of this shit…)

Warlock

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

tn_warlockWARLOCK is a fun, simple movie about a warlock (Julian Sands) who, as he’s about to be inquisitioned to death in 1691, does a magic spell that transports him to 20th century Los Angeles. A storm accurately referred to as “The Devil’s Wind” literally blows him through the window into the home of Kassandra (Lori Singer) and her roommate. Naturally they figure he’s a drunk and let him spend the night. Talk about a racial double standard! If it was a black guy who flew through their window they’d be going for guns. And that wouldn’t have helped here but it would’ve been the right idea at least. Next thing you know the warlock is cutting out the roommate’s tongue and devouring his life essence.

Suddenly a dude wearing furs (Richard E. Grant) is in the house too. Kassandra screams, tries to get away, he punches her, she punches back. He’s talking nonsense, wants to know if the warlock bled in the house. She cuts open her vacuum bag to give him the glass shards for the window, then tries to get away. (read the rest of this shit…)

House

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

tn_houseThat’s a good feeling when you watch a movie that you don’t remember being all that special back in the ’80s but now it seems like a gem. Last Halloween that happened to me with FROM BEYOND, this year it was HOUSE (1986).

All I remembered was haunted house, George Wendt (and/or John Ratzenberger), something about Vietnam. Maybe kinda funny. All those things are true except for Ratzenberger, who is in part 2. But the star is 10-years-after-CARRIE William Katt as Cobb, a Stephen-King-level-popularity novelist who’s going through some troubles. First we think it’s just that his old Auntie who raised him (Susan French, JAWS 2) hung herself. Then we find out he’s still hurt by his divorce from a soap star (Kay Lenz, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN). And writing his memoir is dredging up painful memories of Vietnam (“The war?” a fan asks). And he still hasn’t given up on finding his missing son.

Jesus, that’s alot of problems. (read the rest of this shit…)

Soul Man

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

tn_soulmanWell, I guess as long as we’re talking about race…

From the director of my two favorite FRIDAY THE 13THs (parts 2-3) and the star of THE HITCHER comes this comedy about Mark Watson, a white dude pretending to be black to get a scholarship to Harvard Business School.

Watching THE HITCHER reminded me about seeing this movie in the ’80s, and I thought holy shit, did they really make that movie? I didn’t imagine it? They really pretended anybody would believe C. Thomas Howell as a brother? And no, the idea is not that the whitebread kids at Harvard have never seen a black person up close so they can’t tell the difference. No, he also fools Rae Dawn Chong (put upon love interest) and James Earl Jones (no nonsense criminal law professor).

I mean seriously.  Look at that picture. Squint. Take your glasses off. Stand across the room. Is there any way that would fool you? Would you even notice he was supposed to be black? I don’t get it, man. If anything he looks like an Indian guy with a perm. I mean, he could pass for not white, but I don’t think he could passing for black. He couldn’t pass for passing black, in other words. You really gotta suspend the ol’ disbelief on this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Friday the 13th Saga

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

SYNOPSIS: Upon the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake – a summer camp with a past so troubled it’s better known as Camp Blood – the new camp counselors (Kevin Bacon, et al) are murdered in increasingly gruesome ways. The killer turns out to be Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), a sweater-wearing fruitcake still upset because her son Jason drowned there years ago and then she had to murder people and then they closed the camp but now it re-opened so she got confused and thought the new counselors were the old counselors so she killed them. So one of the counselors chops her head off. But then a new set of counselors come and it turns out that Jason is actually alive and grown up and he lives in a weird shack in the woods with a shrine to his mother and he’s pissed off because her head got chopped off so he kills people for revenge. So an aspiring child psychologist puts on the dead mother’s sweater and pretends to be her to trick him and then she stabs him, etc. Then all the sudden it’s in 3-D and Jason gets back up and kills some more people. Some more people show up and some bikers and Jason puts on a hockey mask and then they hang him. But then little Corey Feldman is there and some other people and there’s deaths so Corey gives himself a terrible hair cut and tries to freak out Jason and stabs him in the head with a machete and then Jason trips and impales his own head and dies. Then it skips ahead 15 years, Corey Feldman (played by some other dude) is grown up and living in a halfway house with some other maniacs and he’s haunted by Jason, who is alive again. But then it turns out it’s just some asshole pretending to be Jason, so they kill him. But just to be sure, Corey Feldman (now played by yet another guy) digs up Jason’s corpse and he’s gonna burn it but it’s struck by lightning so it comes back to life and kills some more people so they chain that fucker up and throw him back into the lake where he belongs. But then a psychic accidentally uses her powers to bring him back to life and then fight him and then throw him back into the lake where an electrical accident brings him back to life again and he gets on a teen cruise ship where he bores everybody for 90 minutes before going to New York, fighting some silly punk rockers and turning into a little boy. But then he’s an adult in the woods again and gets killed by a SWAT team so a guy eats his heart and then he goes from body to body killing people and a bounty hunter you’ve never heard of before suddenly knows all this magical shit for killing Jason so he turns back into Jason and then some big goofy rubber hands pull him into Hell where he fights Freddy. Then it skips forward hundreds of years (Kubrick style) and Jason is unfrozen in space where he kills people and turns into a cyborg, etc. The end. OR IS IT? (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern sees the DAY OF THE DEAD remake. But he’s not a role model. Don’t make the same mistake he did.

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Vern here…

Man, I try to be a nice guy. I try to be an optimist. I was ready to burn the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake at the stake, but then I saw it and it wasn’t too bad. It’s a hollow action movie version of the original, but it’s a fun one, and it’s pretty well executed. I’m not too much of a hardliner to admit that.

So if they already remade that and did okay I wasn’t gonna be too up in arms about a DAY OF THE DEAD remake. And I was rooting for Steve Miner too. He’s the director and I’ve seen people talk shit about him here, but I have a soft spot for him. He directed my two favorite FRIDAY THE 13THs (parts 2 and 3) which are fun and have a good energy to them. And he still had some of that spark when he did HALLOWEEN H20: H20 STANDS FOR HALLOWEEN TWENTY YEARS LATER. Nobody seems to like that movie, and to be honest the Michael Meyers mask looks terrible, but I think it’s a pretty good movie. The ROCKY BALBOA of the HALLOWEEN series. And it has that great chase at the end, you gotta at least enjoy that. Ignore that bullshit in the next one about how Michael Meyers switched clothes with a paramedic. That’s for conspiracy theorists. Anyway because of those three movies I figured if they had to do a fast running DAY OF THE DEAD then maybe Steve Miner wasn’t a bad choice to do it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween

Friday, October 29th, 1999

Okay guys I know its not monday yet but i have a new column for you – a special halloween treat for all you motherfuckers that like all the spooky shit.

what i decided to do is rent every movie i could find with the word halloween in it. This is what i got:

Halloween
Halloween 2
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers
Halloween 5
H20 Halloween

Now, as my regular readers know old vern has been out of the picture for a while. This is my first halloween in many years so it is a special treat. i cannot remember the last time i watched a scary movie for halloween, let alone 6 in a row. I think i have seen the first halloween movie before but this is the first time i have been able to watch the whole trilogy. (read the rest of this shit…)