Thursday, October 29, 2020

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1987)

From the wrestling-dependent jackoff who brought you The Histories of WWE WrestleMania and SummerSlam comes the official Enuffa.com History of WWE Survivor Series.


Welcome to my retrospective about what has traditionally been one of my favorite wrestling concepts, the Survivor Series.  The PPV debuted in 1987 when the WWF's chief rival, the NWA, decided to venture into the PPV market with Starrcade '87.  Vince McMahon, in full-on predatory mode, created a new gimmick PPV to go head-to-head with Jim Crockett's flagship show, but also told the cable companies they would have to choose between Starrcade and Survivor Series, and if they chose the former they would not be permitted to carry the following year's WrestleMania event.  This unfortunately crippled Starrcade's distribution (a shame since Starrcade '87 was a helluva show) and essentially ruined Crockett's PPV hopes, leading to the promotion's sale to Ted Turner in 1988.

The Survivor Series was built around a simple but ultra-awesome concept, superteams of five men (with either one or two captains depending on the year) battling for supremacy in a sequence of elimination matches.  The last team (or portion thereof) left standing would be the winners.  I had seen six-man elimination tag matches but the idea of a 5-on-5 version blew my freakin' mind and I absolutely loved this plan.

For the first few editions the show was entirely comprised of these elimination matches, but as the years have worn on WWE has almost disowned them and made the card more like a regular old PPV with an occasional elimination bout thrown in.  The result has been a very watered-down version of a once epic annual tradition.  But let's take a look at the history of WWE's second-oldest PPV event.


Survivor Series 1987 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/26/87

The original Survivor Series was an absolutely colossal extravanganza.  The three-hour PPV consisted of only four matches, three of which pitted teams of five against each other.  The fourth (and this was fucking GENIUS) stacked five tag teams to a side, and when one man from a tag team was eliminated, both members were gone.  So for example if Dynamite Kid got pinned, his partner Davey Boy Smith had to leave the ring as well.  This match type was only featured in the first two Survivor Series' (and was brought back in 2016), but it was amazing.  It also demonstrated how incredibly deep the tag team division used to be.

That there is a tag team division.

The first event opened with the team of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan facing the Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, "Outlaw" Ron Bass, Harley Race, and Danny Davis.  Savage and HTM were feuding over the Intercontinental Title, and the "Macho Man" had become the second-most popular babyface in the company.  Also consider how monumental it was that Savage and Steamboat were teaming up only months after their venomous blood feud.  This match was absolutely thrilling and kicked off this historic event in style.  Team Savage was dominant, winning the match with three survivors (Savage, Steamboat and Jake) after the hopelessly outnumbered Honky Tonk Man took a powder and got counted out.  Just twenty-four minutes of BOSS.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: A Parents' Night Mini - The Great Pumpkin is Finally Revealed!

We're back with another Parents' Night mINi-episode movie review, where we discuss the OTHER classic Peanuts cartoon, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!  We'll talk about our history with this TV special, some of our earliest Halloween memories, the awful Halloween costumes we wore as kids,  how disappointed we were that we never got to actually SEE the Great Pumpkin, the origin of the phrase "trick or treat," and more!  Stick around to the end, because THE GREAT PUMPKIN IS REVEALED!



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Snippet of the Peanuts theme by Vince Guaraldi.
Parody lyrics:

Parents' Night mINi is back for
Halloween time
Linus and Sally are missing
Tricks or treats
Wait....who says that?

Subscribe to our channel to stay updated on future episodes, and don't forget to visit Enuffa.com, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook!  

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Disclaimer- Some contents are used for educational purpose under fair use. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.       









Top Ten Things: Scary Movie Moments

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Since it's October I thought I'd do a Halloween-themed list, so today I'll be talking about truly frightening or disturbing moments/scenes in some of my favorite scary films.  I generally don't scare very easy when watching a film; I've seen so many in my lifetime, and coming up with new ways to shock audiences becomes more difficult with each passing year.  But there are some cinematic scares that have endured for me, either because of a visually harrowing moment, or because of the sheer genius of a scene's construction.



10. The Shining: Bear Suit - This first entry isn't terrifying in the traditional sense, but I've included it more because it's such a strange and upsetting image.  In this scene from one of the all-time horror classics, Wendy Torrance is running through the halls of the haunted Overlook Hotel trying to find her son.  She stops in her tracks and the camera abruptly zooms in through the open doorway of one of the rooms, on a ghost dude in a bear suit pleasuring another ghost dude in a tux.  The novel provides an explanation for these supernatural shenanigans, but it's so much more effective as an unexplained cinematic bit.  This visual is so traumatic, so bizarre and disorienting, for both Wendy and the audience, particularly since neither of these men is supposed to be there.  It's like something out of a nightmare that you can barely remember; one of those dreams where you can only recall fragments of out-of-context imagery that stay with you for weeks.

Seriously, what the hell's goin' on?



9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pointing - The 1978 remake of this sci-fi classic (in my opinion the best version by far) ends with the entire city of San Francisco being taken over by human-impersonating pod people.  The protagonist Matthew Bennell has seemingly escaped without being assimilated and is spotted by his friend Nancy, one of the few humans left in the city.  As she approaches him, he turns and lets out the signature body snatcher screech, revealing to us that he's one of them, and alerting the other pod people to Nancy's presence.  It's a truly terrifying conclusion to the film, and the visual of Donald Sutherland pointing at her accusingly with this inhuman facial expression is an iconic horror moment.

If you ever suspect someone of anything, just point at them like this
and I guarantee they'll own up to every shitty thing they've ever done.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: House of Frankenstein (1944)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-themed installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  If you haven't been following this series and want to catch up, make sure you start at the beginning with our take on the original Frankenstein!  Or jump in from our previous installment, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!


Well we're six movies into the Universal Frankenstein series.  After two genuinely good films and one admirable near-miss, the studio morphed these films into cheap monster exploitation fare, culminating in the first-ever crossover movie with Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  That movie was such a hit the studio decided that more = better, and they added Dracula to the mix for the followup, House of Frankenstein.  And to sweeten the deal they included a new hunchback character and a wacked-out scientist just so the posters could include five "monster" characters.  It was the 1940s equivalent of The Avengers or Justice League, with all the in-house freaks in one movie.

Set thirty years after Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, the story this time centers around Dr. Niemann, an evil scientist, and his hunchbacked assistant Daniel who escape from prison and decide to get revenge on all the men who put them there.  To that end Niemann steals and revives Dracula's corpse and then makes his way to Frankenstein's castle where he resurrects the Frankenstein monster and Larry Talbot, who were washed away at the end of FMTWM.  Niemann promises his assistant and Talbot that he'll transplant their brains into better bodies but all hell breaks loose as usual. 

But was it any good?  Ummmm, nope.  Still, on a stupid fun level there's some enjoyment to be had with House of Frankenstein.  So let's take a look, shall we?



The Awesome


Boris Karloff

Karloff made his return to the Universal Frankenstein films here, but instead of reprising the role that made him famous, he plays the main character of the mad scientist.  His presence lent the film a bit of much-needed credibility and it was fun to see him in such a different role from that of the monster.  If this movie has nothing else going for it (and it's close), at least it has Karloff.

Look it's Frankenstein and Dracula together....sort of.




Visuals

Like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House has some lovely black & white cinematography and well-designed expressionistic sets.  This entire series made great use of scenery, lightning and cinematography (Ghost of Frankenstein excepted - that movie looks like garbage), so even amidst the hammy acting and nonsensical plotting at least there's always something nice to look at.  One set I particularly loved was the ice cavern.

Super cool set


Monday, October 26, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I pick apart the finer and lesser points of a piece of escapist cinematic entertainment and usually end up pissing someone off.  Following up our last installment about A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, let's take a look at its sequel, the Renny Harlin-directed romp, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master!


Nightmare 4 is the only episode of this series I saw in the movie theater, it having been released just before my thirteenth birthday.  I was old enough to convince my mom to take me to see it, and surprisingly she was pretty entertained by it.  My initial take was, "best of the series."  I loved the mix of horror and humor, I loved the idea of Freddy meeting his match in the dream-superpowered Alice, I loved the stylized look and special effects.  This film was everything a thirteen-year-old Freddy fan could want.

The fourth film in the series picks up a year after Nightmare 3.  The three survivors from that movie, Kristen, Joey and Kincaid, have been released from their group home and are back in high school, seemingly having moved past their shared trauma.  But Kristen begins dreaming once again about Freddy's house and boiler room and is convinced he's returning.  Joey and Kincaid don't agree, and begin to resent her for continuing to pull them into her dream.  Of course Freddy does return after being resurrected when Kincaid's dog pees on his grave, and he swiftly gets revenge on the last three Elm Street children.  But before her death, Kristen bequeaths her dream gifts onto her friend Alice, whom Freddy uses to pull other kids into her nightmares so he can continue killing.  Alice then must absorb the personality traits of all her friends and become a Dream Master so she can go toe-to-toe with everyone's favorite burned dream murderer.

By this point in the series things had become quite outlandish and comic booky, with Freddy's exploits leaning more toward dark comedy than pure horror.  This film doesn't quite veer into camp, but it definitely completed a four-film tonal shift from the original, before the fifth film returned to a darker feel.  On one hand you have to respect Renny Harlin's gleefully cartoonish take on this material, on the other hand you do miss Freddy being actually scary.  Let's take a look at what holds up and what doesn't, about Nightmare 4....


For our ASM article about Nightmare 3, click HERE



The Awesome


Alice

Probably the best thing about Nightmare 4 is the newly introduced character of Alice Johnson, in a dynamic, robust performance by Lisa Wilcox.  Unlike most horror protagonists she's given a real dramatic arc, going from mousy and awkward to confident and resilient, as she assimilates her friends' abilities after they die.  Alice is the daughter of a widowed, domineering, alcoholic father, who's trampled on her for so long she's all but retreated into herself (One nice touch is the use of Alice's mirror - she has it completely covered with photos of her friends because she doesn't like to look at herself, but at the end she takes all the photos down and embraces who she is).  But throughout the movie she keeps gaining strength, standing up to both her father and Freddy (metaphors, man).  This arc actually feels very relevant in 2019 and I couldn't help noticing how ahead of its time it was.  While the choice to totally shift to a new main character was jarring, they found in Alice a very relatable character with some nice dramatic substance to explore.  Her growth into the moniker of Dream Master also put Freddy on the defensive for the first time in the series, and Alice went on to be the only protagonist to survive two films.  As Sandra Bullock so eloquently quipped in Demolition Man, "He's really matched his meet.  You really licked his ass."

You go get him, Alice!




Nice Kids

One thing I found really refreshing about Nightmare 4 is the fact that the group of kids (with whom we actually get to spend some real time before everything goes to shit, unlike in Nightmare 3), despite being very different social types (Alice is a shy doormat, Rick is athletic martial arts enthusiast, Debbie is a fitness freak rocker chick, Dan is a football star, Sheila is an asthmatic science nerd), they all genuinely like each other.  There's no stereotypical high school bullying or cliques in this movie.  While that might not be the most realistic approach, it's something different for a movie about teenagers and since they're all likable we care what happens to them.  Nice people are more fun to spend time with.

The kids are alright.  In this movie.




Direction

Where Nightmare 3 was directed by a first-timer without much confidence or visual pinache, Finnish director Renny Harlin had a very clear vision of what he wanted to do, and a keen eye for dramatic, unique visuals.  He's really more suited as an action director, as his later work in Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight would illustrate.  But his unconventional approach allowed Nightmare 4 to look and feel different from its three predecessors, giving the film a sense of kinetic visual excitement Nightmare 3 lacked, and taking the comic booky aspect of Dream Warriors to the next level.  Harlin also contributed to last-minute script changes, as the film was produced during the 1988 Writer's Strike; considering the scrambling most of it turned out pretty well. 




Effects

Like Nightmare 3, the special effects here look great, even more polished thanks to a considerably bigger budget ($13 million compared to $5 million).  Freddy's resurrection is one of the film's highlights, as his skeleton literally grows muscle and flesh before our very eyes (think Toht's melting face in Raiders of the Lost Ark but played in reverse).  Another is the nod to David Cronenberg's The Fly, when Debbie's human form molts off her body and she turns into a cockroach.  Still another is Freddy's ultimate demeez, when the faces and hands of the children he's murdered reach out of his body and begin tearing him apart from the inside.  These are all fantastically well-executed effects that further add to the series' pedigree.





Dream Sequences

Along those same lines, the dream sequences are creative once again.  I'd say Nightmare 3's nightmares were overall more imaginative, but this stuff is nothing to sneeze at either.  The three aforementioned moments are all great, as is Alice's scene in the old-time movie theater where she gets pulled across the auditorium and into the screen.  There's also Sheila's death scene, where Freddy literally sucks all the air out of her body, and Joey's death, wherein the sexy model from one of his posters transports into his water bed before morphing into Freddy and pulling him under, after which Joey's mother then finds him drowned inside the waterbed.  So while the Freddy scenes aren't quite as neat as in the previous film, they're still pretty creative and fantastical.  The one real miss is Rick's karate-themed death, where he has to fistfight an invisible Freddy (a last-minute change from an elaborate elevator sequence which was cut for budgetary reasons).  But they can't all be good, can they?

Freddy doing his impression of a Dyson....




Robert Englund

As with every good Nightmare movie, Robert Englund is one of the reasons this one works.  The role of Englund's career, in this film almost bordering on anti-hero, is the claw-wielding maniac with the burned-up face.  The screenwriters veered a little too far into Arnold-esque bad comedy in this film - Freddy's dropping bad jokes like an unfunny dad this time - but Englund as always brings it to life with a mix of menace and levity.  Oh, and unlike in Part 1 and 3 his vocal timbre is consistent throughout!

Dat's a spicy meat-a-ball.


Alright I've said enough nice things.  Time to complain about some shit....




The Shitty


Tuesday Knight

Sorely missing from this film is Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker.  Arquette was offered a handsome salary to reprise her role as the main protagonist from Nightmare 3, but turned it down because she wanted to avoid being typecast in horror roles.  Unfortunately she was hastily replaced by an actress who looked, sounded and talked nothing like her, in Tuesday Knight.  Knight's performance isn't so much bad (though she has some amateurish moments) as it is distracting.  Never once did my brain accept her as the same person Arquette played.  She was just some other teenager with the same color hair and the same friends.  Recasting a major character is tough; if you're gonna do it you have to make sure the performances match, and this one doesn't.

Who the hell are you and what did you do with Kristen??




Soft Reboot

One thing I've never been a fan of in sequels is when a character (or in this case three) survives a horrific ordeal in one film only to be neatly and efficiently killed off early in the next (see Alien 3).  It strikes me as near retconning; why did we watch Kristen, Joey and Kincaid muscle through Nightmare 3 if they'd all be dead in the first thirty minutes of this movie?  The first act of this film too often feels like we're rushing to get the old characters out of the way so we can get to Alice.  I get that we needed to transition to a new main character, but couldn't it have been handled more gracefully?  Or couldn't Lisa Wilcox simply have been cast as Kristen and gone through the same arc Alice did?  What if Kristen is now mousy and shy after spending months at a psychiatric ward and nearly being killed by a dream boogeyman?  And then her last two friends from that ordeal die, along with the new friends she's made, and she's forced to grow from Dream Warrior into Dream Master (They could even have her absorb the other Dream Warriors' powers like she takes on the traits of her new friends)?  Wouldn't that have worked just as well?  She'd still have the power to pull other people into her dream and inadvertently expose the new characters to Freddy's shenanigans, right?  Then it wouldn't feel so much like the producers were just starting over with this franchise and it would tie more closely into the events of Nightmare 3.




One-Liners

I mentioned earlier that Freddy was rewritten here as a pun and slogan machine, and unfortunately his penchant for lame jokes undermines his value as a horror villain.  It was Renny Harlin's mindset that after three films audiences wouldn't be scared of Freddy anymore, and in fact they'd sort of be rooting for him because he's such an entertaining character.  But I think they took that philosophy a bit too far in giving him a cheeseball one-liner every time he murders someone.  Some of them are Schwarzenegger in The Running Man-bad.  Just before Freddy kills Kristen and dares her to bring a friend into her dream - "Why don't you reach out and cut someone?"  When he meets Alice for the first time - "How sweet. Fresh meat."  When he shows up in Debbie's basement as she's lifting weights - "No pain, no gain."  When he traps Debbie in the roach motel - "You can check in but you can't check out."  When he confronts Alice in the diner - "If the food don't kill ya, the service will."  It's too much, jokester, tone it down.     




Freddy's Downfall

As I said before, it was very cool to finally see Freddy tangle with someone who could go toe-to-toe with him.  However I feel like Alice had it too easy.  They have a brief physical tussle, Freddy gets the upper hand, and then Alice remembers the Dream Master rhyme about evil seeing itself and dying, grabs a broken piece of stained glass window, and shows Freddy his reflection.  This causes the souls of all the children he's killed to rip him apart from the inside.  As I mentioned, I liked the effect of the arms pulling out of him, a very cool visual, but it felt like Alice arrived at this solution too quickly, and the idea of showing evil its own reflection is never built up to.  This rule is just introduced at the last minute.  Just seemed like this moment could've felt more earned.

Freddy's soul inbox is full....




Nitpicks

-As cool as Freddy's resurrection sequence is, something about it doesn't make any sense.  At the end of Nightmare 3 Freddy's physical remains are physically buried in a physically-consecrated grave, causing the nightmare version of Freddy to disintegrate.  But then in this movie Kincaid falls asleep and in the dream finds himself in the junkyard where Freddy's buried, and his dog Jason (hardy-har) pees on Freddy's grave, which resurrects him.  Umm, if Freddy's bones are buried in the real world, shouldn’t the dog peeing on the grave have to happen in the real world for Freddy to come back?  He's still buried in hallowed ground in real life, right?

-Did Kristen and her mom move to a new house in the last year?  Her room doesn't look a thing like it did in the previous movie.

-Wow Kristen’s mom is an insensitive bitch huh?  At dinner Kristen isn't eating and her mom goes "Something the matter with the cuisine?"  Kristen replies "When two of your friends die in the same day, let me know what it does to your appetite," and mom goes "You're just tired."  Really ma?  Literally every friend this girl has ever had is dead, and your response is to tell her she's just tired?  Know your audience, ya douche.  Under the circumstances I think Kristen's holding it together like a fuckin' miracle.

-The classrooms in this film are lit like a film noir.  I ain't never been in a classroom like that.  Do they allow smoking and crooked fedoras in this school?

-Debbie's death scene is one of the best in the movie, but there's just one problem.  Debbie isn't asleep when Freddy shows up - she's working out.  So how does anything in this scene even happen?  Did Debbie fall asleep mid-rep?

Who falls asleep while weightlifting?

-Near the end of the film Alice and Dan go after Freddy in Dan's truck, and Alice rams him.  But it turns out that was just in the dream, and in the real world they collided full-speed with a tree.  Dan is rushed to the hospital but somehow Alice is totally fine.  Umm, they'd both be fuckin' vegetables after that crash with no airbags.

-Anyone catch the references to Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow or James Cameron's Aliens?  Freddy's first line after being resurrected is "You shouldn't have let them bury me, I'm not dead," and late in the movie Alice says to Freddy "Get away from her, you son of a bitch!"  Not a nitpick, just a nice pair of Easter eggs.



Conclusion

The first four movies in this series are hard for me to rank definitively.  I like aspects of all of them but parts of each don't hold up so well in retrospect.  If you took the best bits of each film you'd have a damn near perfect Nightmare movie.  But I guess that's what's so fascinating about this series - every film is different.  Like the Alien movies, each director put his own stamp on the material, and since Freddy is a surrealist villain the rules are whatever you make them.  Nightmare 4 is the film that made Freddy almost an action-adventure villain, tossing out one-liners and relishing his own evil.  Renny Harlin's kinetic signature style is handled with such unapologetic confidence it's easy to get wrapped up in it and overlook the elements that don't work so well.  This film is a horror comic book, not scary but exhilarating, and features maybe the most interesting lead protagonist of the series.  Alice is a unique invention in the pantheon of slasher films, a young woman who goes from mousy pushover to badass hero, defeating the demon all on her own and getting the hot, popular jock at the end.  If nothing else you have to respect how ahead of its time this film is.


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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Top Ten Things: Hell in a Cell Matches

Hey there, and welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  

Today's list is all about the most demonic of wrestling gimmick matches, Hell in a Cell.  Introduced by the WWF in 1997, HIAC expanded on the traditional Steel Cage match by surrounding the entire ringside area with the volatile mesh structure.  They also covered the whole thing with a roof, trapping the combatants inside but giving them enough room to utilize the numerous unforgiving surfaces and weapons found outside the ring.  The result was one of the most brutal recurring stipulations in the history of the business, where only the most personal and heated of rivalries would be settled.  2009 saw the creation of a Hell in a Cell-themed PPV, which undermined the severity of such a gimmick match by making it an annual tradition instead of a feud-ender.  Regardless of its recently history though, Hell in a Cell still remains one of the most intriguing special attractions in WWE.

Here are my picks for the ten greatest HIAC matches of all time....




10. Batista vs. Triple H - Vengeance - 6.26.05


After two rather lackluster efforts at WrestleMania 21 and Backlash, Hunter and Big Dave finally delivered a classic inside the hellacious cage.  This was a bloody, grueling fight that ran over 26 minutes and finally solidified Batista as Triple H's conqueror.  These two made innovative use of weapons, as well as the ol' cage walls to create a shockingly good Cell bout.  When it was over, the torch had finally been passed to Batista, who along with John Cena became one of the faces of the company.





9. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose - Hell in a Cell - 10.26.14


After multiple years of underwhelming HIAC matches two young, hungry stars took the gimmick back up a notch at the 2014 event.  Mortal enemies Ambrose and Rollins followed up their unruly SummerSlam Lumberjack match with this brutal, chaotic fight that kicked off atop the structure.  After about ten minutes of crazy brawling leading to both men falling through announce tables (the first spot like that since the Mick Foley years), the match officially resumed inside the cage, and 13 minutes later Rollins took advantage of Bray Wyatt's (hokey) interference to win the bout.

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-related Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Universal Studios franchise, we've arrived at the first cross-over film in the series, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr and Bela Lugosi.  If you missed our Ghost of Frankenstein review, click HERE.


FMTWM served as both a continuation of Ghost of Frankenstein (review HERE) and the 1941 classic The Wolf Man, and the studio wasn't coy about the two characters' eventual showdown.  The story here finds The Wolf Man Lawrence Talbot accidentally brought back to life and searching for a way to kill himself.  His travels take him to the old Frankenstein castle, where the monster is somehow still alive.  This barebones plot is just a way to get the two monsters in the same room so they can fight.  Not unlike a certain DC Comics crossover film released a few years back....

Anyway, there is unabashedly little substance to this movie but the filmmakers at least found ways to make it visually engaging, and its 74-minute running time flies by.  So let's take a look at the pluses and negatives of Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man....



The Awesome


Dutch Angles

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, despite its obvious status as an early schlock film, is actually pretty visually stunning, in part due to extensive Dutch angles to create a sense of being off-balance.  Unlike Ghost, which featured flat angles and drab cinematography, the filmmakers here made a conscious effort to at least draw the viewer in with the visuals.

Crooked cameras.....


Use of Shadows

In the same vein, this movie has a distinctly Expressionist look, with intense shadows that add to the gothic flavor.  There may be very little going on plot-wise, but this is damn sure a fun movie to look at.

Nice, atmospheric sets in this movie

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

WWE Hell in a Cell 2020 Preview & Predictions

What is it with Hell in a Cell PPVs nowadays?  This is the second year in a row WWE has only announced four matches as of a few days before the show.  And we all know how that went last year, don't we?  What the fuck, with this company....


Anyway, Hell in a Cell 2020 is in four days, so I guess let's pick the winners for the half-card they've been gracious enough to announce.  There's really only one match on this show I'm interested in and that's the three-years-in-the-making Bayley vs. Sasha match.



Jeff Hardy vs. Elias


So as I understand it, Sheamus attacked Elias backstage but framed Jeff Hardy for it, and now Elias wants to fight Jeff.  Even though we know for a fact that it was actually Sheamus.  Is that right?  This has gotta be the stupidest-ever basis for a feud, and I was around in 1995 when Jean-Pierre LaFitte stole Bret Hart's jacket (that his mom supposedly made for him, because moms are good at fashioning leather garments...).  At least that feud yielded two really good matches.  This isn't gonna be that.  Elias stinks and Jeff is beyond irrelevant in 2020.  Who gives a turd?

Pick: Jeff wins I guess?




Universal Championship Hell in a Cell: Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso


This is one of two Cell matches where the challenger has already lost to the champion.  So therefore let's have a rematch in the most brutal gimmick structure.  Makes sense.  Man do I miss the days when Hell in a Cell was about settling a blood feud and not "Hey, it's October again!"  Anyone who thinks Jey Uso has a snowball's chance in Guatemala, I have several bridges to sell you.  In Guatemala.

Pick: Anyone with brains knows Roman Reigns retains

Awesomely Shitty Movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies column here at Enuffa.com, where I take another look at a childhood favorite and talk about why parts of it don't hold up and in some cases make me cringe.  Some of you will probably hate me...


It's Halloween season, so I'm watching a lot of horror movies, and today I'm revisiting a classic of the cheesy 80s horror genre, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors!  I came by this series just as this film was being released in early 1987; a friend in junior high school was a slasher film fanatic and used to bring in issues of Fangoria for me to read (Goddamn, that magazine ruled).  I'd heard of A Nightmare on Elm Street and its first sequel from my older siblings but knew zero about them until my schoolmate showed me pictures of the burnt guy with the finger-knives.  Immediately I was fascinated - what kind of an imagination came up with this creepo??  My friend also had a copy of the novelization The Nightmares on Elm Street, Parts 1, 2 and 3, as well as the Nightmare on Elm Street Companion coffee table book (which I still have).  I rushed out to buy both books, having never seen any of the films, and dove in head-first.  I soon rented the first movie and loved it, rented the second and just sorta liked it, and couldn't wait to see the third once it dropped on VHS (Being under 17 I didn't have a parent/guardian available/interested in accompanying me to the theater for this movie/film).  Another friend eventually bought the third movie, so I watched it at his house, and it blew my goddamn fuckin' mind.  The nightmare sequences were way more elaborate and fantastical, the teenagers now had dream powers, and Freddy was crackin' jokes the whole movie.  It was like a slasher movie crossed with a comic book, and at 12 years old it was one of the greatest things I had ever seen.

This book is the TITS.

Tangent time: That summer I fashioned a Freddy claw out of an old leather glove and some Tinker Toys (they didn't yet have the licensed Freddy glove), and my mom bought me an official Freddy mask to go with an old red-and-green-striped sweater my parents happened to have in the house.  I obviously went as Freddy for Halloween that year and was proud as fuck of my costume.  'Course looking back now it seems borderline inappropriate for a 12-year-old to dress up as a serial child murderer, but the 80s were a strange time.

Anyway, back to the movie.  Nightmare 3 was considered a more faithful sequel to the original (after a second installment was made against Wes Craven's stern objections, throwing out some of the rules established in the first, as well as lightening the tone and injecting a love story).  Nightmare 2 was quite successful at the box office, but critics and fans were disappointed with how far it strayed from Craven's original vision.  So for the third movie Craven was brought back in to shape the story, Nancy Thompson returned to the fold, and while still slightly comedic, the movie restored somewhat the original's darker tone.  Freddy was now dream-stalking a group of troubled, suicidal teenagers, but said teenagers had also learned to develop special skills to fight back.  Armed with a more robust budget, the filmmakers poured everything they had into the set pieces and effects, creating a crowd-pleasing horror entertainment that handily outgrossed its two predecessors.

Hey, nothing wrong with that, but watching it now there is some stuff that doesn't hold up for me.  Before we get to that though, let me heap some praise on this esteemed bit of slasher escapism...

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Sigh.....welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com.  Today we look at the moment when Universal's Frankenstein franchise took a screeching 90-degree turn and went tumbling, ablaze, off a cliff into the night.  That moment when the studio ceased making top quality films about everyone's favorite flat-headed clod and transformed him into a mindless B-movie ghoul.  That's right, I'm talkin' about Ghost of Frankenstein....  (Click HERE if you missed Son of Frankenstein)


When Son of Frankenstein was another smash-hit, Universal realized there was still a ton of money in these movies and began churning them out at a rapid-fire pace, without paying attention to the annoying little details like story, characters, acting, or in this case visual style.  Ghost picks up the story shortly after the events of Son, where the villagers of Frankenstein are still angry and hysterical because the apparent death of the monster hasn't magically fixed all their woes (Kinda like with American politics).  They believe the monster might still be alive, not to mention Ygor (Good guess), and it's kept them under a curse.  The mayor eventually gives in to their badgering and greenlights their plan to destroy Frankenstein's castle (Because apparently the authority figures in this town are cool with rioting).  As they smash and burn the castle, Ygor stumbles onto the preserved monster, embedded in a block of solidified sulfur.  He breaks free and Ygor takes him to the village to find Wolf Frankenstein's brother Ludwig, also a scientist who might have the secret to restore the monster to his former glory.  Here we go again.....

So what worked and what didn't (Spoiler alert: Most of it didn't work)?  Let's take a look.....



The Awesome


Bela Lugosi

Bela's back as Ygor, and despite being directed to play the character completely differently than before, he gives another solid turn as the villainous hunchback, manipulating both the monster and the scientists to bend to his will.  No matter how cheesy and low-rent the movie, Lugosi's presence is always a welcome one.  Just ask Ed Wood.

"Hello young lady.... vant to see the inside of my van?"


Twist Ending

After a pretty tedious, meandering hour, it all comes down to Ludwig's decision to take out the monster's criminal brain (Remember that from the first movie?) and put in a healthy one.  Unfortunately though, Ygor has convinced his assistant Dr. Bohmer to substitute Ygor's brain, which will allow him to live in a strong, healthy body instead of his current mangled form.  Ludwig unwittingly puts Ygor's brain in the monster's head and revives him, and the monster begins triumphantly speaking in Ygor's voice.  But just then he discovers his eyesight is failing due to Ygor not having the same blood type as the monster.  Yeah this is all pretty goofy, but it's kind of a cool, disturbing plot twist for this series and I would've liked to see where they took this storyline.  Problem was, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the studio hated Lugosi's performance as the monster and cut all his dialogue, removing any references to this scene, including the monster's blindness.

Monday, October 19, 2020

NJPW G1 Climax 30 Recap: Ibushi Does It Again!

The 30th G1 is now behind us, and while not the all-time classic tournament the last three editions were, the 2020 installment provided us with plenty of good wrestling, some big news, and a clear direction for next year's Tokyo Dome double-shot.


One usual G1 trope that was magnified this time around was the disparity of match quality from one block to the other.  While there's almost always a slight imbalance in that department, this year almost all of the great matchups took place in Block A, while Block B too often suffered from matches either going too long or featuring too much interference.  Evil's bouts in particular frequently became tiresome thanks to constant Dick Togo shenanigans.  Between Evil, Kenta, Yano's usual antics, and Jay White in A Block, this G1 must've seen the most outside interference of any edition to date.  I'd say it's time to curb this stuff; Evil and especially Jay White are capable of excellent matches but the constant chicanerie on the outside has made me not look forward to watching them (Jay's matches usually still deliver though).  In past tournaments Evil has provided multiple highlights.  Not so much as a Bullet Club member.  White on the other hand was able to muster some pretty great showings despite Gedo's tomfoolery.  But overall the BC stuff is wearing thin for me, and so many tainted moments throughout the tourney took away from the one big angle NJPW presented (More on that shortly).

By contrast though, another traditionally heel stable forwent the bullshit and got down to some great business in the G1.  I'm talking about Suzuki-Gun.  Minoru delivered multiple excellent matches, Zack Sabre was true to grappling spider monkey form, and perhaps the man who grew more than anyone in this tournament, Taichi actually became fun to watch.  No valets, minimal cheating; at age 40 (I had no idea he was that old) Taichi seems to have finally gotten serious about good wrestling matches.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Parents' Night In #47: The Exorcist (1973)

It's our third Halloween-themed episode of 2020 (and our 20th episode of the year), and we're back to discuss The Exorcist, a yardstick in horror cinema, directed by William Friedkin and starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, and Max Von Sydow!  We'll talk about the film's extraordinary production stories, its profound cultural impact, its Oscar-nominated performances, Mercedes McCambridge's legendary voiceover work, why the theatrical cut is superior to the extended cut, and why Justin doesn't think much of Lee J. Cobb's character, Lt. Kinderman.  The Exorcist is just as powerful, visceral, shocking, and endlessly fascinating now as it was upon its release, so join us for some fun and terror!

 

Excerpt from Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," 1973, Atlantic Records

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Disclaimer- Some contents are used for educational purpose under fair use. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.       







Top Ten Things: Vampire Movies

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Halloween festivities, today we'll count down what are in my estimation the ten greatest vampire films of all time.

Before Stephanie Meyer forever ruined the vampire genre by turning it into insipid teen melodrama involving beautiful undead emo heartthrobs (who despite not technically being alive can somehow procreate), there used to be quite a few excellent films devoted to the subject.

Being a vampire really isn't any fun when you think about it.  I explored this topic a little in my Awesomely Shitty Movies piece about The Lost Boys:

"It is possible to create complex, thought-provoking films about vampires, exploring at what cost such powers come: isolation, loneliness, unending bloodlust, tedium, having to live with murdering people, having to evade capture and prosecution for murdering people, etc."

The vampire, no matter how romantic a character you try to make him, is still at heart a repulsive, predatory creature who must kill human beings in order to survive.  Think of how awful his breath must be after drinking all that blood.  Imagine how filthy his clothes would be after sleeping in dirt every day.  Really, are the fringe benefits of being eternally young and having superhuman strength and speed worth all the other headaches? 


Anywho, here's my ten picks.


10. Near Dark (1987)


Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's second film was an unusual mashup of the vampire movie and the Western.  Starring Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein of Aliens fame, Near Dark tells the story of a gang of vampires who live in a sun-proofed van and drift from place to place, going where the food is.  One of their group, Mae, inadvertently turns a young man named Caleb into a vampire and because of her romantic attachment to him, persuades the others to accept him into their gang.  Caleb spends much of the movie struggling with his transformation and trying to appease the others so they don't kill him.  Near Dark is a very unusual and modern take on the genre, portraying the vamps as scavenging marauders not unlike the post-apocalyptic villains in the Mad Max films.  They are evil but charismatic, and Bill Paxton especially shines as the brutal second-in-command Severen.  With this film Bigelow showed her adeptness at eschewing the conventions of genre films and gave us an exciting new take on the vampire mythos.




9. Dracula (1979)


In the late 70s the well-renowned John Balderston-Hamilton Deane theater production of Dracula was revived in London and on Broadway, and its success prompted Universal Studios to remake the 1931 Bela Lugosi film for modern audiences.  The result was this stylish, romantic Frank Langella version.  Directed by John Badham and featuring an excellent score by John Williams, this update of Dracula depicts the Count as a suave, handsome seducer, to whom women willingly give their last drop.  Langella is excellent as this debonair demon, imbuing the character with both smoothness and a fearsome underlying rage.  The rest of the cast is also first-rate - the legendary Laurence Olivier plays Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing, Kate Nelligan is an unusually strong and independent Lucy Seward (in this version Lucy and Mina's names are oddly swapped), and Tony Haygarth is a rather degenerate incarnation of the Renfield character.  This film is a triumph of production design and atmosphere, and a gritty, original take on the Lugosi version.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Welcome to the third Awesomely Shitty Movies piece dedicated to the Universal Studios Frankenstein series!  In case you missed part 2, check it out HERE.  Today we're talking about the third film in the franchise, Son of Frankenstein!


After the critical and commercial triumph that was Bride of Frankenstein, it seemed like another sequel would be a natural.  But Carl Laemmle Sr and Jr were soon forced out of the company due to their extravagant spending, and it seemed monster movies were off the table as well.  It was only due to an LA theater reviving Dracula and Frankenstein as a double feature, and the ensuing huge box office success, that the studio opted to jump back into that pool.  James Whale was not interested in returning however, and Rowland V. Lee was hired to direct the third film.  Son of Frankenstein was originally to be shot in color as well, but the monster's makeup didn't look quite right, so that plan was scrapped.

Son of Frankenstein was another box office success and helped pull Universal out of its financial slump.  Following this movie the studio began churning out cheesy Frankenstein sequels and crossovers, making Son the last serious entry in the series.

So what worked and what didn't?  Let's take a gander...



The Awesome


Visuals

This series thus far has been full of rich, expressionist lighting, off-putting Dutch angles, and an emphasis on intense lights and darks to plunge the viewer into this bizarre world.  Son of Frankenstein continues this trend and in some ways takes it a step further, with some of the sets including angular, surrealistic staircases that cast jagged shadows on the walls behind.  Almost every set in fact has bare, textureless walls so the shadows can come across more strongly.  More on that aspect a little later.  The Film Noir genre was just beginning to blossom at this point, and many of those films must've taken some visual cues from Son of Frankenstein, among others.

Great use of lighting and angles


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Welcome to the second installment in our Awesomely Shitty Movies series pertaining to Universal Studios' Frankenstein franchise!  (Part 1 can be seen HERE)

Today it's the Frankenstein sequel that is almost universally (heh, get it?) praised as being superior to the first film, Bride of Frankenstein!


After the monumental success of the 1931 adaptation, Universal Studios understandably pushed for a follow-up, but James Whale was initially skeptical, thinking there was nothing more that could be explored in the material.  Instead Whale directed another hit horror film, The Invisible Man, and the studio pushed even harder for a Frankenstein sequel.  Whale finally agreed on the condition that Universal would produce a film of his called One More River, and when directing Bride opted to swing for the fences.  It would be a much larger-scale production with garish surrealism and subversive undertones, blending monster horror with dark comedy.  On paper this movie should never have worked as well as it did.  Whale was allowed to inject so much of his own personality into the film and its characters, and thus it became a celebration of those who live outside the norm.  With the expressionist influences of the first film turned way up for the second, and the drama ranging from horrific to funny to genuinely touching, Bride of Frankenstein is the pinnacle of the Universal monster films.


Now let's criticize it.....



The Awesome


Karloff Again

Boris reprised the role that made him a superstar, once again slipping on the giant boots and flat head.  This time the monster actually spoke, lending more depth to the character and making him even more sympathetic.  Indeed, Bride of Frankenstein is much more about the monster's character arc than Frankenstein's.  His driving motivation in this film, much like in the novel, is the search for a companion of some kind, and Karloff gives a largely quite tender, vulnerable performance that further solidifies the monster as a misunderstood brute.

Still the man




Elsa Lanchester

Despite very little actual screen time between her two roles (Seriously, it's maybe five minutes total), Elsa Lanchester brought to life one of the great movie monsters and gave a tremendously memorable turn.  Also notable is the disparity between her two characters; Mary Shelley is sweet-faced and proper, while the title character is wild-eyed and bird-like (Lanchester apparently based her head movements on those of a swan).  Her brief onscreen interaction with Karloff is bizarre and climactic; one of the great monster movie payoffs.

Makes sense her hair is standing up,
she did just get electrocuted technically


Monday, October 12, 2020

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Day of the Dead (1985)

Welcome to the final part of my Living Dead Trilogy retrospective.  If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, check 'em out.....



Dawn of the Dead was such a success the distributor, United Film Distribution Company, signed Romero to a three-picture deal, provided that one of those three films would be a sequel to Dawn.  Romero, fearing that if said sequel wasn't a hit he'd lose the chance to direct the two non-zombie films, opted to save it for last.  His next two movies were Knightriders, a Renaissance faire drama which flopped due to poor distribution, and Creepshow, a horror anthology which was a modest hit but by no means a smash.  As a result, UFDC hedged their bets with the Dawn sequel, only willing to adhere to the original $7 million budget if Romero released it as an R-rated film.  Up to this point George had planned for Day of the Dead to be a massive, sweeping zombie epic, "the Gone With the Wind of zombie films," but refused to compromise the intended violence and gore for an R rating.  Thus the budget was slashed in half and Romero was forced to completely overhaul the project.  The resulting film was initially seen as an underwhelming, depressing letdown after the thrill-ride of Dawn, and made most of its money overseas and on home video.  Amazingly though, Day of the Dead has developed an enthusiastic cult following in the thirty-odd years since, in many ways becoming just as influential as its two predecessors.

Day of the Dead takes place a considerable time after Dawn, when the human race is all but wiped out, and only a few pockets of civilization remain, mostly underground.  The story centers around a small military/scientific contingent occupying an abandoned mine, hoping to find some sort of solution to the zombie infestation.  Living conditions are nearly unsustainable and the scientific team is at the mercy of a crazed Captain, who is uninterested in studying the zombies and simply wants to destroy them.  What follows is a power struggle and clash of ideas between the two factions that actually contains more thematic human drama than any other film in the series.

This guy's a whackaloon.

One of the main plot threads concerns the lead scientist, Dr. Logan (a compellingly demented Richard Liberty), who has begun experimenting on zombie specimens, hoping to "tame" them.  His most promising subject is a ghoul called "Bub," who seems to understand/remember how to work basic tools and appears almost civilized.  This subplot exploits a fascinating story element: that the zombies are no longer the bad guys.  Zombies simply act according to their instinctual nature and the only evil left in the world is that which is perpetrated by the survivors.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Frankenstein (1931)

Welcome to a special Halloween-themed Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I dissect a beloved classic and ruin everybody's fun, like an unwashed neighborhood kid pissing in the community swimming pool.

Today's subject, and the first of a series of ASM articles, is the 1931 horror milestone Frankenstein, based on the legendary 1818 novel by Mary Shelley (of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein fame).


Now look, before you get upset that I'm referring to this film as "awesomely shitty," please understand I hold Frankenstein in very high regard.  I've been a fan of this film since I was about six years old and I make it a point to watch it (and its first sequel) once a year during Halloween season.  That said, there are quite a few flaws with the film and I'm here to point them out and probably piss a lotta people off.  But whatever....

Frankenstein first emerged as a novel after its author, her husband Percy, and their friend Lord Byron were rained in one night on vacation and decided to have a little ghost story contest.  Mary had a "monster" of a time (Get it? Eh??) coming up with a story idea, but it finally came to her one night in a dream - the vision of a medical student bringing life to a man he'd stitched together from parts of the dead.  Eventually the tale grew into a full-fledged novel, and a literary classic was born.

The visual aspect of the story instantly lent itself to theatrical interpretation, and nearly a century later as the film industry blossomed it found itself the subject of several cinematic attempts (the first being Thomas Edison's 1910 short).  But it was Universal Studios and producer Carl Laemmle jr. who would make the word "Frankenstein" a household one.  Coming off the heels of a tremendously successful Dracula adaptation, Laemmle hired director James Whale and veteran actor Boris Karloff to bring the story to life.  Frankenstein was a "monster" hit (I did it again, did you catch it??), spawning three direct sequels and four crossover films, and changing monster movies forever (No no, that time it wasn't a pun).

So what worked about this immortal film and what didn't?  Well, I'm here to set the record straight....



The Awesome


Makeup

In bringing Frankenstein's monster to life, makeup artist Jack Pierce and director James Whale collaborated to create one of the most instantly recognizable characters in cinema history.  The flat head, heavy brow and neck electrodes were all strokes of genius, as was Boris Karloff's added touch of mortician's wax on his eyelids to give him a half-awake zombie-like appearance.  This makeup immediately became iconic and it's still considered the definitive Frankenstein look, used extensively in Halloween decor and marketing.

Such a great look


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Parents' Night In #46: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Our Halloween-time coverage continues with one of the greatest film remakes in history, Philip Kaufman's 1978 adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright and Jeff Goldblum!  Where the original novel and 1956 movie version were steeped in 50s Communism paranoia, the 70s update smacked of that era's "Me Generation" self-importance, distrust of the government in the wake of Watergate, and conspiracy theories run rampant.  We'll talk about the film, its continued relevance in today's political climate, its stars, 70s decor, rotary phones, mud baths, and that terrifying "pod people" squeal!  Come and hang out with Justin & Kelly for another episode of Parents' Night In!

 

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Awesomely Shitty Movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - Freddy's Revenge

Welcome to yet another installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I examine uneven films and try to separate the good from the bad.  Today I'm talking about A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge!


Click HERE to read about Nightmare 3 and HERE for Nightmare 4...

In 1984 fledgling film studio New Line Cinemas scored an unexpected monster hit with Wes Craven's weird little movie about a burned-up guy who kills teenagers in their dreams.  The studio had literally mortgaged its future on the project, and when it turned up a tidy $22 million profit, they were eager to follow it up with something equally successful.  The only problem was, Wes Craven (who as a condition of New Line's agreeing to finance the first movie had signed it away as his intellectual property) had no interest in making Nightmare a franchise and declined to participate in a sequel.  Instead director Jack Sholder and screenwriter David Chaskin were brought in to helm the project.  Sholder later confessed he wasn't a fan of the first movie (odd choice to have him direct this one then) and wanted to take the material somewhere else, while Chaskin loaded up the sequel with unusual social subtext for an 80s popcorn movie.  One gross early miscalculation on the part of the filmmakers was the idea that they didn't need a proper actor to play Freddy - since Robert Englund demanded a raise from his Nightmare 1 salary to return, producer Robert Shaye attempted to keep the budget low by casting a stunt double in a Freddy mask.  They got as far as one scene before realizing he was terrible, and wisely agreed to Englund's terms.

Picking up five years after the events in Nightmare 1, this film centers around the new tenants of Nancy Thompson's former address, in particular a teenage boy named Jesse Walsh.  Jesse is haunted by nightmares about Freddy, who asks permission to use Jesse's body as a vehicle for murdering people in the real world.  What follows is a battle of wills, as Jesse struggles to squash the evil growing within him.  The premise is simple, but the thematic choices and execution are what's really intriguing about this often-maligned movie thirty-plus years later.

So let's detach the good and the evil surrounding A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, shall we?



The Awesome


Performances

A few cheesy and awkward moments aside, the principle performances in this movie are strong, at times some of the most credible in the series.  Mark Patton brings a tortured sense of sexually confused teen angst to the role of Jesse, unsure what to do with both his budding physical maturity and his nocturnal hauntings.  Kim Myers is sweetly nurturing and warm as the beautiful girl-next-door Lisa.  Robert Rusler is the meathead jock you can't help but like as Ron Grady, who initially bullies Jesse but ends up becoming his friend and confidant.  Veteran actor Clu Gulager is cluelessly stern as Jesse's unsympathetic father, insensitive to the changes, both Freddy-related and otherwise, his son is going through.  And of course there's trusty Robert Englund as Freddy himself, who comes off possibly more malicious here than in any other film.  Freddy just seems especially hostile this time around, almost as though Englund resented not being asked back in the first place.  Or maybe I'm reading into things...




Freddy's Look

Original Nightmare makeup artist David Miller was unavailable to return for the second film, so 23-year-old Kevin Yagher was brought in for his first of three Nightmare films.  Yagher had nothing to go on in recreating Miller's makeup design except clips from the first film and a few photos, so he mostly started from scratch, making Freddy's prosthetics thinner, bonier and more witch-like, adding to his menacing look.  Another wonderful touch was giving Englund red contact lenses to further enhance his demonic appearance.  Yagher's makeup really established the exaggerated, shiny, "classic" Freddy look.  Of the entire series, this is my favorite execution of Freddy's makeup.



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Welcome to Part 2 of our retrospective on George Romero's Living Dead trilogy.  Check out Part 1 HERE...


With Night of the Living Dead, George Romero and his collaborators stumbled onto an unexpected cult hit, and while it sadly didn't make any of them rich (Due to an unfortunate copyright snafu the film fell into public domain where it remains to this day), they now had careers as filmmakers.  George directed four feature films after NOTLD with little box office success before returning to the genre that put him on the map.

Romero got the idea while visiting the Monroeville Mall, owned by a friend of his.  The facility had a secluded suite of rooms, fully stocked with food and water, which his friend claimed could sustain a person for months in the event of a nuclear attack.  "Hmm, what about a zombie attack?" George replied.  From this simple premise sprang the narrative seedling for his next project, which would go down as the Citizen Kane of zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.

I gotta see this place

Romero's second foray into the zombie genre picks up some time after the events of NOTLD, when the entire country is now swarming with the risen dead, private residences have been declared illegal, the emergency networks have taken over all broadcasting, and society as a whole is just about to completely break down.  Four survivors, two from a Pittsburgh TV station and two from a local SWAT force, escape in a traffic 'copter and set up shop at the Monroeville Mall.  As the outside world crumbles, our protagonists find themselves in a shopper's paradise, the entire plaza at their disposal.

As with NOTLD, Romero peppered Dawn with underlying social commentary befitting the era of its release, in this case 1970s American obsession with consumerism and the futility in trying to find happiness in material goods.  And while not as purely terrifying as its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead was a rollicking, action-horror film with moments of humor and a ton of over-the-top gore.  Where Night was filmed in expressionist black & white, Dawn depicted these grisly events in bright, garish colors, using the mall's ample lighting to save time and money during the down n' dirty shoot (The vast majority of the scenes were filmed overnight while the mall was closed, thus time and availability were limited).