We’ve hit the halfway point in films for Hooptober 2019, and the drive to see blood-drenched visceral horror has yet to abate. In fact, maybe it’s gotten a bit stronger, because this week’s outings were light on any actual terror. Between the jump to a more action oriented tone in It: Chapter Two and the tongue-in-cheek humor embedded in the core of both Bride of Re-Animator and the first two Slumber Party Massacre films horror didn’t feel like the first priority. As for the abominable Miner’s Massacre, well…the less said the better.
So grab your glowing hypodermic and let’s jump in.
Bigger, bolder, weirder…It Chapter Two goes full Chüd and even though it fails to rise to the heights of the first film, it’s kind of a marvel to see how far a major studio let Andy Muschietti and team go on this conclusion to the classic Stephen King novel. I can admire the chances it takes and revel in the tonal shift from the first chapter, even if it feels lesser in comparison (full review here).
…this movie is just a hot mess. The effects of the miner are okay, and there is some blood but everything you want from a slasher: inventive kills, tongue-in-cheek humor, and at least one character you actually care about are missing…cheap digital effects and weird editing pull away any punches the gore brings to the kills that are telegraphed from a mile away. About the only joy to get from this film are the few cameos from the likes of Karen Black, Martin Kove and Jeff Conaway who languish away in small roles that – beefed up – might have brought some measure of quality to the proceedings (full review here).
Over the years the reputation of Slumber Party Massacre has undergone an interesting change, from generic slasher to post-modern feminist champion and satire of the type of generic slasher the film was purported to be. The truth of the matter, at least viewed through my own lens 37 years after its release finds credence in both arguments, with a favorable lean toward the satire feminist angle. This film definitely has a point of view, and doesn’t get too mired in cliche to make it work (full review here).
Slumber Party Massacre 2 succeeds (if you want to call it that) on one thing and one thing alone: Atanas Ilitch as the infamous Driller Killer. The whole movie is constructed around the concept of “hey, what if we had a killer who has a drill built into his guitar? And he’s really into rockabilly, and can have actual song and dance numbers in the film?” It’s like someone transplanted Danny Zucco from Grease into a slasher film, and dammit if Illitch doesn’t kill it in every scene he’s in (full review here).
Logic and narrative are pushed aside to focus on what on the surface was the main draw for the original film: the inspired performance of Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. But despite his presence he can’t help the cheap looking set design or dull direction the film uses to push the story to the conclusion (director) Yuzna is banking on being the draw for the film…when that conclusion does hit…the film becomes something of a marvel. Slapstick and terror mix to the same success as the original, and there are some truly inspired monster creations that come straight out of Browning’s Freaks in the best possible way (full review here).
Next week we hit on an early Stephen King hit, the latest from 80s horror revivalist Joe Begos, a classic of black horror cinema, a not-so-classic that’s still a blast of fun from Larry Cohen, and what is right now my favorite movie of 2019. It’s gonna be fun.
In the meantime, keep it Blood Red.