Quantcast Trilogy Pics - 3 Movies You Should Watch Tonight: JUNE 2004 - MISUNDERSTOOD SEQUELS



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June 2004 Trilogy Pics:
What would the horror genre be without sequels? Lots of sequels. Horror fans, from the days of the Universal monsters to the slashers, have always anticipated their favorite monsters climbing out of the grave one more time.

Yet, it’s hard to try to recreate the tension, excitement of that first film, and it’s impossible to recreate the sheer freshness and originality of some films. So, filmmakers often have a difficult time when making a sequel. Do you essentially remake the first film (Friday the 13th, part 2), try to continue the story and build on the main characters and mythos (Nightmare on Elm Street 3), or do you take it in a completely different direction (Army of Darkness)?

Well, the horror audience is more discriminating than we’re given credit for. We can tell a good sequel from the sequel that, for example, leaves you stranded on a boat for an hour before dropping you off in Vancouver. So we’d like to think…on the other hand, there are a few decent sequels that we’ve probably unnecessarily dismissed. That’s what this months Trilogy picks are all about: The Unappreciated Sequel. This month’s picks, Nightmare on Elm Street part 2, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and The Fly II, all are films that have very distinct, serious flaws that keep them from being brilliant gems of the horror genre, but not one of these movies is outright awful or uncreative.

The Fly II goes the route of essentially remaking the first movie, which was a remake. Ha! Eric Stoltz is the son of our favorite insect/human. He carries his father’s genes though and soon will attempt to carry on his work. Like the original, The Fly II is pretty gross; although it is never able to recreate the horrible, sickening feel of Cronenberg’s original. However, the movie does bring a lot of creative ideas to the table and that works to make it a very engaging sequel, for example, the idea that Brundle’s son is held captive in a research facility and ages at a highly accelerated rate are intriguing ideas that make the first half of this film really exciting. Also, Eric Stoltz, while he’s not as interesting an actor as Jeff Goldblum, gives an excellent and very sympathetic performance.

Next up is Nightmare on Elm Street part II: Freddy’s Revenge. It was made as a quickie cash-in on the success of the first film. Quite a lot has been said about this sequel and much of it isn't very kind. I've heard everything from "The worst of the "Nightmares"" to "the first gay slasher film". While "Freddy's Revenge" certainly doesn't measure up to the original, and lacks the "comic book" style of the entries to come, it does manage to stand out on it's own. After all, a film that's just boring or poorly made wouldn't have sparked as much debate amongst the fans. When's the last time anyone discussed the subtext of "Freddy's Dead" with you?

Yes, "Freddy's Revenge" is a film with plenty of flaws, but there is an interesting element or two that keeps it from being "dismissible".

What doesn't work in this film is almost everything: There is absolutely no style to "Nightmare 2" at all. It's not creepy, it doesn't make your skin crawl, and it relies only on "BOO!" to scare you. There are also too many moments, such as a pet parakeet exploding in mid-flight, and some sort of demon dogs wearing obviously cheap "people" masks that are just too ridiculous to take seriously that they just end up being campy instead of scary. There isn't really any story development here either, it just sort of skips from one bad thing happening to Jesse to the next thing. The biggest problem, the most obvious problem, is that Freddy has gained the ability to manifest himself in the waking world through Jesse's body. While the "possession" idea is interesting, it doesn't make any sense at all that Jesse would suddenly transform, striped sweater and all, into the physical being of Fred Krueger. It doesn't take any of the rules we learned in the original into account. It doesn't make any sense (unless the whole film is a dream) and future installments would ignore this ability. However, despite these flaws, a lot of people have come to complain about some elements of "Nightmare 2" that actually make it worth watching....

Now, a lot of people have had a problem with the main character, Jesse. Jesse is not Nancy, he is not Kristen, Alice, he is not Glenn, or Kincaid. He doesn't have any of the strength and determination that our previous or future "Nightmare" heros have. He comes across as fragile and feminine. When he sneaks out of his house, he ends up in a leather bar. Then he is nearly raped by his gym teacher. His "girlfriend" Lisa, always insists they are just very good friends. When he finally tries to make out with her, he vomits a large gray tongue. His best friend is a strapping young jock, Grady, whom Jesse seems very much to have a bigger crush on than Lisa. Ok, so there's a lot of gay subtext in "Freddy's Revenge". So what? While this may not be a very "audience friendly" choice, but is hardly a flaw. Remember, Freddy is trying to possess Jesse, and he has picked the easiest target he could find: A young man who is in the middle of a very tough identity crisis. Jesse is just the sort of confused, unstable kid whose mind, it would seem, is ripe for a good messing around with. It works for this film, it is one of the few things people complain about that actually works in this film. Some other elements that work well in "Freddy's Revenge" are the excellent score by Christopher Young (Hellraiser 2) and the Freddy makeup by Kevin Yagher is probably the most distrubing in the series, with the very skeletal face and large demonic reddish eyes.

So, "Freddy's Revenge" although maligned for many years by fans of the series for it's problems, probably deserves a good second viewing or two. It's not that the film isn't a turd, but it's I think it's a very misunderstood turd.

Finally, Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I’ve often wondered if we’d even still be talking about this film if it hadn’t carried the "Halloween" name. If it hadn’t upset fans of the other "Halloween" films then, I think we’d look back on this as, at the very least, one of the stranger 80’s horror films. "Halloween III" isn’t about Michael Myers, and it’s reputation for being…well, not about Michael Myers has probably kept a lot of you from even giving it a chance. It’s all about a maniacal mask maker who plans on using the power of Stonehenge (and some clever marketing) to kill millions of kids on Halloween. Sick, isn’t it? Check it out; it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, what it lacks in real scares it more than makes up for in killer robots, melting children, facial deconstruction, and catchy commercial jingles. -mikec.

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