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Review of A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises

4 Jun

When people talk about slasher movies, unless, they are complete idiots there are only three titles that should be the first thing to pop up in your mind. If you think these titles are I Know What You Did Whenever, Scream or Wrong Turn movies, you probably are either a moron or 14 years old. The titles you should be thinking of are, of course, Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street. Not necessarily the best movies ever, far from it, but that is not the reason why they are what they are. They are the history of modern horror.

Since this is my 100th post here, I figured why not do something special. So what I’m going to do here is three lists of the movies in their respective franchises (excluding the remakes) in order of my least favourite to most favourite with some comments on why they take the place they do, the franchises are in the same order. I could have skipped the clumsy explanations of how the lists work and just let you figure it out by yourselves in a couple of seconds, but that’s not how I roll. So let’s do this.

 

Halloween


8. Halloween: Resurrection (2002) – This abomination of the movie is not only the worst Halloween movie, but also the worst movie of all three franchises and the only one that I would count as one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen and not in a good way. It’s so bad, it’s bad.

7. Halloween II (1981) – I just really didn’t care for this one. After original Halloween this seemed incredibly bland and contradictory to the way I perceived Michael Myers in the first one. Don’t get me wrong, just because it is next to Resurrection, it doesn’t mean they are even comparable, this movie is so much better, but I can remember only two scenes from it and that’s what this movie is to me – forgettable.

6. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – this movie is interesting in a way, but more in how they tried to twist and bend the Halloween mythos and less in an ‘interesting to watch’ way. It has its bright moments, but overall it’s a pretty dull movie.

5. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – That’s right. I debated whether even include this on the list. If I hated the movie, I probably wouldn’t have, but I found it a very enjoyable movie. Not really a Halloween movie, but still. It is silly and campy and whatever else, but it is also very atmospheric. Despite its absurdity it is a fun watch, more fun than most of the Halloween movies. But fun doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good horror or Halloween movie.

4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) – It is a very solid movie, actually better than it had any right to be, however, I must say that 20 years later, it is feeling a bit stale. You can feel the weight of the series pulling it down, no matter how they tried to ignore the parts without Jamie Lee Curtis. This movie is just them saying: „Hey, we got Curtis back and avoided anything really stupid or interesting, hope you’re nostalgia kicks in.”

3. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) – They tried to start fresh after the failure of Season of the Witch and we get some interesting stuff. A crippled and crazy Loomis, the amazingly cute Jamie Lloyd and an intriguing ending. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a decent watch.

2. Halloween 5 (1989) – I almost put this as number one. It’s hard to explain, but I found it very enjoyable. Loomis is utterly insane, Jamie is just as cute, but doesn’t speak and then there’s  the absurd character Tina, who I enjoyed even though she was so over-the-top. These are the only three characters I’ve ever cared about in a Halloween movie. The movie has a bunch of flaws, but it is entertaining. When most Halloween movies take themselves too seriously, making it seem like they don’t know what type of movie they are, this one hits the right balance.

1. Halloween (1978) – So here we are. This movie is considered a horror classic by most. And even though it isn’t in my favourite movie list, it’s influence on the horror genre is immense. What makes this one different from the rest of the Halloween movies? It’s actually a good movie. This is the only one, which deserves to take itself completely seriously and benefits from it. I don’t know what can I say, that hasn’t been said. It’s a good movie.

 

Friday the 13th

10. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – This movie tried to execute an idea, that was destined to fail from the start and even the attempt wasn’t very good. Add some idiotic comedy, absurd characters and you get this thing. That’s just it, it’s a failure, a misstep on the filmmaker’s part.

9. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – Again, almost the same case as Halloween II, the second part is just bland. I remember the guy in the wheelchair and Jason wearing a potato bag on his head. That’s basically it. And when I say I don’t remember a lot from it, remember that I have watched all these movies within the last year, so if it can stay in my memory for that long, then it’s not worth remembering.

8. Jason X (2001) – Jason in space. I don’t think I even have to say more, it’s just so ridiculous. The movie certainly has it’s moments, but overall it’s just too cheesy and just too hard to swallow. How could anyone think it’s a great idea? And Jason being located in outer space isn’t even the most absurd thing about it.

7. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – This an odd movie. Again, it seems they didn’t learn anything after the fifth part. At this point people see these movie for Jason. I didn’t hate the movie itself, it’s just not a good Friday the 13th sequel. It has some really enjoyable performances, but other than that the whole concept is a downer.

6. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – I enjoyed the part where Jason is in Manhattan, that is great, but the whole boat trip is kind of lame. And the ending sucked as well, if I had to talk about things I didn’t care to see in Friday the 13th movies, zombie Jason turning into a kid is definitely somewhere on that list.

5. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) – Jason vs. Carrie. I don’t know, I found this one pretty mediocre. I also felt let down after the sixth part, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s not bad, but it is also neither here or there.

4. Friday the 13th Part III (1982) – This is probably the outright campiest Friday the 13th movie. I mean watching it not in 3D, it is kind of absurd when you get a yo-yo, pot joint and popcorn stuck or thrown in the camera for no reason. But it is kind of fun when you see a head crushed so that an eye can jump out towards the camera. And the first time Jason looks like we know him. Stupid fun this movie is.

3. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) – This is what I’m talking about, Friday the 13th franchise at its best. Entertaining, well-paced, silly and Jason kicking ass after being resurrected.

2. Friday the 13th (1980) – This is where the endless copying of Halloween started. But this was interesting in its own right, the POV shots, the killer’s motivation, the killer itself, Kevin Bacon getting arrow-stabbed in the neck. Great stuff.

1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – I debated whether to put this as number one or two, but then I remembered Crispin Glover dancing and decided this must be number one for me. This one has it all. Comedy, gore, thrills, nudity, Glover, Jason-hunter, horror obsessed kid, “Ted, where the hell’s the corkscrew?” scene. Just great.

 

A Nightmare On Elm Street

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989) – Why this is the last one? Because the few things I do remember about this is either really stupid special effects or something that is probably from Dream Master. It’s forgettable and stupid, not awful, just something you start forgetting while you’re watching it.

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) – Also a very forgettable one. There’s some weird choices. Like Tuesday Knight replacing Patricia Arquette. And weird scenes, like that chick turning into a bug. It’s just a big whatever of a movie, which decides to bring back the characters from Dream Warriors and just throw them into the garbage bin.

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) – What can I say. Yeah, the homoeroticism was kind of odd, but, hey, what’s wrong with that? At least Freddy hadn’t turned into a caricature yet. This is psychological movie and it’s pretty good at that. But on the other hand the stuff with the S&M gym teacher is kind of jarring. Some wrong choices were made by some knowingly by others unintentionally, but the result is a weird sequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street, unique in its own way. Even if it’s not the best way.

4. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) – By this point I had accepted that Freddy is just this cartoon character and this movie completely embraces it, it doesn’t even attempt at being a serious movie. I mean, there’s a scene where Freddy plays a NES game using Power Glove. You can’t get more ridiculous than that. But at least the movie wasn’t bland. It’s more of a dark comedy than horror movie and if you take it that way, it’s not so bad.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – This is where the asshole comedian Freddy began, yet wasn’t as over-the-top as he later became. Great special effects, interesting characters, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon. It’s very entertaining and cool. A favourite of a lot of people and for understandable reasons.

2. New Nightmare (1994) – Wes Craven came back and set it right. Freddy is creepy again, Langenkamp is back and there’s some meta stuff. Rarely the sixth sequel is a good movie, but this one is. It’s self-referential, yet restrained enough to not feel too gimmicky. A cool movie.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Well, this one is no doubt a classic. Original, creepy, tense, sexual. It has so many memorable scenes. Robert Englund really brings something to the Freddy Krueger character, it’s a horror masterpiece. I love this movie. From all these 25 movies I’ve listed here, this is without a doubt my favourite one. Classic.

So here you go, my countdown of the big three of horror franchises. An arbitrary list since I’ve reviewed most of these movies anyway, but I wanted to do make clear my personal preferences. If you want to, let me know your list.