Saturday, November 30, 2013

TOP 15 SLASHER MOVIES (non-Halloween, Elm Street, or Friday the 13th class)

Still have a Thanksgiving hangover?  Here's a possible cure: a movie list.  Everybody likes a good list, right?  Well here you go, here's my holiday appropriate TOP 15 SLASHER MOVIES list (I should mention I have holiday-dyslexia):

First though, there are some rules, as there often are with internet lists.  These are the rules of exclusion:

*As you can read in the title, the big boys aren't in play here, so this list does not include any Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Friday the 13th films.  This is simply to give some lesser known slashers some air time, as films from those franchises would take up five or six spots on this list, including the top two.

*The slasher film era really existed from 1978 to about 1988 (and that's being generous) and films from that decade are what I'm focusing on, so also not included are any proto-slashers (Psycho, Peeping Tom, Black Christmas, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Alice Sweet Alice) or neo-slashers (ScreamAll the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil).   Italian giallo films (A Bay of BloodDeep Red, etc.) are their own subgenre, so while related and similar to the slasher, they too are not included.

*And finally, I have to exclude films like Maniac, Don't Go in the HouseHenry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and others of that ilk because they don't really fit the definition of what a slasher film is.  These are serial killer films (or if you like, "stalker films)"and they focus more on the killers themselves, drawing your sympathies towards them in some cases, while barely focusing on the victims.  Slasher films follow victims terrorized by a killer, while these films follow a serial killer terrorizing his victims.  It's a small distinction but an important one (to me, at least) and it led to one surprise omission on the list....

So that's the ground rules.  Enough with the set-up.  Without further hesitation, here it is:

      *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         *         *         *         *         *         *         *

15.  Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

This is one of those goofy/fun slasher movies, which also happens to be noteworthy for being written and directed by a pair of women, which is a rariety for the subgenre (when mentioning this film you are obliged to bring up this fact).  Their feminst leanings are definitely present (the killer's HUGE drill is his source of power), but the producer-mandated nude scenes are cheesy and gratuitous.  Speaking of cheese, anybody else want pizza?

14.  The Prowler (1981)

In a way, this is a run-of-the-mill slasher, but it does boast a great looking villain as well as some amazing special effects work from Tom Savini.  The finale is explosive.

13.  Sleepaway Camp (1983)

If this was a list of the greatest endings in cinema history, this film would be top-tier material.  Otherwise, it's kind of a shitty movie. . .in a fun kind of way.  That ending though, whoa, what a doozy.

12.  Hell Night (1981)

Recently watched this for the first time; Linda Blair is a lot of fun in this, but I love the guy Seth (Vincent Van Patton), who's dressed like Robin Hood.  His reactions to everything, especially when he tries to get help, are priceless.  Plus, the chick he's with keeps forgetting his name!  Classic.

11.  The Funhouse (1981)

From director Tobe Hooper;  can you believe this is the movie he made right before Poltergeist (1982)?  Come for the creepy and weird amusement park setting, stay for the creepy and weird mutant killer.

10.  Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
           Don't Open 'Till Christmas (1984)

So Silent Night, Deadly Night is on everybody's slasher list.  It's the quintessential Christmas slasher film, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how it is Billy's story and doesn't really follow any of the victims.  So, in sticking to my rules, I struck it from the list.  Luckily, I really like one of the other Christmas slashers, Don't Open 'Till Christmas, which is a sleazy British slasher in which a psycho is killing guys who are dressed up as Santa.  From the people who produced Pieces (and directed by that film's star, Edmund Purdom), so you know there might be some penis-trauma in this holiday terror treat (spoiler: there is).

9.  The House on Sorority Row (1983)

Another one I just recently watched.  It has a really good set-up, a decent set of characters, cool and gory kills, and some unexpected turns.  What more do you want from a slasher?

8.  Terror Train (1980)

Slasher classic with Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, and David Copperfield, all taking place on a train!  Also, it's great that the killer keeps changing costumes.  This is a fun one.

7.  The Burning (1981)

Summercamp slasher with the supremely ugly Cropsey.  His garden shears are an iconic weapon amongst slashers.  Features great effects by Tom Savini and early performances by Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-her Holly Hunter.  Also, this is one of the rare slashers that has a Final Boy instead of a Final Girl, a break with convention that maybe doesn't work quite as well as the convention itself, but is still appreciable.

6.  Just Before Dawn (1981)

Filmed in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, which makes for a great setting, this is from director Jeff Lieberman and features Chris Lemmon (son of Jack) in a pair of the whitest, tightest slacks ever seen in a movie.  Also features an early role for Gregg Henry and a pop-in appearance by George Kennedy.  The ending of this one has what has got to be the supreme denouement in slasher film history.

5.  Don't Go in the Woods (1981)

Another wooded slasher film, this one filmed in Utah, and this one decidely loopy, weird, and completely wackadoo.  The killer in this is a gross mountain man who doesn't like trespassers up on his mountain (or whatever) and he racks up quite the body count as victims stumble into the movie only to fall dead at a very rapid pace.   The synth score sounds like a keyboard dying.  I love it.

4.  Pieces (1982)

I wrote extensively about Pieces HERE, and while it straddles the line of slasher and giallo film, I think it's heart (and liver, and intestines...) resides much more in the slasher side of the family.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to post the "YOU BASTARD!" video:

3.  Visiting Hours (1982)

Ooooooohhh, a hospital set slasher starring a wicked insane Michael Ironside and a mostly adult cast?!?!?  Stylish and terrifying??!??!  William Shatner?!  Sign me up!  Seriously though, this one caught me by surprise by how good it is.  Solid and uncelebrated slasher.

2.  My Bloody Valentine (1981)

This movie also features an adult cast, as all the potential victims work at this old mine.  The miner killer is one of the most iconic killers in all of slasher films.  The all black suit, the lamp-helmet, the pick-axe, it's great and terrifying, and it keeps with the mystery until the very end.  This is a great one, works the slasher formula to near perfection.

1.  Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Oh, man.  How I love this movie.  First off, it's really well made for a slasher film.  Great direction and photography, good characters, Melissa Sue Anderson from Little House, a mystery that keeps you involved, its got "six of the most bizarre murders you will ever see" (maybe they're not that bizarre, but they are pretty cool), but what sells me on this one is the same thing that turns a lot of people off:  the batshit insane ending.  I love it.  It's what puts this one over the top for me, landing it in the top spot.  Happy Birthday, Ginny.

Almost made the list:
Intruder (1989), Tourist Trap (1979),  Blood Rage (1987),
April Fools Day (1986), Stage Fright (1987), The Boogeyman (1980)

So there you have it folks.  What do you think of these turkeys?
What did I miss?  What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trailer Park Tuesdays - The Raid 2: Berandal

The Trailer Park would like to give thanks. . .

. . .to one of the greatest and most ass-kickingest action films of the last ten years, The Raid (2011, aka: The Raid: Redemption), for being an amazing film filled with brilliant stunts and fight work and for existing in the world I currently live in.  It's truly a great film and if you haven't seen it, do so.  You'll thank me.

And now, there is reason to give more thanks:
Director Gareth Evans has made a sequel.  The plot is unknown, but it picks up two hours after the first film ends.

Honestly, I don't care what it's about.  Just watch this trailer and try not to get excited.

Is there a person in there that doesn't look like a total and complete badass?

The Raid 2: Berandal will hit American theaters in March of 2014.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trailer Park Tuesdays - Man of Tai Chi and 47 Ronin (Keanu Reeves Double-Wide Trailer Edition)

The Trailer Park was closed last week due to, you know, my life getting in the way, but it's reopened this week.  To make up for last week's closure, we got a double-wide edition this time around, specifically a double dose of Keanu Reeves.  "Why?," you might ask.  "Why not?," is what I say.

Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who gets a lot of shit.  People seem to refer to him as a "bad actor" and talk down about him, but that's bogus.  Sure, he's been in some truly terrible movies, but he's also been in some good ones (c'mon, you liked Bill & Ted), and like most actors, he just has to get a good part that can utilize his particular skill set.  And yes, my implication is that Keanu Reeves has an acting skill set, and it's a skill set that I don't mind seeing from time to time, under the proper conditions.

So anyway, defense of Keanu aside, let's look at a couple movie trailers, shall we?

First up is Man of Tai Chi (2013), which looks pretty amazing in my book.  It received the prestigious "Best Thing I've Seen Lately" award from film critic Vern over at (also, my friend Deric approves, which is a good sign).  This film interests me for a number of reasons. First, it is a martial arts underground fighting tournament movie, a subgenre not seen nearly enough, but when present, is usually pretty great.  Second, this is Keanu's directorial debut, so naturally he stars in the film. . . as the villain (pretty badass move, let's be honest).  The star of the film is Tiger Chen, a talented stuntman that Reeves met on the set of the Matrix movies.  Oh, and the majority of the movie is not in English and features subtitles.

Okay.  So a martial arts fighting movie, spoken in mainly Cantonese and Mandarin, with Keanu Reeves directing and playing the villain...  Sounds fucking great to me!

Man of Tai Chi is playing in select cities RIGHT NOW and is also available VOD and over on iTunes for download (if you're into that) RIGHT NOW as well.  As soon as I get the chance, I'm going to see it.  Here's the trailer:


Part two of today's double-wide trailer edition is for an admittedly more questionable film, one that could possibly be not so good (it's all that CGI that makes me hesitant), but hell man, I love samurai movies, so this one's on my radar.  47 Ronin (2013) is one of those action-fantasy-samurai movies about a group of ronin getting revenge for the death of their master.  Looks like fun.  Lots of room for craziness.  Comes out on December 25th, so I totally expect this to be THE holiday movie of 2013.  Check out the trailer:

And of course, a pair of posters provided for your perusal.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trailer Park Tuesdays - Here Comes the Devil

Trailer Park Tuesdays, the place to be for all your needs (as long as those needs are based around movie trailers for upcoming films).

While scrounging around the internet this afternoon, I stumbled across today's trailer, a Mexican horror film about possession and scary kids.  Based on the title, I was skeptical.  Seemed kind of like a joke maybe (plus it didn't help that I instantly thought about MST3k), but it appears as if this is the real deal in the scary department.

Here's the dime description for Here Comes the Devil:  A married couple lose their children near some caves while on vacation in Tijuana, and upon their return it becomes clear they are not who they used to be.

I'm not familiar with writer/director Adrián García Bogliano (Cold SweatPenumbra), but I think that will soon change

Here's the trailer:

Here Comes the Devil will be distributed by Magnet Releasing, playing in select cities in the US starting December 13th (which is a Friday).