BARE BONES: DON’T LOOK (2018)

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DON’T LOOK (2018)

Routine backwoods horror has five friends, Lorena (Luciana Faulhaber), Ted (Jeff Berg), Sebastian (Javier E. Gómez), Nicole (Lindsay Eshelman) and Alex (Curtis K Case) traveling to a remote house in the country for a holiday getaway. There are some twisted redneck neighbors (Jarrod Robbins and Hailey Heisick) they cross paths with and a masked psycho soon starts stalking and killing them one by one. You’d think, at this point, city folk would stop vacationing in rural farmhouses or cabins in the woods, but…nope.

Low budget horror is produced, directed and co-written, with Jessica Boucher and Danielle Killay, by star Luciana Faulhaber (The Night Crew). Story-wise there is definitely nothing new here, though following a classic horror storyline did seem more like the point. Film is low budget and has a bit of an amateur production feel, though Faulhaber does direct well enough and makes good use of the rural Plowville, Pennsylvania locations. The cast are fine, performances vary with Faulhaber giving her fiery Lorena some sex appeal and strength, though oddly Lorena takes a backseat to another character in the last few scenes. Robbins and Heisick are also amusing as the twisted rednecks who live on the property and the flick does take a while to let us know if they are the killers, or a red herring (redneck herring?). There is a last act twist that isn’t totally unexpected, but fits in with the familiar tropes this film embraces. Not a lot of suspense, but there is some intensity in the last act. There are some decent kills with a sufficient amount of gore and the flick doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a scant 71 minutes long. Overall, it’s an amusing enough watch for the spooky season on Amazon Prime and if Luciana Faulhaber continues to hone her craft she might turn into a director to keep an eye on.

Personal Note: I always support independent horror filmmaking and love the fact that Faulhaber didn’t sit around waiting for a movie role, she made her own movie! You can get your movies made, filmmakers!-MZNJ

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TRICK (2019)

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TRICK (2019)

In 2015 at a Halloween party in the town of Benton, N.Y., Patrick Weaver (Thom Niemann) or “Trick” goes crazy, killing five of his high school classmates and injuring several others, until stopped by pretty schoolmate Cheryl (Kristina Reyes). At the hospital, Trick makes a daring escape attempt while being questioned by Det. Mike Denver (Omar Epps) and Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair). He’s shot several times, falls out a second story window and wanders off collapsing into a nearby river. He’s presumed dead, but the body is never found and each Halloween after, a masked killer shows up in a nearby town on the river and kills a number of people before vanishing. As Trick starts to become famous as an internet Halloween boogeyman, Denver vows to hunt him down and stop him. With evidence leading to Trick’s return to Benton for Halloween 2019, Denver, Sheriff Jayne and Cheryl prepare to meet the killer head on.

Trick is written by My Bloody Valentine 2009 and Drive Angry duo Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier and directed by Lussier. The two were once involved with an official Halloween sequel that never got made and maybe this is the result of that disappointment. And Trick is a bit of a disappointment, as it is kind of a mixed bag of Halloween candy. The script has a number of plot holes and while most horror flicks do, these are a bit jarring, such as why no one in school remembers what Patrick Weaver looked like. It’s a weak contrivance so no one recognizes him when he’s among them and to try to add an air of mystery to him. Lussier directs this flick very by-the-numbers, too and the first hour of the flick seems rushed and devoid of any atmosphere as the story tries to quickly establish Trick as the new boogeyman of All Hallow’s Eve. In fact, it tries way too hard and that forced approach doesn’t make Trick click. It follows the formula a bit too closely and thus seems more like a copy of Carpenter’s classic, early on, than a sincere effort. Things do settle down and Lussier does start to generate some tension and atmosphere once Halloween and Trick arrive in Benton, especially in a scene set in a haunted maze attraction. The last act goes a bit off the rails as the writers try to add a few twists during it’s hospital set conclusion and it takes the flick in a bit of a different direction, which may divide viewers as to whether it works or not. There is some really good gore along the way, though the film looses some points for some awful CGI blood for gunshot hits. The upstate New York settings were a refreshing change from the usual small Midwestern town and it’s too bad they couldn’t have infused the film with more of the Halloween spirit that the upstate New York area has this time of year. It’s a little flat in that department. Again, it tries too hard. Trick’s initial double-sided pumpkin mask and freaky knife are kinda cool, but the new Michael Myers, he sadly is not.

Cast is Good. Omar Epps actually does very well in the Dr. Loomis by way of Fox Mulder role. A veteran detective who is forced into retirement due to his obsession with Trick. Ellen Adair is Scully to Epps’ Mulder as the town sheriff that refuses, at first, to believe Trick is still alive and that this is anything more than a copycat killer. Kristina Reyes makes for a really solid heroine/final girl and it’s too bad it takes the film so long to focus on her. She’s strong, resilient and the actress has an endearing screen charm. Rounding out are supporting roles from Scream’s Jamie Kennedy as a doctor at the town hospital and the legendary Tom Atkins (Halloween III) as a diner owner.

Overall, Not sure what happened, as My Bloody Valentine 2009 is gory, intense and fun, while Drive Angry is simply an all-out hoot. This flick could have used more of those movies’ intensity and over-the-top fun. Trick is not the new Halloween classic one hoped for, though is not a completely smashed pumpkin. It’s attempts to create a new horror icon are rushed and forced, though once Halloween night hits, Trick is an effective killer and there is some really gruesome carnage. The film follows the formula possibly too closely to start, then veers off in a different direction in it’s climactic scenes that may, or may not, work depending on the viewer. There are some bigger than usual plot holes, though does have it’s moments. A bit of a disappointment from a duo who have made some bloody fun flicks, but certainly not the worst Halloween set horror out there. Might be the type of flick that grows on one with repeat viewings during the spooky season.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Trick masks.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE NIGHT CREW (2015)

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THE NIGHT CREW (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

While this flick is 95% action movie…and a bloody one at that…there is a bit of a horror film element that seems to exist to set up an even more interesting sequel/further adventure…and it kinda works.

The Night Crew has four hardened bounty hunters, Wade (Luke Blade 2 Goss), Ronnie (Paul Sloan), Crenshaw (Bokeem Woodbine) and Rose (Luciana Faulhaber) going deep inside Mexico to recover fugitive Mae (Chasty Girlhouse Ballesteros) and bring her back to the states for a big payoff. Unknown to them, Mae is also wanted by a powerful drug cartel and the four and their quarry find themselves surrounded by an army of vicious killers who want the girl back and them all dead. Adding to the already desperate situation, is that Mae is more than she appears…as is the drug lord (Danny Trejo) who hunts her.

Low budget action flick is actually a very satisfying bullet and blood-fest with an interesting supernatural twist thrown in by writer and star Paul Sloan and co-writer/director Christian Sesma. This ‘element’ not only adds something a little different to the story, but sets up an even more interesting direction if there is a sequel…and hopefully there is. The movie is competently directed by Sesma and while some of the elements are very traditional to testosterone fueled flicks like this, they are stylishly presented and Sesma does serve up a lot of intense and bloody action on his moderate budget. Add in some very pretty ladies in Faulhaber and Ballesteros and you have a fun and entertaining B-movie action flick with a touch of horror movie thrown in. The movie is not perfect. There are some plot holes and lapses in logic, but you watch a flick like this for the action and on a low budget level it delivers. The horror movie elements not only add something interesting to the characters involved, but Sesma and Sloan work it so it sets up a potentially more interesting and entertaining direction as well, if we see more of some of these characters. It’s just enough of a twist to give the more traditional action elements an off-beat angle and an air of mystery and that helps give this enough of a boost to lift it out of the routine. Sometimes entertainment is all you are craving and this flick does serve some up without trying to be more than it is.

The cast all work well in the context of the material. The underrated Goss is solid, as usual, as is his hard-nosed team of Sloan, Woodbine and sexy Luciana Faulhaber. The beautiful and exotic looking Ballesteros gives Mae the mystery and sensuality the character needs and she can be a badass, too, when she needs to be. The villains are appropriately slimy and vicious and Danny Trejo is…well, Danny Trejo…as the cartel king with an even darker aspect to his personality. There is also an amusing cameo by Jason Mews as a security guard who gets caught in the middle of a bullet-riddled bloodbath.

Is The Night Crew a classic…no. Is it an entertaining B-Movie with an intriguing horror element thrown in?…for sure! I liked this flick. It gives us a lot of intense action and spattering blood on a small budget. We get some tough guy anti-heroes and vicious villains and a couple of gorgeous ladies who can kick-ass, too. It won’t win any awards, but it will entertain you on a B-movie level and director Christian Sesma knows his material and delivers it in a no-nonsense way, yet not without a bit of style. A solid B-movie action flick made for a night on the couch and a few of your favorite brews. Also stars Don Swayze and there might be an uncredited cameo by cult favorite director Robert Rodriguez, but the camera never focused on the familiar looking bartender to tell for sure!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: WER (2013)

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WER (2013)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Wer is a fascinating and sometimes gruesomely intense twist on the werewolf film from The Devil Inside’s William Brent Bell. The film takes place in France where a vacationing American family is savagely attacked by what appears to be a large animal. The sole survivor (Stephanie Lemelin), though, describes a very large hairy man as the culprit. Police quickly arrest local resident Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O’Connor) as the suspect. Gwynek suffers from Porphyria, a rare disease that can cause excessive body hair and other symptoms which are believed to have inspired the legends of werewolves and vampires. Enter human rights lawyer Katherine Moore (A.J.Cook) who plans to prove that Talan is just being used as a scapegoat. As her team (Vik Sahay and Simon Quaterman) investigates the case, they not only find a conspiracy to want to see Talan convicted, but a more shocking possibility there may be some truth to the ancient legends after all.

I really enjoyed this movie. Not only does director and co-writer…along with Matthew Peterman…William Brent Bell deliver a really fresh take on the traditional werewolf movie, but a suspenseful thriller and a gruesomely bloody horror film, too. The script is smart and keeps us guessing till the reveal about halfway through and then turns up the gruesome action once the film switches gears and becomes a more traditional monster movie…though one we aren’t really expecting. The use of the rare Porphyria as it’s focus and the implication that it has effects we are not aware of, is very cleverly handled and helps make this tale of lycanthropy more unique. There are also some really intense action sequences with some delightfully gruesome gore to satisfy the need for some more traditional elements. The film only stumbles just slightly when another character contracts the disease from a bite and there is an over-the-top battle royal between the two infected. It’s fun, but seems just a little out of place when compared to the rest of the film…on the other hand, who doesn’t like a good monster fight! Overall, though, the flick combines the horror and crime investigation elements nicely with a touch of conspiracy thriller thrown in. On a production level, the gore FX are good for the most part, though there is a lot of CGI which doesn’t look completely convincing and there are some really effective FX to illustrate the infected’s strengths and abilities.

The cast are all convincing. A.J. Cook is sexy and strong as Katherine. She truly believes in Talan’s innocence and when things start to spiral out of control, she conveys the woman’s shock and regret very well. O’Connor gives his Talan a humble sadness that makes you want to believe his innocence and also cuts an imposing figure that makes you have doubts. Vik Sahay is good as the cocky and arrogant Eric, as is Quaterman as animal specialist and Katherine’s former flame, Gavin. Rounding out is Sebastian Roché as Klaus Pistor, a hard nosed cop who may have ulterior motives to believe Gwynek’s guilt.

Wer is a really inventive and very intense horror flick. It breathes some new life into the time honored werewolf sub-genre and was well-directed from a cleverly written script. It’s got a pace that moves quickly, but not too fast and keeps us guessing till it’s ready to spatter the screen with some impressively bloody action. A really enjoyable flick that gets far too little attention than it deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 full moons.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006)

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BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Amusing and clever mockumentary has a film crew (Angela Goethals as Taylor, Ben Pace as Doug and Britain Spellings as Todd) documenting the efforts of a man who calls himself Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) and who plans to join Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers as one of the all time great killer icons. Leslie is said to have been killed by an angry mob of townsfolk, after he murdered his own parents, when he was a child. He has now returned to the small town of Glen Echo as an adult, like his iconic heroes, and plans his revenge. He has invited the film crew to follow him as he trains, gets advice from a retired serial killer (Walking Dead’s Scott Wilson), picks his virginal final girl, Kelly Curtis (Kate Lang Johnson), and plans to murder her friends and take her on at the old farmhouse where he was born. At first the crew is as enthusiastic as Leslie, till it becomes more and more apparent that he is very serious and they are practically on their way to being accessories to murder. When the big night arrives to slaughter the teens at the abandoned farmhouse, the film crew has a change of heart that, unfortunately, put’s them directly in the plot for this horror film come frighteningly to life.

This movie is a lot of fun, especially if you are a horror/slasher movie fan and know all the horror tropes that Leslie giddily lays out to the eager journalists. It’s very entertaining to see how methodically he plans this to mirror the type of horror films we all watch and love, down to the littlest detail. The movie let’s you in on the joke from the start and as Vernon explains the whole process from selecting his victims to planning their demise, the film slowly starts to become a slasher movie in itself, much to the dismay of the documentary crew members. At first they are in a state of denial, but soon they realize this guy is serious, people are going to die and they are in the middle of it. Directed by Scott Glosserman from his script with David J. Stieve, this is a very inventive and loving homage to the late 70s-80s slasher genre that not only has a real blast sending-up that genre, by presenting such a film from the killer’s point of view, but also gives us some very cool nods and homages to those films as well. We are treated to appearances by horror vets Kane Hodder, Zelda Rubenstein and Robert Englund, who plays the “Dr. Loomis” role of Doc Halloran…or the “Ahab” as Leslie calls it, in reference to Moby Dick’s obsessed pursuer. The rest of the cast all do a good job at playing their roles both in documentary form and then as participants in an actual horror movie. The best thing of all is that Glosserman and company slowly take this from ingenious send-up to an actual slasher and it works perfectly. What starts as an fun faux-documentary detailing Leslie’s meticulous preparation, becomes a very serious slasher in it’s last act and gives us some very clever twists worthy of one of the films it’s paying homage to. It’s a really fun ride and it’s sad this film never really got the attention it was due and Glosserman hasn’t been given a chance to show us more of his stuff. Adding to the effectiveness is a worthy horror score by Gordy Haab (Once it becomes an actually horror film) and some nice cinematography by Jaron Presant.

As a huge fan of the horror films of the era this film pays tribute, I had a blast of a good time with this. It’s a fun comedy/horror that shares it’s love of the slasher genre with it’s audience and is really smart about it. It gives us an affectionate send-up of how Michael, Freddy or Jason might have prepared for one of their bloodbaths and then gives us one such bloodbath in itself…although the actually bloodletting was a bit tamer than I would have expected. The way it goes from mockumentary to actual slasher is ingenious and clever and most of all, works perfectly and thus, so does the film as a whole. Add an engaging cast and this is a really good time and when all is said and done, a pretty good horror movie too…though one with a very twisted smile.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 wannabe horror icons!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HILLS RUN RED and MIDNIGHT MOVIE

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I know I’ve covered both these movies before, but they are two really good slasher flicks whose plots both involve a movie within a movie, where a celluloid horror becomes all too real for it’s characters. A fun double feature for a Halloween season Saturday night and two cool horror movies about horror movies!

 

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THE HILLS RUN RED  (2009)

A good, solid horror flick, Hills is the story of young filmmaker, Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) who is obsessed with looking for a lost 80’s slasher flick, The Hills Run Red, by seeking out it’s equally lost director, Wilson Wyler Concannon. The film is notorious for having been banned for being too violent and it is rumored that all the prints were destroyed, except for the director’s own original copy…and he disappeared after all the controversy. Tyler locates the director’s drug addict daughter, Alexa (Sophie Monk) and convinces her to lead him to the backwoods town where the notorious flick was filmed and Concannon was last known to be. Needless to say, he and his friends, Serina (Janet Montgomery) and Lalo (Alex Wyndham) wind up not liking what they find when they get there and start investigating into something that maybe should remain lost.

Director Dave Parker does nicely combining atmosphere, tension and gore into a deviant-ly fun little horror flick from the pens of David J. Schow and John Carchietta. He also creates a memorable and quite vicious villain in Babyface, the Jason-like serial killer from Concannon’s film, that is a bit too based on real events for our young leads’ liking. Add to that, a good cast including a creepy William Sadler as Concannon and the hot Sophie Monk as his daughter, helps bring this wicked little movie to life.

Sick, twisted and very gory tale, not only pays homage to these types of 80s slasher movies, but is one…and a very nasty one, at that. Small but very effective horror deserves far more attention then it got when released straight to DVD. Make sure you watch into the credits for an extra chilling scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

3 babyface killers

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MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Midnight Movie is one of those pleasant surprises that I rented on a whim and found myself being quite entertained by. Sure we’ve seen a lot of the elements before, but it is a homage of sorts and director/co-writer Jack Messitt uses those familiar conventions very well in his movie within a movie slasher tale.

The story opens with director and star Ted Raford (Arthur Roberts) of the 40 year-old horror flick The Dark Beneath in a mental institution with his doctor about to show him his black and white slasher flick as part of his therapy. It obviously doesn’t end well and there is a resulting blood bath and Radford disappears leaving strange symbols on the floor written in his own blood. Five years later, a movie theater is screening a midnight showing of The Dark Beneath with a small audience and theater staff present in the theater. Theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) leaves her post to watch the movie with boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour) while trying to keep her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric) from sneaking in. Unknown to the small audience is that among them is Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), the only survivor of the hospital massacre and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) who investigated the case and feels if Radford is going to resurface, this showing may be where. And the detective couldn’t be more right… for as soon the film starts to unspool, the line between movie and reality are blurred as theater patrons and employees alike appear on the screen to become victims of Radford’s corkscrew bladed killer and the serial murderer uses some dark power to move between movie and movie theater to hunt down his victims and bring them into his movie world. Can any of them escape alive?

Co-written with Mark Garbett… from a story by Sean Hood… Jack Messitt crafts a really fun slasher homage that makes good use of the movie within a movie format and provides some fun chills and graphic gore of it’s own. We get a killer who can enter our world from the movie and bring his victim’s back in, right before our and the movie audience’s eyes. The characters band together to try to escape the killer, who seals the theater and, in true stalker fashion, hunts them down one by one with his corkscrew shaped blade. We get some likable characters, especially Brandes’ plucky heroine Bridget, and a very effective killer with quite a vicious lust for blood. Messitt also gives us a third act that takes place inside the movie with our survivors trying to find their way out and it works very well as both horror and homage. The film has a very 70s/80s horror feel, which I obviously enjoyed. There are some flaws. Radford’s film is 40 years old which would place it being made in the late 60s, years before the modern slasher era started and so, it’s Chainsaw Massacre– ish vibe doesn’t make sense for the time period… although if you don’t see the film taking place when it was made in 2008, but now in the present, it brings Radford’s film to the late 70s which is a better time frame. There is a lack of explanation as to Radford’s apparent dark magic, but it is obvious there is more to this director/actor than just his film work, so we go along with it. Messitt does gives us some chills and suspense and so we suspend our disbelief as we are having a good time. The gore is well done and plentiful and despite being a lengthy shutdown in the film’s production as per the extras, the sequences filmed by two different DOPs blend seamlessly. I also loved the movie theater setting, as such small local theaters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and Messitt seems to share my affection for them.

The cast are fine and we get some likable and not so likable characters to root for. Rebekah Brandes makes a feisty heroine whose past pain fuels her will to survive and keep her friends and little brother alive. I liked that her character had a little depth. Daniel Bonjour is solid as Josh, Rebekah’s boyfriend. Young Justin Baric avoids being annoying as the little brother who sneaks in to see the show and Stan Ellsworth stands out as a big jerk of a biker who has a heroic side hidden behind the Sons Of Anarchy swagger. Lee Main does a good job behind the skull mask as the killer and creates an imposing figure, as well. The rest play fairly typical horror movie roles and do a fine job and their characters avoid being total clichés, but are familiar enough to work with the homage theme.

Overall, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was a fun movie within a movie slasher/homage and worked as a slasher itself beyond being a tribute to those types of horror. The production looks good and the gore is plentiful and well orchestrated and director Jack Messitt delivers some legitimate thrills and chills while showing some love to the 70s and 80s slasher genre. He doesn’t have a bad visual style either. Fun horror that works as both horror and homage. While Messitt currently does a lot of camerawork for TV, would love to see him tackle another horror flick. A bloody good time!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy killers.

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: SCREAM (1996)

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SCREAM (1996)

“Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act, who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.”- Sidney Prescott

Halloween Favorites is back and this horror classic is certainly a worthy return for this holiday centric column!

Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the great classics of the slasher era and so who better to re-invent the sub-genre, when it burned itself out in the late 80s with endless sequels and knock-offs. Armed with a very clever script by Kevin Williamson, Craven reignited the sagging horror genre with a film that works both as homage to the traditions of slasher flicks…while playfully poking fun at them…and as an effective slasher on it’s own.

Scream takes place in the fictional town of Woodsboro where we open with pretty blonde Casey (Drew Barrymore) about to settle in for the night with popcorn and a horror movie. But Casey begins to get phone calls from a strange person who, at first seems to be playful, but then gets more and more aggressive and threatening as it continues. Soon it is revealed that she and her bound on the back porch boyfriend’s lives are in mortal danger and all she has to do is answer some horror movie trivia questions to save their lives…but there is a horrible price if she is wrong. Needless to say , she and her beau are ruthlessly slaughtered by a killer wearing a ghost face mask and the high school is all a-buzz about it the next day. Enter Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), whose mother was murdered a year earlier and the suspected killer (Liev Schreiber) is now in jail… or is he? But Sydney has become a target of this masked serial killer and everyone around her may be a suspect…or a fatality. Who is this mysterious butcher and why has he targeted Sydney and her friends as his/her next victims?

Scream, first off starts with that great sequence with Drew Barrymore that really sets the tone for the film. It is scary and violent and establishes that this is a horror film that openly acknowledges it’s predecessors. It then openly references a lot of the classic horrors of the previous decades as it’s pop culture savvy teens are well aware of these films and use them as a guide to deal with their current situation…just as our killer is using them as a template for their own heinous deeds. All this self-awareness makes this flick a lot of fun and Craven is one of the best horror directors out there in using pop culture reference to fuel his tales. The script by Kevin Williamson not only references these horrors, but is the first flick to outright state the slasher horror ‘rules’ as per film geek Randy (Jaime Kennedy) that determine who lives and who dies…Don’t have sex, never say “I’ll be right back!”. The best part is that this flick also works as a slasher in itself. Craven and Williamson set up a situation that is a classic slasher with a victim with a painful past being stalked by a killer with a possible grudge and everyone is a suspect. There are some very suspenseful and scary scenes along with some very brutal kills as Ghost Face works his/her way through Sydney’s friends and various other characters. The film’s hip movie savvy humor never gets in the way of the scares or carnage, either. Craven and Williamson even get to make a statement about the desensitizing of violence in the current generation and the media’s insensitive and sensationalistic coverage of horrific events in the person of Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), a selfish, pit bull of a reporter who is determined to prove Sydney sent the wrong man to prison with her testimony and that the real killer is the one stalking Woodsboro. Is she right?… has one of these kids seen one too many horror flicks? Craven and Williamson have a blast letting us in on the answer and so does the audience as the big reveal is both surprising and a perfect example of how cleverly this film openly acknowledges that it is a horror film inspired by other horror films, just like it’s characters. If the film has any faults it’s that there are a few slow spots and one make-up effect involving a garage door and a character’s head is far too rubbery to work and ruins one of the more inventive kills. Other than that, this is a horror classic and one of Craven’s best films in a classic studded career.

As for the cast. It’s ensemble gives us a generous amount of suspects and victims. Campbell’s Sydney is one of modern horror’s most memorable final girls. She’s sweet but strong and has her own inner pain to fuel her survival instincts. Courtney Cox is perfect as the mega-bitch reporter who is using the killings in Woodsboro to further her career, but she also surprises us in the last act. As Sydney’s friend’s…Skeet Ulrich as boyfriend Billy has a nice air of danger about him and as a suspect, it works perfectly. Matthew Lillard as his bud Stu, is fun as a bit of an oblivious goofball …or is he? Rose McGowan as her best friend Tatum, turns the buxom blonde cliché on it’s ear with a young woman who is smart and sarcastic to go along with her Playboy model looks. Jaime Kennedy as Randy is the film’s movie geek and does well in creating that film obsessed nerd who provides the characters and audience with the exposition needed by way of horror film references. David Arquette as Tatum’s deputy brother Dewey, gives us a sweet natured do-gooder who is a little too anxious to please and not as smart as he thinks. Add in a fun cameo by Henry “The Fonz” Winkler as an eccentric school principal and you have a great cast who all do a good job selling Williamson’s clever characters from his script. They are an endearing bunch and all give their characters the proper tone for the material and sound like the media savvy teens that they are…though none look young enough to be teens, but that is also a horror movie tradition.

So, except for a few slow spots and one botched make-up effect, Scream is a horror classic that not only works as a horror, but as a homage to all the slashers that came before it. It’s teens grew up on the 80s horror flicks and openly reference them and compare them to the real-life situation that they are in. While it’s not the first horror film to include a horror movie fan character, it is the first to present it’s characters as a generation weened on the horror films that populated the previous decades and are part of their culture…and the film has a blast doing it while genuinely scaring and thrilling us. A true horror classic from a legendary horror filmmaker.

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) ghost faces!

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