Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996)

Directed by S.S. Wilson [Other horror films: Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)]

The first Tremors is a fantastic movie that I watched a lot growing up, and the same can be said here. While not quite as good as the first movie, Aftershocks still has a nice blend of humor and horror, and that, combined with Michael Gross, makes for a quality experience.

Kevin Bacon’s absence makes sense, but for what he was, Chris Gartin was a good replacement, and though he didn’t really have the same chemistry with Fred Ward as Bacon did, I think he did admirably. Ward himself was nice to see as a returning face, and he did work well with Helen Shaver (who herself was somewhat weak in comparison to Finn Carter’s character, but she had her moments).

Really, though, it’s Michael Gross who really makes the movie.

Burt has so many great scenes and lines that it’s hard to imagine what this movie would have been like if they couldn’t get him back. Bacon, I think they could afford to lose, but Gross? Forget it. With fantastic dialogue (“I am completely out of ammo,” “You know, as I lie here, I can’t help but notice…,” “I was denied critical, need-to-know, information,” and of course, “It’s gonna be BIG!”) and just an overall fun character, Gross is fantastic here, and really adds a lot to the movie.

Otherwise, while the movie does feel noticeably cheaper than the first film (losing two of the biggest cast names, Bacon and Reba McEntire, and being made as a straight-to-video film can do that), it still possesses a decent amount of fun moments, along with a clever way to invigorate the story.

Having the Graboids produce Shriekers was a clever idea, as it keeps things fresh and allows them to play with new ideas. I’m sure that, had the Graboids remained Graboids, they probably could have made a perfectly fine movie, but instead, like the underground monstrosities, they evolved, and I really appreciate that about this series (the third movie also has a quality evolution).

Special effects are pretty decent here. There’s not much in the way of gore, of course, but there are plenty of Shriekers getting shot or blown up (or in cases of running into Burt, both), and when others run into the carcass of a dead Graboid, it was disgustingly well done.

It’s also pretty well-paced. The film runs an hour and forty minutes, but it never feels like it’s dragging, and there’s a pretty good mixture between the suspenseful sequences and the humor. The finale was pretty fun (from Burt’s powerful gun ruining their escape plans to using a fire extinguisher to hide from the heat-seeking Shriekers), and that final explosion (as Burt said, “it’s gonna be BIG!”) was on point.

Tremors II: Aftershocks may be a step down from the first movie, but people should feel no shame in enjoying this. It’s a pretty well-made movie for the restrictive budget they had to go on, and I really think it holds up well, and given how many times I saw this as a kid, I can truthfully say that this provided a fun time back then, and still does today.

7.5/10

Carrie (2002)

Directed by David Carson [Other horror films: N/A]

Among my more well-known eccentricities is that I’m not a giant fan of the classic Carrie. It wouldn’t make my top 25 horror films from the 1970’s, let alone my top ten, which is a hot take, believe it or not. An even hotter take is that I enjoy this television production more than the 1970’s classic, and while I am sure some might be aghast, I can’t say I feel much shame.

The cast here is spectacular. Angela Bettis (May and Toolbox Murders) was the perfect choice, as she really pulls off Carrie’s character and personality. Patricia Clarkson (who was in both Delirium and Easy A – completely similar movies) was a good fit for Carrie’s mother, and her back-and-forth with Carrie was always fun to watch. Kandyse McClure (of the 2009 version of Children of the Corn fame) was decent as Sue, and a bit snappier here (for good story reasons) than she elsewise generally is.

Emilie de Ravin (who I think I recognize best from Santa’s Slay, but have also seen in The Hills Have Eyes remake and the mystery Brick) gave a good performance as the ultra-bitchy Chris, and related, Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, Freddy vs. Jason, and 13 Eerie) was great as her ultra-bitchy friend. Tobias Mehler stuck me as somewhat uninspired, but Rena Sofer and David Keith (Firestarter) were very good.

Though he only got one really stand-out scene, I also loved Laurie Murdoch, who played the principal, and though her character isn’t really relevant, I also wanted to mention Meghan Black, if only because I know her as the voice of Rogue in the cartoon X-Men: Evolution, which I watched the hell out of when I was a kid. Lastly, playing Carrie during a flashback, we have a young Jodelle Ferland (the kid in Silent Hill and later in movies such as The Unspoken and Neverknock).

So despite being a television movie, the cast did rather impress me. It’s true that there were obvious limitations in terms of special effects (which can likely most clearly be seen during the prom carnage and later the scene in which Carrie’s slowly walking and bringing the town down with her), but generally, I didn’t think this really harmed the story too much (I think the worst bit may have been the scene right before Carrie snaps – I just think it ran on a bit long).

The story itself takes some daring alterations in the finale, which I didn’t remember from my first-time viewing of this. While it’s true that how they ended this version isn’t novel accurate, I was never a giant fan of the novel, and the fact that this has a less down-beat ending actually sort of made me enjoy it a bit more.

Speaking of the novel, while neither the original 1976 version or the 2013 version did this, the novel has a lot of newspaper articles, journal entries, letters, and various things from Carrie’s life following the tragic event, split in between the telling of the central story. They don’t quite do that here, but the movie is framed during an interview by the police following the prom disaster, which I liked quite a bit, largely perhaps due to it giving David Keith time to have fun with his character.

With all of this said, what issues I have with the other adaptations are still true here – I just don’t love the story. However, because this version has a less depressing conclusion, I can dig it more. Sue me.

Much like how I enjoy the 1997 The Shining mini-series more than the 1980’s film, I enjoy this television production more than both the 1976 and 2013 versions. I’m an odd duck, but I can only say what I feel, and I truly enjoyed this one more. Good stuff, especially with the limitations they had.

7.5/10

Homicidal (1961)

Directed by William Castle [Other horror films: Macabre (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), Mr. Sardonicus (1961), The Old Dark House (1963), Strait-Jacket (1964), The Night Walker (1964), I Saw What You Did (1965), Let’s Kill Uncle (1966), The Spirit Is Willing (1967), Shanks (1974)]

William Castle is probably one of my personal favorite directors when it comes to pre-1970’s horror. His campy style never fails to entertain, and though his movies may rarely be necessarily special (with the exception of House on Haunted Hill, which is definitely special, and perhaps Mr. Sardonicus), they’re almost always entertaining, and Homicidal is no different.

Partially influenced by the success of Psycho from a year previous, Homicidal gives us a story filled with different characters and plenty of mystery, along with a conclusion of which the influence of Psycho can clearly be gleaned. Just because the film shares some elements with it’s better doesn’t mean Homicidal is without credit, though, because this movie has a lot going for it.

The cast throughout is stellar. It’s true that Joan Marshall gives one hell of a performance, and though maybe a little over-the-top at times, it’s a Castle movie, so I don’t imagine many could hold that against her. What’s even more impressive, though, is the performance given by Eugenie Leontovich, who plays a mute character, and must express herself solely via facial expressions. The terror that her character felt in certain scenes was palatable, and I loved it.

Patricia Breslin (who also popped up in Castle’s I Saw What You Did) was pretty good as the focal character past a certain point, and though she wasn’t really near as stellar as others, I definitely appreciated her presence. Somewhat similar is Glenn Corbett – he was perfectly fine in his role, but he didn’t stand out quite as much as other cast members.

Being a movie from the early 60’s, and also being black-and-white, Homicidal doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of gore (though there are two scenes of note – one a multiple gut-stab, the other the results of a decapitation – that are worth seeing), but it does give us a decent little mystery with a really fun finale (following Castle’s corny Fright Break, of course, which allowed theater-goers 45 seconds to leave prior to the film’s conclusion).

Since I’ve seen this once or twice before, I obviously knew how the film was going to end, and I suspect that most modern-day audiences, hard-wired to see plot twists coming from a mile away, will spot this one from, well, miles away, but that doesn’t, in my mind, make the conclusion any less stellar. It may well be obvious to new-time viewers, but I recall being surprised the first time I saw this, and while that may just mean I’m gullible, I still felt appreciation for that.

What I also appreciated was the opening to this film, which had director William Castle speaking to the audience, referencing previous works (Macabre, House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and 13 Ghosts) and having a jolly time with it. It reminded me a bit of Edward Van Sloan’s speech which opened up Frankenstein. It’s corny, but it’s fun, which I think Castle excelled at.

Homicidal may not be my favorite work from Castle, but I do think it’s a pretty good movie, and I definitely recommend it to fans of the classics the genre has to offer.

8/10

Martyrs (2008)

Directed by Pascal Laugier [Other horror films: Bonne Nuit (1999), Saint Ange (2004), The Tall Man (2012), Ghostland (2018)]

I’m not one of those who believes that a movie has to be enjoyable to be good, but I do maintain that if a movie is not a particularly enjoyable viewing experience, then those who dislike it have every right to do so. That’s clearly relevant to me here, because while Martyrs is a well-done movie in plenty of aspects, it’s a movie that I have a hard time with, and definitely don’t find that enjoyable.

Whereas other French horror films from the same time period share the same bleak feel this film possesses (such as Frontière(s) and Haute tension), they still have a bit more of a, shall we say, cinematic background, and by that, I mean that while they can be dark, I still find myself entertained, and that’s not something I can truthfully say about Martyrs.

No doubt the film is well-acted, though. Mylène Jampanoï and Morjana Alaoui make for a believable pair of friends, and Alaoui especially does well toward the second half of the film. Though a character of miserable intent, Catherine Bégin does a pretty good job, which might be helped by the fact she really only appears a handful of times.

There’s also no doubt that the special effects are amazing. Honestly, the movie isn’t quite a gory as people might think, but there are plenty of brutal scenes, and especially in the second half of the film, some hard-to-stomach sequences, so though it’s not a gorefest by any means (aside from perhaps the shotgun slaughter toward the beginning), there are some things here that probably won’t easily be forgotten.

Like I said, though, despite some positive and well-done elements, I just don’t enjoy the movie. It’s entirely possible that I liked this a little bit more than when I first saw it years back, but even then, it’s just a smidge. Part of it is the grueling scenes of torture that a character endears (and seems to last at least 15 solid minutes), and part of it is the story and the pseudo-philosophical ideas about the afterlife and forced martyrdom.

I did find myself enjoying the end (though I do quite want to know what was whispered in Bégin’s ear – not enough to go out, capture young women, and torture them into ectasy, of course – but I am definitely curious), but I don’t think it was entirely satisfying, which may well be the point, given the bleak feel that this movie has. The fact the finale is somewhat inconclusive makes the film darker still.

Martyrs is often rated quite highly, and I don’t want to take that perception away from people. I can only say that I personally didn’t love it, and though I can admit that there are elements that I could conceivably enjoy, it’s not a movie that I think I’ll go back to near as often as I would films like Haute tension. Take that how you will.

5.5/10

Dead & Breakfast (2004)

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler [Other horror films: Unearthed (2007), Uncanny (2015)]

This zombie comedy is a film that I’ve not seen in quite some time, and by “quite some time” I mean at least 12 years. I saw this one when I was between the ages of 11 and 15, if I had to guess, and I’ve only seen it once, so I was interested in revisiting it and seeing if I liked it any more than I did back then.

Unfortunately, my reasons for not really caring for it back then are still applicable to today – I find the film too silly to really get into, and while I sort of like some aspects (such as the special effects and idea of the lyrical segues and recaps), overall, there are far better zombie comedies out there, such as Shaun of the Dead, Last of the Living, and Doghouse (and of course, you could argue that this isn’t even a zombie movie, as these are more people being possessed by an evil spirit, but given the film is called Dead & Breakfast, I don’t personally feel all that guilty labeling it as such).

For a lower budget movie, the special effects are decent. It comes with it’s downsides, such as a scene in which blood splatters onto the camera (which is something I have always hated when it pops up in horror films), but from a purely technical standpoint, the gore effects here are impressive.

Even elements of the cast are decent. Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn, May, Population 436) was okay, though wasn’t that important. In a similar vein, Erik Palladino (of Return to House on Haunted Hill fame) was fine, but I never really cared for his character. I liked both Gina Philips (Jeepers Creepers) and Ever Carradine (who I recognized from Runaways), but I admit I’m sort of sick seeing David Carradine (who is Ever’s uncle, as it turns out) pop up in small roles. It just gets old.

For the most part, though, the central cast is stable, or at least unobtrusive enough as to not cause any problems. What bothered me more than a couple of uninteresting characters was the humor here. There might be a few funny lines, or an amusing scene, but overall, I thought a lot of the jokes here sort of fell flat. I also didn’t care, on a side-note, for the zombies dancing. Again, that felt more ridiculous than anything.

What was more grating than cute was those musical segments that recap the story (“But the only way to truly stop these drones is to dig up Mr. Wise’s bones / So that’s why the sheriff, drifter, and Melody took Doc down to the cemetery / To carve the bones into sharp stakes, one thrust to the heart is all it takes / Can’t kill them with guns and no strangulation, just good, old-fashioned decapitation”), and though maybe a couple of these peppered in would be okay, I just felt they popped in too often, especially given a whole song is sung during the credits which covered the whole of the movie.

Dead & Breakfast isn’t a terrible movie, and though I don’t often hear people talk about it, it does sport a perfectly decent rating on IMDb (5.8/10 with 5,784 votes as of this writing). It’s not my type of comedy, though, and overall, I just found the movie somewhat sluggish and wholly lackluster. I don’t think this is one that I’ll be looking to watch again anytime in the next twenty years, but some people out there will enjoy it just fine.

5/10

Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)

Directed by Ron Oliver [Other horror films: Thralls (2005), Black Rain (2009), Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House (2016)] & Peter R. Simpson [Other horror films: N/A]

Following the second movie’s Mary Lou Maloney, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss was an adequate sequel. It was nowhere near as enjoyable as the second film, and in fact, I think it ultimately feels the weakest of the first three Prom Night’s, but if you’re into more comedy-influenced horror, and in the right mood, this might be an okay viewing.

It’s not like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II didn’t have comedy, but this film is a lot more in-your-face about it, almost to a silly extent (and as soon as something straddles the ‘silly’ line, I’m outtie). There are certainly some rather amusing lines (two which come to mind, both happening in the same scene, are “I don’t want a fucking pie!” and “Alex, it wasn’t a person, it was a guidance counselor”), but sometimes it goes a bit far, especially in regards to some of the kills and those 50’s jingles in the background.

Where I think this movie fails the most is the final twenty minutes, though, which takes place in a Hell-like dimension. I mean, it makes sense as far as the story goes, but I have to say that I didn’t much care for it, especially making some of the victims of Mary Lou more monster than human (such as David Stratton’s character, who was a pretty decent guy overall). The final scene itself was okay, but a lot of the finale didn’t work for me.

Tim Conlon made for a fine lead, if not perhaps sometimes unspectacular. He was pretty well-suited for the style of comedy the movie had, though, so I’d give him props for that. Cynthia Preston (who didn’t get angry, just baked) was solid as Conlon’s girlfriend, and is probably one of the more recognizable faces in the film (as she was also in The Brain and Pin).

Replacing Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou, Courtney Taylor did good, or at least played her part well, given the corny nature of most of her dialogue. Lesley Kelly was funny in her few scenes, and lastly, while not note-worthy in almost any way, Robert Collins appeared somewhere here, and he played the beast Lord High Executioner in the classic Goosebumps two-parter A Night in Terror Tower. Loved that character (and hence, actor) ever since I was knee high to a tadpole, so wanted to give a shout-out.

It’s here I should mention that one of the directors, Ron Oliver, also directed quite a few episodes of Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Nightmare Room, and other such kid-oriented entries to horror, which I thought tied in nice with Robert Collins’ appearance. Amusingly, though, while Oliver directed Goosebumps’ episodes such as ‘Werewolf Skin’ and ‘How to Kill a Monster,’ he didn’t directed ‘A Night in Terror Tower.’

Problematically, given the more comedic nature of the film, none of the kills are particularly good. Actually, I think one of the best scenes in the more gory department would be when a character early on accidentally cuts his finger off. Elsewise, you have a guy stabbed with ice cream cones or a woman doused in battery acid. These aren’t terrible, mind, but they don’t really stand out.

Otherwise, though the movie isn’t good, I think most of Prom Night III is largely inoffensive. If you dug the style and vibe of the second movie, it’s probable that, to a certain extent, you’ll enjoy this one also. I didn’t particularly like this movie much, even with some of the choicer pieces of dialogue, but it was an okay watch. I don’t think it’s much more than that, though.

6/10

Drive In Massacre (1976)

Directed by Stu Segall [Other horror films: N/A]

I promise I’m not crazy, but this movie is decent. Well, actually, I can’t promise that my sanity is entirely intact, but I can promise that I have seen this movie four times now, and each and every time has been a blast.

In many ways, no doubt, Drive In Massacre is pretty bad. Part of it has to do with the commonly-available print, which has quite a muddled audio quality along with iffy lighting at times. Even without those issues, the story itself is pretty weak, the conclusion somewhat ridiculous, and though it only runs for around 75 minutes, it can feel boring.

All of that said, though, like I said, I’ve seen it four times now, and I really do find a good amount of this movie a hoot. Though not a horror-comedy in a traditional sense, the scene in which the two main detectives are undercover as a couple at a drive-in (one of the detectives being dressed as a woman) had plenty of lines in it alone that were laugh-worthy (“Kiss me, you fool” / “I hope so, we don’t need anymore of that” / “My God, married only two hours and you don’t want anything to do with me”), so it’s not as though the film is void of charm.

Honestly, both of the central detectives, played by John F. Goff (The Fog and Alligator) and Bruce Kimball (An Eye for an Eye and Snakes), were pretty interchangeable, and while they had some funny dialogue now and again, neither one stood out. Robert E. Pearson’s performance as the somewhat sleazy drive-in manager (as one character describes him, “He’s what you would call your perfect asshole”) was a lot of fun, and I definitely find his character a memorable one.

Douglas Gudbye’s performance as a mentally-challenged character was one of the strongest in the film, and I really felt for him at times. Lastly, though he was utterly added in only for padding, George ‘Buck’ Flower (Maniac Cop, Wishmaster, Pumpkinhead, Cheerleader Camp, and many others) was fun to see.

For a proto-slasher, there wasn’t much in the way of slashing. The best kill is easily the opening decapitation, but there was also a woman stabbed through her neck and the aftermath of a few other killings. Nothing amazing, but at least the opening kill could theoretically hook someone in.

I certainly understand why many people don’t care for this movie, and some find it laughably bad (at the moment of this writing, Drive In Massacre sports a 3.5/10 on IMDb with 1674 votes), but it’s a movie I personally dig. It’s far from a movie without flaws, but coming from a guy who willingly watched this four times, it’s #golden.

7/10

The School (2018)

Directed by Storm Ashwood [Other horror films: N/A]

Maybe I’m becoming quite bitter and cynical in my old age (27 is now old age, alas), because I found very little in this Australian film to be worth it. Maybe it’s just my mood, but this struck me as utterly abysmal, and if I rate it above a 0/10, that should be seen as a mercy.

From the very first time I heard about this one, I was expecting to dislike it. When I started the movie, it only took a minute for my preconceptions to be confirmed, because the film starts with a woman waking up in a bathtub in a dark and ominous room. I said aloud, “She’s dead, I’m calling it.” Well, she wasn’t dead, but I was still pretty close to being entirely correct, as it’s revealed an hour into the movie that she had slit her wrists, and it revealed this as though it wasn’t obvious from the very beginning of the fucking movie.

Maybe that’s just a small thing. In truth, it’s not as though this movie couldn’t have been okay, in a dark-fantasy-dealing-with-grief type way. Perhaps that’s even what they were aiming for, and the story of the obvious purgatory could have been one that at least held some mild interest. Instead, I just got a headache, what with the Hungries, the tribe of dead kids, the dead kids who weren’t in the tribe, the Wall-Walker, and the Weepers. The Weepers were dead bodies, the Hungries were ghosts in pipes or something like that, but it doesn’t matter, because it was all shit.

As always, I give credit where credit is due, and in this instance, I wanted to commend Will McDonald’s performance. I don’t get his character whatsoever, but he was having a fun time, and came across, more often than not, much like Jack Gleeson’s Joffrey – he has that manic, playful energy that suits him. The only other performance I wanted to mention was that of Milly Alcock’s, not that her character got a lot to do, but at least she stood out more than pretty much anyone else, including the central actress (Megan Drury).

It’s also worth mentioning that a rather beautiful song plays during the credits, titled “Better in the Dark” (which may be sung by Australian musician Brooke Addamo, also known under the moniker Owl Eyes). I think it was supposed to add emotional resonance to the end of the film, which didn’t work, given the film itself was utter shit, but the song in of itself is quite nice, and unlike The School, pleasing to the senses.

I also wanted to touch on the purgatory setting, which possessed some elements I sort of liked (such as some underground stream-type thing). The school is quite dark, dingy, and sometimes spooky at times, but from the very beginning, I got the sense that they tried way too hard. It just felt fake most of the time, as opposed to organically creepy (in a similar way that the dingy house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre felt too glossy to be authentic). I don’t think that this hurt the film that much (and certainly not as much as the pitiful story), but it was definitely noticeable.

Right now, at the time of this writing, The School sports a 3.9/10 on IMDb (with 610 votes), and I can understand that, though I think it’s actually worse. Of course, I can sometimes be a dick, but that’s what comes with watching a lot of films, some of which turn out to be quite terrible (immediately coming to mind are films like I Think We’re Alone Now and Toyko Stay Home Massacre). In a better mindframe, maybe a movie like this would work better, but I can only be honest, and say that I rather hated this one.

1.5/10

White Dog (1982)

Directed by Samuel Fuller [Other horror films: N/A]

There are some movies that you just know aren’t going to have happy endings, and while that doesn’t make the movie bad, it can impact your willingness to sit through it. This never bothered me that much – I still cry during the end of Titanic, and probably always will, but still find the film worth watching. White Dog is too a film worth watching, but it’s not one that I would say has much in the way of rewatchability.

Dealing with a pretty obscure topic (at least as far as my education was concerned) about dogs trained specifically to attack black people, it should go without saying that racism is very prevalent in this movie. Almost none of the on-screen characters are racist (save for one that shows up toward the end), but that a dog was “trained” (or beaten, depending on whether or not you’re a piece of trash who condones animal abuse) by a racist into a savage monster is just damn disheartening.

I don’t always like touching on racism, on a side-note. Partially, it’s due to the fact that I’m a white guy from Indiana who didn’t really know any black people until college, and it’s just not a comfortable topic for me. No doubt that comes from a place of privilege, and it’s just awful how backwards the USA still is when it comes to race. Still, it’s a necessary conversation, and I think this movie, which got some hate after it was released, does good with the topic.

The main character, played by Kristy McNichol (from Little Darlings, a movie I’ve not personally seen but my mother was a big fan of, so wanted to throw it a mention) strikes me as naive about some things, but really turns into a strong character, and when she confronts a racist man toward the end, it was great to see. Her performance here is pretty solid, especially during the first half as she’s learning to care about and love the dog.

McNichol isn’t the best performance though – that accolade goes to Paul Winfield. Though not an actor I’m that familiar with (I have seen him in both The Serpent and the Rainbow and The Horror at 37,000 Feet), Winfield does great here. I love his goal of attempting to recondition the dog in order to discourage racists from using them for their racist ends. About an hour in, he really goes out of his way to recondition this dog (even after the mild disagreement from McNichol’s character), and I love him for it, no matter how it ended.

Aside from these two, the only other person that really stands out is Burl Ives, who is a character that takes a little to get used to, but I did end up rather liking him. Dick Miller also pops up for a single scene, which was random but fun, and toward the conclusion, we get a little Parley Baer, playing a rather despicable character pretty well with the short screen-time he had.

It’s also worth noting that, while I have no problem with the horror label being thrown onto this movie, much of the violence is shown in a more dramatic and heart-breaking light. Sure, the movie is a downer by it’s subject itself, but aside from the second attack (of the street sweeper, played by Tony Brubaker), most of the kills don’t really feel like what you’d expect in a horror movie. That doesn’t downplay the horror of a humongous dog rushing someone down, but if someone went away from this finding it far more a drama, I couldn’t say I’d much blame them.

White Dog is a movie I’ve seen before, but like many of the movies I’ve seen in years past, I didn’t have a great memory of this one. It’s no doubt a well-made film, and is one that should be checked out if it sounds of interest, but it’s not a movie I think I’d go back to that often, and it’s definitely not what I’d call a fun viewing.

7/10

Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (2000)

Directed by John Blanchard [Other horror films: N/A]

I have to admit that I didn’t go into this one with the best mindset. Though I’ve seen this parody movie before, it’s been a hell of a long time, and never having been much a fan of the comedy from Scary Movie, I didn’t think this rewatch would go that well.

And of course, surprising me, I found that I enjoyed this one a bit more than I thought. By no means is Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth a great movie, but it did have it’s amusing portions, and I will fully fess up to laughing a decent amount throughout the film, and more so, it parodies films such as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer generally well.

Just to spout off a few of these, a girl calls her brother (this film’s answer to Dewey) a “dork,” to which he replies, “dyke.” Cue another girl (who is suspected to be a lesbian) to ask, her voice interested, “What?” It’s quick, it’s simple, but it still cracks me up. Or how we get multiple flashbacks from different perspectives of what each of the central characters are hiding (“Seems gene splicing is all the rage”), which was sort of clever.

Some of the humor shines through simple quotes (such as “24 Hour Pizza – if we’re not here in 24 hours, we’re not coming” and a student overhearing a teacher ask “Do you know where I can get an unregistered handgun?”), while others from just wacky scenarios (such as the Mentos parody, complete with the cheesy music, or the race between the killer and Majandra Delfino’s character). I think what got me the most was, during a “Greased Lightnin’” parody (“Greased Frightnin’” should you be curious), a stupid fucking dance this guy was doing. It was just so goofy.

So sure, maybe the humor here isn’t sophisticated (that German Club “Seig Heil” for instance), but about 45% of the time, it works. That doesn’t mean the other 55% isn’t without merit – it’s still a goofy, watchable parody, as I suspect most of the Scary Movie sequels tend to be (I have actually seen the second, third, and fourth, though I barely remember a thing about any of these).

As far as performances go, I only really want to bring up Majandra Delfino because she rocked the short hair look (and actually, briefly reminded me of Brittany Murphy in Cherry Falls). The others were decent – Harley Cross was sort of generic, but Simon Rex was fun, and Danny Strong was certainly something – but no one stood out like Delfino. Tom Arnold was sort of painful, as was Tiffani Thiessen, but that’s just the nature of over-the-top parody characters, so I don’t fault them for this.

And while I generally found the final twenty minutes the least engaging in the film, I did rather dig the song that played during a chase scene, being “Pretty in Pink” by The Grown Ups (a cover of the Psychedelic Furs song). This sequence was, I’m guessing, a parody of some video pop-up-facts-type thing from MTV, and was generally amusing (“The actor playing Dawson is afraid of heights. The director got him drunk and dared him to do the scene,” is one that I laughed at).

This isn’t my type of movie, and I definitely found some portions trying and not particularly amusing. All-in-all, though, it wasn’t a bad watch, and though I found it below average, I honestly sort of found some of this worth it.

6/10