Son of #WerewolfWednesday: Teen Wolf Too (1987)

(And here’s Mr. Goony Goon, aka Andrew Peters, with the conclusion of our Wednesday Were-stravaganza…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie, and enjoy the rest of your hump day, freaky folks! 🙂 xoxox)

All the teens were howling for more Teen Wolf, so alright you sons of bitches, you want more? You’re gonna get more and I’m not just talking about a Saturday morning cartoon that’s only gonna last one season, I’m talking about a sequel. Not just any sequel, but the worst kind of sequel. You know the ones where they couldn’t get the starring actor back because he hated it so much, so they just rewrite the character to fit into the script. Not the story, just the character and it doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not and if you think they are gonna do something different this time, you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Teen Wolf Too is nearly a literal carbon copy of the first film, but instead of Michael J. Fox in highschool, you get Jason Bateman in college and instead of basketball being the sport, it’s boxing. Bingo, bango, presto. Now you got a film without working too hard and it’s easy money.

That doesn’t mean it’s boring or terrible. It just means that you’ve seen it all before, beat for beat and this is the best example of a film that doesn’t need to exist. When you think about how lazy this film actually is, it’s practically a cinema sin. You know what? The more I think about it, yes, yes it is a terrible movie. I get the feeling this movie was made as a starring vehicle for Jason Bateman, seeing as how his father Kent Bateman is the producer of the film and probably thought it would be a safe choice for his son to star in a sequel to a popular comedy. Or maybe this is the silver bullet this franchise needs before it gets out of control.

Jason Bateman replaces Michael J. Fox’s character Scotty Howard as his cousin Todd Howard who is well aware of the family curse or secret or whatever you want to call it. Point is, he knows that people in his family can turn into werewolves, but since his parents can’t, it doesn’t look like Todd will either… or so he thinks. James Hampton returns to his role as Harold to drop him off at college, not because it really makes sense, but because the filmmakers need shoehorn in the cameo as a connection to the first film. Like, remember they’re werewolves? Harold drives around as a wolf and nobody really seems to care or be surprised and I’m guessing this is pretty much how the audience feels. The cameos don’t stop there, however. As luck would have it, he’s not only going to the school as these two cool dudes, but he also happens to be rooming with Chubbs and Stiles from the first film! What are the odds. Mark Holton returns to play the loveable eating machine Chubbs, but I barely recognized Stiles. Not only because he was recast for whatever reason, but also because he has one of the most hideous mullets this side of the ‘80s.

Turns out Stiles had pulled some strings to get Todd roomed with them, because once again he wants to exploit The Wolf, to which Todd tries to assure him that he doesn’t have it in him. The wolfness that runs in the Howard bloodline is what got Todd into such a prestigious school in the first place, seeing as how Dean Dunn also wants to exploit him for the werewolves naturally gifted sports ability and giving Todd a free ride via a sports scholarship. Immediately, the Dean is established as a snobbish, one dimensional cartoon spoof of the Dean from another teen comedy, like Animal House. I will say at least he’s giving more dialogue and interaction than the principal from the first Teen Wolf film. Todd reluctantly agrees to all this, but the poor guy just wants to take science classes and chat with the brainy, cute girl Nicki who instantly falls for him and pursues him even though he’s a total dick to her and later bails on her to have threeways with the popular chicks while alienating his friends. Sounding familiar? I actually don’t understand why Chubbs and Stiles are excited for Todd to become the wolf when they know what a selfish asshole it turned Scotty into.

During a boxing match when Todd is getting trampled, that’s when he finally transforms into the wolf and whoops some ass, but this should come as no surprise. I mean, Teen Wolf Too mimicks the first one pretty much beat for beat, so this should come as no surprise. However, with Scotty in the first film, his character at least alluded to being kind of an asshole and you saw how the wolf was creating a massive ego, but here it just happens. Like, zero to one hundred. Luckily the Dean is giving him a free ride and all his teachers are giving him passing grades, except for his science teacher, Ms. Brooks (played by Kim Darby who I’ve always had a strange attraction for), who also has a secret of her own, but there’s also this weird sexual tension between the two and you half expect it to turn into wolf porn. Gotta say, that would have made the film more original. Todd was all focused on science and shit with the help of his teacher and then once he’s the wolf, he’s a total dick and it’s such a whiplash. There’s no build up or progression, it just happens. The film also does a sudden shift in time, like, all of a sudden it’s the end of the year and he’s failed his science final. It feels rushed, but hey, movie’s almost over.

Once again, the performances are fine and Stiles is surprisingly less annoying this time around, even taking credit for Todd becoming such a jerk, although you don’t really see much of Stiles marketing the wolf. Jason Bateman was a fine replacement and felt more like a geek than Michael J. Fox did, but I think that was the point. Scotty was just so average that nobody noticed him, whereas Todd is much more of a nerd, so his wolf-ism was supposed to be more of a surprise, but again, the film doesn’t explore this. Once he’s the wolf, he’s driving fast cars, doinking the babes and really good at boxing. Another element coming out of nowhere is Todd confessing his love to the geeky girl toward the end. In fact, she mouths the words “I love you” to power him up for the final match with the jock dude, who again, has no character development and is just there for the hero to have a villain to fight. Once he becomes the wolf, she’s pretty much out of the movie until the end and yet she sticks by his side while he’s off getting STD’s and treating her like shit. Of course at the end, he’s allowed to redeem himself once he realizes he needs to be himself and not the wolf. Gee, didn’t see that coming.

The makeup design is the same, the sets are the same, the acting is the same… the goddamn story is the same. Teen Wolf Too doesn’t need to exist, nor do I think it’s worthy of a new high definition transfer, but Scream Factory went ahead and gave it one anyway. I’m guessing it was some kind of a package deal with the first film or maybe it’s for the small, small crowd that enjoys the film. Keeping in theme with repeating the first film, there are only a small amount of extra features included, although on this release all of the featurettes were separated into smaller bits rather than just one big documentary. Other than that, it’s just a still gallery and a trailer.

Having said everything I did, I actually prefer Teen Wolf Too over Teen Wolf, it’s just that it’s the same movie with a different lead, it makes it feel like a remake rather than a sequel. The humor doesn’t work at all, Todd isn’t a very likable lead and I don’t care about him. Or anyone else in the movie. I still can’t believe this spawned a cartoon and a remake TV show. Now I understand why the TV show has little do with the movies outside of the name. Teen Wolf is a franchise where I may never understand the popularity. I feel like once something somehow sneaks its way into pop-culture, there’s no questioning it. It’s there and you’re supposed to accept it. Or perhaps I’ve gotten too old.

#WerewolfWednesday: Teen Wolf (1985)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Andy, you Goonie!!! 😉 xoxo)

High School is such an awkward period in all of our lives. Maybe the struggles we faced weren’t nearly as bad as they seem now, but back then it would make or break you or shape who you would become. The scare of bullies, struggling to fit in and find your place, finding out who you are and who you will become, striving to be the very best on the sportsball team and then finding out your family is a bunch of werewolves. Well, maybe not exactly that last thing, but the Michael J. Fox teen comedy Teen Wolf explores that very idea. Perhaps it’s some sort of allegory for going through puberty and trying to fit in? If it is, it’s a rather thin one.

So, here’s an unpopular opinion. Have you ever really liked something or at least you thought you did, because of how it’s viewed in pop culture, but then you go back and revisit it and it’s not all that great? That’s Teen Wolf for me. Who doesn’t remember this movie and who didn’t love Michael J. Fox? He’s the charismatic underdog you want to see win the big game. You want to see him give the jerk his comeuppance and you want to see him get the girl. Along the way, he’ll discover who he is, where he fits in and that the girl for him was beside him the whole time. I know I just described every teen comedy ever, but did they all have werewolves? I think not! Does that make this a better film? Eh… well, no.

Michael J. Fox plays your average teen, Scotty Howard, and when I say average, I do mean average. He’s smart, but not brilliant. He plays on the basketball team and he does alright, but he’s no superstar, but he doesn’t completely suck either. He’s not invisible to girls, but he’s no Casanova either. I think you get my drift. Scotty lives with his dad, who seems pretty lame for the most part, but the guy cares about his son and you get the idea that there was some tragedy in his life seeing as how the mother isn’t around. I think maybe it was hinted at, but I don’t believe it was. He has a connection to the principal who has it in for Scotty, always harassing him, but the conclusion to that is rather lackluster. We don’t want the dad character to be too sympathetic and besides, we’ve already wasted the legal limit of cliches on Scotty.

When Scotty isn’t looking way too sweaty playing shooty-hoops at school, he’s hanging out and partying with his friend Stiles. I think everyone remembers Stiles from this movie. Stiles is, like, basically what an STD would be in human form. Actually, they may be an inaccurate description, because you would need to get laid for that to happen and I don’t see anyone or anything sleeping with Stiles. This is a character that was definitely written by an adult who thinks what kids perceive as cool. In every scene, he’s wearing not only different sunglasses, but different t-shirts with such eloquent phrases that in no scream ‘overcompensation,’ like “life sucks and then you die” or “what are you looking at dicknose.” He’s constantly bursting into whatever room it may be, slapping everyone’s shoulders and giving them unwarranted nicknames and trying to make jokes that fall flat. If Stiles were a real person, you would want to kick him in the dick so hard and watch him double over in pain and then just as the pain was starting to go away, you kick him again and repeat. There’s a particular scene that sums up his character perfectly when Scotty isn’t sure what to do about being a werewolf, so he turns to his friend Stiles for advice. Panicked and sweaty, Scotty tells Stiles that he has a secret he needs to tell him. This makes Stiles stop searching for his stash and put a defensive guard up and asks, “Look, are you gonna tell me you’re a fag because if you’re gonna tell me you’re a fag, I don’t think I can handle it.” Scotty then has to quickly reassure his friend that he isn’t gay, but rather a werewolf, because that’s so much better. Don’t worry, homophobe, your buddy isn’t gay… he’s a mythical creature with brute strength and insatiable taste for people. Only in the ‘80s.

Also, Scotty can turn into a werewolf willy-nilly or whenever he’s angry (I guess?). The movie doesn’t really come up with a solid rule on when that can happen and he doesn’t really become a wild animal that goes around eating people. In Teen Wolf, he becomes really good at basketball and dancing and now girls want his hairy wolf dong. After slaying the hot cheerleader poon (who was secretly doing so to make her boyfriend jealous, because the film needs a human antagonist), this starts to get to his head and he understandably gets an ego about it. He parades around school and town as the wolf and everyone is high fiving him. He’s kinda become Stiles, who is now selling Teen Wolf merchandise. I’m not joking. This movie is meta. Also, I need to bring up the fact that the first time he turns into the wolf, nobody seems scared or shocked or at the very least, shitting their pants or screaming. They just look taken aback briefly and then once he starts doing fancy basketball tricks, they cheer their heads off and applaud. I’ve never seen a crowd latch onto something so positively so quickly.


Even though the film is about Scott’s struggles about fitting in by acting like he’s someone else, the person who is really getting shit on is his cute, adorable friend named Boof who has the hots for him. He’s constantly pushing her to the side to oogle over the cheerleader, but she still stands by his side and tells him they should be more than friends. Even after everything he does to her, she still sticks with him. I know it’s because she’s always liked who Scott really is and she can overlook the total dickhead he’s become as the wolf, but I find it inexcusable. I actually felt sorry for her character and wished she would’ve dumped him at the end for a hint of realism, but no. They live happily ever after. Girl, get yourself a real man.

If I were to sum up Teen Wolf in just one word after this recent revisit, I would have to say it’s underwhelming. Apparently, Scream Factory must have thought so too or perhaps anyone involved with the movie, because this Blu-ray release is pretty bare bones and, once again, underwhelming for a new release of such a former popular movie. Apparently, Michael J. Fox hates this movie and hated making it so much, I can see why he wouldn’t want to talk about this film for some extra features. To be fair to this release, it is a brand new high definition transfer that looks incredible, even if it reveals a lot of the faults in the makeup. There’s also an incredibly lengthy, in depth featurette called Never. Say. Die. The Story of Teen Wolf that is nearly two and a half hours long. Other than that it’s the basic roll call of a theatrical trailer and a still gallery. Not even a single commentary from anyone involved, which is kinda weird that Scream couldn’t find anyone willing to sit down and talk about this movie. Or they didn’t try to find anyone, because maybe they realized that nobody really cares about this movie.

I don’t want to take anything away from the movie, I don’t think it’s terrible (which I know must be hard to believe after my ranting), but I don’t think it’s spectacular or this monstrous hit comedy it seems to be selling itself as. Even though Michael J. Fox hates the film, he does a great job as a kid struggling with typical high school problems… and sweating a lot. Seriously, in every transformation or basketball scene, he’s drenched, even if he’s barely done anything. No human could possibly sweat that much. I also thought James Hampton and Susan Ursitti were great and very compassionate in their roles as Scotty’s support. The makeup effects are pretty decent and don’t look horrifying or grotesque like you would see in a horror film, but that’s kinda the point. It’s supposed to be cute and charming, but this makes the transformations scenes (if you can even call them that) suffer. Aside from his ears stretching a little bit, I don’t believe we see an actual transformation and this is during the era of werewolf movies, like The Howling or American Werewolf in London. However, those were horror movies showcasing the agony and the disfiguring transformation that would takes place, whereas Teen Wolf is more about a wolf being a cool thing. The shots will often cut away briefly and cut back to Scotty all wolfed out and ready to surf on top of vans. Oh yeah, he surfs on top of a van to The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA, because apparently the movie wanted to start an unneeded trend and set a spike in accidental deaths by stupid teenagers.

Looking back, I’m totally shocked that this movie was popular enough to spin-off a sequel, a Saturday morning cartoon and a reboot TV show in 2011. Sure, this movie is (or was) popular, but I don’t ever remember hearing people clamoring for more of it or talking about the same way we do something like Friday the 13th. When I was a kid, we all had heard about this movie, but we weren’t talking about it like it was the funniest movie ever, like Ghostbusters. It was often mentioned in passing with little enthusiasm. Maybe there is a secret underground cult that really, really loves this movie and that’s the reason it’s so wildly popular, because otherwise I just don’t see it. Teen Wolf is riddled with cliches that were already feeling tired by the mid ‘80s and the only reason this film sticks out from the slew of emotionless, characterless teen comedies of that time is because, I hate to say this, the filmmakers were smart enough to make its main character a goddamn werewolf. One little, odd change and that’s all it took for this move to apparently become a smash hit. I don’t hate the film, but personally I don’t see it’s popularity nor do I remember it. Hell, nobody is even really talking about this upcoming Blu-ray, so maybe it’s one of those movies that is trying to sell you its own hype. Stiles must be part of its marketing.

Goon Review: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

(Submitted by Andrew Peters…Thanks, Mr. Goon-y Goon! 😉 xoxo)


I do believe that Dario Argento, director of such stunning and inspiring movies like Suspiria and Phenomena, gets plenty of recognition, but I’m not sure if he gets all the recognition he deserves. I dunno, maybe he does, but I feel like we should be talking about him a lot more. Some argue that the giallo genre was shaped and molded by Mario Bava and I totally agree with that, but I believe it was when Dario Argento got his black leather gloves all over it, he perfected it.

Before his films were known for being brightly colorful comic book images come to life, Dario Argento worked more with shadows and lights. There’s something so chilling about the way he shoots a black leather glove, outlined by moonlight, tracing the contours of a knife. I could go on forever about how visually impressive his movies are, but I think visually being able to tell a movie is something that is being lost. Ironic, I know, but consider everything we can do to make any frame of a movie you are watching look fantastic. Obviously, it wasn’t always that way and it took creative people with a stylish, artistic vision to bring it to life.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is Dario Argento’s directorial debut and the only comparison is Reservoir Dogs and Quentin Tarantino. Coming out swinging and swinging hard, sister. When you look at the core story of The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, it’s quite simple. I believe most of the greatest films are simple stories, but it takes a great director to tell that simple story. When you take a step back and look at it, it’s nothing more than a guy who witnesses a murder and helps with the investigation. Not too complicated, but once you introduce some interesting characters, a few sexy sirens, a killer that not only lurks in the shadows, but has taken an interest in the film’s protagonist who has reluctantly decided to help the police seeing as how he’s a material witness (because, you know, that’s totally acceptable). Argento will also start his notorious trend of the main character solving the murder by recalling clues through memory. It’s interesting how it’s used here, with no sound, playing over and over like a nightmare and seemingly getting closer and closer to the truth. As a viewer, you begin to feel like you yourself are reliving that horrible moment and I found myself on the edge of the seat, leaning in and intently staring at the screening, hoping to find some detail or clue Argento has left for his hero. And for us.

The answer is right in front of you the whole time, but you’ll never see it. When the film ends, it will become so obvious, but until then The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is an energetic thriller that has more than enough surprises and for the most part is easy to follow along. But before the end, you obviously have to start at the beginning, a theme that Argento’s giallos typically follow. Tony Musante plays an American (because that name screams America) ex-writer named Sam living in Italy who accidentally witnesses a murder on his way home one night. I just realized that the phrase “accidentally witnesses a murder” is an oxymoron, seeing as how I don’t think that’s anyone’s intention. And he was two days away from retirement, dammit, or in this case from moving! Seeing as how the inspector has taken Sam’s passport, he won’t be moving in the foreseeable future, so he may as well insert himself in the investigation and solve the case. Because, ya know, that’s something witnesses can do. It’s okay to meddle in police business and put yourself – the material witness – in danger.

By following some evidence, a left handed glove with cigarette ash on it, they connect this attempted murder to three other women that have been murdered, but there must be a bigger connection. Honestly, I don’t think there is between the victims or at least nothing that I recall. Partnering with his hot-to-trot vixen of a girlfriend (played by Torso’s Suzy Kendall, the film that is arguably one of the first slashers), they don’t necessarily connect the dots, but come across an interesting clue; the killer had bought a painting of a man killing a woman from a woman he murdered. Confused? Don’t be, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, but the way it fits into this puzzle as a whole may seem like a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s more of an interesting way to tie it all together. It also helps fill in the gaps when Sam isn’t being stalked by a figure in a trench coat and a fedora, like when he’s walking down a foggy street, totally unaware he is being stalked until he has a meat clever swung at his head! It’s a good scene and a cool shot, but I wouldn’t call it tense seeing as I don’t think the movie would try to kill our main character before is halfway over. This isn’t Executive Decision here.

The closer they get to discovering the identity of the killer, the more threats they receive, which is arguably understandable. At least from the killer’s point of view, anyway. That’s pretty much your movie right there, but like I said, it’s pretty simple at its core, but Argento throws in some interesting pieces to make it seem different or more complicated than it actually is. I do have to say that I wouldn’t say the ending is a twist since that’s pretty standard for giallos, but I will say regardless of the obvious red herrings, I didn’t see it coming and it was a hair raising revelation when Sam recalls the events correctly that night and identifies the killer.

Usually a director’s earlier works are noticeably weaker, but not Argento’s. This film looks just as beautifully directed as his later works, like Deep Red or Suspiria. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a strong, solid film that has a moderately suspenseful story with interesting, but not over the top characters (accompanied by great performances), sexy girls and amazing cinematography. The only thing it seems to be lacking is gore, something Argento would later increase with Deep Red and Tenebrae. The film isn’t a violent, bloody mess like you would expect from a murder mystery, in fact there is very little blood. Luckily, this isn’t a Fulci film, so it’s not like you’re expecting it or viewing it simply to watch people get their guts spilled or eyeballs tortured in some way. Then again, that’s where the two filmmakers are noticeably different; Argento was more about mood and style and Fulci – at times – was about atmosphere and gore.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage joins the ranks of other great giallos put out by Arrow Video and I’m happy the first time in about ten years I viewed this film was on a brand new 4K transfer that looked sharp and colors were vibrant and wild that it was like viewing a catalogue of models and trends in the ‘70s. Being an Italian film, you do have the option of seeing it with its original Italian audio track (with optional English subtitles). This release also features a new audio commentary from Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, new analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger, new interview with writer/director Dario Argento, new interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp). This release also features a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp, as well as a double-sided fold-out poster and 6 Lobby Card reproductions. I think the bonus fans will enjoy the most is the limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook. Lots of cool information to be found there.


The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a classic, not matter if you see it as a giallo, horror or even as an Argento film, it perfectly represents all three. It may not be his best or bloodiest work, but it’s a great little thriller that doesn’t try to be bigger than what it is and still keeps you intrigued every step of the way.

Goon Reviews: Motel Hell (1980)

(Submitted by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Sinister Sir! 🙂 xoxo)

When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre hit the scene in 1974, it was huge. There was nothing quite like it to say the least. No other horror movie had presented itself in that way, so the imitators were sure to follow, although none of them would really come close. In 1980, Motel Hell would come pretty close, but just misses the mark and not in a bad way. In fact, Tobe Hooper (the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was originally slated to direct. Whereas TCM is dark and grisly, Motel Hell has a whole lot of charm and is quite a lot of fun… you know, for a movie about kidnapping/abducting, murder and cannibalism. As much as I love TCM, you can’t say the same thing, simply because it’s not meant to be.

Motel Hell actually feels more like a cash-in of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, which wouldn’t happen for another five years. It’s odd that a film that didn’t intend on parodying the original TCM ended up blending horror and comedy decently that TCM2 would later also do. However, I don’t feel that Motel Hell is quite as dark as TCM2, not to take anything away from it still being a good film. In fact, Motel Hell was supposed to be much more dark with more violence and gore and included much more disturbing moments in the film, like a bestiality scene. There’s something the TCM films never had. In the end, the tone was lightened, the gore was used sparingly and what we got was still a fairly humorous and entertaining horror comedy armed with one of the best taglines, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters!” An obvious nod at the cannibalism in the movie, but a hint at what Farmer Vincent puts in his famous smoked meats, unbeknownst to his customers.

Along with his sister Ida, Farmer Vincent (played by legendary Rory Calhoun) run the Motel Hello – which for fun acts as the title card as the “o” in “Hello” flickers dimly – where they don’t seem to get a whole lot of customers. I guess that’s okay since they are able to keep up their farm and… well now I am just thinking about how weird having a farm and a hotel next to each other is. This is getting into Eaten Alive territory, another Tobe Hooper film. You think all those bills would be stacking up, but it seems like Vincent’s famous smoked meat is so famous, people come around from all over the place just to get a taste of his smoked meat.

For those of you wondering, yes, that pun was intentional.

But what’s in those meats that makes them taste so damn good? Well, nothing but the finest ingredient… people! Vincent and Ida set traps to snare their victims, slicing their vocal cords (so they can no longer scream), plant them up to their chins in soil in a secret garden and feed them nothing but the finest feed, even if they aren’t the finest specimens. Like, would you ever think a balding, doughy health inspector who is nosing around the farm would be tasty? Vincent sure does. How about a drug addled metal group called ‘Ivan and The Terribles,’ one of which happens to be Cheers’ John Ratzenberger? He’s only in a couple scenes and I can’t remember if he even has a line of dialogue, but blink and you could miss him. Or a swinging couple that can’t sense danger when it’s literally tying them up and drugging them. Yeah, farm life is good for Vincent. Nothing quite like waking up and being your own boss, smoking your meat and having others from all over want to savor it.

Okay, I’ll stop with all the meat smoking puns. Anywho, Vincent’s life is about the change (not to make this sound like a wacky romantic comedy, but it kinda is) when a cute victim named Terry survives one of his traps. While being nursed back to health, she understandably has some questions, like “where is my boyfriend?” Vincent informs her along with the Sheriff, Bruce, who just happens to be his dimwitted brother, that he buried the body, so everyone should move on and forget about it. And that’s exactly what happens. Terry just seems to accept it and starts to fall more and more for Vincent while Bruce is falling for Terry. Oh boy, love triangles! Except, this is kinda like a hillbilly one, so you know at some point somebody will be pointing a shotgun at somebody.

Let’s talk about Bruce for a moment. Bruce is the comedic relief in a film that is about half comedy, so needless to say that he’s probably gonna get under your skin at some point. He also comes off as possessive and stalker-ish when it comes to Terry and I know, it’s supposed to be cute and charming, but when he’s forcing himself onto her and trying to make out with her while she screams and begs for him to stop, it’s kinda hard to want to support your lead.

Rejecting Bruce and growing closer with Vincent, even Ida begins to grow jealous of her, even going as far as attempting to drown her. She’s saved by Vincent which pretty much guarantees him a ticket to Bone City, but Vincent suggests that they should be married first and she agrees. Clearly this upsets Bruce so much that he actually goes and does actual cop stuff, like investigate the scene of the accident, even though it’s, like, days or weeks later. Hey, better late than never. Meanwhile, Vincent and Ida are immediately drugging Terry so that she passes out, allowing them to get to work. So, do they plan on doing this to her every night, because it’s going to get suspicious sooner or later, right? Luckily, Vincent plans on showing her the ancient art of smoking meat, a skill that is sure to come in handy on their honeymoon. If she doesn’t go along with it, at least they can always cook her too. Unless Bruce can stop them in time and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t have faith in him.

Look, it all boils down to a gnarly chainsaw fight between Bruce and Farmer Vincent who is wearing a giant pig’s head. The movie is awesome just for this iconic scene alone, but luckily it’s very entertaining throughout the entire movie and Farmer Vincent is a likable character even if he isn’t doing the right thing, even if he believes he is. He’s a well developed enough of a character that you kinda follow along with him, which is a good thing, because this is his movie. You spend some time with the other characters, but not enough to get to know them outside of the single trait they are given. Except Bruce who comes off as a bumbling buffoon pervert.

However, I can’t say the same about the horror aspect. It’s a film about turning people into food and yet it’s not scary. Hell, it seems like it’s barely the trappings. Even films like Blood Diner explore (or in that case, exploit) the idea of cannibalism and make it visceral, somewhat painful and gory. In Motel Hell, the characters kinda mention it here and there, although occasionally some human carcasses or limbs can be seen. I don’t know if they were hoping it would have the same impact that Quint’s speech from Jaws would have, but the horror element in this film seems a little lackluster. Same can be said about most of the humor and being a horror comedy, like Evil Dead 2 and Blood Diner, they could have really explored using the splat-stick angle (after all, we are talking about people becoming smoked meat), but the film shies away from that as well.

I still like the film, quite a bit actually. I think it’s an honest attempt at a horror comedy and although I don’t think it’s the best example nor does it reach its potential in either genre, it still does both well. A few years ago, Scream Factory released a newly restored Blu-ray that looks fantastic and comes with enough special features to cram your meathole, like  Audio Commentary with director Kevin Connor, moderated by filmmaker Dave Parker, The Making of MOTEL HELL featuring interviews with director Kevin Connor, producers/writers Robert Jaffe and Steven Charles Jaffe and actor Marc Silver, Ida, Be Thy Name: A look back at MOTEL HELL’s frightful female protagonist Ida Smith, Another Head on the Chopping Block: An interview with actor Paul Linke, From Glamour to Gore: An interview with actress Rosanne Katon, as well as a theatrical trailer and a still gallery. It also was given some great new artwork.

It’s an idea that was fully realized, but once the studio thought it would be too weird, they backed down and what you get is a watered down version of that vision, but at least that still entertaining. Especially that chainsaw fight.

The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 4: Thicker Than Water Review

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

If Above the Law, the third episode in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier series, left you feeling a little underwhelmed, then prepare to be totally blown away. Above the Law continued the story fine, but left me (the player) let down. I thought the story arc was fine and I did like how it had me questioning Clementine’s view of David, but it lacked any emotional punch or consequence to your choices and the action sequences were boiled down to repetitive button mashing. I’m not saying it was bad, I didn’t dislike it or anything. Thicker Than Water, the fourth episode, makes up for all of that. Maybe not necessarily make up, because I get the sneaky feeling Telltale planned on you letting your guard down, because there was nothing that could have prepared me for what happens.

Like all episodes, this one also starts with a flashback from Javi’s past, this time he’s with David at the batting cages shortly after the incident that got Javi kicked out from professional baseball. It’s never fully explored, but hinted at which I think is for the better and to be honest, it’s irrelevant to the main plot. The idea behind this little sequence is to allow you the opportunity to shape David and Javi’s relationship, but I have to tell you that not matter what you do, David is always gonna respond like an asshole, so I have no idea if I did good or bad. After that little trip down memory lane, we catch back up with the two in jail who bicker until Joan comes and takes David away and as Javi you get to explore the area to find a way to escape until Kate shows up and helps you escape where you meet back up with the group. Tripp and Eleanor are having a little spat and the weirdest of all things happened, at least in my game; Conrad showed up being all buddy buddy. This is weird, because back in the second episode I shot him in the head to save Clementine. Now, I’m not doctor or anything, but he looked pretty dead. Maybe I just shot him good enough to erase his memory of what happened… and apparently mine. Actually, I did research this and this is a glitch that was pretty common and the only way to fix it was to start over. Since I’m not doing that, I guess we will be seeing more of Conrad, although I feel like I missed out on his arch, so him being here really has no impact on me.

There are some really good bonding moments between Gabe and Javi as they set out to rescue David. Javi’s can lend Gabe some good advice on how to be a better person during a zombie apocalypse as you make your way inside a medical bay where you meet back up with Ava, who is happy or not happy to see you depending on whether or not you bailed on her in the previous episodes and if you did, don’t sweat. You can calm her down. Javi’s injured in a fight, but luckily the good, stoned Doctor is close by as if our pal, Clementine. Clem offers to patch up Javi and has to have an awkward conversation becoming how her bleeding means she’s becoming a woman. Ever think you’d get to be a part of that in a video game? Well, wonder no more. Of course, there’s another Clementine flashback, but this one is used to flesh out the relationship between Ava and Clem, so choose wisely. Me, I decided to be friendly, so I hope that works out. However, much more critical choices lie ahead, as well as some insight on what a good person David actually is.

n style=”font-weight: 400;”>Doctor Lingard awakens from his drugged state and spills the beans about Joan’s plan and that he doesn’t want to live anymore. He offers Clem and Javi the location of AJ if they give him an overdose or you can choose not to, well, that’s yet to be see. I was unsure of this decision when it happened. Seeing as I wasn’t expecting it, it totally threw me off guard and I had to think fast. I wanted to help Clem and get the location of AJ, but killing someone to do so seems like it was going against everything I was shaping Javi to be, so I opted not to. Looking back, I’m still not sure if I made the right decision.

Everyone’s back together and you help to devise a plan, so everything seems like it’s going good. In any incarnation of The Walking Dead, you know that’s not a good thing seeing as things go to shit equally as planned. You’re almost expecting what happens in the finale to come, but for the most part, I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. Sure, I knew this plan was going to go sour and it was sweet to see Javi and Kate decide they were gonna tell David about them and be happily ever after, but you know The Walking Dead can’t let things be like they are in fairy tales. I don’t want to say that these games don’t have happy endings, but rather end on a slight positive note. Unfortunately for the characters, that’s not how things go this time around. Let’s just say that ‘the shit hits the fan’ is putting it lightly.

There’s some minor action scenes here and there, enough to keep you entertained until the finale when all hell breaks loose. With David about to be publically executed, Javi attempts to talk their way out of it, to prove that people need to use words, not violence. Actually, he has a very strong, valid point, but Joan doesn’t see it that way. With two of Javi’s friends captured, you must decide who gets to live and which one gets to die and things only get far, far worse from there. David doesn’t keep his cool and makes matters worse and everything literally explodes out of a control. Then the episode just drops the mic right there.

I was entertained throughout the whole episode. I felt like a lot of things were coming together and we learned more about the all the characters, no matter how big or small their roles are. It made everything and everyone seem to come together and to watch it all quickly fall apart at the end was a sucker punch to face. You knew this was coming, but not to the extent of it. Things go out of control faster than you will be able to make a fully thought decision and you will undoubtedly be regretting the choice you made and second guessing yourself.

Thicker Than Water is a powerful episode, requiring you to think and act faster than you ever have. The consequences to your decisions and actions pack quite a wallop and at times even if you think you made the right call, something bad will happen. Just be emotionally prepared for it. With how great this episode was, I am both anticipating and fearing the next and final episode. I know there are going to be some tough calls to make and there are going to be some serious repercussions, but I can’t wait to see how it ends. Hopefully happy.

Ho-stess’s PS- On a Walking Dead-related note, this happened to me last night at the Saturn Awards. #TeamAbraham4Evah!!! 🙂 xoxoxo

 

Goon Review: The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Above the Law

(Submitted by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew “Goon” Peters…Thanks, my freaky friend! 🙂 xoxo)

As I read the title for Episode 3 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Above the Law, I shouted “LEEEWWWW-AHHHH,” like Armand Asante as Judge Rico from the Judge Dredd movie. Anyone else? No, just me? Anyway, we last left Javi and his group at the mercy of The New Frontier so that Kate, who was just shot in the belly, could get some medical attention and who should come storming out of the gate to meet them? Javi’s brother, David, who they thought to have been dead this whole time and I’m sure he’s thought the same of them. Welp, get ready for an awkward family reunion.

Javi and David are clearly shocked to see each other alive and although David barely notices Gabe, he’s still happy to give him a hug nonetheless and is able to immediately get Kate some medical attention while Javi and the rest of the group get tossed in a cell. Looks like a happy family reunion is gonna have to wait so that the crew can basically recap the story up until this point. I found it odd that this time was just spent rehashing everything we just saw instead of moving it forward, but eventually David shows up to take Javi to meet with the other council members that will determine whether or not Javi’s group can stay and become part of The New Frontier. Hmm, a council of elder like folks that determine the greater good of the people? That never ends with deception and betrayal. I don’t foresee one of them screwing everyone over for personal gain in their own agenda…

But first, it’s time to visit Kate and it plays out about as awkward as you would think. Kate fakes pain to have a moment alone with Javi and of course David walks in at an almost opportune time. I don’t understand why they just don’t talk about it already. Kate’s feelings for Javi and her disdain for David becomes evident when she asks you to bail on this place with her and Gabe. No goodbyes, no explaining anything to David, just up and run. Your response to Kate feels like the first time in this episode that something may shape what happens later. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode feels void of this feeling.

Now that you are finally in front of the council, it’s time to see if you will fit in, but first the leaders; There’s a drug addicted doctor named Paul Lingard who is seemingly spineless, Clint the farmer who also seems spineless, then you have David (who we know) and that leaves us with Joan who is like if Roseanne Barr wanted hair like Rogue from X-Men. She’s a total ball buster and seems to have a power over the others. This becomes more predictable as this scene plays out and identifying the puppet master becomes quite easy, but Max appears to throw a monkey wrench in the situation and your rivalry comes forward. It doesn’t seem like no matter what answers you choose, the outcome is going to be the same; you aren’t allowed to stay… except for Kate and Gabe who are more than welcome, so David sends you packing and the dude doesn’t even seem to care. It was at this point I was starting to notice that there wasn’t any dire choices this episode, the choices I made don’t seem to have any weight, but we’re only about halfway through the episode, so there’s plenty of time for things to completely flip around. David isn’t completely without feeling and sends Ava out to give you a care package complete with a baseball bat and a map that has a location marked on it, so the group agrees to head there.

Along the way you run into someone who’s been missing throughout half the episode, Clementine. En route to this mystery location, Clementine explains to Javi why she hates David so much, via flashback in which you learn the fate of baby AJ as well as a council members drug abuse. Although I can see from Clementine’s point of view and understand why she hates David, you can also see that why David made the decision he made and was only looking for what was in the best interest of the group. This is something I picked up at this point is that David may not be the awful person Clementine has led us to believe. He genuinely seems to care about the people in his group and although his anger leads him to make brash decisions, he doesn’t seem deceitful. This episode rightfully focuses on David’s character and exploring it and even though at times you aren’t sure of ‘did he’ or ‘didn’t he,’ you get the feeling there is a greater evil out there, which we are about to find out.

Seeing as this episode has lacked an action sequence, one get tossed at you that is primarily just button mashing while trying to get a shudder door open. There is a bit of puzzle solving, but I wouldn’t even call it a challenge, but instead a race against a time. It’s supposed to get your heart rate moving, but by this point it’s kind of stale. Once inside the shelter after that close call, David arrives and you have a choice to open the door or not. Regardless of what you choose, it will open and once again, doesn’t seem to have any real effect. Javi and the group notice that the supplies in the shelter are from the Prescott Airfield, where you were previously attacked by The New Frontier, along with other places. David is pressed about the matter, but swears he has no knowledge of this and that’s confirmed once Max, Badger and some other thug arrive and exposition dump the hell out the plot, revealing the true culprit. Wanting some revenge for Mariana’s death, the group attacks. This is another Quick Time Event that requires a quick response seeing that even a split second too late results in your death. But if you die, no big deal, you just start right back where you left off.

The finale of the confrontation leaves you with a wounded Badger who you have the option to kill, let Conrad kill (if you didn’t kill Conrad in the previous chapter) or left him turn. I chose the latter, because fuck that scumbag. I get a feeling this may come back to bite me in the ass later, but I feel at this point, Javi really needs to be showing Gabe that murder isn’t necessary… even though we just shot that guy in the gut in self defense. Again, even though I still felt like this decision may come back around to me, at the moment it feels like it bears no weight and that’s something this episode truly lacks; the intense split decision making and the consequences. Even though the QTE’s were somewhat panic inducing, there was never a feeling if I did something incorrectly or my timing was off, it would affect the outcome of the game. In fact, it just resulted in my death in which case I was allowed to try again.

With this new information, the group forms a plan and splits up while Jesus leaves the group in what is the saddest moment thus far. He was such an interesting character and a lot about who he is or what he knows, what a damaged soul he is, is merely hinted at, but my guess is Telltale wanted to save him for a spinoff on a rainy day. Javi and David eventually confront Joan who in classic vaudeville villain style pours herself a drink and sips from it as she reveals herself to be the mastermind and her plan! I know it was supposed to be a shocking moment, but with how predictable it was mixed with how classically evil the display was, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Above the Law is so far the weakest of the episodes with no feeling of dire consequences and boring, button mashing QTE action sequences that are few and far in between. It does however pull a few punches with David’s character, making him somewhat of a believable good guy who is trying to do the right thing. This does make siding with Clementine against David this episode a little difficult, but ultimately the looming baddie Joan is about as a subtle as a Disney villain and regardless of your choices, you know you’re going to end up in the same position. That position, however, looks like it’s going to be leading to some really difficult choices. Consider this the calm before the storm.

Goon Review: Brain Damage (1988)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you kindly, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

I’ve always said that I feel Frank Henenlotter is one of the most underrated and overlooked directors of the horror genre. His films would often be a variety of a sub-genre, mainly mixing in science fiction, and not to mention for exorbitantly weird and bizarre, but also managing to have some really interesting creatures of some kind. They were often a blend of violence, gore and comedy, a feat most filmmakers can’t seem to accomplish. He showed us his dark and twisted sense of humor and visuals with Basket Case in 1982 and things only escalated from there. I enjoy all of Henenlotter’s movies, even the later Basket Case sequels, but 1988’s Brain Damage will always stick out to me as not only one of his more darker and serious films, but also his most well made.

Like all of Henelotter’s films before it, Brain Damage is sick, twisted and humorous with a bizarre creature and plenty of gory, absurd deaths that follow. However, it’s not just a sideshow of freaky acts of violence, like the director’s previous films, it has an underlining message; this one being about the dangers of drug addiction. No need to worry though, it’s not heavy handed nor is it a PSA. Although, a PSA created by Frank Henenlotter would be the best PSA ever. The dangers of drugs is not the only subtext sprinkled throughout the film, however, it also includes other exploitation goodies, like sex and rock and rock and roll. With all the combined elements, as well as dropping in good ol’ 42nd Street in New York City, it’s Henenlotter’s sleaziest film and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t get lost in trying to shock you or gross you out (even though in less capable hands it could very well have done that), but rather focuses on its characters and the events that quickly unfold resulting in most of the character’s downfalls.

The central character, Brian (played by Rick Hearst, who is a genuinely nice guy in real life) wakes up one even not feeling quite like himself and blows off his date with his girlfriend Barbara (Jennifer Lowry). Brian’s brother Mike (Gordon MacDonald) substitutes for him and right from his very first gaze upon her, there’s a telling that Mike has an affection Barbara, but more on that later, because Brain Damage wastes no time getting into the weird territory. Brian awakes in time to be feeling rather good and stares at the light on his ceiling. It seems to be breathing gently and suddenly blue water fills the room and encompasses him as he embraces it. Colors and sounds seem to come alive for him and he couldn’t be feeling better. He awakes later and notices that the back of his neck is bleeding and his bathtub is full of water and calls out for the intruder, but he – along with the audience – wasn’t ready for what the intruder would be; a black and blue penis looking monster with big, buggy cartoon eyes, but a rather pleasing and trusting voice as it says, “Hi,” named Aylmer. If you’re wondering why Aylmer sounds so familiar, it’s because that beautiful voice belong to the late John Zacherle, who did a few videos as a memorable horror host and not to mention that he also had a bit part in another Henenlotter film, Frankenhooker, as a TV Weatherman.

The scene fades from that back into Brian’s bedroom where he understandably has a few questions about what the Aylmer is and where he came from and why Brian was tripping some serious balls. Aylmer seems to be dodging the questions, but reassuring him that he is all Brian will ever need and if they go for a walk, he will explain everything. This is your first clue that Aylmer is quite the manipulative little devil with an appetite to boot. While out for their walk, Aylmer open his mouth wide, revealing dozens of wiggling, sharp teeth and injects Brian with the drug, who in turn runs into a junkyard to see and hear the colors. If you think Aylmer was doing this to be a nice guy, or um… thing, you’re dead wrong. With Brian distracted by all the sights and sounds, Aylmer uses this opportunity to devour the brains of a security guard. I’m getting the impression that Aylmer may not have Brian’s best interests in mind.

Aylmer’s drug is highly addicting and it instantly takes over Brian’s life, forcing him to end his relationship with Barbara, quit his job and even place a wedge between him and his brother. This is probably the only missed opportunity of the film, since we never really get to know Brian before he becomes addicted to Aylmer’s drug, aside from the brief moment where he is laying in bed sick. There supposedly was a deleted subplot at the beginning of the film where Brian stuck up for his brother in a bar fight, but it was scraped. Luckily, the supporting cast does a fantastic job of bringing up events from the past or their feelings towards Brian, but don’t beat you over the head with it. It’s more subtle and adds a layer to the dynamics between everyone. Brian has moments of his former self and through the other characters talking about their past relationship with him, you do catch glimpses of what he used to be.

By now, you learned that Aylmer needs to feed on human brains and catches another meal after Brian ditches Barbara at a nightclub where a punk rock chick tries to blow Brian outside. Hey, when you need some dick, you need some dick. Rather than getting a mouthful of peen, she gets a mouthful of Aylmer (he’s basically phallic shaped) who eats her brains through her mouth. This scene is notoriously referred to as the “filatio scene” and was cut from the theatrical and original home video releases for obvious reasons. It’s inserted into all following unrated releases, but even today it’s still kinda shocking and definitely oversexualized. Apparently, the crew walked out during the shooting of this scene! Wow, when you sign on to do a Frank Henenlotter film and even you find something that’s offensive… sheesh.

By now, Brian has grown suspicious of what Aylmer is up to while he’s high, especially after finding brains and blood all over the fly of his pants. This is when he’s confronted by a husband and wife who had previously lost Aylmer and we learn some of what he is and what he can do and why he ran away; because the older couple was keeping him weak by feeding him animal brains. After seeing the zombie like state of those crazy, old junkies, Brian heads off to a motel for a few days and tries to detox himself from Aylmer’s drug, who only mocks Brian while he increasingly twitches and doubles over in pain, vomiting and dry heaving until he eventually hallucinates blood pouring out of his ear like a fountain. Kudos to Rick Hearst for really selling the painful image of detoxing as he’s curled up in a ball on the floor puking his guts out and crying. Brian eventually gives in to Aylmer and heads home to find that his brother and Barbara just played a round of ‘hide the weiner,’ but it’s hard to tell at this point if he’s too high or too far emotionally gone as he warns them that they need to leave as he storms out. Barbara chases Brian down and follows him to the subway to try and reconcile things with him even though her breath still has the smell of his brother’s dong. I also want to point out that Kevin Van Hentenryck cameos as Duane from Basket Case, which I think is wild. To think that these two movies exist in the same warped world is a far out thought and how would Aylmer and Belial get along?

With Aylmer’s insatiable thirst for human brains and Brian now dangerously addicted and losing everything, he becomes desperate to cling on to what’s left of him, but can’t seem to chose between the drugs or his former self. He may not have much of a choice seeing as that older couple is just as desperate to get back Aylmer at any cost. The ending is dark and imaginative as any Henenlotter film while fitting with the tone of the rest of the movie. It certainly displays the dangers of drug use, only far more out of this world. It’s like something out of an old science fiction comic, but the film has had an overall comic book tone to it, especially the lighting. Henenlotter uses a lot of magenta against blue to make it really pop and create drastic, black shadows that the images look like they are coming to life right out of a comic book and I think that perfectly sums up Henenlotter’s film; comic books come to life.

I am beyond thrilled that Arrow Video has released Brain Damage with all the love and respect it deserves on Blu-ray and it looks marvelous. There is a whole mess of special features to be found on this two disc set, one of the best being a brand new audio commentary from director Frank Henenlotter, because I could listen to him talk about anything. He’s funny and informative and full of fun loving personality. I actually had the pleasure of meeting him not to long ago and he’s everything I described. The man brought an honest smile to my face. Other features include Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage which is a brand new documentary featuring interviews with actor Rick Herbst, producer Edgar Ievins, editor James Kwei, first assistant director Gregory Lamberson, visual effects supervisor Al Magliochetti and makeup artist Dan Frye.Then there is The Effects of Brain Damage where FX artist and creator of “Elmer” Gabe Bartalos looks back at his iconic effects work on the film as well as a featurette called Animating Elmer. There’s even a bit that revisits the original shooting locations and I love seeing how places from a film have changed since the past. There are a few more along with trailers and still galleries and the newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck is simply awesome. Oh, there’s even a collector’s book filled with original stills and artwork!

Even if you see only one film by Frank Henenlotter, I have to persuade you to watch Brain Damage. Well, you should check out all of this man’s work and this movie simply because it’s the right amount of far out and sleaze. It’s not overly violent or gory, but the small amount of sex and overall theme of drug use makes this a movie that guaranteed to make you feel like you’re coated in a layer of filth. I’m sure some of you may need a bath after viewing it, but make sure nobody – or nothing – is in there with you.

Goon Review: Friday the 13th – The Game

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters, so yell at him about it!! 😉 xoxox)

As a bad omen, to quote Crazy Ralph, “You’re all doomed!”

It may not be Friday the 13th, but the day is finally here. Friday the 13th: The Game has launched on PS4, Xbox One and Steam and needless to say, Jason fans are going rabid. By that, I mean they are bloodthirsty to massacre their friends online and also due to the serious issues the game has been having since the moment it was released, but we can talk about that later. I know the start of this seems like a bad omen for the game and while it’s not perfect nor is it the Friday the 13th game we hoped it would shape up to be, it’s still a tremendous amount of fun despite all of the launch problems along with the other bugs and glitches that are present in the game.

For now, the game is strictly online only, pitting seven players (eight if you manage to radio Tommy Jarvis for help… more on that later) against another player who will be controlling Jason. Guess who everyone wants to play as? During the pre-game cinematic, the counselors sit around a campfire as Jason approaches, dispatching one of them and the other seven are left to scramble. There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement of whether or not you will be playing Jason. Then once you discover it’s not you, panic and dread start to settle in as you quickly scramble as a counselor to the nearest cabin, searching drawers and shelves for weapons or important vehicle parts that will aid you in your escape. That’s the name of the game here: survival. Players have a set amount of time to survive and they can choose to run from Jason or hide which can be far more difficult that it sounds. You could also find a fuse to repair the phone box to call the police who take a few minutes to arrive, or find missing pieces for one of the two cars or a boat and escape that way. However, once they are fixed and you are fleeing, that doesn’t ensure safety. Jason can appear and halt the car by slamming the hood or yanking the driver of the boat into the water and drowning them. Yes, death truly awaits around nearly every turn here at one of the three maps of Camp Crystal Lake.

Being an online multiplayer, communication is essential for survival (instead of slinging homophobic remarks at one another). Having a headset is a key item the gamer will need before you even start. It’s not mandatory, of course, but it helps to keep in contact with the other players that are in proximity to you. That’s right, you can’t just shout over your headset hoping others will hear you, because that creates noise and makes it easier for Jason to spot you. Only counselors that happen to be nearby can hear one another, unless you have a walkie in which case others with walkies can hear you. I really liked this aspect of the game, because like a horror film, if you walk out into the woods screaming for help, the killer is gonna find you. However, you need to chatter back and forth, so if Jason is close by, he can hear all your little scheming. It’s a real dilemma the game puts you in. To be fair, if Jason is creeping close by, you’ll start to hear that iconic Harry Manfredini score (although one of Jason’s abilities allows him to mute it). My first time playing as Jason, I heard one of the players reveal to another player where he laid a bear trap down and what he planned to do. Needless to say, I sort of crushed that plan by crushing his head.

Each counselor has their own set of skills. Some are better at sneaking or repairs, while others have better stamina or are stronger. Not one counselor is necessarily better than the other, but it’s up to the player on how they use that specific counselors set of skills. I prefer better stamina and health since killing Jason requires a laundry list of shit to do, so I find it better to sneak around. Even if your counselor doesn’t have stats you prefer, there are perks as well only these are chosen at random and cost you experience points. Every match you play earns you points and these points can be spent on improving your character. As I said, for the counselors, it’s totally at random, so you could get something really good like start with a map or a radio or even increase your stamina regeneration that you could then equip to a counselor with lower stamina to even them out. You can also unlock different variations of their outfits, but these can take a while seeing as it takes about ten level ups to get them each time… and there’s 100 levels.

Jason has his own set of unlockables as well that you can purchase using the same points. Seeing as how Jason is overpowered (OP as the kids call it), increasing his stats isn’t necessary and he does have his limitations. Each Jason – represented by different incarnations from various entries in the Friday the 13th series – has their own strengths and weaknesses. Jason from Part 2 can run while his Part 7 counterpart cannot, however he is much stronger and has a faster swim. Different kills can be purchased that Jason can perform with either his hand or the specific weapon that particular Jason is given. Most of the kills are interchangeable between Jasons, but each has three weapons specific kills that only that Jason can use. These kills are brutal the first time you watch them, but even after that initial time, you start to see how poor the animation in this game truly is.

Yes, even though I happen to think most of the character models look decent, especially each Jason, the animations on them are quite awful. Hair seems to unevenly flow in chunks, the mouths don’t open when the speak half the time and I don’t know if this is part of glitching or the animations are incomplete, but often during a kill it’s like whole animations weren’t there. Their expression didn’t morph, it was just like gore appeared on their face suddenly. The best way I can explain it is to ask you think about an exploitation movie’s graphic scene, for example, someone gets shot in the face. Now say you were to cut out all the frames between when the actor gets shot and it immediately picks up afterwards. It looks awkward and really poor. One of the more massive glitches is the constant glitching and hit detection. I can’t tell you how many times characters fell through things or appeared to be floating in air. Hell, a couple times I found characters floating in mid air or sinking into the ground. There were also times when you would swing your weapon at Jason or vice versa and no damage would occur. This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. Actually seeing as it’s so bad, I’m surprised it was released in this state. One gamer commented that it feels like we paid full price for a BETA and in this sense, I kind of agree with him.

After about logging in around 12 hours of gameplay (note that I am saying “gameplay,” this does not factor in the time spent sitting around waiting for the game to connect), I played as Jason twice which totaled about 15 minutes. 15 minutes out of 12 hours. Are you fucking kidding me? You can set your preference to spawn as Jason more, but I found this didn’t help. There were even instances where one player would play as Jason several times during the duration where others wouldn’t play as him at all. I don’t know how this randomizer works, but it’s one of the many problems that needs to be fixed.

One of the most difficult things about reviewing the game is that you can’t review it if you can’t play it. Sure, I did get to play it, but I spent an equal amount of time, if not more, waiting for the game to find a session I could join or waiting around in lobbies. Not to mention that if you did find a game, staying connected to it was pure luck of its own. At first I thought that maybe it was my internet, so I scrambled around the house shutting off everything that was connected to the wi-fi and once I was in a lobby, it was there that I noticed the incredibly high ping all of the other players had and everyone was having the same connection troubles.

Jason’s biggest adversary wasn’t the players as the counselors or even Tommy Jarvis… it’s the unfortunate developer that miscalculated how many gamers wanted to play, thus not having enough dedicated servers. This plays into why for hours – or for some days – of not being able to find a session to join and play the game. Gun Media took to social media to comment that the players “Jasoned” the servers, meaning that we overwhelmed them and that’s why the game was laggy, slow or you couldn’t connect. I don’t think they meant to make it sound like they were laying blame on us, but they commented that they tripled the numbers of all the pre-orders and so on, only preparing the servers to handle about 30,000 players. When nearly 100,000 players logged on to play during launch, it crashed their servers. I realize they are a small, independent developer and weren’t expecting Call of Duty numbers here, but c’mon… it’s Friday the 13th! This game has been hyped since it was called Summer Camp and changing it to an official Friday the 13th game only made it more popular, so how could you not expect or prepare for this to be monstrous?

I really, really wanted to love this game, I really did. Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise and needless to say that Jason is my favorite slasher villain, but even as an extremely die hard Friday the 13th fan, I couldn’t love this game. This is a game only a mother could love. I’m more like, the second stepfather. Even though I didn’t love it, we connected a few times, had a bonding moment here and there and it’s alright. Friday the 13th feels like an unfinished game that was released. I get the feeling the developers felt as if they couldn’t keep on delaying it, having filled the gamer population full of promises and feared the worst if they did. Being launched with a handful of issues, like the glitches, incomplete animations and major, crippling problems like the server downtime, the terrible lag and ping coupled with repetitive gameplay, keeps it from being the perfect horror game it should have been. Nowadays, gamers unfortunately have shorter attention spans and unless it’s the most recent incarnation of Call of Duty, they won’t play long. Seeing as how there are only a handful of things to do, I get the feeling many will find it stale and unfortunately a majority of player will stop playing after several weeks. Maybe the developer should have focused on the single player mode and adding a story during all these delays.

I know I picked the game apart, but I did have a tremendous amount of fun with this game. It was so nostalgic to be running around Higgins Haven from Part 3, Packanack Lodge from Part 2 and even the original Camp Crystal Lake area itself from the first movie. It was almost like being there and it overjoyed both my film and gaming senses as well as it warmed my heart and that’s something this game has a lot of that people seem to be overlooking; heart’ Friday the 13th: The Game was created by fans who cared about this franchise and cared about bringing you the best experience possible. It’s like they wanted you to feel like a counselor at Crystal Lake and it does feel like you are there. It was a blast to creep around cabins looking for items and hoping that I wasn’t making too much noise and working with others to try and survive the night. After all, surviving together is how you make new friends! Seriously, I’m still playing and chatting with a few folks I met playing this game as well as playing with old friends for the first time in what seems like ages. Even when playing as Jason, you can feel everyone working against you, but there’s no greater feeling when you foil their plan which sends them scattering like cockroaches when you flick on the light. You slowly dwindle their numbers and they panic more, becoming more desperate, but it’s all in good fun. Being able to be Jason do some of his iconic kills felt like an accomplishment and playing as Tommy helping others to survive felt like a real heroic feat.

It’s been a real long time since I sat down and played a game online or even wanted to play a game online. Gun Media has captured the true essence of Friday the 13th in a game and I hope all of the bugs and other issues are fixed and maybe a few more skins, added levels and characters. Maybe we’ll see Crazy Ralph in there somewhere? Or how about Steven from Jason Goes to Hell or Tina from Part 7 and she could have telekinetic abilities! Well, let’s just stick with fixing the current issues first.

Goon Review: The Gate (1987)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

The PG-13 rating seems to carry around a certain stigma with it these days. In the last decade whenever a new movie is released and it’s rated PG-13, it more often than not means that it’s been watered down and stripped of anything that could make it rough or edge just to sell more tickets, but given it the illusion it’s not a childish PG rated film. I’m not speaking against films that are rated PG-13 themselves, but there are instances when a movie is softened to the point of having no impact. However, that wasn’t always the case. It used to mean it actually contained content that’s more for a young adult audience, perhaps to rough for a teen audience. They contained swearing, nudity, blood and even the tones were much darker.

1986’s The Gate was only rated PG-13 and it’s pretty damn scary in both tone and some of the imagery. When I recently revisited the film on Blu-ray from Vestron Video, I was still blown away by some of the content in the movie. It’s safe to say that it was definitely way darker than I remembered. When I was a kid, it always freaked me out. I remember my stepbrother would bring it over and we would wait until after midnight to watch it, as if we were daring our senses to not get scared and rewatching it now, those feelings came rushing back. Not only that, but I realized why it had such an effect on me; it works as both a teenage adventure in the vein of something like Monster Squad or The Goonies and also as a horror film. Not something that can easily be done, but you throw in some likable characters and some killer creature effects and you have yourself a sure winner.

A really young Stephen Dorff, the man who is better known as “the guy who almost consistently has a career,” plays Glen, your average kid who likes to build model rockets and any trouble he gets into is incidental. Before leaving for whatever reason for a few days (just long enough for evil shenanigans to happen) Glen’s parents are digging a large tree out of the yard and it leaves behind a noticeably large hole that seems to contain geodes, so he invites his nerdy, metal friend Terry to help dig some up. Man, there’s something that dates the film; people having an interest in geodes. I should also mention that Glen gets a splinter covered in blood and drops it into the whole, because as we all know, anything involving demons needs blood put into something. Believing to find the mother of all geodes, possibly being a whopping hundred bucks, the two manage to crack it open. Meanwhile, Glen’s cute sister, AJ, is throwing a party downstairs and it’s getting out of hand! There’s all kinds of tomfoolery, like witchcraft and they even manage to levitate Glen, which freaks him out and sends him crying to his room. Luckily, AJ is a good sister and lets Terry spend the night. This is where things start to get freaky.

Believing that he was seeing his dead mother in the middle of the night, Terry finds Glen’s dog dead, but things start to escalate. The next day, AJ’s crush, Eric, gets tasked with taking the dog to be disposed of properly, but the place that does that just so happens to be closed… at like, sometime in the early afternoon. Maybe the keep odd hours. Well, seeing as how there’s a dead dog and a giant hole, Eric just tosses the poor mutt’s body down there and wipes his hands clean. Literally, there is a shot of him cleaning his hands. What harm could come out of unknowingly throwing a corpse down a demonic hole?

Rocking out alone in his bedroom, as ‘80s kids were prone to do seeing as there was no internet, Terry realizes that his heavy metal record seems to be speaking of a recent similar experience involving demons and a gate. It’s a good thing for Terry and Glen that the band decided to use the an entire album as a chronicling of the demons; who they are, where they come from, how to stop them, ya know, plot convenient stuff. They immediately tell Al and the three of them head out into the backyard to investigate the hole and, to their surprise, it’s covered up, so they believe whatever they did sealed away the evil, unbeknownst to them it was covered up by Eric while burying the dog. Now that the gate has a sacrifice, the real party can begin.

Everything is seemingly back to normal and while Glen and Terry have their respective company over, little demons stop by to crash the party. These demons are amazingly well done with a mix of very impressive stop motion and force perspective cinematography of actors in demon suits, so it looks like they are right there with the actors. The stop motion is so good that you can even see the demons’ chests.moving up and down, to simulate their breathing, but that begs the question why do demons need oxygen? I’m taking a jab, it’s not even a nitpick. In fact, it breathes life into the practical effects (no pun intended… okay, a little intended). The three struggle to fight off the little monsters and if that’s not enough, a zombie, the dead body of a fabled construction worker that was buried within Glen’s walls, crashes through the wall and begins taking them all away until Glen is left alone to defend himself against the evil and stopping them from taking over the world. If Stephen Dorff couldn’t stop Blade, I don’t know how he plans on stopping this thing.

The Gate is a such a wonderful movie that works well on all aspects, it doesn’t matter what it was rated. The bit of comedy works and the characters are likable and sympathetic. Terry’s backstory is hinted at here and there and although he’s given the cliched trope of ‘dead mother and father is too busy with work,’ you still feel for the poor kid. He’s comes across as troubled and he’s very aggressive toward anyone but Glen. You get the feeling that if he continues down this path, he could very well end up doing something terrible to others and himself. Of course, this film isn’t about him or his life story, but he’s developed that well. Glen and AJ have a bit of a damaged relationship now that she’s getting older and wants to be accepted by the cool crowd, so she dismisses her younger brother, but you get the notion she feels awful about it. Glen clearly is feeling the separation from his family seeing as nobody seems to want to spend time with him and his only friend, Terry, is slowly slipping away. I think the film is about regaining your relationships with others just as much as it is about demons from Hell.

And of course you have the demons, the little imps, who don’t make an appearance until the final act of the film and it’s actually better that way. I know most films now need to show something in the first five minutes out of fear of losing the audience, but with The Gate you are more engaged with the characters and just to tease you, there are hints of freaky things happening around the house. I was never bored spending time with these characters, in fact I would love to see the further adventures of (yes, I know there is a sequel that follows Terry). It’s well paced and builds up to the moment the demons arrive and when it does, it goes full out and doesn’t let up until the end. As the film goes on and spookier things begin to happen, the lighting changes dramatically. Bright blues and magentas are used in place of normal colors and the black shadows become heavier. It doesn’t reach comic book-esque levels of lighting, but it changes enough to let you know that something from another world is coming. Among some other effects aside from your minor cuts and bruises is the zombie who rather than looking like a gory, goopy Romero zombie looks instead like he’s covered in dust and decayed. Ya know, as if he were hidden in a wall, so it works. The film does shy away from a few gory shots, like when a character is stabbed in the eye with a Barbie doll leg and another’s face caves in. There are obvious quick edits around it, but it’s forgiving.

Having the film restored on Blu-ray from Vestron is worth it alone, but there are enough bonus features on the disc fill a hole in your backyard with. Not one, but two audio commentaries are present, including one with Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook and another with Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor. That’s enough for some replay value, eh? There’s also several featurettes, like The Gate: Unlocked, Minion Maker, From Hell It Came, The Workman Speaks, Made in Canada, From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate, The Gatekeepers and Making of The Gate. Do I need to mention there’s also TV spots, a theatrical and a teaser trailer along with a storyboard gallery and a BTS gallery? Because there are.

The Gate does more than fulfill my nostalgic need for ‘80s adventure and horror; it also makes me incredibly happy. I know that may sound weird about demons coming out of a hole in the ground and terrorizing kids, but there’s something very innocent and honest about the film, while remaining scary. I’m sure because of the lack of gore and swearing it managed to dodge an R rating, even though at one point someone is called a fag. Hey, it was the ‘80s and nobody knew what it really meant. Anyway, when I say there’s something honest about it, I mean that the characters and their relationships or what they are going through is so relatable and I think that’s why it not only ties into how scary the film is, but also of why it’s still reflected upon today positively.

Goon Review: Ben (1972)

(Submitted by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, ya Goon-ie!! 😉 xoxo)


Willard had a direct sequel after the film’s fan favorite rodent Ben named, well, Ben. I don’t know how well Willard had done in theaters to warrant a sequel, but apparently it did well enough that Bing Crosby backed its production (seeing as he also financed Willard). Yeah, crazy to think that an old school crooner like himself wanted more killer rat movies, but once again this really isn’t about nature striking back. I mean, it kinda has that element going on, but like its predecessor, Ben is more about someone befriending the rodents. Instead of a socially awkward young man using his newfound friends as a means to get revenge, it’s a socially awkward boy just being friends with them and deaths just kind of happen incidentally.

We pick up right where Willard left off and I mean right where it left off. The police find what remains of Willard and uncovering his journal that mentions Socrates and Ben. To be honest, I missed this little tidbit of information at first and was really confused at how the hell the cops could have known the two rats’ names, but after a quick rewind, I saw what I missed. Not sure why I wasn’t paying attention or maybe the detail was glossed over quickly, but nevertheless it’s there. Detective Sergeant Cliff Kirtland is tasked with heading up this investigation, which seems like it should have come to a close almost immediately. Willard has basically been devoured by the rats, so I don’t know if his plan was to arrest all the rats or what. Ben watches menacingly from the rafters above as a single cop, all by his lonesome, hears something behind the wall and decides he should check it out. Now I have to ask because the movie presented it; what the hell was this guy thinking? It’s clearly rats that just ate a person. Why in the love of Nina Hartley’s sweet tits would he crack open the wall? What was his plan here? I’ve been asking, “what’s the plan” a few times now, so it’s safe to assume we’re getting the movie logic of cops that do stupid things in order for events to unfold. So yeah, he gets killed. Surprised?

Being a smart little bugger, Ben knows it’s no longer safe and it’s time for them to find a new home. Luckily, an awkward and lonesome kid named Danny happens to be kind of weird. Hopefully you won’t find him as mildly annoying as I did, because he’s the central character of the film and to desperately make him sympathetic, he has a heart condition that’s never really explained nor is it used to the plot’s convenience all that well other than to occasionally make you feel sorry for him or to build some tension. Sorry, movie, you failed on both accounts.

While putting on his one man puppet show that apparently Danny does to no audience, so it’s in no way kind of creepy, he notices Ben watching him from the window to which Danny tortures the poor rat by submitting him to his little play and the two quickly becomes pals. Don’t count on this ending happily, however, as the Police seem to be narrowing down the places to search and even come by asking questions after Ben and his army of badass rats protect Danny from a bully. In a very creepy turn of his character, Danny stares at the kid accusing him and says to the Police and all of the adults in the room that the bully must have fallen into a rose bush. The bully quickly noticing the Damien from The Omen death stare and agrees he must’ve fallen into a rose bush. It’s almost unsettling and for a brief moment you might be thinking that the movie may take a turn into dark territory with Danny losing his grip on reality, much like Willard had, but nope. They toy with the idea for a moment and discard it. The movie’s credit, it’s at least not trying to repeat Willard and wants to do its own thing.

Ben and the other rats terrorize the city in the sense that they are merely searching for food, but turn over a grocery store in the process and the death toll even spikes a wee bit. Kirtland continues his manhunt, or erm, rathunt and draws nearer and nearer until the film’s climax when it’s an all out war of man versus rats. I may have overhyped it in that last sentence, but I have to admit that it’s a little heartbreaking, especially with Danny desperately trying to save Ben. I can relate to that, because I would do anything for my guinea pigs and the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever experienced is when I lost my first piggie to heart disease. I don’t think the film did very well, so there’s not another sequel, although I have to say I think it would have been great to see the further adventures of Ben. I can say that at least film’s started being kinder to animals around this time, so some poorly composited shots of rats being set on fire is used in place of actually setting rats on fire. Thank goodness this wasn’t an Italian production.

It was nice to finally see rats get some love, at least to some extent, but therein lies the problem… who was this movie made for? The kid becoming friends with the rats and all the whimsy that follows suggest it was made for kids, but the carnage ensues tells me that maybe it’s a horror film. Like with most of these mixed bag films, it can’t seem to decide which it’s trying to be and ultimately doesn’t do well with blending either genres. Although the younger audience might be enticed by the relationship between the humans and animals, they would probably find all the talking and plot development parts boring since it’s trying to speak to an older audience who in turn will find the parts involving Danny and Ben childish and the horror parts rather dull and not scary. While watching it, I couldn’t help but think of Pod People which had the same problem. JP Simon, the director of that film, wanted a horror film and the producers wanted a kiddie film, so both were mixed to poor results (although Pod People is fun as hell to watch, especially the MST3K version).

Ben is somewhat of a lost film in that the original negatives apparently couldn’t be found, but that didn’t stop good ol’ Scream Factory from fine tuning it from whatever source they could find. Seeing as a master source wasn’t used in restoring the movie, so while it doesn’t look as sharp or clean as Willard, I’m genuinely shocked at how good it looks giving what they had to work with. Like Willard, there isn’t much in the way of special features. Aside from a small interview with Lee Montgomery who played Danny in the film who also provides an audio commentary, you get your usual Scream Factory extras, like a theatrical trailer, TV spots, radio spots and a still gallery. Unless you’re a fan of the film or a Scream Factory completist, you’ll probably want to pass on it.

Ben is kind of a forgettable, especially in the horror or nature strikes back or child befriending animal or whatever the hell genre it is, but if there is anything anyone will remember from this movie it’s the theme song sung by Michael Jackson. I know, at first I thought it was a joke too, but an early ‘70s, young Michael Jackson sings the song and even has a giant credit during the opening text. Well, there’s that and Danny’s puppet play with a puppet of Ben which performs in front of Ben. It’s kind of weird. Even Ben looks creeped out. Maybe the movie should have been a puppet play.