Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th!

I am super-psyched to see the new FRIDAY THE 13TH this weekend, but for now, in celebration of this noteworthy day, let's take a look at a handful of other scary movies I've seen so far this year....

THE UNBORN -- At first I thought this film, about a girl who is possessed by a demon spirit of her unborn twin, was yet another remake of a Japanese horror flick. But it turns out it's an "original" screenplay that simply rips off aspects of every horror flick ever made, Japanese or otherwise. It's got everything from the standard Japanese "creepy-eyed child standing in the distance" to the classic EXORCIST "spider-walk." Now, I acknowledge that the spider-walk is like the horror film equivalent of bacon -- that is, it is ALWAYS creepy in the same way that bacon is always delicious. But it doesn't come anywhere close to saving this terrible film, which also features a big-time slumming performance by Gary Oldman as an exorcism-performing rabbi!

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D -- Another year, another crappy remake of an '80s horror staple -- only this time it's in glorious digital 3D! And thank God for that, because the 3D turns what would've been a forgettable movie into... well, a slightly-less forgettable movie. You'd expect the 3D in a movie like this to be gimmicky and used for cheap scares, and indeed, there are plenty of in-your-face pickaxes and blood-spatter. But it also actually adds visual depth and coolness, which is what I love about this technology and why I hope to see it more often. The movie itself... meh... plenty of gore and gratuitous nudity make it watchable, but this miner-masked, pickax-wielding killer is nowhere near the same league as, say, Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers.

THE UNINVITED -- At first, I was very intrigued by the prospect of the lovely & talented Elizabeth Banks portraying a villain... but man, this movie was riddled with problems. It's about a chick named Anna who comes home from the mental hospital a year after her mother's horrific death, and becomes convinced that her dad's new girlfriend, Rachael, was responsible for the tragedy. Creepy shenanigans ensue as Anna and her hottie sister try to prove that Rachael isn't who she says she is. Bad acting (David Strathairn must have just bought a new house or something), laughable situations, way too many "WTF??" moments, and a completely unnecessary supernatural element are just the tip of the iceberg here. But I do have to give credit where credit is due, because I actually got fooled by the twist ending... which is even more annoying when you consider that it rips off another twist ending that fooled me once before. Damn you, Mildred Kemp!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP / RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP -- I dunno how I ever could've called myself a horror fan without having seen the cult-classic SLEEPAWAY CAMP, but fortunately, that was recently rectified in a kick-ass Netflix double-feature. In the original, shy, awkward Angela goes to summer camp with her protective cousin Ricky. Shortly after their arrival, a series of bizarre, bloody deaths begin to occur. This movie has it all -- gruesomely creative kills (girls, you'll never look at a curling iron the same way again!), plenty of gore, ultra-cheesy acting & dialogue, and arguably the greatest shocker of an ending in horror movie history. (Plus it was surprisingly ahead of its time with themes of gender and sexuality.) Several unofficial sequels followed, but in 2008, the original writer/directer and most of the original cast returned for the long-awaited "official" sequel. While not nearly as entertaining as the original, it still has its moments, and for die-hard fans, it must've been pretty awesome to see the classic characters return 25 years later.

Okay, that's all for now. Coming soon: Jason returns in FRIDAY THE 13TH, hotties abound in HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, brutal family vengeance in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and superheroes go wild in WATCHMEN. Also, we're just over a week away from the Oscars and my annual running commentary... can you feel the excitement??

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