Tag Archives: slasher horror

Happy Death Day 2U

At the very beginning of Happy Death Day, while the Universal logo is appearing, they did something clever. It hitches like a record scratch and restarts, twice, before proceeding. Just enough to let you know what you’re getting into, right?

Happy Death Day 2U starts with a mild similarity, in which the hitch splits the screen in two, and then in three. Which, if you don’t know what they’re going for, I guess it would be a spoiler to tell you? But anyway, my point here is mostly to say that I believe the science fiction slasher movie is wholly untrodden ground, and they deserve props for this alone.

Except for the slight genre shift, though, the movie follows an extremely important rule of horror movie sequels, first spoken by Joe Bob Briggs more than thirty years ago[1], and here I am paraphrasing: Just make the same damn movie as you did the first time. (In some ways this movie takes the advice even more literally than is typical, but that stands to reason.) But yeah. Starts on the same day the last movie ended? Yes indeed. Follows (mostly) the same characters who are faced with (essentially) the same problems? Aye. Rule: followed!

The plot is so full of holes that it would more properly be referred to as a colander, but neither movie takes itself very seriously, so that’s fine. Plus, the more serious parts are actually thoughtful and touching, which gives them even more leeway as far as I’m concerned. As long as they keep the same cast and (I presume) writers/directors, I will cheerfully watch (and probably rewatch) these movies in perpetuity.

[1] Citation needed.[2]
[2] Haha, beat you to it. It’s possible I could find it, if he was writing for the Dallas paper that still exists and if they have internetted their 1980s archives. I first read it in a book of collected columns, so.

Happy Death Day

I haven’t rented a movie in, seriously, I don’t know when. But for some reason that does not appear to be network-related, I cannot stream 4k content from my media server to Plex on the Roku, and Google Play Movie’s rental price for 4k[1] was 99 cents, which is basically at the can’t be beat level. And most importantly, I really wanted to get this in before the sequel.

All of which is to say I saw Happy Death Day last night. This is a movie with a stone simple premise: what if Groundhog Day was a horror movie? Otherwise, it’s got all the standard slasher movie tropes. Creepy mask? Mystery about who the killer is? High body count? Check, check, (sort of) check. There are one or two glaring plot holes, but, well: check, right? It comes with the territory.

I know I just bagged on another movie for being a rip-off, but this worked. Mainly I think because it was a rip-off into a new genre, while Bird Box was a rip-off in the same genre. Either way: worthwhile. Also, I fiddled with the settings a little more, and I think I fixed my 4k Plex stream. So that’s awesome! Plus, new experience, I have now had the movie I was reviewing playing in the background while I was reviewing it. ….which, come to think of it, is particularly apropos for this use case.

[1] Except, haha, not actually 4k because the Roku I have doesn’t support 4k for Google Play, even though it does for other channels. (Or else maybe Google Play doesn’t support the Roku I have. Potato, it’s annoying either way.)

You Might Be the Killer

So, let’s say you run a summer camp, and let’s say it’s been a really bad night at the summer camp, with teen counselors dropping like flies, and someone is about to try to burn you out of the cabin you’ve bolted yourself into. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and call your friend who works at the video store and get some calming, helpful advice!

This is the premise of an apparently off-the-cuff Twitter conversation between a guy who sometimes writes Star Wars books and another guy who I forget what. Which I think makes You Might Be the Killer[1] the first movie developed on Twitter? That by itself was enough to make me want to watch it. I had been a little sad about the spoilery nature of having read the conversation, but it turns out to cover not much more than the premise, which is kind of summed up in the title in the first place. I’m pleased to report they found room to maneuver, is what I’m saying.

But then they put it on Shudder, and I have a subscription to that! ….which was probably about a year overdue, if I’m being honest with myself, so thanks Joe Bob for forcing my hand last summer. Anyway, it’s a slasher comedy starring Fran Kranz (from The Cabin in the Woods) and Allyson Hannigan (from all kinds of things at this point, don’t act like you don’t know), and while it’s not quite the genius that I wanted it to be, it’s still pretty damn fun.

[1] I may have exaggerated about the calming effect of the previously mentioned forthcoming advice.

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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