Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Created by Frank Mancuso, Jr. and Larry B. Williams
Starring Louise Robey, Chris Wiggins, John D. LeMay, R.G. Armstrong
Directed by Various
Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment
In 1987 there was much cause for celebration. My favorite movie franchise at the time, Friday the 13th, was getting its own TV series! I could barely grasp the joys associated with being able to tune in weekly to Jason’s exploits! Oh happy day! Then I watched it. There was no Jason. There was no Crystal Lake. There was no rhyme or reason for this to happen. How could it be? Where was the connection? There had to be one, right? Wrong. Friday the 13th: The Series was to be an in-name-only separate franchise. For a while fans cried foul, but then we decided to watch anyway. That’s a good thing, too, because had we not, we would have missed out on one of the best horror TV shows ever made.
For those still wondering why the show was called Friday the 13th, there actually is a reason. We’ll get to that in a minute. First let’s bring the uninitiated up-to-speed.
Antique shop owner Lewis Vendredi (Armstrong) made a deal with the Devil. He was to sell hexed objects for Satan to the unknowing masses in exchange for immortality. These cursed curios would come in all shapes and sizes, but they all had one thing in common — anyone who owned them would end up on the old metal slab in the morgue. After many years of doing Big Red’s bidding, Vendredi (which in French translates into “Friday” and there’s your reason for the show’s title) welshed on his contract and ended up taking a dirt nap. But what of the store? He left it to two relatives, Micki Foster (Robey) and Ryan Dallion (LeMay). Not knowing what else to do, the unwitting duo end up selling everything in the store at close-out prices — thus damning legions of people.
One night while counting their profits, they receive a visit from a strange man named Jack Marshak (Wiggins), who as it turns out was supplying Vendredi with his antiques. But not even Marshak knew what the evil proprietor was doing with the goods. Feeling responsible, the now trio set out to hunt down all the objects before they can do any further harm. Welcome to Season One of their three-season quest.
Folks, it’s time to throw away your bootlegs (you know you bought one at some convention somewhere). Paramount has finally brought this gem of a show home, but not exactly in the grand fashion we had hoped. The main problem (if you can call it that) is that all twenty-six episodes included in the six-disc set look pretty crappy. There’s been no attempt at cleaning up the video or the audio. When the onscreen action takes place at night or in a dark room, everything looks bleedy, blurry, and completely soupy. Kind of like watching TV with a thick application of Vaseline covering your screen. Still, in some way this comes off as kind of charming because things look pretty much the same as they did back in ’87. I’m seriously not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. Either way your nostalgia bone will certainly be tingling.
In terms of supplemental material we get two extra goodies — the original network launch promos, which I had forgotten about but remembered like they were on yesterday as soon as I saw them, and a ten-minute sales presentation that outlines some of the best episodes of the season as well as some rave press related reviews. Yeah, that’s not exactly what we’d call stacked, but at least it’s something.
Friday the 13th: The Series is required viewing that’s perfect fodder for a dark stormy night at home. It packs enough murder, mayhem, and ludicrously big hair to satisfy any Eighties horror buff. This is a moment that as fans we’ve been clamoring for. Seize the day, and get your hands on this exquisite batch of curious goods like yesterday.
4 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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