A Halloween Horror Fest on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Now here’s a film that should need no introduction. Though to be honest, back in the 80s when A Nightmare on Elm Street – and it’s sequels – were hugely popular, I was never a fan. I’ve just never been really into “Slasher” movies – I was investigating the classic Gothic horror of Hammer and Universal at the time, and modern, contemporary films just didn’t grab me.

Never the less, I decided to give Wes Craven’s original another go, just in case I was missing something.

Brief recap: a bunch of kids on Elm Street suffer from terrifying dreams, featuring a crispy faced dude wearing a mask and possessing a gardening glove customised with lethal blades. Yes, it’s evil child murderer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), and he intends not only to provide the kids with some unforgettable nightmares, he also wants to bloodily murderise them.

Revisiting this film was actually a lot of fun, I was surprised how well A Nightmare on Elm Street stood up. Yes, it’s incredibly dated, and ridden with clichés, but hey – these were new, original ideas back in the day. It’s not Gothic horror, but the supernatural elements are well plotted and help create the Krueger mythos.

Englund is great, though he’s more restrained in this first instalment. It’s always great to see John Saxon, who plays a cop here; and there’s an interesting debut from a fresh faced Johnny Depp, playing teenager Glen (who was probably about 40 at the time of filming).

Yes, I have been proven wrong – A Nightmare on Elm Street is actually a pretty damn good movie, with a mix of scares, peril and gore that shows Craven knows what he’s doing. Not the best film eve made, but I’m beginning to see how the cult of Freddy became so formidable. I’ll definitely check out the sequels.

8/10

The Indestructible Man (1956)

Convicted criminal “Butcher” Benton (Lon Chaney Jr.) is going to the electric chair, and he refuses to tell his bank robbing colleagues where the loot is. After being executed, Benton is brought back to life in an experiment. He then commences to seek revenge on his former partners, and the police are left to put the clues together and stop the gruesome murders.

A strange mix of the Frankenstein tale and 1950s cop show, this movie hardly feels like horror, but does have an impressive body count. Chaney has few lines – he’s mute for some reason, when resurrected – and we usually see his intense emotion only in wacky, extreme close up.

No points for originality here, but the film benefits from scenes representing the streets, bars and Burlesque clubs of old Los Angeles. As a period piece, The Indestructible Man is fun – it’s typical drive-in B-movie fare. Ironic that a couple of key scenes actually take place in a drive-in theatre!

6/10

Hallowe’en Horror Fest Strippers

Zombie Strippers (2008)

A covert group of military commandos are summoned to deal with a chemical outbreak that is turning people into zombies.  It’s a tough job, and one zombie manages to escape.  To hide out in a nearby illegal, underground strip club, in case you didn’t guess.

In the strip club, the expected bitchiness escalates to new levels when one of the dancers is attacked, and becomes a zombie herself.  The insane appreciation of the customers persuades more girls to succumb to the undead, until eventually the inevitable surge of zombies threatens to destroy all… Zombie_strippers

This sounds ridiculous, right?  I mean, the title says it all: Zombie Strippers.

And yet this film is very entertaining, although not particularly ground breaking.  There are quite a few laughs, and tons of gore.  Zombie Strippers is totally over the top, and decides to deliver as many thrills as possible.  Having said that, there are enough wry winks at the camera (and pseudo philosophy) to show that the film makers at least tried to give this movie some substance.

On the whole the performances are excellent.  Robert Englund (yes, him) is great as the utter scum bag club owner, and seems to be having lots of fun with tongue wedged in cheek.  Jenna Jameson also does a commendable job, showing her glamorous skills  and really getting her teeth into her part.  You can tell that Jenna also knows this film is mental, but damn it she puts on a great show.

And let’s face it, the titillation is always going to be a big draw for this movie.  The girls are gorgeous indeed, but not for long.  Soon all hell breaks loose and any sexiness is right out the window.

So keep your mind open and you might be pleasantly surprised by Zombie Strippers.  It’s far better than you might fear.  But if it’s cheesy, over the top blood and gore you’re after, you’re gonna love it.

8/10