Monday, 30 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 9)

3 points
2 points
1 point


In direct comparison, Jason Goes to Hell finds itself up against two reboots in round 9. Adam Marcus' spin on The Hidden body-swapping idea cut down on Jason's actual on screen time, upped the gore quota (in the unrated version) and ended with Freddy's glove making a (premature) appearance.

Rob Zombie divided Halloween fans with his unique take demystifying the Shape's origins before briskly and violently re-staging most of the original. I can see why some hated it, but personally I thought it was a genuinely personal and fascinating vision and it gets the 3 points from me (controversial I know!).

Speaking of controversial, I am actually the only person in the Western Hemisphere who didn't hate the Elm Street remake either (*ducks and runs for cover*). Of course Jackie Earle Haley had an impossible task in trying to fill Robert Englund's shoes/hat/glove/sweater etc, but give the guy some slack people! I thought his portrayal was dark and mean - something that Englund's Freddy was too, once upon a time...
 
Running scores after 9 rounds:  
Nightmare on Elm Street 20
Friday the 13th 17
Halloween 17

Sunday, 29 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 8)

3 points
2 points
1 point

I'm heading into seriously choppy waters with this round (and I'm not just talking about the questionable geography which allows Jason to sail directly from Crystal Lake to Manhattan by boat). Technically, Freddy's next cinematic outing occurs in Freddy vs. Jason, so whilst it's not exclusively an Elm Street entry, Freddy is partially riding on Jason's coattails (and collecting the 3 points this round) with the flawed but very entertaining battle of the horror icons. 

Raw deal for Kane Hodder, overlooked to play Jason for FvJ after slumming it in arguably 3 of the weakest F13 entries, of which, Jason Takes Manhattan ( but mostly Vancouver) is frankly lucky to even get 1 point.

Halloween: Resurrection isn't regarded highly amongst the fans of Mr. Myers, but I actually think the set-up kinda works, like a filmic version of a haunted walk-through. (I will concede that the death of Curtis' Laurie Strode is infuriatingly weak and unworthy of her character) - but Jason Takes Manhattan really is that shit.

Running scores after 8 rounds:  
Friday the 13th 16
Nightmare on Elm Street 18
Halloween 14

Saturday, 28 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 7)

 
Wes Craven delivered a new meta-nightmare with Heather Leathankamp, Robert Englund, JohnSaxton and Bob Shaye playing themselves (at least to begin with) whilst a real demon tries on the glove for size. 

Jamie Lee Curtis is finally tempted back to play Laurie 20 years after the events of Halloween II, (and wisely ignoring parts 4,5 and 6). 

Whilst Kane Hodder makes his debut as Jason Voorhees (with a spectacular look - arguably the best design of the entire series). Unfortunately his showdown with 'Carrie'  isn't enough to paper over the heavily butchered kills and the film really suffers as a result. 

Running scores after 7 rounds:  
Friday the 13th 15
Nightmare on Elm Street 15
Halloween 12

Friday, 27 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 6)


3 points
2 points
1 point


Brought back to life via lightning and the lacklustre box-office for Jason-less Part V, Tom Mcloughlin's comedic take resonated with the fans, and Alice Cooper chipped in with a memorable little ditty entitled: 'He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask).  

Freddy got to ride a broomstick and wack Johnny Depp in the face with a frying pan in Rachel Talalay's entertainingly barmy 'Final Nightmare' (yeah right), even chucking in a 3-D finale to boot!

Meanwhile, poor old Mikey ends up the subject of some garbled hocus pocus known as 'The Curse of Thorn' which thankfully would be hastily forgotten in all future instalments.

Running scores after 6 rounds:  
Friday the 13th 14
Nightmare on Elm Street 12
Halloween 10 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 5)

3 points
2 points
1 point




















A candy bar acts as the deus ex machina for instigating an impressive body count at the hands of fake-Jason 'Roy' in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. The fanbase wasn't sufficiently impressed enough to turn it into box-office gold, thereby persuading Paramount to resurrect old maggot face himself for Part VI. 

Back in Haddonfield Michael is given yet another godawful mask (if I were William Shatner I'd have been seriously insulted by now). At least Mikey gets to wield a pitchfork and briefly play the grim reaper with a scythe in a barn before finding himself behind bars (briefly...)

An ill-conceived (in every sense of the word) fifth instalment for Elm Street's dream demon delivers a mutant baby Freddy in the weakest entry in the franchise.

Running scores after 5 rounds:  
Friday the 13th 11
Nightmare on Elm Street 10
Halloween 9 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 4)

3 points
2 points
1 point


After the Michael Myers-less Halloween III, the blinded in both eyes and burnt to a cinder Shape returns in a awful flattened approximation of the original mask to terrorise young Danielle Harris, whilst Donald Pleasence (also demonstrating remarkable resistance to fire) continues to pursue his nemesis all over Haddonfield. 

Freddy's skeletal remains reassemble themselves after a shot of blazing dog piss in Rennie Harlin's visually impressive Elm Street entry.  

Meanwhile, over at Crystal Lake, a nightmare confrontation between Jason Voorhees and a shaven-headed future member of the Goonies results in a fatal (for now) machete head slicing for Ted White's hockey-masked slaughterer. 

Running scores after 4 rounds:  
Nightmare on Elm Street 9
Friday the 13th 8 
Halloween 7 



Monday, 23 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 3)

3 points
2 points
1 point

This round's a tough one! Each franchise's third instalment deserves three points. Friday the 13th part 3 in 3D delivered eye-opening and eye-popping third dimensional treats which I couldn't get enough of (despite the somewhat flimsy script and cardboard characters) when it opened. Still my favourite 3D film.

Then the truly left field third Halloween offering sans-Myers, with it's marvellously ludicrous evil toymaker and the most annoyingly catchy jingle ever committed to celluloid. 

And finally, Freddy's three-ring circus of (truly special) effects set-pieces and Zsa Zsa Gabor! 

For sheer unadulterated pleasure it would have to be Friday the 13th in 3D, but for uniqueness and bold audacity I'm going to (reluctantly) place it third behind 'the bastard son of a hundred maniacs' and Conal Cochran, which still retain their respective qualities when viewed in 2D...

Running scores after 3 rounds:  
Nightmare on Elm Street 7
Halloween 6
Friday the 13th

Sunday, 22 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 2)

Round 2  
3 points
1 point
2 points

In a swift reversal of fortune, Steve Miner's first sequel wins the 3 points for the Friday the 13th franchise with the arrival of fully grown Jason (not drowned after all!) looking resplendently creepy peering out of his burlap sack mask with his one good eye. Plenty of 'jump scares' which land their punches more often than not, Amy Steel's 'final girl' and that scene at the end in Jason's shack: "Jason, mother is talking to you..." 

Jack (I didn't realise I was directing the gayest horror film ever) Sholder's Elm Street sequel is a beautifully flawed guilty pleasure with Mark Patton (previously interviewed in this blog) and Kim Myers delivering two of the most endearing performances in the genre as Jessie and Lisa.

Slipping down to only 1 point this round, we have the rest of the night He came home and spent most of it in a under lit understaffed hospital trying to kill his sister (the one wearing the dodgy wig). Halloween II suffers from having to follow in its original's vastly superior footsteps, and disappoints all round (even with Carpenter's insisted gore inserts).

Running scores after 2 rounds: each franchise is neck and neck (and neck) on 4 points.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

FRIDAY THE 13TH VS. HALLOWEEN VS. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: A TRIPLE FRANCHISE COMPARISION (ROUND 1)

With Halloween approaching I thought I'd attempt to directly compare each installment in the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween franchises (as far as possible that is). Quite simply, each part is scored either 1,2 or 3 points, with 3 awarded for the best, 2 for the second best..you get the point? (so to speak). 

So, just for fun, and with deep (heavy menacing) breaths, here we go with each respective franchise's original feature...

Round 1

3 points


2 points
1 point
"Halloween is the perfect machine movie. Its only message is 'boo!'...Then came Friday the 13th (1980), and psycho movies started to go nastily wrong." (Kim Newman, 'Nightmare Movies').

Tough opening call this. Halloween terrified me when I first watched it alone on late night TV as a young teen. Friday the 13th left me gobsmacked when I first saw it at ABC Edgware Road cinema in the early 80's (again as a young teen) double-billed with Part 2. And I still remember the tangible frisson of unease throughout the cinema when Nancy pulled Freddy's fedora out of the nightmare back in 1984...But John Carpenter's suspenseful seminal slasher which gave us the actual boogeyman in Michael Myers narrowly edges out Wes Craven's surrealist, scarred dream stalker Freddy Krueger to take the opening round's 3 points. No disrespect to Betsy Palmer's iconic 'Mrs Voorhees' however, I love Sean Cunnigham's grindhouse summer camp blood bath too. In fact, whilst it's unarguably the less well made of the trio, it's the one I'm most inclined to revisit. (Perhaps this comparison lark wasn't such a good one after all...?) 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

GOD OF WAR (2017)



Directed by: Gordon Chan, Starring: Vincent Zhao, Sammo Hung, Yasuaki Kurata. Action/History, 2017, 128mins, Cert 15.

Released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital in the UK by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment on 16th October 2017.

In 16th century China, ruthless Japanese pirates (samurai and rogue r┼Źnin in an uneasy alliance) invade the east coast, looting, pillaging and generally being far naughtier than Captain Jack Sparrow ever was. Having built themselves a seemingly impenetrable fortress (think Irontown from Studio Ghibli’s PRINCESS MONONOKE), stubborn old Chinese General Yu (Sammo Hung) still persists in marching his troops up the muddied slopes only to be repeatedly repelled by their better-armed Japanese pirate foe. The powers that be are understandably none too impressed with General Yu’s ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ approach and replace him with the younger, smarter strategist and niftier all-round solider General Qi (Vincent Zhao). 

Whilst it’s undeniably impressively mounted, the rather simplistic narrative spends far too much time examining the minutiae of Chinese political shenanigans and military strategy, and even (criminally) cuts one major battle scene off in its prime.  

Vincent Zhao’s fresh-faced General Qi livens proceedings up with his Rambo-like solution for penetrating the pirate’s fortified encampment and he’s also pretty nifty with those long bendy poles. Lady QI (Regina Wan), is supportive and loving one moment, but unreasonably stroppy when Qi is late home and the food’s gone cold. Yet she proves to be an accomplished and ruthless warrior herself when called upon to defend her kingdom (which isn’t even hinted at previously).

There are several incidental pleasures such as the sight of General Qi’s Ming army skimming across mudflats on wooden scooters which resemble large Dutch clogs, or the rogue Japanese pirates signalling their murderous intent by fanning themselves with light reflecting fans.
The final pirate ship showdown between the younger General Qi and Yasuaki Kurata’s elder pirate Commander Kumasawa is a splendid bloody and fiery climax (albeit one which really didn’t need the entire preceding 2 hours build-up).

Its lavish production design, sets and costumes are consistently eye-catching, and the battle scenes are visceral and not obviously CG enhanced. And whilst it didn’t quite blow me away like one of General Qi’s deadly three-eyed hand canyons, I’d take this grand scale 16th century pirate enactment over those Disney Caribbean ones any day.    
 ***(out of 5*)

Paul Worts



This review was originally published on the FRIGHTFEST website.