The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe (2008)

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While many people wanted a sequel to The Lost Boys when that original film was released, as well as producer Richard Donner and director Joel Schumacher thinking up ideas such as vampire politicians and “Lost Girls”, it seemed most fans cried foul when The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe was announced, and cried even more foul when the trailer was released, and then lambasted it when it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. They were right and wrong, but let me get to why that is.

This sequel takes us to the shady surf city of Luna Bay, California, where vampire surfers quickly dispatch anyone who crosses their path. Into this dark world arrive moody Chris Emerson and his shy sister, Nicole. Having lost their parents in a car accident, the siblings move in with their eccentric aunt Jillian and become new prey for the local surfers. When Nicole unwittingly drinks the blood of a vampire, Chris must locate and destroy the gang’s head vampire before his sister’s transformation is complete.

The problem this sequel has is that it’s grittier and more serious than its predecessor, and loses the fun and innocence the original film had and uses the mythology set up in the first film to make generic horror movie. Where there was hardly any blood in the first film, whereas it’s an absolute bloodbath in this film. It’s an absolute step away from the tone of the original film, which is why many cried foul, but it’s also a decent direct-to-video film if you have an open mind.

The performances in this film aren’t anything special, but the film has pretty decent production values. The sales of the disc obviously helped make the film’s budget back to warrant a third film, entitled Lost Boys: The Thirst which I’ll be looking forward to. Call me generous but I didn’t think this was that bad, it just wasn’t The Lost Boys we know and love. Three skulls.

Audio:
The audio is pretty pumping on the disc, however there is only one track in English. No TrueHD or PCM, just English Dolby Digital 5.1. I didn’t notice much sound coming from the rear speakers. When music was played, however, it sounded pretty sweet. Three skulls.

Video:
Much to my surprise, The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe is a lot more grainy compared to its predecessor. Especially in darker scenes and on darker colours of walls clothes. The grain adds to the gritty feeling the film-makers were obviously going with this sequel, but the image itself is crisp, however the colours are a bit dull, again obviously being intentional for the feel of the film. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Features:
Only a few features are presented for The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe, and all are pretty short, and not really worth it besides the alternate endings. Two-and-a-half skulls.

  • Lost Boys: The Tribe: Action Junkies is a very short featurette about the stunts in the film.
  • Edgar Frog’s Guide to Coming Back Alive is a short featurette with Corey Feldman in character as Edgar Frog teaching the audience what methods and weapons to use against a vampire.
  • Alternate Endings are interesting – they are both pretty much the same, with slight variations in the editing and lines, and obviously setting up the third film.
  • Cry Little Sister Remix Video – the less said about this the better. It completely rapes the original song.
  • Downfall, Hell is Full, It’s Over Now music videos by Yeah Whatever – not my cup of tea, and with these music videos and tone of the film it’s obvious the makers were targeting a goth/supernatural audience for the film.

Overall:
A giant step away from the charms that made the original film so much fun and so enjoyable turns this sequel into a generic horror movie complete with gore galore as well as the obligatory boob shots and lesbian kissing shots. It’s an alright movie, but the original is far better. Let’s hope the third film, entitled The Thirst improves upon this sequel and goes back to its roots. Three skulls.

The Lost Boys (1987)

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Vampires are currently on top of the world, but have been existing in cinema since its inception. The Lost Boys, a film by Joel Schumacher made in 1987, is arguably a cult classic twenty-three years later with a large fanbase, and with good reason. It’s a fun film with great metaphors and very cool imagery.

Sam and his older brother Michael are all-American teens with all-American interests. But after they move with their mother to peaceful Santa Carla, California, things mysteriously begin to change. Michael’s not himself lately. And Mum’s not going to like what he’s turning into.

It’s hard to take this film seriously, especially nowadays with 80s hairstyles and clothing, but it’s also intentionally funny, it’s not set out to sweep the Oscars, but at the same time it’s antagonists, The Lost Boys, are forbidden – the group that everyone wants to be apart of but they know they really shouldn’t.

I’m not a giant fan on Keifer Sutherland but he obviously relishes the role of David, the leader of the Boys, and turns what could have been a very cardboard cut-out of a character into a manipulative and sly bad guy. Jason Patric, as the main character Michael has fun with his on-screen younger brother, Corey Haim (rest in peace), and makes his character likeable and vulnerable. Of course, all the fun comes from Haim as the young brother Sam, Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as the Frog Brothers, taking the job of killing vampires too seriously for their own good.

Produced by Richard Donner, who also directed The Goonies, and directed by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is a great entertainment that should satisfy anyone of any age, whether they like horror films or not – this is not a straight-up horror film either, it has humour and is more fun than your usual vampire movie. It has scares, laughs, romance, action and death by stereo. One of my favourite films in glorious high definition! Four skulls.

Audio:
There’s many Dolby 5.1 tracks presented on the disc in many languages, but there is an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track presented as well, but I didn’t notice much difference between the two English tracks besides the TrueHD track being slightly louder. The soundtrack seemed quite front-heavy with most sound playing in the center and front left and right speakers, with music in the rear right speaker and ambience/environment sounds in the left rear speaker. A bit disappointing, but it gets the job done. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Video:
For a film that’s almost a quarter of a century old, it looks pretty freakin’ good. Sure, it’s not as clean as modern films out on Blu-Ray, and there were quite a few instances of film artefacts, but it’s a significant improvement over the DVD version, and makes the movie even more tantalising to watch. Some scenes, however, do have quite a large amount of film grain – but that’s up to the viewer to decide whether that’s a good thing or not. Four skulls.

Features:
There are quite a few features presented on the disc, but most are quite short and to-the-point. Three skulls.

  • Commentary by Joel Schumacher is a bit of a dry track, and Schumacher talks more like a fan than a director, sometimes resorting to describing what’s on the screen with a few silent spots. It’s informative, and he is constantly thankful for the actors he got and constantly praising what’s on screen from the art direction, to production design, costume design to performances.
  • The Lost Boys: A Retrospective is a half-hour mixture between a retrospective and a making-of. Somewhat generic but interesting nonetheless.
  • Inside The Vampires’ Cave: A Four-Part Making Of is just under twenty minutes with cast and crew talking about Joel Schumacher’s vision, the concept of doing the film as a horror-comedy, recreating vampires for this film as well as talk of a sequel ranging from “The Lost Girls” to “Vampire Politicians” (this featurette was made prior to The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe).
  • Vamping Out: The Undead Creations of Greg Cannom is arguably the best featurette on the disc, showing Cannom’s work as make-up and prosthetics designer as well as telling stories from production like how uncomfortable the vampiric contacts were.
  • Haimster and Feldog: The Story of the Two Coreys is a five minute piece exploring the two Corey’s relationship and how they were met on The Lost Boys and became very close friends, working together on many films.
  • Multi-Angle Commentary with Corey Feldman, Corey Haim and Jamison Newlander is just under twenty minutes with a standard definition presentation and multi-angled videos of the commentators. They were recorded separately and have a light time watching the film, with such comments like Feldman querying why he didn’t get an Oscar nomination.
  • The Lost Scenes: Deleted Scenes is comprised of mostly character pieces before Michael (Jason Patric) falls in with the Lost Boys, showing the family moving into their grandfather’s house in Santa Carla, with a few hints foreshadowing the ending of the film.
  • The Vampires’ Photo Gallery is presented in high-definition, and contains pictures of all actors who played vampires in various incarnations of their make-up.
  • The World of Vampires: An Interactive Map is merely a sub-menu where you can click options to find out about vampire legends from all over the world. It seemed to be made especially for the release of The Lost Boys on DVD, but it’s too creepy and seems out of place but is interesting nonetheless.
  • Lost in the Shadows music video by Lou Gramm is a promo music video to advertise the film, and is great for those who like 80s music videos (like me)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Overall:
The Lost Boys is a staple of vampire films and should last a long time to come. It’s fun, scary, very cool and very silly. Thirteen-year-old Rambos against vampires never loses its awesomeness. Highly recommended to all. Four skulls.

Vacancy (2007)

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From one crazy hotel to another, Nimrod Antal’s 2007 film Vacancy throws out any and all originality in favour of hackneyed and tired characters and a story that provides no real scares or surprises. It’s not that film is awful, it’s just nothing new.

When David (Luke Wilson) and Amy Fox’s (Kate Beckinsale) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to spend the night at the only motel around, with only the TV to entertain them… until they discover that the low-budget slasher videos they find in their room were all filmed in the very room they’re sitting in. With hidden cameras now aimed at them… trapping them in rooms, crawlspaces, underground tunnels… and filming their every move, David and Amy must struggle to get out alive before they end up the next victims on tape.

What begins (and ends) with heist movie-like credits and a very slow beginning, Vacancy goes for a cat-and-mouse game between the protagonists (despite the fact that ever since the film begins, they’re fighting each other making it difficult to relate or sympathise with them) and motel-owner antagonist (portrayed well but not-creepy-enough by Frank Whaley) as well as a few masked minions of Mason’s over a story that could have been ripe commentary on horror and slasher movies and the audiences that go to see them, but ends up being nothing more than your traditional horror movie.

The film reminded me a lot of Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers, a much more successful film that isn’t bogged down by half-baked characters or plot, for one thing, the protagonists in The Strangers, despite also being introduced after a fight, manage to garner sympathy, and despite the fact they’re teetering on the edge of breaking up, still love each other and make the cat-and-mouse game between them and The Strangers all the more effective, whereas Vacancy makes unlikeable protagonists face off against bad guys that just seem like they’re taken out of the “How To Write A Horror Movie” handbook.

The entire idea of the snuff films, which begins the cat-and-mouse game pretty much falls by the wayside as we go to focus on the two main characters trying not to end up on a snuff film of their own. Again, a lost opportunity. It almost feels like two different horror movies: a movie about a married couple going to get divorced finding a stash of videos showing patrons of the motel they’re staying in getting killed and: a movie about a married couple going to get divorced being chased around a motel by a Norman Bates-wannabe and his posse. This film also proves my theory that if a character calls the emergency line (911 in America), if a man answers it, it’s the bad guy, if a woman answers it, it’s a genuine emergency line receptionist who wants to help the main character(s).

In the end, it’s not an awful movie, it’s just not very good or groundbreaking. Luke Wilson should probably stick to comedies, and Kate Beckinsale has lost a certain something that made her shine in the Underworld films, but I blame that entirely on the script. Heist movie opening and closing titles tacked onto the start and end of an unoriginal film that’s worthy of a rental at best, unless you can find it cheaper than $15 make Vacancy barely earn its three skulls.

Audio:
The traditional quiet sound mix with loud scares accompanies the film, providing an adequate 5.1 mix to go with the adequate movie. There’s really not much to say other than it was a clear and concise mix, but delved into the horror movie tradition of “everything in the soundtrack is quiet compared to the loud, booming scares we provide”. Three skulls.

Video:
Presented in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, the film did look good. A wise decision to pump the film with warm colours makes the picture easy on the eye, with glowing yellows and orange walls and sickly coloured motel rooms making the film stand out above other, cold and sterile-looking horror movies, and for this I applaud it. I don’t remember noticing any film or digital artefacts, and the picture was crisp and clean and highly detailed. Four-and-a-half skulls.

Features:
Vacancy has only a few features, and not many of them are particularly worth watching. Two stars.

  • The Alternate Opening Sequence is an ambitious opening shot setting up the events we will be watching in the film. I thought it was pretty cool, but who knows why the film-makers took it out?
  • Checking In: The Cast and Crew of Vacancy is a by-the-books half-hour making-of with the cast and crew, especially producers, talking about the film as if it’s the second coming of horror movies making it sound a lot deeper than it actually is, and providing little insight into the actual making of the film.
  • Mason’s Video Picks: Extended Snuff Films are exactly what the title suggests. Why these were put on here, God knows, but I didn’t bother watching more than a minute of it. Only for those who are off-the-wall obsessed with fake snuff movies, and let’s be honest: who is?
  • Raccoon Encounter: Never Before Seen Deleted Scene is a scene that shouldn’t even have made it onto the disc. It’s stupid and one of the cheapest scared ever imaginable.

Overall:
A film that tries to stand on its own two feet but constantly falls over unoriginal plotting and character work makes Vacancy a movie for a horror buff to watch on a rainy day. Not worth a full price, and only worth it on special should you like the film more than I do. Three skulls.

Psycho (1960)

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Psycho (1960)The Film: Rare is it that a film becomes so popular, that even those who have never seen it know what you’re talking about. Mention “Norman Bates” or hear that iconic Herrmann score, you know it’s from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

I had caught bits of the film on television a few years ago, and never got around to viewing it. I had, however, seen Gus van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake made in 1998, and I can only remember the ending (and a car going into a tar pit). However, when the chance to own the film on Blu-Ray hi-def, in a Steelbook came, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from one of her boss’ clients one Friday afternoon and on the drive, she stops at Bates Motel for a rest and to catch herself. It is here she meets a kind young man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), owner of the motel. He seems kind enough, but his mother has other ideas…

Quite possibly the earliest slasher film, and definitely one that was ballsy for its time, Psycho is a film that younger, modern-day viewers may eschew, but it should be required viewing for anyone that considers him or herself a horror aficionado. It balances character, horror, good and evil, death, and nobody in this film is perfect. One of our main characters steals $40,000, another has a split personality and murders people in that personality. It’s quite a jarring change from something like The Wasp Woman, which was a B-movie made by cult hero Roger Corman the year before. Years ahead of its time, Psycho was and is a film about right and wrong in the simplest sense, and even saying “we all go a little crazy sometimes”.

This reviewer cannot continue without mentioning, in detail, Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. He absolutely shines, full-stop. He’s charming, sympathetic, and vulnerable, but he is evidently hiding something – but what is it? Perkins towers over everybody else in the film and should, too, be required viewing for all aspiring actors. It’s not only his performance: symbolism oozes from the film, especially with the character of Bates – observe a stuffed owl, posed as if ready to grab small prey in its claws sitting behind Norman Bates as he talks casually with Marion Crane – a subliminal warning of what is to come.

While not as shocking as it was in 1960, Psycho is here to stay, and should be on all shelves belonging to fans of horror and fans of cinema in general. Four skulls.

Audio:
Presented in mono 2.0 and remixed Dolby 5.1, there’s nothing terribly groundbreaking to get excited about here. The mono 2.0 did me well enough, but there is a featurette about remixing the sound into 5.1 (more on that later). However, it is clear and crisp. There is no white noise from something like tape, and it does sound quite nice, even in mono 2.0. Three-and-a-half skulls.

Video:
A perfect image, even for a black-and-white film is presented on this Blu-Ray disc. Filling up the entire widescreen, grain is noticeable in quite a few scenes, as well as some film artefacts such as scratches, but it adds to the charm of the film. This reviewer will not be complaining about the image. I wouldn’t use it as a demo disc to show off my equipment, but for a film that’s fifty years old, it’s pretty damn good. Five skulls.

Special Features:
Accompanying the film are extras mostly ported from previous DVD releases, it is, however, quite a lot to get through with a lot of information given to the viewer, but due to most features being ported from previous DVD releases, not everything is in high definition, which is a shame, especially for the image galleries. Three skulls.

  • Audio commentary with Stephen Rebello, author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”. Rebello does have a few quiet spots during the film, but when he speaks he always speaks entertainingly, and always has something worth saying, as well as relating to the scene playing as he is speaking, mentioning symbolism, stories from the cast revolving around a scene, etc. It reminded me of the commentaries on the Universal Monster Movie commentaries done by the film historian likes of Rudy Behlmer.
  • The Making of Psycho is a ninety-minute feature with interviews with cast and crew of the film talking about Mr. Hitchcock, what working on Psycho was like, problems during production. It contains many small facts that you can also find in the commentary and in the booklet provided, but provides some informative entertainment nonetheless.
  • In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy is a twenty-five minute piece examining how Alfred Hitchcock has influenced all kinds of film-makers from Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese to Guillermo del Toro.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut is a fifteen minute interview between Hitchcock and French film-maker François Truffaut talking about Psycho, how much Truffaut disliked the book on which the film is based, as well as Truffaut questioning specific choices Hitchcock made during production.
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho is a puff piece, advertising gone insane, constantly making the viewer aware of the fact nobody will be seated after a showing of Psycho begins to stop ruining the illusion for all involved. This short piece proves that Hitchcock didn’t just make movies – he made experiences and was an absolute showman, making sure audiences saw his films under circumstances Hitchcock wanted.
  • The Shower Scene With and Without Music is a short feature, which basically shows you how effective Bernard Herrmann’s score was to the film, and especially to the infamous shower scene. It doesn’t work well without the music, although you may think it would…
  • Shower Sequence Storyboard by Saul Bass is a motion slideshow of storyboard created for the shower sequence by Saul Bass, who also designed the opening titles for Psycho. It’s just the storyboards – it would have been nice to have a side-by-side comparison with the storyboards and final film.
  • Psycho Sound, quite possibly misprinted on the back of the case as Remastering Psycho, is a short featurette on the remixing of the soundtrack from a mono soundtrack into a 5.1 soundtrack.
  • Next is motion slideshows: The Psycho Archives, an assortment of images from production, Posters and Psycho Ads, showing the advertising for the film, Lobby Cards, showing the cards cinemas would have had on display during Psycho‘s initial theatrical run, Behind the Scenes Photographs and Publicity Stills. All are presented as video slideshows in standard definition, which is a shame, because seeing images like those of the lobby cards in high definition would have been a real treat.
  • Theatrical Trailer and Theatrical Rerelease Trailers are exactly what they are called. The theatrical trailer is a good six minutes of Alfred Hitchcock guiding the audience through Bates Motel and Bates’ house, giving a lighthearted perspective on advertising the film, while the rerelease trailers are short trailers edited from the theatrical trailer criticising the television cut of Psycho.
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “Lamb to the Slaughter” is an episode of Alfred Hitchcock’s Twilight Zone-esque show with a story written by Roald Dahl about a pregnant woman who murders her husband who is about to leave her and covers up her tracks, all with a wondrous mix of Hitchcock black humour and Roald Dahl’s black humour. One must ask the relevance this is to Psycho, or whether it is just an advertisement for the series on DVD.
  • Also contained in the case is a small booklet with a brief history of the production and the film’s legacy.

Overall:
I’m sure many Hitchcock fans already have their hands on some iteration of Psycho, but if you’re absolutely psycho about Psycho, this release is pretty poor in the features department. For a fiftieth anniversary edition, you’d think Universal would put more effort into making the whole package a bit more special, but if you can get your hands on this Steelbook, do so. However, for those that just want to watch the movie, pick any version of this up, it’s amazing. The image is beautiful, the story great, and Anthony Perkins deserves another mention for his fantastic and pitch-perfect performance. Four skulls.

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

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It’s interesting what you find when you aren’t looking for anything in particular. I’m the kind of person that researches almost everything I buy; I want to make sure I’m not copped out. However, I saw this book sitting on the shelf in Big W and thought: “Hey, this looks interesting.” I continued to read the blurb and thought: “I’m interested.” There was no excitement over reading it, no feelings of having to trudge through it; I went into it with an open mind. Luckily, this chain of events has proven to be quite fruitful: thanks to author Martin Millar, his crazy cast of werewolves, supernatural creatures and humans just trying to live from paycheque to paycheque provide a fascinating template for a story bubbling with taking the familial throne, hurt lovers, violent battles and enraged fashion clients.

I read in an interview that Lonely Werewolf Girl came about because Buffy The Vampire Slayer (a show I must admit I weened and teenaged through) ended on that fateful night in 2003 as Sunnydale ker-ploded into oblivion. However, like that theory that The Big Bang was a destruction of a previous universe,leading to the creation of this universe, Buffy’s end brought about another tough, though flawed girl surrounded by the supernatural: Kalix MacRinnalch. However, there are no vampires (yet) and our hero (or is it anti-hero?) is, in fact, a werewolf.

Just like the Joss Whedon-created supernatural show, Lonely Werewolf Girl is not without its drama or comedy. It’s a well-written prose about, well, people, at its core, and the relationships, positive or negative, that those people have between each other.

What works so well about this, and it’s usual in books written in the third-person, is that Millar gets into his character’s heads: he tells the reader what the characters are thinking, whether whatever they’re thinking about his characters agree or disagree with.

The book is a rip-roaring tale set in London (prior to reading the novel, I believed it was set somewhere in America…perhaps I just completely glossed over the fact that it even says London in the blurb? Oh, the ignorance…) It’s a refreshing tale set in London in a market populated by either bloodthirsty, monstrous vampires (Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain, the recent Daybreakers), sexually driven mysteries (True Blood) or teenage sparkly “vampires” (do I really need to say what I’m referencing here?), Millar’s Lonely Werewolf Girl breathes air into my favourite supernatural creature by providing a fine landscape for his characters to inhabit, and has also developed an almighty mythology the MacRinnalch clan adheres by, giving a true sense of history to the family and the universe he’s built up.

The inclusion of humans may not be surprising in this day and age of interweaving vampires and werewolves with humans (again, True Blood, Twilight, Underworld, and Buffy, of course), but what Millar does with these characters, unlike that author who wrote stories about a superhuman vampiric sparkler, is that he gives his characters dimensions, flaws, addictions, jealousy and other feelings no character should really be without, because that’s what we relate to as humans. We all have flaws, addictions and jealousy, no matter how much we try to pretend we don’t. Millar makes his characters real, and makes you care about them no matter how wooden they try to make themselves (one particular werewolf named Dominil is cold, and seemingly uncaring of events around her, but of course we get into her head to see why she is in fact this way). It truly makes for great reading.

However, not all is well. The edition I read, a recent Australian release, has a few errors in it, but do not fret – Martin Millar knows all about this. It seems that the house that published it didn’t get the memo though…no matter, you still understand what’s going on and absolutely none of the errors are major. Calling the errors ambitious to be minor errors would in itself be an overstatement. You notice them, and then proceed reading the book.

I can’t get over how much I liked this book. At the beginning I cringed at how many times Millar introduced a new character that it felt as if every single chapter would be introducing new characters (and there are 236 chapters, sure they’re only one to two pages, but still), but once the plot actually kicks in and the clockwork begins to tick away, the story is riveting and the characters’ reactions to what is going on is intriguing, and at times, surprising that you can’t do anything but forgive him as every character has a purpose and a place in this story that the effort Millar went to does actually pay off in the grand finale.

The book deserves a purchase for all fans of werewolves, all fans of the supernatural, all self-respecting fans of literature and anyone who wants to figuratively travel to London to escape this incessant vampire phase. I can’t wait for the sequel, Curse of the Wolf Girl in September this year; four out of five.

Halloween II (2009) [Unrated Director’s Cut]

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As anyone who has read my review of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, you might know that I was immediately open to it and generally liked it basically because it was different. It wasn’t a shot-for-shot remake, but it was also a bit messy. The first half was certainly very good; Zombie’s chronicling of Michael Myers’ life stuck in institution was well explored ground and written very well, but then the second half feels like a push-pull between something like Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho to Zombie’s interpretation of the original material, which is where the first film fell a bit flat. However, with the “Unrated Director’s Cut” of Halloween II, Zombie goes in a different direction yet again, and it feels like Zombie’s finally made Halloween his own.

It’s been two years since the psychotic events of October 31st in Haddonfield, Illinois, and Laurie Strode is a mess. She’s living with Annie Brackett, who used to be her best friend, but animosity has grown since the Halloween incident. She’s having bizarre visions and a revelation in the new tell-all book by Samuel Loomis catapults her into events that will finally bring a close to the Michael Myers’ rampage.

From the get-go, this isn’t your typical horror film. It doesn’t even seem like a horror film. Sure, there are deaths, stabbings, and freaky visions, but it plays out more like a drama that used horror as its basis. It’s one of the smartest moves ever made in a horror sequel. Rob Zombie is the thinking horror fan’s director, he won’t do a retreading of material, he won’t rehash ideas, he’ll keep going in different directions, and I never cease being interested in what he has to say within his films.

Scout-Taylor Compton provides a fantastic performance as Laurie Strode and really makes Strode her own; the scenes involving Strode and Margot Kidder’s psychiatrist are of a particular note, showing Strode spiralling out of control and Kidder’s psychiatrist trying to work out how to help this poor girl.

Strode is having psychotic visions, and it is one of these visions that is probably my favourite parts of the film involving lots of profanity, almost silent movie-esque looks and a glass coffin which works very well, it’s a scene that has a great impact and is visually pleasing, despite the amount of profanity being thrown at the camera.

Of particular positive notes is the inclusion of home video footage of Danielle Harris as a young Annie Brackett. The Halloween fan will know Harris played Jamie Lloyd, the niece of Michael Myers and daughter of Laurie Strode in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and there is a poignancy of showing this footage with Harris’ history in Haddonfield. It’s quite moving actually, which leads me to Brad Dourif.

In the first film, Brad Dourif played Annie’s father, Sheriff Brackett, and it wasn’t terribly memorable. It was cool as Dourif is the voice of another horror icon, Chucky the Good Guy Doll from the Child’s Play films, but other than that, there wasn’t anything stand-out about him in Zombie’s Halloween. He completely breaks out in Halloween II, showing a father falling to pieces, and bringing such a reality to his character and such sympathy, making Brackett my favourite character in Halloween II, and is probably the best performance Dourif has ever given on screen. It’s positively fantastic, and words can’t describe how amazing his performance is…you need to see it.

The Blu-Ray disc provides a great picture and sound, loud and threatening, just the way I like it. The image has changed from the cinemascope 2:35:1 of the first film to a normal widescreen image that helps bring across the raw energy the film oozes out of every grainy pore it owns. It’s a faithful representation and helps communicate the raw energy of the film well.

Deleted and alternate scenes are included which aren’t much to write home to mum about, they provide interesting but unnecessary alternative takes of different scenes. What would have been better is the inclusion of the theatrical cut. Audition footage is provided of some newcomers. While interesting to watch, is there a need for it? Do Rob Zombie/Halloween fans demand audition footage of as-yet-unknown actors? Of note is Chase Vanek, replacing Daeg Faerch as Young Michael Myers due to a growth spurt. Vanek provides a good substitute but didn’t seem as gloomy as Faerch was. Make-up test footage is also included, which, too, is interesting, but hardly necessary. A blooper reel is included which probably made me smile once or twice.

There is a fictitious band made for this film named Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures, and about nine minutes of music video is provided, intercutting black-and-white typical “music video shoot” footage with the scene in the film with sprinklings of old horror films and cartoons. They’re all the same and not my cup of tea.

Unce Seymour Coffin’s Stand Up Routines. This guy is also in the club scenes and isn’t funny, but does some jokes that may make you smile, but providing unused footage of unfunny stand-up routines for entertainment is redundant. I didn’t even make it past one minute of it. The whole joke in the film is that this guy is funny because he isn’t funny. Providing 5-10 minutes of unfunny material will keep hitting the nail on the head but eventually bore the hammer into the skull and then eventually into the brain matter, providing a painful experience. My thoughts go out to all who watch this in its entirety.

Finally is the audio commentary from Rob Zombie. Zombie is always great to listen to; he’s intelligible and explains certain ideas, cuts, and things become even more clear. He’s a great guy and while he does fall into the audio-commentary no-no of describing what is on-screen, he balances that out by explaining the ideas behind the scene or a story behind the scene, which is alright. He’s insightful company and worth checking out for Zombie fans.

The disc is highly recommended for Zombie fans and for fans of horror in general. This isn’t your typical horror film, not is it your typical Halloween film. But I liked that; it’s refreshing and visually outstanding and has some fantastic ideas. I challenge all who saw the theatrical cut and hated it to watch this fantastic, albeit somewhat slow director’s cut, and try not to change their minds.

The inclusion of the theatrical cut would have made for some nice analyses, and the inclusion of Captain Clegg music videos and Seymour Coffins’ stand up routines are unnecessary waste of precious data space. A faithful reproduction of the image and audio provides the film with a great visceral experience. I could have loved it more, but I loved it more than I expected to. Four skulls.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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From the truly cool opening title cards that would fit more with Terminator than they would with Freddy Krueger, everything goes downhill in this truly below sub-par sequel that’s confusing, unmemorable, and laughable.

It’s been five years since the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a new family has moved into the house that the famous Nancy Thompson (the heroine in the first film) use to live in, and things start out peachy-keen…then spiral out of control.

I usually enter the world of a horror movie sequel with a open mind, honest, because they usually all suck, some more than others. But A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge is an all-new level of sucktastic, but has four things going for it: the very awesome artwork (to your left), a horribly corny title that’s so-bad-it’s-freakin’-awesome (Freddy’s Revenge), the aforementioned Terminator-esque opening titles, and Robert Englund.

To be honest, Freddy’s not my favourite horror movie icon (I hesitate to call him a slasher movie icon), but I like the concept of a demonic sandman killing teenagers in their dreams, leading to the idea of no escape. It is, at least was, refreshing when it first came out, and there was an element of fear, of fright, embedded in the concept that you couldn’t do anything but be glued to your seat, even in this day and age. It was also something different, which is also a good thing. This, however, is titled Freddy’s Revenge. Wasn’t the first film the spawn of his revenge, killing the teenagers of the parents that killed him?

I haven’t seen the sequels, and if I have, I don’t remember them, but this first foray in to the fabled Land of the Sequels proves to be a redundant foray, giving a confusing and badly-written story, disappointing and predictable climax as well as some hokey acting (which, really, is to be expected).

Robert Englund, you have to give the man credit, has kept up appearances through the first film up until Freddy VS Jason (2003), so that’s some damn good commitment. But even what he brings to the table seems lost in this story.

We see where he worked, a factory (making…what? Not explained…), which is where the all-too-predictable and all-too-convenient climax happens, and there is so much here that isn’t really used properly. I could tell there was a story, I could understand what the film-makers were trying to say (sometimes), but this should have gone through some more drafts before filming began, because the execution of this story turns what Wes Craven brought, a truly original and frightening concept, into something confusing and hardly frightening (a few spontaneous combustions involving a toaster, which the family keep afterwards, and exploding birds? Come on…) But most of all, this sequel turns the refreshing story into something unnecessary.

I can’t really recommend this, not even to Krueger fans, but I’m sure all the die-hard fans have already seen it. It’s a silly and worthless sequel and even Robert Englund can’t really save it. Skip it, and go onto A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, whose title is only slightly less corny than this film’s title. See? It’s already better.

One-and-a-half stars.