Friday the 13th (1980) Review

RATING: 3.5/5

The superstitious day brings forth blood, screams, and fright onto camp counselors.

Ten years ago, this was my first introduction to the Slasher genre. It’s been far too long.

The intro was nicely done. It perfectly summed up the type of the film one was going to receive. With its cinematography, music, direction, and of course, the kills.

Taking directions from “Halloween” (1978), there were plenty of POV shots utilized for the killer. A good use of this was during the introduction as the camera was hovering over the sleeping children. Other cool ones were when the killer would be observing the counselors from afar while hiding behind the trees.

Outside of POV’s, unlike “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), the movie took patience and let the camera sit to capture some very nice wide shots of the environment. These were effective in peaceful moments when displaying the scenic wilderness of Camp Crystal Lake. As well as creepy moments whenever the film needed to convey a sense of loneliness for a character in the scene. It was in those nerve-wracking scenes the camera showcased nice tracking when it followed a character’s every single movement. There weren’t any fast edits or jump cuts to disrupt the mood.

Music in the film was really good. The famous “ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma, ma” is one of the most iconic scores in horror history. But besides the theme, there were a few other pieces that delivered the goods at keeping the suspense flowing throughout.

The movie had a few jump scares, but for the most part, director Sean S. Cunningham’s direction seemed focused solely on giving the viewer a sense of realism. There were plenty of moments sprinkled throughout that bad horror filmmakers today would do to ruin the chills. Perfect moments to add unnecessary jump scares but they weren’t present which was surprising. While aspects of this parallel to “Halloween” (1978), there were things in here that made this movie stand out.

Makeup artist Tom Savini really brought forth the terror with his skills. The kills in this were cool. With the axe to the head or arrows to the body, it was executed well. The best kill in this involved the knife going Jack’s neck in the bed. That still gets to me rewatching this. The reveal of Bill’s body pinned against the door by arrows was quite a surprise, even after forgetting it a while back.

One aspect that definitely stands out from “Halloween” (1978) and other prominent slasher movies that came before/after, was the reveal of the killer herself, Pamela Voorhees. At the time in 1980, it must have been quite something to have a woman be the killer. It’s a shame that a vast majority of slasher films, leading in the 80s and beyond didn’t experiment. But she was good in the movie. As her motivations were understandable and actress Betsy Palmer did good at portraying a crazed mother bent on revenge. The film did a clever job of keeping her reveal tightly-wrapped until the end.

As far as the other actors, there wasn’t anything deep for them, notably the camp counselors. However compared to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), I will say the characters in this were a bit better. It was probably due to their performances or how the dialogue was written. Cunningham stated that he wasn’t looking for great actors, but in the very least, find people who were likeable and relatable. To which I say it was pulled off fine. So yes, the characters in this weren’t too bad.

Not to nitpick or pick apart questionable things, but I have to. Mrs. Voorhees being behind the tree while the character of Alice walks by, was highly unusual. Well maybe that correlated to the scene where that one cop toward the end was talking about the bad things that happen on Friday the 13th. Maybe some supernatural force was fueling Voorhees, IDK.

There were some pacing issues in a few scenes. There needed to be more development, not just with the characters but maybe some other portions of the plot.

Approximately forty years ago, this movie came out. To this day the lawsuit of who owns the rights to the characters portrayed still persists. With no end in sight. But with that said, the film had great cinematography, classic music, some nice performances, nice direction, and it did one or two things to make it stand out amongst the slashers around the time. While being somewhat of a ripoff of “Halloween” (1978), this was still a nicely done horror movie and horror classic that one should see.

YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Review

RATING: 3/5

A road trip in Texas takes a bloody turn in the absolute worst for five teens.

One of the greatest and influential horror movies of all time.

Right out of the gate, the film’s introduction was pretty good. With the opening crawl said by the narrator, the camera flashes of corpses, and news being listened through the radio while the opening credits were on-screen. In addition to the news detailing certain bad events happening in the area. It was really nice at conveying to a viewer that the plot of the movie shown was based on real-life events. Mostly. The intro also foreshadowed the nice technical sides.

The cinematography and certain editing moments I dug. Whenever the movie was going through something intense, the camera would do many things in its power to make the viewer feel uncomfortable in the right ways. There were times the camera zoomed in and out. The film would fast-cut repeatedly to make the viewer feel the hellish mindset certain characters felt. There were moments where the movement seemed handheld, almost like a low-budget documentary. Which was adding to the realistic-type mood that the introduction was giving off.

Times where the film wanted to be foreboding and suspenseful, those worked well. My favorite was the scene where a couple of the teens entered the Sawyer family house. The setup and pacing were pretty good. The camera movement that I loved was when there was a dolly of the girl walking up to the house. As she did this, it looked as though she got smaller with the house in the background getting bigger with each second. It went to show that whatever was in the house, was something way bigger than she could handle. Going in deeper, I liked that the house was colored white. Usually white can refer to as something peaceful and calm, but inside it was the total opposite. But it made sense for Leatherface and his family to trap their victims.

In terms of sound, it was well done in some scenes. Most notably was whenever the last girl, Sally, was running away from Leatherface in the dark. That entire chase scene was, albeit a bit long, but it was tense. The fact of hearing the chainsaw out in the dark, coming closer, and with no idea of where exactly its at, is terrifying.

There was quite of bit ambient sound present. Like I said the movie definitely had a way to deliver to right kind of tone and atmosphere; another way it did so was to simply let the noises of the environment create the eerie goosebumps. The wind blowing through the tall grass, the creaky windmill, the nighttime crickets, those things added some creepy layers. The film did include distorted and tampered sound effects during the rapid-cut scenes which were good. I swear the chicken in the cage sounded like a crazed witch cackling. Telling the viewer that the girl, lying on the floor, had nowhere to run.

While the film had blood, there was surprisingly not much gore. The only notable gory moment was when the truck ran over Leatherface’s brother. There wasn’t any nudity or sex scenes which became pretty much a staple in slasher movies in the future. So that was interesting.

The fact that some things portrayed in the movie were based on real-life events, notably the things surrounding the serial killer Ed Gein, really tells one how scary the world can be.

Where the movie did lose points with me were the lackluster characters. I understand interesting characters are uncommon in slasher movies, but here it stands out. Especially coming from “one of the greatest horror movies” ever made. One doesn’t care that much for them. I will say the only teen worth caring some was Franklin. He seemed to be the only teen with common sense.

In the end however, one only cared about the killers slaughtering them. Which by the way, I feel that they had a bit more interesting characteristics than the teens. There were crazy but in a fun and horrifying way. Mostly notably the cook, Drayton Sawyer.

There were also dumb, stupid, and questionable things that I feel the need to point out. The teens not getting the hint of the knife penetrating the hand, the truck driver leaving his truck instead of driving off with Sally, Franklin tumbling down the hill for no reason, or the chase scene earlier on the driveway. Though I can probably dismiss that one as torture was to the Sawyer’s likings. The house Sally stayed at as a child really let itself go in such a short amount of time. Also the Sawyer house being next door seems a bit coincidental.

I feel like this is a movie built for the experience alone. The experience of being chased by some maniac by a chainsaw wanting to eat you later, is a horrifying feeling indeed. Which very well could explain for the great technical sides including cinematography, editing, sound, and direction. It makes up for the lackluster characterization and thin plot. While saying its one of the best horror films ever made is a tad overkill, no pun intended. It’s a horror classic nonetheless that one should definitely see.

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

The Iron Giant (1999) Review

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RATING: 4.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A young boy gets the experience of a lifetime when a giant metal man appears in his hometown. From there, the two build a special and unique bond.

It was on August 6, 1999, that this animation classic hit theaters. As a kid, I used to watch this A LOT because it was so good. Now as an adult, this film still is as great as it was 20 years ago.

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