Archive for Slasher

Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982) Review

Posted in Dorm That Dripped Blood with tags , , , on December 2, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- A Crash Course in Terror

Release Date- April 1982

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow & Stacey Giachino

Director- Stephen Carpenter & Jeffrey Obrow

Starring- Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland, Woody Roll, Daphne Zuniga

The Dorm That Dripped Blood was released in 1982 though some listings have it as 1981, but regardless this movie was released at a time when slasher flicks were dominating the market and it seemed every week there was a new one opening. The Dorm That Dripped Blood, which also goes under the title Death Dorm and Pranks is one of the semi-forgotten films of the era and seeing as so many of these films were made there are gonna be ones that fall through the cracks. I originally saw this movie under the title Pranks, which is a heavily censored version of the movie and is missing about 8-minutes, which at the time I didn’t know. I didn’t hate Pranks, but I sure didn’t love it and I had no desire to see it again, but I gave in and decided to give it another try since the version I saw was so heavily edited and while Dorm That Dripped Blood wouldn’t rate as my favorite 80s slasher I’m glad I gave it another shot; I think the film itself is far better than its reputation and despite the cult following it has I think it deserves more of a following. I wouldn’t rate The Dorm That Dripped Blood in my top 10 slasher films, but its one of those underdog films and it would have a place somewhere among my favorite slasher films.

During Christmas vacation a few students stay behind to clean out the dorms that will be knocked down and a new dorm will be built. But unknown to the students staying behind is a killer has also stayed behind and has their sights set on them.

The screenplay by Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow & Stacey Giachino is your standard slasher flick, but well enough written in regards to other films of its type. The dialogue mostly seems like filler as the characters never really have anything important to say, but however they are fairly likable even if they lack depth. When going into a slasher film I don’t expect deep characters, but its nice when they have their own identity and here they do to a certain degree, but can also be a little interchangeable. I guess overall despite the short comings of the script and even if the characters might lack in areas I did for the most part like them and Joanne (Lapinski) does make for a solid final girl. Some of the problems with the script are the standard problems we see in slasher movies; the opening death scene for instance was just random as it was never mentioned again in the movie. There are some subplots thrown in that also never really go anywhere, but overall despite the flaws again the script is decent only hindered by being like the majority of other slasher flicks such as the weird creepy guy lurking around meant to be a red herring. If anything my biggest gripe with the script is its one of those films where the killer remains calm and normal until reveled and then just goes off the wall insane.

Directors Stephen Carpenter & Jeffrey Obrow deliver a mostly well-made slasher film on a very low budget. I think the fact it was so low budget in some areas helps elevate the film. It’s a little rough looking, which gives the film an eerie tone. The pacing of the film is fairly strong, but the 2nd half things can get a bit sluggish, but it never gets boring. There is a decent amount of suspense to go along with the eerie atmosphere. Carpenter & Obrow make good use of their locations and make a fairly standard place seem a lot more isolated and sinister looking. For first time filmmakers Carpenter and Obrow deliver a very entertaining movie that despite having a cult following again is better than its reputation.

The one thing the Dorm That Dripped Blood has going for it is a truly excellent score by Christopher Young that really heightens the suspense.

What the film is probably most noted for by those who have seen it is the off the wall ending, which is something most slasher films tend to avoid. You think to yourself no way the film is going to go there and before you know it the film does. It’s an unexpected ending and I’ll give credit to Carpenter & Obrow for actually having the nerve to do what they did with the ending.

Overall The Dorm That Dripped Blood in an entertaining slasher flick and while the reviews from people that have actually seen the movie are quite mixed, which I fully understand and while the movie may not reach the heights of some of the more popular slasher flicks of the 80s I quite enjoyed this despite some of the shortcomings. Like I said this one has that 80s slasher low budget charm and even if this isn’t one of the elite slasher flicks of the 80s I still enjoyed it.

This movie also marked the acting debut for Daphne Zungia; for some reason her 1984 slasher flick The Initiation in the credits has it as introducing, but that’s a mistake as she did this movie first.

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Bay of Blood (1971) Review

Posted in Bay of Blood with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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BAY OF BLOOD

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- They Came to Play, They Stayed to Die

Release Date- September 8th, 1971

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Mario Bava, Filippo Ottoni & Giuseppe Zaccariello

Director- Mario Bava

Starring- Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso, Anna Maria Rosati, Chris Avram, Leopoldo Trieste

Mario Bava is one of the most influential filmmakers and not just in Italy, but the States as well and has influenced a wide range of filmmakers and I suppose the horror genre is where his impact is most seen. Mario Bava paved the way for the Giallo and without him who knows where filmmakers like Dario Argento would be. Released in 1971 A Bay of Blood, which also goes under such titles as Carnage, Blood Bath, Twitch of the Death Nerve and when released in the States in 1972 it had the title Last House of the Left Part II. A Bay of Blood while a giallo seems to have a bigger impact on the slasher films in particular Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2 (more on that later). However the giallo and slasher are sort of cousins and many films that are slasher films had they been made in Italy would be seen as a giallo and many of the Giallo if released in the States or anywhere else outside of Italy would be seen as slasher films. While there is a difference the line between them is thin. There are some that consider Bay of Blood to be Bava’s best film and I suppose a case could be made for it I’d disagree.

The story was written by Franco Barberi & Dardano Sacchetti and the screenplay by Mario Bava, Filippo Ottoni & Giuseppe Zaccariello. I really can’t say much about the plot as I don’t wanna spoil things. The story for Bay of Blood is very good and basically all the murders have to do with getting the land around the bay. However the problem is the story is a little overly complicated (though easy to understand). I’m not sure if this was due to the story concept or the actual screenplay, but the script is the biggest issue, which does hinder the film in spots. While Italian horror isn’t really known for great writing, but more so of the visuals, beautiful women and gory murders, but many Italian horror films were fairly well written in the 70s. It was more the 80s when the scripts were a bit weak, but all the things I mentioned were present to help make up for any shortcomings in the writing. But with Bay of Blood the script is weak and characters lack depth and are inter-changeable. As I stated the story is complicated, but easy enough to follow. What’s interesting is pretty much every character is somehow tied to murder and again the premise was great though the story by Barberi & Sacchetti could have used a little more work and the script by Bava, Ottoni & Zaccariello could have done a little more with the solid story presented. There is also a subplot of four characters looking to party at the bay and this is where the influence on the slasher film really shows, which I’ll get into in a bit.

As director Mario Bava crafts a stylish thriller only brought down by some sluggish pacing. The first half of the film was the strongest with about 6-murders in a 40-minute span, but even than the film had some pacing issues. The 2nd half has about 7 murders in the final 44-minutes, but this is when the pacing is the biggest problem despite the high body count. With all the plot twists in the 2nd half it does make Bay of Blood a bit uneven. However despite the pacing issues, Bava does craft some solid suspense and an eerie tone, which does help make up for the shortcomings. Like I mentioned there is a subplot, which has a few characters looking to party at the bay and you can clearly see the influence in the slasher film and on Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2. His was in my opinion the strongest scenes of the film and Bava does a great job with them. The death scenes are very much in tune what we would see in slasher films with one guy getting a cleaver to the face, which was clearly the influence of the axe to the face in Friday the 13th and one scene has a couple getting impaired while having sex and this almost shot for shot would be used in Friday the 13th Part 2. Even the setting of the film seemed to inspire Friday the 13th. Like I said many consider this Bava’s best film and even if I disagree its quite easy to see why many feel that way. While the pacing of the film can be an issue despite only running 84-minutes it features a high body count with some strong suspense and while a Giallo, Bay of Blood made a much bigger impact on the slasher film.

Overall Bay of Blood is a solid film and again while pacing is an issue it’s made up for with some excellent murder scenes and suspense while the film isn’t confusing it is a little overly complicated. However despite the flaws this film comes highly recommend and the ending of the film is quite hysterical. Some say it was brilliant and others idiotic and I think both have a point. Mario Bava’s influence on film can’t be denied and while films like Psycho helped pave the way for the slasher film, Bay of Blood did as well. Dardano Secchetti whole wrote the story went on to have a great career and wrote or co-wrote a good portion of Lucio Fulci’s more popular titles such as Zombie and City of the Living Dead among many others. He also was a writer on A Blade in the Dark & Demons, which was directed by Mario Bava’s son Lamberto.

Bay of Blood has two blu-ray releases one from Kino, which has the English and Italian versions than there is the UK release from Arrow Video (which is multi-region disc). Based on screenshots the Kino version seems to have the best print, which is for the English version as the Italian cut is rough looking. I have the Arrow release, which features an excellent HD presentation on the English version with the Italian version also looking rough. Based on screenshots edge seems to go to Kino, but the Arrow release is very good with only little grain, but its natural looking and just happens to be a very good print. If even the slightest difference in video is important I guess Kino is the way to go, but if extras are also important than its Arrow all the way. The Arrow release comes with 4 different covers plus a booklet and double sided posters with a slew of features on the disc that features Dardano Sacchetti, Joe Dante and Edgar Wright. I don’t wanna undersell the Arrow HD quality since its terrific and even if based off screenshots Kino might have an edge I really can’t see it making that much of a difference. The colors on the Arrow release might be a little on the dull side and the overall image a little dark, but I prefer this as it adds to the atmosphere whereas other prints colors pop a bit more and the image a bit brighter. Best advice is if its quality on video that matters most look up some screenshots of both to help you decide.

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Friday the 13th Part II (1981) Review

Posted in Friday the 13th Part 2 with tags , , , , on August 12, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- The Body Count Continues

Release Date- May 1st, 1981

Running Time- 87-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Ron Kurz

Director- Steve Miner

Starring- Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stu Charno, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Walt Gorney and Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees

Released in 1981 Friday the 13th Part II is cited by many fans of the franchise as being overall better than the original and while I do enjoy part II I don’t think it’s on the same level as the original movie. I think the fact the audience is so used to Jason and the fact he isn’t the killer in the original is why some people rate this higher than the first part. With that said though Friday the 13th Part II is a very solid sequel and even if I don’t feel it’s as good as the original it does stand proud with it. 1981 was the Golden year for the slasher flick with such releases as Halloween II, My Bloody Valentine, The Prowler and The Burning are among the few of a year that seemed to be dominated by slasher flicks and while I wouldn’t rate Friday the 13th Part II as the best slasher of the year it is every bit as good as the films I mentioned and would most likely be in my top 3 slasher flicks of 1981.

The one thing forgotten by a lot of people is the early Friday the 13th movies weren’t just about gore and violence despite the reputation the franchise has. The reputation started more with Part VI. The early Friday the 13th movies did try and up the ante on make-up F/X, but the first 4 were still very much made to be scary and suspenseful movies as well and even though I did enjoy the series as it went on the first 4 I think are highly underrated as horror flicks. Friday the 13th Part II isn’t exactly this classic chiller of the horror genre, but it is a solid horror movie.

After the unexpected success of Friday the 13th the sequel was pretty much rushed into production and opened just under a year after the original. This time around Jason Voorhees makes his debut as the killer, which really doesn’t make any sense. If he did drown as a child how did he come back? And if Jason didn’t drown as a child than where as he been all this time? I suppose it really doesn’t matter and since this movie turned a profit and it didn’t matter to fans either. In many ways Friday the 13th Part II is almost a remake of the first film. The basic structure is the same, the characters are a lot like those in the original film; Ted is sort of a take on Ned, and Jeff and Sandra remind me a bit of Jack and Marcie; even the final chase scene is shot for shot the same only with new characters.

The screenplay by Ron Kurz is fairly good when compared to other slasher flicks, but the screenplay feels like nothing more than a rehash of the original; there are a few more characters this time around, but most are pretty much clones of the characters from the first. The characters are sort of the faceless victims we usually seen in the Friday the 13th flicks, they lack their own identity for the most part unlike like those in the first film, but with that said the characters are entertaining and likable and Ginny (Steel) is one of the best heroines of the series and one of the best developed as well and Paul (Furey) is one of the best characters of the series. Ron Kurz never really adds anything new to the series and seems fine on rehashing the original, but like I stated the screenplay is still stronger than most of these kinda flicks even if it doesn’t add much.

Steve Miner made his directorial debut with Friday the 13th Part 2 and he got his start working with Sean Cunningham on quite a few films as he worked his way up the ladder. Some people have called Steve Miner a master of the horror genre and while he’s made some good films and terrible films the problem I have is he seems to follow the formula of other filmmakers. Even later in his career with movies like H20, which came out when the slasher flick was marketable again all Miner did was follow what Craven did with Scream and what Carpenter did with the original Halloween. With Friday the 13th Part 2 he pretty much follows what Sean Cunningham did with the original at every turn.

In many ways Friday the 13th Part 2 is a bigger budget version of the original and seeing as this was Steve Miner’s first film I guess it can be forgiven, but he never really injects any of his own style into the movie. Despite the lack of originality, Miner is able to build some decent suspense and tension, but seeing as many of the scenes are copies of the original it can slightly hinder the suspense at times, but Miner is able to craft some solid scenes of suspense and even if its a total clone of the original, Steve Miner does deliver a fun and well paced movie with some nice moments of suspense.

Jason Voorhees was played by Steve Dash despite the credit for Warrington Gillette; Gillette played Jason for one scene and that was the unmasking scene. In many ways Jason was a lot like Michael Myers as he’s always somewhere lurking around and he’s a bit more methodical, but it still works here and in my opinion Jason was quite creepy here something that would later be lost as the series went on. As I mentioned Ginny being one of the best final girls and many fans of the series give her the title of the best final girl of the series and its quite hard to make an argument against that.

Overall Friday the 13th Part II is a fairly solid sequel and while it’s nothing more than a rehash of the original with new characters it actually works well and is at times fairly creepy. A lot of fans cite this one as better than the original and I can’t help but feel that is due to Jason since with all the sequels it does seem weird without Jason in the original. But regardless, Friday the 13th Part II is a fairly strong slasher flick and comes highly recommended to fans of these kinda movies.

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Graduation Day (1981) Review

Posted in Graduation Day with tags , , , , on March 7, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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Review under a rewrite will be posted shortly.

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Review

Posted in Halloween: Resurrection with tags , , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Evil Finds Its Way Home

Release Date- July 12th, 2002

Running Time- 94-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Larry Brand & Sean Hood

Director- Rick Rosenthal

Starring- Bianca Kajlich, Busta Rhymes, Katee Sackhoff, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks, Ryan Merriman, Brad Loree and Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode

Released in 2002 Halloween: Resurrection is considered by many fans to be the worst of the series and it would be difficult to argue against that; after a successful return to the series with H20 where it ignored Halloween 4-6 and went back to the Laurie Strode plot and with H20 it also sort of cashed in on the success of Scream while also keeping true to the original concept of the series and at the end of the movie it seemed as if Michael was dead for good, but if a sequel can be made somehow the villain will be brought back. H20 really was the perfect ending, but the way Michael was killed off or so we thought was a mistake in my opinion since it sort of broke the rule of never kill off your franchise player even if we now find out it wasn’t really Michael who got decapitated at the end of H20. I think the biggest problem with Resurrection is not only is this a bad movie, but pointless as well. I suppose one can say the past sequels were pointless, but even with their flaws at least they were fun and even in the weaker ones up until this point had some fun moments whereas this was just a disaster and with H20 wrapping things up so perfectly it makes this one the most pointless sequel of the series

Set 3-years after H20 Laurie (Curtis) having accidentally killed the wrong man is now in an asylum and is awaiting the return of Michael Myers (Loree) meanwhile a reality show led by Freddie Harris (Rhymes) is setting up in the Myers house where a group of people will explore the childhood home of Michael on Halloween night and once in the house will be locked up with no way out, but unknown to them Michael is there waiting.

The screenplay written by Larry Brand & Sean Hood is quite weak and while the idea was fairly decent the execution was rather poor; with Michael seemingly killed off in H20 I’ll give Brand & Hood credit for finding a way to bring him back, but as stated before it was pointless, but this was really about the only aspect of the script that was fairly done right with the explanation how Michael is still alive well sort of a good explanation. By the time Resurrection came out the Scream style slasher flicks while still being made were starting to run their course and what was once a fresh take on the slasher film was now becoming run of the mill and Resurrection seems like a holdover from that era and Resurrection also drove the point home that the Scream era was now a tired act.

The characters are boring with no depth at all and serve no purpose other than to be butchered by Michael Myers and while true past sequels may not have had the most Iconic characters, Resurrection easily has the worst characters. None of the characters have their own identity and some are also cheap knockoffs of past characters in the series best way to put it the quicker they are killed of the better. Brand & Hood attempt to create smart and witty characters, but instead they are overly annoying and the more they talk the more annoying they get. Sara (Kajlich) makes for a decent final girl and she’s sort of the modern Laurie Strode and while Bianca Kajlich does well in the role, she is however letdown by her writers and director and really ends up being quite a bland character, but she was still one of the better characters; Jen (Sackhoff) while a clichéd character is the only one that really stands out and that has more to do with the energetic performance from Katee Sackhoff than anything else.

There is also a subplot with a group of characters watching the reality show online at a Halloween party and these scenes are nothing more than filler scenes and add absolutely nothing to the plot and zap the pacing (which wasn’t very good to begin with) and these scenes really could have been mostly edited out. As poorly written as Resurrection was Brand & Hood do have some decent ideas by playing up to modern technology, which is something that has hindered slasher movies, but everything here feels rushed and tiresome and while returning to the Myers house was interesting it was already done in Halloween 5 and actually done better and the only thing this movie has over Halloween 5 is the house looks to be the proper size. Simply put Larry Brand & Sean Hood write a rather poor and forgettable script that is easily the most pointless of the series.

Rick Rosenthal who directed Halloween II returns to the series for Resurrection, which got some fans excited and as much as I enjoyed Halloween II, Rosenthal simply just followed what Carpenter did with the original, but for a sequel to a masterpiece of a film, Halloween II actually turned out fairly well. However with Resurrection things couldn’t have gone any differently. The opening act had some decent suspense with Michael Myers chasing Laurie in the asylum and while Rosenthal handles the scenes well overall it also lacks any common sense, which has more to do with the writing than the direction.

The pacing of the movie is quite sluggish and shots of Michael hiding within the house stalking the characters grows old quickly and everything just comes across as a poor rehash of past installments of the series. Rosenthal is unable to deliver any suspense or tension and the movie moves along at a slow pace and when there is lack of any action the movie can get quite grueling as the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the movie and the attempts at any suspense and tension are laughable as the film is devoid of any scares as each scene is as sluggish as the last. The Myers setting, which could have made for an excellent setting grows old quickly as scenes of the characters exploring the house while Michael somehow manages to always be out of sight grows quite tiresome very quickly. For the majority of the movie we can repeat this over and over again and at no point does it ever work. The direction by Rosenthal is lazy and uninspired and yes some problems are due to the writing, but horror movies and in particular slasher movies don’t always feature strong writing and flaws with the writing can be made up for to a certain degree if the director is able to make a suspenseful movie and Rosenthal handles the production as poorly as Brand & Hood handle the script.

The final act is when things pick up just a little bit and while by no means is anything highly suspenseful, Rosenthal does manages to put together some fairly decent scenes, but anything Rosenthal was possibly building is completely destroyed by the idiotic antics of Busta Rhymes. Having Busta Rhymes do a karate stance and spin kick Michael Myers out of a window is not scary, it’s just stupid and laughable. Having Busta Rhymes beat the hell out of Michael and always have a comment isn’t funny, it isn’t suspenseful it’s stupid. Michael is the villain and not a punching bag. I like when characters put up a little fight and not just stand there and die, but you don’t have your franchise player reduced to being nothing more than a bitch, it zaps any credibility he had left. As bad as Resurrection was like I said the final act actually had a little bit of suspense, but it’s destroyed by the Busta-Fu and anything that Rosenthal might have had going is lost and impossible to get back. Some people wonder how this film was by the same person who made Halloween II, but with that movie Rosenthal did have many people from the cast and crew from the original, which helped and of course John Carpenter did some reshoots, which some feel hurt the film whereas I felt they helped, but that’s for another review, but my point is a lot of the success with Halloween II had a lot to do with the cast and crew and not just Rosenthal and this movie sort of proves that.

The biggest mistake the film made was killing off Laurie Strode and while I guess that was needed to bring the series into a new direction, but certain characters should be untouchable and Laurie is one of those characters and with more creativity Laurie could have been written out without being killed off and still bring the series in a new direction and the worst part is how idiotic Laurie’s death is handled. After chasing Laurie to the roof where she has a trap set up for Michael where he ends up hanging from his ankles over the roof and quickly grabs at his mask where Laurie says she has to be sure this time. Ok I get why she would have to be sure, but does it really matter at that moment seeing as Michael or not he just tried to kill you!

Overall Halloween: Resurrection is a poor movie and while every so often I can dust it off and give it a watch it can be tough to get through and for me this is easily the worst of the series and as I stated before of all the sequels this just might be the most pointless one. I justify the movie by seeing it as just a horrible nightmare Laurie was having.

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Sorority House Massacre (1986) Review

Posted in Sorority House Massacre with tags , , , on September 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE

** Out of 5

Tagline- A Slash Course in Absolute Terror

Release Date- October, 1986

Running Time- 74-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Carol Frank

Starring- Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell, Gillian Frank, Axel Roberts, Fitzhough Huston

Released in 1986 Sorority House Massacre came out at a time when even the most die-hard of slasher fans have to admit that these films were starting to lack compared to the early 80s and this movie does nothing to change that notion. 1981 was to me the Golden year for the slasher flick, but even after that there were still many solid slasher movies released, but by the mid-80s these films were clearly on the decline as everything that could be explored was and many slasher flicks started to either be comedic or played light meant to simply entertain instead of any suspense or tension with absurd deaths and this gave these films a little more time, but by the end of the 80s the slasher flick was all, but dead.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before; A killer (Russell) escapes from an insane asylum and returns home to kill his sister Beth (O’Neill). Sorority House Massacre clearly lifts plot points from Halloween and Halloween II and even has a touch of A Nightmare on Elm Street as well. Oh and the killer also drives a station wagon that he has stolen. The one thing that is quite clear is writer/director Carol Frank really enjoyed the first two Halloween flicks as she takes elements at every turn from not only the plot, but even the visual look; there is a scene when the killer exits his car, which was a shot taken right out of John Carpenter’s Halloween, but while Carol Frank clearly liked Halloween the one thing I can say for sure is she clearly learned nothing from watching John Carpenter’s classic. The only difference between this and the first 2 Halloween flicks is instead of the killer simply murdering his sister and then goes after the other one he kills his whole family except for his younger sister who managed to get away; oh and did I mention that Beth’s birth name in the movie is actually Laura? Not much of a difference from Laurie now is it?

The one thing that sort of bothers me is people are too willing to accept trash with reasons listed as it’s a slasher flick what were you expecting? I don’t think anyone goes into slasher flicks looking for great writing, directing and acting, but that isn’t an excuse to deliver such poor work. I’m not expecting slasher flicks to be on the same level of Taxi Driver, but there is no reason why these movies can’t be well-made. Quite honestly I think many 70s/80s slasher flicks were fairly well-made with some being very well made like Halloween and Black Christmas, which have great production values for such low budget movies. I can tolerate weak filmmaking in slasher flicks if the movie is fun at least and maybe even a little creepy since there were a few slasher flicks in the 80s that while not well made did manage to have an eerie tone, but sadly Sorority House Massacre fails at everything it attempts.

Carol Frank makes her writing and directing debut and previously, she worked as an assistant to the director on The Slumber Party Massacre and a production assistant on a movie called Summperspell. The script by Carol Frank was terrible filled with faceless victims; you’ll be hard pressed to remember anybody’s name. Slasher flicks often have weak characters, but this movie has characters that are so faceless and none of them have any identity. I think the original Friday the 13th is a good example of disposable characters, but they each however have their own identity and even add to the movie so you don’t need to write really deep and complex characters for to have some depth. The characters here are boring and lifeless and even though the acting wasn’t horrible they all sleepwalk through their performances.

Carol Frank is content with simply knocking off Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street and any ideas added are poorly executed. Carol Frank attempts at adding a more psychological approach as Beth has blocked out what happened to her when she was a child. Some people question movies that have done this, but it is fairly common for people to block out traumatic events from their childhood and Carol Frank tries to make this deep and complex, but it comes out laughable due to how poorly written it was. The way Beth is able to remember is from her sorority sisters, they hypnotize her to bring out what she’s blocked and it’s just so absurd that I didn’t know if I should laugh or roll my eyes at the idiocy of the scene.

Sadly as director Carol Frank doesn’t fare any better; Sorority House Massacre only runs at about 74-minutes and has about 10 or so deaths, but everything is paced so horribly the movie feels a lot longer and it doesn’t feel like that many people are killed. It’s amazing that the movie has such a short running time with so many deaths and yet Frank still manages to bore the viewer. As I stated Carol Frank clearly follows what John Carpenter did with Halloween, but it seemed she didn’t learn how to craft a well-made movie. The budget was quite low and sometimes that can hinder a movie, but I’ve seen many horror flicks and films in general that were produced on a very low budget and look as good as any Hollywood blockbuster and it’s not like this type of film needs a big budget. The direction is sloppy and boring with no sense of pacing and Carol Frank has no idea how to execute even a tiny bit of suspense. I always try to find something positive since making a movie isn’t easy and I’m sure Carol Frank tried to make the best flick she could, but I really can’t think of anything in this movie that worked.

Despite how horrible Sorority House Massacre turned out I can’t say I fully hated the movie since it’s such a hack job you cannot totally hate the movie. Some have dubbed this one the worst slasher flick of the 80s and it’s quite hard to defend the movie from such accusations, but despite how bad this one was I don’t think it was the worst, but I could see this on a bottom 10 however. I think even the most loyal of slasher fans probably won’t see this movie much different than I did and while the movie is horrible like I said it’s hard to totally hate since it’s such a hack job.

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Friday the 13th (1980) Review by Dave Kaye

Posted in Friday the 13th (1980) with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave Kaye

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FRIDAY THE 13TH

**** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- You May Only See It Once, But That Will Be Enough

Release Date- May 9th, 1980

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Victor Miller

Director- Sean Cunningham

Starring- Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson, Walt Gorney, Robbi Morgan, Peter Brouwer, Ari Lehman and Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees

Released in 1980 this low budget shocker would spawn what seems like a never ending amount of sequels and knockoff films. After the massive success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Sean Cunningham decided to make his own slasher flick, but calling Friday the 13th a Halloween knockoff is just wrong. While the basic structure of the movie is inspired by Halloween, Friday the 13th has more in common with the Giallo and some of the death scenes were clearly inspired by Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood.

Despite the reputation Friday the 13th has it actually is a very well done horror flick that takes way too much heat. I suppose the sequels and knockoff films are part of that reason and while Halloween is clearly the better picture, but if you dislike Friday the 13th for what it started you should also hate Halloween. Some people debate the status of Friday the 13th; some hail it as a classic and others don’t. I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle. As good as Friday the 13th is it is kind of hard to rate it as highly as say Frankenstein or Night of the Living Dead, but with that said in its own right it is classic.

Friday the 13th is far better than its given credit for again a lot of people say it’s a Halloween knockoff and is nothing more than a body count film. While I suppose Friday the 13th did sort of start the body count movie it still has a style all of its own and is actually quite suspenseful.

The screenplay by Victor Miller was actually fairly well written in general. Look Friday the 13th isn’t Oscar worthy and when talking about the greatest of screenplays this won’t get a mention, but with that said the script wasn’t bad at all and has some creative moments and some fairly good characters, which is something these movies mostly lack. Each character has their own identity and while not the most developed characters they are more than just faceless victims. They are actually likeable and come across as real people. Later in the series and other slasher flicks the characters were nothing more than faceless victims, but Victor Miller gives each their own identity and does a decent job at developing them.

Sean Cunningham does a solid job with Friday the 13th; while I haven’t really liked his other movies with Friday the 13th he crafts a movie that is quite suspenseful and scary at times. From the start of the movie until the end, Cunningham manages to get this great sense of dread. He’s able to create this feeling of unease and at any time you know something bad can happen. Like the movie being better than it gets credit for the same thing can be said about Sean Cunningham’s directing.

Unlike the sequels Friday the 13th actually moves at a slow, but steady pace and there is a long stretch without any murders, but in these scenes Cunningham sets up a dark and eerie tone and develops the characters. After this movie I can’t really say I was into Cunningham’s movies, but here with Friday the 13th he does an amazing job and crafts an excellent and scary movie.

The older I get the more of an appreciation I seem to gain for this movie. Again despite the reputation it has Friday the 13th is an excellent horror movie that is quite creepy with some good scares. The now clichéd last scare was frightening, but now it’s been done so much it’s so expected. Like I stated before the characters were quite interesting and likable and each has their own identity. The performances were fairly good as well. All the actors were early in their careers so any problems are easily overlooked.

This series became all about Jason and many people often forget about Mrs. Voorhees played by Betsy Palmer. It’s like that scene in Scream when the killer asks who the killer was in Friday the 13th and Drew Barrymore’s character replies with Jason. That’s a very common mistake that even some fans make by accident. But Mrs. Voorhees was an excellent killer and deserves far more recognition.

Friday the 13th really has so much more going for it than people give it credit for and I cannot state that enough. The score by Harry Manfredini is excellent and the gore scenes by Tom Savini are some of his best and look quite real. Friday the 13th isn’t the gore flick people claim it to be. Compared to movies like Zombi 2 and Maniac this movie is quite dry, but the gore scenes look real for the most part and the murders are simple, but highly effective. The sequels started the more over the top murder scenes, which were great, but in this one they were simple and by far the most effective.

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