Wednesday, October 14, 2020

PINHEAD SOLD

SEPARATELY.


by Hunter Jon


With due respect to all others, I consider there to be six major slasher franchises that lead the way. Each features a killer so iconic that even those who haven’t seen a single installment would probably recognize them. Perhaps even be able to name them. They’re the A-Team of the genre. And although their first outings are often considered their best, that’s not always the case when it comes to my personal preferences.


So here are my favourite installments in each franchise that stars one of the big six baddies. I’ve rated each out of four stars.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) ***


Beyond its great set-up, I’m not really a fan of 1. I think even less of 2. But this works for me in every way possible. Bringing Nancy back as a psychiatrist totally works. The setting, premise and eventual execution all work. And letting Freddy have some fun certainly works. They bite off a ton here, stylistically and narratively, yet never choke - unlike everything after this, which fell over and died if you ask me. The special effects are still impressive as hell and the authentic examination of an ensemble of mentally ill teenagers only gets more meaningful with age. Watching those who survive transform into ‘warriors’ is moving and empowering. Plus, the soundtrack, both score and title track, rock. It’s everything I could ask for in a “Nightmare”.


SCREAM (1996) **1/2


You have to remember, this wasn’t a case of tongue-in-cheek, it was tongue-through-cheek. That had never actually been done before. And it was done just well enough. Certainly memorably enough. So when you hit the ground with something that fresh, it stands to reason anything that follows is gonna come up stale. And that’s exactly what the sequels are to me - incredibly so. (For the record, I find 4 most tolerable) They also painted themselves into one too many corners by sticking with the whole who-is-the-killer climax, which is destined to do nothing but disappoint. Who knows what the future has in store, but as of writing this, 1 easily wins in my book.



FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986) ***


The first is what it is: a great set piece with a memorable twist ending followed by a killer jump scare. Using those as a jumping off point, we got four more. Other than the evolution of Jason himself, I find these have very little to offer that we didn’t get the first time around. Then, suddenly, one with an actual personality comes along and makes it all worthwhile. And I’m not just talking about the fact that it’s humorously irreverent and self-aware. I’m talking about liking and therefore caring about the victims for once. I’m talking about a surprisingly investing romance. I’m talking about kids actually being at Crystal Lake for the first time. I’m talking about actual tension. Yes, there are plenty of gags, but take a step back and you’ll see that the bigger picture wisely takes its mythology seriously and does its best to honour it. It’s fan-service heavy before the term even existed. I think most of this is thanks to director Tom McLoughlin, who also holds sole writing credit here. He really had a clean vision for this and it shows. For once there was only one cook in the kitchen and he knew exactly what to serve up.



HALLOWEEN (1978) ***1/2


Initially, this was merely about doing “Black Christmas” over again on a different holiday. Except they did so with the skill of Hitchcock, causing an unprecedented success. But sometimes simplicity reigns supreme. Often, in fact. And that success led to a kind of slasher soap opera that got super dense, which, while kinda fun to follow and figure out, mostly bogs things way down. Here, though, you’ve got something sublime and so much of that has to do with how simple it all is. Masterfully crafted, yes - every frame. But still so simple. Which is all encompassed in The Shape himself, from mask to manner. I don’t have to go into any more detail about why it’s the series highlight - you already know why. I will, however, thank Debra Hill. Thanks, Debra.





CHILD’S PLAY (1988) ***

CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990) ***


It’s a TIE, folks. Very different movies, yet I enjoy both equally. Perhaps that’s why, actually - because of the differences in tone and plot. The second isn’t trying to succeed where the first did and that’s why it succeeds. The only thing that carries over are characters and quality, causing an irresistible consistency. And first you get Catherine Hicks as the most kick-ass mom ever, then you’re treated to Christine Elise as the most kick-ass foster sister ever. I can’t watch 1 without watching 2. Maybe that says it all right there. Anyone else would have just given the doll to another kid, but Mancini knew exactly where to take things and, evidently, still does. Alex and Chucky’s relationship will always be the core and heart of this series. Don knows that and used it to thread the needle so well between these two that they nearly work best as one - one that hasn’t been matched. Although “Bride” and “Curse” come close, in my opinion.


THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) ***


You can’t match this atmosphere. It just feels like it’s happening in front of you. It’s hard to comprehend that this was a ‘production’ of any kind, complete with a crew, call times, craft service, etc. It’s that visceral. That scary. That real. It succeeds on a ‘convincing the audience’ level that is usually reserved for found footage. And then on top of all that it has a hell of a lot to say about the American dream, the working class, and, most importantly, family. I don’t get any of that from the sequels, remakes, or prequels... (ok, to be fair, ‘2’ is plenty about family). It’s that rare beauty: absolute chaos handled with expert care. Hooper not daring to recapture its spirit with the sequel is a testament to how special, and untouchable, it is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

OTHER OCCURRENCES.









Sunday, October 11, 2020

THIRTY ONE.




































Monday, September 14, 2020

REFLEKTION OF A REFLEKTION OF A REFLEKTION OF A.



Sunday, September 13, 2020

 FORMERLY QUIET,
CURRENTLY LOUD.
a pick six


by Hunter Jon



All of my favourite albums are by The Beatles. But once you get past those, my favourite album of all time is ‘All Things Must Pass’ by George Harrison, my favourite Beatle. For some, it’s his best album. For others, it’s the best solo Beatle work to date. For me, it’s the best - period.


One could argue there are two kinds of albums: those that work as a whole from top to bottom, and those that are a series of separate songs. The formers are true works of art that deserve to be listened to entirely and in order. Approach them like you would a good book. The latter are just begging to be scrambled, singled, soundtracked and can be approached pretty much any which way you want. You lose no substance in picking and choosing. Logic suggests an album can’t fall into both categories. It would defeat the distinction. Yet here we have this album.


On one hand, you’ve got George delivering a sprawling epic that demands a full listen. He’d been the third of four for too long and was hungry and eager to be one of one. He brings a lifetime of musical ideas to the table and marries them with a decade’s worth of lyrical life experience. It’s as if he was told he’d only be allowed to make one album and then that’d be it for the rest of his life. So he poured his entire soul into it, not caring if it fit any industry standard or resembled a tradition LP. The result is so equivalent to a timeless tome that it was rightfully packaged like one. And something happens to me when I crack it open and experience it in its entirety. It’s a full journey. There and back. It takes me to the edge and then brings me back home (which there’s no place like).


Then you’ve got the Phil Spector side of things. He’s extremely aware of the bigger picture but also sees an opportunity for Harrison and him to have their cake and eat it, too. He makes sure the songs work as, well, songs. He adds a secret little signature to each track that he knows will work as a single, making it enjoyable outside of its larger context. This ensures that the album never once slips into sounding too same-sy from one track to the next. A lot of people believe Spector destroyed Harrison’s simple brilliance with his crank-it-up-to-eleven production. I disagree. I think he recognized the size of this monster and matched it with a worthy roar. And any time things do favour tender delicacy and quiet down, Harrison gets all the credit. Give Phil a little. Or don’t, ‘cause… y’know… murder bad.


At the end of the day, though, picking it apart is kinda pointless. The rare fact that it's the best of both worlds isn't what makes it good. How fucking good it is is what makes it good. If you ask me, it’s as good as music gets. I just felt it necessary to point all that nonsense out to justify my picks not being in proper '... Pass' order. Or picking and choosing at all. Although, don't mistake me - this is not some suggested playlist. I'm not saying these songs work better/best in this order. I'm merely siting them as the stands-outs, in my opinion. Like I said, the whole thing is my all time favourite… but you can’t blame a guy for having favourites within his favourite, can you? Sure, I prefer to listen to all of Harrison's twenty three tracks as one when I can. But when I'm waiting for the bus and just need the taste Spector has allowed for, it's going to be one of these.


Here are my six favourite songs from George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’.


(I’ve included the appropriate amount of honourable mentions)