Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Why do I hate slashers?

Well, I don't actually! In past episodes I have made mention that during the VHS glory days (which has supplied much of the grist for this podcast's mill) slashers weren't on the top of my watch list. Yes, when I was younger I watched and very much enjoyed the original Halloween (and Halloween II for that matter), and catching F13: The Final Chapter was a watershed moment, but it's always been the weird oddities that I gravitated toward. When my passion for horror was reinvigorated back in 2012 I decided I needed to finally dig into all those slice-and-dice classics I passed in the racks of my local video store.

I was recently asked by Sam Panico to submit a Top Ten Slashers list for his site B & S About Movies, and it got me to thinking about a series I had considered awhile back (and probably mentioned on the show at one point or another) called Why Do I Hate Slashers (I Don't Actually)? Some of the films from my top ten list have been discussed on the show (Black Christmas, Alice, Sweet Alice, etc.) so we'll skip those for this series. Everything else is fair game, starting with the gonzo Pieces (1982).

[All WDIHS (IDA) episodes will be posted to this entry.]

MBV is a Canadian entry into the slasher genre (you can really hear the accents in this one) and a prime example of Holiday Horror (still waiting for a Flag Day Slasher). We’ve got all the staples of an ‘80s slasher—a masked killer, decent amounts of gore (in the uncut version), misdirection, and humor—but instead of teenage babysitters or camp counselors we’ve got 20-something coal miners, and I like that divergence from the norm.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is MY Friday the 13th. As well as being my favorite of that franchise, it is one of my favorite slashers (I placed it at #3 on my Slasher Top Ten list) AND one of my favorite horror films in general. The film's similarities to Halloween, something I hadn't really thought much about prior to doing this episode, may play a big part in that. What could have been a quick cash-grab ended up being one of the more humorous, human, and effective entries in the series. There's certainly no hate her for this one!

A lot of Slasher fans don’t like Happy Birthday to Me, but I dig it. Directed by J. Lee Thompson (best known, by me at least, for his sleazy flicks with Charles Bronson) and starring Glen Ford, Susan Acker, and Melissa Sue Anderson this one is kind of a mess. The ending was changed at the last minute and makes no sense, but for me that’s part of the charm. The set-piece kills are fun, there are red herrings galore, and it’s Canadian! Minus points for having a plethora of asshole characters, but I'll let it slide for this one.

One of a BAJILLION campground Slashers from the early ‘80s The Burning is most famous for ONE scene that features some stellar Savini wet works. What stands out for me is the great cast: Jason Alexander (with HAIR), Fisher Stevens, Brian Backer, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Holly Hunter. It’s also one of the few Summer Camp films that shows the counselors and kids actually doing Summer Camp stuff!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WUH: The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)

The Blood on Satan's Claw was released in 1971 by Tigon Pictures, a short-lived competitor of Hammer and Amicus in the late 1960s and early '70s. It stars Peter Wymark (Repulsion) and Linda Hayden (Taste the Blood of Dracula) and was directed by Piers Haggard.

In a field in 17th century England a local farmhand plows up the rotting corpse of a strange creature. Although the older towns people fear something sinister might be at play the youth seem intrigued by the discovery. Angel Blake (Hayden) finds a claw in the field and starts to assert a strange power over her classmates.

As the young people become more entranced by Angel the town grows concerned that witchcraft may be afoot. The teens play troublesome games in the local woods and sprout patches of hair on their bodies which are then cut out and pieced together. As more towns folk turn up dead or missing The Judge (Wymark) declares war on the cult before the patch-work demon can complete his transformation.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

WUH: Stephen King: The Bachman Books

Between 1977 and 1984 Stephen King published five novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Though many fans and critics surmised that Bachman was King, which he would deny, the truth wasn’t uncovered until Washington, DC bookstore clerk Steve Brown noticed similarities to King’s writing and did some investigating. He found copyright info for one of the Bachman books in King’s name at the Library of Congress. Brown went to King’s publishers to ask what he should do with the information and King himself told him he should write an article about it and gave an interview to Brown.

Rage (originally title Getting it On) was begun in 1966 when King was still in high school, and The Long Walk shortly thereafter. They were published in 1977 and 1979 respectively. These were two of the (five!) novels written before Carrie, which would launch King into literary stardom. Roadwork was written in response to the death of King’s mother in 1974 and published in 1981. The Running Man was written in a week(!) and published in 1982. It was adapted to screen in 1987 and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Thinner was published in 1984 and shortly thereafter King's reign as Bachman, right when Bachman was gaining his own steam, ended. Thinner was adapted by Tom Holland in 1996.

But this time it's mainly about the books. The Bachman Books in particular, which offered up a virtual smörgåsbord of "new" King material to sink my teeth into. The tales include a dangerously unstable teenager, a man brought to his breaking point, two dystopian future worlds where deadly games are played, and an oddly specific gypsy curse.