LAMBCAST #450 SCREAM FRANCHISE

I scream, you scream, we all scream for the Scream franchise!
Continue reading

Advertisements

Top 10… Serial Killer Movies

Next up on my celebration of horror movies via top 10 lists is another real-life threat, but one more sinister than snakes or spiders – serial killers. It’s not the happiest of subject matters, but it does make for some great stories to tell. Whether they’re based on real life instances or completely fictional, there’s a great overarching threat of a character intend on killing not just one, but multiple – and occasionally vast numbers – of people.
Natural
It could be for good – maybe the people they’re killing are even more evil – for bad, or for the sake of random craziness, but however you slice it, the serial killer will remain a great villain in cinema. And the fact that it’s usually just another person – as all the entries on this list  are – without any kind of supernatural powers or abilities makes them potentially all the more scary, because you could just walk down the street and never even know it’s them. You walk past Freddy Kreuger and you know something’s up. But Mark from Peeping Tom? Why, he’s just another guy with a camera, who’s he gonna hurt?Peeping
Oh, and bounty hunters like Anton Chigurh don’t count. He’s on a mission to kill one person, and anyone that gets in his way is just collateral damage. And this isn’t a list of my favourite movie serial killers – I’m not sure how I’d rank how much I like them – this is based purely on the movies they’re in. There’s also quite a few that didn’t make the list, purely because I haven’t seen them yet. Films like Night of the Hunter (which I should be getting to soon, hopefully), The Killer Inside Me (I want to read the book first) and Hitchcock’s Frenzy. Also, no documentaries, just because. And the few that I can’t actually remember very much about but do intend to catch up on include Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Natural Born Killers and the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (which I’ll be getting to shortly too).Sweeney

Continue reading

Top 10… Movie Franchises

I’ve recently gone on record about two movie franchises, Star Trek and The Fast & The Furious, one of which I greatly preferred to the other. This got me thinking, and was the inspiration for this week’s list, my Top 10 Movie Franchises. Now, as always I’ve set myself some limitations. Firstly, I must have seen every film within the franchise. This immediately rules out the likes of Die Hard (haven’t seen number 5), Alien/Predator (haven’t seen Predator 2, can’t remember Alien 3 or Resurrection), Bourne (Legacy), Hannibal (Rising) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake and New Nightmare). I also didn’t include the looser franchises that simply take place in the same universe, for example the Avengers film, Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse, George Romero’s Blank of the Dead series or the Muppets films. I also took into account every film within each franchise, so just because a film happened to feature some true classics, if there were some stinkers in there too then that didn’t help its case for inclusion. The franchise also had to have a minimum of four films, as I’ve made a list of my top trilogies before. So, without further ado, here’s my top 10 movie franchises:

Honourable Mentions
Final-Destination-5There’s a lot of franchises out there! Seriously, there’s tons, more than I’d heard of, and I was shocked to discover some of the more longer-lasting movie sagas. Did you know there’s 30 Django films? I knew there were a lot of Carry Ons, but I didn’t think it was as many as 31, which is also the same number of Barbie films in existence (I’m guessing this doesn’t include Hotel Terminus). I’m most blown away, however, by the fact that there’s a Chinese series known as Wong Fei Hung, which includes a staggering 89 movies. 89! That, my friends, is insane. Anyway, I’ve barely seen any of these films (Django Unchained, Carry On Doctor) so obviously these can’t be in my Top 10.
No, this week’s two honourable mentions are the Final Destination franchise, and Police Academy. They beat out stiff competition from the likes of Shrek, Home Alone, Pirates of the Caribbean, Saw and the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, but if I had to pick my favourites then these two are them. Final Destination is one of the few horror series I pay much attention too – I’ve only seen the original Halloween, and have yet to see any Friday the 13th films – and I think this is due to the initially original concept of people cheating death, and being hunted down one by one to fix reality. It’s such a brilliant idea, and it means there’s no iconic killer who’ll end up as a parody of himself by the fifth film. Part four is easily the worst in the series – the premonitions don’t make sense and there’s some truly terrible CGI – but all the rest are at least decent, with number 2 being my personal favourite. I had a screenshot from the death of Rory as my background for a little while after seeing that film.
Police-Academy-police-academy-27137923-1920-1080Police Academy is an entirely different yet still occasionally just as ridiculous franchise, following the antics of a police training school that’s just dropped any requirements for entrants, meaning anyone of any gender, race, weight and ability can sign up and be trained. Yes, the sequels got a bit terrible after Steve Guttenberg dropped out, and the less said about Mission to Moscow the better, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the earlier films, the first one is a true 80s classic.
Continue reading

Top 5… ‘Friends’ Movies

It’s David Schwimmer’s birthday today, and with the imminent release of the complete Friends boxset on Blu-Ray (available in the UK on November 12th), this seemed to be the perfect time to have a look through the filmographies of the six leads of that great show. That is, until I got severely depressed by just how bad most of the films they’d made were. So bad, in fact, that amongst six successful actors, I could barely find 20 films that I’d willingly sat down and watched. This was a tough list to find five good films from.5. Lost in Space
I’m fully aware that this is a terrible film, but it belongs on a list with the likes of Godzilla, Deep Blue Sea and The Day After Tomorrow as films that don’t really have a lot going for them other than being largely entertaining. Lost in Space features a fairly terrible performance from Matt LeBlanc as Major Don West, the captain of a spaceship transporting the Robinson family to a new colony in an attempt to begin the salvation of humanity, but of course problems arise, most notably a hoard of alien spiders that eat through the ship’s hull. Is there anything worth watching about the film? Yes. Gary Oldman is terrific as the evil Dr. Zachary Smith (and a slightly more spidery version later on). The rest of the Robinsons are OK too, particularly William Hurt as the father. And there’s a robot! Now, I’ve never seen the 60s TV show on which this is based, but I’m pretty sure that if they had implemented a weird sucker-fingered alien monkey, the CGI may have looked slightly better than in this film , made 30 years later.
Continue reading

Scream 4

I wrote in one of my first posts aaaaaaaaaaages ago that I was really looking forward to this film, as I loved Scream and Scream 2, and enjoyed Scream 3 enough to justify owning it, but when the reviews came out and Scream 4 was deemed something of a failure I became lukewarm to the idea, and have put off watching it until recently. I went in with fairly low expectations, which is probably the best approach to take if you want to enjoy this film.

The problem with the Scream franchise, and indeed with pretty much every horror series, is that it tells the same story every time. Yes, a new batch of barely-characterised nubile young hotties is brought in to be creatively slaughtered, and at least with these films the killer changes each time, but the motive always seems to be the same and it’s always someone you’re not supposed to expect, meaning you work out who the killer couldn’t possibly be, and then you’ve solved the mystery.
It’s not difficult to see why the surviving leads from the series, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, have returned, seeing as none of them has had a very successful venture since the last movie, and the likes of Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin and Adam Brody were probably only too willing to work with Wes Craven, the legend behind the original trilogy as well as A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House On The Left.
The plot sees Sidney Prescott (Campbell), the key surviving victim from the series, as she returns back to her home town of Woodsboro 15 years after the original murders to promote her new book, where Dewey (Arquette) is now sheriff and married to Gale Weathers (Cox). At times it’s more than a little awkward to see Cox and Arquette working together after their divorce, as they’ve lost that spark of chemistry present in the earlier films. Coinciding with Sidney’s return, a new killer is murdering random victims, and seems to be doing so by following the rules set by modern horror multi-sequels. This time amongst the knife-fodder is Sidney’s niece Jill (Roberts) and her friends, as well as movie nerds and audience cyphers Charlie and Robbie (Culkin and Erik Knudsen).
Seeing as the antagonists murder weapon is a big knife, the kills here can never be all that inventive. It’s more a case of where the killer jumps out from and who is behind the mask more than how will everyone die (hint: by being stabbed). The film has now surpassed it’s previous level of satire and whip-smart semi-parody by becoming overly self-deprecating, with the multi-layered opening being a prime example of how silly it has become, and how little the film cares about the kind of emotional attachment the audience is willing to put into the characters and plot. The ending makes sense within the film’s universe, but only because it’s frightfully similar to that of the three films before it.
If you enjoyed the previous films, and heaven knows I did, then chances are you know what you’re getting yourself in for here, and won’t necessarily be disappointed. If, however, you’re looking for the series to get a kick start and head off in a new direction, you’ll find it sadly lacking. This was intended to start another trilogy, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Choose life 4/10

Scream

It says something about the sheer volume of horror movies made in the 70s, 80s and 90s that in 1996 Wes Craven, himself creator of such classics as A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Hills Have Eyes, was able to create a film almost entirely about other horror movies, whilst still existing as a genre-defining horror-comedy along the way. Namechecking the likes of his own works (whilst having a dig at the sequels he wasn’t directly involved with) as well as Halloween, Friday the 13th, the Exorcist, Basic Instinct, Frankenstein, Prom Night, the Howling, Evil Dead, Hellraiser, Clerks, Psycho, Carrie, I Spit on Your Grave, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Silence of the Lambs to name but a few, the script revels in its horror knowledge, with one character, Jamie Kennedy’s Randy, working in a video store (remember them?) and dictating the rules of surviving a horror movie (don’t have sex, never drink or take drugs, never say “I’ll be right back”).

Scream was one of the first horror movies I ever saw, and rewatching it now brings a much greater level of enjoyment and understanding, for now I’ve seen most of the films it references as a masked killer stalks the inhabitants of Woodsboro, one year after the mother of Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a high school student, was raped and murdered. Hilariously, most of the characters refer to the serial killer as though it were a horror movie (“there’s a formula, a very simple formula – everybody’s a suspect!) and the script is full of other little notes that you’ll enjoy this a great deal more if you like films in general.

Typically with all franchises, the sequels deteriorate in quality, but it’s clear this was set up as a franchise from the beginning, with Sydney predicting Tori Spelling would play her if they made the story into a movie (as happens in Scream 2’s film within a film, Stab), and Liev Schreiber’s role of convicted killer Cotton Weary beefed up a great deal for part 2. This is exactly the horror film needed to reinvigorate the once tired genre; a horror film made for people who love horror films, by people who love horror films, about people who love horror films.
Choose film 8/10

Scream 4

With the recent release of the trailer for Scream 4, I wish to express my excitement about this forthcoming film. I feel that, in the ten years since the release of Scream 3, the horror genre has progressed significantly, with the introduction of the torture-porn sub-genre in the likes of the thankfully now finishing Saw franchise and the nauseating Hostel films (I still can’t watch the bit with the eye in the first one) as well as the near constant onslaught of remakes, prequels and ‘reimaginings’ of existing films, be they masterpieces or less so.

Continue reading