[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] The Final Girl: Ranking the Best and Worst of the Month

Hey everyone, we are a few days removed from October, and as we look toward the next holiday and the rest of the year, I thought it would be fun to look back at the 5 worst films of this year’s 31 Days of Horror as well as picking the Top 5 from the month as well. It’s a grab bag of randomness, so don’t take any of this all that seriously, but it’ll be fun nonetheless.

Let’s get started.

 

Worst 5 Films of the Month:

5) Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

  • This was probably the worst film of the franchise so far (I still haven’t caught part 5), and it’s too bad that it really doesn’t embrace that Christmas flavor. I have no fault if anthology is the direction this franchise took, but this film has virtually nothing to do with the holiday. It doesn’t even really feel like it’s set during the holidays outside of one scene. All that aside, the film is kind of boring and not well-acted or well-written. Outside of a few cool effects sequences, this one is a real dud.

4) Schizoid

  • I really wanted to like Schizoid, and there are moments that feel like the story is about to head somewhere really cool, but it never quite realizes that dream. I genuinely felt interested in the whodunnit of it all because just about every character seemed potentially off-putting enough to be responsible for the killings depicted in the film. It’s just that it’s tonally boring and not enough really happens to keep my interest in this film. Klaus Kinski is a scene-chewer and it was cool to see Christopher Lloyd doing some smarmy work here, but Schizoid‘s just a loss overall.

3) The Field Guide to Evil

  • The Field Guide to Evil looks great, but it’s more like a really pretty shell that’s hollow. I didn’t think any of the shorts had a good ending, the film just feels like wasted talent all around. As the film progressed, I was just hoping it would be done soon. I feel most disappointed by The Field Guide to Evil because it just felt like a winner and ended up being a loser.

2) Father’s Day

  • This month started out with a real dud of a film in Father’s Day, the sendup to grindhouse exploitation films that thought it was better than it was. I liked the aged appeal of the film but the story was obnoxious and just not very enjoyable. Father’s Day just could’ve been so much more, and I’ve seen better work from many involved.

1) Seventh Moon

  • Seventh Moon is the absolute bottom of the barrel here. There’s not a single merit I can give this film, and that’s a real problem. The cast is terrible, the shaky-cam found-footage-that-isn’t-supposed-to-be-found-footage approach to the film is awful, jarring, and unpleasant, and the story, which seems like it could be good initially, is completely wasted here. This is an absolute skip in every way.

 

So there you have it. The worst 5 films of the last month. Let’s move on to the good stuff.

Top 5 Best Films of the Month:

5) The Autopsy of Jane Doe

  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe feels like it could be perfect for quite a good portion of the film. Where is faults itself is that’s overall mystery isn’t all that meaningful and the ending is a bit messy. Outside of that, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is anchored by an excellent tone from its director and two powerhouse performances from Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch as a father and son who are dealing with horror in the workplace.

4) House

  • House is a classic in my home. I watch it every year around Halloween, and I absolutely love it. I think it’s perfect (it’s not) to me, and I just enjoy the hell out of it. Maybe it’s that I saw it when I was a kid and didn’t see the humor, so now as an adult, I’m focused on the creatures and horror of the film. I like Roger Cobb as a character, and I wish we got more appearances from him in a franchise, but this series just did not work as well as its first film. House, though, is damn incredible, and probably my favorite haunted house movie.

3) Zombieland

  • I rediscovered Zombieland this year in anticipation of Double Tap, and this is a tight 80-minute movie that fires on all cylinders and packs so much content into the film. Zombieland is built by four strong lead performers and a lot of cool set pieces. This is the epitome of the “fun apocalypse” film, and it likely led to the craze of people talking about how they would survive a zombie apocalypse (you wouldn’t) situation. Don’t blame Zombieland for that. This is a flavorful action/horror/comedy that works amazing well, even 10 years later.

2) The Fog

  • You all know I love John Carpenter. The Fog is probably in my Top 5 Carpenter films, and I believe he has made several perfect films. The Fog is one of those films. Honestly, I was back and forth about whether this film deserved the top spot of the year of second place, and there was just a more-perfect film that I saw this year. For The Fog, though, it’s impressive to see how Carpenter turned a B-movie into an A-movie. There are giant Jawas going around town killing and haunting, and it should be stupid-looking, but it’s just so incredibly effective.

1) Young Frankenstein

  • Young Frankenstein is the best film I watched this past month. It’s a comedy that embraces the horror elements of the films it is lampooning. It always remembers that it’s making fun of the Frankenstein mythos. Gene Wilder is a perfect Dr. Frankenstein, and Mel Brooks shot enough footage that he was able to be picky as to what scenes he would include in the finished product. Young Frankenstein just works in every way and it’s a benchmark of satire and parody.

So there you have it. These are the best films from 31 Days of Horror this month. I had a lot of fun recounting these things, and I hope you found some new gems to add to your Halloween rotation. See you next year.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 26 – Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Director: Monte Hellman

Cast: Richard Beymer, Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Eric DaRe, Laura Harring, Elizabeth Hoffman, Robert Culp, Richard C. Adams

Screenplay: Rex Weiner

90 mins. Rated R.

 

I’m probably going to get some shit for a Christmas movie right now. Whatever, I just wanted to see this one.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! continues the B-Movie horror franchise with Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley, The Devil’s Rejects, Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival) in a coma. Overseeing his health is Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer, West Side Story, TV’s Twin Peaks), who has been using blind psychic Laura (Samantha Scully, Best of the Best, Bloodsuckers) to access Ricky’s mind for…reasons. Laura is successful at awakening Ricky, though she doesn’t know, and she leaves to celebrate Christmas with her brother Chris (Eric DaRe, Starship Troopers, Ted Bundy) and their Granny (Elizabeth Hoffman, Dante’s Peak, TV’s Sisters). But Ricky is soon on her tail, and Dr. Newbury is on his. And…yeah, you know, it really does get very convoluted for a shit sequel.

Of the first three films in this franchise, Better Watch Out is the worst. It doesn’t really make sense. There’s this whole thing with Ricky where his brain is encased in a dome outside his head and he kind of reminds me of Chop Top mixed with Krang. The inclusion of a blind psychic is weird, especially because her powers kind of work but then don’t work, and his motive for chasing her down is altogether absent.

In fact, this third entry feels so wasted for the kind of talent involved. You have three David Lynch faves in Beymer, DaRe, and Laura Harring (Mulholland Dr., Inside), who plays Chris’s girlfriend Jerri. Robert Culp (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, TV’s I Spy) appears as Lt. Connely, a cop on the case with Dr. Beymer. And I cannot forget the wonderfully talented Bill Moseley (who is famed far too little for his genre work) as Ricky. This film had the talent in front of the camera. It just didn’t have it behind nor on the written page.

Better Watch Out is fun for its kitsch but the movie is quite bad, but going into this franchise, you also know what you are getting into, so at least it isn’t surprisingly bad. If you sat with it this long, I guess the third installment is still worth your time, but this is one Christmas gift worth regifting.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Charles E. Sellier Jr’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, click here.

For my review of Lee Harry’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, click here.

For my review of Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Silent Night (2012)

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Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr

Screenplay: Jayson Rothwell

94 mins. Rated R for bloody violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use.

 

After the disappearance of Deputy Jordan (Brendan Fehr, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: First Class) and rising count of corpses start popping up in town, officer Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King, Pearl Harbor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) is tasked with hunting down a psychopath dressed as Santa Claus…on Christmas Eve of all days. Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness) doesn’t trust the unseasoned young cop, and Aubrey is forced to bet on her gut as a gruesome trail is uncovered, and the culprit may be tied to all of them.

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In this, the remake to Silent Night, Deadly Night (though, to be fair, it seems like more of a reboot, but never mind that), we see how flimsy the original film really was. This story is riddled with plot holes disguising themselves as tongue-in-cheek homages to clichés but come off as mere problems with a mostly problematic film. So many half-answered plot threads, so many!

Thankfully, the cast understands the intended tone of the film, and most of them perform admirably, including McDowell and Donal Logue (TV’s Grounded for Life, The Reef 2: High Tide), who plays a drunk and lousy dime-store Santa suspected of being the murderous madman.

Unfortunately, I said most. Jaime King underperforms to an already poorly put together character and can’t handles the front seat of this ride. Her character merely fills up space.

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I had fun with this film, as I did with the original it is based on, and I loved the rare send-ups to the original series with heightened my enjoyment. Altogether, though, Silent Night could have been more fun. It wasn’t.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 9 – Zombeavers (2014)

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Director: Jordan Rubin

Cast: Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Hutch Dano, Bill Burr, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy

Screenplay: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan

77 mins. Rated R for horror violence/gore, crude sexual content, graphic nudity, and language throughout.

 

I knew it was only a matter of time before I watched Zombeavers. Today was as fitting a day as any other.

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Mary (Rachel Melvin, TV’s Days of Our Lives, Dumb and Dumber To), Zoe (Cortney Palm, Sushi Girl, Silent Night) and Jenn (Lexi Atkins, The Boy Next Door, Ted 2) are prepped and ready to have a great weekend at the cabin alone, reflecting on Jenn’s relationship problem. Very quickly, though, the three are joined by their male companions and immediately attacked by undead zombified beavers who have been contaminated by medical waste unleashed in their lake.

Zombeavers has the distinction of being an incredibly entertaining 80s horror film that just happened to come out last year. The characters are equal parts enjoyable and stupid, enough in droves to make the ensuing horror that much better.

I’m not going to tell you that this is a great film. It is damn fun though. The beavers are not particularly well-built. They come off as knowingly fake and still pretty fun.

One high point of the film is the opening titles. They are perfectly constructed and create the tone of the film to follow. Add to that the amazingly goofy cameos from Bill Burr and John Mayer in the opening and you have a recipe for pure entertainment.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

[Friday the 13th] Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

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Director: Steve Miner

Cast: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd

Screenplay: Ron Kurz

87 mins. Rated R.

 

Films like Friday the 13th don’t ever really get sequels. It is a horror film, so nothing is truly out of the question, but rarely does a sequel happen when the killer is [SPOILER ALERT] beheaded at the end. That didn’t happen for the Friday the 13th franchise, when a small tie at the end of the film involving Mrs. Voohees’ deceased son attacking a frail and fatigued Alice (Adrienne King, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming) led to the first sequel in this highly-successful horror franchise.

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It has been five long years since Alice survived that fateful Friday and now, the camp is to be opened again and a group of new men and women have gathered to learn the trade of the camp counselor. What is required of camp counselors? Drugs, sex, and death, obviously. Plain and simple. But who is killing these teens? Mrs. Voorhees is long dead, and no one has ever found the body of her son, Jason.

The problem with Friday the 13th Part 2 is the fact that it is essentially Friday the 13th all over again. The film provides very little in terms of really progressing the plot, other than the introduction of a new killer. Pulling off the killer switcheroo isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. Several other franchises have tried and failed to complete the change, but Friday is lucky enough to have completed this change very early in the franchise. This is a transitional period for the series and it happens to transition nicely, in part due to its simplicity.

The strengths of this sequel come from the colorful group of likable leads who provide slightly cookie-cutter characters though still enjoyable ones. Ginny (Amy Steel, TV’s All My Children, April Fool’s Day) and Paul (John Furey, The Galinez File, Flight 93) have a solid amount of chemistry if somewhat underused. It is interesting to note the level of danger who two leads carry in the film is less than sufficient, but is a stylistic choice popular to the 1970s and 80s. Director Steve Miner (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Day of the Dead) utilized the style of several Italian horror films to influence the rainbow of deaths in the film. I’m not one to discuss how interesting the death is in horror films. That was younger Kyle. I prefer to believe that the way the person dies bears little when compared to the emotions I feel for him or her. In that way, the ways our killer dispenses with them is disturbing with a sizable amount of cheese (not exactly a bad thing in this way).

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Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2 has enough potential to keep the series alive past what already seemed like a death knell. Likable characters in disturbing danger and an unknown assassin keep the tension high enough to enjoy this sequel all the through the 14th. Happy Holidays.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Second Day… Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

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Director: Lee Harry

Cast: Jean Miller, Eric Freeman, Elizabeth Kaitan, James L. Newman

Screenplay: Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle

88 mins. Rated R.

 

Sometimes, you get sequels that enrich the original film while furthering the ideas put forth by its predecessor. Sometimes, you get a sequel that spends its first half with flashbacks of the first film. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is the latter.

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After seeing his brother gunned down on Christmas, Ricky Caldwell (Eric Freeman, Children of the Corn) begins to display the same disturbed behavior that Billy had. As he is interviewed by Dr. Henry Bloom (James L. Newman, Flags of Our Fathers, Evan Almighty), Ricky describes the events that led him to a psychiatric hospital, all the while displaying his anger towards Mother Superior (Jean Miller) for her involvement in Ricky’s descent into madness.

This film makes absolutely no sense and nothing actually happens. There are plot holes galore, like the fact that Ricky is just able to walk out the front door of his asylum unnoticed.

Eric Freeman’s performance is nails on a chalkboard. He says his lines in the same monotone voice that would drive anyone he speaks with to a mental institution themselves. Beyond getting himself immortalized in a Youtube video forever, Freeman cannot act himself through the framing device of the film’s first half. He might have Voice Immodulation, so I guess I can’t blame him. No wait, yes I can.

Elizabeth Kaitan (Twins, Spy Hard) is another such actress, but she holds up slightly better in other movies, barely. We know why she is here, though. She shows up. She gets naked. She gets murdered. Standard Elizabeth Kaitan performance.

The trouble started with a poor original film for a sequel, followed by a low budget and a bad screenplay. They continue on with more blandness until your finished project is so bad that a drinking game was invented to get through it. DRINKING GAME: Drink every time Ricky adjusts his eyebrows. Drink responsibly, though, folks. He does this at least 100 times in the film. You have been warned.

 

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“GARBAGE DAY!”

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is just plain garbage. There you go.

 

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Silent Night, Deadly Night, click here.

[Happy 30th Birthday!] Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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Director: Charles E. Sellier, Jr.

Cast: Robert Brian Wilson, Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Linnea Quigley

Screenplay: Michael Hickey

79 mins. Rated R.

 

Today, the horror community celebrates two major 30th Anniversary milestones. One has been heralded as one of the greatest horror films of all time. The other is Silent Night, Deadly Night. Yes, A Nightmare on Elm Street came out on this day in 1984, but today we are going to examine Silent Night, Deadly Night instead. I’d never seen this movie before today, so I needed to explore it for the first time.

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Silent Night, Deadly Night is just bad. It exists in that realm of so bad it’s good, and that’s something. Right? Right? Please? Okay, not so much. I can see the cult status of it. There’s a lot of moments here when I giggled. There’s a lot of raunchy partial violence and partial nudity and partial oddity. Yes, Silent Night, Deadly Night exists in a vacuum of awful, and I can live with that.

It is the story of a tragic Christmas Eve many years ago, when Billy witnesses the murder of his parents at the hands of a psycho killer dressed as Santa. Instead of becoming Batman, he chose to go insane. Through a series of devastating series of very unfortunate and detrimental events, Billy goes batshit crazy and on Christmas Eve years later, an eighteen-year-old Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) goes on a killing spree leading towards the woman who helped make him the monster he became, the Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin, Catch Me If You Can, The Man Who Wasn’t There) of the nunnery he grew up in.

That is literally the plot. Somewhere, Linnea Quigley shows up too. She gets naked and murdered. Standard Linnea Quigley performance (not hating).

None of these actors are really actor. The screenplay isn’t good enough to ask anything of them. In fact, most of the elements of this film are too underwhelming to enjoy. Even the director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. couldn’t handle the gore aspects, so editor Michael Spence stepped in.

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Bad movies can breed fun movie times, and Silent Night, Deadly Night does, at least for some. I can’t guarantee you’ll have a good time, but it is pretty stupidly Grindhouse-y. Worth a viewing, but not worth much.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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