movies

31 Days of Halloween: ‘Happy Death Day’ (2017)– Video Review

Did good things happen when Scream met Groundhog Day on Friday the 13th? Check out my video review for Happy Death Day and find out for yourself!


What did you all think of Happy Death Day? Where you entertained by this quirky slasher or were you not impressed? Hit me up in the comments below, I want to hear your thoughts!

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31 Days of Halloween: Review: Star-making performance carries Blumhouse to another victory in ‘Happy Death Day’

By Jordan Peterson |

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A baby-faced killer stalks Jessica Rothe in “Happy Death Day.” | Universal Studios


Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
Release date: October 13th, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity)
Running time: 1 hour and 36 minutes


“Get up. Live your day. Get killed. Again.”

If the tagline for Blumhouse’s latest low-budget horror flick, Happy Death Day, sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a variation on Edge of Tomorrow‘s “Live. Die. Repeat.” Both films sample the catchy Groundhog Day hook where somebody must re-live the same twenty-four hour duration over and over and over again until they’ve learned some valuable life lesson or accomplished some meaningful task (or both).

In Happy Death Day that somebody is Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a sorority mean girl trapped inside the day of her murder (also her birthday) until she can unmask her baby-faced killer and learn to be a better person.

It couldn’t hurt, either. The first time we meet Tree, the snarky party girl is waking with a hangover in the bed of a sweet nerdy guy named Carter (Isreal Broussard) after a night of intoxicated debauchery. He folded her pants and offers her water and Ibuprofen, yet Tree’s only concern is making sure nobody ever finds out about their one-night stand.

Tree treats everybody in her life with similar disgust. That is, of course, except one hunky professor with whom she regularly helps commit adultery. So it’s no surprise that once the time comes to whip up a list of people who might want her dead, Tree doesn’t even bother.

Though it’s initially played for laughs, we eventually learn that deep down Tree truly hates herself. Not a shocker, I know. You need only flip on any T.V. show to find this exact trope playing out in one form or another. The difference here, however, is star Jessica Rothe (who briefly shared the screen alongside Emma Stone in La La Land).

Though it takes some time before Rothe is given much to do outside scowl, her infectious charisma ultimately wins the day. Happy Death Day is at its very best when she is allowed to embrace her inner-jokester. In between, Rothe serves the more somber, character moments with just the right amount of ham.

Verdict: 🎃🎃🎃 (out of four)


Did you all get a chance to catch Happy Death Day? What did you think? Was it everything you hoped a Scream and Groundhog Day crossover would be? Hit me up in the comments below. I want to hear from you!

31 Days of Halloween: A Ranking of the ‘Friday the 13th’ Films from Crystal Lake to Outer Space

By Jordan Peterson |

The blockbuster film franchise Friday the 13th began life as a cheap rip-off of John Carpenter’s Halloween (a fact producer/creator Sean S. Cunningham openly acknowledges). That’s not too surprising. After all, success begets imitation (and Halloween had plenty of imitators).

What is a bit shocking though is just how popular the hockey mask-sporting serial killer has become. Since the release of the 1980 original, Friday the 13th has spawned 10 sequels plus a reboot. According to Box Office Mojo, the series as a whole has scared up north of $821 million at the box office (adjusted for inflation). Add to that the millions more in subsequent home video, merchandising, and video game sales.

All this success has branded Jason Voorhees a pop culture icon and his bloody odyssey a cornerstone of the slasher genre. In lieu of his lucky day, I retrace the footprints of the notoriously unhappy camper and recount his barbarous trail of carnage and dismemberment.

These are all the Friday the 13th films ranked worst to best:

12.) Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

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Jason Goes to Hell finds itself burred at the very bottom of my list because it ignores everything that came before and plays more like a demon possession flick than a Friday the 13th film. Here Jason gains the ability to transfer his soul between victims after the corner responsible for his remains devours the killer’s still-beating heart. It’s a disgusting gimmick and clearly only exists to set up the inevitable Freddy vs. Jason matchup. One of these things is most certainly not like the others.

Director: Adam Marcus

Year: 1993

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $34.2 million

Behind the mask: Kane Hodder

11.) Friday the 13th- Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

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Props to the filmmakers for exploring new territory here (literally) and for trying to keep the franchise fresh on its eighth outing. Unfortunately, that’s where the compliments stop for Friday the 13th- Part VIII. This seventh sequel reeks of a cash grab. Laughably lame kills and the weakest story of the entire series quickly sink any intrigue this follow-up might have bore on the printed page. The movie’s called Jason Takes Manhattan, so why does two-thirds of it take place on a ship in the middle of the ocean? And why does Jason suddenly decide to up and leave his beloved camp? So many unanswered questions!

Director: Robin Hedden

Year: 1989

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $34.2 million

Behind the mask: Kane Hodder

10.) Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

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This is the Season of the Witch of the Friday the 13th films. For those not in the know, the third Halloween movie did not feature the series’ famed shape Michael Myers. Similarly, the masked maniac terrorizing the halfway house in A New Beginning isn’t Jason, at least not the genuine article. It’s admirable of Director Danny Steinmann to want to return the IP back to its POV/mystery roots, but we’ve been there and done that. Ultimately, if you’re a diehard Jason fan then this twist may leave you feeling a bit– ahem– empty on the inside.

Director: Danny Steinmann

Year: 1985

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $54.9 million

Behind the mask: Dick Wieand, Tom Morga (Dream sequences)

9.) Friday the 13th- Part III

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The third Friday the 13th film has a lot going for it. Director Steve Miner is back on board following the superior ‘Part 2.’ The setting is aptly wooded and off the beaten trail. The  counselors are a rowdy, horny assortment of personalities. Henry Manfredini introduces his funky take on the theme. Oh, and Jason finally gets his iconic mask. Unfortunately, the film itself is sort of a bore. None of the kills stand out, supposedly “funny” exchanges go on for far too long and do nothing but provide fluff, and the acting is as stiff as a rock Jason would use to bash in their skull.

Director: Steve Miner 

Year: 1982 

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $104.5 million 

Behind the mask: Richard Brooker 

8.) Friday the 13th (2009)

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This Friday the 13th reboot is arguably the best constructed film in the series, technically speaking. The makeup is upsettingly realistic and the detailed set design and cinematography recreate the familiar eeriness of Camp Crystal Lake. Outside of that, however, this film does nothing to distinguish itself from the other gritty, soulless 80’s remakes of the 2000s. If anything it adopts from them the unfortunate trend of grounding its villain, which ultimately takes away from them that which made them so scary in the first place.

Director: Marcus Nispel

Year: 2009

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $77.4 million

Behind the mask: Derek Mears

7.) Jason X

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Much like the entire series, Jason X is ridiculous. On the page, the idea of sending Jason Voorhees into outer space reads like a desperate attempt to keep the character relevant (because it is). Thankfully, on screen it’s a bit more fun than that. Director James Isaac cleverly intertwines tropes established by previous ‘Friday’ films with tropes from the sci-fi genre in general. The result is an often uneven but fully enjoyable Frankenstein’s monster of a slasher movie.

Director: James Isaac

Year: 2001

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $20 million

Behind the mask: Kane Hodder

6.) Freddy vs. Jason

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This film was stuck in development hell for over a decade, but as far as this writer is concerned, it was well worth the wait. Though it’s obviously designed to service a highly anticipated fight between two horror juggernauts, Freddy vs. Jason actually provides a compelling story and justification for why such a thing would happen. Up to this point, Jason had had a continuing run of movies (since 1980). On the other hand, it’d been nearly a decade since Freddy had hit the big screen in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. So in a world where people have seemingly forgotten about Krueger, it makes sense that the dream killer would want to be remembered and reviving Jason to do his dirty work is kind of a cool plot incentive as well as a reflection of real life. The story also mixes the two mythologies without one ever overshadowing the other. The characters feel real and the acting is some of the best in either series. Though the actual fight at the end leaves much to be desired, the joy of Freddy vs. Jason is the journey and not its final destination.

Director: Ronny Yu

Year: 2003

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $121.8 million

Behind the mask: Ken Kirzinger

5.) Friday the 13th (1980)

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It might be a Halloween rip-off, but Friday the 13th possess its own unique identity and much of that is thanks to the 1980 original. The gruesome deaths, Harry Manfredini’s hair-raising score, Pamela herself and Kevin Bacon were all introduced in this film. Thanks to Betsy Palmer’s crazed performance, Pamela Voorhees is one of cinema’s most underrated villains. She’s insanely evil, but you completely understand why she’s doing what she’s doing. Though Friday the 13th went another direction with Jason as the killer after 1980, the O.G.’s influence can be felt all the way through and into the remake.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Year: 1980

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $131.3 million

Behind the mask (camera): Betsy Palm

4.) Friday the 13th- Part VII: The New Blood

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Jason Voorhees is a supernatural force of nature who punches above the weight class of his promiscuous prey. However, he may finally have met his match come The New Blood in the form of a teenage girl named Tina who possesses telekinetic powers. It’s a fascinating, pulpy premise and the majority of the film plays out like an elevated game of cat vs. mouse. Beneath this film’s campy façade, however, lies a compelling character study about a young girl coming to grips with the fact that her psychic influence caused the death of her abusive father. It’s a powerful conflict and it adds a whole new layer of emotions and stakes for moviegoers, which is something most of the other ‘Friday’s’ lack.

Director: John Carl Buechler 

Year: 1988

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $41.4 million

Behind the mask: Kane Hodder

3.) Friday the 13th- Part II

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 Then you should know Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees, was the original killer. Jason didn’t show up until the sequel. — Scream (1996)

That’s right. Prior to Friday the 13th- Part II, Jason only existed as a passing reference made by his mother, Pamela, to justify her slaying of the original Crystal Lake counselors. Everything comes full circle this time around as her son returns to the camp where he died, seeking revenge. Director Steve Miner knows this series and in the hands of a lesser talent, the extension of Jason’s mythos here could have come across like a bad joke. Instead, ‘Part 2’ is an unsettling and ballsy addition to the cannon. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the sack (still my favorite look for Jason), which is to this day the creepiest thing a mass murderer has put over his face this side of a spray painted Captain Kirk death mask.

Director: Steve Miner

Year: 1981

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $69.4 million

Behind the mask (sack): Warrington Gillette

2.) Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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Had The Final Chapter truly been the swan song for Friday the 13th, the series would have gone out on a high note. The film is sharper and deadlier than those that came before it, as if the filmmakers behind it had perfected the craft of a Jason movie. Legendary special effects artist Tom Savini returns and realizes some of the series’ goriest and most violent kills. The performances are also an improvement, with additions like Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman as Jason’s young nemesis, Tommy Jarvis. And thanks to a nighttime setting and the inclusion of rain (sort of a big deal in this world), The Final Chapter boasts a haunting atmosphere of dread and despair. This movie embodies everything people have come to love (and hate) about the Friday the 13th.

Director: Joseph Zito

Year: 1984

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $87.2 MILLION

Behind the mask: Ted White

1.) Friday the 13th- Part VI: Jason Lives

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Jason Lives is a Friday the 13th film on steroids. It’s everything fans have come to know and love about the franchise turned all the way up to eleven. Director Tom McLoughlin’s installment whole-heartedly embraces the identity of its brand then unabashedly goes hog wild with it, to the point where nothing is without excess. Jason can’t even smash a guy’s face into a tree here without that guy’s face leaving behind a preposterous smiley face dent. This movie exudes that type of joy and it’s full of similarly outrageous kills and self-referential jokes. The characters are a motley crew and the dialogue pops off the screen. Even when Jason is murdering random stragglers, those scenes feel like comedic horror shorts. But it’s not all fun and games. The humor is well balanced with a deadly serious Tommy Jarvis and some truly spooky camp scares. In all, Jason Lives is so much fun that it gives off the impression that Jason enjoys his job.

Director: Tom McLoughlin

Year: 1986

Box office (adjusted for inflation): $46.6 million

Behind the mask: C.J. Graham

That’s my ranking of all 12 Friday the 13th films! What do you think? Do you disagree on any of these film’s slots? What does your ranking look like? Let me know in the comments below!

31 Days of Halloween: Cube (1997)– Video Review

We keep the 31 Days of Halloween content flowing with this video review of the cult thriller Cube.

Have you all got to check out Cube? If so, what did you think? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know!

31 Days of Halloween: Review: Zombie drama ‘Maggie’ more dead than living

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin are father and daughter in “Maggie.” (Lionsgate)

Arnold Schwarzenegger built his acting career around blowing stuff up and nailing hammy one-liners. To that end, the notion of him starring in a zombie apocalypse movie conjures up some pretty thrilling images. Alas, whatever movie might be playing in your head (perhaps one where Arnie mows down legions of the undead with a military-grade turret mounted atop an armored truck with a half-smoked cigar hanging from his mouth) is still better than Maggie.

The first few minutes of Maggie cleverly establishes via a mattering of disembodied news reports (because those’ve never been done before) that a clearly made-up virus has broken out across the country and is slowly transforming those infected into decaying cannibals. Abigail Breslin’s Maggie is one of those unfortunate souls and Wade (Schwarzenegger) is her father, a lifelong farmer who’d rather kill a friendly cop just doing his job than turn his necrotizing teenage daughter over to quarantine.

Director Henry Hobson has an ambitious, zombie-lite vision for his film. He wants to tell a personal, character-driven story about a daughter living her last days alongside her father, step-mom (Joely Richardson), and closest friends, all of them well aware that the end is near for the young lady. The aspiration is admirable and Hobson fittingly constructs a consistent, meditative air of gloom.

Unfortunately, the narrative often wanders from the beaten country path and into the indiscernible wilderness (both figuratively and literally) with little explanation as to why. In one short scene Wade sets a nearby field ablaze seemingly just so he can watch it burn. Another time he drives over to his neighbor Bonnie’s (Rachel Whitman Groves) house (even though it’d already been established that the two live close enough to walk) to investigate the room where she kept her zombified husband and son. It’s a touching moment but one that admittedly had me puzzled as to Wade’s motivation.

It should also be noted that, despite the draw of her aging co-star, it’s Breslin who carries Maggie. Schwarzenegger is still an actor of limited range. The behind the scenes artists have done a nice job making him appear haggard and beaten down, but it’s still up to Schwarzenegger to sell me on his character’s emotional journey and here Mr. Universe just isn’t up to the task.

🎃🎃 (out of 4)


Director: Henry Hobson

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Rachel Whitman Groves

Rated: PG-13

Year: 2015

What did you all get a chance to check out Maggie? What did you think? Was it your cup of tea or would you rather see Arnie take on zombies in good, ole fashioned Arnie style? Hit me up in the comments below, I wanna hear from you!

 

31 Days of Halloween: All 7 Chucky Movies Ranked Worst to Best

You’ve noticed by now Hollywood’s proclivity for remaking and rebooting any and all franchises with any sort of brand recognition, including those featuring cherished slasher icons. Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Leatherface have all been revived within the last fourteen years (much to the chagrin of horror fanatics).

One maniacal mainstay of the genre, however, has managed to elude the reboot bug since his debut back in 1988. Enter Charles Lee Ray, aka The Lakeshore Strangler, aka Chucky. Though there was once upon a time talk of rebooting the original Child’s Play, America’s favorite killer doll has lived on through a slew of sanguinary sequels.

This week marks the release of the highly-anticipated seventh installment (sixth sequel) in the series, Cult of Chucky. Does the latest outing rank towards the top of the toy chest? Find out for yourself as I rank all seven Chucky films from worst to best:

7.) Seed of Chucky (2004)

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One thing about the Chucky movies and their progenitor Don Mancini is that they are not afraid to take risks and try something different. Each installment takes the character to bold new places. Obviously that doesn’t always guarantee success, which is something both fans and filmmakers found out the hard way with Seed of Chucky. This film desperately tries to recapture the tongue-in-cheek humor of its predecessor by introducing Chucky and Tiffany’s transsexual son/daughter Glen/Glenda. Ultimately, ‘Seed’ was such a mess that it killed the franchise for nearly a decade. The once-terrifying toy had become the punch-line of his own joke.

6.) Child’s Play 3 (1991)

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Regarded by many (including series creator Don Mancini himself) as the worst entry in the franchise, Child’s Play 3 was released a mere nine months after Child’s play 2. Though military academy seems like the next logical step for the young and unlucky Andy Barclay, the resulting film feels rushed and often uninterested in fully exploring its new playground. That’s a shame too because ‘CP3′ features one of the series’ spookiest set pieces (a carnival ride from Hell) as well as some of its most brutal kills (anybody up for some paintball?).

5.) Bride of Chucky (1998)

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Following Scream in the mid 90s, it seemed as if the slasher genre as a whole suddenly became self-aware. Sadistic serial killers started cracking jokes at their own tropes as spine-tingling scares gave way to knee-slapping wisecracks. Luckily, Chucky always possessed a sense of humor so the tonal shift wasn’t too jarring. On the contrary, a more whimsical and wed Chucky seemed to be just what the series needed after the dismal misfire that was Child’s Play 3. Jennifer Tilly gives 100% of herself to the role of Tiffany, Chucky’s blushing, psychotic bride who is every bit as stubborn and dangerous as her husband. The couple’s chemistry is insanely infectious.

4.) Child’s Play  (1988)

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The film that started it all. Child’s Play introduced the world to the Good Guys dolls and their infamous homicidal icon. The film also introduced audiences to Chucky’s long-time nemesis, Andy Barclay (who at least makes a cameo appearance in five of the seven films), as well as to the serial killer’s crucial voodoo practices. While Child’s Play serves as the bedrock for crazier, future installments, it definitely takes the fewest risks. Still, it’s a solid, frequently scary slasher flick that earns its spot on this ranking for making me scared of a child’s toy.

3.) Curse of Chucky (2013)

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After Seed of Chucky nearly killed the franchise nine years prior, Curse of Chucky reinvigorated the redheaded icon by returning him to his horror roots. The film introduced us to Nika (Fiona Dourif) as Chucky’s latest recurring adversary with some intriguing ties to Charles Lee Ray. Obviously ‘Curse’ returns the series to a darker place but it also expands upon the established history of its titular butcher. Though he was steering his ship in a slightly new direction, creator/director Don Mancini managed to maintain the essence of what makes the series so special.

2.) Cult of Chucky (2017)

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Cult of Chucky is the boldest Chucky film yet. It takes the most significant stride forward for the series in terms of narrative while introducing some disturbing and unique twists. Following the bloodbath that was Curse of Chucky, Nika (Fiona Dourif) has come to believe that it was truly her and not the Chucky doll who murdered her family, resulting in her commitment to an asylum for the criminally insane. ‘Cult’ takes advantage of its apt, new setting in some diabolically fun ways without completely caving into those comedic tendencies. ‘Cult’ is also the prettiest film in the franchise, providing some of the most frightening and haunting imagery to date.

1.) Child’s Play 2 (1990)

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When debating the entries of a long-running franchise such as the Chucky movies, inevitably the discussion turns to the original when siting which is “the best.” And when you’re talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, or A Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s tough to argue against that. However, narrative speaking, Child’s Play 2 builds off the original in interesting ways. With Andy’s mom committed to a psychiatric hospital, Andy is placed in foster care where we meet Christine Elise’s charming Kyle. We also get a peak inside the company responsible for the Good Guys dolls as they try to rebuild their damaged brand. Director John Lafia displays a tighter grip on the film’s scares and truly ups the anty from the original film. Plus he gets some credit for the improved performances by the cast, including star Alex Vincent.


Well there you have it! That’s my ranking of the seven Chucky movies so far. What’s your ranking look like? Hit me up in the comments below and let the discussion begin!

‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017)– Video Review

Blade Runner finally gets a sequel in Blade Runner 2049. Is it worth the 35 year wait?

What did you think of Blade Runner 2049? Do you absolutely love it or do you think these films are boring? I want to know so hit me up in the comments!