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“Scream 4”
a review by Darby O’Gill

The movie that changed the face of horror is back, and this time with a whole new set of rules. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since the first Scream movie came out, and just a little over 10 years now since Scream 3. One would even wonder if we needed a fourth installment to the Scream franchise, especially when three already seemed like one too many. But luckily for us, screenwriter Kevin Williamson has also returned this time around, and has brought a bit of that old fun creativity back with him. The one thing that made the original Scream so amazing was its outstanding writing. Sure, it wasn’t Shakespeare. But, there’s no denying that it was the writing that made that movie the classic it is today. And with Facebook, Twitter, and a whole new style of horror movies emerging in the last 10 years, Williamson had an opportunity play with some new ideas.

In Scream 4, Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, has finally written a book that tells her side of the story, and is somehow talked into finishing her national book tour in Woodsboro, on the anniversary of the first killing. With the return of Sidney, the anniversary, and yet another installment of the popular Stab movie series, wouldn’t you know someone else wants to try their hand at being the Ghostface Killer. Dewey, played by David Arquette, and Gale Weathers, played by Courteney Cox, are now married and currently living in Woodsboro, where Dewey is the town Sheriff. They also introduced a new generation of teens, along with the idea that the killer might not be playing by the rules of a sequel this time around, and might actually be looking for a 21st Century reboot!

I’ve got to say, I enjoyed Scream 4 more than the last two sequels, but I still think they could have taken it a little bit further. Although, having Kevin Williamson back in the screenwriter’s chair is a big help, they did have a few opportunities in this script to take the franchise in a whole new direction, but in the end, they ultimately ended up sticking to the same old format. Well, that’s not completely fair. There is a new twist to Scream 4, and not one that I think most people will see coming, but I think the biggest problem the Scream series has always had to deal with is the fact that the killer, or killers, have always clearly died at the end of each movie. The other big problem is that the movie isn’t about the Ghostface Killer, it’s about Sidney, Dewey, and Gale! With Freddy, Michael, and Jason, the movies are always about them, the rest of the cast is replaceable. It’s easy to bring back the unstoppable killing machine once they’ve been established, and at one point in Scream 4 (without giving anything away) they could have easily done that. I’m not saying that it would have been a good thing for the series, but it would have at least been different, and maybe even a new direction you didn’t see coming this time around. Scream 4 manages to keep the audience guessing, and has more red herrings than you can shake a stick at, but it is definitely a welcomed addition to the series.

Rating:



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“A Nightmare on Elm Street”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Okay, let me take a deep breath before we go down this road. Oh yeah, it’s that bad. Here we go; another classic remake that doesn’t work. The only person that’s going to be happy with the new A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, is Robert Englund, because it’s finally going to prove just how important he is to the role of Freddy Krueger. That’s not saying that Jackie Earle Haley did a bad job with the role, he just unfortunately was in a crappy movie with bad cat-man make-up. Also on a side note, I think Christian Bale should have trademarked his gruff-raspy Batman voice, because if he had he’d be rolling in the dough by now. Seriously, does every bad-ass character in a movie these days need a Ricola?

In the new A Nightmare on Elm Street, teenagers start dying in their sleep, and they slowly start to realize the same man is appearing in all their dreams, and is trying to kill them one by one. Now, I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, but I will be talking about a few of the plot points in the next few sentences, so you’ve been warned. *SPOILERS START* Let’s start with Freddy’s back story. He’s no longer a child killer, but rather a possibly unjustly accused pedophile. Sadly this is mostly true, but thanks to some last minute re-shoots, Krueger is now guilty of being a pedophile. Doesn’t that make you feel better? He’s guilty! Hooray! He touched their naughty bits, but never killed anyone. That’s right, Freddy Krueger never killed a kid until he started killing teenagers in their sleep. Really!? If he never killed any kids, then why would he want to start killing them now? Wouldn’t he be trying to have sex with them in their dreams instead? Do I really have to point this shit out? *SPOILER END* This movie really does suck! There are some nice moments, but they are few and far between. The writing is absolutely horrible. It’s full of I say this and you say that dialogue. And at no point do they even try to do anything interesting with the storyline. I think the filmmakers were trying to kill the audience, because I almost fell asleep two times while watching the movie, and I thought the whole idea was to stay awake. Although, death would have at least put an end to Michael Bay’s molestation of my childhood once again. First Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and now A Nightmare on Elm Street. Look, the reason the Friday the 13th and the Halloween movies work when they’re remade, is because the movies’ main characters are big masked killers that don’t talk, where as Freddy Krueger is a personality, and you can’t just replace that. Bottom line, skip this movie! Figured I’d just spell it out for you. Do yourself a favor and rent the originals. The later ones might be a little cheesy, but that’s also half the fun. There’s nothing fun about this new version, it’s just quiet simply a nightmare.

Rating:


“The Wolfman”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, it’s only February and I think we already have a front runner for next year’s Death Coach Award. The Wolfman is a remake of the 1941, Lon Chaey Jr. original classic The Wolf Man, only this version will never be able to stand the test of time. Universal Studios keeps trying to remake their classic monster films with all the new technology of modern filmmaking, but they never seem to be able to get it quite right. I think their biggest mistake is trying to mix this grand Jayne Austin type of setting, with a classic horror story. They think it highlights the romantic undertones of the monster movie’s original classic story, but all it really does is set-up the movie for failure. I understand that these films are based on classic literature, but they’re also the original horror films, and should be treated as such. Just once, I would love to see how one of these classic monster movies would look if they had used a Friday the 13th approach to the filmmaking. I wouldn’t want them to be hokey. I just would like to see a monster movie try and be scary for once. You don’t have to lose the romance or Victorian setting, just focus more on the monster. The original movies were scary for their time. And in this day and age, it does take more to scare us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to make one of these classic tales scary. The studios should save their money, by not casting Oscar Award winning actors, or not overly focusing on the film’s cinematography, and just try to make a scary movie that will do its predecessor proud for once. I want to see someone like Rob Zombie remake one of these films. Hollywood can’t seem to wait to remake the modern classic horror films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or the Friday the 13th franchisees, and those usually turnout to be really good remakes. But for some reason, when it comes to the true classics, it never seems to cross their minds to have someone like John Carpenter remake The Wolf Man. Why is that?

Okay, so I guess at this point you can tell I didn’t really enjoy The Wolfman. Actually, I hated it! This movie was so long winded, and pretentious, that it couldn’t even die right. I’m not kidding. There is a death scene in this movie that is so laughable, that if you do go to see this in the theatres, you’ll be truly surrounded by the audience’s laughter during the scene. The other thing that totally drove me crazy was waiting for the Wolfman to start playing basketball, or maybe even try to get a keg of beer. Look, I give the filmmakers credit for not making the Wolfman a giant wolf, and trying to keep the classic Lon Chaney Jr. man-wolf look, but the last time we, as film goers, saw this type of werewolf was when Michael J. Fox was in Teen Wolf. I realize that making this type of werewolf work in this day and age is hard, but that was their job on this film, making it work. And, if they couldn’t make it work, then they shouldn’t make the movie! At no point during this movie, should I be thinking about Michael J. Fox and his keg of beer, but I did. Quite a bit actually, and I’m sorry but that ruins the scariness of this movie right there. That’s not to say that they couldn’t have made it work. Rick Baker did an outstanding job on the make-up of the Wolfman, as always. But, they just didn’t utilize how scary they could make this movie. If the Wolfman had been jumping out of the shadows and mutilating people more, I might have found myself a little bit more immersed in this film. Instead, I just found myself waiting for a big choreographed prom dance at the end of the film. Do yourself a favor, and skip it. Rent Lon Chaney Jr.’s The Wolf Man. Or if you haven’t seen it, and that would be a huge crime, get An American Werewolf in London. Hell, I would even suggest watching one of my all-time favorites, Monster Squad before this one, because this version of the Wolfman definitely has no nards!

Rating:


“Trick ‘r Treat”
a review by Darby O’Gill

It’s Halloween night, a night full of tricks and treats. Well, mostly tricks. But, the real treat is finally getting Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat released. I know it’s not the theatrical release we were all hoping for, but it is finally out on DVD. In the spirit of Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat takes four tales from one Halloween night and intertwines them into one fantastic story. It’s like Robert Altman and Wes Craven had a baby, and named it Trick ‘r Treat. Take a high school principal moonlighting as serial killer, a young woman searching for the perfect date, a childish prank that ends with disastrous consequences, and an old man that learns the true meaning of trick-or –treat, and what you have is one hell of a ride. Trick ‘r Treat was made in 2007, and spent two years just trying to get into theatres. It was receiving rave reviews at all the horror festivals, but for some reason Warner Brothers just didn’t believe in it enough to put it in theatres. It’s sad really. Great movies like this have to fight to see the light of day, but pieces of shit like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, have no problem finding their way into theatres. You know, there was another little horror film that was made in 2007 that couldn’t seem to find distribution. It was a little movie called Paranormal Activity. Ever hear of it? Maybe this will finally make Hollywood wake up. Most likely not, but it would be nice if other little movies like these would finally be given the chance they deserve, and not have to fight for two years just to see the light of day. I know. I know. It’s never going to happen. But, let’s get back to subject at hand. Trick ‘r Treat is a must see. With an amazing story, some brilliant cinematography, and fantastic performances, Trick ‘r Treat is a guaranteed Halloween classic. Oh, I haven’t even mentioned little Sam, the trick-or-treater demon that oversees the night’s events. He is a greatly welcomed addition to the Freddy and Jason’s of the horror community. I really hope they make more of these. I can’t wait to see Trick ‘r Treat 2! I just hope next time it’ll be in theatres on Halloween night, and not just a straight to DVD blow-off. Warner Brothers is sitting on a goldmine. They could make a new Trick ‘r Treat movie every year like the Saw franchise, but I guess we’ll just have to wait for them to realize that on their own. Until then, we’ll just have to keep fighting the good fight.

Rating:
5 Little People


DVD Special Features:

Sadly, that’s it. One bonus feature, if you can call it that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to see the animation short that became this movie, but come on! This movie had an incredible journey for two years, and you’re not going to do a commentary track for the feature film?! How about some behind the scenes footage, or maybe some deleted scenes? Hell, I’d be happy with even a trailer at this point! My only guess is that Warner Brothers was really on the fence about putting it in theatres, but at the last minute pushed it to DVD, and wanted to get it out before Halloween. If that is the case, we’ll hopefully get a Special Edition DVD at some point, but until then it’ just sad.

DVD Special Features Rating:
1 Little People


“Saw VI”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, it’s that time of year again. No, not Halloween, it’s time for another installment of the Saw series. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Darby, do we really need six of these movies? And the answer… These are not really movies. Okay, I know I can’t see you reading this, but I’m willing to bet most of you have a puzzled look on your face right now. Let me explain. The Saw movies are more like a TV show. Instead of getting twenty – four one hour episodes over the course of a year, you get one two hour movie every year around Halloween. Believe me, I wish that were the case for a few TV series out there. Now, the first Saw movie was fantastic! And, Saw II… Well, that one was a train wreck. But luckily Saw III was able to save the series, and it also started the ongoing storyline that is now the Saw franchise. The only problem with that is, if you haven’t seen the previous installments, you may be a little lost on who’s who. In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I personally know the writers that took over the series from Saw IV to Saw VI. So, with that being said, I will not be pulling any punches; but this was my favorite of their three installments. I think the most impressive thing about their writing, is their ability to write movies for a main character that died three movies ago. Sorry if I ruined it for you, but come on it’s the sixth movie! It’s been six years, why haven’t you watched these movies yet? Getting back to comparing Saw to a TV series, I think the best comparison would be LOST. Much like LOST, the storyline is always being moved forward by telling you about things from the past you didn’t know before. That style of story telling definitely sets the Saw series apart from the other slasher flicks out there. Also, they  have stepped up the gore over the years. A friend of mine was saying last weekend, that the thing he liked most about the first Saw movie, was that they didn’t really show the gore. You thought they were going to, but it was the thought of it that seemed to bother you the most. In the later installments they just seem to show you more and more, leaving less to the imagination. With all of this said, I think the Saw series still works. I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to be able stretch this series out. If I didn’t know that Saw VII was already written, I might have thought this could have been the last one, but I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see what’s next.

Rating:
3.5 Little People