Year - 2007
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
Many of us live with an addiction to something. Some of us are addicted to drugs. Some of us are addicted to alcohol. Some of us are addicted to sex. Some of us are addicted to watching movies and reviewing them for no other reason but to gain attention in our lives.
Anyway, Addiction, being released by Brain Damage films in early 2008, takes the life of an addict to the next level: murder. Yes, what if we’ve murdered someone and couldn’t go on with our lives without killing again? And again. And again. Could we be saved? Or are we lost forever?
Bobby (Frank Franconeri) has the life most of us dream of. His wife Lisa (Mim Granahan) adores him. He’s a top executive at an accounting firm. His secretary wants to bang him. Good ol’ Bob’s living the good life. That is until he’s about to be mugged by a homeless man (Kyswalis) with a knife. Bob, defending himself, turns the tables on the homeless man and knifes him instead. The act of murder sickens Bob at first, but as times goes on, he can’t sleep or go through his day without thinking about that one act. It makes him smile. It excites him. It makes him want more blood on his hands. In other words, it gives him power and the feeling of a God. Bob is addicted to murder.
Bob murders several other homeless people to get his fix, but the addiction turns his life upside-down. He can’t sleep. He can’t get aroused by his wife unless he fantasizes about murdering someone first. His drug-addicted cousin Frankie (Joshua Nelson) keeps bugging him at work for cash. He gets fired for not doing his reports. Nothing goes his way anymore. All he cares about is killing more people. Can he get himself together? Or is he too far deep into the world of serial killing?
Addiction is a good film about how one accidentally becomes involved in the world of murder and doesn’t want to leave it, even knowing it’s not right. Just like with a drug addict or an alcoholic, we watch the character of Bobby go from happy, loving, hard-working man to a depressed, hateful, obsessed monster. And that is the true horror - how one simple act of self-defense can lead to a second chance at life that’s nothing more than Hell on Earth.
Bobby’s story coincides with his cousin Frankie’s addiction with drugs. Whenever the two interact, you can tell how disgusted Bobby is of Frankie’s life. Even when Bobby is on a killing spree, that disgust still lingers whenever he’s around Bobby. Bobby can’t see (or doesn’t want to see) that his addiction is practically the same as Frankie’s. It’s an interesting dynamic by director James Tucker and screenwriter/star Joshua Nelson. They’re both one and the same, yet they can’t seem to wrap around understanding each other’s lives.
It’s also interesting to watch how their addictions affect their lives similarly. Bobby can’t deal with his wife once he’s deep in his habit, pushing her away and wanting nothing to do with her to the point where she decides to leave him. Frankie has a junkie girlfriend named Jenny (Brenda Hattingh) who he can’t deal with and pushes her away because he wants all the drugs to himself. The only time he deals with Jenny is to have her screw their drug dealer (Jaime Velez) to buy him off for more drugs (which doesn’t work by the way). It’s a sad look at how two people can have what others want (like money and love), yet would trade it all just to get a hit. It is reality and that makes you feel uncomfortable. Could that happen to me? Would I be stuck in a world I didn’t want a part of but too weak to get away from? The thoughts are not pleasant.
Director James Tucker uses all of his resources (which isn’t much really - it’s a very low budget film) to create a film that’s well worth watching. He has great pacing and he uses stylistic elements like POV shots, shaky cam whenever someone runs or to create a level of disorientation for the viewer that’s matched by the Bobby character, and a nice use of establishing shots and close-ups when they’re absolutely necessary. Tucker also cuts away from the murder scenes. We never see Bobby’s knife enter his victim’s skin or actually see the action. Sure there’s some blood, but it’s not a gorefest. If you’re looking for blood gushing and guts pouring out of wounds, this is not your film. It probably wasn’t done due to budget constraints but I appreciated the lack of gore.
The acting was well done in Addiction. Frank Franconeri was very good as the troubled Bobby. Watching him go from a normal husband to a murdering junkie was very believable due to Franconeri’s performance. He had great emoting scenes, great interactions with all of his co-stars, and he captivated me from beginning to end. I actually felt bad for him because he didn’t want to be a killer. He just sort of fell into it. Franconeri’s co-stars also did well. Mim Granahan as Bobby’s wife Lisa did fine here. She really didn’t do much but ask for cigarettes, sleep, and give Bobby oral sex. But she did it well! She played the typical wife. Nothing more, nothing less. Joshua Nelson and Brenda Hattingh were really effective as Bobby’s cousin Frankie and his girlfriend Jenny. I’m not sure if they’ve been in this position before or it was just great acting, but they played junkies extremely well. Were there drugs really on this shoot? I was very convinced and it seemed very real. I was impressed especially by Hattingh’s performance during the scene where she calls her family. Totally heartbreaking as her family wants nothing to do with her because of her drug abuse. These were really effective performances. I was kind of surprised.
My only problem with the film is that the Frankie and Jenny storyline doesn’t have a resolution. There’s a set-up where Frankie owes his drug dealer money and pimps out Jenny as a way to pay off his debt. When that doesn’t work, the drug dealer and his buddy vow to kill Frankie and Jenny. Yet, we don’t see what happens after that. Did they get killed? Were they bluffing? It’s pretty bad screenwriting when you set up a storyline for a long time and not give it its rightful conclusion. Plus the very end was also kind of ambiguous with Bobby. I won’t spoil it but it might take you two watches to really understand what happened.
THE FINAL HOWL
I was surprised by Addiction. I wasn’t really expecting much out of this film but I happened to enjoy it. I think it’s an independent film worth checking out. Now if only I can stop my Guitar Hero addiction…
Heather Langenkamp - Nancy Thompson
Robert Englund - Freddy Krueger
Craig Wasson - Dr. Neil Goldman
Patricia Arquette - Kristen Parker
John Saxon - Lieutenant Thompson
Ken Sagoes - Kincaid
Jennifer Rubin - Taryn
Rodney Eastman - Joey
Bradley Gregg - Phillip
Priscilla Pointer - Dr. Elizabeth Simms
Laurence "Larry" Fishburne - Max
Year - 1987
Score - 4 Howls Outta 4
In 1984, Wes Craven wrote and directed A NIGHTMARE TO ELM STREET. Not only did it introduce the world to Dream Master Freddy Krueger, but it was a huge success for the fledgling New Line Cinema. In 1985, producer Robert Shaye wanted another NIGHTMARE, but Wes Craven wanted no part of it because he never thought his film should be a franchise. Craven handed his rights over to New Line, giving Shaye permission to release the very homoerotic A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE. Even though critics and fans dismissed the sequel, the film still managed to make more money than its predecessor. Realizing that the direction of the horror series was a bit farfetched for most fans, Shaye pretty much begged Wes Craven to direct and write the next installment of the franchise. Craven accepted the offer, wanting to end the franchise once and for all.
His first idea for the film was to create a NIGHTMARE film where Freddy Krueger would invade the real world. New Line felt this was a bit too extreme for horror fans [because we're obviously stupid] and rejected the idea [although New Line would use it 7 years later for WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE]. So Craven went for another idea where the Krueger story would end once and for all as Freddy would hunt down the last of the Elm Street children, bringing Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon back from the original NIGHTMARE to bring the series full circle. And while Craven and New Line still had disagreements over the final version of the film, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS was released in 1987 to a huge fan reception [including myself].
Six years after the original NIGHTMARE, Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) is suffering from really scary dreams about Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is sent to a psychiatric institution. Kristen is then associated with other haunted teenagers who many see suicidal, but are really being haunted by nightmares. Dr. Neil Goldman (Craig Wesson) doesn't know how to help these teenagers, until Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) arrives. Telling these teenagers the story of her battle with Freddy and her nightmares, it gives them strength to possibly overcome the Dream Master. During a group session, Nancy learns that each teenager has a gift that could be used to combat Freddy in the dream world [Kristen's being the most important as she can bring people into her dreams at whim]. With a new purpose, Nancy, Neil, and the teenagers decide to end Freddy's terror once and for all.
Out of all the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, DREAM WARRIORS is my personal favorite. It pretty much takes everything that was great about the original and takes it up a notch or two. The dreams are more elaborate. The visual effects are a whole lot better. There's more action. The story is a little more involved. There's more backstory on Freddy Krueger. I remember watching this on VHS in 1988 for the first time. Man, I couldn't get enough of this film. I loved the characters. I loved Freddy. I loved the dream sequences. And the music from Dokken was freakin' awesome. I think I wore that tape out because I kept watching it and watching it. I think it was mainly for my crush on Heather Langenkamp. Sigh. Good times to be had by all.
I think what really makes DREAM WARRIORS stand out is the improvement of the visuals. The SFX team really did an outstanding job on this one due to a bigger budget. That Freddy snake-like thing is still insane after all these years. The Phillip puppet dream is awesome and still makes me cringe. And watching Joey get tongue-tied [literally] is still a pretty neat visual. The Freddy skeleton scene toward the end is pretty cheesy now [I actually laughed at it] but it was the 1980s and I friggin' love the 1980s. So I'm down with it. And that nurse's boobs - holy cow. Best visual of them all! Very impressive stuff all around.
Another reason I love this film is for the characters. I could relate to everyone in this film and not many films have the ability to do that. Having Nancy Thompson was a stroke of genius by Wes Craven. Seeing her older and still fighting her dreams makes us continue to sympathize with her even more than we did in the original. It adds a great level of continuity that FREDDY'S REVENGE lacked, making us care about this film a whole lot more. You also get a likeable psychiatrist in Neil, who must put aside everything he's learned to accept the fact that these teenage suicides are more than what appears on the surface. We're all cynical when strange crap happens and we usually have to see it before we can believe it. It's pretty much human nature. The teenagers are also very credible and we feel for each and every one of them. They all struggle with different things all caused by the same source, yet no one is willing to listen or believe them. How many of us have tried to tell authority figures our issues and problems and pretty much get ignored? We want these kids to stop Freddy and feel frustrated for them when the people who are supposed to be helping and protecting them look at them crazy and feel they have the answers for them. Craven, Chuck Russell, and the other screenwriters did a great job messing with our emotions, giving us a reason to care for the people we're supposed to be cheering for. Nice to have smart characters in a horror film. And I liked the idea of them having Dream Powers. If Freddy can have them, why can't his victims? And then there's Freddy Krueger himself, who is more of a focus here than in any other NIGHTMARE film at this point. And yeah everyone complains he becomes a one-liner machine, which pretty much makes him less scary than before. And while it's true that Freddy is more playful and comical, it's not as bad as the next sequel, THE DREAM MASTER, where it really goes overboard. As a matter of fact, I like the fact that Freddy is more verbal and a bit funnier. The guy can't stay scary forever and it gives the sequel a different feel than the other two. I still say "Welcome To Prime Time, Bitch!" every once in a while. I believe Freddy still has some edge here at this point that wouldn't be seen again until WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE in 1994. But I agree that this is pretty much Freddy became not just a horror fan's dream villain, but the mainstream's dream villain.
The direction by Chuck Russell is excellent. There's an edgy mood and atmosphere going on in this film. The camera moves extremely well, giving us a visual story that we can all read and understand. The use of sound is wonderful. The shooting of the special effects are mostly well-done [the skeleton scene was a bit awkward]. Lot of tension and suspense. It could have been a bit darker like the first two films but DREAM WARRIORS feels more like an action-horror film than just a plain "make you poop your pants" horror film. So it works all around. Russell would eventually remake the awesome THE BLOB remake, the very cool THE MASK, ERASER, and THE SCORPION KING. Not a bad resume for Mr. Russell.
The acting is also excellent. Out of all the NIGHTMARE films, this one boasts the biggest cast featuring actors who would go on and do some great stuff. Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson, the heroine of the first film. She's still a bit awkward in her performance but I still love her so all is forgiven. She has that innocent quality about her that just makes me smile everytime she's on camera. Craig Wasson was very good as Neil. He was believable as a caring doctor and had some good chemistry with Langenkamp. His fight scene with that Freddy skeleton is classic though. Not sure if it's positive or negative though. Patricia Arquette knocks it out of the park as Kristen Parker. She can scream, act, and proves her worth in this film. She's gone on to do great stuff, deservingly so. Jennifer Rubin also impressed me as junkie Taryn. I love tough chicks and this girl was TOUGH. And she looks awesome as her Dream Character. Whooo! Ken Sagoes was okay as Kinkaid. He plays a loud-mouth "tough guy" to the point where he almost gets annoying but doesn't get to the point where I want Freddy to kill him. He's just too loud and manic for me. At least he cracks me up by calling Freddy a "pussy". I don't think he liked his fate too much in THE DREAM MASTER. Rodney Eastman is pretty much a mute as Joey but I really liked him alot through his body language and facial expressions. Those are signs of a good actor. John Saxon is always a welcome presence in any film he's in and THE DREAM WARRIORS is no exception. He doesn't really get to do a whole lot but just watching the man speak and act is enough for me. And Laurence Fishburne did really well as Max, the guy who pretty much watches over the asylum. Lot of charisma and personality - he's also done great things as well. Just a very well-acted film.
And before I end the review, I gotta say that the aftermath of the final confrontation with Freddy always gets to me. I won't spoil it if you haven't seen this one for whatever reason [get out from under that rock and watch this film!] but it always makes me sad. Losing a character you care about alot can have a strange effect on you, even though you know it's only a film. But it's such a great little bit of dialogue exchanged at this moment and it messes me up every time. I remember watching that when I was 7 years old. I think I pouted and frowned for 2 hours straight afterwards. It's a bittersweet happy ending in a sense. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt that way.
THE FINAL HOWL
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is the example of a film sequel that gets it. It enhances things that were done in the films before it while not insulting the audience by giving us characters and a story we could care less about. While this film doesn't totally put Freddy Krueger into the mainstream yet, it definitely kicks the door open for it as the character becomes more in-your-face and comical as well. The franchise should have ended here on all accounts, but the film made a lot of dough. So that should tell you what happened afterwards. Does the franchise go downhill from here? Well, it depends on who you ask. But I think most of us are in agreement that DREAM WARRIORS is one kick-ass film.
DOKKEN - "DREAM WARRIORS"
Robert Patrick - Rome
Kelly Carlson - Kate Triton
Anthony Ray Parker - Morgan
Abigail Bianca - Angela
Jerome Ehlers - Van Buren
Year - 2006
Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
I'm not gonna lie: I used to be a huge John Cena fan. Back when he was using his rap heel gimmick in 2003, the dude was awesome. He had decent matches with The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and the late Eddie Guerrero. He had great promo skills. And his look was fresh compared to everything else at the time. The gimmick worked to the point that it made Cena a profitable brand name. And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end for me. His matches got more limited. He character got boring. That freshness was not replaced by a corporate machine that turned a good thing into a money thing. Plus becoming the WWE Champion and staying that way for a majority of 2 years wasn't helping matters. By 2005-2006, I stopped being a Cena fan and was booing just like the majority of pro wrestling fans out there. Too much is enough, ya know? Not according to Vince McMahon it ain't!
Sergeant John Triton (John Cena) is some Super Marine who defies a direct order from his superiors during a mission to save P.O.W.s from Al Queda operatives in Iraq [Triton pretty much kicks the Iraqis ass single-handedly]. Since he's so good at beating people up, Triton gets kicked out of the Marine Corps. Smart. Anyway after being discharged from duty, he returns home to his wife Kate (Kelly Carlson) and tries to live a normal life as a security guard [which doesn't work since Triton only knows how to be a Marine]. Kate convinces Triton to go on a road trip to clear his head and start fresh.
Mark Patton - Jesse Walsh
Kim Myers - Lisa Webber
Robert Rusler - Ron Grady
Clu Gulager - Ken Walsh
Hope Lange - Cheryl Walsh
Marshall Bell - Coach Schneider
Robert Englund - Freddy Krueger
Year - 1985
Score - 2 Howls Outta 4
In 1984 as the slasher era was getting diluted to the point where the films became less and less effective, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE HILLS HAVE EYES director Wes Craven knocked one out of the park by creating an original and innovative slasher about a serial killer who kills you in real life if he kills you in your dreams called A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The film made a pretty good profit and showed that the slasher sub-genre still had life in it. And since the film was successful, it was evitable that a sequel would be made to continue Freddy Krueger's story.
There was a problem though: Wes Craven, who had directed and created A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, wanted no part of any sequel. He had never intended the film to start a franchise and was forced by New Line Cinema to add an open ending to the original film [he wanted a clean happy ending for the original]. Craven also didn't like the idea that New Line had presented for the sequel, having Freddy manipulate the lead character into killing victims for him. So Craven walked away [but would come back to write and produce A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS in 1987], letting producer Robert Shaye take charge of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE to be released a year after the original. Instead of having Freddy invade people in their dreams, Freddy was given the power to possess the protagonist and take control of his body whenever the urge to kill got to hard to ignore. Yeah...that doesn't really sound like Freddy Krueger's M.O., does it? It didn't matter, since the film made more money at the box office than the original, showing the industry that everyone wanted a piece of Freddy Krueger. But is the film any good? Was it rushed into production? Is it worth being part of the franchise? Does the film make you want to go to a leather bar?
The Walsh family moves into the old Thompson house on Elm Street. Son Jesse (Mark Patton) has been having really weird nightmares of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Even though his classmate Lisa (Kim Myers) really likes him and he has become decent friends with one of the cooler kids in school, Grady (Robert Rusler), Jesse can't get these nightmares out of his head. One night, Freddy attacks Jesse. Apparently, Freddy wants Jesse to do his killing for him by possessing his body to do it. While Jesse struggles to keep Freddy contained, Freddy has ideas of his own and does everything he can to gain full control for his plan to come into fruition.
Out of all the films in this franchise, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE has the most mixed reactions from its audience. Some really enjoy this film. Many hate it and don't even consider it a true sequel. I, however, am stuck in the middle with this one. I agree with those who consider this the Black Sheep of the Krueger saga. It doesn't have much to do with the original. This film is never mentioned again in the rest of the series, as if it never happened. It really doesn't fit in with the mythology of Freddy Krueger. However, there are things about this film that I actually enjoy. So for me, the positives and negatives balance each other out.
Let me just get the pink elephant in the room out of the way and just say it: YES, this film is very homoerotic. Known as the "Gay NIGHTMARE", FREDDY'S REVENGE definitely has an aura of homosexuality throughout the film. It still amazes me to this day that director Jack Sholder and screenwriter David Chaskin claim that they didn't mean for the film to have a homosexual overtone. So you're telling me that random heterosexual people just happen to walk into gay S & M bars with their shirts open, whip their naked gym coaches with a towel after tying them with jump rope, and leave their hot girlfriends who are ready to give it up for them to run into the comfort of a male friend who doesn't really like them all that much to begin with? Yeah and I'm Fred [The Cat]!
Seriously, these two guys are only saying this to make their work on this film sound better. "Oh, I didn't intend to make this film about a boy who's using Freddy as a way to release his homosexual feelings onto the world!" Yeah, you two are such geniuses. Look at me bowing to your greatness, dillholes.
I actually know a lot of people who won't watch this film anymore because its "gay". Ignorance is surely bliss, isn't it? Sure alot of people still can't deal with the concept of homosexuality but I actually think this film benefits from it. I actually appreciate the fact that this horror sequel is a lot deeper than many will give it credit for. Would you rather see just a carbon copy of the original? Not me. At least with this film, having Freddy represent all the pent up feelings that Jesse was struggling with by hiding in the closet is quite refreshing. I'm sure a lot of gay people felt this way. The gay overtones don't bother me one bit and it's actually quite funny that not only the actor who plays Jesse (Mark Patton) is really gay, but it took the love of a woman to set him "straight". Remember: the producers of this film want you to believe that homosexuality is bad and heterosexuality is pure and good. Really really classy.
I also got to give kudos to the Special Effects team on this film. Really creepy and well done stuff. The reveal of Freddy's brain is still cool after all these years, as is the scenes where Freddy actually crawls out of Jesse's body through his stomach. It doesn't really look cheaply made, giving those scenes a level of surrealness and tension. I also liked the dogs with the human faces on them, plus that mutated cat with the big teeth. The murder scenes are actually quite tame in this one compared to the original [even though the body count here is a bit larger] but I didn't mind it. Just a really nice job and nice use of the budget as well.
I also thought the direction by Jack Sholder was good. Not as good as Wes Craven's but it didn't bother me at all. The possession scenes were shot well. The pacing was quite good. Nice dreadful atmosphere Sholder placed in the film. Plus the low-key lighting and creepy score by Christopher Young [who worked on HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2] was pretty well done. Not much to say really but not much to complain about either. So I'm happy with Sholder's work here, even though he reportedly couldn't stop laughing during the Jesse "tongue" scene with Lisa. That scene took hours to shoot because of it. It wasn't that funny.
I wish I could say the same about the characters in the film. Sorry, but I couldn't really identify with any one of them. Jesse was my biggest issue and he was the main character. If he's gay, that's fine. I think that's actually a great move, especially for an 80s horror movie! But he isn't a strong character I can really connect with. I know he's struggling with Freddy possessing him and making him commit some bad stuff. But he doesn't even bother fighting Freddy's control until the very end of the film! He's also written in a stereotypical way, which is kind of annoying. Why should I care about him? Hell, I wanted Freddy to take over his body completely so I wouldn't have had to see him again. That's shitty screenwriting, people!
And then there's Lisa. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa...she has got to be the most sympathetic woman I have ever witnessed in my life. I'm still scratching my head over her attraction to weird and twitchy Jesse. She really wants this dude as her man? Why, to push him around? And when he showed up with blood all over his body, she didn't even flinch and throw his ass out! I don't know about you, but if the girl I'm digging starts to slowly act crazy and walks into my home covered in crimson, I'm calling the cops and slapping a restraining order on her ass! She's more desperate than those housewives on television! I'm not knocking girls who have a deep understanding for the guys they have feelings for. I mean, it's great that she wasn't such a mean girl about Jesse's situation. But it's pretty far-fetched. I mean, how could she understand? She wasn't having dreams about Freddy. She was perfectly fine until Jesse brought the drama into her life. So her logic was a bit off I think. I don't know any teen girl who would be this understanding, unless they live near a creek or a hill with one tree.
And I gotta say, kudos to Nancy Reagan for tormenting children everywhere. Just because your child is acting weird doesn't mean he or she is on drugs. That's not parenting. That's being an ignorant prick. Remember that. And isn't it rich that the school coach is well known to frequent S & M clubs? Boy, sex laws sure have changed since 1985!
The acting was pretty good, I gotta say though. Despite the writing for Jesse at times, Mark Patton did a good job playing him. He hit the right emotional notes that were needed and convinced me that he was either nuts, or just plain possessed. I just wish his character was written better, which is no fault on Patton at all. He did what he could with the role and I commend him for that. Kim Myers looked like Meryl Streep but didn't act as good as her. Still, she was good as the supportive girlfriend. I wish I knew girls like her. I would be able to cheat on her all the time and she'd still be with me. Only in the world of cinema. Robert Rusler is the best actor here since he has the best dialogue. Plus he seems like a cool dude. Liked him in WEIRD SCIENCE. Liked him here as well. Clu Gulager and Hope Lange were convincing as the parents. Very credible work. Marshall Bell as the Coach was okay. All he did was scream and get his ass spanked by a towel. It's worth a decent paycheck, I guess. And of course, Robert Englund returns as Freddy Krueger. He has a little more screen time than in the first, but he's still creepy and mean at this point. Great job.
One more thing before I end this review: I hate the ending to this film. Not that I don't like "happy" endings but just how it happened is what bothers me. The love story between Jesse and Lisa was barely established in this film. Yeah, they seemed to be digging each other but LOVE? LOVE?? Really? Lisa LOVED Jesse? Jesse LOVED Lisa? Even though they barely knew each other that long? Before they even kissed? Before they even discussed having feelings for each other? LOVE? Really? You know, it wasn't convincing at all to me. Lisa getting rid of Freddy because she loved Jesse was a bit too much to deal with.
GEEK ALERT: It worked in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER between Xander and Dark Willow [Season 6 Finale] because it was established for 6 full seasons that Xander and Willow had a bond that no one would be able to break. They had true friendship. They loved each other on multiple levels. That was totally understandable how love could stop evil from going on. :END GEEK ALERT
Here, we never get to that point where you go, "Oh, they're definitely in love with each other. Of course their love will destroy evil in the end." If any one of you got that, I must be a heartless, bitter human being.
THE FINAL HOWL
I know I'm gonna read and hear different opinions on this film, but A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE isn't as bad as a lot people claim it is. However, it isn't that great either and a big disappointment from the original. Quite honestly, you can skip this film and go into the DREAM WARRIORS without missing any information. But I do think it's worth a look if you haven't yet. The effects are decent and if you can get past the homosexual overtones [which one shouldn't have an issue with anyway], you may appreciate the symbolism of Jesse and Freddy Krueger.
Elisha Cuthbert - Jennifer Tree
Daniel Gillies - Gary
Pruitt Taylor Vince - Ben
Year - 2007
Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4
Have you ever had that feeling that someone was constantly following you? At home? At work? At social events? Unless you're a celebrity, or Paris Hilton, this is not a feeling you should normally have. But what if it were taken one step further, to the point where this stalker drugged you and kidnapped you? How would you feel waking up in a strange room where traps await you to test your survival skills because some madman has nothing better to do?
CAPTIVITY asks and answers those questions, as Elisha Cuthbert's character has to deal with that very thing. And boy, I do not want to be in her position. Not because it's a horrible experience. It's because it's the most boring, pointless ordeal anyone will have to deal with.
Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) is a fashion model whose has her mug all over New York City. Her life is pretty mundane and pretty much goes through the motions. She's invited to some charity party where she is drugged and kidnapped. She wakes up the next morning in some dark room that looks like her own apartment. Her captor then begins to mess with Jennifer by putting her through traps [like incasing her in sand, using high pitched soundwaves, and making her drink some crimson - yum]. Just when Jennifer is about to give up, she learns that she's not the only victim inside the underground nightmare.
CAPTIVITY has got to be one of the most pointless, ab
sinine horror films I have seen in a really, really long time. It's mean, it's bleak, it's gloomy, and it's boring. This film was so heavily hyped before it's release last summer because of the posters of Elisha Cuthbert looking tortured. The government and MPAA tried to ban the film because it could give people ideas on hurting others. You know something? I actually agree with Big Brother here. This film should have banned so I wouldn't have watched 90 minutes of my life disappear in front of my eyes. Let's just say that the hype would make a much better film than the actual product.
Supposedly a member of the "torture porn" sub-genre, CAPTIVITY is probably the tamest next to SAW and HOSTEL. The gore factor is pretty lame for a "torture" movie. Sure we see someone get burnt by acid being poured on them. But other than that, nothing else happens! Jennifer gets stuck in a glass box where sand pours on her. Wow, color me scared. Or what about the fact that she gets a funnel in her mouth and she has to chug blood with some body parts mixed in? Okay, that's gross but cannibal movies make that kind of stuff much more effective. It's a pretty lame concept here, as Jennifer is never really tortured much. It's just a more extreme form of prison. I don't understand the hype behind it all. And I saw the UNRATED version of the film. I can't imagine the RATED version. Was there any difference because I couldn't really tell? It's never tense. Nor suspenseful. Nor scary. It's just dementedly stupid. No wonder this made no money at the box office. For once, mainstream America made the right call.
Roland Joffe directs a really boring film here. The pacing is totally off, as there are random fade-ins and fade-outs for no reason whatsoever. Like I mentioned before, Joffe never builds any tension or any scares. It's just a really blah directorial job. And Joffe is a very good director [see THE KILLING FIELDS and tell me he's not]. I don't know what happened here. Not even Uwe Boll would want to direct this film and that's saying something. I do admit that the picture looks nice and clear, which is due to great cinematography. If you like that sort of thing, then you might like this a lot more than I did.
The story/screenplay was also uninspired. Apparently the creators were trying to do a SAW-like film and pretty much failed. None of the characters are intelligent. None of the characters are sympathetic. We don't know these people long enough to care about them or care about their situation. They are caricatures of other horror characters that we have grown to know and love. For example, Jennifer is supposed to be the protagonist of the film. And yeah, what she goes through sucks balls. But do we care? Do we want her to survive for other than the fact that we don't want to be placed in that situation? She has no personality and we don't know enough about her background [except that she's some blonde model] to really give a damn. We usually root for girls who fight back their oppressors, but I could have cared less here. It's uninspired and I can't relate with uninspired.
It would have helped if there was an actual REASON for why the captor puts her through this. Say what you want about "torture porn" films but at least the villain always has a reason for what they do. In SAW, Jigsaw put people through hell in order for them to appreciate the life they were wasting away. It was all about morals and it works brilliantly. In HOSTEL, the villains are doing what they do because it's a sport. It's all about capitalism. In CAPTIVITY, the captor does these things because...well who in the hell knows? Maybe he's just a sick dude. That's nice and all but do I really give a damn? Not really. There's no background to this guy as to why he does what he does. I like mysterious villains but you got to throw me at least ONE bone! Maybe if the story was actually better constructed, this could have been a much better film. But apparently, Joffe only wanted to gross people out. And believe me, you'll barely flinch at this one.
As for the acting, it was probably the film's saving grace from being a total failure. Elisha Cuthbert is in the middle for me as Jennifer. She's beautiful to look at and she can scream and cry with the best of them. But I wanted to see more from her. I mean, you're trapped by some lunatic in some underground hell. Panic! Yell! Go nuts and try to escape! But nope...Jennifer doesn't do that and Cuthbert doesn't show any of that terror or her want to do that in her performance. Everytime she tried to fight back, it was forced and seemed totally scripted. It didn't help that her dialogue sucked. I was hoping Jamie Lee Curtis would walk on the set and beat some Scream Queen sense into her. I would have watched that for 90 minutes!
For me, Daniel Gillies as the other captor, Gary, made the film for me. Best known as John Jameson in SPIDER-MAN 2 and Rachael Leigh Cook's hubby, Gillies gives a really rockin' performance. He was convincing in every way. I bought everything part of his performance, which shows how good of an actor he is. I would like to see more of him in films - hopefully in a much better one.
And I gotta say before I end this review: Who in the hell would have sex during a traumatic experience that Jennifer and Gary went through? Apparently Jennifer and Gary would! I kept thinking to myself, "Hmmm...I'm about to die trapped in this hellhole. God I'm horny! Let's screw!" I mean, it was like the dumbest thing I have ever seen! Plus they knew the guy was watching their every move, yet they consummated it anyway. Riiight. I'm sorry but if I'm being tortured by a nutjob, the last thing I want is sex. Especially with someone who hasn't taken a bath in days. Ew...
THE FINAL HOWL
CAPTIVITY is one of the most dull, predictable horror films I have ever seen. Yes, I got all the twists and even the ending really quickly. SAW was almost 4 years ago. Stop trying to make more films like this and move on! But hey, if you like bad acting, bad dialogue, bad direction, and a really tacky love story - then by all means watch this stupid film. Better you than me. CAPTIVITY, I personally put you in the WTF? Vault for capturing my time away from something more meaningful.
Jan de Bont
Sandra Bullock - Annie Potter
Jason Patric - Alex Shaw
Willem Dafoe - John Geiger
Temuera Morrison - Juliano
Year - 1997
Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4
In 1994, an action film took the world [and the box office] by storm called SPEED. Not only was it an exciting, action-packed, nail-biting film - but it also propelled former BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE [or BOGUS JOURNEY, whichever film you prefer], Keanu Reeves, to superstardom. It also put former DEMOLITION MAN co-star Sandra Bullock on the A-list. It was one of those one-shot action flicks about a bomb underneath a bus that needed to go above 55 mph to prevent the bomb from blowing up the vehicle. There was no need for a sequel or a franchise for this harmless film.
But in Hollywood, when money talks...BS walks.
And BS we got in 1997 when SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL was released to the unsuspecting [and uncaring] public. The thing I hate other than remakes - I'm sorry..."re-imagings"- are pointless sequels. SPEED 2 is a pure example of a film that should have never been made, let alone distributed in theaters. I mean, who the hell wants to see a boat hit an ocean liner because some disgruntled bastard wants revenge? I'll watch the end of TITANIC for that kind of crap. And as much as that film is overrated, at least James Cameron knew how to pace the scene to make it tense and visually exciting. SPEED 2 has none of that. Just boring cops, boring maniacal villains [how is that even possible?], and a perky and bubbly Sandra Bullock playing the same role she always does in films like this. So sit back and play shuffleboard, because this WTF? review of SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL is docking at Wolf Harbor. Throw an anchor on this one, boys, because this ship is sunk!
Bubbly Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock, reprising her role from the original SPEED) is torn about her love life. After dumping Jack [played by Keanu Reeves in the previous film] after surviving that whole bus nightmare, she's been seeing Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) who also happens to be on the S.W.A.T. Team. Upset that Alex kept this fact away from her, Alex decides to whisk Annie away on a cruise to the Caribbean for some relaxation. They keep saying that it's gonna be the perfect vacation, meaning that something bad is gonna happen [cliche]. While they share some alone time on the ship, they're clueless to the fact that a crazed computer genius named John Geiger (Willem Dafoe) is aboard ready to destroy the ship by hacking into the cruise's computer network and directing a corpse straight into an oil liner! Gasp! Why he does this? Well he got fired because he was dying or something. Some retarded reason like that. Plus he wants some jewelry the cruise ship is showcasing. Anyway, Alex and Annie figure it out and decide to find a way to stop Geiger because everyone on the ship sinks like the Titanic.
Let me just begin with this: If Keanu Reeves would rather t
our with his hitless band, Dogstar, than get paid $15 million dollars for a film, your film SUCKS! For over 2 hours [which felt like 2 days], I kept asking myself why was this film even produced? What's the point in seeing SPEED on a fuckin' ship? With less interesting characters and a really boring hero-villain dynamic? Does anyone care for another fuckin' SPEED? Because I sure didn't back then and I still don't!
Where do I begin with this one? Hmmm...maybe I should start with the characters. God, are they ever annoying! There's like 20 fuckin' supporting characters in this film and NONE of them are interesting! All they do is smile, whine, and scream. Well except for that deaf girl who seems to have the ability to climb like Spider-Man and escaped a stalled elevator. She also couldn't wait to get into Alex's pants. Maybe she's a big fan of THE LOST BOYS, I dunno. Yep, you get the stereotypical characters: including an annoying photographer, two hysterical stupid parents, the stupid control freakish ship officers, etc. None of them appeal to me. I was hoping they did crash into that oil liner. Save me 2 hours!
Speaking of Alex, boy was this guy just the smartest, most able to do everything but smile, person in the whole fuckin' world! It was like watching McGUYVER but with a worse actor and lamer tricks. He knew Gieger was a villain the moment he spotted him. He knew how to work his way around a cruise liner and block every obstacle Geiger placed upon him. He can deep sea dive with ease. He can jump on planes and save his girlfriend. The man can do it all! What a really boring hero! This dude has no flaws. Sure, he's too much of a cop but is that really something bad? Plus it's treated like a non-issue after a few mentions of that very characteristic. How can we root for someone who seems to be perfect in saving people's lives? He's a robot, not a human being. You can't really relate to him at all.
And John Geiger ain't no better either. Who the hell crashes boats into oil liners? Why couldn't he just mess with the crew through their technology, steal the diamonds, got off the boat, and then blew it up? Simple as that! But instead, he's busy playing cat and mouse with Alex, revealing every single bit of his evil plan as the film rolls on. And then he takes Annie as a hostage. For what reason? If you're planning on killing EVERYONE on the ship, who are you trying to coerse into negotiating with you? I understand Geiger's motives, but how he attempts to achieve them is really confusing. What is up with this guy?
I think the thing I hate most besides the characters and the stupid retread of SPEED [but on a boat! Hyuk! Hyuk!] is the direction by Jan de Bont. SPEED was awesome. TWISTER was very good. But this...this is just a piece of crap. I mean, the movie is called SPEED 2! Yet, NOTHING IN THIS FILM MOVES FAST!!!!! Where's the excitement? The suspense? The tension? What gives!? All I got was someone shaking his camera inside a cruise ship, all leading to a very ridiculous sequence where the ship destroys a town harbor. And directed very generically by the way. Gee, color me excited. Even the explosions were dull. And was that a cow in one of them!? And everything before that is ridiculous as well. Nothing makes sense to the point where I thought this was a spoof of SPEED. But nope, this was as serious as it was advertised. Too bad...it could have been one of the best comedies of 1997.
The acting was blah. Jason Patric is a good actor but not in a film like this. He doesn't smile, he's so serious that I think he's already rehearsing for NARC before even getting the part years later, and he has the charisma and personality of a printer. Say what you want about Keanu Reeves, but at least he knew to have fun in the original SPEED. Patric doesn't know how to lighten up, ruining the film for me. Your girlfriend is being played by Sandra Bullock in a bikini. Smile! Not Patric...this guy wouldn't even have chemistry with a tree. Horrible casting decision.
I wish I could say the same about Willem Dafoe as the villain, John Geiger. Dafoe is capable of playing an exciting villain. Just watch SPIDER-MAN for that, where his protrayal of the Green Goblin is one of its many highlights. But here, Dafoe seems to be going through the motions. You know...look menacing, force a crazy laugh, shoot a gun, steal the hero's girlfriend, and so on? Dafoe acts like he wants no part in this film. He has no energy, no spunk, and no excitement to be playing this level of villain. Not that I blame him really. It's a pretty cliched part. Maybe he was hoping for more sex with Madonna, I dunno. At least he would have been motivated in his role.
Out of everyone, Sandra Bullock is the only actor who seems to understand what kind of film she's actually in. She's likeable, she's spunky, and she's actually quite funny as Annie. She should have been the lead character, but is treated as a supporting one. Sure, she uses this schtick in every film she's in, but at least it works! And she does it well. Plus she's in a bikini. Who doesn't want to see that? But it still doesn't help make the film any more watchable. Still, Bullock is the only one who comes out smelling like a rose in this one. I like her in this film, which I can't honestly say about anything else.
Interesting trivia: SPEED 2 was the original vision of DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE.
Thank you Bruce Willis for forcing a new and BETTER script. I knew there was a reason why I'm a fan of yours.
THE FINAL HOWL
SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL is one of the most boring, generic, and all-time bad action films anyone can see. Only Sandra Bullock saves this from being a total failure. If you want to watch a good action film, watch the original SPEED or the DIE HARD films. You'll get more than your money's and time's worth. As for you, SPEED 2, you can cruise on into the WTF? Vault.
Heather Langenkamp - Nancy Thompson
Robert Englund - Fred Krueger
Ronee Blakely - Marge Thompson
Johnny Depp - Glenn
John Saxon - Lieutenant Thompson
Amanda Wyss - Tina
Jsu Garcia - Rod (as Nick Corri)
Year - 1984
Score - 4 Howls Outta 4
We all need to sleep. Sleep is our body's way to reenergize ourselves. If we don't sleep, we feel tired and lazy, unable to continue our day. When we sleep, we dream. Nobody understands where dreams come from or what most of them mean [there are interpretations but who knows?]. We have no control over these dreams. Some of us don't even remember what we dream about. It's a mystery many of us are still trying to understand.
But what if someone was able to control our dreams against our will? What if this entity takes our power to dream and twists it into his own vision to scare you? What if this entity was able to physically hurt us in our dream state to the point where it actually affects us the same way in reality?
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET shows us a world where a dead child molester has found the ability in the afterlife to take over the dreams of normal sleeping people to create not only Hell in our sleep, but Hell in our real lives as well. Inspired by childhood nightmares and articles he read about Cambodian refugees and their children [who had fled to the United States] having horrific nightmares that actually killed them, director/writer Wes Craven creates his masterpiece film that introduced us to Freddy Krueger and showed filmmakers that the slasher film at the time still had a lot of originality and creativity left in it.
In the town of Elm Street, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends (Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia) are having identical nightmares about a burnt man wearing a hat, a red and green sweater, and wielding a razor-sharp glove. For some strange reason, when this enigma injures one in their dream, the injury is visible in reality as well. This is proven with Nancy's best friend Tina is brutally murdered in her sleep, which was caused by Tina's dream where she was being murdered by this madman. Tina's boyfriend, Rod, gets blamed for the murder as he was the only one in the room with Tina at the time, but Nancy knows something else is going on. After witnessing her friends dying one by one and dealing with this fiend herself, Nancy learns that the man of her dreams is Fred Krueger (Robert Englund). It strikes a chord with Nancy's parents (Ronee Blakely and John Saxon) as Fred Krueger was a child molester that was burnt alive by them and other parents on Elm Street for being acquitted of his crimes due to a technicality. Apparently, Krueger has returned in the children's dreams to extract revenge on those who burnt him. Nancy, feeling she may be the only hope in stopping Krueger, decides to stay awake as long as she can to find a way to end Krueger's terror once and for all.
What is there to say about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET? It's probably one of the most classic and well-known horror films of all time. And for good reason, as it was a slasher film that took the idea of how divided the line between reality and the dream world really is and turned it into a successful franchise. Obviously inspired by John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and Sean Cunningham's FRIDAY THE 13TH, Wes Craven took the idea of a serial killer/boogeyman and gave him a more supernatural element where the victims were never safe, awake or asleep. We all have that fear, creating a film that every one of us could somehow relate to.
I think the thing most people remember from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET are some of the dream sequences/murder scenes. The first one, with Tina getting sliced apart as she levitates and is dragged all over the walls and ceiling of her room, pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film. I'm sure nothing like that was really done in horror cinema at the time, as it is a striking moment in the film making you think that this isn't your ordinary slasher. Definitely one of the more creepier scenes in the film. And who can forget that Johnny Depp scene where he's sucked into his bed and blood pours out? Such a classic horror moment that never gets old. The SFX team really outdid themselves with a $1.2 million budget, shooting these scenes upside down [the bed was glued to the ceiling and etc.] and almost ruining footage because of the massive "blood" that splattered all over the room. Nothing like this was done and even current CGI horror still doesn't come close to look this impressive. My personal favorite is actually the ending, where Nancy's mom gets sucked through the front door window. Never fails to make me laugh. It's so abrupt that it's too funny for words. One of the best endings to a movie ever.
The direction by Wes Craven is absolutely wonderful, as he really took the time to make sure the audience would be somewhat effected by this movie long after it's over. Lots of low-key lighting, lots of fades to black, and great pacing that creates a ton of tension and suspense. Craven does all in his ability to get the audience scared and it works. Plus he adds a psychological aspect in his visuals. Is there really a line between reality and dreams? Are they one and the same? If you're not safe in your dreams, where are you safe? It's a very chilling thought that shows that we may not understand our dreams as well as we think we do. I also appreciate that he doesn't show a lot of Freddy Krueger in this film, as his limited appearance [until the very end that is] makes the guy extremely effective. Plus the death scenes are extremely built-up and well shot - this film is directed perfectly. While Craven would have more financial success as a director with 1996's SCREAM, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is his finest achievement in my opinion. This is how horror films SHOULD be directed. A lot of modern filmmakers need to take note of Craven's work on this film.
I think the most effective part of this film is how the characters are portrayed. Usually in these type of films, our victims are usually one-dimensional boneheads that annoy you to the point where you actually want them dead. Plus, it's the killer who we relate to more, as we root for him to succeed at his job. Not in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The characters here are very likeable, smart, and sympathetic. Who doesn't have that fear that when you dream and something bad happens to you in it, that it could possibly effect you in your real life?
Obviously the character we can mostly relate to is Nancy Thompson, our "final girl" of the film. Heather Langenkamp protrays Nancy in a very sassy, smart manner. While she's afraid of Freddy Krueger, she still attempts to save her friends from being his victims anyway. Also, she figures it all out fairly quickly, even convincing the people around her that she may be telling the truth. Just the fact that Nancy fights gives us reason enough to want her to win. Langenkamp gives a very good performance, even though I think she grows more as an actress in the sequels she participates in [DREAM WARRORS and NEW NIGHTMARE]. But she definitely deserves to be in the same Scream Queen category with Jamie Lee Curtis.
The other actors are good. Amanda Wyss doesn't really get much to do as Tina, even though her exit is extremely memorable. She's pretty and seems like a nice girl who's scared of her dreams. It's a shame because she seems like the most credible actor in the film. But she creeped me out in that plastic body bag. ::shivers:: Jsu Garcia is cool as Rod, the bad boy of the film. His emotional scene inside the jail cell works for me every time I see this film. Not a bad actor at all. Ronee Blakley as Marge Thompson never fails to creep me out with her whispering and her droopy eyes. It works for her character alot. John Saxon is awesome as Lt. Thompson. I love this guy and I love him here. He's one of those actors you love to watch on screen for some reason. I can't explain it. Johnny Depp, in his first major motion picture, is fine as Nancy's boyfriend Glen. He's actually the comic relief of the film and shows that he definitely had the potential to be a big star. Plus his death scene is probably the most memorable one in the entire film. I do NOT want to go out like that. It's cool that Depp still mentions this film in some of his interviews. Shows how appreciative he is about where he got his start. Kudos to you! And who can forget Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger? He's not the one-liner clown he would be in the later sequels, which is for the best here. He's actually quite frightening and enjoys tormenting his victims. I think the fact that he actually has a goal and will do anything to make sure he gets it done is creepy as hell. And don't talk to him on the phone. He likes to tongue during his conversations. Englund seems totally into the character, showing off a menace and evil that all horror villains SHOULD have in these kind of films. No one can play Krueger but Englund. I hope Michael Bay remembers that when he thinks about remaking this film.
THE FINAL HOWL
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a classic horror film that's right up there with PSYCHO, THE EXORCIST, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, HALLOWEEN, and FRIDAY THE 13TH. It might not be scary enough for modern audiences but when you're 7 years old watching it for the first time, it sticks with you [I speak from personal experience]. Hell, I still think it's a very effective film that does away with 95% of horror films that have been released for the past 8 years. While this ELM STREET isn't my personal favorite, it's definitely one of the best and deserves the respect it has gotten from everyone who has seen it. Just remember - don't fall asleep!
Wes Bentley - Matt
Eliza Dushku - Annabel
Casey Affleck - Sean
Luke Wilson - Father Jude
Angela Featherstone - Raven
Year - 2001
Running Time: 85 minutes
Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4
Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) is getting ready for college life. Her boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck) is leaving for Harvard, however, so the two decide to go the "long distance relationship" route. That never works! Anyway, Cassie has one last hurrah at a rave with Sean, her ex Matt (Wes Bentley), and his promiscuous yet hot girlfriend Annabel (Eliza Dushku). Sean accidentally [how convenient] catches Matt and Cassie sharing a kiss, leading to several moments of awkwardness amongst the four friends. The awkwardness leads to arguing, which leads to Cassie crashing her car into another car, causing her car to roll down a cliff and destroy both cars.
I barely survived SOUL SURVIVORS. For an 85 minute film, it felt like 85 hours. I really don't know what happened with this film. It seemed like there was a good idea in here somewhere. Too bad finding that idea in this film is like finding a needle in a haystack. Still, I liked Sagemiller's performance and the film was nice to look at. But everything else was a disaster. Definitely one of the worst films I have ever had the displeasure of watching in my entire life. Avoid at all costs.