Retrospective: Vampire in Brooklyn
12 Wednesday Jan 2022
Posted retrospective, wes craven's the scream yearsin
12 Wednesday Jan 2022
Posted retrospective, wes craven's the scream yearsin
02 Sunday May 2021
alcia witt, bebe neurwrith, Christine Taylor, clea duvall, courtney cox, Danielle Harris, David Arquette, devon sawa, disturbing behaviour, drew barrymore, elijah wood, Fairuza Balk, famke janssen, freddie prinze jr., ghostface, Halloween, Halloween franchise, halloween h20, i know what you did last summer, idle hands, james marsden, jamie kennedy, Jamie Lee Curtis, jared leto, jennifer love-hewitt, jessica alba, jon stewart, jordana brewster, Josh Hartnett, joshua jackson, katie holmes, Kevin Williamson, laura harris, matthew lillard, micahel rosenbaum, michael myers, Michelle Williams, Neve Campbell, nick stahl, piper laurie, rachel true, rebecca gayheart, robert englund, Robert Patrick, robert rodriguez, Robin Tunney, rose mcgowan, ryan phillipe, salma hayek, sarah michelle gellar, scream, seth green, shawn hatosy, Skeet Ulrich, tara reid, the craft, the faculty, urban legend, Wes Craven
25 years ago, before Scream would reawaken the horror genre and generate a plethora of like minded movies came a film that tapped wholly into my adolescent brain. I’ll let you decide which part of the brain from which I am referring. Needless to say, Fairuza Balk’s Nancy stirred something inside me that yearned for and connected with females who drifted outside the mainstream of what was considered “normal”.
Recently, The Craft was given new life in the public eye thanks to its sequel of sorts, The Craft: Legacy released by Blumhouse last year, but somehow it failed to ignite the same passion as the original.
Some of this could easily be put down to its strong, young cast with the afore-mentioned Fairuza playing the main antagonist to Robin Tunney’s white witch, Sarah in what is essentially a coming of age teen-drama. Joining these two are also Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, and Christine Taylor, who all essentially lift what comes across as a medicroe tale when reviewed through today’s eyes.
It still however holds a strong place in my heart, despite its flaws and molded my love of 90s teen horror as a result. What can I say, it’s my achilles heel.
It helps that swiftly following The Craft came the behemoth of Teen Slasher films… Scream directed by the great, Wes Craven. It also boasted two of the movie’s stars in Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich whose careers were rightfully projected to stardom as a result.
Scream is now the stuff of legend with its meta representation of the horror franchise and again boasted an awesome cast with Courtney Cox, David Arqette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy and let’s not forget that killer opening sequence with Drew Barrymore. Before the decade was out a sequel would also follow the following year and along with it a franchise and Ghostface’s interchangeable personna was born.
Chief among setting the tone for the decade and the success that followed in Scream’s wake was Dawson’s Creek scribe Kevin Williamson, who managed to tap into the pulse of those of my generation, eager to be understood and have those “deep and meaningful’ relationship discussions.
By 1997, Williamson was just starting to hit his stride with I Know What You Did Last Summer starring Campbell’s fellow Party of Five alumni Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
Love-Hewitt stars as Julie James, who along with three other school friends (Ryan Philippe, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the latter was already on the rise thanks to a certain Buffy role) accidentally run down a stranger on the road and leave him for dead. It’s basically an elongated urban legend with the man with a hook hellbent on revenge. Like Scream it would also generate a franchise with a further two sequels to cash the cow.
Back to the Dawson’s Creek connection and another teen horror, Disturbing Behaviour that would be released in 1998, the busiest year for the sub-genre, At the time, I more-than jumped on this band-wagon following Katie Holmes’ second feature film. This was a time when I, like Dawson, was undecided about the whole Joey/Jen thing, before realising in my case, that Michelle Williams was always the more interesting person to watch on screen, but more about her in a moment.
Disturbing Behaviour is probably the weakest in this line up of movies, but does boast James Marsden and Nick Stahl in the mix, in a tale of idyllic suburbia with a sour undertone in both its take of the American Dream and repressed teenage sexuality but it does still have the same beats and touches on the same wavelength that was being generated at the time.
Onto Holmes’ counterpart, Michelle Williams, who, again in my opinion, deserves greater praise for the work that she produces each year. In 1998, Williams would be cast in the support role of Molly in one of Horrors biggest franchises, Halloween.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later would have Kevin Williamson on writing duties, so it’s no wonder that Williams would connect well with the screenplay. Aside from bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back for the first time since Halloween 2 to pit against Michael Myers, it also introduced us to the so fresh and hot right now, Josh Hartnett. Let’s not talk about that hair cut though, for in his other movie that year, The Faculty, he slipped easily into the bad boy, good heart character with a brooding presence. Oh and that guy Kevin Williamson is behind the screenplay again.
When I first watched The Faculty I had a strong negative reaction to it, as I wore my snobbery hat when I watched it and took all the homagees embedded within as rip=offs of the great films that preceded it. I was a huge fan of director Rober Rodriguez at the time, which I think added to my disappointment further.
I have since grown to love this film more though and recognise it for what it was, a love of sci fi horror and again had some great stars in Elijah Wood (pre-LOTR), Jordana Brewster, Clea Duvall (I had such a thing for her too – Apparently I have a type, just ask fellow Surgeon Antony Yee), Laura Harris, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Shawn Hatosy, Jon Stewart, and Piper Laurie. It definitely warrants repeat viewing and holds up because of the fun energy and bold direction that Rodriuez alway brings to his movies.
Rounding out the quartet of movies for 1998 is Urban Legend which is a little forgotten despite generating a franchise in its own right and another strong cast considering with Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek again), Robert Englund, and Danielle Harris into the fold. It captures the urban legend tales of horror well enough but can’t quite shake off the fact that it’s riding on the coattails of stronger movies and suffers a little with age.
My last notable film to mention however lifts the half-decade of teen horror back to higher standards with its clearly tongue in cheek tale, Idle Hands where a stoner, Anton (Devon Sawa currently seen in a cracking film, Hunter Hunter) who discovers his hands are possessed after waking up to find his parents murdered. A cool cast again with Jessica Alba and Seth Green, Idle Hands is great fun to watch and definitely not to be taken seriously.
Sawa would also go on to star in another cracking film at the turn of the next decade in Final Destination as the trend would dial down a little.
For those 5-6 years though, it would produce a number of movies, some to hold high and some probably best forgotten but for nostalgic reasons still resonate with me today. I can only blame Nancy. I should have taken the heed and bound her from harm… harm to others and harm to myself…
09 Monday Mar 2020
Posted podcast episodein
a nightmare on elm street, bob shaye, freddy kreuger, heather langenkamp, john saxon, new nightmare, robert englund, Wes Craven
They said he was dead, but Freddy returned although not as we may have expected him.
Wes Craven resurrected the beloved villain in a bold new enterprise back in 1994. Did it pay off? Does it still stand true today? The Surgeons team dissect and discuss this film to find out some of these answers.
Listen to the episode below:
11 Monday Nov 2019
Posted podcast episodein
a nightmare on elm street, amanda wyss, freddy kreuger, heather langenkamp, john saxon, johnny depp, robert englund, slasher films, Wes Craven
The Surgeons team return to the late great Wes Craven’s work through the middle years of his career that we have dubbed The Nightmare Years, beginning with A Nightmare On Elm Street.
Check out the episode below:
06 Wednesday Sep 2017
Posted News articlein
Abbot and Costello, Andy Muschietti, Andy Warol, Bela Lugosi, Bram Stoker, Dracula, Frank Langella, FW Murnau, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, It, Max Shreck, Nosferatu, Pennywise, roman polanski, Salem's Lot, Stephen King, Universal, Werner Herzog, Wes Craven, Willem Defoe
Ever since Max Schreck transformed into Count Orlock in the now infamous silent film, Nosferatu, directed by F.W.Murnau in 1922, the subject of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has graced the screens across the ages.
Like the titular character from one of Gothic literature’s finest creations, Dracula seems to be eternal, forever gracing the celluloid art form, whist adapting and transitioning across the years.
With the latest news coming from geek tyrant that It director, Andy Muschietti and Bram Stoker’s Great Grand Nephew teaming up for a project involving the prince of darkness as a prequel, entitled Dracul, I thought I’d take a quick snapshot of this enigmatic character and what draws us to him year-on-year.
Notably, it would be Universal who would elevate Stoker’s creation into the limelight with Tod Browning’s Dracula on 1931.
Starring Bela Lugosi, who’s interpretation would be the catapult for the look and feel that his character would bring to the screen and would initiate a further four sequels before Abbott and Costello turned his image into a comical adaptation.
It would take a further 10 years before a production company would bring Count Dracula back into the darkness with Hammer Films 1958 version starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Hammer would use their new-found success and blood red recipe to push the Dracula series into a total of 9 films, with the afore-mentioned Lee appearing in 7 of these movies. Interestingly Dracula wouldn’t appear in their first sequel, Brides of Dracula directed by Terence Fisher.
During this time, numerous other production companies would try their hand at the subject matter, including Blood of Dracula, an attempt from producer Herman Cohen to repeat the success of I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the latter would appear in the It Mini Series made in 1990 as it was the height of pop culture Stateside during the 50’s and would see the Loser’s Club watch it at the cinema.
As the Hammer recipe grew stale, Roman Polanski would inject some much-needed zest with The Fearless Vampire Killers in 1967 and a blatant parody of the British film company’s vision.
Following this Jesus Franco would add some Spanish flavour with Count Dracula in 1970, starring Christopher Lee again in the titular role, before Blaxploitation movement would see an African prince lured into the land of the dead in Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream before Andy Warhol would dabble as well introducing his own visual style with Blood for Dracula in 1974.
Five years later, Universal would try to re-invent the fable and bring some much-needed sex appeal and casting Frank Langella as Dracula.
This also coincided with another version of Nosferatu coming to the screen, directed by the enigmatic Klaus Kinski entitled, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, and has its own cult following as a result.
A brief interlude in the comedy realm would see Duncan Regehr take on Dracula in The Monster Squad, which comes across as a haunted version of The Goonies.
And then, he would pretty much stay dormant until, he would be moulded once more for Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins, in the early 90’s.
Mel Brooks would craft his comedic touch with Dracula, Dead and Loving It by 1995 and starring Leslie Nielsen, before the shouldn’t be comical, but tragically is, Dracula 2000, presented by Wes Craven and starring Gerard Butler.
It’s only saving grace during this timeframe is the simply brilliant, Shadow of the Vampire, a quirky portrayal of the making of Nosferatu that would depict actor Max Shreck as a real-life vampire, awesomely played by Willem Defoe.
By the mid-2000’s Count Dracula would find himself morphed into the Stephen Sommers universe with Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman, a movie, which in my mind is probably best forgotten.
Another film director auteur would try his hand at the subject in 2013, when Dario Argento would provide us with Dracula 3D, but would be pale in comparison to his earlier work.
The last time, we saw Dracula grace our screens would be in the under-whelming Dracula: Untold starring Luke Evans, which left us wondering if there was life still in this age-old tale?
This may all disappear in the coming years, if Muschietti and Dacre Stoker’s project sees the light of day.
Dacre Stoker has delved into the world of his lineage before with his novel, Dracula, the Un-dead, so he is no stranger to the subject, and one can already see comparisons with Stephen King’s creation Pennywise. A character that feeds on the fear of the innocence.
Stephen King would also seek inspiration from the Count in his own tale, Salem’s Lot, so it certainly bodes well with the announcement of this latest pairing.
I for one can’t wait to see how they re-vamp Dracula for a modern audience that will horrify and delight the masses.
Bring it on.
24 Friday Mar 2017
Posted Wes Cravenin
ONE YEAR AFTER Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes received (quite rightfully) positive reviews, it was almost inevitable that the films creators would start looking toward creating a franchise.
It’s main drive would come from the films’ original creator, Craven and his son, Jonathan.
And on face value, the initial premise that was laid out ignited a sense of passion in me. “I’d like to fucking see that!”, I proclaimed, until that is that on closer scrutiny, it was just a rehash of “Aliens” but instead of xenomorphs that an army faces up to, it’s a group of mutants out in New Mexico that need to be annihilated.
Wait, maybe that does sound awesome. Craven apparently even planned to have the surviving daughter, Brenda enlist in the army to overcome her demons only to go all “Ripley-esque” when called upon to go back into the wilderness to physically face them head to head, as she is the only person who knows their lay of the land.
Only problem was that Emile de Ravin, who played Brenda in the remake was committed to TV series, Lost at the time the film was due to go into production.
That’s okay, we’ll just create a new protagonist in Amber, who will walk the same path as had been intended for Brenda. Job done, yes?
So why then did the movie fall short and not launch this franchise into stronger territory?
Ironically enough, The Hills Have Eyes 2 would suffer the same fate as the original remake, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 did.
Both films completely ignored the concept of a family pitted in terror against an unknown assailant that was both brutal and destructive, stripped down to the very essence of what it is to be human.
In a raw, animalistic approach to survival, the family has no option but to resort to drastic measures in order to live through the torment.
It is that rage that is buried within us all that rises to the surface when we have nothing else to fall back on and nothing left to lose.
That’s why the original movie resonated so strongly in societies ethos.
It cut out all the bullshit and crap that comes with our social make up and shone a mirror to our flaws and pretentiousness to convey who we all are underneath.
It’s why Aja’s version was so well received, because it managed to carry that same message and deliver tenfold on the anarchy.
By ignoring the very premise and notion or hunger for survival, you tear away all the drama and beauty that encapsulated the original movie and from there you will always fall short.
Yes, you should probably commend Craven for trying to push the story in a new direction.
Hell, they even teamed up with Fox Atomic comics to produce a stand alone comic called The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning, which also treads along the path of the army vs the mutants theme, but in this instance it creates and additional pet peeve of mine, in trying to humanise the mutants.
In doing so, it destroys not only the mystery behind them, but also the threat that they once posed in the original is destroyed in the process.
So, whilst it does strive to explore the universe further, in doing so, the essence of what made the world so great, just crumbles and withers away.
It’s a shame, because I feel there is still merit in exploring that world once more.
And there’s a lot of political commentary that is ripe for the picking if they chose that journey wisely, but it remains to be seen if the film industry will choose to go back into the hills once more.
23 Thursday Mar 2017
Posted Wes Cravenin
WES CRAVEN must have felt pretty proud of this adaptation from his original movie.
The Hills Have Eyes was the second movie that he made following on from Last House On The Left and was a huge success for the director, paving the way for a smashing career in the horror realm.
For the remake though, Craven would step aside from directorial duties, focusing solely on his Producer role and allow Alexandre Aja take the helm.
Aja already carved success in his own right in the genre with Furia and Haute Tension, both bloody brutal films. (The less said about Mirrors and Piranha 3D the better).
And the frenchman doesn’t shy away from the gore and mayhem in this movie, much to our delight.
After watching the screening at the Horror Movie Campout in Sydney, was reminded of how hard-wired, crazed, and fucked up this movie is.
Having dissected the original movie in a previous podcast, yo could clearly see the same paths being plotted out by our protagonists, but this version does allow for some more freedom and exploration when it comes to the ‘mutant’ family.
Craven had always ventured out to make a savage insight into the good and bad side of America by polarising families on the opposite side of the spectrum and pitted them against each other in a bloody war of survival.
Much of that is apparent in this version, but Aja takes that concept and ups the ante by throwing the Carter family into a world of carnage and disarray, where it is anyone’s guess who if anyone will survive.
That raw energy transcends well and it’s the perfect recipe for a thrill ride of massive proportions .
If there is a flaw, it’s that our Carter family seem a little too polished when held up against the mutant family.
There are often times when you wished that more time was spent on fleshing out the characters than actually ripping the flesh off them, but who am I kidding?
This movie is fun, all the same and provides enough shocks, all-out-gore, and ferocity that not only make it a worthy of the original, but dare I say it?
A rarity in that it adds something additional to the Craven’s vision and expands on it in a positive way.
A decent stab in the open, vast and deserted landscape.
12 Sunday Mar 2017
Posted Australian Horrorin
Alexandre Aja, Ethan Hawke, Horror Movie Campout Sydney, Scott Derrickson, Sinister, The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven
WHEN I first heard about the Horror Movie Campout earlier this year, I instantly fell in love with this notion of a festival dedicated to like minded individuals all eager to have their appetite for all things blood and gore.
I had to be there and immerse myself amongst the horde and delight in the horror that lay before me.
So, I have to thank the organisers of this event for setting the stage for what was a truly awesome night ahead.
As you can see from the video below, I was pumped.
And then some.
There was plenty to keep the crowd satiated, from a death chamber, side entertainments such as magicians, eating contests, and of course the bar, food trucks, laser tag, and did we mention the bar?
The main attraction though, would be two features for the night that were selected for the night by the horde themselves from a selection chosen by the Horror Movie Campout committee.
Check out our responses in the video below.
So that concludes our assessment of the festival.
A special nod to all the horror fans and those that came dressed to suit the occasion.
Some great cosplay action going on including Freddy, Jason, and that dastardly Michael Myers.
Bring on the next one.
08 Friday Jul 2016
Posted Flashback Fridays, Wes Cravenin
BACK IN THE MID 90’s, a little known HBO movie was released with little fanfare or critical reaction.
It has also been known as The Hills Have Eyes Part 3 despite the fact that the only thing that connects this movie with the franchise is that Wes Craven is billed as producer and his son Jonathan is credited as writer.
Yes it is primarily set in some abandoned quarry in the middle of nowhere, which can loosely connect the films but rather than be a collection of mutants infected by radiation poisoning and reeking havoc on a family, here we have a character, THOR, who has been experimented upon via re-animation. In fact it is probably more closely aligned with Frankenstein, Re-Animator, or Universal Soldier with its subject matter.
The movie doesn’t exactly offer anything new, with it’s team of scientists holed up deep underground to perform their experiments only to have the tables turned on them when their test subject becomes a blood thirsty killer, hunting them one by one.
It does though have some prominent star-pulling power in Lance Henriksen (Aliens, The Terminator) and Giovanni Ribisi (Boiler Room, The Gift) as the dropout son who comes good. And they both stand out in the cast for what is essentially mediocre characters.
In some places the dialogue is clunky but at the end of the day, this movie was never going to win awards for its high brow conversation piece. It’s an action-based horror movie that struggled to find an identity, aiming for Aliens but ending up more like The Mimic.
It’s entertaining enough, but never finds its voice or is strong enough to mark on the horror celluloid mantle of greatness.
– Paul Farrell
05 Tuesday Jul 2016
Posted Uncategorized, Wes Cravenin
The Seventh and Last Feature for our Wes Craven Season 1 discussion centres on his first sequel and with it a potential to start a franchise.
Needless to say, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 would not live up to expectations and the franchise would end up dead in the water despite reaching a cult status. Subsequently there have been 2 recent film adaptations based on the original and a comic book to boot.
Wes Craven has distanced himself from the project, citing it as an unfinished piece when he handed it in to the producers to review. The producers, aka the money and finance would accept the film as its first draft and push this out into cinemas with the need to market swiftly. The result speaks for itself.
As for Craven, this was no passion project. It did however, provide funds for him to create horror cinema gold, A Nightmare On Elm Street, (More on this in an upcoming season) and along with it the iconic character of Freddie Kruger.
When sidled next to A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 pales in comparison. The film picks up with survivor from the first film, Bobby, discussing the horrific events that unfolded and the devastating impact it had on him and his family.
Bobby now runs a bike racing outfit and endeavours to take them back out to the sticks for them to compete in a race, but this task appears to be too great an ordeal and he reluctantly chooses not to go.
So, it is down to fellow survivor, Ruby / Rachel (and the dog, Beast of course) to take our intrepid team of victims / youths to certain doom when they once again come face to face with the mutant family in horror poster icon, Michael Berryman reprising his role as Pluto and The Reaper (Papa Jupiter’s brother).
So much is inherently wrong with this movie. Bad characters, poor set up, and no plot. It’s a wonder that it got off the ground. Perhaps is it wasn’t resting on its stronger predecessor and Craven’s now recogniseable name attached to it, it probably wouldn’t have.
And with the already mentioned, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and its success, along with it cane a much longer lifespan for The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 would ordinarily have occurred.
Check out the surgeons of horror podcast below for more thoughts and views.
Also available in iTunes.
– Paul Farrell