Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: A favorite in Slaughter town
As little girls our mother allowed us to watch the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre, being all of maybe nine years old we were terrified (and, yes, probably too young to watch it but our mom’s awesome like that). The thoughts of some psycho cannibal family living in an old farm house in Texas, hacking unsuspecting people to death and then consuming them definitely reached a higher level on the horror meter than some of the classics we had been previously exposed to and yet there was an element to it that really drew us in. That man behind the skin mask, not speaking a word yet saying so much to us, he won our hearts forever.
Flash forward a few years when we are on the cusp of becoming teenagers, the precious years when other girls are like totally concerned with regular girl things like makeup and stylish clothing, it was then that the young Sisters of Slaughter were reintroduced to a certain family of cannibals in the form of a sequel, a horror comedy that helped shape their twisted senses of humor, one that is celebrated in Slaughter Town like a national holiday. Continue Reading
In June 1983, drifter Henry Lee Lucas was convicted of 11 murders. Later, he confessed to over 3,000, but retracted many of these over time. Today, most believe that Lucas was responsible for about 40 separate killings, including his sex worker mother, and Becky Powell, the intellectually-impaired 15-year-old niece of his close friend and lover, Ottis Toole.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) is as much a biopic and crime drama as it is a horror film. It is as far from the territory of Jason, Michael and Freddy as an 80s serial killer movie can be, and its uncompromising violence and dread-soaked atmosphere ensured controversy and a release plagued with censorship issues. These problems set its American release back by 4 or so years, while in the UK, the uncut version of Henry was only made available in 2003, a full 17 years after it was made. Continue Reading
“He’s back! The man behind the mask, and he’s out of control” ~ Alice Cooper
When it comes to slasher movies there are few killers who have anything in comparison with Jason Voorhees. He has amassed a kill count of over two hundred people. While other slashers have their kill count in the double digits; Jason has triple. When Friday the 13th launched in June of 1980—it became a huge success! Despite what the studio had to say about slasher movies, in a way, it helped propel the slasher genre. The franchise has eleven movies and one re-make.
The 80’s were a time of home entertainment—more so, the pre-cursor of today. Where the only time we really have to leave our house is to work. Video Game consoles were taking off—allowing family and children to chuck the board games aside or into the back of the closet. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was wildly popular with young children and teens.
By the time the Nintendo launched, Friday the 13th was on its fifth film. It would be four years later when Friday the 13th part: VIII was released that a video game would coincide with the release of the film.
Developed by LJN in 1989, it was one of the first survival horror games released in America. The story of the game: You play as a group of counselors, and you must save the children of camp Crystal Lake. The game is notorious for jump scares and not player friendly. Overall, it failed to stay true to the F13 franchise.
In October of 2015, Gun media and Illfonic launched a Kickstarter for a new F13 game. Based on their original idea of a multiplayer game where you play as the slasher and 8 people played counselors, the slasher would chase the counselors down and do what he does best. Kill. Once Sean S. Cunningham saw the tech demo for the prototype, and he offered the F13 license.
Editors note: Before Cunningham offered up the f13 license, the Kickstarter project was known as “Summer Camp.”
The game itself is a collaboration of sorts: It re-unites Tom Savini to the franchise (Jason’s original designer), Harry Manfredini (series composer), and it re-unites the most important thing to the series, the only actor who has ever played Jason more than once: Kane Hodder, who will be performing the motion capture for Jason.
Being a Friday the 13th fan, it was my obligation to donate to the campaign. I donated at the $55.00 tier and earned the right to play in the beta, which was released in December of 2016. The excitement to play was tearing at me. The drive home from work was the longest drive in the history of the world, it felt miserably slow.
Once the computer finally booted up and I was introduced to a nostalgic opening. It feels like you have just popped in your favorite VHS tape, the tracking finally diminishes and you are introduced to the name of the developer: Illfonic and Gun Media.
You are greeted by various shots of Jason and the infamous “Ki Ki Ma Ma” is heard. The title scene in itself is something nice. It allows you to feel the ambiance, and you’re treated to Manfredini’s music, an ode to the classic F13 sound.
Every match begins the same, you pick the counselor you want to play and Jason is selected randomly. Every character has a different set of skills that will help them survive the match, and the counselors get a certain number of perks. Jason has pre-selected perks for each version you play (There are five in all. Part 2, 3,6,7,8 and Jason Goes to Hell, plus a backer original designed by Savini himself). One of the most interesting things about playing as Jason is that you will be able to level him up and select different kills. One of my favorites is the kill from part VIII where Jason knocks Julius’s head clean off his shoulders. You are also able to select new kills that were created for the game.
Now, one would expect that playing as Jason is the best part of the game, not true. The counselors are what make the game fun, sure, walking around and killing dozens of teens is a good time, however, the thrill of staying alive is where the fun is.
As the counselors, you have four objectives—either, call the police and they will meet you at a select point in the map, fix a car and drive off the map, kill Jason, ( not available in the beta), or die.
As a counselor, you are able to find various items to help fight off Jason or stun him long enough for you to make a hasty retreat. You have the option of hiding from him in cabins, closets, and tents (playing as Jason, finding the hiding counselors will reward you with extra XP that you can use to buy more kills). Sounds simple, right? Not, so much. Jason has different abilities. One ability, allows you to transport Jason to any part of the map, another ability, will allow Jason to chase the counselors or appear in front of them. The main ability players will use is “Sense” as it allows Jason to see where the campers have staked out—making it slightly easier to hunt them.
The game is fun, at least, the beta. It gives the feeling of fear and confusion and plays true to the F13 format. The ambiance of the game is something that really plays into effect. The ground is often dark and shadows play tricks on the eye. When Jason comes close to a party or a single camper, a music Que plays to let you know he is near. While it seems cheesy, it gives the player a chance to run and hide. The game feels like a movie. Something, I never expected—being a longtime fan of video games and a regular player. I’m not a fan of multiplayer games, at all, with F13, I felt I was in the movie. I would get adrenaline rushes if Jason was near and I was wounded. My fight or flight instinct would kick in and most the time I would lose or there would be a chance, I would get away, only to have Jason take his revenge, and shove a machete down my throat. Despite, some bugs (it’s a beta, they will happen) it was an experience I will never forget and cannot wait for the full release.
Friday the 13th: The game is a rare feat, it stays true to the license. A prime of example that in the right hands a movie license can stay true to its origins. And make an experience worthwhile; other companies can learn from this particular developer. If care and passion go into a license a game can break free of the bonds and ideologies; that all movie-based games are cheap and never a worthwhile experience.
Friday the 13th breaks that mold, not only for horror games but multiplayer games, as well.
Kurt Thingvold, no stranger to Machine Mean, was born and raised in IL. He finds passion in writing, which helps calm his demons. He grew up in a tough household that encouraged reading and studying. He spends his time writing in multiple of genres. His published his short story, Roulette, which can be found on Amazon for $0.99!!! When not writing he can be found playing games, reading, or attempting to slay the beast known as “Customer Service”, which, he fails at almost every day. As mentioned, Kurt is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean, you can also check out his previous review on Ridley Scott’s legacy movie Alien here.
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April 21, 2017 | Categories: Horror, Reviews, Video Games | Tags: 1980's, Alice Cooper, beta, beta games, camp councilors, console, Friday the 13th, Guest author, Horror, horror games, horror reviews, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Voorhees, Kane Hodder, kills, Kurt Thingvold, mayhem, Murder, Reviews, survival, survival horror, survivor horror, Tom Savini, VHS, video game reviews, video games, violence, Xbox One | 3 Comments
Not unlike me, while slasher movies weren’t invented in the eighties, the eighties was when slasher movies became great. See what I did there? In all seriousness, though, ask anyone to name a slasher movie and chances are, most people will name one of the big three, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween, all of which have been remade over the past ten years or so. And all of them really took root in the consciousness of our culture in the eighties. Still, there were a number of other examples that rose out of this period and jumped on the bandwagon. Many of them were standalone films, or simply lacked the power of the majors, but there are still some good ones in there. For me, coming across these movies at the time, at the age I was, it made a huge transition in my life. I had loved movies up until that point, but it was more for the fantasy of it, the spectacle and the majesty.
This was the first time that a movie scared the shit out of me.
I never considered that film could have such a powerful, emotional effect. For the first time, I didn’t really feel safe in the theater, or on the couch. And it was from there that my love for dark fiction was born. Not because I thought the carnage was cool (although often it was) but because I loved that experience and the impact that images and words could have.
One last thing I will say in general before we get to the heart of this is one important aspect of slasher movies in the eighties. And that would be the sex. I don’t mean this in a titillating way, although at a young age, this was some of my first exposures to sex and the female anatomy. What I’m talking about is the function that sex played in the story.
In the eighties especially, sex was like the redshirt for horror movies (sorry if you don’t get the reference here but Google is only a click away). Characters who had sex on film were almost certain to meet their grisly demise shortly after. It wasn’t unusual for someone to actually meet their end mid-coitus. The message often seen in these films was pretty plain to see.
Sex equals death.
We’re going to come back to this point so hold on to it, okay? Put a pin in it.
That brings us to the movie of the hour. Silent Night, Deadly Night.
The movie starts out with the main character as a child. After visiting his grandfather in a nursing home, Billy is forced to witness his parents murdered in front of him by a man dressed in a Santa suit. His emotional damage is furthered while living in a foster home under the supervision of a tyrannical nun, Mother Superior.
As an adult, Billy is talked into dressing up as Santa Claus for the store he works at. At some point during the night, he witnesses an act of sexual violence between two coworkers and he is triggered into launching a killing spree in the town.
This film was the embodiment of the idea of sex leading to death. As a child, Billy is battered with Mother Superior’s influence that immoral people have sex and should be punished. This clearly has an impact on Billy as he ends up killing several people either immediately after or in the act of having sex. He literally becomes a kind of uber-violent puritanical, acting out his hatred for those who choose to engage in the sins of the flesh.
And I suppose for being naughty?
He is Santa Claus, after all.
This film was pretty controversial when it first came out, even though it was hardly the first of its kind. I think that a large issue with the public was the fact that the film was actually released during the holiday season. Also, the promotional material for the film placed a heavy emphasis on the fact that the killer was dressed as Santa Claus.
The moral outrage evidently became so outspoken that Gene Siskel actually took time out of their program to call out members of the crew by name, just so he could point his finger and say, “Shame on you.” As a result of public pressures, TriStar Pictures did end up pulling the film from theaters. It would be re-released early the next year by a smaller studio, exploiting the controversy around the film in order to promote it.
Say what you will about the movie, there was enough of a following to justify four sequels and a loose remake that came out in 2012. Interesting trivia note – the Silent Night remake featured one Malcolm McDowell, who starred in another classic horror reboot, Rob Zombie’s Halloween in 2007.
I honestly can’t say if Silent Night, Deadly Night is that great of a film. It certainly is exploitative, loaded full of nudity and sex and graphic violence. The story is a bit on the cheesy, trope-heavy side, the innocent child drove into becoming an insane murderer by the cold, overbearing nun in the foster home. The killer who sees himself as a kind of moral avenging angel. At moments, it has the feel of an over-the-top after-school special in that it tries a little too hard to be earnest and isn’t particularly subtle.
But being honest, I don’t think that you should reasonably expect anything else from a movie like this. It would be like complaining that you got heartburn from the taquito you got at the twenty-four hours greasy taco truck. It’s a fun movie and I think that should be taken into consideration when evaluating it. If you enjoy the gore of horror movies and watch it for the kills, you’ll probably like this one.
For me, this film is more important in relation to the point in my life in which I crossed paths with it. It was one of many films lying around in the stack of VHS tapes at home and it was when I was in grade school that I first saw it. It was scary, but there was also that thrill of watching something you weren’t supposed to see, the taboo of the thing that made it exciting. I have made a point to not rewatch this over the years, choosing to preserve my fading memories of the film as opposed to reconfiguring my viewpoint by watching it now.
Silent Night, Deadly Night will always be locked away in a memory box for me. It was a time when I was first introduced to the irreverent potential of storytelling, the emotional impact that movies could have as well as the realization that there was a whole new world out there, just waiting to be discovered on the back of a good video store membership.
Chad Clark is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us before with commentary on House of Dracula (1945) and House of 1000 Corpses. Mr. Clark is a midwestern author of horror and science fiction. His artistic roots can be traced back to the golden era of horror literature, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon being large influences. His love for horror began as well in the classic horror franchises of the eighties. He resides in Iowa with his wife and two sons. Clark’s debut novel, Borrowed Time, was published in 2014. His second novel, A Shade for Every Season was released in 2015, and in 2016 Clark published Behind Our Walls, a dark look at the human condition set in a post-apocalyptic world. His latest book, Down the Beaten Path, released in September 2016. You can keep up with all of Mr. Clark’s works by following him on Amazon here.
And you do not want to miss this box set from dark fiction author Thomas S. Flowers. Still on SALE for $0.99!!!
December 19, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: 1980's, ax murderer, Chad Clark, Christmas, Christmas horror movies, Classics, dark, exploitation, exploitative, fiction, film reviews, films, guest authors, holiday classics, Holidays, Horror, horror reviews, movie reviews, Murder, nudity, Reviews, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, serial killers, sex, Silent Night Deadly Night, slasher, slasher films, slasher flicks, violence | 4 Comments