Archive for the Ode to the Unsung Slasher Category

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Posted in Horror Showcase, Ode to the Unsung Slasher, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by splatterpictures

The weirdest thing in the world to me is breaking down a film. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do it all the time, but for the most part I take what I see for what I get. I never took any sort of film studies course I just kinda watch things and “notice stuff”.

When you watch enough of anything you find all kinds of trends, whether it’s in a television series, or a certain author’s work. It’s especially noticeable when you start looking at entire genres of film.

I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to horror, people have parodied it, mocked it, paid homage, and downright insulted it. A lot of times people feel they are being clever but dumb it down a lot(Like Wes Craven’s scream series) Other times it’s just a quick buck piggy banking on stuff that’s already popular (Scary movie series). I really never had much time for those types of films. I always thought that Scream was just lame. Although, with four movies behind it, maybe I’m the one with the problem.

This brings me to our latest and greatest Splatterpictures; Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. The flick dropped in 2006 and was directed by Scott Glosserman. It was written by him aswell and distributed through Anchor Bay (I swear they should put me on their pay role with how often I seem to be talking about them).

The movie is shot like a documentary in a world (I did the epic movie guy voice thing in my head) where the slashers of film are real. They set this up pretty well, referencing Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street.

The film crew is apparently following around a new slasher wanting to make a name for himself; Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel). How they got the idea to do this isn’t really clear and neither is what they think this will all lead to. They go through Leslie’s set up to his “big night” the start of his Legacy. He tells them his story of how he is supposedly the returned spirit of a boy killed by the townspeople. He takes them to his “house” where this will all go down and proceeds to walk them through his “plan”. Honestly what follows is probably the most dead on and hilarious break down of a horror movie I’ve ever seen. It pays homage to horror in a way that is really fun to watch. They talk about everything. The selection of their victims and why, sure Scream did that but think of Scream like cole’s notes compared to Behind the Mask.

A lot of things they mentioned had great moments of “oh yeah I noticed that” Like why they always let some couple have sex before killing them. Why they hide the bodies until the last moment. How about why the phones never work, or the lights go out? Or maybe why weapons always seem to break or killers never seem to stay dead? One moment in particular had me laughing is when Leslie is discussing how much cardio he has to do to give the illusion that he is walking, while everyone else is running away.

There is also a beauty to his plan, and it also shows a more subtle side of the killer that nobody really gets to see. There are moments where Leslie’s true nature peeks through in bursts of anger or when he goes on long obsessive rants about the legacy he is trying to create with his “survivor girl” and how everything he does is for her I really felt like I was sitting through a film class when they start getting into the phallic imagery of a killers weapon and what it means for said survivor girl to use it against the killer.

This movie is first and foremost a comedy and it’s a pretty damn good one. The nice thing is that while I always felt movies like scream were poking fun at horror for the general audience; Behind the Mask seems to have been made for true fans. In the same sort of way that the Comic Series Hack/Slash is for horror fans in that it doesn’t take you through all the obvious references. Sure they talk about the big killers that we are all familiar with but it also goes deeper making direct references or illusions to lesser known horror films or obscure uses of minor things from major films.

During the early parts of the movie, the film crew join Leslie as he visits an old friend and mentor who was a masked killer aswell (now retired). He talks about how “In the old days” it was all about getting in, killing everybody and getting out without anybody ever knowing. That is pretty much the entire plot of Black Christmas (arguably the first slasher film). There are a lot of subtle sight gags, like the “Stay awake” pills from Nightmare, or the Red Rabbit Inn from Halloween.

They also have some great Cameos by Kane Hodder as a guy living in the Elm Street House (he played Jason in Friday the 13th). Of course, the big Cameo is Robert Englund as Doctor Halloran who Leslie refers to as his “Ahab” basically a person who has made it his personal goal to track down and stop his evil. In other words a character type made famous in Halloween with Doctor Lumis.

By far the most amazing Cameo is by Zelda Rubenstein (she played the famous role of the medium in Poltergeist) she delivers her usual creepy speech to perfection.

You’d think that after people start dying the film crew would grow a conscious and try to Stop Leslie’s plan and want to save the teenagers and they do, but it becomes obvious that this was all accounted for. It has a great ending with all the clichés and overall I highly recommend checking this out.

My one complaint is kind of a big one though. I don’t know if it was the DVD that I had and another version exist but there was nothing in the way of gore. The deaths aren’t all that great, some are pretty good but they all cut away before anything is shown, or even worse they happen off camera with just audio. Now, why would they go to all the trouble of carefully crafting references, getting horror icons for cameos and making this movie if they weren’t going to put some gore in it? I have no idea. Like I said maybe it was just the version I had and there is a directors cut out there somewhere.

It’s made even worse by the fact that a lot of casual viewers probably wouldn’t be half as entertained as I was with all the references and jokes. So that leaves more serious fans with a great slasher movie but without a lot of good or memorable kills.

Ode to the Unsung Slashers (Laid to Rest)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Ode to the Unsung Slasher, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by splatterpictures

Horror comes in a lot of different varieties and it’s easy to know a lot about one and not a lot about another, especially for casual viewers. I have a lot of conversations with people about horror; either films, literature or the culture in general. Most people who are not exactly fans of the genre as a whole always are ready to dismiss them as throw away movies. Of course when they make their arguments they by and large are referring to the slasher-genre.

It’s funny but I find myself defending slasher flicks a lot more than any other kind of horror out there. I think it’s just because that particular genre is littered with iconic figures and ridiculous clichés. A lot of horror takes itself seriously but not really slashers. Slashers exist to give the audience; bodies, boobs and if we’re lucky an Iconic killer with a flair for the dramatic.

It’s not really a profound revelation to say that the killers are really the stars of the movie. Nobody cares about the teenagers getting killed. Everybody cheers for Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers or Chucky. Tonnes of slasher films have made household names of their killers. However, we all know that here at Splatterpictures we don’t talk about the ones that are Iconic. No no, I am going to talk about slashers that are nowhere near as famous but are pretty badass in their own right.

Recently sat down to watch a particular slasher called Laid to Rest. I just couldn’t resist the box art. Yeah I’m one of those people. Anybody who’s read my “about” section knows that a lot of times I would be sent to wonder the horror section of my local video store. More often than not I never got one of the movies but I sure liked looking at the box art.

Laid to rest was released direct to DVD in 2009 and was distributed by Anchor Bay (big surprise). The film was directed by Robert Hall. This was definitely one of those pet projects of Hall; he had been doing the make-up artist thing in the industry for awhile with some great success. The films Stars his wife Bobbi Sue Luther (Who looks different every single time I see her). I’d like to take a minute and say how sweet it was for Hall to make a movie and put his wife in it, considering how hard it is for a big breasted woman to make it in Hollywood.

So what’s it even about? Well, basically a girl wakes up in a coffin with no memory or inclination about how she got there. The coffin is in a funeral home and she isn’t alone. A chrome-skulled killer with a video camera mounted on his shoulder is stalking her. It’s about at this point where I start to notice that this girl is dumb even by slasher movie standards. One scene I have to mention is she actually calls the police from the funeral home. Then, she sees a dead body in the morgue and walks towards it while the woman on the phone tells her that in 30 seconds they’ll have traced her call. She actually walks so far that she pulls the phone cord out of the phone. I’m not fucking kidding, Bravo; the Darwin award goes to the lady with the huge rack.

The killer shows up and gives chase. He’s one of those silent slashers but seems to actually communicate with recorded voice of one of his previous victims off of his cellphone. It’s actually kinda refreshing to see a killer who uses modern technology. He also actually has a car.
It’s not long before the girl runs into a kindly man named Tucker, (Kevin Gage) who picks her up and brings her home after she can’t remember what has happened to her, or seem to remember the proper words for things. He has a wife (Lena Headey) and it’s all very typical set up. Of course, they have no phone, no land line or cell. Nothing. Also their truck is pretty much out of gas. The killer catches up with them and the case is on.

The girl that Tucker has named Princess at this point escape to this random computer nerd named Steven (Sean Whalen) That’s pretty much your trio of people running away from the killer and trying to figure out how to stop him and get help. More characters come and go but they’re really only there to get murdered. Watching this one I kept being reminded about why a lot of people hate slashers.

I am all for dumb people in horror movies but they are the biggest bunch of lame-ducks I’ve ever seen. I swear they all could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they just walked off a cliff to spare themselves a gruesome death. How dumb? Well they fall down, the split up, nobody has a cell, nobody has gas, they can’t shoot straight, they can’t load their guns fast enough, they throw away their weapons, they draw attention to themselves while the killer is around, they don’t listen, and finally they stand around watching while other people get killed when they could easily overpower Chrome-skull with numbers. Oh well. Oh wait they also keep going back to the killer instead of just driving away.

Something I would have liked to have scene would be more information about the killer himself. He has a habit of going into cities, kidnapping girls and bringing them back to this funeral home where he tortures and kills them while videotaping. Not much else is learned about him, other than dude can get shot a whole lot.

The most surprising thing about this whole movie was how well it was acted. Even if some of the reasoning was pretty dumb, the characters really reacted to others being killed. It wasn’t just run “oh my friend died”, run, “oh my friend died; no time to care keep running.” Characters have powerful scenes of grief that you would expect when someone you love dies in front of you. The total indifference to others being killed in slashers has always been on of the things that bugged me the most.

So what about the deaths? They’re pretty good. One of them where this guy gets his head partially cut off from the jaw up was great. It was a blend of CGI and traditional effects, which was really effective. Everything frankly looked pretty great considering this was a direct to DVD venture and the first horror directed by Hall.

The ending was pretty weird. Not because of what happens to the killer or most of the characters but without giving too much away I was surprised about who survives and who doesn’t and the final decisions made by some characters. It seemed kinda rushed and not very well thought out. Also the big revelation about the character of princess was kinda cliché.

See you next time!