Tag Archives: slasher horror

Hack/Slash: Dark Sides

71Fg3NXPbBLAmong many reasons for my quest to stop being behind on ongoing series is how much I hate unavoidable incidental spoilers. Example: since I have purchased ahead on volumes of Hack/Slash (habit from when the Amazon gold box used to offer random small discounts on things I was likely to buy anyway), I know that the series is drawing to a close.[1] This presents certain problems with my ability to justly detect foreshadowing.

I like to think, for example, that if I had seen the destruction of Cassie Hack[2]’s ubiquitous nail-studded baseball bat with “Kiss It” burned into the shaft at the hands of a maniac wielding a flaming sword, I would have maybe speculated that it was a sign that the odds eventually run out. But then again, I wouldn’t have, because Dark Sides was an anthology edition with multiple stories authored by people other than series creator Tim Seeley, so really I would have just expected to see it back in action next book as an at most side-mentioned replacement, more likely as an ignored continuity glitch.

But, you know, none of the stories were too bad and all of them advanced the main plot that has been building over the last two or three books (Vlad’s history and Cassie’s, er, complicated relationship with the harder-than-usual to kill Samhain, I explain as though anyone actually cares), so I can’t complain. Well, I can complain about yet another crossover with a differently-skinned cheesecake vs. monsters comic, because those never entertain me much or convince me to check out whatever comic is being crossed over with, and are instead just a huge waste of my time. But that was only one issue out of five, so.

[1] Well, sort of. Apparently it’s also starting back up again? But that’s more or less beside the point.
[2] I point this out in basically every review, but: you remember her? Gothy pin-up girl who wanders the country with her partner Vlad killing supernatural bad guys, like a parallel comics version of the Winchesters if Dean were hypersexualized and Sam stood around looming over people.[3]
[3] Ah, Supernatural jokes that maybe two people reading this will appreciate. I kill me!

Hack/Slash: Marry, F*ck, Kill

51Pv51LcgJLAs usual with an 11th volume of a series, it’s hard to not end up deep in spoiler territory. So, instead, a series of mostly unconnected thoughts.

1) It has been a long time since I’ve read one of these, so I guess I’m not surprised I couldn’t remember exactly where things had left off. What I guess is important to “know” is that the long-running arc with the (let’s say) Black Lamp Society had finally been wrapped up. Taking it a step further than that: by the end of this book, all but one dangling plot thread had been wrapped up, and only one new dangling thread had been created. It’s almost like the series is angling toward an ending of some kind?

2) The book is split into two arcs, of which the second arc is both the better and the more important. The first arc either highlights that the artist only knows how to draw one type of chick, or else it is meant to clumsily indicate that Cassie Hack[1] is lots of different characters in lots of different dimensions, depending on how she was raised, I guess? Including an oversexed lady in even skimpier clothing who likes to take over by blowing things up and the warden of an interdimensional women’s prison, for the incarceration of the kind of oversexed lady in extremely skimpy clothing who would choose to take over by blowing things up.

3) I’m glad the next book promises to be a lot more about Vlad[2], what with almost everything else being wrapped up and all, because I didn’t even remember that there was something wrong with him (spoiler alert: there is), but I was very disappointed that he was sidelined almost the whole book. Though I can definitely see why it was structurally necessary to get to the end point they got to.

4) The title: I cannot find any specific thing that fits Marry, Fuck, Kill, but if I squint sideways at it, I can see where there’s sort of vaguely a game of that going on throughout the book, just barely enough so to justify someone trying to get titles moved via shock value.

[1] She, you’ll no doubt have forgotten by now, is the teenager on the road in fishnets and carrying a nailed-up bat with “Kiss It” burned into the non-naily portions who hunts supernatural slashers to make them be more specifically dead than they previously had been.
[2] Cassie’s green-skinned, monstrous companion who helps her out on the whole destroying mystical psychos task, mainly because she’s nice to him when everyone else thinks he’s one of those same kinds of monsters.

Hack/Slash: Dead Celebrities

hackslash_vol10I must have picked the wrong order of books or something, no way I’ve read enough graphic novels lately to get two about Cassie Hack as close together as this. Oops I guess? Weird crossover successfully dealt with, Cassie is back to her old tricks. Which are still mostly episodically dealing with jungle goddesses and revenge-seeking parapalegics and incursions from other, more rapey dimensions. Luckily, this is exactly the kind of thing I want out of my Rebellious Teenage Girl and Her Giant Deformed Sidekick literature.

The main plot, as you may have partially gleaned from the title, revolves around a recent rash of murdered celebrities. Which is only so interesting, even when tangled up with Cassie’s own fascination with, and experience of being (albeit only in limited circles), celebrity. Except for the parody portion, which was fantastic. Even if the rest of the book had been horrid, I would have been satisfied because of Lady-Gaga-by-proxy Art Projekt, whose entire career is to support her master’s thesis in sociology. And since the rest of the book was, instead of horrid, lots of cheesecake-laden fights with rampaging murderers and/or murderous rampagers, yeah: still a fun series!

Hack/Slash/Eva: Monster’s Ball

HACK_SLASH_EVA_MONSTERS_BALL_TRADE_PAPERBACKMonster’s Ball was refreshing in that it was an episodic slasher hunt without any accumulated baggage, exactly the kind of thing I’ve been asking for. It was problematic in that… well, see that “Eva” up there? Apparently this was a crossover between Cassie’s comic and Eva’s, who is a brunette hunter of monsters in tight, occasionally accidentally-revealing clothing accompanied by a hulking, inhuman, green-skinned monster[1]. I’m not precisely sure who is ripping off whom here, but clearly the creators must not mind so much, or else I doubt there would have been a crossover in the first place?

Also, it was less of a crossover and more of a boost for the Eva character, as far as I can tell. That is, it’s much harder to find any information about this person, despite the authorial duties coming from that direction, and also Cassie and Vlad were entirely guest stars in Eva’s enemy’s evil plot. Sure, some of Cassie’s old enemies made an appearance, but you could skip this and never know you’d missed anything, whereas even without knowing anything about Eva that I didn’t glean in this book, it’s obvious that her life altered significantly between the first and last pages of the story. So, cool I guess?

Even if other Eva collections existed (and they appear not to), I wouldn’t be seeking them out after this taste. Which probably tells you what you need to know.

[1] I mean, not the Hulk.

Hack/Slash: Torture Prone

I have three problems with the Hack/Slash series. The first is that the last few books have seen a lot of effort to get away from episodic mayhem in which chronically under-dressed teen hunter-of-killers Cassie Hack smashes and outwits her way through one supernatural slasher rampage[1] after another, in favor of there being a secret society that causes these guys to live again in the first place. I cannot tell if this is unsatisfying to me because I don’t like the way it’s written or because I don’t want them to tie in an overarching plot and take away the possibility that the adventures continue forever. Either way, I’ve not so much been a fan.

The second problem is that I’m just not that attached to all the secondary characters. Give me Cassie and her misshapen companion Vlad, and I’m perfectly happy. Page after page of teen detectives and unhappy Indianan couples and romantically dissatisfied strippers and… well, okay, the skinless, speaking dog from another dimension is pretty cool, I’ll grant them that one. My point was, every page of those characters is a page that doesn’t have Cassie in it, and I’m pretty enh on the whole concept of her not being the focus. The good news is, Torture Prone is perhaps taking me in the direction I want to go, here.

The third problem is that if you take away the significant cheesecake quotient and consider that I don’t much care for the plot I’m being presented with, there’s almost no reason for me to be reading these. Cheesecake quotient, by itself in a vacuum, really isn’t something I can justify. I mean, I don’t have to justify it, so there’s that, but if this is a thought that I’m thinking, you know something has gone wrong. Upshot: I’m really hoping I was right about the second problem being on the path to resolution, because there are still four or five books before the apparent end of the series.

[1] Jason Vorhees. Chucky the Doll. Freddy Krueger. You know the drill.

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Here are the problems with Texas Chainsaw 3D, in no particular order. 1) The 3D was honestly kind of… no, wait, I’m sorry. I’m thinking of the preview for the GI Joe sequel in front of it. That 3D was terrible. This 3D was perfectly fine, if you are not the kind of person who hates 3D. 2) The timeline did not make even a vague attempt at working. If you have an original movie set in 1974, and… man, I’m bad at this. Now I’m trying to remember what year was listed on all the stones in the cemetery. Maybe they pushed up the start year after all? But if I’m right and it was 1974, then you can’t very well have an infant in 1974 return to claim her inheritance in 2012, yet only be 24 or so at the most (and realistically, more like 19). 3) Lack of naked. And, okay, I do not require naked in my horror movies. It’s cool and all, but by no means required. But, if you’re going to condemn people by their sexual transgressions, or pop open the last two buttons of our heroine’s shirt, then you should deliver the goods. It’s perfectly fine to decide that the plot will not be served by naked, but teasing is a violation of the covenant.

And now I look like a chump, because I’ve overruled all of my problems but the nudity. But seriously, I did overrule them in real time, this was not a clever bait and switch (unlike when nobody got naked in the movie), I swear. Anyway, here is what they did right, also in no particular order. 1) Favorable violation of one of the far more unfortunate covenants set forth by the horror movie oeuvre. 2) Chainsaws. 3) Plot twists! 4) Yeah, I’m gonna say chainsaws again, because, boy howdy was there a healthy dose of chainsawing going down.

Oh, and hey, I just remembered another valid complaint! Do you know where they filmed? Louisiana. Are you kidding me?

The Cabin in the Woods

It looks like I waited more than a week to see The Cabin in the Woods, which simply isn’t true. (It also looks like I haven’t read a book in more than a month, which, well, yeah, that’s true. What is wrong with my life?) It’s just that I had other stuff I needed to write about first, and on top of that I have of course remained incredibly busy with my new job. But this review marks me as all caught up again, which is on the one hand relieving and on the other tragic. I’ve only seen two movies in quite a bit more than a month, obviously no video game time to speak of, I’m drowning in books I want to read (not that the one I’m reading is bad, it’s just way too long)… I fear I am not type-A-driven enough for this number of hours per week.

That or I watch too much TV. Of course, if I didn’t, I may not have been sufficiently obsessed by Joss Whedon to run out and watch his horror movie on opening day, nor to hope but ultimately fail to watch it again prior to the review. Because, there’s a lot to watch. I fooled myself into thinking the previews unfairly gave away plot details, but it’s not true. The opening scene of the movie reveals just how much of a rabbit hole you’ve stumbled into, and all but dares you to figure it out before you hit the bottom. In case you need more of a plot summary than the none I’ve given so far, I’ll just mention that five college friends plan to spend a weekend at a cabin in the, um, woods, after which horror ensues. But I bet you already knew that? And yeah, everything else is wildly spoilerful and goes beyond a cut.

Well, except this: if you like like horror as a genre, and especially if that’s the kind of thing you’d say out loud? You must see this movie. (If you don’t / wouldn’t, it’s still pretty worthwhile. The only reason not to go see it is if you can’t stand to see on-screen gory violence, because, yes, that’s gonna happen.)

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Hack/Slash: My First Maniac

Get this: a prequel. Well, okay, those happen all the time I guess? But get this: I didn’t actually buy My First Maniac from Amazon. See, local comic store that buys failed local comics stores was having a massive superhero comics overstock sale, and I went in on 80% off day, where I picked up a couple of the more recent Powers, Kick-Ass in hardcover, not Red Son because I tragically failed to find it, and also a Cable collection from the ’80s that my boss apologized about later because he hadn’t been serious about me getting it. How was I supposed to know?! He’s been reading this stuff way longer than me, yo. Oh, and since all of that was still only like $15, I picked up the newest Hack/Slash volume that I had not known existed, since some online company failed to put it in my gold box or even my daily “you should buy this!” emails. Yay for supporting local businesses, right?

Anyway, Cassandra Hack is back — all the way back, in fact, to her first adventures, before she even went out on her own to hunt supernatural baddies or met up with that cool sweetheart of a deformed guy whose name I cannot currently remember but that possibly starts with a V? See, her mom was the lunch lady, and after having seen her daughter Cassie take too much abuse at the hands of the other kids, said lunch lady started slaughtering the school kids and serving them up in the next day’s lunch line. Which, okay, I’m sure that happens on a more-or-less monthly basis somewhere in the world, but after she got caught and committed a particularly gruesome suicide rather than go to jail, her revenant corpse came back and started slaughtering kids at Cassie’s new school, to protect her all over again. And now that she knows about the world that lies behind the world, it’s time to cowboy up and do something about it.

If, you know, she can just find another example of the genre, and prove that her mother wasn’t just a fluke in existence and ability-to-be-killed-by-her alike, and hold onto her angst hard enough to not get distracted by offers of friendship, and find sufficiently goth-revealing clothing to create a legend with. Spoiler alert: she somehow manages that last one, despite the odds.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

You know what there are not a lot of? Documentaries about serial killers. Well, no, that’s the opposite of what is true, there are actually like a ton of those. By literal film-reel weight, I mean. But there aren’t very many documentaries about uncaught serial killers. Well, that might not be true either. Because, like, Unsolved Mysteries, right? I’m pretty sure that show became a genre once there was a Court TV. But, okay, this time I’m going to be right: there are very few documentaries about uncaught serial killers from the perspective of the serial killer. Including, you understand, interviews and other literal documentary footage.

Before yesterday, as it happens, I would have said there were actually no such documentaries. But now I have seen Behind the Mask[1], and I can say that there’s one, anyway. It actually starts off playing for comedy to some extent, both because our slasher[2] is personable and funny in the confines of his soulless psychopathy and also because the very concept of a documentary crew following around a murderer is kind of laughable. But the moment when the horror of what they are witnessing (and, let’s be honest, doing) finally begins to sink through, the movie shifts from comedy to the finest example of post-modern horror I’ve seen since Scream. This is definitely a must-see for genre fans, and I’m sad I had never heard of it until a month ago!

[1] I should note, incidentally, that the mask itself is in fact at the intersection of cool and creepy to such degree that I’m very slightly surprised there hasn’t been a sequel based on that alone.
[2] Oh, right, I lied a little bit. “Serial killer” is the best way to portray the type of person I mean in a documentary setting, but truthfully this guy is a slasher; some famous previous-movie slashers are his heroes, and there’s obviously some nod to the idea of, if not the supernatural, at the very least that these guys work damn hard to appear supernatural.

Scream 4

A good long span of time has passed since the last Scream movie. In case you don’t remember, they are popular for reinventing the slasher film via clever, self-aware postmodernism at a time when the genre had very nearly died. Also, for stabbing really a lot of people and creating a brand new interchangeable killer via a consistent ghost-faced mask and voice modulator for perpetual victim Neve Campbell in every movie.

Which actually is where Scream 4 comes into play, with Sidney Prescott returning home on tour, on the heels of a successful book about her quest to stop feeling like a victim. It’s too bad, really, about the new person-or-people who have grabbed onto the same M.O. to start threatening a new batch of teens, including Sidney’s cousin, along with the woman herself and also perpetual co-stars Deputy Dewey and Gale Weathers.

I can’t detail more, both because horror movies don’t lend themselves to fine detail in the first place and especially because this series has continued its unbroken streak of leaving me unable to guess at the identity of the murderer-or-murderers[1], and I’d hate to remove the fun of it for anyone else. The writers definitely took the self-aware schtick to a whole new level, which did not bother me, though I can imagine it having played a little stale to some viewers. As usual, also, my companion and I were in the vast minority of laughers at the showing. I know sometimes I laugh at things a movie didn’t intend, but I also know the Scream movies are the kind that do intend more of the laughs than not, and as usual, I have to wonder why so many people are watching different movies than I am.

[1] That’s the second such reference, so I will point out that it is not meant to be a spoiler of these events, only an acknowledgment of the trend from previous entries in the series.