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

Big Tits Halloween Horror Fest

Big Tits Zombie (2010)

Yes, you read that title right.  Big Tits Zombie is trashy Japanese cinema, which I couldn’t resist picking up after reading about it in Bizarre magazine.  Hey, it only cost me £3!

Basically, this is the same strippers and zombies scenario as we’ve seen in Jenna Jameson’s Zombie Strippers, the only difference being this version features cute Japanese girls (rather than sexy American girls).  As per previous, the dancers inadvertently raise the dead and then have to survive the ensuing zombie apocalypse. btz

There’s actually a lot less smut on display than the title would suggest.  Instead we get some fairly amusing scenes of the girls trying to endure their boring day job, plus the addition of some martial arts when it’s zombie killing time.

Sadly, the special effects are lame CGI and the undead themselves are the least convincing zombies I’ve ever seen.  A shame – with better attention to detail this could have been a half decent horror spoof.

Don’t let the title put you off, Big Tits Zombie is very tame in the flesh revealing department, and actually features some mind boggling pop culture.  Worth a go if you have any interest in films that are just plain odd!

6/10

Scream (1996)

As I’ve stated previously, I’ve never been much of a slasher film fan.  I saw Scream nearly twenty years ago, not long after the film came out, and found it only mildly entertaining.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it second time around. scream

The story centres around a group of high school teenagers, who are terrorised via phone (that’s a landline, kids!) and killed off.  Which sounds very unoriginal, right?  Well the clever thing is that Scream doesn’t try to be completely original, rather the film is happy to exploit the audiences expectations and play with them, tongue slotted into cheek.

All very post modern and self referential, but at the end of the day the film stands or falls on it’s ability to scare – which it manages to do very well.  The tension builds, characters face jeopardy and the audience is kept on the edge of its seat.

Scream succeeds in avoiding self parody and provides loads of thrills.  There are enough nods to it’s predecessors to keep the slasher fans smirking knowingly.  Good performances and quick dialogue made me glad I gave Scream another chance.

8/10