The Saw Is Family [R.I.P]


Gunnar Hansen who played the original Leatherface has passed away. He was 68 years young. While he only played Leatherface once, he went on to appear in numerous other horror films as well as parodies over the years. The title quote is actually from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (which Gunnar was not in), but it seemed very apt for horror fans mourning an icon.

The first time I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre was on Christmas day. I’d heard about it for years, but living in a small town it was nearly impossible to track down a copy. Sam The Record Man didn’t carry it. The remake was still a couple years away. It had been stolen so many times at the two video stores my family went to, they stopped replacing it. That was actually a big issue in the area.

Anyway, I was an awkward teenager who had graduated from being obsessed with spooky kids movies (Dark Crystal, Monster Squad, The Addams Family, Gremlins, Tim Burton’s early works) to being a full blown horror fan. In no small part due to a VHS copy of Nightmare on Elm Street 1 through 3 that my babysitter taped off the movie network; whose daughter had shown it to an impressionable 12 year old me. I quickly became obsessed and was introduced to Halloween, Hellraiser, Carrie and countless other classics. But Chainsaw was rumoured to be banned in Canada (this was before the internet was big in Canada). What was a baby gay gore fan to do?

My father was a long haul truck driver, and in his attempt to encourage my more “manly” interests, had taken to my new found horror love. While definitely not a horror fan himself, we had always had a strained relationship for a number of reasons we won’t get into. He was the one who got me my Nightmare On Elm Street box set for my birthday in 2002. At the time Amazon wasn’t a thing, and stuff like that wasn’t available at the Mall. That year for Christmas, my mom told him I wanted a copy of a movie that was banned in Canada. Since he worked in the states for the most part, he picked up a copy on dvd and brought it home to place under the tree.

As a weirdo with vague authority issues, I of course brought it with me to my Aunt’s house where the family would hang out while my mom, aunt and grandmother made Christmas dinner. Since my aunt is what one might call rich (unlike us), she had several rooms with TVs. So after being resolutely bored with cousins who view reading as something one only does because children are legally required to attend school. I snuck off to a small den with a dvd player and popped the movie in. It was unlike anything I had seen before. And Leatherface was mind blowing. He had all the unspeaking terror of Michael Myers. The bizarre home full of skeleton furniture like something from Pinhead’s home decorating blog. The mad cap weirdness of Freddy Krueger.

Horror fans often have very vivid memories of certain films and seeing them for the first time. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of only a handful of movies I actually watched for the first time with an adult. It was a formative experience to say the least. We lost Marilyn Burns and now Gunnar, but we will always have the memories. Rest in peace Gunnar.

Nancy One More Time [SHOCKTOBER]


I’m back with another attempt to capitalize on someone else’s popularity more Shocktober! Shocktober is a month long celebration of all this Halloween that was started by Stacy at Final Girl. It’s kinda like that part of the show where Martha Stewart shows pictures of the cakes made by the fans at home. I watched her 2nd film pick ATM, and honestly I can’t with that movie. I tried to review it, but I’m trying to be a better person this weekend and had nothing nice to say beyond it wasn’t so much terrible as painfully mediocre. I had hoped for a super bleak ambiguous ending and when that seemed to be the direction near the end, I was like oh well this justifies this dull ass trapped in the ATM vestibule thing. But then it just went on and on and explained all this stuff that we didn’t need explained. I hate when a movie keeps nudging you being like ‘get it? get it? this is exactly how it all went down!’. Like sorry movie, I figured this all out when you showed the same stuff during the opening credits.

As for her 3rd pick, Baby Blues. It does not appear to be on the Canadian Netflix, so far be it from me to feel included. Thanks Stephen Harper!

But lo and behold, Final Girl‘s attempt to “class up the joint” just happens to be as the kids used to say My Jam!

That’s right everyone one! The best meta horror deconstruction film of the 90s! If you said Scream in your head when you read that, go stand in the corner. The greatest meta horror deconstruction of the 90s is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I could literally spend a year of my life knocking on doors and spreading the good word of New Nightmare to the world. It’s just that good.

For those not in the know, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare tells the fictional story of a group of non-fictional people. Wes Craven returned to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with a film that tells a story that takes place in our world rather than in Springwood. Heather Langdenkamp who played Nancy Thompson, plays a fictionalized version of herself. She is plagued by some sort of stalker who sends bizarre letters and makes obscene phone calls, all inspired by Freddy Krueger. Soon her son (played by the same child actor who plays Gage in Pet Sematary), begins to exhibit bizarre behaviour after watching part of the first Nightmare film. As the nature of reality begins to warp, Heather struggles to save her family from a primordial evil which has manifested itself within the real world through the power of Freddy’s cult status.

The film is not only a pre-cursor to the meta horror that would become so popular starting with Scream. It is also a truly incredible thought experiment on the idea of Freddy Krueger as this icon that at the time had become like Elvis.

Going back and watching the movie, you realize that it’s not just Heather who is being subtly manipulated. Bob Shay head of Newline Cinema, Wes Craven and Robert Englund all play themselves in the film, to fantastic effect. From Englund playing the lovable ham who is seemingly haunted by nightmares of Freddy, to Bob Shay seemingly threatened into green lighting a new instalment in the franchise despite declaring Freddy Dead years prior. Craven gives a fantastic performance as this meta version of the horror miester who is writing the film as it happens to Heather.

The film itself is even structured similar to the franchise. We start off with the horror mostly centered on Heather’s home, before it travels to hospital to the dream/underworld.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is definitely a high water mark in the late Wes Craven’s career. A bit too high brow and smart for the fans that had grown to love the wisecracking asshole Freddy had become, the film didn’t get much recognition upon release. But it will always be the perfect end to a triple feature with of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Dream Warriors.

Virginia Masden is Helen Lyle in Candyman [KILLER BEAUTY]


Did you know that during Candyman, any time where Helen (Virginia Masden) sees Candyman (Tony Todd), Virginia was in a hypnotic state? During pre-production director Bernard Rose went with Virginia to a hypnotist who gave the director a key phrase that would induce a hypnotic state in the actress. Notice the dilation of her pupils and pronounced blood vessels in the whites of her eyes.

By the time filming was nearing conclusion, Masden spent an entire day of filming in a trance, unable to recall the day when she was brought back to herself. After that she says she refused to go under again.

Thanks Candyman DVD Special Features!

Starry Eyes [REVIEW]


I will do whatever it takes for this role – Sarah

[Programming note: It’s Shocktober at Final Girl and the first movie she picked to review happened to be one I had recently seen and had been meaning to review cause I loved it so much. So here is my review and make sure to check out the incredible Stacy Ponder’s review over at Final Girl.]

If I were to make a list of various tropes and such that I love from horror movies, somewhere very near the top of that list would be ‘The cult members arrive for the ceremony’. I live for the cult members arriving. A montage of cars arriving, rich old white people in full robes, taper candles, walking single file. It never fails to get me. The neighbours cooing over their new born Anti-Christ in Rosemary’s Baby. The cult members arriving to pay respects to their martyr in Martyrs.

Let’s be honest, I’m a slut for anything resembling Satanic horror/religious thriller. Seventh Sign, Prophecy, End of Days, Bless the Child, Stigmata, Lost Souls. I just can’t help myself! So what I am trying to say is that even if Starry Eyes was a complete turd, I probably still would have gone batshit for it. But thank Satan, it’s actually a gory, well made and refreshingly original and simple take on some really age old ideas and horror tropes.

The set up is super simple. Pretty aspiring actress who hates her shitty day job, has a group of friends she doesn’t seem to care for and who are kind of shitty to her. All she wants to be is a STAR! The kind of girl Hollywood is (one would assume) full of. When she is offered her dreams on a silver platter, she learns that there isn’t much of a difference between selling her soul figuratively versus literally.

I won’t go into the plot beyond that. It’s good to not quite know what will happen. That said, there are some truly gross moments and some great gore. The film has a pervading sense of dread, you feel just as uneasy watching a group of friends drinking in by the pool as you do when someone enters a room not realized they’ve walked in on someone being murdered.

A great horror movie that pays homage to some classics while still managing to be very original. Come for the Satanists and stay for the body horror.



Movie: Dahmer Year: 2002 Cast: Jeremy Renner, Artel Kayàru

Plot: Dahmer tells the story of real life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeffrey (Renner) works in a chocolate factory by day. At night he brings guys home where he attempts to make them sex slave zombies, and cannibalizes his victims.

Why So Queer: Dahmer isn’t a straight up horror. It a psychological film which examines the mind of Dahmer. The film explores Dahmer not as a cold blooded killer, but instead as a young man so damaged by his fear and self loathing that he can only express intimacy in moments of horror and control. Jeremy Renner manages to make Jeffrey a character you simultaneously pity, abhor and desire. The film doesn’t demonize Dahmer’s queerness but rather allows it to highlight his isolation and humanize him despite his terrible actions.