Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Heroes Have Been Monsters Part 13

 When I was in the 4th grade my family got HBO. There must have been some promotion/special price, because there was never any money for such extravagence, but we had it and I had something special to go along with it...a lack of supervision! This was during the slasher boom of the 80's and on top of the cable I had a friend named Joey who collected Fangoria and brought them to school all the time, so I was hip to what was coming out and what was worth watching. And by my recollection there was no escaping the tv spots for Friday The 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. Hell, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince did a song about Freddy and Robert Englund appeared on Nickelodeon!
 When I was a teenager I started working my way through my local video store's horror section, finding brilliance and stupidity in equal numbers. Halloween become my favorite of the slasher franchises. For some reason Michael Myers captured my imagination and I continued to love all the sequels up to H2O. I thought the Friday the 13th films were a bit spotty, my favorites being parts 4, 5 and 6. Part 3 was the only one I found to be unwatchable (until Jason Takes Manhattan...bleh).
The thing about these films was that they were cool and sometimes cartoonish, but never very scary. Halloween and Friday both had moments that would haunt me, but I didn't find them to be particularly horrifying. Then I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Leatherface hit a nerve with me and I found myself half buried under a blanket on the couch by myself at two o'clock in the morning hating myself for putting the movie on...but I couldn't turn it off. I had to see how it ended. Gritty and grainy, super realistic. I mean, look at that pic to the left! Freddy's wise cracking doesn't compare. Even though you knew they would be back for another film, Freddy and Jason always got beat in the end. Leatherface was just left on the side of the road pissed off! Free to torture and maim beyond the credits! Nothing new now, but I was only in the 6th grade and had only experienced these mainstream slasher films, nothing so nihilistic.
 Unencumbered by rationale, the Nightmare On Elm Street films were by far the most imaginative and fun. Anything could happen, because it all happened in dreams. Freddy could be anywhere or anything, leaving the series wide open and limited only by the imagination of the writers and directors. Johnny Depp's death scene, in the first film, is still one of the most memorable death scenes I can remember. The only time I found myself disappointed with the series is about half way through part 6, Freddy's Dead, where what started off so promising began to feel like the film was just running out the clock trying to get to the conclusion with standard slasher filler. Wes Craven's return to the series (first time since the first film) with New Nightmare was nice and a fresh take and would have been a good final farewell to Fred, but who can say no Freddy vs. Jason, even if it sucked how could you not see that film if you grew up on these this stuff?
So these days we have all these modern classics getting remade. When they announced the TCM remake I was entirely unenthused, I watched it of course, and it wasn't bad at all, the same with the remakes of Friday, Halloween, Nightmare, My Bloody Valentine or whatever. The remakes are fine movies, sometimes they even improve some aspects of the original (remakes of The Fly, The Thing, and The Blob in the 80's certainly did), but why don't the studios just run the originals in the theatre again? I'd pay to see TCM 2, Nightmare 3, or any of the first five Halloween's on the big screen and I know I'm not alone. The other aspect of the remakes that rubs me the wrong way is that for every remake coming out that's an original film not being made. As a struggling writer I'm not encouraged by the trend of repeating. Of course, how many different Frankenstein films have I paid for? Oh well, when is the Halloween 3 remake coming out?
And just because I don't want to hear any complaining that I didn't mention Child's Play...
...that first one is still creepy!
Keep watching the sky, nerds!

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