Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti, Derek Mears, Danielle Panabaker
Directed by Marcus Nispel
Distributed by New Line Home Entertainment
Those of you out there who are familiar with me know exactly how I feel about Platinum Dunes’ remake of Friday the 13th. It infuriates me, but not because it’s bad. Truth be told, it’s not a horrible movie; it just never feels like a Friday the 13th flick. Take a listen to the F13 Dinner for Fiends episode for an in-depth spite-laden discussion of what went wrong.
A week or so after the film was released in theatres, Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller wrote this on the official Platinum Dunes Blog:
“We are finishing up on the Unrated DVD this week. That DVD will rock! We have a different cut of movie, that not only has more violence and sex, but it has an additional storyline that is totally different from the movie you will see in theaters. Its not like we just cut a few things differently, the DVD version will feel like a different movie.”
Fans everywhere, myself included, were intrigued. When the product came in for review, I went immediately to my home theatre system to drink it in. Could it be? Would this new “Killer Cut” fix at least some of the problems that existed in its theatrical cousin, and more importantly, would the difference in the cut really be that drastic?
Allow me to be the first to call bullshit. It’s mostly hyperbole. Let me dissect —
The “Killer Cut”, which clocks in at 106 minutes (the theatrical cut was 97 minutes), is still rated R. Curious.
“We have a different cut of movie, that not only has more violence and sex, but it has an additional storyline that is totally different from the movie you will see in theaters. Its not like we just cut a few things differently, the DVD version will feel like a different movie.”
First the good. In terms of sex, yes, there’s more to be found here. Fans who drooled over the chicks in theatres will be happy to know that even more “perfect nipple placement” makes it in, as well as some additional blood spillage and longer looks at some of the film’s kills. It should be mentioned that said kills are still pretty uninspired, but at least they’re a bit, and let me stress the word “bit”, gorier.
Now the bad. The additional storyline. If you don’t want any spoilers, skip this paragraph. We get one scene broken up into two parts: At one point when Jason comes home to his lair, he has another flashback of his mom being beheaded and proceeds to throw a hissy-fit by throwing stuff around. Once he storms away, his captive (since when does Jason take hostages?) Whitney (Amanda Righetti) escapes by picking her lock. From there is a cool little moment as she falls into the room in which Jason stockpiles his corpses and immediately flees for her life, only to have Jason grab her at the point of freedom to chain her back up. That’s it. How in the world this scene can constitute a bold statement like, “the DVD version will feel like a different movie” is beyond me.
In fact, these changes aren’t even close to drastic. I’m sorry, Mr. Fuller, but you did “just cut a few things differently”. Nothing more. Still, I’ll give them this … this cut, if only for the few more seconds of sex and violence, plays better and is a bit more of a fulfilling experience than what we got in theatres.
Yet, in the end, these additions do nothing more than put a band-aid on a gushing wound. The film still has its problems. Instead of faux grit, Nispel gives us blue lens flares by the dozen. The music is miscued. The “captive” storyline is senseless and completely out of character. The kills are too basic … I can go on forever.
Here’s all that had to happen: Kids show up. Kids die. Roll credits. That’s it. It’s really that simple, and how this formula got screwed up is a complete and utter mystery. The Friday the 13th remake is over-produced, over-shot, over-thought, and not over soon enough. But its biggest sin? It’s just not fun, and that’s something that every Friday film, for all of their missteps and misfires, homo-erotic shaving bits and imposters, were.
The only really good thing I can say about it is that Derek Mears was amazing as Jason. He was the only one who seemed genuinely concerned with making a good Friday the 13th movie. It’s a shame he didn’t get more to work with. I pray that in the future he’ll return to the role with a director at the helm who actually understands the series. We shall see.
Now let’s talk supplemental features, shall we? DVD owners? You’re out of luck. All the really good stuff is on the Blu-ray, which I’ll get to in a second. Standard def fans will have two short things to sift through, an eleven-minute examination of what it took to ready the masked one for a new audience entitled The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees, and a few deleted scenes that include the original way Jason got his hockey mask, which was way better than what we got in the theatrical version, and the original way Jason was dispatched, which was pretty pitiful. That’s it.
The Blu-ray has those bits, both in HD, and more. First the extraneous stuff. Included with the Blu are both the “Killer” and theatrical cuts of the film, a standard def digital copy, and Warners’ version of BD-Live, which allows you access to exclusive downloads, etc. Good stuff. From there we get a pop-up Terror Trivia track, which allows viewers to test their knowledge of the franchise as well as dig on some behind-the-scenes footage, all while the movie is playing. Nice. Next up we get the Hacking Back/Slashing Forward featurette, which explores how the cast and crew of this latest entry feel about the Friday franchise in general. This was actually pretty cool because it conjures lots of nostalgia. “Where were you the first time you saw …” type stuff. Lord knows we all have those stories. And finally, we get The Seven Best Kills featurette. Not of the franchise, mind you — just the Platinum Dunes remake. Really what this is, is just an account of how some of the film’s key F/X sequences were pulled off, but it’s presented in probably one of the most masturbatory “Look what a great job that we did” ways imaginable. I’m still kind of taken aback. Whatever.
It should also be mentioned that the Blu-ray looks and sounds amazingly better than its DVD cousin. One thing is for sure, in 1080p, the film looks absolutely jaw-dropping. Rarely do I find myself saying wow, but in this case? WOW!
And there you have it, folks. The bottom line — Friday the 13th 2009 is at its heart a mediocre slasher film that just happens to have Jason in it. If you’re cool with that, you’ll probably love this, but for us faithful extreme Jason fanatics? Our best days with Big J are either behind us or have yet to come. A Part 2 is inevitable, and I, like many, am still keeping my fingers crossed. Please, Platinum Dunes, give us what we want — imaginative kills, gore-a-plenty, and bring back Mears!
2 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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LIQUID SKY Blu-ray Review – You Don’t Need Acid For This Mind Melting Trip
Starring Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr
Directed by Slava Tsukerman
Distributed by Vinegar Syndrome
Succinctly summing up a slice-of-life avant-garde feature film can be difficult when the picture relies heavily on the audio-visual experience and not necessarily the story. Liquid Sky (1982) is an acid-fueled trip through the emerging New Wave movement, viewed through the vapid lens of the fashion world, where drugs and sex are a commodity to be frequently bartered. The film juxtaposes the grimy and gritty streets of New York City with liberal use of bright, flashy neon, creating an aesthetic that both revels in the post-punk subculture and looks forward to the eye-popping pastels that would come to define the ‘80s. Within this kaleidoscope is a story about androgyny, rampant drug use, pleasures of the flesh, sexual abuse, and tiny invisible aliens that subsist on the endorphins released when people either get high or get down. As director Slava Tsukerman states in the extras, the idea was to craft a unique visual palette, the likes of which cinemagoers maybe hadn’t seen before; in that respect, Tsukerman capably succeeded. This is true subversive cinema, not for the mainstream.
Margaret (Anne Carlisle) is an androgynous NYC fashion model, looking to get her big break into certifiable stardom. Her nightclub fashion shows bring out all the fringe of the city – drug users, sexual deviants, flamboyant personalities, and her rival, Jimmy (also Carlisle), who is a fiend for cocaine. Margaret’s girlfriend, Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard), is a coke dealer whom Jimmy constantly harasses for a quick high, despite the fact he never has any money. Sex is his usual currency, consensual and otherwise. For reasons unknown, though easy to glean, a tiny UFO has landed on top of the apartment building in which Margaret lives, the visitors here to feast on endorphins released by the brain during drug use… or explosive, orgasmic sex.
Jimmy has lunch with his mother, Sylvia (Susan Doukas), a television producer who he sees as little more than a blank check. Sylvia also happens to live across the street from Margaret’s building, making it the perfect vantage point for scientist Johann Hoffman (Otto von Wernherr) to observe the till-now undiscovered, minute aliens and their spacecraft. Margaret, meanwhile, finds herself in one compromising sexual position after the next, often against her will, though these (let’s be honest here and call them) rapes tend to end with her perpetrators dead, a thin crystalline sliver embedded within their skulls; brain removed. Margaret doesn’t quite understand why, but the frequent cause and effect makes her imagine she has unbridled power, able to kill anyone that has sex with her. Eventually, Margaret comes to use this “power” to destroy anyone who crosses or uses her, which as the film will show is a significant number of people. Little does she know, all this time her saviors have been invisible to the naked eye and living atop her building.
The above plot synopsis barely scratches the surface of the weird and insane places this film travels. The biggest takeaway here should be the ground Tsukerman was breaking, which feels very much in the vein of something Andy Warhol might have been behind. The cast is comprised of societal outcasts; populated by homosexuals, ambiguous individuals, gender-fluidity, heroin users, club cronies, kink, vulgarity… all things that in no way conform to societal standards of normality. Carlisle pulls double duty playing two characters – one reprehensible, the other vaguely sympathetic – yet both fall under the rubric of blurred lines; they embody qualities of both masculinity and femininity. Tsukerman embraces the abstract and absurd, delivering a film that is fiercely independent and wholly incapable of direct categorization.
Driving this tour de force is a cutting edge synth score that is constantly active and consistently weird. A trio made up of Tsukerman, Clive Smith, and Brenda I. Hutchinson composed the soundtrack, and it sounds alien and otherworldly while also capturing the essence of the New Wave. The electronic cues and deep bass beats are energetic and repetitive, often making use of bizarre time signatures. Large portions of it reminded me of John Massari’s stellar synth score to Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), as the synthesizer sounds are nearly identical in some passages. The grooves are infectious and wonderfully lo-fi, adding an audible assault to complement the visual feast.
Still, Liquid Sky is something of a challenging watch, especially a first-time viewing when expectations are impossible to calibrate. Because Tsukerman purposely made his film so esoteric and obtuse, it can be tough to settle into a comfortable viewing mindset because so much of the film is uncomfortable and unconventional. The acting quality is passable enough that viewers may find themselves watching the film less as a veritable feature and more a staged, lengthy piece of performance art, which it is in certain respects. Liquid Sky doesn’t lampoon the period or people associated with it, though it does offer an exaggeration of current trends. One thing is for sure, this is bespoke filmmaking at its core and a shining example of the marriage between emerging trends and psychedelic euphoria. Mind blowing stuff.
Vinegar Syndrome is consistently lauded for their A/V work and, boy, did they ever knock this one out of the atmosphere. The 1.85:1 1080p picture is pristine, making it almost impossible to believe this is a low-budget indie from ’82. The original 35mm negative has been given new life via a 4K scan, with the resulting image looking nearly flawless. Aside from literally two or three white flecks the picture is immaculate. Film grain has been smoothed out and minimized without the use of waxy DNR. Fine detail is exquisite, adding a sense of true life to these shiny and squalid environments. Colors are richly saturated and pop off the screen, just as eye-catching neon might do in real life. Color filters are used frequently, bathing the image in hues of blue or green or whatever color fits the intended mood. Skin tones are spot-on and accurate. There is nothing worth complaining about making this one of the finest images Blu-ray is capable of producing.
Although the audio is a single-channel English DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono track you’d never know it from the sonic quality. The synthesized score is catchy and constant, causing the film’s soundfield to be brimming with life at every moment. The aggressive mix and high levels cause a mild sensation of discomfort and unease for viewers, ensuring the picture is never viewed too comfortably. Dialogue is understandable and totally clean, with no indication of hissing or pops at any point. Subtitles are available in English.
An introduction is available before the feature begins, with director Slava Tsukerman giving viewers a brief greeting along with praise for Vinegar Syndrome’s new home video edition.
An audio commentary is available, featuring director Slava Tsukerman.
The disc also contains an isolated soundtrack, highlighting that groundbreaking score.
Interview with Slava Tsukerman is a recent chat with the Russian director, who touches upon his career, influences, and the legacy of his most endearing creation.
Interview with Anne Carlisle is a similarly themed chat, with the leading lady discussing topics ranging from her early beginnings to where her career has taken her now.
Liquid Sky Revisited is a nearly-hour long documentary covering all aspects of the film’s production, with Tsukerman delving into every bit of minutia behind the production, genesis, inspirations, etc.
Q&A from 2017 Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers Screening, featuring Tsukerman, Carlisle, and co-composer Clive Smith.
A lengthy reel of outtakes, alternate opening sequence, rehearsal footage, multiple trailers, and a still gallery complete the wealth of bonus features found here.
Additionally, the cover artwork is reversible allowing for display of the original key art or newly commissioned artwork.
- BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM from the 35mm original negative
- Brand new commentary track with: Slava Tsukerman (director)
- Video interview with Slava Tsukerman
- Video interview with Anne Carlisle (actress)
- Director’s introduction
- “Liquid Sky Revisited” (2017) – 50 minute making-of documentary
- Q&A from a 2017 Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers screening with: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle and Clive Smith (music)
- Isolated soundtrack
- Never before seen outtakes
- Alternate opening sequence
- Behind the scenes rehearsal footage
- Multiple theatrical trailers
- Still gallery
- Artwork designed by Derek Gabryszak
- Reversible cover artwork
- English SDH subtitles
Supremely psychedelic and infinitely eccentric, Liquid Sky was 1983’s most successful independent film and for good reason: it is impossible to categorize and there are few films that color outside the lines so vividly and uniquely. You can’t explain it or understand it; you just have to see it. Vinegar Syndrome have raised the bar with their impeccable a/v quality and wonderful selection of extras.
Zena’s Period Blood: Dying for a DEAD END
It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”
“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.
How do you turn $900,000 into $77,000,000? Offer directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa the initial amount and give them the freedom to let their minds wander. In 2003, both directors accomplished this unimaginable feat with Dead End. Under the clouds of a small budget, typical poster and insubstantial trailer, most viewers forecasted one long stretch of boredom. However, 15 minutes in and I was as hooked as a pervert in a strip club with his tax refund money. In 83 minutes, the movie unravels and exposes intelligent craftsmanship with story, acting and location, introducing us to the Harrington family and their demise.
After 20 years following the same route, Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) decides to take his family down a shortcut to his in-laws home during Christmas Eve. Wife Laura (Lin Shaye) sings in the passenger seat, serving as the optimistic family unifier who is often ignored by her husband and children. Behind Frank is their oldest child Marion (Alexandra Holden), unnervingly sheltered under the arm of her soon-to-be fiancé, Brad. And forever mom’s favorite boy is Richard (Mick Cain), who rocks out to Marilyn Manson blaring in his headphones. After this brief introduction to the characters and their distinct personalities, we witness everyone fall asleep, including Frank, who refuses to let anyone else drive.
Several seconds pass before the Jeep Wagoneer veers into the opposite lane. Gradually, a honk pleads from an approaching car, startling the Harrington family and forcing Frank to fight with the wheel until he brings the Jeep to a stop. Wide-awake, the family begins to move forward, now entrapped on a new, never-ending road.
I could elaborate on so many scary details in the movie, but the never-ending road stands out the most. What makes it worse is that there are signs for a town called Marcott, with an arrow indicating the town is straight ahead. But the Harringtons never reach the town. This scares me because I believe that every human being has a mental list of things they are scared of or things they should keep an eye out for in certain situations. Unfortunately, this movie exists to expand that list. What sucks for me is that my husband likes taking back roads. Because I strive to have a happy marriage and a peaceful death, I usually fall asleep to avoid an argument and the grim reaper, both of which usually exist on these particular roads. However, I never imagined that a back road could become a never-ending road. Man that would suck!
Speaking of never-ending, the directors became devils of discomfort by never really showing the deceased’s mutilated body, leaving your brain struggling to piece together the unseen image long after the movie ends. Throughout the movie, the family and Brad are picked off one by one. We mainly suffer these devatations through the reactions of the family members that are still alive, sometimes witnessing them lift a severed ear or caress a charred hand. This movie taught me that I can still taste bile at the back of my throat when a mutilation is suggested rather than shown.
Directors Andrea and Canepa accomplished greatness in Dead End with little time and little money. It is a testament that imagination coupled with skill is the true combination to capturing a big budget feel. I hope that all the individuals behind this movie have a long, never-ending road ahead of them because they have delivered brilliance to the world. This is a good horror. Point blank. Period.
In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 164 – THE CLEANSE
Wait no longer, boils and ghouls! Today is the day you’ve been waiting for; today is the day we sink our teeth into 2018’s The Cleanse! What’s that? You’ve never heard of The Cleanse?! Well, neither had we, but horror releases are slim pickings right now, so we take what we can get. At least we can all agree that we’ve been dying to see Johnny Galecki in something other than Big Bang Theory, right? No? Well, fuck. Here’s an episode about his new movie anyway. What are we even doing?
It was crazy of me to think I could help the police, but I’m going to keep researching, keep writing, there are stories that need to be told, so… here’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 164!
If you enjoy the show, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.
The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.
- One-Eye Yipes! What a stain on our otherwise wonderful community.
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- Michael M I know it's just a teaser but damn. It does not look promising.
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