Posts Tagged ‘ Saw ’

Friday the 13th – A Blatant Rip-off Of A Far More Superior Work?

Hailed as one of the most iconic horror films ever made, and being the zygote that spawned the iconic hockey mask wearing Jason Voorhees, “Friday the 13th” (1980) is possibly one of the worst horror films that I’ve seen. Not only is it a blatant rip-off of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (I think the script writer himself admitted that he wrote this to cash in on the Michael Myer’s craze) it also has aged very badly and is extremely dull and unbelievably boring. It doesn’t come anywhere near to matching the knuckle-biting, chair-gripping suspense of “Halloween”, and nor does it have anything on the crazy, nihilistic atmosphere as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. And also, it lacks the style and horror of the later film from Wes Craven, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. I could go on, but I won’t. The films I just mentioned there are other considered classics; “Friday the 13th” is not of their calibre. It has as much the right as being ranked up there with them horror greats as “Gremlins” does. Directed by Sean Cunningham who had before this helped produce Wes Craven’s controversial debut “The Last House on the Left”; I thought that after having experience working on such a nasty and violent film like that, that Cunningham would have done the same with his own slasher. But instead what he did was kept the violence at a minimum and just spent the whole film watching the teenagers from the killers perspective as it roams around the forest stalking them. Nice idea Sean, but it had been done already in “Halloween” no more than three years before you! There are some nice gory and violent killings at the beginning, thanks to some smart editing, but as the film progresses, it rapidly runs out of steam because the murders get less and less violent.

I think everyone knows the plot at this stage. Camp Crystal Lake has been closed for years, but it’s having a re-opening during the summer and the camps counsellors are working hard to have the place in good condition for the summer months. They’ve been warned by the town looney from down the road that they are all going to die because the place is cursed. But as usual, the guy is crazy, so why heed his warning? What these teenagers weren’t told is that back in the late 50’s, a young boy named Jason drowned in the lake because the counsellors were too busy having sex to notice and help him. The events in the film take place over one night, as an unknown assailant stalks and murders each one of the counsellors…

Well, I don’t want to spoil this movie so I’ll refrain from saying what it is I want to say, the thing that disappointed me the most – and I think anyone who has the seen the film will know what I’m talking about as it has something to do with the killer… or for lack of a better phrase, who ‘isn’t’ doing the killings. I’ve probably said too much there, but ah well. When poor little Victor Miller wrote the script for this film, he had no idea that Cunningham would get carried away and turn the film into the mad franchise that it is today – it’s even bigger than the Freddy Krueger and the “Halloween” franchises with a grand total of nine sequels (For a while there I thought that “Saw” was gunning to either match or over-jump this record). Add that with a cross-over with Freddy in 2003, and of course, an inevitable remake. A very young Kevin Bacon from “Footloose” stars in one of his very first roles. The acting is atrocious, but I don’t blame the actors for their lousy dialogue and whatever, because the script was just horrendous from Miller. It shows no merit, no innovation, and most of all, it shows no ‘talent’ whatsoever and this could have easily just passed off as some amateur’s low-grade feature. Had it not spawned such a huge franchise, I may have looked upon this film differently but you can’t help going into it with high expectations when it has generated the reputation that it has had over the years. The ending, I have to say, is very frightening, but apart from that, I hated everything about the film; from its ridiculous opening credits with the logo crashing through class, right down to the twists and turns and the despicable characters. To say that the only interesting parts in the film are when someone gets brained with an axe or their throat cut makes me sound psychotic, but also just goes to show how dull the film really is.

Joe Callan

Paranormal Activity 4

How is there a fourth one I hear you ask? Well as any horror series will tell you (Saw, Hostel, Halloween) as long as there is no definite ending then there’s no way the production company, Room 101 in this case, is going to turn down the possibility to steal more money from naive theatre goers (i.e. me). Whether it’s the right thing to do is another question. Yes there is jumpy moments and the usual suspenseful undertone we’ve come to expect from the Paranormal Activity franchise but there is nothing different here than any of the others. In fact, the scariest part of the movie was the reflection of modern-day capitalisation and the negative effects it is having on our culture. I mean a six-year-old kid watching cartoons on his laptop while having a bath! Society is doomed.

The plot picks up at the culminating events of Paranormal Activity 3 where demon-possessed Katie killed her siblings family, apart from her sister’s son, Hunter, who she can be seen leaving with at the end. A new family have just moved in to the house but we soon find out Katie lives just across the road with her own son Robbie. Hunter is nowhere to be seen until we realise  that he is here all along as he is the adopted son of the new family, renamed Wyatt. The “stars’ of this film are the teenage daughter Alex and her snoopy boyfriend Ben. Alex is the protagonist we follow hoping, or not, that her journey doesn’t come to a bitter end like every character previously in that role. The goal of these spirits is still confusing after four attempts at it. Katie needs to turn human vessels into dark spirits for Robbie to become one himself and needs Wyatt’s (Hunter’s) help to do so, or something along those lines,. The ending does give some hope in that it appeared to close the revolving door that is Paranormal Acterrible (see what I did there). Although having said that, if anyone could keep a series going it would be these writers. A court ordered cease and desist is the only way to be safe from this build up of waste encroaching further into our lives.

The special effects appeared worse than the previous ones as well and the film was generally just tedious and mundane. The novelty of an entire movie being made on hand-held and surveillance cameras  has definitely worn off and with the added spice of webcams for this one it merely appeared like an advert for Apple with the amount of laptops being brandished about. Maybe there WAS subtext and the film IS a cultural criticism of our reliance on technology…..or maybe it just is what it is, a cheap seasonal thrill with little creative effort put in. The fact that this falls into the horror genre and that it is coming up to Halloween is possibly the only reason I could safely give for going to see this film without feeling as morally bankrupt as the producers themselves.

My Rating: 1/10

(@rorytoal)

Top 5 Genre Redefining Horror Films

Horror movies are churned out at a fast pace, rarely does a forth night go by in the cinema without a new one being released. They normally slip by our consciousness without much notice. Disposable entertainment to never be looked at again but on occasion the genre strikes gold. It makes a film that rewrites its own rules, causing a slew of copycat films made to cash in on its success. The films in this list might not be in your opinion the best of the genre but they most certainly helped redefine it. They breathed new life into a failing facet of cinema, helping horror live strong for many many decades.  So turn off the lights, lock the door and ignore that clawing sounds coming from the window outside….

1.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper made a little low budget horror film called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for $300,000 in the summer of 1974. It went on to gross over $30 million in the American box office. Not only is there a raw rushed energy about the movie that will shake your central core (the dinning room scene must be one of the most terrifying pieces of cinema ever) but it basically invented the slasher movie genre. An iconic masterpiece that is as flawed as it is perfect.

2.  Scream (1996)

After The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the slasher genre began a slow decline. Lots of straight to video releases and trashy movies caused the Horror industry to loose its appeal but in 1996 a pop culture referencing, quick talking, tongue in cheek movie called Scream came out. It played all the right cards, a nostalgic throwback to the likes of Halloween and Friday 13th while never taking itself too seriously. The 90’s had found their horror icon in the shape of Ghost face.

3.  The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Spawning too many copycats to count (see Paranormal Activity) The Blair Witch Project helped pave the way for Mockumentary filmmaking. Using hand held cameras and the premise of a “True Story” it gave an added fear factor to the market. Playing on the idea that we associate home movies with real life it made the scares much more real, much more tangible. To really see this movies impact all you have to do is look at the amount of movies made using the same technique.

4.  Saw (2004)

Welcome to torture porn. Its gonna be graphic, its gonna be nasty, its gonna be about as gory as you can imagine and then maybe add another 10 gallons of blood. Saw uses the gross out technique to give the viewer a good scare and judging by the box office figures and numerous sequels it seems to have done the job. This franchise opened the door for the likes of Hostel and Captivity.

5.  28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later brought the scares in the form of zombies with the ability to run fast, very very fast. Gone were the days of the stumbling, doddering brain eaters, Danny Boyle had replaced them with sprinters ready to hurdle any obstacle you put in their way all just to spread their virus. Low budget cameras gave the film a gritty home hitting feel that brought the audience right into the middle of the action. Maybe not the best zombie movie of all but definitely one that broke a good few boundaries.