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  #81  
Old 01-07-2018, 12:32 PM
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Haha, Death Bed. A buddy of mine loaned me the DVD a while back. It was awesome. Thanks for reminding me about it.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:09 PM
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If you're looking for some B-Movie cheese I recommend checking out "Slashers" (2001) , awful acting , weird sets and silly dialogue. Worth it though with a few beers.
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  #83  
Old 01-17-2018, 11:15 PM
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Leatherface (2017)


The trailer is kind of misleading. The big husky guy is not Leatherface. That's Bud, Jed's best friend, and Jed/Jackson is Leatherface in the movie.


Plot- A young Jed Sawyer receives a chainsaw as a present from his mother, Verna (Lili Taylor) during his birthday party. Jed’s party quickly turns into an initiation, when Verna orders Jed to murder a man, who might’ve stolen some pigs from the Sawyer’s pen. Jed refuses after witnessing a nasty leg injury from his chainsaw, but Grandpa Sawyer finishes the job.

One day, Jed lures Betty Hartman into a trap at an abandoned barn. The Sawyers kill Betty, sending her father, Sheriff Hartman (Stephen Dorff) into a rage. Hartman spares the rest of the family, but he uses his powers to send Jed to Gorman House Youth Reformery, a mental institution, under child endangerment laws.

Ten years later, under Gorman House rules, Jed’s (Sam Strike) name is changed to Jackson, and he befriends Bud (Sam Coleman). Elizabeth ( Vanessa Grasse), a new nurse at Gorman House, quickly forms a bond with Jackson, but a chaotic riot erupts, when Verna tries to visit Jed. Doctor Lang (Chris Adamson), the director, refuses Verna’s court order, so Verna steals sets of keys to open the gates, releasing Jed and other patients. Jed protects Elizabeth during the escape, but Ike (James Bloor) and his girlfriend, Clarice (Jessica Madsen) capture Jed, forcing him to join them, with Elizabeth as a hostage.

Bud tags along with the group, and Verna is happy about the possibility of a reunion with her son, but Hartman sees the perfect opportunity for vengeance….

My Thoughts-
You’ll see one of the weaker versions of The Sawyer family here. Lili Taylor does a good job as the demented and batshit crazy matriarch and the leader of The Sawyer Family. She’ll do anything to protect her family and her son, but the rest of The Sawyer clan is made up of boring and uninteresting characters. The Hewitt Family in the 2003 remake is still my pick for the best version of Leatherface’s family, because they were truly a sadistic and hateful group of people, and I’ve never been a big fan of the kooky hillbillies approach used in the other TCM films. The Sawyers in Leatherface are crazy country bumpkins, but the wackiness is a bit toned down in this one.

Stephen Dorff plays a solid antagonist. Hartman is hell bent on a ruining Verna’s life, and he’s someone, who’s genuinely evil with a nasty mean streak. Bloor and Madsen are supposed to be an extreme and more bloodthirsty version of Bonnie and Clyde, but Madsen is more believable as a psychopath.

Jed? Eh, the flashes of Leatherface in Jed as a teenager are basically limited to him yelling a lot, mounting someone, and beating the crap out of them. I know this is an origin story, so it’s all about showing how and why it happened with the events leading up to Jed’s transformation, but he’s just a bland character. To add to that, Sam Strike was an odd choice to portray Leatherface. Leatherface is usually fat, husky, or he’s someone with a hulking build, but Strike is more slender and lean.

If we’re talking about franchise horror icons, Leatherface is low on the totem pole. He’s behind Myers, Jason, and Freddy, so you’d have to put him somewhere towards the bottom for rankings with Chucky, Pinhead, and others. Hell, the TCM franchise is really only known for one truly great film. Everything after the original ranges from god awful to guilty pleasures, a solid remake, an unnecessary prequel, and Texas Chainsaw 3D is just forgettable.

There’s nothing truly wrong with the execution for this origin story, and it‘s easy to see how it happened. Jed was manipulated by his obsessive and controlling mother. He’s an outsider, and normal people will never understand him, but he’ll always find love and support from his mother and his family. My only complaint is Verna giving Jed the chainsaw, when he’s a kid. It’s supposed to be big a moment, but they just rushed through it. In the Friday The 13th remake, when Jason finds the hockey the mask, they actually take a moment to let everything sink in, because it’s a big part of Jason’s character and his look. When Verna gives Jed the chainsaw, the “moment” is scrunched into “Hey, here’s a chainsaw. Now murder this guy, who stole our pigs, so you can prove your loyalty to us!”

They covered all the bases, but you’re only going to get so much out of an origin story for Leatherface. Basically, he’s just a cross-dressing mad man, who slaughters unsuspecting victims with a chainsaw. Freddy, Myers, and Jason(after Jason Lives) have supernatural elements to their characters. You can dig deeper with that stuff, and all three characters work better as menacing and pure forces of unstoppable evil.

The tonal shifts are kind of annoying. It’s hard to tell if they were going for gonzo horror, a more serious tone, or if they were trying to make a hybrid of capturing the essence of the original, while mixing bits and pieces in from the original sequels. They just jump around all over the place, with Jed’s internal conflict on what’s right and what’s wrong, the fiasco at the diner, Ike and Clarice having sex during the riot, the threesome with the corpse, but they finally stuck to a more dramatic tone towards the end, when Jed has to choose between Elizabeth and Verna.

Leatherface is also riddled with cliches. The crazed killer escaping from a mental institution, taking a hostage, and of course, Ike’s big plan is to cross the border, giving the group a chance at freedom in Mexico. And some of the dialogue is just cringeworthy. There’s a scene, where Elizabeth tries to run away, and after Clarice brings her back, Ike says (with a straight and serious face) “Do that again, and I’ll turn you into strawberry pie.”

Another big problem with Leatherface? Rooting for someone, and likeable characters. Elizabeth and Bud are the only two likeable characters, who receive a significant amount of screen time. Yes, Hartman abused his powers to take Jed away from Verna, but Verna leads and protects a group of murderous lunatics, and she‘s partly responsible for Betty’s death. You want to feel sympathy for Jed, BUT he made his choice willingly.

Although, I guess you could say navigating moral dilemmas is pointless for Leatherface, because it’s an origin story, so they accomplished the main goal for showing how and why Jed snapped, leading to his turn as Leatherface. Leatherface is loaded with a lot of nasty gore, blood, gross-out moments (the pig thief is forced to eat Jed’s birthday cake, a “cake” made out of hunks and slabs of raw meat covered in icing), and gruesome deaths, and it’s a sleazy film. Necrophilia, pigs eating humans alive, and it’s not a real surprise, but it’s revealed Verna is Jed’s aunt and his mother. Leatherface will only appeal to die hard horror fans and TCM fans, who might have some interest in an origin story. Lili Tayolr and Stepen Dorff deliver the best performances, but if we’re talking about blood and guts, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before in other horror films.

All in all, an origin story was probably the best option for a new TCM film. After so many sequels, a remake, a prequel, and Texas Chainsaw 3D, the continuity for this series is just a mess. It’s a case where even if you watched all the TCM films together, it’s damn near impossible to put the pieces together after so many changes. Leatherface was supposed to have a wide theatrical release back in 2016, but Lionsgate shelved the film. A new release date was set for October, but it was cut down to a very limited theatrical release and a release on Direct TV and other VOD platforms.

I was wondering what happened to Leatherface and the release date, because I remember watching the trailer a few years ago. When a studio decides to shelve a film, it’s usually a bad sign, and you‘re going to have a hard time sparking any real interest in or fanfare for an origin story featuring Leatherface. You might have that rare occurrence, where said film turns out to be a hidden gem, or the movie will develop a cult following over the years, but I can’t see that happening with Leatherface. After all the delays, Lionsgate and Millennium Films lost the rights to TCM, and Christa Campbell, co-owner of Campbell-Grobman Films, said if a new TCM film happens, it’s going to come from someone else, so you know they’re going to start over again.
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  #84  
Old 02-14-2018, 10:59 PM
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My Bloody Valentine (1981)








Plot- Living in a small mining town named Valentine Bluffs, a miner named Harry Warden snaps after an explosion in the mines caused by careless supervisors, who felt the need to prioritize the annual Valentine's Day dance over safety. Harry, relying on eating his co-workers to survive, eventually goes on a killing spree after the rescue. Harry is placed in an asylum, but he promises to finish what he started, if the town decides to hold another dance.

Twenty years later, Mayor Hanniger (Larry Reynolds) gives the green-light for another dance, but Hanniger has second thoughts after a heart-shaped candy box containing a human heart shows up. Police Chief Jake Newby (Don Francks) tries to contain any possible hysteria or suspicions after Mabel's (Patricia Hamiltion) brutal murder, so Hanniger and Newby decide to cancel the dance together.

Hanniger's son, T.J. (Paul Kelman) returns home to work in the mines, but it's not a happy and peaceful return, because he's stuck in a feud with another miner named Axel (Neil Affleck). Axel and T.J. are fighting over Sarah (Lori Hallier), but Sarah is not too happy about T.J.'s hiatus.

Ignoring the canceled dance and warnings from Happy (Jack Van Evera ), the local bartender, T.J., Axel, Sarah, Howard (Alf Humphreys), Patty (Cynthia Dale), her boyfriend, Hollis (Keith Knight), and others agree to hold their own secret Valentine's Day dance. After a series of murders during the dance, it's clear someone is determined to finish what Harry started. Chief Newby's attempts to learn the truth about Harry's current whereabouts are unsuccessful, so it's possible Harry is still alive.

Meanwhile, Hollis, Howard, Patty, and others continue the party in the mines. The men should have a slight advantage to thwart the killer as workers in the mines, but all bets are off, when The Miner actually shows up. Newby brings reinforcements to the mines, but the people of Valentine Bluffs want answers for one big question: Has Harry Warden returned to fulfill his promise?

My Thoughts- My Bloody Valentine features a lot of familiar plot points, cliches, and storylines for 80's slashers. The small town hiding a horrible and dark secret, the killer returning to finish what he started after the first killing spree, and a group of naive and oblivious youngsters, who make one stupid decision after another ("Hey! Let's a have party in the mines late at night, because nothing could possibly go wrong!"). His screen time is limited, but Jack Van Evera really works as the harbinger of doom here. You get the impression he's this grouchy old man, who wants to teach the young punks a lesson, because they're ignoring his warnings about Harry, but his planned prank backfires horribly (more on that later).

Naturally, My Bloody Valentine's Day features some Valentine's Day tie-ins. The heart-shaped candy boxes, the ominous Valentine's Day cards, and it's the norm in horror films and slashers, but The Miner shows up to murder Sylvia (Helene Udy) moments before we're lead to believe she's about to have sex with her boyfriend. And before the actual movie starts, they show the intro with The Miner murdering a woman with a heart tattoo on her chest. Out of all the Valentine's Day tie-ins, nothing really tops the heart-shaped boxes. When you see a heart-shaped box, you're expecting chocolates or strawberries, but in My Bloody Valentine, The Miner uses them as his calling card. It's just a nasty sight, with the box containing a human heart and the running drops of blood on the sides.

The Miner is an imposing horror villain, with the miner's suit, the mask, the headlamp light, and his heavy breathing. Using the pickaxe as his murder weapon works to fit his character, and My Bloody Valentine is loaded with gruesome deaths. One that sticks out for me is, Happy using his homemade Harry Warden dummy as a prank to scare the group, but The Miner pops up to murder him, using the pickaxe to rip his skull and his face apart. Mabel's charred corpse (The Miner stuffed her into a dryer and turned it on) is a grisly sight, and The Miner shoving Sylvia's head through a shower nozzle with running water? Yikes.

After a while, it's clear the only two real suspects are T.J. and Axel, because towards the end it's revealed Harry Warden died five years ago. T.J. and Axel are in a tense love triangle with Sarah, so naturally they hate each other. T.J. is bitter and angry, because he returned to be with Sarah, but she rejects him. Axel is tired and sick of T.J. constantly pursuing Sarah, but Axel is revealed as the killer.

Axel witnessed Harry murdering his father as a small child. He couldn't handle the trauma, and it's clear he just snapped after Hanniger announced the return of the dance. It's a good swerve. When Axel and T.J. enter the mines to save the others, T.J. and Axel suspiciously disappear, during the murders in the mines, so you're not sure who's doing what until the very end. Axel and T.J. had the motivations to do it, and Axel fits the profile. The guy is a dick with a nasty mean streak, and Harry returning would've been a stretch. Twenty years later and all those years working in the mines? Harry would've been a slow and crippled old man, and there's no way around it.

My Bloody Valentine is a solid entry into the holiday horror sub-genre. It's another film that does a good job of taking a holiday and turning everything upside down. Valentine’s Day is about love, kindness, and sharing, but a bloodthirsty maniac wants to shatter a celebration that's supposed to represent a fresh start after a tragedy in a small town.

There's more than enough gore and blood throughout My Bloody Valentine, but you can notice the lack of fluency in certain shots during the kill scenes in the unrated version. I haven't watched the theatrical version in years, but they include the bloody and gruesome kills that were left out of the original theatrical cut in the unrated version, and you can see the difference in the picture quality. To add to that, it's hard to ignore the shoehorned look, when you see the deleted scenes.

My Bloody Valentine is a hidden gem, and they leave things wide open with a cliffhanger. Axel escapes a cave-in (he cuts off one of his arms) after he tried to kill T.J. and Sarah, and you can hear his wild cackling and Axel sharing his ballad for Harry before the credits roll. It's a cult classic, but My Bloody Valentine was released during the slasher craze in the 80's, so of course it's lumped in with a hefty amount of low-budget slashers including inventive death scenes, lots of gore and blood, and a solid fan following.
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