Tag Archives: Halloween

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a witty and clever homage to horror films (last, I guess, being Scream), but this one takes a whole new angle from breaking down horror movies. Behind the Mask examines not only every slasher movie ever made, but attempts to recreate it down to a science. And, because it’s a movie, of course it does. Combining the refreshing take of a mockumentary and not taking itself too

A stunningly shredding performance.

seriously with a bit of ironically dark humor, this movie proves that even horror movies can be original.

Taken from the angle that Jason Vorhees, Freddie Krueger, and Michael Meyers are real people, this movie accepts the idea that there really are slasher serial killers out there. And what they do, they do for a living. It’s an art form. And, more than that, it’s all planned out to be executed flawlessly. There’s not escaping the killer, he does cardio.

She looks like Erin, right? It’s not just me?

So we follow Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a relatively unknown actor to me, but one that will stand out forever after his entrancing performance in this film. After accepting the terms of a documentary crew following him around, he is joined by Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals), an aspiring journalist. He shows off his farm and the legend behind his supposed “death”, and lays it all on thick. Taylor & crew can’t believe at first that this is all real, until they accompany Leslie on his stake-outs and preparation trips for his night of killing. And then it all becomes too horrifyingly real.

This movie leaves no idea unturned or examined. Everything is

Oh Robert Englund, you…

explained from a reasonable and logical standpoint to the extreme that someone could pull this off without much trouble (provided that humans can be predictable). The documentary style really added a level of eeriness that the movie-like scenes detracted from the film. You get that generic feel of Halloween or Friday the 13th, but I much rather liked following Leslie around on his preparation and first killings. It’s all a matter of preference.

Amusing.

What impressed me most about the movie, that I kinda mentioned, was the meticulous detail to movie conventions and plot in this movie. Everything was answered for and accountable. There were homages all over the place to other films (Robert Englund as the therapist character from Halloween, Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist as the storyteller, it’s all there) and great little tidbits you have to look for to appreciate. As a horror film enthusiast, this movie was right up my alley.

I don’t really have many complaints (did Angela look like Erin from The Office at all? Anyone?) and enjoyed the film thoroughly. A friend of mine’s boyfriend did a frighteningly good costume of this, and that made me appreciate it all the more. If you love to deconstruct movies and love the horror genre, this movie is a must have in your collection. It takes you in all the places you wanna go, and does it with a dark laugh hiding in the shadows. 8.4 out of 10.

These teens are in for destruction.

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Trick ‘r’ Treat

Trick ‘r’ Treat is a movie where you can in fact “Pick Your Treat” when it comes to a movie that has four mini stories within a circular plot. (You’ll see by the end what I mean by circular.) Created by a Ohio director, Michael Dougherty, (born and raised), there’s a little something for everyone in this traditional horror genre flick. (I would in fact liken it to Halloween, exactly. I was waiting for Michael Meyers to start roaming around.

I know this film has a cult following and films like that are usually for me. You can put the whole film under the blanket of horror/suspense, but I didn’t really get too much of a

What a lovable little sack-demon.

comedy feel (as it is categorized as well) from this film, other than a movie that follows the old ways of horror so well that by this point it’s beaten to death and comic for that reason. There are parts I liked and parts that didn’t really tickle my horror bone fancy, which kept this as a middle of the road film for me. Let me kinda break it down for you.

The reets on the bus get all wiped out… All wiped out…

It has the creepy iconic pumpkin headed freak, Sam (Quinn Lord). His Halloween antics come across as brutal at the same time that his height and means of slashing are quite childish. Either way, there’s a figurine of him. There’s the threat of razor bladed candy, haunted stone quarries, and smashing pumpkins. People get away with murder at the same time that there’s the classic “I’m a girl, it’s Halloween, I’m gonna dress up as a slut” theme going on. In a small town (with the Haddonfield feel goin’ all through it) where Halloween is taken seriously, it’s an offense to break the traditions that protect people from evil, all the way back from the Pagan days. I thought that’s where the movie was going, but I was a bit wrong…

There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. I kinda wanted to be scared when I watched a film about the scariest day of the year. It was more of a comedic tribute. Sam kinda made me laugh far more than cringe in terror (I guess that’s where the comedy comes from?). The second I saw Anna Paquin onscreen, I was thinking, “Oh no, where’s the Louisiana vampires?” (I wasn’t far off…) I was happy to see Dylan Baker (the orig Dr. Connors of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series) make an

I am Agamemnon, fear me!

Word!

appearance as a dastardly principal out to get children. And classic Brian Cox (I’ll always remember him as Agamemnon from Troy) as the crazy old coot. Nice appearances in an otherwise bizarre horror movie.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I normally love all horror movies. I don’t have any major problems, but I was just looking for more of a linear plot. I loved the original idea that this movie starts up with about breaking Halloween traditions. Then it wasn’t about that anymore. It went off in different directions, trying to cover all sorts of sub-genres of horror, which I didn’t mind, it just became a big jumble to me. For me, horror movies are about exploring one genre of horror and twisting and creating it into your own vision of what frightens and terrifies. Just a thought. 6.1 out of 10.

 

 


The Exorcist: Laaaaattttteeeeeeee Halloween

This is The Abyss, back from quite a long break. I had plans for some blogs and now I’m about to make good on those blogs. Think of this as my New Years resolution. And I’m here to bring all my fans the needed reviews they’ve been missing. Be ready for more anime, more movies, and hopefully more CD/music reviews. Without further ado, here we go.

This one’s an old Halloween classic from way back in the day. And by back in the day, I mean a day before my time, 1973. Telling you I watched this for the third or fourth time on Halloween just dates exactly when I last planned on blogging. (Never again will there be such a lag! I promise.) The Exorcist, I feel, is the quintessential and original possession/scary movie that is a staple and cornerstone for all other movies from then to now. I can’t think of a single film that hasn’t followed the plot or a similar one to The Exorcist. (I’d love to get into the Exorcism of Emily Rose, but that’s for another time, another style.) Let’s go through this, shall we?

First things first, it’s usually an innocent or pure soul (in this case an innocent little girl, Regan, AKA Linda Blair) but is not limited to innocent little girls. I’d say the basic requirements for a possessed soul is someone who believes or formerly believed in God (check out my blog review on The Rite) and there has to be an element of easy access subversiveness to the character. The helplessness degree of the character is quite important. And there always has to be a disbelieving, logical character that stands in the way of the evidence before them. (Alright, got that little analysis out of the way, correct or no.) Throughout the course of the film, the ideas of what is real and the truth of evil is revealed changing all those involved. And The Exorcist is what started it all.

So Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is the daughter of a burgeoning actress in the busy city of D.C., on a visiting acting job. Without any real presence of a father, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is left to raise a well behaved daughter with the constant chance of moving for other career opportunities. But there’s something that stops Mrs. MacNeil in her tracks in D.C. Without any warning or

The many horrific images of Regan (Linda Blair)

explanation (the only flaw that holds this film back) Regan comes down with what seems to be a disease. Doctors can’t explain it and psychiatrists blame it on some sort of psychosis. With the added addition of the unorthodox Father Karras (Jason Miller) and the loss of his dear old Italian Catholic mother, Karras must struggle with keeping his faith and logically saving a young girl’s life.

Okay, let’s talk about the beginning of this film. The archeological dig in Northern Iraq? Father Merrin’s part in this film doesn’t seem to connect, other than his experience and work with exorcisms. The artifact that Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) finds is clearly Devil-related, but does it in fact relate to the possession of Regan? Three times of watching that and the plot never really explained that. (Maybe I should watch Exorcist: Beginnings to explain it…) Other than that, we have the basis for the greatest and most prolific exorcism horror film of all time.

Explain this, mortal fools.

The acting… Let’s talk about the acting. Well, for starters, Linda Blair really gives it all she has for this role. Add the special effects, split pea soup, and human defying physical body effects, you got one terrifying little girl. And the things they make her say, it brings a tear to my eye to think the ruined childhood that Linda Blair must have had. Having to grow up so fast, dropping a few F-bombs and a genitalia slang here and there. That’s some mad props for a girl who knew what she was saying is bad morally, but gave it her all as she screamed it in multiple grown-up’s faces. Jason Miller (ironically named Damien… or is that the wrong timeline… did The Omen come before?…. Drat.) plays Damien Karras, a Father of the church. His acting is standard for the disbelieving role he must play, and his final scenes are performed with aplomb. And Max von Sydow was great with his performance of the exorcism. But, seriously, how old is that guy? He looks so old in this movie, and yet, he’s just as old looking in Minority Report. 30 year difference? I guess it’s possible in the realm of Hollywood.

So what more is there to say about this groundbreaker of horror? This movie pushed the boundaries with its R rating and graphic images of pure evil. The acting works, and, for some, (like my father) this movie still shakes them to the bone. With a movie like this that may have pushed thousands of people away from ever watching a movie like this again, this movie is really worth a watch or two. Or how about a Halloween tradition every year, just like the self-titled Halloween series. Who knows? It’s just important to know this origin of horror really deserves a 9.3 out of 10.

... Don't forget the face of evil...

Sidenote? Anybody going to see The Devil Inside? Let me know how it is with a comment on this post! If it’s good, I’ll check it out for myself!