31 Days in October, 31 Horror Films – 2015
Day 10: Hellraiser: Bloodline, Cooties
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
The fourth entry to the Hellraiser franchise, directed by none other than Alan Smithee, is notable for its volumes of neat-o trivia. According to wikipedia the project was originally helmed by special effects artist Kevin Yagher but was plagued by interfering producers who kept wanting Yagher to bring Pinhead into the film earlier based on reports from test audiences responding to the previous films. Well Yagher got fed up and walked off set. He later went on to direct… nothing. I guess the experience really turned him off. Who came in to replace him? Joe Chappelle! A seriously talented director known for his deft work on The Wire, CSI: Miami, and Fringe. The final film is truly a testament to how badly Yagher and the producers mucked things up before bringing Joe on to try and save the day. He did the best he could but ultimately opted to remove his name from the project.
The script is crazy. We start in outer space, we flash back to the 1700s, Pinhead has a pet demon dog… and guess who shows up in the film sporting his Lestat hair and acting all melodramatic? Adam Scott! It’s crazy! I stuck with the film for the camp and was only bored a little bit.
Will I watch the next in the series? Yes.
There are so many great ideas in this film and the actors work very hard to underline a satirical story about contemporary culture, politics, and the new clash of generations. It could have been so funny, so poignant, and so good at blending dark humor with the tail end of our never-ending zombie craze. Unfortunately, it fell short.
Perhaps there were issues with the budget, perhaps it was just too much film for first time directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion but every single opportunity for pay off resulted in so much restraint that the film flat. All smoke, no fire.
It would have been amazing to see a Matthew Vaughn church scene style sequence of teachers brutally decimating dozens of zombie infected kids in the school yard. I mean how satisfying would that have been?
Alas, we got lightly drafted characters going through the motions of a zombie flick with a leg heavy subplot romance that took up a lot of unnecessary time and had really nothing interesting to say. That is my final judgement of this film. It’s like starting a conversation about a really interesting topic with a group of people who have nothing valuable to say.
Day 11: Final Girls
The Final Girls (2015)
Just when you think there’s no hope, when bad film after bad film drains your sense of what is even possible anymore, a film gets everything so, so right that it fills your depleted optimism for at least a dozen more stinkers. Final Girls is that film. Todd Strauss-Schulson took a clever mix of pathos, horror, and comedy and absolutely nailed it.
What’s funny isn’t just that there is another film called The Final Girl, which I actually watched earlier this month, and which isn’t very good, but the actor who plays the main baddie in The Final Girl plays the love interest in this film. Alexander Ludwig knows the roles he likes and they all involve some variation on Final Girl in the title.
The comedy works. Thomas Middleditch and the supremely underrated Malin Akerman have a lot to do with that. The horror concept is familiar enough to use broad strokes but still manages to include some pretty awesome imagery. I’m thinking of a particular slow motion chase after the main baddies jumps out of a second story window while on fire. Insert that scene in a straight slasher film and you have a pretty successful sequence. Far and away, the stand out performance comes from Taissa Farmiga. She really connected with her character and delivers such a strong performance that the entire film is elevated.
So here’s a great film and you should watch it even if you aren’t super into horror. The genre bending is masterful, the performances are rich, and the script pulls off a very clever idea. I loved this film and I didn’t want it to end.
I haven’t seen a more soulful love letter to a long dead film genre. So long, 80s summer camp horror. We love you.