Thursday, 26 May 2011

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010).

For fans of Freddy Krueger, this is the ultimate love letter to the franchise that has provided people with thrills and nightmares for the better part of three decades now.
Wisely, and thankfully, leaving the miserable remake to its own devices, this documentary covers everything you could want to know about the eight movies that run from the first Elm Street flick to the Freddy Vs. Jason movie, covering the rise and rise and inevitable fall of New Line Cinema along the way. Almost everyone is here to talk about their part in the franchise and I do mean almost EVERYONE (the only major player missing is Patricia Arquette).
Of course, the majority of the tales come from, or relate to, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp (who also narrates proceddings), Wes Craven and Robert Shaye but everyone involved has something to contribute to the fond memory bank.
The first remains a solid classic but it’s funny now to be reminded of just how unexpected and lucky that was for all involved. With the sequels, however, it’s a complete free for all. Ask 100 different fans to name their favourite Freddy movie and you could probably get at least one person nominating each of the different instalments, a personal taste test shown by the varying opinions given by the talking heads onscreen.
There’s the blatant homo-eroticism of the second movie, that you can’t believe so many people were ignorant of while it was being made. The fun premise of the third movie, which also saw Langenkamp return. The fourth movie remains a fan favourite and has the best resurrection of Freddy ever. The fifth film features a twisted look at pro-life. And, of course, the sixth movie told us that Freddy would die. In 3D. Then Craven reinvented the character and took his first steps towards what would become the Scream franchise with the brilliant, sadly underappreciated (at the time, and by the fans, anyway) New Nightmare before we got to the battle we’d been waiting to see for years and years, Freddy Vs. Jason.
Of course, people have the fondest memories of the movies that they were personally attached to but the other surprise about watching this documentary is just how much everyone involved can be proud of. Every film may not have been as successfully executed as it could have been but they all try to stay true to the character and the concepts while moving the franchise forward and pleasing fans all at the same time. That’s more than can be said about Freddy’s Nightmares, the TV show also covered here that quickly began a downward spiral after an impressive first episode.
Directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch deserve a lot of credit for making this four hour documentary a consistently enjoyable, consistently interesting experience and there’s also praise to be heaped upon the editors, the animators who created some great visuals (especially at the start and end of the whole thing) and everyone who agreed to share their memories of a franchise that will stay a firm favourite in the dark hearts of fans for many years to come.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hot Dog . . . The Movie (1984).

Very much a product of it’s time, this is one Hot Dog that sits nicely beside it’s cinema counter siblings. In other words it’s weak, tasteless and will probably leave you with a feeling of discomfort in your guts. Even viewing such movies within the context of the time they came from, there’s only so much casual racism, sexism and unfunny boorishness that viewers can take.
The thin plot of this film sees a young lad named Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser) picking up a hitch-hiker, Sunny (Tracy Smith), en route to a big skiing competition before getting closer to her, closer to a bunch of slacker skiers who have some natural talent but no self discipline, closer to a caricatured German baddie and closer to the lovely Shannon Tweed. Perhaps things will build to an ending that mixes some skiing action in an all-or-nothing kind of deal. You think?
Directed by Peter Markler, and written by Mike Marvin (who was also second unit director for the ski sequences), the most frustrating thing about this movie is how it wouldn’t have taken all that much to make it just a little bit better. There is actually some well edited skiing and stunt work here and there. David Naughton is the lead slacker skier and he’s a likeable enough guy even if he will always be remembered as, arguably, the screen’s most loveable adult lycanthrope. And if you’re a young teen hoping for some gratuitous nudity in your films then the inclusion of Shannon Tweed is like a solid-gold seal of shenanigans.
Sadly, everything is just weighted down by a pair of unlikeable leads (and the character of Banks singing a ditty and playing some gentle guitar after bopping with Sunny at a bar playing host to a wet t-shirt contest is one of the biggest “WTF????” moments I have had in some time), a pre-pubescent fantasy of how well-endowed women will act around anyone with a penis and a bizarre streak of xenophobia painting Europeans in general as shallow cheats and Germans, in particular, as cold relics of yesteryear who need a good slap in the face every now and again and reminded of the fact that “zat eez the vay of ze vorld” (quote made up by myself, ridiculous German accent supplied by the movie in the form of John Patrick Reger’s performance).
The kind of movie that makes you glad we’ve moved on quite a way from the 80s. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Exciting times.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In other words . . . . . . not to cast aspersions on the writing skills of one Mr. Dickens . . . . it was like most times.
Fluctuations, ups and downs, this past week and the time ahead has been/will be very exciting for a number of reasons.
This blog was always set up to be a back up, somewhere to come to with the writing that I didn't want to overwhelm Flickfeast but every blogger knows that once a blog begins it gets what it wants. Which is why I am here at the back of one in the morning writing a little apology to myself (or, rather, my blog) for having abandoned it for a while and having to abandon it for a while longer.
The past week or so has seen me attend the awesomeness that is Dead By Dawn, lose a laptop to a dangerous PC virus caused by . . . . . . my own temper and a dodgy wi-fi connection and then gain a shiny new laptop from my lovely lady. I've also seen some great films (Insidious being a doozy) and tried to chill out. Because in two days I go to Southern France and I don't want to watch any movies or be online. I am forcing myself to have a proper holiday and, for the first time in a long time, feel that I really deserve it.
The new job is going very well (there's one person rubbing me up the wrong way but there always is, right) and in a few weeks it will be time for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. That means a busy busy time for me and a load more movies.
In the minor bad news stakes - anyone who was enjoying Resonance (hiya April) probably won't see it continuing for a while longer than I expected. Two reasons. 1) The self-imposed holiday and return to an overburdened workload. 2) The noted I had worked on for the next section were on the dead laptop.
But this is not the end . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it's a hiatus.