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October HorrorDays 2014

Burgundy LaRue

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I've already written a ton of posts about my love for FRIDAY THE 13TH: Part 3D.    It has, for instance, one of the most complicated relationships in the whole series, between the pathetic and annoying Shelly and the super hot and contemplative Vera. (see addendum post forthcoming below)

But that's for later.  Having never seen F13th: 3D in actual 3D, I actually wasn't expecting much.  Most of what I've read just snarks on the flying yoyos and squirting eyeballs and other obvious 3d tricks.  But, Goddammit, this was fantastic.  I haven't ever really watched any 3D stuff and this is old-fashioned red/blue 3D, not the new-fangled kind.  But it had this wondernful effect of heightening the very thing about the F13th movies that I always say is their strongest feature: the creepy setting, sets, and spaces.

All the FRIDAY movies have that but watching with the 3D effect, I found myself hyper-aware of all the details.  Of all the stuff off to the side and in the background that kind of gets lost as you normally follow the movement of the actors in the frame.  But now the actors are smaller and they're just one thing that's moving as the perspective shifts with the camera.  I was completely "in it"...in these creepy old rooms,

I was obsessed with those light fixtures.

in the shower with one victim while the depth of the rest of the room peeks over the top of the shower curtain making you feel way more vulnerable and exposed than she actually does.  


Or when someone is climbing down a ladder in the barn and the old rotting wood of the various pens stretch out toward you and you really notice the dry cracked surface of them.  Another thing I noticed was the bugs.  Now that their movement can be, shit I don't know, like on the Z axis as well as the X and Y, you actually see them.  Moths and mosquitos darting around a campfire or fluttering around a barn.  You can taste the summer air.  Such a tiny little thing, and probably an accidental one....I mean there are probably bugs flittering around in all these movies, but in a flat world, they're kind of invisible.  Also leaves flying around.  In most F13ths, the tension is heightened at the end by rain.  Here it is more subtle...the wind picks up when it's time for the final chase and leaves start darting about randomly across the screen and at and around your head.  It's a nice touch.

The color is all washed out by the red/blue glasses, so it's almost like a B&W movie.  But I noticed how skillfully Steve Miner (who takes a lot of shit for the yoyos and stuff) built and shot this movie to make maximum subtle use of the effect.  It is more limited in terms of sets than the first two which wander around lakes and cabins and woods.  There are just two main spaces and a sort of driveway between them: The house and the barn.

The barn is perfectly designed to maximize your sense of space.  There is this great moment when the two hippies (why are they there anyway?) open the barn door and creep in.  The camera is positioned at the other end of the barn so you get these three depth fields: the long space of the barn itself, the wide doorway with the two tiny helpless people in it and the doors creating a line deeper away form you, and the equally long driveway moving even further into the distance which suddenly appears behind them with the van parked out front.  It's like single-point perspective painting!

Death could be anywhere among all this.  It's so awesome.

And then there is the house.  It was clearly selected to exploit the viewer's sense of space.  It has this floating spiral staircase in the middle that leads upstairs, which means the ground floor is one big room with a walkway around it upstairs.  This means they can set up a crane and circle the camera around the final girl as she slowly climbs those steps and we inhabit all the space around her.  


This was no accident.  It was brilliant staging and set-design and blocking.  

Other moments that benefit from the depth...when Jason comes strinding through a window to the house, emerging out of a whole actual world of space outside.

He's breaking the frame of the window and the movie screen

And that awesome, iconic shot where Jason is hanging in the doorway and she has to slowly move past him.  Now, that world of escape stretches out behind him so deep and promising.  

But he's between you and it

But the absolute best is at the end when our final girl is on the lake.  Again you notice little bugs skittering along the surface.  As the water now stretches out around you, you notice every little thing floating in it.  You can smell the stinky lake water.  You're almost eye level with the surface.


There is the lake around you, the girl in the boat, and then behind her, this big floating tree limb slowly moving towards her.

Guys, this is a completely different movie with the 3D effect than the jokey, hokey, goofy movie it seems like without it.  If you ever see a cheap copy of the 3D version on DVD for sale, or if you can rent one...DO IT...and get some red/blue glasses.  It is so worth it.

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I think I'm going to watch Deliver Us From Evil this weekend.  It's the one based on the supposedly true memoirs of a cop who helps out with exorcisms and hauntings.  I don't have high hopes.  I tried to read the book it was based on but gave up maybe 50 pages in because the cop was just entirely too religious.  Half the time, it felt like I was reading a sermon.  Also, as I read, I realized that there are only 3 possible explanations for any of this:


  1. It's all absolutely true and the supernatural is 100% real
  2. The cop and his priest friends are just crazy people, and they are "helping" other crazy people who suffer from the same delusion (that mental illness is really possession and that bumps in the night are demonic infestations)
  3. The whole thing is just made up

While I'd love to believe #1, I just can't.  So that left 2 & 3, both of which made reading about it all seem like a waste of time.  I'm hoping the creators of the film take enough artistic license to just use the book as a jumping off point and do their own thing.  Eric Bana is in it and he's pretty good, so I'll hope for the best.


On a side note: twice this weekend, my cable guide had Halloween II (1981) listed and both times, when I selected it, it was the Rob Zombie version.

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Starting to get a little behind what with the advent of hockey season and Canadian Thanksgiving!


08. Addams Family Values: I'm not really that big a fan of the first one, I find it rather tedious and that it takes forever to get where it's going, but I love this one with each and every subsequent viewing.  It's non often that you can say "Hey that 13-year-old actress really steals that movie" but Cristina Ricci undeniably steals this movie: she gets all the best lines and her delivery is just spot-on.  So, yeah, this is really great, really funny and, boy, did they hit a home run with the casting, everyone is perfect.


09. The Bat: Fairly tiresome "horror" flick from the 50s.  Agnes Moorehead plays a famous crime writer who is staying in a house belonging to a man who is suspected of embezzeling millions from his bank and there's a guy named The Bat running around killing people.  Vincent Price plays a creepy doctor.  You should be able to pinpoint The Bat's identity pretty early, I sure did.

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THE VERA ADDENDUM:  In an ongoing commemoration of my favorite and most darling, daring, poignant, and poised slasher-girls, it's time I dealt with Vera Sanchez.  She's the first person to ever be confronted by hockey-mask-wearing Jason.  She's one of only two characters in the entirety of FRIDAY THE 13th: PART 3D who has a credited last name.  The other is Jason Vorhees.

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn...er...Sanchez?
Remember how she got harpooned in the face?

Last time I spoke of my intense sadness over the untimely demise of Annie in FRIDAY THE 13TH.  But Vera is really probably my second favorite slasher girl, after Tina from HALLOWEEN 5, of course.  




She actually says the words "Tee-Hee!"  HOW FUCKING AWESOME AS THAT!!!  That's like in VAMPIRE'S KISS when Nicholas Cage "cried" by actually screaming the words "BOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!  BOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!"

We first meet not Vera, but Vera's mom and get a sense of how complicated things are for her.  They are having a fight inside in Spanish.  Her mom screams at her friends that "She is not going!"  


Her friends whisper jokes about not understanding them.  So she has to deal with both an oppressive mom, possibly first generation American, who she is conflicted about as she tries to assimilate and who doesn't understand her life, and her friends who clearly see her as marginalized for that same reason.  Perhaps this is why she seems like an island in the movie.  She doesn't really hang out with the others and constantly wanders off on her own.  Her friends respond by using her as a way to get rid of the grotesque gargoyle Shelly, by "setting her up" with him.  She responds remarkably kindly to his sheepish apology for being 1) so hideously ugly and 2) her date.

Friday_the_13th_Part_3_horror_movies_204 She never lets her disappointment show.  SMILE THROUGH THE PAIN, GIRL!!!

She's tough and uncompromising, putting herself in danger by refusing to back down from thugs and doing her best to hold in her anger at casual hillbilly racism.  But she's also incredibly sympathetic.   Usually in these movies a super hot girl in a situation like that would be complaining about losing a whole weekend by being stuck with "the fat one."  But Vera has a deeper view of the world.  She's got more going on in her mind and she's working through bigger stuff.  So what she sees is as an opportunity to help a misfit.  To help this!:

tumblr_m2g7kc97_Qw1qdrpdr.jpg He's supposed to be the Fangoria Mary Sue here, guys.  THINK ABOUT THAT!!!


Instead she sort of takes it on herself to try and bring him up toward the standards of human despite the clear evidence that the highest standard he can reach is "sentient slug." She's the only character in the entire main cast who doesn't mock him to his face (once again along with Jason, who we don't see mock him...but who probably was like "Wait, this guy gets a family and a house????  He's, like, maybe two points higher than me!!").  Even though she's beautiful and he's a toad, she understands what it means to be casually taken for granted by your "friends" and to feel like an outsider both at home and out in the world. She clearly has a long and profound journey of discovery ahead of her.  Imagine what a good Mrs. Vorhees she might have made!

Look how she holds in her anger in the face of rural N.J. bigots:

And look at her all determined to stand up to bullies:

and look at her being so sympathetic toward that macabre barrel of failure and vice Shelly:

Then she gets harpooned in the eye-socket.  What a great gal!  Just imagine if we could combine the toughness, pragmatism, and contemplative sympathy of Vera with the energy, optimism, and style of Tina?  Why we'd have some kind of wonder woman...maybe the greatest human being who ever fictionally lived and then horribly died.

I've just created a pretty niche form of slashfic, I think, but I remain convinced that Joss Whedon based Buffy on Vera and Xander on Shelly.
And if not, so what, jerks!  If Tina is the Kim Catrall to my inner Crow T. Robot, then Vera is the Estelle Winwood...and I mean that in the most flattering possible way for Estelle Winwood.

What has become of you?



sadly, this:



Does anybody else in here
feel the way I do...?


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When I was a wee lad, I kind of felt bad for that pudgy loser who couldn't get a girl's attention in Friday 13th 3D. Then I rewatched it a few years ago and realized I really didn't like him, and when I died I felt a comfort in knowing that he didn't have to go on scraping for survival, He wasn't made for this cannibalistic world.


Also Part 3 was my favorite until I rewatched the glory of Jason Lives last year.

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I don't know if I ever want to actually see it in 3D. Part of its charm comes from all those 3D gags existing in a 2D format. Lemme pick up this eyeball annnnnnnd POINT IT AT YOU.

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Despite its title "Summer Camp Nightmare" isn't really a horror movie, more like Lord of the Flies at summer camp (kinda like the Kamp Krusty episode of The Simpsons) though slightly darker featuring a few going crazy and killing eachother and a suggested pedo camp director.  Anyways, the comment about teen camp slasher musical reminded me of the talent show scene which is the most 80s thing ever-



-aquanetted hair and Madonna-like fashions in the girls' musical number

-token black kid rapping the intros

-the camp "bad boys" who are two bemulleted metalheads playing a cover of Fear's "Beef Bologna" (with non-plugged in guitars)

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JASON LIVES! RV driver dude sighting at 4:00.



That old lady with Chuck Connors during "Beef Bologna" was Shirley Mitchell, whose career spanned vaudeville, radio, and t.v. and who worked with George Burns, Jack Benny, Red Skelton...like...everyone.  Believe it or not she was still doing voice acting (as a "fake" Betty White!!) in 2012 and just passed away last year.

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i love horror anthologies and have found the horror mockumentary to be a hit or miss kinda deal.  So it goes with V/H/S. 


V/H/S certainly cracks the code on the primary failure of the Found Footage sub-genre by keeping things short and simple.  However the quality of the shorts is uneven to say the least, ranging from the totally macabre to the downright bewildering.  It consistently suspenseful but uneven and inconsistently rewarding.


If you watch this movie with your friends, there will be the inevitable "which short was best?" argument.  I personally thought that the first short "Amateur Night" was the best one, but my friends go with the typical anthology logic and seem to believe that the last short of the bunch "10/31/98" was the superior piece.


I will leave you to be the judge.  The sad thing is that this movie aspires to be either the best horror anthology ever or the best horror mockumentary ever, and it doesn't succeed in either arena.


If you want to see a really good found footage horror film, NOROI:  THE Curse, is still the best (or at least it may be until I get around to watching Afflicted or V/H/S 2), and the best horror anthology ever IMO is Mario Bava's 1963 epic, Black Sabbath.

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Black Sunday is right up there but Tales from the Crypt by Amicus is still my fave. I was just reminded of The Strange World of Coffin Joe today and man, if you can handle it, that's waaaaaay up there. And of course, Creepshow. 


V/H/S was good and yeah you can argue the merits of the stories, but V/H/S 2 contains a single segment that trumps any of them, set in Southeast Asia in a strange monastery of sorts...


Every time I see someone talking about the new Stage Fright I think about the film of the same title Michele Soavi directed back in the '80s where a theater troupe was under attack by a slasher wearing a giant owl's head mask. If you can find that one check it out, some good bitchy performances and tons of gore.

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I might check out See No Evil 2. On one hand, it's WWE Studios; on the other, it's directed by the Soska Sisters and has Katharine Isabelle in it, so it will at least be decent.


Honestly, if Vince just gave the twins $1 million a year, every year, to make a low budget horror movie, it would be the smartest thing he could do.

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Tales From the Hood is a classic.


Forgot about that one. Top three then. 


If you had the Soskas then it might work, but anything they do couldn't even nail a commercial on the network... well, maybe with edits, considering what already gets by during Raw. Really they could do better being the Empire/Troma of the 2010s and just taking good indie films, international and domestic, and distributing them.

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