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Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights 2010- review

Jason1_grindstone5x7 copyKnott’s Berry Farm’s annual Halloween Haunt pioneered the concept of basing walk-through haunted attractions on movies, usually tied in with some new release (THE GRUDGE 2, BEOWULF, QUARANTINE), but over the last few years Universal Studios Hollywood has taken the idea to its ultimate degree, building haunts around hit horror franchises for its  Halloween Horror Nights presentation. Thus we saw mazes built around A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in 2007 and 2008. Last year’s horrors were based on SAW, HALLOWEEN, and MY BLOODY VALENTINE. 2010 sees the return of the SAW maze, along with new mazes based on the remakes of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FRIDAY THE 13TH.
Unfortunately, in aping horror film franchises, Halloween Horror Nights has become a little bit like one, churching out sequels and remakes that convey that “been there, done that” feel. Universal continues to succeed at its intended  goal, which is to bring horror movies to life, turning them into amazingly detailed walk-through mazes that immerse fans in the worlds of their favorite movie monsters. Unfortunately, focusing on individual films (such as the recent Freddy and Jason remakes) leads to a certain monotony. In each maze, Jason/Freddy jumps out at you in the first room, then the second room, then the third room, etc – and it’s always the same character with the same appearance. (The previous Elm Street and Friday mazes benefited from being based on franchises with lots of sequels, which offered some variety when it came to depicting the characters: for example, Jason could appear with a bag over his head, as in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II, instead of the familiar hockey mask.)
Here is a rundown of the horror-movie-inspired thrills and chils at Halloween Horror Nights’ 2010:
FRIDAY THE 13TH: KILL, JASON, KILL. Jason’s back, but this maze is remarkably different from the ones seen in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, Jason isn’t really given enough room to show off the difference between his current incarnation and the versions seen during previous Halloweens. The new Jason is supposed to take his cue from the performance by Derek Mears in the remake, who made the character more of an Olympic athelete, rather than the slow and steady menace that he was when played, most famously, by Kane Hodder in the FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels VII through X (it was Hodder’s performances that set the style for Universal’s previous “Friday the 13th” mazes). Setting that aside, the new “Friday the 13th” maze does justify bringing the character back, by showing him in new settings and situations, with lots of new gore gags.
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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. Like the “Friday the 13th” maze, this one lives up to the promise of offering something new, this time a grim Freddy based on the 2010 remake. Unfortunately, the attempt fares less well. The remake’s new Freddy makeup is not that impressive when translated into the live medium – it looks like putty smooshed around the face. And by focusing on a single film, the maze looses the variety made possible by pulling the best bits and pieces from several sequels. The result loses the “Nightmare” on Elm Street: it’s fairly generic, with burlap tunnels and tight corridors that force you to walk past windows and doors from which Freddy can make his expectedly unexpected appearances. There area  few nice touches, fortunately: solid walls that disappear, revealing Freddy behind them, or that stretch as if pressed from behind (recreating a memorable image from the original film that was botched in the remake thanks to cartoony CGI).
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SAW: GAME ON. Against our expectations, “Saw: Game Over”turned out to be the highlight of 2009’s Halloween Horror Nights, so we are not complaining when we saw that this year’s incarnation is a virtual duplicate. There are a few nice gruesome bits included, such as the “rack-crucifix,” which neatly – well, not so neatly – twists off its victim’s arms. (We are not gore fans, but this one effect is almost worth the price of admission -although flashing lights and screams may distract you from seeing what’s happening.) The interesting point here is that most of Universal’s mazes try to feature the villain as much as possible, but “Saw: Game On” maintains Jigsaw as an off-screen voice, focusing attention on the mechanical traps and torture devices. Our only disappointment was with a recreation of a scene from the original SAW, in which one victim must dig a key out of the body of another victim in order to unlock a device before it kills her; for some reason, the actress playing the role was camping it up, simply flopping her fingers through bloody guts as if playing a game, not engaged in a life-or-death race against the clock.
VAMPYRE MAZE
VAMPYRE: CASTLE OF THE UNDEAD. This is set in Universal Studios year-round walk-through attraction, thes House of Horrors, which was designed to provide a sort of tour through the history of the horror genre, starting with old-fashioned classic horror movies like DRACULA and moving through the decades to include PSYCHO, CHILD’S PLAY, etc. For the last couple years, Universal Studios Hollywood has taken to re-branding the attraction for Halloween: last year it was “Chucky’s Funhouse”; this year it is “Vampyre: Castle of the Undead.” The layout and sets remain much the same – this is a fixed location – the main difference is that the walk-through is haunted by a bunch of ugly vampires based on a comic-book tie-in. The inspiration here seems to be to go anti-TWILIGHT, which is fine with us, but that will take you only so far. The vampyres need something of their own to make them memorable, beyond the fact that they are not like Edward Cullen; what we get are fairly generic, if effective at hissing and scaring in the dark. There is also a problem with the setting: House of Horrors is designed to feature several different environments: in some the vampyres seem appropriate (like Dracula’s Castle); in some they do not (like Chucky’s toy story or Frankenstein’s laboratory). There is corridor of mirrors that we do not remember from years past – creating some visual distraction that allows the vampires to make effective surprise appearances from concealed doors, and there is a very effective bit at the very end, with a headless corpse that turns out to be alive.
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ROB ZOMBIE’S HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES: IN 3D ZOMBIEVISION
It may be Zombievision, but it’s barely 3D. The flimsy cardboard spectacles create some color separation that makes certain highlighted objects stand out, but for the most part the techniques does not yield particularly memorable results. The walk through the various ghoulish scenes is creepy enough to be worthwhile, but the characters have not truly achieved the cult status that makes them ideal choices for a Halloween maze. Rob Zombie’s fans will probably feel differently – and have a great time – but the average Halloween enthusiast will be less sanguine.
TERROR TRAM BACK LOT TERROR TRAM: CHUCKY’S REVENGE is another awkward attempt to insert the killer doll into a location where he does not fit: last year it was in the House of Horrors; this year it is on the backlot. It’s starting to feel like a pay-or-play situation, with an actor under contract who gets slotted into some movie just because the studio has already paid his salary and wants to get something back for its investment rather than letting him collect his check for doing nothing. The problem here is that, in spite of numerous sequels, the CHILD’S PLAY films were always a second-rate franchise, and although talking dolls are always creepy and unnerving, the tiny tike is just not credible as a serial killer.
To some extent, Halloween Horror Nights acknowledges this by not featuring Chucky very much on the walking part of the tour (I saw one small actor in a mask and costume, a stationary doll or two, and some pint-sized silhouettes). Instead, most of the monsters are storm-troopers with de rigueur chainsaws. There are also some nicely camouflaged “plant” monsters, who blend in with the vegetation on the dark hillside.
Chucky is truly featured only on the video played on monitors aboard the tram, and truth be told, this footage is amusing – a parody of true-life documentaries charting the fading careers of celebrity has-beens. Chucky is seen in a montage of clips and still that portray him descending into drink as the career opportunities fade. In a gambit that borders on bad taste – but is pretty funny – we are told that the official explanation for the devastating 2008 fire on Universal’s back lot was a cover story; the real culprit was a vengeful Chucky, angry at the way the studio had abandoned him.
The facades and scenery are more or less the same as in previous years, but retroffited to accommodate Chucky (i.e., it’s dolls hanging from the tree, not Jason’s victims). Also, the path has been altered in some cases to give you a slightly different view as you pass from the Bates Motel to the Psycho House, where you can see more “Mothers” (i.e., Norman Bates in drag) than you can shake a stick at. The effect is more campy than frightening.
The airplane crash site is just as awesome as ever, but the storm troopers do not do much to enhance it. In past year’s, this area worked best when used to convey a sense of apocalyptic horror, in which the world seemed to be in total chaos, with zombies feeding on helpless victims in the yards of nearby homes. If Universal really wants to do something interesting with this area next year, they should fashion it into something based on LOST – now that would be interesting.

CONCLUSIONS

Halloween Horror Nights would be better if it made greater use of its own classic movie monster movie legacy. It is certainly a shame that, on the 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchock’s PSYCHO, Universal Studios could not have found some way to feature the famous franchise. Yes, one could argue that Norman Bates is dated, but so is Chucky. Canning the killer doll in favor of Norman – or just about any other Universal monster – would be an easy improvement (and it would tie in nicely with the back story for this year’s Terror Tram).
Bottom Line: If you have not been to Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, you really owe it to yourself to make the effort. However, if you have attended on previous occasions, there may not be enough new and novel frights to make a return trip an absolute necessity. If you have not already seen King Kong 360 3-D and the Simpsons motion-simulation ride, this is certainly a good opportunity to do so.
By the way, if Universal was going to bring back both Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees for Halloween Horror Nights 2010, would it have really killed them to stage a Freddy vs. Jason fight somewhere on theme park’s lot?
[serialposts]

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – Horror Film Review

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes ManhattanThis is easily the most disappointing of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH movies – which is quite an achievement when you consider that the overall quality of the franchise was hardly high enough to raise expectations to a level that would allow for disappointment. Paramount Pictures and company pulled off this neat feat by promising more with the advertising campaign than they could deliver with the film itself. Despite the subtitle JASON TAKES MANHATTAN, this eighth entry in the series takes place mostly on a slow-moving boat, and when the story finally reaches the Big Apple most of what we see is generic back allies and dark streets that could be part of any city. Jason doesn’t take Manhattan; he barely glimpses it. Whatever potential the concept had, for horror or comedy, is wasted; this is one of those films whose trailer is the superior work of art – see it and spare yourself sitting through the whole film.
The movie launches with another horny couple, this time floating on a boat through Crystal Lake. Their anchor drags a powerline across Jason (who has been lying at the bottom since the ending of PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD), and before you can scream, “It’s Alive!” the masked maniac is making mincemeat of the mincing lovers.
For reason left unexplained by the screenplay, Jason does not get off the boat and head back home to the woods; instead he drifts on until he encounters a luxury cruise ship taking a bunch of high school kids on a graduation trip up the coast to New York. This raises a couple of other questions that also go unexplained:

  1. How is is that Crystal Lake, previously presented as some tiny, land-locked backwater in the middle of nowhere, feeds into a river that leads to the ocean?
  2. Why the hell does Jason want to kill any of these kids when he previously was in the habit of either (a) killing camp counselors whom he blamed for his mother’s death or (b) killing anyone who wandered into the woods, which he defended like any territorial beast?

Of course, FRIDAY fans have long shown a capacity for ignoring problems of continuity and logic; otherwise, they never would have flocked to PART 2, which contradicted the original by telling us that Jason was alive.
Onc aboard, Jason quickly gets down to business – quickly being a relative term. Sure, he takes out victims at regular intervals, but the pacing is slow and dreary, never building up any tension. The idea apparently was to mimic ALIEN, with a monster stalking victims within the claustrophobically confines of a ship, but the execution is lackluster and formulaic.
After about an hour of this, the surviving kids finally abandon ship and float into Manhattan, where they are pursued by Jason, and for a moment or two it seems that the film is going to deliver on its promise. Instead, we get only more disappointment. There are a few brief scenes of Jason filmed on the actual location, but the film never really explores the possibilities of this backwoods maniac turned loose on a thriving Metropolis.
Jason does kills some muggers who are trying to drug and rape our leading lady – a scene presumably intended to register an irony of some sort as we wonder which form of evil is worse. However, moral speculation is quickly cast aside as the film returns to the familiar formula with Jason tracking down and killing the rest of the kids from the boat (although why he wants them, when there are so many other victims around, is never clear).
The whole thing ends up in the sewars, appropriately enough, with one of the most ridiculous endings in the history of horror movies. Throughout the film, Rennie (Jensen Daggett) has had flashbacks to the traumatic moment when she nearly drowned in Crystal Lake and saw a young boy trying to pull her under. The boy is clearly supposed to be young Jason, but this creates some more unresolvable continuity problems: even if you’re one of those fans who believe that Jason really did drown as his mother says in the frist FRIDAY, Rennie is of such an age that her childhood flashbacks must take place after Jason had emerged from the lake to avenge his mother’s death in PART 2.
Anyway, the point of the flashbacks, such as it is, comes to fruition when the city of New York conveniently floods its sewers with toxic slude. Rennie and her boyfriend manage to climb a ladder to safety, but unstoppable zombie monster Jason is swept up and drowned – reverting to the small boy that Rennie saw in her flashbacks.
What this means is anyone’s guess. Has Jason been restored to a state of innocence, or is the film setting up a sequel in which the serial killer can be reborn in a new form? Most best fall on the latter option. (Perhaps not coincidentally, a “baby” version of Freddy Kruger was used to justify bringing that character back to life in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 5: THE DREAM CHILD, which came out the same year.)
Whatever the intentions, they never came to fruition. JASON TAKES MANHATTAN was the least successful of the original FRIDAY films, and Paramount Studios sold the Jason character to New Line Cinema (owners of Freddy). The subsequent JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY ignored the events of JASON TAKES MANHATTAN, relocating the story back to Crystal Lake. Considering what a disappointment this film is, the strategy made perfect sense.

One of the few scenes set in the Big Apple.
One of the few scenes set in the Big Apple.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN(1989). Written and directed by Rob Hedden, based on characters crated by Victor Miller. Cast: Jensen Daggett, Kane Hodder, Peter Mark Richman, Tiffany Paulsen, Barbara Bingham, Warren Munson, Fred Henderson, Scott Reeves.

Friday the 13th – Bluray Review

Has it really been nearly 30 years since Friday the 13th came out? If, in 1980, you had asked me to watch a film from 1950, I’d probably have wondered why you were forcing such an old movie on me. Maybe Friday doesn’t seem that old because I actually saw it in a theater during its initial release. Now, I couldn’t tell you how it came to pass that I actually managed to convinced my father to take me: I was way, way too young to fake my own way into an R-rated movie – perhaps he was under the impression that it was a modern spin on “10 Little Indians,” but it’s more likely that he simply didn’t know anything about it at all and I had been badgering the poor man to take me ever since seeing the first ads on TV. And what ads they were – who can forget the memorable ‘body count’ trailer that was later adapted into television spots? In NY it seemed like the ad played on channels 5, 9, and 11 around the clock; I was already flirting with disaster by staying up on Saturday nights watching Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, and seeing that ad during the breaks had me absolutely petrified with fear – and things didn’t get any easier in the theater. Even now, while driving by a heavily wooded area, I think back on poor, doomed Annie’s flight from the unseen killer after an unwise attempt to hitchhike to her new job at Camp Crystal Lake. I wasn’t much of an outdoors-man back then, but after that fateful matinee in 1980, I’ve managed to successfully avoid being in any sort of camping or hiking situation. I absolutely cowered in my seat, afraid to look at the screen or admit defeat and leave the theater (an offer that was made several times by my parent and guardian). Does that make Friday the 13th a masterpiece? Nope – but it’s damn effective, and that’s enough.
After failing to recapture his early success producing Last House on the Left by directing a pair of ill-advised family comedies (the just-above-execrable Manny’s Orphans and Here Come the Tigers) Sean S. Cunningham decided to return to familiar territory with another horror tale. Halloween had proved how lucrative the genre could be for a low-budget picture that was smartly advertised and slickly presented, and in true exploitation tradition – without money, cast, or even a script – Cunningham placed a striking ad in Variety for “The most terrifying movie ever made” featuring bold block letters shattering through a pane of glass and spelling out “Friday the 13th.” In short order, he had investors lined up and a script written by Victor Miller that took a more maternal outlook on the traditional killer, giving the film a relatively unique twist in its closing moments. The story follows a group of teens attempting to re-open a long-closed summer camp that is rumored to have a “death curse” ever since the drowning of a young boy several years previous; the camp counselors are killed off in graphic fashion until only one remains to see the face and learn the motive of the murderer. Filming took place at an actual Boy Scout camp in New Jersey, giving the production access to lots of young, hungry, and (except for Betsy Palmer) mostly unknown acting talent in nearby New York, including the fetching Adrienne King as the virginal “final girl” Alice; Bing Crosby’s son, Harry, as future archery target, Bill,\: and a 22 year old Kevin Bacon as Jack, who doesn’t check under the bed.
While filming on a shoestring budget in the middle of Jersey, it’s a safe bet that the notion of creating a franchise that is still going strong three decades hence didn’t occur to anyone, least of all its director. Cunningham’s reputation as a genre producer in the Roger Corman mold is secure, but directing isn’t his strong suit; the success of Friday got him a more prestigious directing gig adapting Mary Higgins Clark’s suspenseful A Stranger is Watchinginto a tepid mess a few years later. But Cunningham kept to a very simple filming style on Friday, relying heavily on a stalking, subjective camera simulating the killer’s viewpoint. But the final key to Friday’s success was composer Harry Manfredini’s iconic musical score, featuring the indelible “ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma”, whispered throughout the score and inspired, according to Manfredini, from Mrs. Voorhees repeating “kill her, mommy…kill her!” during the conclusion (though what remains is a near libelous lift from Hermann’s Psychoscore). And while that conclusion along with its last act reveal might seem trite and overly familiar today, it played beautifully before the horror market was over-saturated with out-of-left-field twist endings (thank you, Sleepaway Camp).
Though often cited as the tipping point for the modern “body count”-style horror movie, it was far from the first. Cunningham was smart enough to steal from the best, namely Mario Bava’s 1971 Twitch of the Death Nerve – a film to which Friday’sfirst sequel would owe an even bigger debt. Bava’s violent thriller was basically a chamber mystery – revolving around a pricey parcel of land and the motley crew of fortune-seekers that assemble to vie for its inheritance (which itself is an extension of what Bava began 7 years earlier in Blood and Black Lace, setting a black-gloved killer loose in an Italian fashion house) – that reveled in the method of murder over motive. I’ve sat through Twitch at least twice and I’d be hard pressed to tell you much about the plot; what I do remember are the inventive and graphic (for the time) murders, which generated some unusually negative press for the acclaimed director.* This is particularly true of a section that has a group of twenty-somethings drop in near the estate for some general teen-type partying. This passage always had a different vibe from the rest of the film – almost as if spliced in from another movie – but it’s this segment that marks the true beginning of the modern slasher film.
Friday the 13th’s attractive cast is also genuinely like-able; not that the characters are memorably written (bluntly put, they were written to be killed), but the actor’s performances are effective. After a 1958 prolog in which two counselors at a seemingly thriving Camp Crystal Lake are murdered during a make-out session, we flash forward to the “present day” (present in this case being 1980) and meet Annie, an attractive young girl hitchhiking her way to a job at the very same camp, about to reopen for a new season after several abortive attempts over the previous 20 years. After shrugging off the warnings of locals in a diner that anyone attempting to reopen the camp will be “doomed,” Annie continues on and accepts a ride for the final leg of the trip from an unseen driver of a Jeep. Now, you don’t have to have seen the movie to know that Annie’s life expectancy clock has hit the under 5-min mark; in fact, she doesn’t even make it to the camp! In the typical modern horror movie, female characters almost always fall into one of two categories: supermodel hot or eyeglass-wearing bookworm that eventually takes off her glasses to reveal – a supermodel. Annie is played by actress Robbi Morgan, an attractive, curly-haired brunette (probably no older than 19 when the film was shot) who appears very much the normal girl. Perky, a bit tomboyish (in a non-sexually intimidating way) and utterly believable in a flannel shirt and backpack on her way to a summer job, we’re instantly engaged and feel a genuine affection for her, making her inevitable fate surprisingly tragic. The waif-like WB castoffs that typically populate horror films today seem even more plastic by comparison, weighing down every scene with phony ennui that can only come from having a cadre of assistants constantly telling you how tough your job is.
Equally strong is Adrienne King as Alice, pigeonholed after the film’s release as the archetypal ‘final girl’, a term proposed by feminist authors in the ’80s to support the notion that the men who wrote and directed these films thought of most women as either virgins or whores, with the latter deserving of a grisly end, elevating a single girl – typically both virginal and somewhat masculine, conforming to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the original Halloween – to survive and face the killer. Though Alice is somewhat dowdy in comparison to her fellow counselors, it’s sexism of a different color to assume that she’s a virgin simply because she doesn’t sleep with Kevin Bacon or tie the tails of her oxford shirt over her bellybutton. Alice is in the midst of an affair with one man when the film begins, and doesn’t flinch at the suggestion of strip Monopoly. Empathy is what’s important here, and King is particularly good at allowing the audience in, even as the cinematography puts us in the place of the killer.
The completed film was picked up for distribution by Paramount Pictures, who invested heavily in its advertising and were rewarded with both a huge moneymaker, and a string of sequels that could each be counted on to bring in many times its meager budget before finally losing the character (and Cunningham) to New Line in the ’90s. Though New Line could have continued to use the Jason character as much as they wanted, the participation of Paramount would be required to use the very marketable title, and this year the remake stars finally aligned and the Michael Bay-produced remake of Friday the 13th opens nationally on, fittingly, Friday, February 13th.
Kicking up a bit of publicity, Paramount has re-released the first 3 films in the series on DVD, with the original also getting a Bluray release. Now, Paramount has already put out DVDs of the series individually, in two-movie sets, and in a large box set (the first release to include any value-added content). What makes the new release of the original special is that America will finally be able to see the film in its complete, unrated version, restoring roughly 10 seconds of bloodshed. But anyone expecting a gore-fest will be sorely disappointed; Friday came out at a time when the MPAA was being particularly tough on horror, routinely targeting genre filmmakers like Wes Craven and Brian DePalma and insisting on myriad cuts from most slashers before passing with an all-important ‘R’ rating. The level of tension that Friday so deftly maintains throughout makes the film seem – like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre before it – much more violent than it actually is. Only Kevin Bacon’s demise is noticeably augmented by the extra bloodletting, but it has the curious effect of calling attention to the Tom Savini-created effect and actually detracting from the moment; however, Paramount should be congratulated for finally making the footage available. The new edition also features a commentary track cobbled together from separate interviews (a practice we’re not fond of, but understand the need for) with Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, Crystal Lake Memoriesauthor Peter M Bracke, actresses King, and Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees), editor Bill Freda, assistant editor Jay Keuper, and composer Manfredini.
Featurettes include “A Friday the 13th Reunion,” which is actually a panel from a horror convention (featuring Palmer, as ever, wearing that famous cable-knit sweater).”Fresh Cuts: New Tails from Friday the 13th” is a more formal collection of interviews featuring many of the above participants, including our favorite victim, Robbi Morgan. “The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S Cunningham” features an interview with same. Also available is the famous original trailer and the inexplicable “Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1,” a short film about a couple who hear noises in the middle of the night, go out into the hallway of their home to investigate, and are killed in short order by a masked, Jason-like figure. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Friday the 13thexcept that the creator is most likely a fan; its inclusion is somewhat baffling. If it appeals, the story continues on the new disc for Part 2. The 1080p Bluray picture brings out clarity and detail in the image that I wouldn’t have thought possible, and is well worth the upgrade if you’re so equipped. Midway through the film, Ned (Mark Nelson) calls out to a hooded, shadowy figure in a cabin doorway where it’s clear for the first time since the original theatrical prints that it’s actually Betsy Palmer, making the most of her 10 shooting days. Paramount also gets high marks for including the original mono soundtrack in addition to a newer surround mix. Highly recommended.
Read about this week’s other Friday the 13th DVD releases in this edition of our weekly Laserblast column.
FOOTNOTE:
*Writing in the Fall 1975 issue of Cinefantastique, Jeffrey Frentzen called TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE Bava’s most “complete failure to date” and accused the director of having an “obnoxious eye for detail” in regards to the violent murders.

His Name Was Jason – on DVD

click to order
click to order

The two-disc DVD of HIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY THE 13th will reach home video stores on February 3rd. The so-called “Splatter Edition” set will include Hollywood Movie Money and a Cover Art Poster. Read the press release below:

He first became known to audiences on . Over the course of nearly three decades and 11 films (soon to be 12), he has inspired terror in the hearts of film fans the world over. He redefined the concept of immortality and invincibility. He gave horror a new face…by not having one. His name is Jason Voorhees and this is his story.  

His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, the ultimate tribute documentary about one of horror cinema’s most enduring icons, will be released as a special two-disc “splatter edition” on . Then, on , Encore Action will host the broadcast premiere of the documentary – in celebration of the infamous date and its most famous posterboy. is a less-than-monstrous $19.97. Inside each , fans will also find a “Hollywood Movie Money™” certificate, good towards admission for the 2009 Friday the 13ththeatrical remake of the film that started the story and the screams, as well as a limited edition poster of the ’s striking cover art.  

 

Executive Produced by Sean S. Cunningham, produced and written by Anthony Masi (Halloween 25 Years of Terror, The Psycho Legacy) and Thommy Hutson (Prank), and directed by Daniel Farrands (screenwriter of The Girl Next Door and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), His Name Was Jason is the definitive look at the history and cultural legacy of this 20th Century boogeyman. Extensive interviews were conducted with more than 80 people involved throughout the entire Friday the 13th franchise, as well as filmmaker and fan testimonials.  

 

The documentary is hosted by legendary special effects make-up artist Tom Savini – whose (literally) eye-popping prosthetics were featured in such gorefest classics as 1979’s Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow, Maniac, and the original Friday the 13th and Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.  

 

Jason fans who watch His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th will be treated to reminiscences and ruminations spanning Jason’s entire film history, as well as a virtual “who’s who” of contemporary film horror, including:  

  • Actors: Betsy Palmer (1), Adrienne King (1 and Part 2), Larry Zerner (Part 3-D), Bonnie Hellman and Judie Aronson (The Final Chapter), Shavar Ross and Debi Sue Voorhees (A New Beginning), Darcy DeMoss and Vincent Gustaferro (Part VI), Lar Park-Lincoln, Elizabeth Kaitan and Diana Barrows (Part ), Peter Mark Richman and Jensen Daggett (Part VIII), Lawrence Monoson and Camilla More (The Final Friday), Lisa Ryder (Jason X), Seth Green and Travis Van Winkle (2009 remake);  
  • Jason Voorhees portrayers: Ari Lehman (1), Warrington Gillette (Part 2), Richard Brooker (Part 3-D), Ted White (Final Chapter), C.J. Graham (Part VI), Kane Hodder (Part , Part VIII, The Final Friday, Jason X) and Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs. Jason);  
  • Filmmakers: Sean S. Cunningham (Director, 1), Victor Miller (Writer, 1) Danny Steinmann (Writer/Director, A New Beginning), Tom McLoughlin (Writer/Director, Part VI), John Carl Buechler (Director/Special Makeup Effects, Part ), Joseph Zito (Director, The Final Friday), Greg Nicotero (Special Makeup Effects, The Final Friday), Marcus Nispel (Director, 2009 remake), and Composer Harry Manfredini, creator of Jason’s signature musical cue “Sh-sh-sh-sh, ha-ha-ha-ha;”  
  • Testimonials: Actress Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Writer/Director Adam Green (Hatchet, Spiral), Director Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Tony Timpone (Editor, Fangoria Magazine), Peter Bracke (Author, Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th), and online genre aficionados Robert Galluzzo (IconsOfFright.com), Brad Miska (Bloody-Disgusting.com), Steve Barton (DreadCentral.com), Ryan Turek (ShockTilYouDrop.com) and Staci Layne Wilson (Horror.com).  

Bonus features include many “cutting-edge” featurettes:

  • The Men Behind The Mask
  • Final Cuts
  • From Script To Screen
  • Fan Films
  • Closing the Book on The Final Chapter
  • Fox Comes Home
  • Friday the 13th in 4 Minutes
  • Jason Takes Comic-Con
  • The Survival Guide
  • Inside Halloween Horror Nights
  • Shelly Lives

Halloween Horror Nights news for 2008

Freddy's back for 2008Universal Studios Hollywood has issued a press release that is showing up around the web, trumpeting the terrors that await visitors to this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights, the annual celebration that begins on October 3.
Like last year, Horror Nights 2008 will feature mazes based on Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface, but Universal promises that the Kruger maze will be brand new, featuring a recreation of the infamous house on Elm Street. (Last year was more like a trip through an Asylum – not surprising when you know that it located in a maze that had been called “The Asylum” the year before.)
New for this year will be a Scare Zone inspired by THE STRANGERS, the sleeper hit horror film from earlier this year. (For those unfamiliar with the terminology, Scare Zones are simply areas of the park haunted by ghouls, so you get the Halloween experience even before you stand in line for an hour to walk through a maze.)
In addition, the back lot tram tour will be significantly upgraded to double its length, for the first time incorporating mazes.
Universal’s usual rides and attractions will be open, although revamped for Halloween: the Jurassic Park Ride becomes Jurassic Park in the Dark; the Waterworld show becomes Slaughterworld, etc.
Halloween Horror nights will be open on weekends, beginning October 3. Dates are October 3-4, 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and November 1. Doors opening nightly as 7:00pm; closing hours vary.
Tickets are available for $54 onlin at Universal Studios Hollywood’s official website; they are also sold in advance at Ralph’s, Food 4 Less, and Hot Topic, where you can save $20 a ticket by buying a Coke-related product.
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