Month: October 2013

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Now, here is a great premise for a horror movie. The idea here is that a documentary crew gets to follow the life of a slasher villain for a few days while he goes about setting the stage for his next killing spree. In this world, the likes of Michael, Jason, and Freddy are real, and being a slasher villain is a real profession. We are taken behind the scenes of a life of one such killer. Hence the “behind the mask” from the title. Leslie Vernon is played by Nathan Baesel, who makes for a likable protagonist/antagonist. Much of the film’s first hour is spent watching Leslie deconstruct the slasher genre. A journalist, Taylor (Angela Goethals), and her two cameramen, get to film him and interview him. We learn how much work a slasher villain has to do in order for everything to go as planned, why certain clichés exist, why slasher villains exist in the first place, and all of the little tricks of the trade, so to speak. This is all really funny, and if you ever wanted to see a deconstructionist approach to slasher movies — this goes farther than Scream — this is one made just for you. With about 30 minutes left, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon switches styles completely. The first hour is filmed exactly like a documentary. The...

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Shrek the Musical

            Recently released to Blu-Ray and DVD is the Broadway musical version of the classic story of our favorite ogre, Shrek.  Shrek the Musical is an adaptation of the beloved  movie Shrek.  All of the memorable characters are here in this musical version which tells the story of the ogre Shrek and how he learns about love and friendship.   As a young ogre Shrek is sent out into the world by his parents where he learns at an early age that things are different for an ogre.  He is treated much differently than the human children.  As Shrek grows up he learns to live on his own and avoid people, because usually they are carrying torches and pitchforks and wanting to kill him.  When every fairy tale creature in the land is displaced to his swamp, he makes a deal with the local Lord wannabe King to rescue Princess Fiona from the dragon guarded castle in exchange for the deed to his swamp.  Along with his sidekick Donkey, they embark on the task of rescuing the princess and at the same time Shrek learns a valuable lesson about acceptance.  The storyline is similar to the movie, except there are musical numbers added to enhance the story.  Being a Broadway musical, Shrek the Musical is a full blown production that has all the bells and whistles including creative sets, fantastic...

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Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

If you were one of the people who watched the entirety of Jason Goes to Hell, you’ll remember the fantastic final shot, which saw a hand with a claw glove grab Jason Voorhees’ mask into the depth of hell. Horror fans knew that the hand belonged to Freddy Krueger, antagonist of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Jason, the killer in Friday the 13th and all of its sequels, might have gone to Hell, but he was going to be met there by Freddy. A crossover was going to happen, and we were going to get a special movie. That was back in 1993. It took a whole decade for that crossover film to happen, during which time each character only appeared in one other film. People had forgotten about Freddy, and Jason’s film a year earlier didn’t do so well at the box office. However, these two character had once been so profitable that they had yearly releases. It was time to bring them together, finally, so that’s what New Line Cinema has finally done with Freddy vs. Jason, a film which promises to have the monsters clash and fight to the death. Freddy vs. Jason revolves around Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) deciding that he needs to come back, but can only do so when the people of the town of Springwood remember and fear him. In order...

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

After the financial success of both the Halloween and Friday the 13th remakes, it only made sense for the third big ’80s slasher series to be resurrected. It also makes sense for it to be given the remake treatment last, as A Nightmare on Elm Street was the last one out of the gate even back when it was first released. The slasher genre is cyclical, it seems. Maybe we’ll go through this all again in 25 years. However, before remaking something, one has to question whether or not the property in question is worth doing another time. In the case of A Nightmare on Elm Street, there was no reason for a remake. The story hasn’t been taken in a different direction, there isn’t a different idea or point being presented, and the original film still stands up as one of the horror classics. It’s smart and scary, which is what made it the more “highbrow” slasher film of the ’80s. I get why someone might want to remake Friday the 13th, as it didn’t withstand the test of time — and was arguably never a good film — but with A Nightmare on Elm Street? This remake isn’t justified. Do you even need to know the plot? The film is the eighth standalone film featuring Freddy Krueger (here played by Jackie Earle Haley, taking over for Robert...

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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

So the story goes, Wes Craven originally wanted to make a metafilm similar to what New Nightmare wound up being around the time he was co-writing the third installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. At the time, New Line Cinema told him “no.” Now, three years after Freddy Kruger had been laid to rest “for good” in Freddy’s Dead, he’s back in a movie written and directed by the man who started the franchise a whole decade earlier. If there’s anyone who should get the opportunity to revive the serial killer, it’s Wes Craven. And when I say “metafilm,” I mean it. This film takes place in the “real world,” and stars Heather Langenkamp as herself. she played the role of Nancy in the first and third Nightmare on Elm Street, who remains the most memorable protagonist, even after six films. In the film, Heather is married and has a kid, although the husband dies so early on that he’s almost not worth mentioning. The child, Dylan (Miko Hughes), plays an important role, however. He starts seeing Freddy Krueger (who is billed as playing himself in the credits), and repeating lines we’ve heard from earlier films in the series. Something is wrong. Meanwhile, Heather is being approached by New Line Cinema representatives, and Wes Craven in particular, about starring in another Nightmare on Elm Street movie. The...

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