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The Best (Or Worst) Cinematic Villains

With the major disappointment of a bad guy that was the boring CGI-fest, Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League flick. I got to thinking about some of my favourite on-screen villains over the years. From total, outright murderous killers to more subtle antagonists that have you rooting for the bad guy or feeling sorry for them despite their nefarious ways. There is one thing all the villains on my list have that Justice League‘s Steppenwolf does not… personality, character, depth, charm and screen presence – okay so that’s more than one thing – but you get the point, Steppenwolf was shit.

A film’s bad guy (or gal) can be both despised and revered at the same time if they are written/acted well enough and a good villain is required for the film to work. So here we go and in no particular order – with my top (whatever number as I’m not counting) list of cinematic antagonists. Pre-warning SPOILERS ahead for some films…

Terminator (The Terminator)

Terminator

The movie role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood fame. A killer cyborg sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance that will stop the machine’s rule over the humans – before he has even been born. The Terminator is a low budget sci-fi/horror flick with a lot of heart and ambition. Still one of the all time great pictures that sticks in the mind thanks to its then unknown star, Schwarzenegger playing the titular Terminator… or The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, Series T-800 – if you prefer.

A chilling villain that is seemingly unstoppable and for me, still Schwarzenegger’s finest on screen role that packs in a hell of a lot of screen presence even though he only has only 14 lines of dialogue in the entire flick.

Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole.”

The Kurgan/Victor Kruger (Highlander)

The Kurgan

Cruel, ruthless, megalomaniacal and brutal – The Kurgan (real name unknown) is the antagonist from Highlander, played to perfection by Clancy Brown. He sees no issue with running people through with his sword or terrorising nuns in a church. Not much is known about the character other than he used to be a member of an ancient tribe of the Russian Steppes known only as ‘The Kurgan’… which is where he took the name from. When he became an immortal is also unknown and its the unknown that makes the character so damn enjoyable. All we do know about him is that he likes to kill people – especially other immortals.

Brown’s performance as The Kurgan is both terrifying and humorous at the same time. A dark charm that should be wrong, but feels so very right with just the perfect amount of fun thrown in.

Kurgan: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”

Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen (Back to the Future)

Biff-Griff-Buford

I think Marty McFly pretty much summed it up when he said “He’s an asshole!” when describing Buford Tannen. Pick any of the iterations of the character from any of the Back to the Future flicks and they are complete assholes… yes even the mild and meek post 1955 time travel version of Biff is somewhat ‘off’ despite him being transformed into a ‘good guy’. Through the Tannen family history, they have killed lawmen, bullied and beaten up countless school kids, attempted to rape Lorraine Baines… oh and murdered George McFly. Yet each and every time they meet a rather repugnant end involving manure.

With Tom Wilson playing each of the Tannen kin through the years. There has been around 130 years of sheer ‘assholery’ through the Back to the Future trilogy and every second of it has been a joy to watch.

Biff Tannen: “Since you’re new here, I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here!”

Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty

Whenever Rutger Hauer plays a bad guy – he proves why he’s one of the best. In fact, when it came to putting this list together – I had a tough time between choosing Roy Batty or ‘John Ryder’ from The Hitcher. I settled on Batty because I have something else planed for Ryder later…

Hauer plays the role as cold as he could giving Batty a chilling persona as the replicant (android made identical to humans but with a shorter life) just trying to find his creator to ask for more life. And when he does finally find his ‘father’, he ends up killing him in a brutal manner. One of the few cinematic villains you genuinely end up feeling sorry for, thanks to the amazing performance from Hauer – especially after his short but eloquent farewell speech.

Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

Tommy DeVito.jpg

Tommy DeVito is a cruel, psychopathic sadist with ‘short man syndrome’ who’ll share a drink with you one second and then stab you in the neck with a pen the next or shoot you in the foot for not walking fast enough. With the mighty Joe Pesci playing the role, we are given a bad guy that is as fun as he is twisted.

Pesci made the character much more memorable than anyone could have guessed. Going from laughter to sheer rage on a sixpence and often without warning. DeVito really is one of cinemas all time great bad guys… or Goodfellas. Plus he also gave us one of the greatest and most tense scenes caught on film…

Tommy DeVito: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe. But I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest).jpg

So this one is a little ‘different’ as its a portrayal of a real person and not just anyone – but one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses ever, Joan Crawford – played by Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest is a biographical dramatisation flick telling the true-ish story of Joan Crawford adopting a little girl whom she named Christina and finally became a mother after a number of miscarriages.

The film is wonderfully terrifying and that is thanks to Dunaway’s stunning performance as Hollywood royalty – Joan Crawford. The relationship between mother and daughter is disturbing as Crawford pushes and punishes Christina for pretty much nothing. The film was panned by critics when originally released, but has since found its audience today and rightfully so too.

Joan Crawford: “No wire-hangers, ever!”

Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Nurse Ratched

From one crazy-ass bitch to another. Enter Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, the main antagonist from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She’s cold-hearted, vindictive and strict as the head nurse of a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. Its when a new patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters the hospital that she is pushed to her limit and beyond.

Okay, so I have a confession to make here. I really didn’t want to include Nurse Ratched as a ‘villain’ because I quite honestly do not see her as one. Yeah she’s tough and manipulative – but I’ve always seen her as ‘just doing her job’. For me, I personally find R.P. McMurphy to be more antagonistic in the film than Nurse Ratched. But she is generally seen as the main antagonist so I’ll include her (cos she’s an awesome character) even if I don’t necessarily agree.

Nurse Ratched: “If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.”

Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

Richard Vernon

Much like the previous Nurse Ratched, here was have a villain who is only considered bad because they are doing their job… except this character is a real asshole and played brilliantly by Paul Gleason. Vernon is the vice principal of Shermer High School, and one Saturday – he holds a detention for five students and tells them to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are.

The Breakfast Club is easily my favourite film from the legendary director John Hughes and I feel a big part of that enjoyment comes from the extremely controlling, devious and egotistic nature of ‘Dick’ Vernon who controls the students with an iron fist and shows no mercy or remorse either.

Richard Vernon: “But someday when you’re outta here and you’ve forgotten all about this place and they’ve forgotten all about you, and you’re wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I’m gonna be there. That’s right. And I’m gonna kick the living shit out of you. I’m gonna knock your dick in the dirt.”

Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans Landa

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino bad guys – we are spoilt for choice; Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)… but I’ve gone for the Nazi officer of the SS, Col. Hans Lander and his impressive smoking-pipe. Lander, nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ – a name his is extremely proud of, is ruthless in his investigations and capture (and often killing) of Jews.

Christoph Waltz (rightfully) won an Oscar for his performance as the relentless SS officer and the opening, very tense scene shows just why he fully deserved the award too. Waltz’s multilingual performance is a pure joy to watch and this is one bad guy I love to hate.

Hans Lander: “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that, Monsieur, is what a Jew shares with a rat.”

John Doe (Seven)

John Doe.jpg

Real name unknown – John Doe is a clever and manipulative character who keeps diaries and notes on his crimes and victims. The film does a great job of keeping him in the shadows and we only learn who he really is in the latter part of the flick – he first ‘real’ entrance in the movie when he walks into the police station covered in blood and calmly saying “detective” over and over as he hands himself in (until he snaps and has to scream) is both twisted and revealing once you know just who’s blood he is covered in and why.

Recent allegations aside – Kevin Spacey is fucking awesome in this flick. He performance is so memorable that you’ll be talking about it for years later… as I am right now. The acting is subtle and calming. This all just adds to the performance and creates one of the best killers ever caught on film.

John Doe: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

‘Angel Eyes’ (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Angel Eyes

Some more pipe-smoking action now from Lee Van Cleef playing ‘Angel Eyes’ (real name unknown, though he is named in the original Italian version of the film) in one of the best Westerns ever made. Also known as the titular ‘Bad’ from the film. ‘Angel Eyes’ is a ruthless and cunning killer who is not afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who gets in his way. Still, if shooting people is not enough – he’ll also have the living shit beaten out of you until you are barely alive… as Tuco discovers in the film, while just gleefully watching on.

Van Cleef’s performance of ‘Angel Eyes’ is undeniably cool but also cruel and unforgiving. He barely thinks twice about murder as he shoots his way through people just to find a man called Bill Carson.

‘Angel Eyes’: “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”

Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

Hans Gruber

Of course I had to include quite possibly THE greatest bad guy in an action film ever. Hans Gruber is cool, calm and collected – he dresses well and is a very reasonable person. But don’t let any of that fool as as he’s also ruthless and thinks nothing of shooting someone in the head at point blank range. He was once part of the Volksfrei West German terrorist group – but was expelled from the group… probably for being too damn bad-ass.

God damn it, I miss Alan Rickman and this is his best role ever. He dulcet, super smooth voice added to the character’s laid back attitude and persona. Check out any ‘top (whatever) bad guys list’ on the interwebs and you’ll find Hans Gruber pretty much always near the top if not at the top. The only reason he’s not at the top here is because I just don’t do ‘top lists’. Rickman’s performance is just memorising and makes Gruber one of those rare villains you can’t help but love and just wish he got away with it at the end.

Hans Gruber: “I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

Sergeant Hartman.jpg

A foul-mouthed drill sergeant who bullies his recruits – especially the struggling Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) played to his shoutiest best by R. Lee Ermey. So strong and memorable was this performance that he has been held up as the template for any drill sergeant in TV and films ever since. He’s racist, obnoxious, uncaring and ruthless – his dialogue has gone down in movie history as being some of the very best from any single film character.

Ermey’s performance is shocking but he also makes it impossible to not ‘enjoy’ the character despite his sheer awfulness. The way he verbally,  physically and mentally abuses his recruits is tremendous but uncomfortable to watch and all comes to a boiling point when he pushes Private Pyle too far.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?”

Don Logan (Sexy Beast)

Don Logan

You remember the movie Gandhi right? The one where (Sir) Ben Kingsley plays the eponymous peace-seeking pacifist and won the best actor Oscar for it too? Well this role is the polar opposite of that and in my opinion just as worthy of an Oscar too. This is Kingsley at his foul-mouthed, frenzied, frightening finest. Logan is a recruiter for the London criminal underworld who turns up in Spain to convince retired expert safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) to take part in a major London bank heist. But it is when Dove turns the offer down that Logan shows his true colours.

I avoided this film at first because I thought it sounded like a crap porn flick. So when I did finally sit down to watch it – going in completely unaware of what it was about, I was blown away by Kingsley’s stunning performance. Not only is Sexy Beast a great ‘London gangster’ flick – it features a brilliant bad guy with Logan and one that’ll stick in my head forever.

Don Logan: “You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”

Norman Bates (Psycho)

Norman Bates

Norman Bates – the man with severe ‘mommy issues’. Probably one of the greatest villains to ever grace the cinema screen. A young, shy and retiring man who’s nervousness hides a deep, dark secret. With Anthony Perkins playing the role in a charming and enduring manner which helps to hide just exactly what is going on in his head. Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made with such iconic imagery, music and of course that ending…

If you’ve ever read the novel Psycho – then you’d know just how different the character of Norman is in the film. In the book, he’s a fat, balding alcoholic. A million miles away from Perkins. But it was director Alfred Hitchcock who wanted to make the change so the audience would sympathise with Norman, and its a change that really works well and helped by the charismatic performance of Perkins himself which makes the ending all the more shocking.

Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

Harry Lime.jpg

Not to be confused with the burglar Harry Lime from Home Alone. This Lime is a criminal who was killed in a car accident… or was he? When one of his close friends claim to have seen Lime alive and well, his grave is opened up only to find that Lime is not the man buried. Which all leads to a cat and mouse chase to track down the criminal.

Lime is effortlessly played by Orson Welles. He is amoral, careless but also wickedly charming and charismatic too. The Third Man is a wonderful flick that is most definitely lifted several levels by Welles’ performance – his infamous wry smirk hides a thousand lies.

Harry Lime: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Vincenzo Coccotti (True Romance)

Vincenzo Coccotti.jpg

Vincenzo Coccotti is a Sicilian consigliere for local Detroit mobster ‘Blue’ Lou Boyle. Only a minor character in the film – but one you won’t forget in a hurry. Coccotti is cold and calculating played beautifully by Christopher Walken. He is hardly in the film and only appears in one scene… but what a great scene it is.

My second Tarantino bad guy on here, but he does create such awesome villains that I could probably do a list just full of them. The aforementioned scene in which Coccotti appears alongside Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) is a tense and wonderfully written scene that has Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it. Walken’s performance is both terrifying and engrossing at the same time.

Vincent Coccotti: “I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

Amon Goeth

This guy is one psychopathic, sadistic, brutal, abusive and emotionless Nazi. He’ll sit on his balcony and shoot Jews for no reason other than they are Jews and he is bored. He also beat the shit of his maid because she turned down his advances. And these instances are some of his more tame crimes. At the end of the film, Goeth is executed by hanging, but not before calmly patting his hair into place and uttering “Heil Hitler” – showing his total lack of remorse perfectly clear.

Played by Ralph Fiennes to chilling effect, this performance is one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in film. Some bad guys have a redeeming quality, if not more than one. Goeth has nothing redeeming about him, he’s just pure fucking evil personified. One of the most disgustingly, despicable movie villains ever.

Amon Goeth: “Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came with nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.”


Well there you have it, a selection of some of my favourite on screen villains… and all of them far more impressive and memorable than Steppenwolf. To be honest, there were a tonne I left off this list with plenty more antagonists I enjoy just as much if not more. But I had to pick and choose to keep this list at a reasonable length – still, I could always do another list in the future or even feature some of my other favourites in much more detailed articles…

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Is Jason Voorhees A Deadite?

Yeah I know Halloween has come and gone – but we can still have some horror fun.

So there has been a fan theory going around for years that Jason from the Friday The 13th movie franchise is in fact a Deadite from The Evil Dead movie universe. This all came about for various reasons, one of which can be found in the Freddy vs Jason vs Ash comic book. You see, this comic book actually started out as a sequel to the Freddy vs Jason film. However, the film fell through – so they turned the script into a comic book instead. The comic book makes several references to the Friday The 13th, The Evil Dead and the Nightmare On Elm Street movie franchises. One of which being the infamous Necronomicon (Book Of The Dead) and links Jason to it.

FreddyvsJasonvsAsh

Even more so, director of Jason Goes to Hell – Adam Marcus has recently confirmed that this is true as the site Movieweb has reported. But I wish to cast a shadow over the theory and the Movieweb article as a whole. I mean, does it really matter what Adam Marcus says about this subject seeing as he never had anything to do with the creation of either Friday The 13th or The Evil Dead at all? He just directed one of the sequels. This site also makes a very bold claim – and I quote…

Sam Raimi, the man who directed Evil Dead, also gives it the thumbs up.

Raimi didn’t just direct The Evil Dead… he created the entire universe. Anyway, I’ve checked up on this claim and can find zero evidence either way. I’m not saying that Sam Raimi has never given the thumbs up to this idea, just that I can find nothing to suggest he ever has.

But even I have to admit that the theory does hold some water, but the problem is that the container holding the water is definitely leaking. Before I get to the problem(s) with the theory, lets quickly cover the history of Jason.

So Jason was left to drown in Crystal Lake by camp counsels who were preoccupied via sex and drugs… that was his first death. The he came back at the end of the film in what is suggested as being an hallucination… or was it? I mean, if he is a Deadite – then he could have been there at the end of the first film right?

Anyway, from the first sequel onward – Jason became the main antagonist of the franchise (except for one instance) and at the end of each and every film – he is ‘killed’ off. Axe in the head, chopped up by Corey Feldman, he has been drowned (again), blown up, dissolved by toxic waste and even dragged to hell by Freddy Krueger – just to name a few of his demises. Despite his many, many, many deaths – he keeps on coming back. This is why many people think he could be a Deadite due to the difficulty in killing him off. But there is another reason too. Just going back to the flick Jason Goes to Hell once more…

Jason Goes to Hell Necro

That’s the Necronomicon right there and I don’t mean a replica… that’s the very same prop used in Evil Dead II. And where is the book found? In the Voorhees house which suggests that Pamela Voorhees used it to bring her son back from the dead in the first film and that is how/why he appears at the end of that film (it wasn’t an hallucination) and continues his rampage through the entire franchise. So maybe director Adam Marcus may be onto something after all. And just going back to that Moiveweb article for a while, they quote Marcus directly…

“It’s not like I could tell New Line my plan to include The Evil Dead, because they don’t own The Evil Dead. So it had to be an Easter egg, and I did focus on it…there’s a whole scene that includes the book, and I hoped people would get it and could figure out that’s what I’m up to. So yes, in my opinion, Jason Voorhees is a Deadite. He’s one of The Evil Dead. It absolutely is canon.”

So there you go, Marcus is outright calming that it is in fact canon that Friday The 13th and The Evil Dead do exist in the same universe and that Jason is a Deadite. But to bring up a previous point – who is he to say what is or is not canon? He directed one film in a long running franchise… that’s all. He has no say on the history of either Friday The 13th or The Evil Dead. I don’t mean to piss on his parade but its true.

But here is my point. If Sam Raimi and Victor Miller & Sean S. Cunningham – the actual people who created The Evil Dead and Friday The 13th movies respectively wish to retroactively connect the two franchises officially… then should’t it be up to them to say so and not a director of only one of the flicks? Also as Marcus himself pointed out, New Line who now own the Jason name didn’t and still do not own The Evil Dead… so how can they be official canon? You can’t have two franchises exits in the same universe if they are owned by different companies. I mean, that is the whole reason why New Line purchased the Jason rights from Paramount Pictures to begin with – so they could make Freddy vs Jason and bring the two universes together.

For me, its a fun theory and as previously pointed out via the comic and Jason Goes to Hell – there are nods and references… but its not official is it?

More from Adam Marcus over this subject…

“I wanted to create a mythology for Jason in this movie, because it had driven me nuts as a viewer. She (Pamela Voorhees) makes a deal with the devil by reading from the Necronomicon to bring back her son. This is why Jason isn’t Jason. He’s Jason plus The Evil Dead, and now I can believe that he can go from a little boy that lives in a lake, to a full grown man in a couple of months, to Zombie Jason, to never being able to kill this guy.”

See, here is where I have a problem with the theory.

Deadites do not age… ever. Proof? See Henrietta Knowby in Evil Dead II. So why would Jason go from a child in the first flick to an adult in a few months for the first sequel? And if he can age that quickly…why does he not age even more so after becoming adult? It makes no sense knowing The Evil Dead universe. Then, how did Pamela get the Necronomicon? Okay so pre-warning, but I’m going to go full on The Evil Dead nerd right now…

The Evil Dead AshTape

So as The Evil Dead universe shows. It was Professor Raymond Knowby who first found the book via an archaeological expedition to the Sumerian ruins of Castle Kandar. This is the very same castle that is featured in Army Of Darkness and it is Ash himself who recovered the book and took it to the castle during the events of Army Of Darkness for Professor Knowby to find it and take it back to the infamous cabin. Then while at that cabin when the events of The Evil Dead take place and Ash burns the book at the end. Of course as Evil Dead II shows, the book may be gone – but some pages still exist and its those pages that open a portal that sends Ash back in time to the events of Army Of Darkness so Ash can find the book and place it in the castle for Professor Knowby to discover and take back to the cabin…

Army Of Darkness Portal

Its a self-fulfilling prophecy but there is one major thing to take into account over the whole thing….the Necronomicon never leaves the castle until Professor Knowby takes it to the cabin and then it is destroyed by Ash at the end of the first film. So how could Pamela Voorhees ever have used it to resurrect Jason in Friday The 13th? And I’ll continue my rebuttal to this too…

In the opening of Friday The 13th, its revealed that Jason originally drowned and died in 1957. A mysterious killer (its the mom) turns up at the same camp Jason died at a year later and murders two counsellors in 1958. The film that jumps forward twenty two years to present time, 1980 and the film starts proper. Seeing as Pamela Voorhees dies at the end of the film, that means she must have used the book to resurrect Jason before this happens. Years before, months, weeks, days or just hours? It doesn’t matter either way just as long as we know the resurrection had to have occurred before Pamela died.

The Evil Dead was released in 1981 (filmed in through 1978-1980 though) so was can assume the events of the film take place around then. Plus I’ll also bring up the TV show Ash vs Evil Dead which is most definitely canon as Sam Raimi himself is behind the series plus events form the moives are directly referenced as backstory in the TV show. Ash brings up that he first went to the cabin around 30 years ago… which make sense given the release of The Evil Dead.

The Evil Dead Cellar

Where did the book come from? It doesn’t add up especially when you take into account that no only was the book destroyed by the end of the first film circa 1980 but that it appears in the picture Jason Goes to Hell from 1993… the book doesn’t exist anymore. Then again – the Necronomicon is in Ash vs Evil Dead so even the official canon can’t get it right. But the TV show didn’t exist in 1993 when Jason Goes to Hell was released and this theory first came about – so I’ll overlook that aspect. But one major question still remains… how/when did Pamela Voorhees get a hold of it to use to resurrect Jason? (if we ignore the Ash vs Evil Dead)

The book never left the cabin from The Evil Dead and it was evetually destroyed by fire. But I’ll also overlook that factor and ignore the book being burnt… and it still makes no sense. Try to keep up here as I cover the book’s journey through the films. After being sent through time – Ash puts the book in the castle in Army Of Darkness, Professor Knowby finds the book and takes it to the cabin where he unleashes the Deadites. He kills his possessed wife – Henrietta and buries her in the fruit cellar. Within the context of the movies, its not known exactly what happened Professor Knowby but he’s presumed dead (though the TV show does answer this). Anyway, Ash and his friends turn up at the cabin and find the Necronomicon and accidentally unleash the Deadites once more – the events of The Evil Dead take place and around the same time, so do the events of the first Friday The 13th. The events of both films occur and (lets assume) the book is not burnt. The events of Evil Dead II happen and Ash is sent back in time so he can put the book in the castle.

Army Of Darkness Book

So how did the book end up at the Voorhees house in 1993? Plus adding to the fact that Pamela must have used it to resurrect Jason before she died in 1980. She must have taken the book from the cabin before Ash and his friends turned up in The Evil Dead used it on Jason after he died in 1957… and then returned the book so Ash could find it in 1981-ish… and then remove the book again to place it in the Voorhees home in 1993… after she died. Then Ash must have obtained the book from the Voorhees house after coming back from the past in Army Of Darkness so he can have it in Ash vs Evil Dead… it makes no logical sense, even within the horror world.

Jason can not be a Deadite given what is established within the films universe’s… even with me removing plot holes to try to make this make sense… it makes no sense. As I said, it a fun theory – but it just does not hold up and director Adam Marcus ‘confirming’ it as canon does not make it so either.

 

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Do You Wanna Play A Game? Halloween Bonus: The Saw Chronology

I hope you folks enjoyed my Halloween/Hellraiser 30th anniversary retrospective for this year. But I have a Halloween bonus for you. See, I was deciding which of two franchises to do a retrospective on as one franchise had a new film out while the other marked an anniversary. Seeing as this year marked 30 years since the release of the original Hellraiser –  I decided to go for that one. However, I was also planning on doing a retrospective on the Saw franchise. And just as with my Hellraiser retrospective – I sat down to watch all of the films and made notes along the way. I didn’t really want to do two retrospectives, so what can I do with all the notes that I made?

It was while making my Saw notes when I began to think about the chronology of the series as the films don’t follow a linear timeline. There are flashbacks within sequels, prequels in flashbacks that are sequels and just plain old sequels….with prequels and flashbacks. Its a confusing timeline to follow… but follow it I did. So here, I’d like to present the chronology of the Saw series of films as best as I understand it

Jigsaw John

Now, full disclosure here. I’m not a big fan of the Saw franchise. Loved the first flick but personally found they just get pretty dull and predictable from Saw II onward. There are fans out there that think the Saw plot-line is amazing and deeply complex (it really not) but that is a whole other article. So not being a huge fan, I’ll most probably make more than a handful of mistakes along the way. But before I get to the chronology, for those that say the plot of the Saw films is complex – I’ll attempt to disprove that right now. I’ve not seen the new flick – Jigsaw. But I bet I can tell you the plot (or get pretty damn close to it) without watching the film itself…

Okay, so Jigsaw sees the return of the main man himself John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) who most definitely died within the timeline of the other films. So I’m calling it now – its a prequel. Then by the time the film ends, you’ll discover that Jigsaw had some kind of super secret protégé carrying out his work and it’ll most probably be one of the investigating police who are trying to catch the person who is responsible for the trap-like deaths.

Why do I think that… because that is how all the Saw films work from Saw II onward – the plot is not that complex or surprising as they use and re-use the same twists and plot points over and over and over through the entire franchise. Its just not told in a linear fashion, which is where the ‘confusion’ come from – but the plot itself is straight forward and obvious. If I’m wrong then I’m wrong – but I’ll watch Jigsaw when it hits the home market just to see how right (or wrong) I am…

Anyway, enough of all that crap. With the aid of my many notes and some research and huge help from a Saw wiki – lets crack on with the chronology for the franchise…

Eric Matthews Saw II

 

Saw II

So there is this detective, Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) who fakes the evidence in a few of his cases which results in the arrest of Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith).

Saw IV

Another detective, Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and his partner, Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) are investigating a teacher with a penchant for violence and has been abusing his own daughter. The teacher gets off with thanks to his lawyer Art Blank (Justin Louis).

Saw V

Marks’s sister is murdered by her boyfriend Seth. Mark enters a state of depression and anger while Seth is sentenced to life imprisonment.

Saw VII

Mark shoots a former mental patient who is attacking officer Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) – despite the fact the patient dropped his weapon. Mark earns a promotion despite the fact Matt reported him over the previous incident. Matt convicts several of Mark’s colleagues who swears vengeance.

Saw VII Hoffman

Saw III

Civil engineer John Kramer (Tobin Bell) designs the Gideon Meatpacking Plant – his first building.

Saw IV

John’s wife Jill (Betsy Russell) opens a centre for drug addicts – The Homeward Bound Clinic. Amanda becomes a patient at the clinic.

Saw VI

William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) is an insurance company manager for Umbrella Health who sponsors a party for Jill’s The Homeward Bound Clinic. Through this, William meets and gets to now John, who quizzes him about his questionable commercial practices.

Saw IV

Jill becomes pregnant with her and John’s son, who is set to be born during the Chinese year of the pig. John shows Jill his new workshop, and presents her with a cot and a wooden puppet for their soon to be son. John becomes the leader of the Urban Renewal Company. He and his lawyer, Art team up on a project for new housing for families in need.

Amanda convinces fellow patient, Cecil to pull off a robbery at Jill’s clinic. This results in an accident where a door is slammed into Jill that causes her to miscarriage. After his unborn son’s death – John falls into a pit of severe depression which has him withdraw from both Jill and the project he was working on with Art. This kick-starts a rift between the two.

Saw Jill

Saw

Doctor Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) diagnoses John with an inoperable brain tumour.

Saw VI

John learns about an experimental therapy and asks the insurance company manager William, to cover the treatment costs – he refuses. This results in a rift between them.

Saw II

Suffering from depression and not seeing any way out – John attempts suicide by crashing his car – but survives the incident. From this, he learns to become a survivor and decides to spend the rest of his life on testing other people’s will to survive. He separates from Jill to carry on his ‘work’.

Saw IV

John’s his first test involves Cecil, who accidentally killed his unborn son. The ‘test’ does not go well and Cecil dies. John cuts a jigsaw piece out of Cecil’s flesh, which leads to the press labelling him the ‘Jigsaw Killer’.

Saw Cecil

Saw V

Mark Hoffman kidnaps his sister’s killer, Seth and murders him in a Jigsaw-like trap. He then cuts a jigsaw piece out of Seth’s skin in an attempt to frame the real Jigsaw killer and keep himself out of suspicion. John manages to work out that Mark killed Seth and forces him to help set up future games and traps.

Meanwhile, special agents Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis) are investigating an arson attack – which the FBI eventually gives up on.

Saw

John places Doctor Lawrence Gordon’s penlight at the scene of his next crime. Lawrence is arrested but has an alibi, as he was cheating on his wife at the time. Amanda is abducted by John and put into one of his traps, she becomes the first person to survive on his tests.

Saw III

John convinces Amanda to becomes his next apprentice.

Saw

Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) and Detective Steven Sing discover John’s secrect hideout Steven is killed by John while David survives – but he suffers a major breakdown and is let go from the police force. Convinced Lawrence is behind the murders, he vows to keep a close eye on him.

Saw Tapp

Saw VI

Jill learns of John’s secret as the Jigsaw killer. But John shows off a drug free Amanda as proof that he is doing good work… unorthodox but good.

Saw

David hires photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) to spy on Lawrence as he tries to gather evidence to prove he is the Jigsaw killer.

Zep Hindle is tested by John, as he hides in Lawrence’s apartment and holds his wife and daughter hostage while Adam takes a photos of him from afar. Lawrence Gordon is then kidnapped and brought to an abandoned underground bathroom. Adam is also kidnapped by Amanda and brought to the same place. John poses as a dead body in the same room.

Lawrence hears on the phone his family in a shootout with Zep, while David hurries to the scene to free them. Back in the underground bathroom – Lawrence saws off his own foot to escape and shoots Adam (but not killing him) before leaving. David follows Zep to the bathroom but is shot and killed. Adam kills Zep, while Gordon escapes and promises to find help for Adam.

John stands up, and locks Adam in the bathroom to die.

Saw VII

John tracks down the escaped Lawrence and convinces him to become his third apprentice.

Saw III

Amanda returns to the bathroom from Saw and mercy kills a slowly dying Adam.

Saw III Amanda

Saw VII

Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) writes a book claiming he survived one of Jigsaw’s games and milks the fame for as long as he can. The thing is… its all a lie as Booby was never a Jigsaw victim.

Saw V

John gives his executor a black box which he asks to be given to Jill in case of John’s death. The box includes a tape for Lawrence along with a modern version of one of John’s most infamous contraptions – the Reverse Bear-trap, which is intended for Mark Hoffman.

Saw II

Mark and John abduct various people who were convicted by detective Eric Matthews and placed in a nerve gas trapped house, along with Matthews’ son Daniel, and an undercover Amanda.

Everyone except Amanda and Daniel die as John locks Daniel away in a safe at a nearby steel plant. A video broadcast of the game’s recordings is prepared at a fake nerve gas house, almost identical to the other. The detective trio of Eric Matthews, Daniel Rigg and Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer) find the steel plant, and Eric soon learns of his son’s situation. They see footage of the other house, not knowing it’s merely a recording.

Eric beats John, until he agrees to reveal where Daniel is. Eric leaves John to go and save his son. Daniel finds the fake nerve gas house and discovers the game has already finished. Eric discovers the infamous the bathroom from Saw but is locked inside by Amanda.

Allison finds Daniel alive at the steel plant.

Saw III

Eric escapes the bathroom by breaking his foot. He has a fights with Amanda, who subdues him and leaves him to die.

Saw IV

But Mark Hoffman discovers Eric and manages to nurses him back to health. He also removes all the bodies in the nerve gas house of Saw II, and completely renovates the building. He sets up another trap in a different room connected via an underground tunnel. Mark interrogates Jill, after police discover the Jigsaw killers true identity. She is represented by lawyer Art Blank, and police discover Jigsaw’s items at her house. Art is abducted and survives a test, but remains under the control of Jigsaw.

Saw IV Mark

Saw III/IV

So here things get s little ‘confusing’ as the two films events happen at the same time

Detectives Mark Hoffman and Allison Kerry investigate Jigsaw’s latest crime scene. Amanda abducts Alison with Mark’s help, and Alison evetually dies. Amanda then places Daniel Rigg’s fingerprints on the corpse. Mark sends a key with a cryptic note to special agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez. Along with a message which claims that two officers are in danger.

Jill pleads with John to stop playing his twisted games. John gives her the key to his black box. Amanda and Mark abduct several people and take them to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. Art abducts several other people at the same time too.

John gives abductee doctor Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) the instructions for her test, while Amanda is putting a ‘shotgun collar’ trap on Lynn which would kill her if Kramer dies. Amanda doesn’t realise that his instructions are also meant for her.

Mark places Eric in another trap, and poses as a victim. Amanda forces Lynn to perform surgery on a slowly dying John. She succeeds, but Amanda has a breakdown.

A SWAT team led by Peter Strahm head to Daniel’s apartment, locating planted photos of victims, as well as of Jill. Peter interrogates Jill, which reveals more about John’s past. Daniel arrives at a school and finds a photo of his wife, leading him to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.

Special agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez find that a crime scene was rented by Art Blank, as well as another building that he owns. They are led to the school, and find a tape that warns Lindsey that Peter will soon kill an innocent man. She is injured by a shrapnel bomb. Lindsey gives the key from Allison Kerry to Peter. He makes the connection between John and Art, and heads to the plant.

Saw IV Peter

Art reveals that he, Mark and Eric will survive if Daniel doesn’t enter their room. He does so, and Eric is killed.

Amanda argues with John, and shoots Lynn. Lynn’s husband Jeff Reinhart (Angus Macfadyen), who has also been completing his own set of tests, arrives and shoots Amanda, killing her. He slashes John’s throat, which in turn kills Lynn. He discovers a tape about the whereabouts of his missing daughter. Peter arrives, and shoots Jeff in self defence.

Daniel shoots Art, before Mark reveals himself to be Jigsaw’s accomplice. He locks Daniel up – leaving him to die. Mark also locks Peter inside the same room in which John, Jeff, Lynn and Amanda all died.

Saw V

Peter Strahm discovers a secret door, but is subdued by Mark Hoffman. He then manages to escape a trap that was meant to be inescapable. Mark takes Lynn and Jeff’s daughter Corbett Denlon (Niamh Wilson) outside, where he is met by police. Peter is taken to hospital while Mark is declared a hero. Agents Dan Erickson and Lindsey Perez fake the latter’s death.

A tape is discovered inside the body of John Kramer. Mark hears the tape, telling him there will be more games including his own test in the future. Jill receives John’s black box after his death as requested.

Mark Hoffman prepares a game for the people connected to the arson which Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez were investigating a few years earlier. Mark receives an anonymous letter, and he believes it is from Peter. When he visits him, Peter tells him that he believes Mark is John’s accomplice.

Peter steals files about Jigsaw’s victims, and learns of Mark’s sister’s death, and her killer’s subsequent murder. Mark tells Dan Erickson of Peter’s accomplice theory, before Dan discovers the files are missing. Peter returns to the room in which John died.

Jill visits Dan and says she is wary of Peter, while Mark rings Dan using Peter’s phone and hangs up. Mark then places the phone in the surveillance room of the current game.

Peter finds the nerve gas house from Saw II and the underground tunnel network. Mark enters and they have a fight. Peter locks Mark in a coffin. However, he accidentally activates a trap and dies.

Dan Erickson finds Pete’s phone and the surviving members of the game, and orders an APB on Pete Strahm.

Saw VI

Mark Hoffman finds Pete’s dead body, and takes his severed hand.

Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole) learns of Jill’s black box and receives a copy of Mark’s letter to Amanda. Meanwhile – Mark uses Pete’s severed hand to plant fingerprints on his latest trap.

Dan Erickson and Lindsey Perez arrive at the crime scene, and are joined by Mark Hoffman. Dan tells him about Peter’s fingerprints, and why they faked Lindsey’s death to keep her safe.

Pamela tells Mark about the black box and asks for an interview with Jill.

A coroner discovers that the knife used to cut the jigsaw piece from the latest victim is different to all other victims, other than Seth (the man Mark killed before joining up with John). Dan and Lindsey seek to find if the tape at Seth’s crime was recorded by someone other than John Kramer.

Mark visits Jill and demands the envelopes from the box, in order to start William Easton’s game early. Jill secretly holds one envelope back. William is abducted and taken to a zoo, where several other people have been captured. He receives instructions from John (before he died).

Saw VI William

Pamela gives Jill her copy of Amanda’s letter, but Jill doesn’t want to talk. Jenkins is then abducted by Mark, and taken to the zoo, where she watches her brother, William’s progress.

Dan realises that Peter must have been dead by the time of his latest ‘crime’, but he doesn’t tell Mark.

Jill leaves an envelope containing a tape from John for Lawrence Gordon – which asks him to watch over Jill. Jill heads to the zoo with the bear-trap in the black box, and the sixth envelope.

After discovering that the voice on Seth’s tape from years ago is in fact Mark Hoffman, he kills Dan and Lindsey, and then plants Peter Strahm’s fingerprints all over the crime scene, before setting fire to the lab.

Jill places the letter she received from Jenkins in Mark’s surveillance room. He returns and finds it, before Jill electrocutes him. She then places the bear-trap on his head.

William Easton dies during his final task, which in turn activates Mark’s trap. Jill leaves Mark to die without giving him a chance to escape. However, he is able to escape by jamming the trap between the window bars and ripping his cheek open.

Saw VII

Mark Hoffman escapes and takes the bear-trap with him.

Jill asks for Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) and tells him about Mark being Jigsaw’s successor, and offers him all the evidence in exchange for immunity, which he agrees to.

Mark Hoffman continues his games, and sets one up for Bobby Dagen at an abandoned mental facility. After another game, he sets a bomb, and drapes his bear-trap along with a message for Matt..

Speaking at a self-help group for Jigsaw survivors, (fake story writer) Bobby receives a sarcastic applause from Lawrence Gordon. Bobby, along with his wife and others who helped him fake the story are abducted by Mark to take part in another game.

Saw VII Lawrence

Mark finds Jill at a safe-house, and sends a CD to Matt Gibson. He offers to end Bobby’s game in exchange for Jill, but he denies him. Mark Hoffman takes one of his latest victim’s corpses out of its body bag, and hides inside which is then taken to the morgue.

Matt Gibson manages works out where Bobby’s game is being played out, and sends a SWAT team over, while he goes after Mark. After realising Mark has infiltrated the police station, Matt is killed by an automatic machine gun. The SWAT members are also killed by a booby trap. Everyone apart from Bobby Dagen are killed during his game.

Mark kills several people at the station, before he is stabbed by Jill. He beats her up and kills her using the infamous bear-trap. Mark Hoffman is now hunted by the police. He tries to flee, but is attacked by Lawrence Gordon, who fulfils John Kramer’s final request by locking Hoffman inside the bathroom from Saw without any chance of escape.

Saw VII LawrenceHoffman

The end, game over… eventually!

So there you have it the entire plot of the whole Saw film franchise (with the exception of Jigsaw)… I think.

Saw Gif

Happy Halloween folks!

What Is Your Pleasure Sir?: A Hellraiser Retrospective

Well its that time of year again. Get the jack-o’-lanterns carved, dress up as a recognisable horror icon… or just dress up as anything not connected to the celebrations at all, stock up on candy to give to annoying beggars… sorry I mean trick or treaters. And best of all, lock yourself away in front of the TV in a darkened room and watch some horror movies because… its Halloween season!

Halloween

I wasn’t sure what to do this Halloween, I suppose a profile on Harvey Weinstein could have worked as that would’ve been scary enough. The twisted sick fucker.

After last year’s humongous, seven part An Incomplete History of Horror bonanza write up. I thought I’d dial things back a little this time around and instead of covering dozens and dozens and dozens of movies, over a century of horror films – this year, I’ll just do ten. Also seeing as its the 30th anniversary since the release of the original Hellraiser this year too – seems like a great time to do a Hellraiser retrospective.

Can you believe they’ve made ten of these things? I stopped watching after number three. But I have recently put myself through the extreme torture of the other films and watched all of them over the last week or so just to write this article for you lucky folks. I hope you appreciate the abuse I’ve had to endure. Jesus wept – being ripped apart by rusty hooks on chains would’ve been less painful. There will be mild spoilers ahead, but I will try to avoid any major plot points. Also – this is gonna be a long one.

There’s a lot to cover with ten films in total. So I’ll just be doing a brief synopsis of each flick dotted with a few other details and I’ll offer my own views/opinions on each of the films. Well let’s not waste anymore time, so…

Shall we begin

Hellraiser

Hellraiser frank

From the twisted and yet strangely alluring and sedcutive mind of Clive Barker comes this tale of love, passion, betrayal and rat skinning. Hellraiser was written and directed by Barker, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart and released in 1987… happy 30th Hellraiser.

So the film starts with a guy called Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) who purchases a mysterious puzzle box (A.K.A: The Lament Configuration) from an even more mysterious seller. Frank retreats to his family home and opens the box in an unused room on the top floor – the puzzle box is said to give the solver unknown pleasures… only these ‘pleasures’ turn out to be rusty hooks attached to chains which end up quite literally tearing Frank apart. So Frank is dead before the film really gets started.

Cut to sometime later and Frank’s brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into the house with his new wife – Julia (Clare Higgins). Its shown in flashbacks that Frank and Julia had themselves a cheeky little affair shortly before Larry and Julia were wed… there’s history there. As Larry is moving their belongings into the house, he cuts his hand and heads up to the same room where Frank was killed and also where Julia is reminiscing about her torrid affair with her husband’s brother. The blood drops from Larry’s wound kick-starts a series of events that leads to the re-birth of Frank and brings with it something much, much worse… Cenobites. These are creatures from hell or as the leader himself describes themselves: “Demons to some, angels to others.”

The slowly regenerating Frank recruits his ex-lover Julia to get him more blood so he can be fully free form his hellish torture and the Cenobites. But the leader of the Cenobites wants Frank back and he enters a bargain with Larry’s daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to take Frank back to hell at all costs.

My View

This film was awesome back in 87 but 30 year later? Yeah, its still awesome. There is a weird ‘timeless’ feel to the picture that, at the same time, comes across as very fresh too. Yeah it has some of that ’80s cheese’, but its also reminiscent of some kind of haunted house film from the 1940s but made for today. Hellraiser was a bold and visceral flick that still packs a punch now and features one of the greatest practical effects I’ve seen in a horror film.

Frank Cotton rebirth

The re-birth of Frank is right up there with the likes of the werewolf transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London or THAT dog scene from Carpenter’s The Thing. Its grotesquely gorgeous to look at and brilliantly shot with wonderful music from Christopher Young paying in the background. The film never shies away from what it is… a bloody, brilliant mess. Yet it still has a great story under all of that blood and gore, an almost Edgar Allen Poe-esque twisted tale blended with a Shakespearean love story – topped off with sublime gothic overtones.

Barker’s direction is beautiful to behold, even at its most goriest. There’s a marvellous scene where Kirsty experiences a rather twisted and yet astonishing nightmare complete with terrifying ambient sound effects that I feel is mesmerising in its direction. The fact Barker chose to shoot in a real house over a set means he restricted himself in terms of camerawork – and yet that just adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere, as he had to use tight camera shots and subtle/slight camera moves to tell his story. This is an antiquated haunted house flick in the same vein as House On Haunted Hill (1959) or The Uninvited (1944) but with an 80s twist.

There are so many great and iconic images in this film from skinless Frank smoking to Julia’s transformation into blood-splattered murderess and of course – the main man himself… Lead Cenobite.

Pinhead

The Cenobites themselves are almost regal in their appearance and mannerisms, especially the main dude. Before the sequels, before he became a horror icon – Pinhead was credited as ‘Lead Cenobite’ and played by Doug Bradley- who would go on to play Pinhead in almost every Hellraiser flick from this point onward. He has some amazing lines in this film, speaking of which….

Lead Cenobite: “We’ll tear your soul apart!”

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Julia HellraiserII

The sequel was given the green-light before the first film was even released and  Hellbound: Hellraiser II hit theatres in 1988. Back were some of the cast and crew including Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence and of course Doug Bradley. Clive Barker was gone as director, but he did write the story and serve as producer. Now in the director’s chair was Tony Randel.

Opening up with a flashback showing a glimpse of the origins of Pinhead himself – the film quickly jumps forward in time to and picks up directly where the last film left off. Kirsty has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital following the events of the previous flick. She tells anyone who will listen about the puzzle box, the Cenobites and dead uncle Frank coming back to life – but no one believes her… no one except Kyle MacRae (William Hope) the assistant of Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham) who runs the hospital Kirsty is being kept in.

It is later revealed that Dr Channard is in fact a follower of the puzzle box himself and has the mattress that Julia died on (from the first film) brought to him. Dr Channard also has one of his more insane patients brought to him, hands the patient a razor – which he uses to cut himself spilling blood onto the mattress which brings back Julia from the Cenobites grasp.

With the help of another patient – Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), Kirsty sets out to stop Dr Channard and Julia which takes them into a Labyrinth of Hell overseen by its God called: Leviathan.

My View

Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a wonderful film to look at, the set designs are stunning and the work put into the hellish labyrinth is marvellous and very atmospheric:

Hellraiser II Labyrinth

The story picks up right after the first flick and even comes equipped with its very own recap to get you up to speed. Overall, its a solid sequel… but it lacks that distinctive Clive Barker feel that it definitely would have had if he’d directed it. The story is a bit bland and the characters lack any real depth. Its a sequel that I feel it was rushed out and needed a little more time to be fully cooked and it comes across as a less coherent film than the first. Still there are some great moments in this picture such as seeing Dr Channard turned into a Cenobite… which looks painful.

Hellraiser II Channard.jpg

We get a glimpse of who Pinhead was before he opened the box and it offers an interesting insight without spoiling too much (the sequels will do that). A good sequel and well worth checking out – but just not as great as the original.

Julia Cotton: “They’ve changed the rules of the fairy tale. I’m no longer just the wicked stepmother. Now I’m the evil queen.”

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Hellraiser III

Well here we go, from this point on the films get bad… very, very bad. Doug Bradley returns as Pinhead and that’s about it. Everyone else is gone including Clive Barker (though according to rumour, he did return to do some ‘patchwork’ during post production). Released in 1992 and directed by Anthony Hickox, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is the exact point where this franchise became a franchise and the beating of the dead horse began.

Opening with a much more detailed backstory as to just who Pinhead was before opening the box. We are introduced Captain Elliot Spencer (Doug Bradley) who we see open the puzzle box and become Pinhead during World War I.

Jumping forward to present time (well, 1992), some nightclub owner called J. P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) buys a unique piece of art, it just so happens this piece contains the soul of Pinhead. After being bitten by a rat, J. P. spills his blood onto the art and this awakens Pinhead – but does not release him, he needs more blood to be fully free. J. P. agrees to help Pinhead by bringing him another victim.

Meanwhile, reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) gets visions of Captain Elliot Spencer who is trapped in some kind of limbo. So Joey and ghost Elliot team up to take down Pinhead.

My View

I don’t like it – lets move on…

Of course I’m going to rip this one apart more so than Larry/Frank at the end of the first film. To be honest, this is not a terrible film – its just a terrible Hellraiser film. The wonderful, regal and enigmatic Pinhead from the first two flicks is gone and has been replaced with Freddy Krueger… pretty much. Pinhead is now this wise-cracking slasher villain spouting one liners and badly written ‘humour’. That glorious Clive Barker imaginative and creative world has been destroyed and replaced with 1990’s North Carolina. There are new Cenobites introduced and they are shit – such as that CD face one that shoots CDs at people… cos you know, 90s!

Hellraiser III Cenobites

Police cars explode as do church windows, the police are unbelievably stupid… well all characters are to be honest and the plot is pathetic. The mystique of Pinhead is obliterated by the Captain Elliot Spencer backstory that we didn’t need or want. This is a far cry from the simplicity and effectiveness of the first film.

The studio wanted to make a more mainstream horror flick and they did exactly that. It panders to that 90s horror crowd, it cashes in and sells out by trying to make Pinhead the next Jason or Freddy and he loses all of his priestly persona due to this. In fact there is a scene where Pinhead wreaks havoc in a nightclub and the scene is very reminiscent of the pool-party scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. The film is just a bog-standard, typical 90s slasher film, I suppose its worth watching if you like that kind of thing – but its just not Hellraiser. Almost forgot, Ashley Laurence has a small cameo as Kirsty.

Pistonhead Cenobite: “Relax, baby. This is better than sex.”

Hellraiser: Bloodline

Hellraiser Bloodline

This one is so bad that its directed by Alan Smithee and any self respecting film fan should know who he is…

Released in 1996 – this was the final film in the franchise to be released theatrically and also the last one that Clive Barker had any involvement in. What started out as an ambitious and interesting concept was ruined by studio interference.

Okay, so there are three different timelines going on in this flick. So we have a prequel set in the 19th century telling how the puzzle box was first created. Then there is a direct sequel set in the 90s that explains the Lament Configuration building seen at the end of the previous film, and finally – there is a future sequel in the 22nd century set on a space station.

Its 2127 when Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) uses a robot to try and solve the puzzle box on board a space station: The Minos, that he created. The film then flashes back to France, 1796 where we see Dr. Merchant’s ancestor, Phillip LeMarchand (Bruce Ramsay again) as a famed toy maker who creates the puzzle box under commission for the aristocrat Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell). LeMarchand is unaware of just what the box is for as L’Isle wishes to use it to sacrifice a peasant girl to please the demon Angelique (Valentina Vargas). LeMarchand is told his bloodline is now cursed for helping to create the box and open a portal to hell before being killed.

In 1996 John Merchant (Bruce Ramsay yet again), a decedent of Phillip LeMarchand, has built a skyscraper inspired by the puzzle box. The demon Angelique travels to America and releases Pinhead from the box. The two team up to cause pain and suffering to millions and kill John Merchant who is working on an anti-puzzle box, The Elysium Configuration. Back in 2127 and it seems that the opening of the box has freed Pinhead and his cohorts… in space!

My View

This film could have been amazing. It held such promise with an idea thought up by Clive Barker that would been much more in-depth and thought out. However, the production company cut the budget, ordered director Kevin Yagher to film a new ending and alter certain scenes that changed characters and their motives (which is why he’s credited as Alan Smithee). 25 minutes were cut from the film for the sole reason to get to Pinhead quicker and it ended up becoming a hatchet job.

Hellraiser Bloodline Box

Its a damn shame too because this could have been a worthy Hellraiser sequel. There are some great moments in this one, the whole 1796 France portion telling the origins of the box are really well done and the Pinhead and Angelique relationship is fun to watch too. Yet one of the biggest problems of the film is Pinhead himself, there’s just too much of him as the production studio force him down your throat – Pinhead works best when used sparingly. Plus, save a few examples, a lot of his dialogue is just awful.

This one is very hit & miss, you can really tell that it suffers from studio interference and we can only wonder just how much better this film would have turned out if they just left Kevin Yagher to direct the film he and Clive Barker wanted to make.

Pinhead: “Hell is more ordered since your time, princess, and much less amusing.”

Hellraiser: Inferno

Hellraiser Inferno

Well this is it folks, the start of the ‘straight to DVD’ era of Hellraiser. There is also another thing the films have in common from this point onward too – none of them were written as Hellraiser films at all. What we have now is a slew of unused film scripts nobody wanted to make – spec-scripts that the production company just threw Pinhead into.

The first Hellraiser film of the new millennium as this one was released in 2000 and directed by Scott Derrickson.

So this one follows a corrupt detective, Joseph Thorne (Craig Schaeffer) with a penchant for drugs and prostitutes. Joseph is called out to a murder scene which seems ritualistic in its execution. At the murder scene, he finds the infamous puzzle box which he solves and then starts to experience strange hallucinations and visions. Joseph eventually links the murder to someone (or thing) known as ‘The Engineer’. He investigates more murders, of which the victims are his friends and associates and he is soon considered the number one suspect.

Believing he is being driven mad, Joseph seeks out the help of a psychiatrist who is not all he seems to be.

My View

If this was a straight up story about a psychologically troubled detective – it could have been a quite interesting psychological thriller. But the fact they shoehorned in Pinhead to make it a Hellraiser sequel is a major failing and as a Hellraiser sequel is how I have to look at it.

Hellraiser Inferno Girls

It has pretty much nothing to do with Hellraiser at all aside from a few tenuous links and references. There are a couple of interesting scenes – like the one above where Joseph is ‘caressed’ by two prostitute Cenobites and his decent into madness can be an entertaining journey at times. But as an overall film and Hellraiser sequel – its atrocious and insulting to the name. Pinhead is used VERY sparingly in this one, so much so that you can really tell he was just thrown in at the last minute. Remember when I said earlier that using Pinhead sparingly is a good thing? Well here he’s actually under-used in a blink and you’ll miss him appearance.

Tony Nenonen: “What’s an eight-letter word for ‘slaughterhouse’?”

Hellraiser: Hellseeker

Hellseeker Kirsty.jpg

Directed by Rick Bota and released in 2002. So this one has a nice surprise – Ashley Laurence is back as Kirsty. But is that enough to keep the most hardened Hellraiser fan happy?

Okay so this time around, Trevor Gooden (Dean Winters) survives a car crash that plunges into a river, but his wife Kirsty Cotton-Gooden (Ashley Laurence) is nowhere to be found when police divers recover the car. Is she dead and if so, where is her body? A month later and Trevor wakes up in hospital suffering a head injury that affects his memory and grasp on reality. He struggles to find out what happened to Kirsty as well as keep himself sane. Its not until Pinhead turns up and explains exactly what is going on that the truth comes out.

My View

Much like the previous film, Hellraiser: Inferno, this one is a waste of a good idea. While I’d say this flick is ‘better’ than the last one – it suffers from a lot of the same problems. This too could have been a good, stand-alone psychological thriller and quite honestly didn’t need to be a Hellraiser sequel at all. Having Ashley Laurence back as Kirsty was a great and welcome idea too. But I feel she was misused here – knowing the ending to this picture and remembering her character from the first two flicks, it makes no sense.

Hellseeker Trevor

I don’t want to spoil the ending here as its actually pretty good to be honest – even of it doesn’t make a lot of sense character-wise. Also the reunion of Kirsty and Pinhead should have been an epic meeting, yet it feels very flat and a wasted opportunity. The ending may be a decent one, but the journey getting there lacks punch and is rather tiresome.

Chief Surgeon: “You’re freaking me out. And I’m a coroner.”

Hellraiser: Deader

Hellraiser Deader

And here we are at number seven (I can’t believe I’ve made it this far). Rick Bota returns as director, the film was released in 2005 and was a continuation of the ‘straight to DVD’ formula.

Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) is a reporter sent to Bucharest by her boss after witnessing a video tape that seems to show a ritualistic murder by a supposed cult known as ‘The Deaders’ (we have a title people!). Amy finds the puzzle box and takes it home to open it… which (of course) unleashes Pinhead… or does it?

Amy eventually tracks down Winter LeMarchand (Paul Rhys) the leaded of ‘The Deaders’ and a decedent of the creator of the puzzle box (remember Hellraiser Bloodline?). Winter believes it is his birthright to own the box and everything that entails, including becoming the leader of the Cenobites. The film then becomes a battle between ‘The Deaders’ and the Cenobites… guess who wins?

My View

You know what? I’m willing to admit that the first 20 – 30 minutes or so of this one are actually pretty damn good. The scene were Amy finds the box is a particular highlight. You get a sense of not only that you are watching a good horror film, but that you are also watching a good Hellraiser film. Its moody, atmospheric and it all feels very Hellraiser-esque. Dare I say it? It even has a Clive Barkery style and tone. But sadly, the flick falls apart quite quickly after that.

Hellraiser Deader Chains

Unfortunately, this was another one of those non-Hellraiser scripts that was sitting on the shelf doing nothing, so the producers decided to throw in Pinhead and sell it as a Hellraiser sequel… and it shows. And again, I can’t help but think that this could have been a better stand alone flick if it had done its own thing. The ending is very ‘meh’ and you can really tell that Doug Bradley was starting to get more than a little bit bored of being Pinhead as his performance feels very phoned in. A great start, but the latter part of the film is dull and almost unwatchable.

Pinhead: “Dreams are fleeting. Only nightmares last forever!”

Hellraiser: Hellworld

Hellraiser Hellworld

Yes, Rick Bota is directing again for the third time and this one was released in 2005, same year as the last movie as they were shot back to back. So given the fact the last two films were directed by the same person and filmed together and the fact they were both released the same year – you’d think they would be connected plot-wise right? Nope!

So this one is about an online video game based on the Hellraiser franchise… seriously. It is set up that the movies exist in this films universe as fiction and the game within this movie, called Hellworld (we have another title folks), is spin-off/sequel to the fictional movies. So anyway, a teenager dies while playing the game and all his friends refuse to play the game ever again… until they are invited to a special Hellworld party held in a creepy old house.

This is when we are introduced to The Host (Lance Henriksen) who is – errrm… the host of this mass sex, drugs and shitty dance music party. As the party progresses, the teens end up being killed off one by one in unoriginal ways at the hands of The Host and Pinhead.

My View

This is pretty much considered the worst of the franchise and people who say this have never seen the next film…

Yeah this one is fucking terrible, a complete mess of a picture. There are a couple of plot twists thrown in, but if you have an IQ over two – then you’ll see them coming within the first five minutes. Is Pinhead real or not… ahhhhh, who fucking cares at this point? The other films in the franchise, even the bad ones had some redeeming qualities about them – this one does not. Okay, so Lance Henriksen is a joy to watch (when isn’t he?) and that’s about it.

Hellriaser Hellworld Pinhead.jpg

The plot is stupid, the characters are flat and instantly forgettable (I honestly do not remember any of their names), the acting is wooden and by now – its quite clear that Doug Bradley is only appearing in the film to pay the mortgage. You’ll be as bored watching the film as Doug was acting in it and this film marks his final time playing Pinhead. Oh yeah, Henry ‘Superman’ Cavill is in it too, so he has been in a film worse than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Its not scary, its not atmospheric, it not entertaining, its not Hellraiser.

The Host: “Like a bad horror movie, isn’t it?”

Hellraiser: Revelations

Hellraiser Revelations.jpg

Holly fuck-balls, this is going to be a lot of fun to write up. Directed by Víctor García and released in 2011. This flick is a desperate attempt for the production company to hold onto the Hellraiser license… and it really shows too.

So this plot revolves around two teenagers (don’t remember their names, don’t give a shit either) who travel to Mexico, and they film themselves (lost footage film people) partying and so on. Yet the boys disappear. Their belongings are returned to their parents, including the footage they filmed.

Twelve months later, the families of the two missing teens gather for a dinner party. The contents of the footage the boys recorded is brought up and the film is shown in flashback via the found footage on exactly what happened to the teens when an unexpected visitor arrives.

My View

Okay, so before I get into what I think of the film, I just want to share a couple of Tweets with you from the main-man himself – Clive Barker in relation to this movie when it was marketed as ‘from the mind of Clive Barker’…

Clive Barker Tweets

Bearing in mind we are now nine films in and despite not having much to do with any of the sequels aside from some behind the scenes stuff and absolutely nothing to do with any of the films after Hellraiser: Bloodline, Clive Barker has never once spoken out about the quality of any of the sequels. This is the film that broke his silence.

I’m not sure where to start with this abomination of a movie. To be honest, I could write a stand alone article on just how terrible this one is and it would probably end up being longer than this entire (very long) retrospective. Hellraiser: Hellworld was bad, really, really bad – but this one is a whole new level of terrible. The acting feels like you are watching a day-time soap opera…and a bad one at that. The plot feels as if written by a sixteen year old with a mental age of a five year old. The dialogue makes your ears bleed and the film looks like it was shot on someone’s phone from the around 2009.

I’m going to try a little visual experiment here. So what you are about to see is a side by side comparison between the original Pinhead from the first film and the new Pinhead in this one… brace yourself…

Pinhead Comp

Sorry, but I can’t help but giggle when I see that. The original Pinhead had a mystique about him, his mannerisms were amazing, he had a screen presence whenever he appeared (even in the bad sequels) and his voice was commanding as he spouted some of the greatest lines in any horror film.

The new Pinhead however… just look at him. I think they spent about $10 on the make-up. Stephan Smith Collins who plays Pinhead in this one is no Doug Bradley. His acting is wooden and he’s about as intimidating as an ant’s fart. He looks like someone who turned up to a horror convention in a home-made costume. You know, Doug may not have given a shit in the latter sequels when he played Pinhead… but he was never this terrible.

Right here I just want to explain how I complied this whole retrospective. Over the course of nine days, I watched the Hellraiser films from the original up to Hellraiser: Hellworld. Sometimes I watched more than one film in a day, sometimes I only watched one. I would take a day off now and again in-between to look at my notes and write this article. After day nine, it was time to watch this film… and that in itself took three days. I could not watch this film in one sitting and had to split it up into three separate sessions over three days. I sat through Hellraiser: Hellworld in one sitting no problem and that was atrocious. Also, this film is only seventy five minutes long and I had to split it up into three parts over three days – just let that sink in for a while…

Hellraiser Revelations pinhead

I still giggle at that! You silly cosplayer.

So I need to move on as I think my rant against this film is going on longer than my love for the original. But I need to wrap up. Remember how I said the other sequels were made from spec-scripts and they just threw Pinhead on to make them Hellraiser films? Because of that, you can kind of excuse some of the shortcomings of the films. This one however was written from the start as a Hellraiser sequel and yet it somehow manages to have even less to do with the franchise than the others. You know, I found at least one thing worth watching of all the sequels in this franchise, whether that be a great scene, an interesting plot twist, an acting performance. There has always been something (no matter how small) that I’d say was worth watching the film for – not with Hellraiser: Revelations, this flick has nothing redeeming about it – NOTHING. Please do not waste you time with this one.

I thought I’d end up by sharing a couple of tit-bits I discovered in my research for this flick:

It’s budget was around $300, 000 (obviously only $300 of that was spent of the effects and make-up the rest on drugs for the writer and director) and took less than three weeks to film. Also, the film was only made so Dimension Films would not lose the Hellraiser license and who owns Dimension Films? The Weinstein Company as in Harvey Weinstein and only someone as sick and twisted as that fat-fuck could come up with a film this shit (yes, managed to bring everything full circle to my Harvey Weinstein jab at the start of this article).

Vagrant: “This will take you beyond the limits. Places you can’t even begin to imagine. Sensual pain.”

But its not over yet…

Hellraiser: Judgment

Hellraiser Judgment

So there’s yet another Hellraiser film (that’s ten for those counting), but I can’t offer my opinion on this one as its not been released… yet. But I can tell you what is known of the film so far.

The film revolves around three detectives who team up to track down a serial killer. As they investigate, they discover the killer has otherworldly connections. And that’s about all is known about the plot. The film will feature horror icon Heather Langenkamp playing a landlady. There’s a new actor playing Pinhead too…

Paul T Taylor Pinhead

Introducing Paul T Taylor as the new Pinhead… well he doesn’t look as bad as the last one.

But will the film ever be released? It was originally announced as being released on 28th of March this year, but that obviously never happened. Then it was suggested that the delay was because they are trying for a theatrical release – Pinhead himself even made the following Facebook comment.

Hellraiser Judgment Tweet

Yet there has still not been any news on the film, not even a trailer. Its all gone very quiet on the Hellraiser: Judgment front. The film has been completed but nobody outside of the production has even seen a single frame of it. Are they really trying for a theatrical release – or is it just too bad to be seen by the public? Some people are being very optimistic about the flick, but I have my doubts and the biggest one is writer/director Gary J. Tunnicliffe. You may not recognise the name, but I do – he wrote the previous flick Hellraiser: Revelations and you know how I feel about that one.

Seeing as I’ve watched all the films up to this point, I guess I’ll have to watch this one too… if its ever released. It can’t be as bad as Hellraiser: Revelations can it?

Overall

In hell

So how do I feel about the franchise as a whole? I think its awful, one of the worst horror franchises ever made. Pinhead once said: “Your suffering will be legendary even in Hell!” And after watching the entire series over the course of almost two weeks – I now know what he meant. This franchise is the movie equivalent of Hell and the deeper you go, the worst it gets.

The first film is amazing, the second one is a damn good sequel… and then it all goes very, very wrong. A few minor highlights aside – the films from Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth onward are just not worth it. You know, if they were clever, they could do a really good meta film – kind of like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. They could make out that the Hell that Pinhead and the Cenobites take people to is a non-stop, continual showing of the Hellraiser sequels with a double screening of Hellraiser: Revelations.

And just for a little bonus – a Hellraiser merchandise video promo that was found at the end of the original VHS release in 1988. Because, why not?

But I’m not done with my 30th anniversary of Hellraiser yet – as I’ve also taken a look a the unreleased Hellraiser NES game right here.

The Return Of Two Classic Cinema Heroines

Its been an interesting few days as two long running film franchises both announced two new sequels and the return of two memorable female characters. Yes – both Laurie Strode and Sarah Connor are set to make comebacks in sequels to the Halloween and Terminator film franchises and both played by their original actresses too as Jamie Lee Curtis and Linda Hamilton have agreed to appear in their respective roles.

But wait a second, isn’t there a slight problem here? I mean both of the characters are dead. Laurie was killed at the start of Halloween: Resurrection – in fact Jamie Lee Curtis only agreed to be in the film if they finally killed her character off. She was stabbed in the back and thrown off a roof by Michael Myers.

Laurie Strode Death

Sarah Connor was killed off screen for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine where it is revealed that she died in 1997 from acute myeloid leukemia and was cremated in Mexico after using her casket to hide a cache of weapons.

Sarah Conner Death.jpg

Yeah, they dead alright. So how can they be in new sequels?

Well the first announcement was made when writer/prouder Jason Blum made this Twitter post which Jamie Lee Curtis herself later confirmed when she Tweeted…

“Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween. Release date 10/19/18.”

Laurie Strode Return.jpg

The film is said to be directed by David Gordon Green with original Halloween creator/writer/director, John Carpenter also on board as an executive producer, consultant and possibly provide the music too. Little is known about the film right now but it has been stated that it won’t be a reboot (as some sites are erroneously reporting), in fact to get around the fact that Laurie Strode is dead – the film is said to be a direct sequel Halloween II from 1981 that’ll ignore all the other films in the series… so a ‘proper’ Halloween III if you will and a celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the original 1978 picture.

As a side note: I love the real Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Awesome flick.

And it seems that creating sequels that ignore other films in the series is becoming a trend as that is exactly how they are bringing Sarah Connor back from the dead too. The rights to the Terminator franchise will revert back to the franchise’s creator (if you ignore Harlan Ellison) James Cameron in 2019 and he’s already planning on making more movies as The Hollywood Reporter has revealed. This new Terminator flick will be a sequel to 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day that (just like the new Halloween) ignores all the other films in the franchise.

Sarah Conner

Note I wrote “making more movies”, plural. Yes, Cameron has said he’d like to make a trilogy of new Terminator films. At this point I’d also like to bring up that both Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys were planed as starts to new trilogies too and look how that turned out…

But its not just Linda Hamilton who had agreed to come back for the new sequel as the main man himself Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on the be in the new film too. Said to be directed by Tim Miller of Deadpool fame with Cameron as writer/producer and he had this to say about the movie…

“We’re starting a search for an 18-something woman to be the new centrepiece of the new story. We still fold time. We will have characters from the future and the present. There will be mostly new characters, but we’ll have Arnold and Linda’s characters to anchor it.”

No release date has been announced but (as previously mentioned) the rights to the franchise do not return to Cameron until 2019 – so I’d guess either a 2019 or 2020 release would sound about right.

I'll be back

I Feel I Should Come Out

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now. Sharing my love of films along with my views and opinions. I really appreciate anyone who reads and follows what I do. I feel comfortable with my readers and I think I can be honest and frank with you all. So This article is my ‘coming out’ article.

So, here it goes…

Its been a little over a year now and I think the time is right to share with you all. I liked the new Ghostbusters movie. There, I’ve said it (well typed it) – its finally out in the open and I feel much better for it too.

Ghostbusters 2016

Now before I get all the “You’re not a true Ghostbusters fan!” bullshit thrown at me, I did a blowout Ghostbusters celebration last year – where I lauded the original film and it took me weeks to research and write (link right here). I took a look at the making of the original, did an overview of the film, the Ghostbusters games and so much more. It was a multi-part Ghostbusters festivity. I am a Ghostbusters fan – a HUGE one.

Now I’m not going to review the film, as I already did that. The short version? I was entertained by it. This serves more as an introduction to the point of this article. I’m going to admit to liking certain films that a lot of people really seem to hate.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.jpg

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

I’m a massive Indy fan – I’ve not done a huge Indiana Jones movie celebration… yet. But believe me, I’m a fan. I grew up watching Indy, he was one of my first childhood cinematic heroes. I’m such a big fan that I can even see the good in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom… and that’s not easy.

I was so looking forward to seeing this when it originally came out and I was there at the cinema a few days after it was released ready to watch it. I also made the terrible mistake of reading up on reviews of the film before I went to watch it (something I no longer do). The hype and excitement for this flick were high – the return of one of cinema’s great icons after a 19 year wait. But the reviews were terrible and downright depressing. It seemed that no one liked this one and were all lining up to tear it apart. So my expectations were low.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2

But how could it not be good? Pretty much all the original cast and crew returned, they even got Marion Ravenwood back and she’s the best Indy girl by far. Ford looked amazing for his age and comfortably stepped back into the role with ease.

I left that cinema with a huge smile on my face and just did not see the same film all the bad reviews were talking about. I watched a rip-roaring action/adventure flick with a great B-movie style… which is all the Indy films have ever been. But the fallout for the film was stunning with people nit-picking even the most mundane aspects.

Now don’t get me wrong – the picture has its problems (quick newsflash for you, all films do) and I admit to it being hard to argue against some of them. Yes Shia LaBeouf as
Mutt Williams (Indy’s son) was terrible and yes the whole tree swinging/’greaser monkey’ thing was cringe-worthy. It annoyed me that they decided to retcon Indy’s history to force in a son, as he had a daughter originally (told you I was a fan). And yes, those prairie dogs were fucking stupid. But still, some of the complains felt childish…

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull explostion

Lets take the bull by the horns. ‘Nuking the fridge’. I could not believe that this moment in the film kicked up such a fuss – so much so that there was a movement to have it replace the phrase ‘jumping the shark’. The hatred for this scene seemed to stem from just how ridiculous it was – and you know what? I agree, its ridiculous… but is it worthy of all the hate it got? Its an OOT scene… but just look at that image above and tell me that is not iconic, not awesome to look at. Seeing Indiana Jones standing in front of that mushroom cloud looks stunning, that is an iconic cinematic image.

But about the scene itself. People got all upset saying that it was not ‘realistic’  and would comment on how ‘impossible’ it was or how Indy escaped with no injures. Yeah cos that is not welcome in an Indiana Jones film right…

Temple of Doom raft

Climbing into a lead lined fridge and surviving a nuclear blast is ‘unrealistic’… but jumping out of a crashing plane with 2 other people in an inflatable raft. Then falling a few dozen feet at speed and hitting a mountain, to then go on sliding down said mountain and managing to avoid every tree/rock before plunging off a waterfall and landing in a river… with no one hurt and the only complaint is being wet… that’s okay is it?

These are what the Indy films are known for, the ridiculous. As I mentioned before, they are B-moives, high budget and slickly produced but still B-movies none the less. That is where their inspiration comes from. They are supposed to be OTT and outrageous. The Indy films have never… NEVER strived for ‘realism’. They pay homage to classic 50s action/adventure serials and they have never shied away from that either.

Yes the fridge scene was stupid, but so are several other scenes in the films too. I liked the fridge scene because it was stupid – it reminded me of ‘classic’ Indy. You know what? I liked the red ant scene too – now I’m not going to get into a diatribe as to why as there are other films I want to cover. But before I leave Indy 4 behind – there is one element I need to address…

Indy 4 Alien

Oh yeah, the aliens… sorry ‘interdimensional beings’. They’re aliens okay? This is an argument that I see both sides of. There are those that cry that “aliens don’t belong in an Indiana Jones movie!”. But why not? So you can have other (non proven) forces like God but not aliens? No one kicked up a fuss when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released. I have no problem with aliens being a part of the Indiana Jones universe and it makes sense given what these film’s inspirations are. But it is with Raiders where I also need to go for my argument against the aliens in this film. You see, Raiders had an element of the unknown with the Ark of the Covenant. When Indy is first asked to look for it and gets out that book with the illustration. You know the one depicting the Ark killing people via some kind of force…

Raiders book

Yeah – that’s the one. Anyway, when Indy is asked what it is – he replies with “Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something.” Key word there is ‘something’ as no one knows what it actually is, its just ‘something’. Maybe it is the power of God, maybe its not. Point is that its left ambiguous as to what kills all those Nazis at the end. The major failing with the aliens in this film is that they showed it. Its not open to interpretation, you can not come up with your own theory as to what these things are… they’re aliens. Showing the alien and having it kill the bad guys at the end is (other than a lazy re-hash of Raiders) like actually having God turn up at the end of Raiders and smiting the Nazis. This film would have been so much better if the aliens were left ambiguous. I don’t mind aliens being part of the Indy lore… I just don’t like how it was handled.

Anyway, I liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it entertained me and I had a smile on my face when I left the cinema and that is what I want from movies… to be entertained. Its not my favourite Indy film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

For my next film, actually – lets says ‘films’ as I’m going to do a horror remake double bill. Oh yes, the horror remake!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010.jpg

Are you ready for Freddy?

You have no idea how much I adore the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is this film that turned me into a self-confessed Wes Craven nut and I miss that mad-genius of horror so damn much. The world is a much lesser place without the great Wes Craven in it.

When the remake was announced, my eyebrow raised a little. I knew this had to be something special for it to be accepted… what bullshit, no matter how great this film turned out – it would never be accepted because of the anti-remake crowd. I knew there would be changes and updates and I could not wait to see them for myself. Of course Robert Englund would have to be replaced as the iconic Freddy and of course other characters would be changed too – its inevitable. Now I have to admit to not really liking too many of the main characters in this remake, they seems so ‘typical’ so sub-standard. But what of the big guy himself?

Freddy K

Stepping into the shoes of one of horror cinema’s most (in)famous creations must be a daunting task. I mean, its not like they were remaking Dr. Giggles and saying “Larry Drake – you’re out. We need a new actor.”. This is Freddy ‘fuckin’ Krueger and without Robert Englund playing him. So Jackie Earle Haley had to step into the grimy, brown hat and dirty red & green sweater. And you know what, I liked him… I really, really liked him. It was an all new Freddy and if I’m honest I grew to dislike old Freddy more and more in the (terrible) sequels after the first film. I wanted to see a new Freddy and I got exactly that. I personally thought Haley was awesome in the role and for me, he lifted this otherwise cookie-cutter horror remake to another level. As an overall film, I felt it was a little predicable (well it is a remake) and the majority of the characters were forgotten about as soon as the credits rolled… except for Freddy.

Freddy K 2

There was a moment in the story where I thought they were going to do something really interesting. You see, in the original – Freddy was definitely guilty. But in the remake, there’s a whiff of suggestion in the first third that Freddy could be innocent and the parents killed him erroneously. This would have been a great twist and added a much needed extra level to the plot – but sadly they didn’t do that an instead made human Freddy a sadistic child killing/molesting bastard. Just try to imagine having a Freddy Krueger you could have sympathy for.

I can’t say that the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake is an outstanding flick… but its also not as horrendous as people make it out to be either. Sadly it offers no real surprises and is bland in many aspects. But it does have a great sense of dread whenever Freddy is onscreen and there a handful of good horror moments too. But Jackie Earle Haley’s version of Freddy was amazing and worth watching just for that.

So from one remade horror icon to another…

Halloween

Halloween 2007

Evil. Remade.

When to comes to great horror writer/directors, I hold John Carpenter in the same regard as Wes Craven… but I have to admit to finding the original Halloween one of his lesser pictures. So it does not hold as much of a place in my heart as A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was not sure what to expect from this remake other than a lazy retread. But I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised when I did watch it. When you look at the film on the whole, the original Halloween is a very bare-bones flick. The story is almost non-existent and the characters became clichéd before the cliché was even created…. like totally. One of my favourite aspects of the film is the exact thing I hate about what they did in the original sequels.

Michael Myers

We follow a young Myers and see his disruptive family life, we get to see his relationship with Dr. Loomis. They gave Micheal Myers a backstory, a history and a reason for his murderous intentions which is something that I enjoyed about the remake and dislike about the original films, you know when they explain Myers via all that Thorn cult crap. I tend to lose interest when they try to give reason to a horror icon. I don’t mind the odd hints here and there, but when they attempt to give an explanation to a killer’s killing motives, that’s when I lose interest (see Freddy, Pinhead, Leatherface, etc). However, that was something about the Halloween remake that I really enjoyed. I wanted to know this Michael Myers, I wanted to learn of his history as it added much needed depth to an otherwise empty story and it is when you re-watch the original after seeing the remake when you realise just how little plot/story there is in it.

Michael Myers 2

Okay, so the hick-family members of the remake are stereotypical and very one note but that is what I like about them. The film isn’t trying to be high-art, its trying to be a horror film with just a touch of heart, a modicum depth and I think what it does, it does well enough. I genuinely felt for young Myers and his relationship with Loomis felt honest. In the original – there’s none of this. Its just a film about a guy killing babysitters while an eccentric doctor tries to stop him. The remake has that but adds more meat on the bones too.

Of course if there is one thing the original is famous for then its the lack of any blood and gore. There’s a few shots with very little blood but other then that – the flick is relatively bloodless. The remake goes the other direction and turns up the dial. There’s more than enough blood and gore in this version and to be honest… I’ve still not made up my mind whether I like it or not. I’m no prude, I’ve seen far bloodier and gory films over the years – I just can’t work out if I like it in this film or not.

Given the choice. I’d rather watch this remake than the original Halloween. As for Rob Zombie’s Halloween II? Fuck that movie.

Of course, Halloween is still not dead as another new film is on the way due to be released next year. This one is said to be a sequel to the original Halloween II with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to play Laurie Strode.

Halloween 2018

But that is a different article all together and this one has gone on long enough…

Anyway, there you go, that is my ‘coming out’ with films I liked others do not. I really enjoyed writing this one and my return with more ‘coming out’ movies in the future.

 

They All Float! IT Wasn’t Scary At All

Sorry folks but that clown was about as scary as a fluffy bunny wearing a pink bow. Now I’m not talking about the recent film remake in the cinema that is getting good reviews right now. Oh no – I want to take a look at the original TV mini-series that aired back in 1990.

It Novel

For those not in the know. IT was an adaption of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Many people consider the novel to be pretty damn terrifying, though it tends to drag on in places – its a horrific story done in that Stephen King style. There’s blood, gore, violence and even an underage gangbang.

The Novel

The story revolves around a groups of kids living in Derry, Maine during the late 1950s who call themselves ‘The Losers Club’. They are haunted by a mysterious creature who manifests itself as the kids most deep rooted fears; a mummy, a leper, a werewolf and most famously – a clown. The kids manage to fight of this creature, this IT and the kids make a pact they they will return to Derry to fight of IT again if IT ever returns.

Of course IT does return later as its stated in the book that IT must feed every 27 years. The kids are now grown up and IT begins to terrorise the children of Derry once more. So as adults, ‘The Losers Club’ reunite to defeat IT once and for all.

So that’s the basics of the novel – lets take a look at the mini-series.

The Mini-series

Originally aired on the ABC network on TV in 1990 and split into two parts shown over two consecutive nights totalling a 192 minute run-time – the later DVD release has a 187 run-time and has several scenes removed or shortened.

Pennywise 2

And this is the main problem for this mini-series. The fact it was made for TV in 1990. You see, TV can get away with pretty much anything these days. We have bloody/gory TV shows full of violence everywhere now. But this was not the case back in 1990, while the mini-series does have its share of blood – its really nothing compared to the novel. EVERYTHING is watered down. Just as an example: the novel opens with a kid, Georgie chasing a paper boat down a gutter. This is where we first meet IT the clown, ‘Mr Bob Gray’ as he introduces himself (A.K.A ‘Pennywise’). As Georgie reaches into the gutter to retrieve his paper boat, Pennywise pulls Georgie’s arm off – and this is all depicted in gruesome detail. In the mini-series, you have Georgie chasing his boat and meeting Pennywise who does grab the kid’s arm… and then it cuts to black and you see nothing.

Most of the scenes of this mini-series are just like this, they have the build up, the tension – but the payoff is just not there and you’re left with nothing.

Then there is the structure. The mini-series jumps around every five minuets between the 1950’s period when they were kids to the ‘present day’ as adults. I don’t mind non-linear structure (some of the stuff I write is done this way), but its overused here and gets annoying… really, really annoying. You’re introduced to a character as an adult and it’ll flashback to when they were a kid – rinse and repeat for every single main character in the plot. It fills in the back story but with all the jumping around – you’re left with a headache and not enough time to get to know each character. This is something the new remake corrects as its split into two separate moives with the first one just following the kids and the second flick telling the story of the adults – a much better narrative.

ITs Not Scary

When I say ‘ITs not scary’ I mean in both the sense of the overall story and how its been diluted for TV to the IT character itself. Most of the ‘scares’ in this involve balloons… yes – balloons.

IT Balloon

There’s a scene where one character (Mike Hanlon) does his annoying flashback introduction thing and when it cuts back to him as an adult – a balloon is floating next to him and it pops… and this is supposed to be a scare. See the pic above for another example of a balloon scare. There’s another scene where a fridge is opened and a load of balloons come out. There are balloons everywhere in this thing – in fact, I think there are more balloons than characters and its clear they’re really trying to make balloons scary. They just randomly appear and pop – popping balloons are not scary. They can give you a jump in real-life when you’re not expecting it I admit – but in a supposedly scary TV horror adaption?

I can just imagine how the pitch went for this mini-series…

Director: “I want to turn Stephen King’s IT into a TV series.”

Producer: “That’s quite a violent and bloody book. You sure we can get away with that stuff on TV?”

Director: “Already have that covered – we’ll remove most of the scares, blood and violence and replace it all with balloons.”

Balloon Pop

Okay so the mini-series has a few decent scary moments… a few. But for something that runs at 192 minuets – its just not enough. I’ve seen scarier Goosebumps episodes and that was a kids TV show.

Pennywise

Now for the main course – Pennywise himself. He comes across as just mildly more scary then all those damn balloons. Now I mean no disrespect to Tim Curry playing Pennywise here as he’s amazing. This mini-series is worth watching just for Tim Curry’s performance alone. He really pours his heart and soul into this role and that shows on the screen… he’s just not scary.

Pennywise 3

No, not even with those teeth. Not scary. He’s funny – downright hilarious in fact. cracking jokes, making puns and that laugh.

Pennywise: “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do! Well you’d better let the the poor guy out! HU-HA-HU-HA-HU-HA.”

Pennywise Gif.gif

This is what he does best. Make bad, outdated jokes while laughing hysterically and he’s brilliant at it too. I love Tim Curry in this and I love his character, he’s just in the wrong genre. Tim Curry should return to the role as a kids entertainer –  I’d hire him for birthday parties. I could watch Curry’s Pennywise all damn day.

IT is funner than it is scary and at times it genuinely feels like a parody/spoof. Have a double feature of this and Airplane! and you’re in for a good time.

Now I know what people are thinking – You’re an adult. Of course its not scary now, you should have watched it as a kid.. Well – here’s my rebuttal. This mini-series was made for adults in 1990, so it was adults that would’ve watched it back then. Besides, I’m in my 40s now. I did watch this as a kid back in 1990 (think I saw it in 91). Its not scary now and it wasn’t scary then either.

There was one clown that scared my back when I was a kid and if I’m being honest, still kind of does now. And that was this fella…

Poltergeist Clown.jpg

And that was a doll, and inanimate object.

Pennywise is a riot, a complete laugh. If you want a load of un-scary balloons and a damn amazingly comical clown performance then the IT mini-series is a must see. Its rib-crackingly good fun. Its one of the best comedies of the 90s – well worth a watch. A terrible horror but a brilliant comedy.

I’ve not yet seen the recent remake (yet), but it is getting good reviews and people are saying that it is scary… but is it as funny?

Just as a side note: It is mentioned in the novel how IT returns every 27 years to feed. Well its has been 27 years from the release of the mini-series up to the release of the remake…

Pennywise 2017