Monday, April 11, 2011

Scream, a People's History

  Well it was bound to happen eventually. Once again, Wes Craven needs money and his last movie probably ate donkey balls ( I didn't see it. I just remember hearing it sucked out loud). So of course, borrow some money from the Weinsteins, call Kevin Williamson (lord knows he's got shit else to do), and make another pointless, convoluted Scream movie. You can imagine my joy. I've seen the trailers, I've read about the premise for this one (like it's at all different from the other three), and I've noticed that everyone who lived through the last sequel is back for this one. I guess they ALL need money.

  Anyone who grew up in the 90's remembers when Scream 1 came out. It was for a lot of us the first movie that every kid we knew had to see. Whether mom and dad let us or not. It was 1996. I was 14. Now of course I saw the first one in the theater (snuck in actually) just like millions of other people did. So in a way I partly blame myself for what happened. Because of me, and people like me who went in droves to see this shit, horror movies were pretty much ruined for at least 10 years. After the massive blockbuster success of the first movie, every asshole movie producer on the planet had to make their own Scream.

  So lemme get to the point. I was watching TV the other day when I saw the trailer and I realized something. Horror movies in the 90's can literally be broken down into the "pre-Scream" and "post-Scream" eras. Seriously. There is a huge difference between how horror movies were made before Scream. The early 90's to most people are considered kind of a down period for horror. Everybody was kind of bored with the whole thing. Movies were either rehashing 80's cash cows (like Jason Goes to Hell or Child's Play sequels) or trying to invent new monsters to make a shit ton of money. For example, Candyman and Leprechaun. There was a Return of the Living Dead sequel (reviewed here on these fine pages), a Hellraiser sequel or two. Even Wes Craven did a few movies. Remember People Under the Stairs? How about Shocker? This was also the time when you saw a lot of Stephen King movies being made. Pumpkinhead 2...I could go on. The point is that the movies of the 90's had a definite mission and that was to get away from the "Freddy/Jason" plots from the 80's. Instead you had movies that were longer and tried to be more like thrillers or dramas. They tried to be a little more adult oriented. Problem was, the kids were the ones that went to the theater.

     Then Scream came out. A completely self-aware slasher movie that paid homage to (or ripped off depending on your opinion) the golden age of the slasher movie. Not only that, but it starred marginally famous TV actors that teenage kids recognized. Gone was the era of seeing a completely unknown actor or actress try to make a buck before their big break. These people were already semi-successful. The most important part of Scream however probably was the script. It was praised back in '96 as "smart" or "hip". Whatever the fuck that means. Basically it meant that supposedly teenage kids (they all looked 30) cursed a lot and made fun of each other using an SAT vocabulary mixed with the clever profanity. You also had the protagonists completely aware of horror movie history and realizing that their lives in the movie imitate art. The perpetrator of this script was one Kevin Williamson, who in my estimation was trying really hard to be the '90's fucked up version of John Hughes. He would go on to be responsible for the I Know What You Did Last Summer series and Dawson's Creek. Fuck... that... guy. Scream became bigger than just a movie. Now every single asshole producer wanted their own version of Scream. Like the aforementioned I Know What You Did... movies, you then saw shit like Valentine and Urban Legend. Also, I think I should mention the Final Destination series as well. All of these movies were slashers (sort of) and all followed the new Scream formula. The early 90's style was dead. Not to mention that now Wes Craven had more money, and could start calling himself "The Master of Suspense". Fuck you you sellout.

    There is no better example of this then Halloween 6/ Halloween H2O. Halloween 6, the before Scream movie, tried really hard to make the franchise about more than a crazy guy killing people. You had a shit plot, with the weird cultists and conspiracy subplot carried over from 5 that didn't make sense, and Paul Rudd in like his first movie taking his role way too seriously. Typical early 90's shit. Then you had H2O, the post-Scream movie. You had up and coming young actors, a script full of Kevin Williamson jokes, and Michael Myers doing what he's supposed to do. Also you had the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, who due to the 900 references to her in the Scream franchise suddenly was given a career boost. Now which one do you think made more money?

  We haven't recovered yet from this. Every horror movie that comes out, remake or not, tries to follow the Scream formula. It's like this logarithm for horror movie success that hasn't been proven wrong yet, only it has and repeatedly. Hostel, ANY Rob Zombie movie, ALL remakes, any PG-13 nightmare, Paranormal Activity. Everyone of them guilty of following the Scream formula. I'm not saying that these movies are all bad (most are though) or wrong for doing it, I'm just stating a truth. In fact, I can't think of one horror movie since 1996 that hasn't. Well, maybe not the movies from France or Japan (probably why they're awesome. I'm talking to you Martyrs and Audition). But everything American definitely bites off Scream. If you wondered where originality went in horror movies, just watch Scream.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stupid Movie Review: Nightmare City

Director: Umberto Lenzi

People in the movie: Some guy named Hugo (more on this later) and a bunch of Italian people.

Plot: Haha. I should end it there. In the interests of entertaining the four or five people who will accidentally google this, or catch it off Facebook, I'll keep going. Our movie opens in the home of a news reporter, we will call him Hugo (his name in real life), watching the news. Apparently, a nuclear reactor accident has occurred around the area where the movie takes place, and an eminent professor is returning to try and fix it. That's what it sounded like to me anyway. So then Hugo gets a call, and tells his pretty doctor wife he's gotta go. Apparently he's been given the task of interviewing the good doctor when he lands in the city. So after a stop at the station to get chewed out by his dickhead British accented boss, Hugo and a camera guy go to the airport. The most poorly run airport ever I might add. When the doc's plane finally comes in, the air traffic controllers don't even know to signal a runway for the plane to land. So Hugo and the camera guy wait for the plane to land, and when it does shit already just seems off. No one's coming out of the plane, nor are they responding to any of the people, and later cops, trying to communicate with them. Suddenly the door opens, and a multitude of zombies with faces that look like burned meat loaf pop out, and slaughter everyone they see. Hugo runs like a bastard. A wise decision. He immediately goes back to the TV station to try and warn everybody. He gets there, and he walks in on a weird European dance session. Europe is fucking strange. Hugo kinda stands there and watches for a sec before suddenly remembering that the meat loaf terror squad just landed. When he composes himself finally, he tries to interrupt the broadcast to warn the public. His dickhead boss is having none of it, and then an army officer appears to tell Hugo to shut the fuck up, "we don't want a panic". Yes, better humanity gets massacred quietly. Then the meatloaf zombies burst into the dance thingy, and brutally stab everyone. Apparently the zombies don't want anything but human blood to sustain them. You never really find out why. A few more massacres, Hugo vs. zombie chase scenes, and awkward sex scenes later, and our movie ends. And then (spoiler alert) Hugo wakes up. It was all a dream. Until the beginning of the movie repeats itself. What the fuck.

Plot stuff I left out, part 1: The side story of the General and his hot artist wife who is topless the whole movie. She dies brutally.

Plot stuff I left out, part 2: The other side story of another general and his hippy daughter and her husband. They both get stabbed in the face.

Gore: There's a lot of stabbings, blood drinking, hatchet to the head, a brutal eye gouge, and  two vicious scenes of breast violence. Yes. Breast violence.

Nudity: Awkward weird Euro sex occurs quite often in this one. Also many unnecessary and not entirely welcome boob shots sprinkled throughout.

Trivia moment: The reporter is played by a guy named Hugo Stiglitz. You may remember that as the name of one of the characters in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino apparently is a big fan of Mr. Stiglitz so he named a character after him. Don't ask me how I know that shit.

Cheap special effects award: The boob impalement. There are actually two of these but the first one where the meat loaf zombies attack the dance show will be the focus here. The zombie takes a knife and basically cuts a woman's boob off. However, look closely enough (which I did solely for your benefit dear readers) and you can clearly see where the real boob ends and the fake one is being cut off. Look even closer, and you can see that the real boob is fine and unharmed.

Best Massacre: The hospital. Everyone dies brutally and the effects don't look so shitty.

Dubbing?: Yep. Also shitty.

Favorite zombie kill: The general shooting his recently zombified girlfriend (from plot point number 1 above) and her head like flies off with brains and blood squirting everywhere.

Favorite zombie attack: When Hugo and his wife (did I mention Hugo was married?) go to a church thinking they're safe and the Priest attacks them with a weapon. Hugo then beats him to death with a giant cross.

In conclusion: This movie despite being a giant piece of shit is a really good time. The plot is nonexistent, but since there's a violent massacre every 7 seconds you don't even notice. It's got your basic trash movie elements, and some weird shit too. Most of the time I didn't know what the fuck was going on but who cares. If you have like a sixer of Pabst and a buddy it's not the worst 90 minutes you'll ever spend. See it if you can find it and can overlook some big flaws. And giant plot holes. And awkward Euro-Sex. And bad special effects.

Grade: 68%

Now you tell me his face doesnt look like cafeteria meat loaf? Or prison food?