Wednesday, March 27. 2013
This is Mark stepping in for Trever temporarily. I don't normally do opening night showings. I'm much more of a matinee type of person. Lower prices, fewer attendees. However, I do make the occasional exception.
You might say that The Evil Dead
is special to me. It caused quite a stir when it played at The Anchor Drive-In, in Newport News, VA. The famous quote from Stephen King about how The Evil Dead
was the most ferociously original horror movie he had seen that year was being played on radio advertisements. You know I was stoked to see it.
I didn't make it on opening night, but me and two buddies rolled up at the gate at the drive-in on Saturday evening, a little before dusk. Needless to say that in addition to the kimchee and bool-go-gi we had leftover from the Korean restaurant we had eaten lunch at, we had plenty of both legal and illegal party materials. We were ready.
Some people seem to think The Evil Dead
plays like a comedy, but for us it was an experience of pure terror. I loved it, but the guys with me were not exactly true blue horror fans. They were sort of freaking out.
played after The Evil Dead
, but between our buzz by that point, and the way we were so blown away by The Evil Dead
, we didn't take in a lot of it.
The Evil Dead
also had a fairly healthy midnight movie run. It came in right at the tail end of that era, and I saw it at the stroke of twelve in a hardtop movie house. The drive-in was a much better experience despite the superior sound and picture at the midnight showing.
The first bootleg tape I owned was The Evil Dead
. I just had to own a copy of it. Such was my affection for the movie, on the night my daughter born, me and my best friend came home and watched it in a celebratory manner. Bring in new life with The Evil Dead
. That may seem a little strange to some, but I think most people reading this get it.
Evil Dead 2
was eventually announced, and Fangoria was making a huge fuss over it. Early word was that the sequel would be the same type of story, but with vastly improved effects and photography. It was featured in one way or another in every issue for a while, and I could not have been more excited. I honestly can't say that I have ever been more excited about a movie coming out. Before or since.
A few weeks before Evil Dead 2
was due, I spent a pleasant Friday evening with a twelve-pack and a showing of the first movie. I was living with that same woman and our baby. She had previously thought it was cool that I liked horror so much. That didn't last long.
I was playing The Evil Dead
, and she would come out of the bedroom from time to time. Now, as you should know, the sound effects in The Evil Dead
are quite jarring and effective. It sets an edgy tone to the movie. Then there are the screams and curses made by the performers. The woman happened to be out preparing milk for the baby when the demon in the cellar was chanting, "We're going to get you. We're going to get you". Pretty creepy stuff. I had no idea how badly it was affecting her.
The next day she told me that if I played that movie again, she would take the baby and leave. She honestly thought it was evil. The sad truth is, we should not have been together. In fact, I don't think I was prepared for a relationship at that point. No woman could compete with my love of horror at the time.
Soon after, it was a Friday like any other Friday. Or so it seemed. We took the same car in to work, and as we passed the theater by our house, I looked at the marquee, pointed, and screamed, "EVIL DEAD 2!!!
" While she had been talking about something. God, I was a prick.
That evening I was itching to see it, but I had resolved to do something with her. The same friend who watched The Evil Dead
with me upon the birth of my daughter burst into the front door, without knocking, and started yelling, "IT'S HERE!! IT'S HERE!!
I was granted permission to see the movie. We had a third guy in our party, but he was such a turkey that he was mad we were not seeing Michael J. Fox in The Secret of My Success
, which was playing on the other screen at the theater.
It played at the Newmarket Rocking Chair Theater, which was a hardshell movie house near where I lived then. I miss it almost as much as I do the drive-ins. The Newmarket got a lot of indie horror and other controversial things like The Last Temptation of Christ
. We saw a lot of late shows there too. Everything from Reefer Madness
to concert movies, A Boy and His Dog
, Last House on the Left
. All kinds of wonderful stuff.
What can I say about Evil Dead 2
? We laughed our heads off, jumped at the right places, thrilled, chilled, and loved every second of it. Evil Dead 2
was worthy of all the hype it got. And then some. I went back on Sunday afternoon and caught a matinee of the movie. And I've seen it many, many times since then.
Now we are poised for the Evil Dead
remake. It's funny, because Evil Dead 2
is basically a remake of The Evil Dead
. I know it's hip to hate remakes, but I don't. Not that I love all of them, but I quite enjoy a lot that I have seen. I am really excited about The Evil Dead
, which is due next week as I write this. I have this great feeling that it will deliver on all fronts. And no CGI! A fan's dream.
There is no way I can rekindle the enthusiasm and passion I had for such a release when Evil Dead 2
opened. Too much has happened, and I unfortunately am not so naive anymore. But, damn it, I feel pretty close to the way I did back when I saw Evil Dead 2 on that opening night.
Written by Mark Sieber
Thursday, February 21. 2013
November 16th, 1984
I remember seeing the early trailers and being put off by the original A Nightmare On Elm Street
. The image of Freddy Krueger having long arms was ingrained into my thoughts. I just didnít like it. But then I started reading early coverage in Fangoria and my thoughts changed. I figured the film might be good. So I started to anxiously wait for opening night.
Strangely enough, my Mother also wanted to see the movie. Iím not exactly sure why, but we made a date to go see the film together. Sheís never been one for the theater (though she went quite a lot during the 1970s), and it surprised me. Still, I thought the idea of taking my Mother to a horror film would be good. She harbored an appreciation for the genre, so why not?
Finally, after weeks of trailers and perusing Fangoria, opening night arrived. It was snowy and very cold, but the two of us still ventured out. Thankfully, the weather was keeping the audiences at bay. There were a few people out, but the auditorium was relatively empty. Freddy had yet to make a big name for himself, so this wasnít out of the normal. I enjoyed the small audience, though it would be the last time I ever saw A Nightmare On Elm Street
(or any of its sequels) with only a few people in attendance.
Either way, the film finally started. I knew it had my Mother hooked from the beginning. During those opening scenes where we get to see Freddy building his glove, my Mother gasped when he opened up his hand and revealed the blades. She muttered: "Oh my God."
Iíll never forget that, and wish I had experienced the same thing. Still, I knew she was in for a rollercoaster ride and sat back to enjoy the show.
I was a fan of Freddy from the start. I really enjoyed the character and knew that Wes Craven had hit another one out of the park. The audience reacted very well with screams and nervous laughter during the film. And that scene where Freddy has long arms? I thought it was played very well. Itís still not one of my favorite visages of the Dream Stalker, but it was far away from being as ridiculous as I had imagined.
After the film, my Mother gushed over it. She really liked it. Of course, I did, too. It was a fun car ride home even though the streets were icy and very dangerous. I can recall sliding a bit on the pavement as I left the theater parking lot. Thankfully, there were barely any souls out on this night. I still couldnít believe that my Mother had returned to the movies! Strange things do happen.
The following Monday, at work, I ran into a fellow employee named Stanley. It appeared that he had gone to see the film over the weekend, too. And he loved it! He was gushing to anyone who would listen to him about Cravenís movie, and it put a smile on my face. Itís always good to see someone turned on to a movie, and Stanley was doing it in spades. He told me that he had gone to see it with his sister and Mother, too. I donít believe I ever found out if they enjoyed it, but I have a good idea that they did. The original is a classic and Iíve ran across very few people who donít like it.
Before the film left the theater, I managed to get back to see it a few more times. My enjoyment of it arose with each viewing, and so did the audiences. Word of mouth had spread about Freddy, and I honestly hadnít seen anything like it since the original Friday The 13th
had debuted. I knew that Jason was going to be in for a run for his money, because there was no way that New Line wasnít going to churn out a sequel.
Months later, A Nightmare On Elm Street
appeared on VHS. I can remember being in the local mom Ďní pop video store when they brought out their first copy. The man behind the counter, a jolly giant by the name of Henry, told me he had loved watching it. I ensured him that I felt the same way and rented the film. It was good revisiting it at home, and introducing the wife to Freddy Krueger. She really liked it, too.
Though my allegiance to Jason Voorhees was still cemented, I understood that Freddy was going to come on like gangbusters. If nothing else, reaction to the Dream Stalker was more promising than that for the Sultan of Slaughter. To be honest, A Nightmare On Elm Street
is the more dominant film between the two (though I still list Friday The 13th
as my favorite slasher). Iíve never truly considered the A Nightmare On Elm Street
series to be slasher films, but thatís just me. Does it really matter? Itís a darned good film, either way. Youíll get no complaints from me.
And then the rumors of a sequel started. Fangoria began to push the new Freddy on us with numerous articles and photos, and I was elated. Did the sequel live up to the hype? Iíll be back with a report on A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
before too long. Until then, just remember that if you donít wake up screaming, you wonít wake up at all...
Written by Trever Palmer
Thursday, February 14. 2013
February 11th, 1981
When I was growing up, I lived in the country. The only neighbor my family had was an old man named Arthur Foreman. I called him ďCharlieĒ because that was his dogís name and for some reason I thought it was his name, too. We can all be a bit goofy as children, huh?
Anyway, each summer his granddaughter, Carrie, would come to visit him. Living out in the sticks as I did, I had no other children to mess around with, so it all came down to playing with Carrie. We had a lot of fun, but boy oh boy she sure did cry a lot. I remember one time we were going to eat lunch and her hands got a bit dirty. The girl cried over it! Why? I honestly have no idea, and neither did my mother, but we got her quieted down and eventually ate. Jeez.
So, we all finally grew up. I didnít see Carrie as much during my teenage years, but knew that she was around. She was basically another face in the high school hallways. Iím sure you know what I mean. We didnít talk like we did when we were children, though we remained friendly.
Eventually, after high school, I got married. My wife went to college and became a school teacher. And wouldnít you know it? One of her fellow teachers turned out to be Carrie. So my relationship with her continued once my wife befriended her, too. Was Carrie still a crier? At the time, I was unsure. Honestly, I didnít give it much thought. But one thing that I did know was that she was going to turn into an old spinster if she didnít find herself a man. And it wasnít that she was ugly (she was rather quite attractive); I think it was simply because she was afraid.
Anyway, my wife got her a date with another teacher. Personally, I couldnít stand Bob. Iím not really sure why, but something about him always rankled me. And wouldnít you know it, but my wife had arranged for a double-date with them. Oh brother. At least I got lucky and was allowed to pick the movie we were going to watch. Yes, it was My Bloody Valentine
My wife didnít like the idea of going to a slasher film as a first date for Bob and Carrie, but I was relentless. If I was going to be subjected to this, at least I should be able to have some fun with it. And what better way for a new couple to attend a horror film? Bob would have his hands full with Carrie. The poor girl was practically afraid of her own shadow, so he should have his hands all over her by the end of the night. It was a win-win situation. I would get to see a new slasher film, and Bob might get lucky. Everybodyís happy.
The day we decided to go, which was opening night, was extremely wintery. I canít remember how many inches of snow had fallen, but the roads were icy. I had to drive us over to pick up Carrie who, once in the car, barely muttered a word. I can recall thinking that she was scared to death. Why? Was it simply because she was going out with a geek like Bob? I couldnít believe it. When we got around to Bobís apartment, at least he was a little chattier once he climbed into the backseat. Still, you could feel the ice that coated Carrie.
I was so glad once we reached the theater. It had been an arduous trek. Not only was it in the next city over (which was a fifteen-minute drive), but the roads had been very slippery. Add all that to Bobís inane ramblings and Carrie looking like she wanted to hang her head out the window like a sick dog and well... You have the beginnings of a great night, huh? I did my best to smile and act cordial, but once we were in the auditorium and the lights dimmed, thank God. I could finally lose myself in the film.
However, midway through My Bloody Valentine
, Carrie simply couldnít take it anymore. Sheíd already screamed at the appropriate times in the movie, and I thought she was having a great time. I know I was. My Bloody Valentine
is an excellent slasher. Carrie, though, had seen enough. Crying (yes, dear God, the girl was crying), she got up and left the auditorium. Bob, a bit stunned, followed her outside to the lobby. My wife got up, too. She wanted me to come with her, but no way, buddy. Iím watching the movie. So I was left being the villain as my wife went out to the lobby to be with Bob and Carrie. Personally, I felt as if she shouldíve left them to their own devices, but who am I?
After the movie, we all climbed back into the car. Carrie had finally gotten over her crying jag and Bob, who had once been so talkative, had now been diminished to simply sitting there looking bewildered. I couldnít blame him. His date had freaked out at a movie. What else was she capable of? To say I was elated to drop both of them off at their respective homes is an understatement.
And yeah, I got read the riot act from my wife. But I didnít care. My Bloody Valentine
had been great! It was a small price to pay to hear a bit of bitching.
Whatever became of Carrie? Unless Iím mistaken, she never went out with Bob, again. I do know that a few years after the movie incident, she moved to California. From the bit of information I could gleam from Charlie, she married and had a few kids. Good for Carrie! Of course, Iím still left to wonder whether she cries at the drop of a hat.
All I know is that Iím damned glad Iím not going to be around to see it.
Written by Trever Palmer
Tuesday, December 18. 2012
August 13, 1993
It had been four years since the last Friday The 13th
sequel, and I was quite excited to see the Sultan of Slaughter return to the big screen. I wasnít completely sold on the idea of New Line venturing to Crystal Lake, but beggars canít be choosers.
Waiting for the film, I remember when Fangoria spoiled the filmís big reveal. I can recall their poster of Freddyís glove reaching out to grab the hockey mask. Did it ruin the film for me? It certainly didnít douse my desire to see it, I can tell you that. If nothing else, it only fueled my enthusiasm. The film destroyed its own self upon impact.
When opening night rolled around, I was first in line to buy my ticket. I went alone, as my wife was out of town, and that was just fine and dandy with me. The Triple Gold Theater was packed that night, and I was so glad to see so many fans were still pouring out to support a film that was on its eighth sequel.
One of the fans was a 13-year-old boy named Andrew. While I was perusing the lobby, checking out upcoming movie posters, he ventured over to me and started up a conversation. He knew me from the comic shop and I always liked the kid. Unfortunately, four years later he would be convicted of murdering another teenager for the mere sum of forty dollars. Heís still in prison.
I finally made my way inside the auditorium, picking myself a good seat. Finally, after what seemed like an agonizing long time, the film started.
Iíve always been a fan of the beginning. When the Friday The 13th
series first began, I can recall my friends and me discussing the only way to stop Jason Voorhees. One of those ways was to blown him up. Well, wouldnít you know it but Jason Goes To Hell
ventured down that avenue. I was elated. Now, if only the rest of the film had been as good. I still maintain that if the beginning of the film had been the end, I wouldíve been pleased with the demise of the Sultan. Oh well, huh?
Anyways, after the opening, someone shouted out in the crowd: ďWhat are they going to do? Sew him back together?Ē
That might not have been a bad idea after witnessing the train wreck that was to follow.
Though Iím not a fan of the film, I stayed to watch it a second time. I didnít have anybody at home waiting for me, so why not kill time at Crystal Lake? Even if it was the Sultan jumping bodies and giving us only a few screen minutes of the hockey-masked maniac?
Another good crowd piled into the theater for the second showing. This time, I was seated next to an ex-girlfriend of mine from high school. I recognized her, and Iím sure she did me, but she never muttered a word to me. Well, well, huh? I got her good, though. When the film ran to its big Freddy reveal, I nudged her with an elbow and told her what was going to happen. Am I a bastard? I sure am.
Finally, after being exposed to Jason Goes To Hell
twice, I was ready to go home. I got up from my seat and made my way back into the lobby. Even before I reached the exit doors, I could see that the parking lot was swarmed with police cars. It appeared as if a gang had invaded the theater and busted out the windows of quite a few cars. Fortunately, I had parked right in front of the theater and my vehicle was spared. Still, Iíll never forget the people who were wounded by having their windshields destroyed. I really felt for them.
Back home, I tried to forget about Jason Goes To Hell
. I revisited the original film and felt good about it. Still, had I known it was going to take so long for another Friday The 13th
sequel; I mightíve been more generous to part nine. Okay, maybe not. Itís a bad film, and I still donít enjoy it to this day. Iíll forgive it for that beginning, though. I like that.
However, it would be quite a long wait to Jason X
. But, I was first in line for that one, too. And Iíll be back with a report on it before too long. Until then, what about that awful line muttered by Creighton Duke: ďRemember me?Ē If you knew the backstory to the film, that Jason had killed the bounty hunterís girlfriend, the line made sense. Otherwise it left one scratching their head much like the entire mess that is Jason Goes To Hell
Thursday, November 29. 2012
When Silent Night, Deadly Night
was originally released on November 9, 1984, it didnít make its way to my neck of the woods. In anticipation of the film, I had to settle for trailers until it made its premiere. And, of course, I had to sit and watch while the film was reviled in the media.
Oh sure, I vividly remember the campaign railing against the film. It was nothing to turn on the television and see angry parents pissing and moaning about Silent Night, Deadly Night
. Honestly, I thought the whole thing was amusing. The rally was against a killer Santa Claus. If you donít want your children to watch the film, I have no problem with that. Itís not like it was rated PG. The only true complaint I had was that I feared the movie wouldnít open in my rural area due to the complaints. In the end, I had nothing to worry about, but I still feared missing this film.
I can remember one night at my in-law's home. I was sitting at the kitchen table with my daughter, who was only 2 years old at the time, and noticing a trailer for Silent Night, Deadly Night
come on the television. My wife and mother-in-law were standing against the kitchen counters and I couldnít resist. I told my mother-in-law that I was going to take my daughter to see the film come hell or high water. Well, she threatened to cut my tongue out with a butter knife if I did something like that. And no, I donít doubt that she wasnít kidding. God rest her soul, but my mother-in-law and I never did get along. I should also add for those wondering that, no, I wouldnít have taken my child to see the movie.
Eventually, Silent Night, Deadly Night
did open at a local theater. It took a few weeks to rear its head, but finally the time had come for me to see it. The film premiered at the State Theater, which has since closed and been renovated and reopened to show classic films. I saw a lot of good movies at that theater and still haunt its premises whenever something that attracts me is showing.
But I digress...
The night the film opened, it was very cold outside. There had been a recent snowfall, and the roads were a bit icy. Nobody was interested in going to see the movie with me, so I went alone. There was no way I was going to miss this. Iíd be a liar if I said that I wasnít hoping for an angry mob to be gathered outside the State Theater. I really wanted to see these people close-up. And where in a better place than in a God-fearing small community like my own? I really had my hopes up.
Unfortunately, there wasnít a crowd protesting the film. To be honest, there wasnít anybody out on this cold night. I was very disappointed that there werenít any protestors for me to laugh at, and extremely let down that I ended up being the only person in the theater for the filmís opening. I really wanted Silent Night, Deadly Night
to succeed. Instead I ended up sitting in the auditorium by my lonesome on a cold November night. Usually, Iím excited to get a theater for myself, but not this time. I wasnít sure if it was the weather keeping the protestors and movie-goers at home, or if there simply wasnít enough interest for a Christmas-themed slasher film. Either way, the film came and went in a one week span. It was long-gone from the State Theater by the time Christmas rolled around.
I can remember leaving the auditorium and being met by one of the theaterís ushers. She was an older woman with dyed-blonde hair. For the life of me, Iíll never forget that head of hair. She was sitting on a stool that led back to the auditoriums and she looked at me and smiled, parting her thickly painted red lips to reveal twin rows of coffee and nicotine-stained teeth.
ďWas it any good?Ē
I nodded and confirmed that it was. ďIf you like slasher films,Ē
I replied, ďyouíll like this one.Ē
For a moment, I stopped and held a small conversation with her. As we stood there, I can still remember hearing the wind howling outside the theater. Even though I was in this older womanís company, for the first time that night I suddenly felt very alone. Instead of going home, I wanted to run back to the auditorium and watch the film a second time. Did I? No. But, the urge was very much there.
I didnít see Silent Night, Deadly Night
again until it reared its head on VHS. This time, the wife watched it with me, and yes, she liked it. And no, I still didnít allow my daughter to watch it. She was safely tucked away in bed when we slipped it into the VCR.
In the years since that night in 1984, Silent Night, Deadly Night
has become an institution for me. Unlike its awful sequels, I still watch the original film on every Christmas Eve. Now that weíre only a few weeks away from the holiday, Iím starting to feel that anxiousness rising to revisit Billy and Mother Superior. For some strange reason, if I donít watch the film on December 24th, I feel ďnaughty.Ē And Lord knows I donít want that to happen.
Written by Trever Palmer
Thursday, October 11. 2012
October 25, 1978
The Night HE Came Home...
My anticipation for HALLOWEEN
was quite high. I had already become a John Carpenter fanatic by having witnessed ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13
at the local drive-in. I had no doubt that his new film would be of the same caliber. And, of course, I wasnít wrong.
But this isnít a tale about my love for John Carpenter. Instead, itís a romantic story about the first date with my wife.
When I first met my wife, she was working as a desk clerk at one of the local hotels. To be exact, it was the Best Western. She had returned to our quaint little hometown after a successful gig as a publicist for a popular 1970s rock band. Why she ever quit such a sweet job is beyond me, but there she was. The first time I saw her, it was love at first sight. I didnít know if sheíd ever feel the same way about me, but I had to take the chance. You always know that feeling when it hits your gut.
To say I was a bit scared is an understatement. I was terrified of asking her out. Not only did I think she was beautiful, but she was nine years older than me. What would a mature woman want with a kid? Well, I mustered up the courage and managed to ask her out. When she said ďyes,Ē my heart did a flip-flop. This couldnít be true! But there it was. She had agreed to a date with me, and my excitement boiled over.
And what was that first date?
Why, of course, it was to go see HALLOWEEN
My wife has never been a fan of horror films. Sure, sheíll watch them at home with me, and occasionally venture out to the theater to see them, but sheís never had the passion for them like I have. Of course, sheís allowed me to decorate most of our home with my Universal Monsters memorabilia (at her own suggestion), but a love for the genre has always seemed to evade her.
This never stopped my love for her, though.
But I digress...
I remember this night fondly. Weíd had a torrential downpour during the afternoon, and it turned the town and city streets wet. The leaves had all fallen from the trees, and there was a crispness to the air. You know that scent. My parents had a jack-o-lantern sitting on their front porch, and there was an assortment of holiday fear masking the surroundings. However, my wife, who lived in an apartment, didnít decorate for Halloween. There wasnít a pumpkin or plastic skeleton to be found in her joint! I was a bit disheartened by this, but it didnít stop my love for her.
We bundled up to fight the chill and made our way out to my car. Now hereís where things get a bit weird. At the time, I was driving a hearse. Yeah, you read that right. Iíd traded in my Charger and got myself a nifty hearse to drive around town. At the time, I had never given much consideration to it being a turn-off for my wife. And thankfully, that wasnít the case. In fact, she laughed at the idea of me driving it around. It didnít stop her from getting in when I opened the door for her, and that was a big relief. I could imagine some people being creeped out by the thought of cruising around in a vehicle that was the last ride for a lot of folks, but my wife took it in stride.
The movie theater was in the next town (at the time, my own little burg only had a drive-in), and it took about twenty minutes to get there. It was simply called the Cinema, and closed down in the late nineties. Itís now a storage facility. How sad.
There wasnít a long line to get into the theater, but the auditorium was packed. And when the film started, you could feel the atmosphere in the place radically change. A little while ago I posted a YouTube video on The Bodycount Continues forum showing the reaction of a 1978 audience to HALLOWEEN
. The same could be said of the virgin audience I saw it with.
At this particular time, the slasher film had yet to bloom. The knowledge of its tired cycle was fresh on this crowd, and there were screams and manic laughter throughout the film. Iíd wager to bet that most (if not all) of the people in attendance had never seen BLACK CHRISTMAS
and, of course, we were still two years away from FRIDAY THE 13th
. It was the perfect time to be a horror fan, and I was born a slasher enthusiast from the first night I saw HALLOWEEN
My date ended with my wife, but we promised to see each other again. I went back to see HALLOWEEN
a few more times on its initial run. And my desire for John Carpenter and slasher films rose ever higher. Like the love I share for my wife, itís never abated in the years since 1978.
To end this romantic tale on a positive note, my wife and I were married on Christmas Eve, 1978. We had a very short courtship. And the love between us had never abated. To this day, on Halloween, we always pull out John Carpenterís classic and give it a watch (usually along with HALLOWEEN II
) and reminisce about that first date so many years ago.
Since then, my wife has never looked back... And neither have I.
Written by Trever Palmer
Monday, September 17. 2012
When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
was originally released in 1974, it didnít play at any of the theaters in my area. I had to wait an agonizing two years before it finally reared its head at the local drive-in. Nonetheless, word of mouth was very strong on the film. People who had been lucky enough to see it at the Cineplex talked about how gory and scary it was. There was no way I was going to miss its opening at the Starlite Drive-In (which is now a Dollar Tree and Shoe Carnival outlet mall).
Glancing through the newspaper, I saw the ad for the film. It announced that the first fifty customers to the drive-in would receive a free chainsaw. Now how could you pass up an offer like that? So I called my best girlfriend, a lovely young blonde named Kelly, and revved up the 1967 black Charger with its Hurst shifter and Thorley racing tires (Lordy how I miss that car).
Anyways, that evening we were one of the first fifty to pass through the gates. And that free chainsaw? Well, it turned out to be a cardboard cut-out with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
logo stamped on it. But I still have the sucker, and itís wrinkle-free some thirty-five years later. Right now, itís sitting on my desk in front of me as I reminisce about that night. Iíve never seen one on eBay, and Iíve often wondered how much such a memento would bring. Not that Iíd ever sell it, mind you.
I parked the car in one of the rear lots and shut off the engine. I didnít mind Kelly asking me to walk the far distance to the concession stand. Every weekend there was a new attraction inside it. This weekend, there was a tattoo-covered woman sitting on a footstool in the corner. She was dressed in a pink bikini and was masked head to toe in ink. Nowadays, nobody would probably blink at such a spectacle since nearly everyone has tattoos, but in 1976 it was rather the sight. Iíll never forget it.
So, I get Kellyís order and return to the car. The first feature was The Town That Dreaded Sundown
. Iím still weary of sitting in front of an open window after sunset. Kelly didnít particularly care for it, if memory serves correctly, but I sure did.
Now youíre probably saying: ďYouíve got a good looking girlfriend at the drive-in and youíre not making out with her? What a tool!Ē
Well, thatís okay. There was plenty of time after the movies to make out with her. Do you honestly think I was going to miss a double-feature like this?
Iíve got my paper chainsaw, my girlfriend, and a clear starry summer night to watch movies. The drive-in was packed, as it usually was in the 70s. And it was always great to hear the childrenís laughter coming from the swing-sets beneath the large screen and the excited female screams that accompanied the scary action in the films.
To be honest, I was a little let down that The Town That Dreaded Sundown
didnít scare Kelly. But I didnít have to worry for long. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
worked its macabre magic on her.
Kelly didnít say much during the beginning of the film. Like me, she seemed glued to the screen. But midway through it, she turned to me and her eyes were wide. She breathed something to me that I couldnít hear.
ďHeís coming towards the car,Ē
I looked past Kelly and out the Chargerís passenger window. Sure enough, a man dressed in a long black duster and matching black cowboy hat was approaching us through the rows of cars. And he was headed straight towards us.
Kelly quickly rolled up her window.
ďDonít worry about it,Ē
I told her. ďItís all cool.Ē
But now my attention was distracted. I turned and looked, again, and the man was right atop my car. He wrapped his knuckles on Kellyís window. Slowly, she rolled it down a crack.
ďDo you have a light?Ē
the man in black asked, producing a cigarette between his ring-adorned fingers.
ďI donít smoke,Ē
Kelly lied, and she rolled her window back up as the man in black disappeared into the ocean of cars. I can still remember her quickly lighting a cigarette as she slumped back in her seat. She French-inhaled and looked at me, a distressed smile painted across her face. ďThat was scary.Ē
I suppose. But it was nothing like what I saw on the screen that night. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
has been a favorite of mine ever since 1976. It was unbearably claustrophobic, and packed a wallop with its scares. Iím not going to lie. I jumped a bit when Leatherface appeared out of the shadows and drove his chainsaw into Franklinís invalid body. And what about that scene where Leatherface slams the door closed? You canít tell me that didnít run a chill up your spine the first time you saw it.
I also have to mention the chase scene between Leatherface and Sally Hardesty. It absolutely had me glued to the screen. Though I donít consider The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
a slasher, Iíll join the group that proclaims it a ďprototypeĒ. And with that Iíll say itís the best chase scene in the genre. There have been a few to come close, but nothing beats trampling through the brambles while a man-mountain with a chainsaw is chasing you.
Finally, as the film wore down and Leatherface began to do his chainsaw dance before the credits rolled, I had to agree with Kelly that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
was a fine film. It had gotten to me, but it has scared the wits out of Kelly. Her reaction to the man in black had spoken volumes.
We talked about the film a lot as I drove her home. One thing that has always surprised me is how gory a lot of people find The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
. Kelly proclaimed it the bloodiest film sheíd ever seen, and the reaction was much the same that next Monday morning. Kelly and I hadnít been the only ones at the drive-in - it appeared as plenty of other kids were talking about it. And all of them seemed to find it bloody. What gore? Sure, there were violent scenes, but thatís it. The bloodiest thing youíd probably find is Leatherface falling and cutting his leg with a chainsaw.
Years later, when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
was released on VHS, I went to buy it. The lady at the counter also proclaimed it the goriest film sheíd ever seen. Now, itís never bugged me that people have fallen into believing that. If nothing else, I find it to be one of the filmís strongest points. Itís managed to make people see things that arenít really there. Team that with its claustrophobic atmosphere, and youíve got a winning film.
I went back to the drive-in a couple more times to see the movie. Once with a group of friends and one more time with Kelly. And Iíve seen it countless times since. It took quite a few years before I was able to see it on the big screen. I went to watch it at a Lexington, Kentucky film festival that was hosted by Sylvester Stalloneís son. It was nice to meet him and find that he was as big a fan of the film as I am.
It also took a decade before the first sequel was released. I went to see it on opening night, too, and unfortunately found myself in a near empty theater. At the time, it was really hard on the film being unrated. The theater where I saw it was really cracking down on not allowing anyone underage to see it, and thus pretty much killed it straight from the gun. I liked The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
, but it was nothing like the original.
I also went to see the third one on the big screen, but by that time the magic of the first one was completely lost. It was a packed opening night, though. And it was probably good for ushering in a new age of fan. Unfortunately, I just couldnít share the elation.
Now, itís a warm late winterís night. I have the window open and itís gushing in a cool breeze. Glancing at the cardboard chainsaw I have resting on my desk, I think itís time I revisit The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
. It wonít have the magic of a nearly-naked lady covered in tattoos or of a visit from a man in black, but Iím sure itíll come as close as it always does.
Sunday, August 5. 2012
July 18, 1980
With the runaway success of Friday The 13th
, there was a lot of attention directed towards slasher films coming out in its wake. And Prom Night
was no exception. I can still vividly remember watching the television spots for it and getting excited. This was definitely a film I had to go see on opening night.
I wasnít alone in my desires, either. My aunt, Melody, who was the head of an apartment complex maintenance crew (donít ask), was also quite taken with the trailers. So, we made plans to attend the opening night together. Little did I know, however, that she had invited her entire maintenance crew to come along with us. Not all of them showed up on that Friday night, but there were three of them there and they were quite the, uh, crew. Long-haired stoners were a dime-a-dozen in 1980, and this trio lived up to their image. Unfortunately, I didnít get stoned along with them. Melody supported an anti-drug persona, so I opted out. But Iíd swear you could smell that marijuana smoke on them. Ah...
The auditorium for Prom Night
was packed. It was the same theater where Iíd seen Friday The 13th
, and it equaled that film for attendance. However, there was a different atmosphere. When Friday The 13th
was released, we didnít know what to expect. And certainly not the gory film we came to see. Prom Night
, though, was expected to deliver the goods. It had to live up to Momma Voorhees, or it would fail. It was that simple. Weíd been witness to Tom Saviniís handiwork, so now it was this little film from Canadaís turn to bring its best to the table.
Of course, it was a starring vehicle for Jamie Lee Curtis. And that right there put a lot of expectations on Prom Night
ís shoulders. Curtis was, of course, the Scream Queen. The poor girl had survived Michael Myers for crissakes! So everyone already knew she was going to be the final girl. There were no surprises there. Did she live up to her reputation? Oh, sure. She does a fine job in the film, and I was pleasantly pleased with her performance.
Now, what about the film itself? It delivered in spades. The audience ate the film up. From one of the best chase sequences in the sub-genre to David Mucciís decapitation, Prom Night
gave the crowd what it was looking for. Of course, itís nowhere as graphic as Friday The 13th
, but what it lacked there it made up for in suspense. The aforementioned chase scene is a prime example of such an incident.
I will admit that the disco scenes were a little embarrassing. During the time of this filmís release, disco was slowly becoming extinct. So, it was a little strange to see it displayed so prominently within the film. Years later, Iíve come to cherish those scenes (especially the sequence between Curtis and Casey Stevens), and absolutely adore the soundtrack. And thatís another thing. If youíve never been privy to owning the album, pick up the Prom Night
soundtrack. You wonít be sorry.
When the film was over, and the audience was leaving the theater, talk about the movie began to circulate. Earlier in the year, Friday The 13th
had been the hot topic. It was nothing to overhear people discussing Kevin Baconís death. But after the release of Prom Night
, everybody began to talk about the van scene. Though itís lost some of its footing in the sub-genre over the years, Iíll never forget fans being enamored with that kill. Whenever I revisit the film, I always get a bit excited for it. I can still remember how beloved it was in 1980.
So, did Melody and the maintenance crew enjoy the film? Melody certainly did. She was as big a slasher fan as I am, and Iím sorry to say I havenít spoken to her in years. On the other hand, I believe the crew was too stoned to care either way. They appeared to like it, though. There was certainly no disapproval.
One thing that bothered me, though, and Iím embarrassed to admit this today, but it took me awhile to figure out why Michael Tough is wearing make-up at the end of the film. Of course, I now understand it. But the first time I saw Prom Night
, it completely took me off-guard. I now see it as an essential part of the movie. From the bit where Antoinette Bower is missing her lipstick to Tough showing up wearing it, well... The pieces all finally fell together for me.
I went to see Prom Night
a few more times at the theater, and also caught it at the drive-in. Iíd also like to mention the first time I saw it on television. It was cool to see that the filmmakers were attempting a bit more red herring action with Leslie Nielsen. Itís too bad those scenes were cut and have never reared their head on DVD. Until then I suppose Iíll be stuck with my VHS warhorse.
Iíve since lost count of how many times Iíve seen Prom Night
. And I enjoy it more and more on each viewing. I still lament that we never received a direct sequel. I suppose that mightíve been hard with Toughís passing in the movie, but I wouldíve preferred it to Mary Lou and her shenanigans.
And yes, I also went to see the refake on opening day. I knew I was in trouble with a PG-13 rating, but I couldnít stay away. Iím a glutton for punishment. Thatís the last youíll ever hear me make mention of that particular, um, film.
Now, letís put on our boogie shoes and enjoy Prom Night
! Letís slip the DVD into the player, do our best to remind ourselves that itís once again 1980, and sit back to enjoy the show. I know that I will.
Written by Trever Palmer
Monday, July 23. 2012
July 29, 1979
Before going to see The Amityville Horror
adaptation, I was a serious fan of Jay Ansonís book. I can remember picking it up at the bookstore and going straight home to read it. I didnít put it down until I was finished. And honestly, I feel the book holds up to this day. Though I no longer believe the Lutz story, it makes for an interesting read and I recommend it as much as I do the film.
So being such a fan of the book, I had high expectations for The Amityville Horror
. Though I donít think time has been too kind to it, I still enjoy watching it. James Brolin is simply a tour de force with his long, sweaty, shaggy hair and Margot Kidder... Wow. I donít care that they caught her a few years later naked and hanging out in bush without her teeth. The scene of her doing stretches in her panties... Well, my mouth is growing dry just thinking about it.
Anyway, there was a lot of hype leading up to the filmís premiere. There were stories about strange ghostly happenings on the movie set and you couldnít turn on the television without seeing George and Kathy Lutz telling their story. So it really shouldnít have been such a surprise that the line to get into the theater eventually stretched nearly half a mile from its front doors all the way down to the Baskin Robbins at the end of the parking lot.
Thankfully, I arrived early. My parents, along with the wife and I, had gone to Kentucky Fried Chicken before the theater. This was back when I actually ate chicken (nowadays I canít stand it). Anyways, I pissed and moaned that we needed to get to the theater early to avoid the line. I was a bit psychic for this episode, I suppose. Eventually, everyone got tired of listening to me and bundled into the car for the drive over to the Cinema. We got in line early and I got to boast a bit when everyone else saw how long the line began to stretch. So ha!
The theater was simply called the Cinema and has since closed its doors. The last films it showed were the Star Wars
re-releases in the late nineties. Nowadays, itís a storage unit facility. I saw some good movies there and lament its passing. I always hope someone will revive the theater, but unfortunately I believe thatís simply wishful thinking on my part. Ah well, huh?
Finally, the theater doors opened. We were first in line so we got our pick of seats in the auditorium. We sat down and watched the rest of the crowd slowly filter in. To say it was a packed house is a vast understatement. Not only were there raucous teenagers in the mass, but there were also quite a few older folks. I also saw a few youngsters, which surprised me. Thankfully, there were no crying babies.
After a long time of waiting for the crowd to take their seats, the lights went down and the film started. And this is where the good times started. There were plenty of screams during the running time. I can remember the scene where Margot Kidder looks out the window and Jodyís blinking red eyes staring back at her really got the crowd into it. There were also quite a few nervous bouts of laughter. Again, Kidder stole the show. The scene where she appears to have aged badly brought a round of laughter from the teenage sect. Usually this would bother me, but I accepted it because there was such electricity flowing through the theater. It was all very palpable.
In 1979, I immensely enjoyed the film. As Iíve already mentioned, I donít believe it has aged very well. Two summers ago, I was admitted to the hospital. I finally got into my room at about three oíclock in the morning. When the nurses had left me alone, I turned on the television and wouldnít you know it? The Amityville Horror
was playing. It was nice to reminisce about that theater experience so many years gone.
Anyway, there was a large crowd on opening night and it only helped the experience. Helping was also the fact that at the time I also bought every word of George and Kathy Lutz. Over three decades later, I no longer subscribe to their story. I know there are a few TBC members who do, though, so itís all good. Whatever helps you enjoy the film, the better.
I also attended the opening night for Amityville II: The Possession
and Amityville 3-D
. Unfortunately, there arenít any good stories associated with them. By the time of the second sequel, the joke was old and the audiences usually reacted with laughter than scares.
Still, Iíll always have the memories of that opening night in the summer of 1979. And to end, Iíll take liberty with the filmís tagline: "For Godís sake, itís time for me get out of here!"
Sunday, July 8. 2012
July 28, 1989
I was very excited when news broke about Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
through the pages of Fangoria. At the time, I was a big fan of Kane Hodderís Jason Voorhees and was extremely pleased to see that he was returning in the role. The pictures of him in that and other magazines definitely whetted my fangs for the eighth installment in the franchise.
Days before the film was released, I saw an interesting news bit on HBO. It concerned the movieís poster. They showed the original "I Love NY" image with Jason cutting through the tagline. I have to admit that I liked it, and now have it hanging here in my study. But, they didnít show the poster that would be replacing it. So, on the day the film was released, I took an early morning drive down to the theater to catch a glimpse of it. To say the least, I was a bit underwhelmed. "New York Has A New Problem," indeed.
That night, Eddie and I drove to the Showtime Cinemas for the premiere. For such a crowd to be gathered was a surprise. You wouldíve thought that Friday The 13th
wouldíve lost some of its attraction this far into the series, but there was a healthy crowd at the theater. The owner and manager of Showtime mustíve been thinking along my lines because they booked the movie onto the smallest screen in the building. Thankfully, Eddie and I were first in line because the film actually sold-out. It was standing room only in that tiny auditorium, and it only added to the electricity that was flowing through the crowd.
Was that enthusiasm sustained, though?
Unfortunately, Iíd have to say no. From the moment that the credits first played, I knew we were in trouble. No other Friday The 13th
film had ever started this way, and I knew a diversion from the old tried-and-true wasnít going to work. At the time, I didnít know that Paramount was finished with the series and intended this to be the last (which it was for the studio), so they gave free reign to director Rob Hedden to dispose of the Sultan of Slaughter how he saw fit. And he did a very admirable job.
I can still remember the two black guys sitting behind us in the theater. During the scene when Sean gives Rennie the Statue of Liberty necklace, one of them turned to the other and said that was how Jason was going to die in the film. He loudly proclaimed that he was going to take a nosedive from the statue. Honestly, I thought that was an interesting idea. Of course, we all know how the finale eventually played out.
And the ending was quite a shocker.
After witnessing Jason utilize teleportation powers throughout the movie (something I still disdain), to see him end up bathed in toxic waste was quite hard to take. I mean, we see the guyís head flop open. We hadnít seen such decimation inflicted upon the Sultan since Corey Feldman did a number on him in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter
. I honestly felt sick to my stomach.
Leaving the theater, Eddie said there was no way he was going to come back to life. I did my best to say that he would; that there was no way to stop the Friday The 13th
franchise. But I still had that awful gnawing in my gut. How could he survive a toxic waste bath? It just didnít seem possible.
Of course, we eventually got Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday
and the subsequent sequels and remake. The only way to effectively kill Jason Voorhees, as I should already know by now, is for him to face an unhealthy box office. And that just doesnít seem possible. Even now, thirty two years after the original, fans still flock to these films. Old and new trespass on Crystal Lake territory each time a new movie in the franchise is released. Toxic waste, be damned.
That night, I thought more about the movie. I didnít really like it, but wanted to see it again. As I usually do with films (especially slasher films), I go to see them multiple times at the theater. So it was a no-brainer that I was going back into the sewer system with Jason.
However, Eddie had other plans.
The next day, I called him up and asked if he wanted to go back to the movies. He said sure, but he wasnít going to see the mess that was Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
. I silently shrugged and said no problem. I canít remember which film Eddie ended up seeing, but I went back with Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
After the previous nightís crowd, Showtime had booked the movie into a bigger auditorium. This time it got the biggest screen. Strangely, though, the second nightís audience was pretty sparse. It was nowhere near as healthy as the one Iíd witnessed before. It nearly left a bad feeling in my stomach as bad as witnessing Jason take a toxic bath.
It was the only two times I saw Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
in the theater. If Iíd known we were going to have such a wait for the ninth installment, I might have gone back more. But I simply couldnít take it. The film was pretty bad, and it looked as if Jason was down for the count. It was too much for me to handle.
But I have watched Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
numerous times at home. I still donít care for the film, but I now take it with a grain of salt. And I laugh when I remember how worried I was that I thought Jason Voorhees wasnít coming back.
Oh, he returned. Just like I will with another Opening Frights article.
Saturday, June 23. 2012
May 13, 1988
On the morning that Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood
was released, I took a ride down to the Showtime Cinemas theater. I parked, climbed out of the car, and walked up the building. It was sunny and threatening to be a very warm day. The theater wasnít showing daily matinees at the time (well, at least not during the week), so I had to wait until that evening to catch the film. But I had to get a look at the new poster.
I sauntered up to the theater and looked at the artwork. Suddenly, I realized that Jason Voorhees was in trouble. Whatever lay in store for him in this film, well... It couldnít be good. The fact that Tinaís eyes were lit up and that Jasonís hockey mask was filtering a glow didnít sit well with me. And yet, I couldnít wait until 7 P.M. I had a feeling that this was going to be a great movie.
Was I right?
When it came that night to leave, I rode to the movies with my friend Eddie. He was driving a nifty little sports car (a model I no longer remember) and we got to the theater. There was a healthy line of patrons waiting to get inside, and there was actually talk about Friday The 13th. There was a lively buzz surrounding this film, and it elated me. It had been quite a while since Iíd heard such talk from teenagers, and I knew it only meant good things to come.
Inside the theater, we packed ourselves into the auditorium. The theater played its brand of 80s rock while we waited for the film to start. At this time, the movies werenít playing incessant commercials while you waited. Instead, they figured their blend of music would help you wile away the time. Did it help? No, not really.
Anyways, the film finally started. And the audience, and myself, were instantly into it. The opening montage was great (though I still donít think it sounds like Crazy Ralph doing the narration) and it immediately set the mood. Of course, everyone was waiting for Jason Voorhees to make his appearance. Finally, when he arose from the bottom of Crystal Lake and everyone could see his spine protruding from his back; well... We knew we were in for a good time.
You really canít talk about Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood
without mentioning the infamous sleeping bag murder. When Jason slammed that poor girl against the tree, the audience erupted with laughter. And yes, I was one of them. At the time, I thought it was possibly the best kill that Jason had ever committed. It was so instantaneous and brutal, while maintaining a comical feel, which you simply had to love.
The audience fell back into a laconic mood throughout most of the remainder of the film, as it played like nearly every other Friday The 13th
film. But when Jason was unmasked? Now that threw everyone for a loop. There was a gush of emotions from the audience when we got our first look at Jasonís exposed face. Aside from Saviniís F/X work, where he produced the iconic look of a forty-year-old Jason in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter
, I hadnít seen such fantastic make-up on an actor portraying Jason Voorhees.
And that brings us to Kane Hodder. Nowadays, Iím not a fan of him for whatever personal reasons I might harbor. But in 1988, he brought new emotions to the Jason Voorhees character that I simply loved.
To say I was a fan of Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood
when I first saw it is an understatement. And the audience loved it, too. After the dismal affair of Friday The 13th VI: Jason Lives
, where there were negative mutterings about the film, it was good to see that Friday The 13th
was still packing a wallop with fans.
After the film, Eddie and I went to a local arcade. Eddie loved his video games, and it didnít bother me to either watch him play or partake in a game of pinball my own self. While there, I ran into another friend of mine. Mike asked me what I thought of the new Friday The 13th
film. He knew what an enormous fan of the series I was at the time, and I couldnít help but gush about it. I told him it was the best since Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter
and that he definitely needed to see it.
I went back to the theater to see the film several more times, and even caught it on its run at the drive-in. I actually rode my bicycle to the drive-in and parked behind it in the jungle of weeds that bordered the property. I climbed a tree and sat there on a limb watching the movie. Why didnít I just drive and pay? I honestly donít remember. But it was fun at the time, plus I got a bit of exercise. Unfortunately, I canít recall what was playing on the double-bill with the film.
Anyways, I left right after Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood
, so I donít suppose it really matters.
In the years that have passed, my appreciation for Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood
has lessened. I now have trouble watching it. Iím no longer a fan of Kane Hodder (as mentioned), and the sleeping bag kill and Jasonís facial exposure no longer raise my interest. Honestly, the film bores me.
Still, no matter my present day reaction, Iíll always have my fond memories of when the film originally opened.
And 1989 would see the return of Jason Voorhees. It would also see Eddie and me going back to the theater to see it.
I sadly no longer keep company with Eddie, but my attraction to the Friday The 13th
films remains. Itís a love affair that I doubt will ever expire. Like Jason Voorhees, itís always out there... Waiting for the next film in the series to be released.
Tuesday, June 12. 2012
August 1st, 1986
Nothing this evil ever diesÖ
How unfortunate that that tagline seems to be apparently true as filmmakers continue to douse us with more and more Friday The 13th sequels that features a reanimated Jason Voorhees.
When I first heard of this film (via Fangoria), I was extremely excited. Director Tom McLoughlin talked about how Jason was going to be the new Frankensteinís Monster. I loved that description! And Iíd been quite depressed with the series since Jasonís ďdeathĒ at the end of The Final Chapter. Now we were getting him back on the big screen! What could be better?
Well, as most of you already know, Iím not a fan of ďZombie Sultan,Ē and probably never will be. And it all began with Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Strangely, there wasnít a long line to get into this film. The auditorium was packed with fans, but there wasnít a waiting period like there had been with the previous two entries. I have to admit that I missed the banter between fans while waiting in one of those arduous lines. But one canít have everything, can they?
I knew the film was in trouble when Ron Palillo looked at the camera and made a quirky remark. Of course, that was followed by an ďhomageĒ to James Bond when Jason walked out in the eye slit of the hockey mask and slashed the screen. And things didnít get much better.
The audience was a mixed bag. There were laughs at some of the comedy attempts, and straight horror fans got their just dues with some interesting kills, but the vibe of earlier Friday The 13th audiences was gone. I guess I have to realize that the early eighties were over, and that a new breed of Friday The 13th fan was being weaned on Jasonís return. Itís the only thing I can think of to justify that strange audience.
Anyways, Iím not here to lambaste the film. Everyone knows I donít enjoy it, and thatís that. And the audience appeared to like it, too. Or some of them did, anyway.
During the final scene, when the camera dips beneath the waters of Crystal Lake and we see Jason peering back at us, a black man seated behind me said: ďIíll never go see another of these.Ē That was the first time Iíd ever heard anything negative in a Friday The 13th audience. Even though I agreed with the man, I knew Iíd still be dragging my tired butt back to see further sequels.
Now, all of this may lead you to believe I didnít have a good time with the film. Well, youíre wrong. Yes, itís true that Iím not a fan of Friday The 13th Part VI, but the best part was still to come.
As Alice Cooper was singing along to the final credits, the audience began to pour out of the theater. I slipped into the slow moving line and started making my way to the exit.
And thatís when it happened.
A man in front of me gently put his hands on a young childís shoulders and stepped around him. As I was wondering whoíd bring such a youngster to a Friday The 13th film, the apparent father of the child grabbed the man by the shirt and got right in his face.
ďDonít you ever touch my fucking kid!Ē he bellowed.
When the man attempted to reply, the father hauled off and punched him right in the stomach. The man doubled over and went down to his knees. Honestly, I didnít know what to say or do. I stood there for a moment, looking at the man, as people filed out of the theater around me. Nobody was stopping to ask the man if he was okay or even if heíd shit his pants. It was unbelievable.
I did the Good Samaritan bit and bent down to him. I put a hand on his shoulder and asked if he was okay. He was still sucking wind, but he managed to nod his head. I helped him get back on his feet and walked him out of the theater. Thankfully, we didnít see the enraged father or his child in the lobby.
Even though I didnít particularly care for the film, I still went back and watched it a few times at the theater. And each successive time there were fewer and fewer people in attendance. Not to mention that there were no further one-sided fistfights.
Jason Lives is a film that I rarely watch at home. Itís simply never struck a chord with me. I can watch the later ďZombie SultanĒ films with little problem, but Part VI has simply never gelled with me. However, after writing this article, I think Iím going to revisit the film. Iíll never get over the fact that C.J. Graham appears to be walking around with a stick up his butt, but maybe Iíll be less critical of the film twenty-five years later.
As Iím writing this, I have Alice Cooperís Constrictor album playing in the background. Itís great theme music for my Friday The 13th VI article, and itís always been one of my favorite parts of the film. ďHeís Back,Ē indeed.
A few months after the furor over Jason Lives died down; there was an announcement in an issue of Fangoria for the next Friday The 13th film. It was originally subtitled ďJasonís Last RitesĒ and it got me excited all over again. The bad taste of Jason Lives was immediately washed from my mouth and I was once again excited for a Friday The 13th sequel.
Strangely, as the years pass and the sequels and refakes mount up, I still get elated each time I hear weíre getting a chance to return to Crystal Lake.
I guess Iíll never learn, huh?
Written by Trever Palmer
Monday, May 28. 2012
March 22, 1985
If Jason still haunts you, youíre not alone!
That tagline really summed up the opening night crowd for Friday The 13th V: A New Beginning. Even though the attendance line for The Final Chapter was much longer, there was still quite the crowd to see this fifth entry in the series. Butts were planted firmly in the seats and quite ecstatic to see how the franchise would continue now that Jason Voorhees was ďdead.Ē
The first time I heard they were making a new Friday The 13th was on a drive home from work. I was bopping my way through the radio stations when I heard the information on some news show. Youíd think Iíd be telling you the news was derived from the new issue of Fangoria or some other underground horror outlet, but nope. Jason was making the news whether or not heíd be in the new film.
Of course, Fangoria did play its part in the initial hubbub. It was in those pages that I learned the new Friday The 13th would play like a mystery akin to the original. Most people had originally thought that Tommy Jarvis would be picking up Jasonís gory mantle, but it didnít appear so from early reports.
Much like the way people discussed the different ways that Paramount would kill Jason in The Final Chapter, buzz about A New Beginning started early.
There were theories that it would still be Jason. A lot of fans truly believed he would be coming back to the series. After all, the Sultan of Slaughter had survived quite a few blows in his foray throughout the previous three films. But I didnít buy into that. I also didnít purchase the notion that it was going to be Tommy Jarvis behind the mask. That simply seemed too easy after that last scene in The Final Chapter.
So, what was my theory?
Well, Iíve always subscribed to the notion that Jason raped Chris in Part 3. So my ďsecond gunman on the grassy knollĒ conclusion was that it was going to be their love child. Go ahead and laugh. A lot of people in 1985 laughed at me, too. But, I still thought it was logical and always did want to see the series continue with Jasonís child. I know thatís never going to happen, as fans obviously donít want anyone but the Sultan himself to be in a Friday The 13th film, but a fanboy can dream, canít he?
Anyways, like I previously mentioned, the theater was packed on this early spring night. My father, who enjoyed watching the series on his VCR, accompanied me on this opening night. To be honest, I was surprised. Even though heíd taken me to a lot of horror films throughout the 60s and early 70s (all the way until I got a car and could go on my own), his theater attendance had dropped quite considerably. It was the rare occasion when heíd take my mother out to the movies. But yet, here he was with me and I secretly hoped that heíd enjoy the film, as heíd grown quite cynical in his old age. A few decades later, I guess I could say the same for my own old butt! Ha!
Either way, we waited in line with all the other Friday The 13th fans. It was fun hearing their speculation over the upcoming film. I can remember one fan saying it was Jasonís sister doing the killing. I wanted to tell him that Jason was an only child, per Pamela in the original, but I kept my mouth shut. I guess nobody told the makers of Jason Goes To Hell, either, since the Sultan had a sister in that picture.
Finally, we made our way into the lobby. We eventually found our seats in the packed house and sat back to wait for the film to begin.
When it did start, I noticed that my father and I were sitting beside a ďtalker.Ē Oh, you know the kind; that one person who talks their way through the entire film. Usually, I have no time for a person like this. Why do I want to hear their commentary? But on this occasion I couldnít help but laugh at her. When I took a peak at her in the flickering lights, I could see that she was with her boyfriend/husband and another couple. Her observations made me chuckle.
When Debi Sue Voorhees displayed her natural charms, she opined that she hoped there werenít any children in the audience (though if sheíd been a bit more observant she would have noticed there were quite a few kids there). She also remarked how well Violet did her ďrobot dance.Ē ďSheís pretty good at that,Ē I can still recall hearing her say. And when Shavar Ross took off like a bullet after seeing Roy at the ambulance she let loose with a screeching laugh that made my skin crawl.
But, Iíll never forget her as long as I live.
So, what was my reaction to the killer being Roy Burns? Well, to be honest, I was originally a bit disappointed. I knew it wasnít going to be Jasonís child (come on, Iím not totally stupid), but Iíd gone as far as to entertain the theory that it was the Sultanís sister (okay, maybe I am a little). When we first see a person walking in a rain slicker at the beginning of the film, I actually looked for breasts to see if this was our new killer. When it was revealed to be Corey Feldman, I threw the sister notion quickly out the window.
Roy was an adequate killer, and Iíve come to like him over the years. But initially, I simply didnít care for him. And I didnít care for A New Beginning, either. In the years since 1985, Iíve lessened my initial harsh stance on the film. Itís now one of my favorites, and I find myself occasionally watching it. Honestly, itís the last film in the series I do enjoy.
One thing I do want to mention is that during the film I had to take a piss. Arenít you glad I told you that? I usually donít get up from a movie that Iíve never seen, but this was one of those no-holds-barred pisses. When I returned to the auditorium, the scene playing out was Roy walking into the barn. We get that behind shot of him traipsing towards those busted doors, and I thought that was so ominous. Iíve always loved that particular shot.
Returning to the car, I asked my Dad what he thought about the film. His response: ďThat was stupid.Ē At the time, I didnít argue with him. I thought itíd been pretty dumb, too. Unlike me, though, I doubt heís ever seen the film since that opening night in 1985. I often wonder if heíd change his mind about it, too, should he see it again.
And what about that final shot? It appeared the filmmakers were going to develop Tommy Jarvis as the new killer in a sixth entry. Of course, thatís what it appeared they were doing with the end of The Final Chapter, too. Once again, things would quickly change when it was evident fans didnít particularly care for Friday The 13th without Jason Voorhees.
It would take one more year before Tom McLoughlin would unleash Friday The 13th Part VI in 1986. Little did I know that my time was ticking as a die-hard fan of the world of Jason Voorhees...
Written by Trever Palmer
Saturday, May 12. 2012
Friday, April 13th, 1984 is Jasonís unlucky dayÖ
For weeks prior to this filmís opening, Iíd been trying to conceive how the powers behind the new Friday The 13th film were going to destroy Jason. In work circles with like-minded folk, the idea was that the only way to stop Jason was to nuke him. Of course, thatís not how matters played out. But, Iíve always found it amusing that Jason was ďdestroyedĒ by artillery at the beginning of Jason Goes To Hell (another Friday The 13th film to use the word ďfinalĒ in its title).
Iíd also received my new issue of Fangoria in the mail. Inside, there was an article about Jasonís demise. And I can vividly recall staring at the picture of a cake that was adorned with the words ďHappy Deathday Jason.Ē
Was this truly going to be the end of the Friday The 13th franchise? It certainly appeared to be so.
Finally, April 13th arrived.
In my little town, there wasnít such a thing as afternoon screenings during the 80s; one had to wait for either the 7 or 9 oíclock P.M. showings on a Friday night. On this particular night, I went to the theater with a friend named David Harper. The two of us had seen the previews for The Final Chapter a few months previous when going to a screening of Footloose (go ahead and laugh). This was, of course, back when they used to show R-rated previews with PG fare. Either way, the two of us had been talking about Jason constantly during the following weeks.
And now the time had finally come.
We got to Showtime Cinemas a little after six, and already the line for the 7 oíclock showing was beginning to stretch. Iíve been in quite a few long lines during my time as a film lover, and the one for The Final Chapter was one of the longest. It stretched from the theater down to the Dollar General and to the front doors of Leeís Tae Kwon Do karate school. Iím sure it surpassed even that before the dust eventually settled.
Either way, the crowd was eating up the anticipation. Nobody knew how the series was going to end, and theories were being bandied about like candy. Odd enough, the theory of blowing Jason to pieces was one of the most popular. That sticks in my mind so vividly since everyone seemed to agree there was no other way to stop Crystal Lakeís most infamous citizen.
Finally, we got to the ticket booth. For the life of me, I canít remember how much it cost to get inside. But, once both David and I were in that lobby, it was straight to the auditorium to grab prime seats. And itís a good thing, too, because it filled up rather quickly. Iíve never been one for sitting down front and having to crook my neck to look up at the screen, so it was seats in the back row.
Eventually, the lights went down and the film started. The audience completely ate it up. ďDead fuckĒ got the laughs in 1984 much as it does here in the present. And yes, there was laughter when Rob went into his ďHeís killing me!Ē spill. That never gets old.
But come on! I can hear you now. How did the audience react to Jasonís death scene? Oh man, it was simply perfect. When Tommy buried that machete in Jasonís face, and he took that slide down to the floor? There was absolute silence. Unfortunately, there was a lot of jovial hollering when Tommy began to hack Jason to pieces. I say unfortunately because I honestly thought it was the death of Jason. I mean, how could he come back from something like that?
And what about the final scene where Corey Feldman stares into the camera? That got a lot of boos and hisses. I suppose people felt like they were being cheated. Here weíre promised ďThe Final ChapterĒ and already it appears that Paramount was simply baiting us for a fifth installment. Personally, I loved it. I was ready to see Tommy as the killer if it meant the series would continue. And yes, you can count me as one of the most disappointed fans when that particular event never truly panned out.
David and I stayed through the end credits before getting up to leave. Outside in the lobby, we passed a couple of little kids mulling around the filmís poster. I can still hear their words rattling around in my head.
A little boy, who appeared no older than twelve, asked one of the two little girls: ďSo, how do they kill Jason?Ē
The girl responded: ďA little boy stabs him to death.Ē
Yeah, that got a laugh out of me.
I saw the film a few more times before it left the theater. And each time I still got a bit sad when Jason was ďkilledĒ. I didnít get teary-eyed as Iíve heard some staunch Friday The 13th fans admit, but I wonít deny that there was a heavy spot in my heart. I didnít want Jason to die. But there it was played out on the big screen and there was no getting around it.
What I find strange is that Iím not a fan of Zombie Jason. I hated that Jason had apparently died and wouldnít be coming back, and yet, when they did resurrect him, I completely despised the idea and havenít enjoyed a single sequel since. Huh.
Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is a fine addition to the franchise, and is one of the better films in the entire sub-genre. Ted White did a magnificent job as Jason Voorhees, and who can forget Crispin Glover and his manic dance moves (which also brought laughter from the crowd)? At the time, it also poised the question of just what did happen to Mrs. Jarvis. Now, we know she was drowned. Then, however, it was a mystery. It never reached the plateau of Paul Holt, but it was still there.
If you ever get a chance to catch the film on the big screen, donít pass it up. It doesnít pack the wallop of Part 3ís 3-D, but it still manages the emotions during Jasonís brainpan slide.
Now, after leaving the theater on opening night, the conversation turned from the death of Jason Voorhees to Tommy Jarvis. What was it going to be like having a little kid as the killer? What did the filmmakers have in mind for the audience?
Written by Trever Palmer
Sunday, April 29. 2012
August 13 1982
A new dimension in terrorÖ
From the crop of 3-D films (Jaws 3, Amityville 3, etc) that reared their heads in the early 80s, thereís no doubt that Friday The 13th Part 3 was the best of the lot. Packed with more scares and excitement than the aforementioned films, this was one helluva juggernaut when it was released.
When the trailer was first released, both in the theater and on television, talk immediately started about it being in 3-D. Exactly what effects were we going to see? How was Jason going to appear in the third dimension?
It didnít take us long to find outÖ
On opening night, the theater was packed. There was a lot of buzz in the lobby. Thereís simply no way to describe the vibes that were emanating from the film being in 3-D.
Now, there was one heck of a long line snaking away from the box-office. Iíd like to say that I was first in-line, but nope. I was about midway down through the crowd. In front of me there was a young teenage couple groping each other, while behind me were two older guys talking about Part 2. It would appear that neither of them really liked it. There was mention of Markís wheelchair kill, but even that was rather deflated. Now, you have to remember the impact of the original film and the MPAAís slaughter of the first sequel. Some fans were expecting this to be another rather bloodless affair. Just to spite these two guys, I pulled the old ďlooking at the skyĒ gag. Sure enough, both of them looked up to see what I was staring at. That one is always good for a laugh.
So, here I was. I had long hair, wearing a Molly Hatchet t-shirt and a chain-wallet hanging out of my back pocket. In the lobby, I bought myself my usual Raisinets and Goobers. I also killed a bit of time playing Galaga. Itís always been my favorite video game, and Iíd never imagine that twenty odd years later Iíd actually own one of the machines.
Well, enough that. Do you have your candy? Do you have a bucket of popcorn, maybe, to throw into the air when you get a jump scare? Good. Letís go find ourselves some seats and get ready for the show.
Before the movie starts, though, we have to slip on those 3-D glasses. Thankfully, I had no problem with mine. Unfortunately, the same couldnít be said for two black guys sitting in front of me. These guys bitched-and-moaned about their crappy glasses, fiddling and putting them on their head in all crazy fashions, until it was nearly time for the movie to start. Finally, in a last ditch effort, they put toilet paper into the sides of the glasses so that theyíd stay on their head. I have to admit that it was comical watching them work.
Wait! Here we go! The lights are going down!
It was one of those evenings where the usher had to come out and tell everyone to move over one more seat to let the people in the aisles sit down. Unfortunately, I can remember the lights coming up early. They interrupted during the scene where Shelly, in his dime store fright mask, was sneaking up behind Andy.
Now, I know some of you have seen this film in the theater on re-runs. But think about what it wouldíve been like to see it in 1982. The audience was completely oblivious about what we were going to see. We didnít know what kills were going to blast off the screen, and we didnít know if the 3-D effects were going to be awful. We also didnít know what scenes to react to. Now, fans know to hoot-and-holler at certain parts in the film, but to see it without any prior knowledge was a downright blast.
I can remember the certain 3-D scenes that brought the audience alive:
The opening credits, with its groovy disco theme, brought someone in the crowd to clap along with the beat. Now, I know that this can take certain people out of a film, when the audience ďinterruptsĒ, but this movie had everyone charged up. It was cool to hear the crowd getting into it.
The baseball bat did little to calm the nerves concerning awful effects. This one brought A LOT of groans from the audience. The snake followed suit. That was downright awful, too.
Even though it wasnít in 3-D, the late Steve Susskindís Harold on the crapper brought a lot of ďeeewwwsss!!!Ē and ďHe didnít wipe his ass!Ē comments. It still makes you wonder if thereís a toilet paper shortage at Crystal Lake.
The passing of the joint brought the crowd into an uproar. There were plenty of laughs and comments from the stoners in-attendance (including yours 80s truly).
Vera being brought down by the spear-gun brought a lot of scared yells. It didnít scare me, but I had a good time with it. Even to this day, I consider it one of F13ís best kills. The way that Jason simply drops the weapon showed what kind of killing machine we were dealing with.
Another scene that wasnít in 3-D was Chuckís death. When he turned on the lights, revealing the Sultan behind him, it brought a lot of jump scare to the audience.
Andyís demise was a downright hoot. The audience screamed as Jason brought down that machete. And when Andyís corpse fell from the screen, wellÖ It was a testament to these films actually being scary in the early 80s. There was a rush when you heard nervous laughter.
And, of course, we had Rickís death. This one simply brought down the house. When his eyeball veered off the screen, there were plenty of yells. Though the F/X is completely drained on the VHS/DVD releases, it was one helluva experience in the theater. Talk about being caught off-guard to a kill!
There needs to be some talk regarding Rickís kill. As Iíve mentioned in the original F13ís Opening Frightís installment, there was plenty of talk regarding Kevin Baconís demise. However, Iíd say there was more talk surrounding Rickís death. As Iíll mention later, this kill truly cemented itself in Jasonís lexicon. Having seen all the movies in the theater, with every one of them having their BIG KILL, I donít believe Iíve heard any talk that would surpass Rickís outing.
The final chase regarding Chris brought the audience alive, too. There were shouts when the van ran out of gas on the bridge and plenty of screams when Jason emerged in the window. There were also a few yelps when Jason came alive in the noose.
And what about the scene where Chris fell from the rafters? This definitely brought a lot of cat-calls as her crotch fell from the screen.
Jason, with his noggin split open, grabbing at Chris, also brought screams from the crowd. Itís always cool to hear female yelps in a horror film!
Iíll also admit that I stole my F13 glasses. These were the ones branded with the F13 logo. There was no way in hell I was going to let a piece of memorabilia like this escape me!
I ended up seeing this one 3 times in the theater. Twice I caught it by myself, and the other time with my wife. She reacted much to the scenes like Iíve already described.
Now, how exactly BIG was this film in 1982?
Some time during the summer, my television went on the blink. If I remember correctly, my cable was crapping out. So, I had to call a repairman. While he was there, fiddling about with the wires behind my set, a preview of F13 Part 3 crossed the screen. For a second, the repairman stopped and stared at it. Then, with a face-splitting grin, he turned to me and shook his head.
ďHave you seen that thing?Ē he asked. ďThereís a scene in there where a guyís eyeball gets popped out!Ē
F13 had even taken a television repairman by storm. Jason was leaving victims everywhere in the summer of 1982.
Now, there was also the time that the film first hit cable/VHS. This would also leave the fans wondering how bad the effects would play in 2-D.
Unfortunately, our worst fears came to pass.
The effects didnít look that good on home-viewing. Once youíve seen this film in 3-D, thereís really no turning back. Even Rickís eyeball, which the fans loved, looked corny. Talk about a long sigh.
And where was the ďWe Donít Accept Food Stamps!Ē girl? It would take nearly 20 years before sheíd pop back up on DVD. There was many times that Iíve heard younger fans say that they didnít even know you could see her on-screen. Iíve often felt bad for fans that havenít had the experience of seeing this one properly in 3-D.
Fortunately, I now own two different versions of this in 3-D. Sure, I get a migraine whenever I watch them, but itís nice to have them ready whenever I might want to revisit 3-D Crystal Lake. Do I suggest tracking them down? No, not really. Like Iíve mentioned, itís headache-inducing to watch this one at home in 3-D.
At the theater, though, there was nothing like it.
The taglines screamed ďÖthereís nowhere to hide! We dare you to try!Ē But nobody wanted to hide. We wanted Jason.
Now, as the audience filed out, there was talk that Jason was truly dead. Most people seemed to believe that the Sultan succumbed to Chrisís axe blow, while others discussed the possibility of 13 installments to the series. This was the first time that Iíd ever heard the rumor of 13 films. Did the 1982 Mr. Palmer believe it? No, not really.
Especially not when the next film was subtitled The Final Chapter...
Written by Trever Palmer