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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – A 30th Anniversary Retrospective

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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood opens with a very cool intro, albeit an unnecessary one. Fading in to a cemetery at night during a storm, we hear the voice of narrator Walt Gorney, who is familiar to fans of the franchise as the lovable Crazy Ralph in Friday the 13th (1980), and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981). Not that we need to be told at this point, but Gorney narrates how Jason Voorhees always comes back. Intercut with the footage of the cemetery is various moments from Part 2, Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). The sequence returns frequently to the cemetery between these clips. This is until we see the headstone of Jason’s grave explode from a lightning strike, which is actually unused footage from Jason Lives, of which we are then shown a recap of its events that lead into the prologue of the story here. The narration finishes with, “People forget, he’s down there… waiting.”

After the title card and opening credits, we are introduced to our ‘New  Blood’ heroine Tina Shepard. In a flashback scene set a year after the previous installment, featuring Tina as a little girl played by Jennifer Banko (1990’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), she is standing outside the door of her parents’ Camp Crystal Lake cabin as she listens to them fighting. After she sees her father hit her mother, she runs to the pier and is chased by him. She gets on a motorboat in the lake, where a sleeping Voorhees is still chained to the bottom. Angry with her father, she channels once latent telekinetic powers that cause a tremor in the lake, and the pier to shake, break apart, and collapse as he falls in to his death. The narrative then flashes forwards nine years, and is a further messing up of the series’ timeline. The first film is set in the year it was made of 1979. Parts 2, 3, and The Final Chapter are all set over a long weekend five years later, in that last entry’s year of release in 1984, which is feasible. Things became convoluted after this. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) is set five years after in 1989. Jason Lives is set in the following year of 1990. This is set in 2000, putting its events twelve years into the future from the year of its release in 1988, which clearly features 80’s fashions, music, and technology. The expression on Jennifer’s face says it all…

Now in a very 1980s looking 2000, a teenaged Tina is played by Lara Park Lincoln (1987’s House II: The Second Story, and the 1988 Freddy’s Nightmares TV anthology show). She portrays one of the most sympathetic final girls of the franchise, and her performance is capably serviceable to the needs of this simple slasher material. We become invested in her plight due to her trauma of causing her father’s death, having spent six years in a mental hospital, and struggling to control something she does not understand, which comes on out of her anger. Her wicked psychiatrist Dr. Crews, the secondary antagonist here, manipulates her. He has brought her back to where it all began to her parents’ Crystal Lake holiday cabin, and he exploits her emotions, trying to keep her in an agitated state to bring her telekinesis to the surface, and catching it all on videotape for his own ends to further his career. In a later revelation, it seems he also wants her to bring back Jason Voorhees, but screenwriters Manuel Fidello and Daryl Haney never bother to explain why he wants to do this. Crews is played by Terry Kiser, best known as Bernie in the cult 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie’s, and he succeeds in getting us to loathe his character and long for his comeuppance. The scenes between Tina and Crews make for some of the most interesting and lively moments, helping to break up the monotony of the first hour or so.

When Tina is forced to confront Jason, who she accidently resurrected from his watery grave when trying to bring back her father, as his body was never recovered (again, never explained), it also forces her to confront her fears and to focus, so she can control her telekinetic powers in order to defeat the undead psycho killer. Okay, so Paramount was really reaching for ideas here, and the cheesy gimmick of “Carrie vs. Jason” as fans dub this, sounds stupid on paper… well, it is stupid. However, this makes for some nifty practical special effects, the likes of which are never usually seen in the slasher sub-genre of horror (aside from New Line’s bigger budget A Nightmare on Elm Street dreamscape additions), especially during the climax as Tina and Voorhees do battle, and the hulking hockey masked maniac now has a foe that actually has a powerful ability to defeat him. Kane Hodder, making the first of four consecutive turns as the killing machine, also pulls off some impressive stunt work here. All this makes for a great deal of dramatic energy, and an entertaining and memorable finale that ends the film on a high note.

I am not a fan of the decomposing zombie incarnation of Jason Voorhees, but Hodder really gives the role his all. With conviction, his constant heavy breathing makes sure we know that Jason is very pissed off, he is an unstoppable force of rage, and his commitment to the stunt work deserves much respect. The director and SFX artist John Carl Buechler greatly compliments the stuntman’s performance by creating one of Voorhees’ greatest ever looks. The appearance of his beat up hockey mask, the decay of his rotting flesh, his skeleton showing underneath his torn clothes, and chains hanging around his neck, make him look like a classic early horror movie monster, rather than a typical modern slasher villain. His unmasking in the climax to reveal his zombiefied visage is effectively ghastly.

Excluding the brightly lit day scenes, the proceedings are encapsulated in a somber atmosphere. This is induced by the dark lighting techniques during the night settings and a fresh take with the score provided by Fred Mollin, who replaces veteran series composer Harry Manfredini. This is a welcome change, but much of the soundtrack over the course of the film consists of recycled samples from Manfredini’s previous compositions, hence, his co-credit here. Yet Mollin’s original music leaves a lasting impression, which also provides a strong sense of unease and impending doom, and a suitably supernatural feel to the cheese-filled fun of the showdown between Tina and Jason Voorhees.

It is a shame then that all the film’s negative aspects undercut these positives. The teen characterizations of the supporting cast are bland and unsympathetic, the kills are extremely lackluster in their execution – cuts or no cuts, and it is terribly paced, and has a distinct lack of suspense and tension…

The structure of the set-up is borrowed from The Final Chapter, as a group of teenagers is situated in a cabin opposite the Shepard’s old holiday place, much like where the Jarvis family home was. The kids are holding a surprise birthday party for a friend who does not make it to blow out the candles on his cake, and his cousin Nick (Kevin Blair) is Tina’s love interest, who is actually an all-around nice guy, but has little to do. The rest of the teens are the most annoyingly obnoxious, forgettable, zero personality fuckwits to ever feature in a Friday the 13th film. The only real standout from this slasher fodder is the late Susan Jennifer Sullivan as Queen Bitch Melissa, who like Kiser does a solid intentional job of getting us to hate her, and anticipate her demise.

We have here characters so detestable that we yearn for them to be slaughtered in loving graphic detail, and in inventive ways, but we are deprived of this because the payoffs are so dull. Rooting for antagonists in horror instead of fearing them, in the hope they will kill protagonists we should fear for, as they are the ones we should be identifying with, is not real horror. This is an exploitative guilty pleasure, yet even this is robbed from us here. Save for the infamous sleeping bag kill, the set-pieces are the most uninspired of the franchise. It is made even worse by how the MPAA demanded a cut to shreds version, as this at least would have been a visceral experience with what would have been the goriest one of the lot. This is evident from this rough footage of the deleted scenes…

Jason is seen far too much, which became the norm for the series from Jason Lives onwards, and is one of the failings of these later installments as he was no longer scary as a consequence. Furthermore, Buechler’s talent is in SFX, not in directing, as he has no understanding of pacing and staging set-pieces in respect of build-up. Voorhees just suddenly appears, lumbering on to screen in full view, and kills with weapons that appear out of nowhere. There is zero suspense and tension, unlike when he was still lurking in the shadows in the first four films. Throughout the majority of the runtimes in these, we would only know he is a terrifying presence, seeing glimpses of him, and we would mostly just see his hands holding the murder weapons during the kill sequences, until his full reveal in the finale. He was still very human, a backwoods hermit deformed man-child on a psychotic murderous  rampage, who was slimmer and would run. This iteration of the character was re-introduced in the 2009 reboot, but was tweaked a little with new personality traits.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is a mixed bag, as for everything good, there is something bad. It is at times engaging, but at other times tedious. It does not quite scrape the bottom of the barrel alongside the worst of the bunch – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). In terms of quality control, and for cutting thick slices of cheese in parts that makes it passable entertainment, it qualifies for a place in the franchise rankings somewhere in the lower middle, or in the upper lower end. It is a hit and miss slasher sequel that is a watchable time waster, no more, no less – average genre fare.

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New HEREDITARY Poster Morphs Into a Nightmare

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A few weeks back, we shared the weird as shit French poster for Hereditary starring Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, and Ann Dowd which will be hitting movie theaters across the country this June.

And speaking of The Scariest Movie Josh Has Ever Seen, today we have yet another freaky-ass poster to share with you guys. It features the film’s creepy kid seemingly morphing into Toni Collete’s creepy mother.

Subtle.

Check out the new poster to the right and then make sure to hit us up let us know what you think in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

Hereditary is written and directed by Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro, and Alex Wolff with Kevin Scott Frakes, Lars Knudsen, and Buddy Patrick producing. The film hits theaters nationwide on June 8th.

Synopsis:

When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage.

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Interview: Bear McCreary Showers Love on OINGO BOINGO on the Eve of Danny Elfman’s Birthday

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Fans of today’s best horror and sci-fi know the name Bear McCreary; the composer has built up an enviable resume working on popular shows like The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica and recent films like The Cloverfield Paradox and Happy Death Day.

Although he rarely gives interviews, we were able to snag Bear for a sit-down when he heard our main topic of conversation would be his idol, Danny Elfman (who turns 65 later this month). What transpired was more than can be absorbed in a single read, so we’ll be bringing you our conversation with Bear in 2 parts.

Read about Bear’s connections to the post-farewell reincarnation of Oingo Boingo and the roots of his appreciation for the music of Danny Elfman below. Come back next week to hear him weigh in on The Walking Dead’s dwindling viewership.


Danny Elfman

Dread Central: Let’s talk about our mutual love for Danny Elfman since his birthday is coming up on May 29th.

Bear McCreary: Where do you want to start?

DC: Are you an Oingo Boingo fan?

BM: [Long pause] Yes. That’s the short answer.

DC: I read your blog post where you said at age 10, you were watching a movie and as soon as you heard the score, you immediately knew it was done by Danny Elfman even before his name came up in the credits.

BM: That was the first time my mom looked at me and thought, “Who is this kid?”

DC: Did you already know Danny Elfman from Oingo Boingo or was your first introduction to him through movies?

BM: I found out about Danny through films; when I was a kid all I listened to were film scores. From age 5 until about age 15, I didn’t listen to pop music—at all. It was only when I found out that my favorite film composer had a rock band that I thought I would check them out. For a lot of people, Danny Elfman is their gateway from popular music to film music. For me it was the other way around: Through Danny Elfman’s film music, I found out about popular music. Once I got into Oingo Boingo, I started listening to Pink Floyd and Guns n Roses and Rage Against the Machine and Queen. I was like, “Oh wow! Popular music has a lot of great stuff!”. It all started with my discovery of Oingo Boingo (who I adore) which came from my appreciation of Danny’s film music.

DC: That’s exactly right. I’m from Southern California and Oingo Boingo were local legends in the 1980s, and it was my love of Oingo Boingo that led to my love of Danny Elfman’s film music. Danny Elfman has such a unique sound, it wasn’t long before I could instantly identify his film music too. What’s your favorite Oingo Boingo album?

BM: Man, Josh! That’s a tough one!

DC: I know!

BM: I don’t know that I can pick. Let me give you a few: What I always appreciate about Danny and Oingo Boingo is the way they explore new frontiers and new sounds. So there’s a number of gear-shifts in their output where we go from one gear to another, and those tend to be the records I really like. First of all, you have to start with Only a Lad which is where they’re transitioning from The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and The Forbidden Zone, from being a weird performance art troupe in Venice Beach to being an actual rock band. There’s a lot in that record that’s pulled over from that more theatrical era but being shoved into this New Wave mentality.

I love Nothing to Fear, I love Good for Your Soul. Dead Man’s Party is another gear-shift for the band where they’re starting to explore some new sounds. For me, if I had to pick a favorite, I really might go with Dark at the End of the Tunnel or their final album, Boingo. This is probably because I got my first introduction to Danny Elfman through his film music, and those last two records, you could tell his film music was really influencing Oingo Boingo and not the other way around. I think there’s a maturity and sophistication and a narrative musicality in those two records that, for me, is super appealing.

It almost feels sacrilegious to say Dark at the End of the Tunnel is a better record than Good for Your Soul—I’m not saying that. I’m saying that for me personally, those last two Oingo Boingo records mean the most to me.

DC: I love your reverence for the band. I had no idea you were a true Oingo Boingo expert.

BM: Do you want me to blow your mind?

DC: Um—of course!

BM: Here’s something you don’t know about me: In 2005, Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez put the vast majority of Oingo Boingo together to do a concert. It was John Avila, Steve Bartek, Sluggo [Sam Phipps], Doug Lacy, and I was the MD; I did all the arrangements, I played keys. My brother [Brendan] sang lead vocals and so we reunited Oingo Boingo under the Johnny Vatos banner, and we did shows for 3 or 4 years in that configuration. We had strings and backing vocalists; my wife Raya [Yarbrough] was in there. And that ensemble is continuing today as The Johnny Vatos Oingo Boingo Dance Party. My brother is still the lead singer and they’re still playing a lot of my arrangements. And I worked with the Oingo Boingo guys when they played in Battlestar Galactica. They play on a lot of my film scores. Steve Bartek was a groomsman at my wedding. I’ve known these guys since I moved to LA; they’re my family.

Bear McCreary singing Jack’s Lament at the Greek Theater with the Johnny Vatos band in 2006

DC: Mind. Fucking. Blown. I was excited to interview you from the get-go, but I had no idea I’d be talking to a bona fide member of Oingo Boingo! This stuff isn’t on your Wikipedia page, man!

BM: Not only were Oingo Boingo a huge part of my life growing up, they are my family. I don’t know Danny that well, but Steve and Johnny and John and Sam and Doug: These are some of the closest people in my life and I talk to them all the time.

DC: Amazing.

BM: I’m a fan for sure, and all those guys influenced me immensely. In this post-1995 era, the band and associated musicians have all gone on to do their own things, but my brother and my wife and I have been able to be part of that post-farewell afterlife of Oingo Boingo. Steve Bartek told me that the first time he and Vatos and Avila played together since the last Oingo Boingo concert was when I reunited them to score a short film. I had met them all and was like, [nervous voice] “Will you play on my student film score?” They said “Sure” and from there, they did a few more scores on student films. So when Battlestar Galactica came up, it was my first job and I needed a guitar player. So I brought in Steve and brought in John and Johnny. And when I played the music of Battlestar Galactic in concert, Bartek, Vatos, and Avila all played on stage with me. So I’ve been on stage with these guys doing Oingo Boingo music and my own music.

DC: You said you were going to blow my mind and you did. Thank you!

BM: You’re welcome. That’s why when you asked, “Are you a fan of Oingo Boingo?” I had a feeling this would go well; I was like, “Where do I begin?”

Brendan McCreary, Bear McCreary, and Steve Bartek at an orchestral recording session for Battlestar Galactica

DC: With Danny Elfman’s birthday coming up, I think this discussion about Oingo Boingo and the band’s legacy will be really interesting for our readers.

BM: It’s interesting though because, despite the fact that I know the rest of the band very well, I don’t know Danny that well. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s a sweet guy. But to me, Danny Elfman is probably a lot like what he is to you. He’s this mythic figure; he is the person who created all this music that I adore. And, I think for the purpose of honoring him, as opposed to talking about all this shit I’ve done with his friends, it’s important to know that Danny inspires me. Even to this day, when I’m writing music and I’m thinking about the music I loved.

Like, when I was doing A Cloverfield Paradox, I thought, “What kind of music would I have wanted to hear at age 15? What would have made me go, ‘Oh my God, that was amazing!’” And that’s what I want to write. And I think about Danny at these time, what he meant to me and still means to me and his inventiveness. I don’t think it can be overstated what a profound creative impact he’s had on me. I’d like to think I’m taking that energy and paying it forward.

DC: Hopefully he’ll read this and appreciate your appreciation.

BM: That would be nice, but at the same time, he’s inspired millions of people. I don’t think there’s anything special about me in that regard. He’s created such an incredible body of work spanning all these genres; and it’s like you said, you always recognize his sound. To me, that’s the ultimate sign of musical genius. Maybe more than just genius; it really gets into craftsmanship. This is a guy who’s worked really hard. And that makes me admire him more. There are lots of people in life who are really talented and can get by on talent alone, but Danny Elfman is talented and he works his ass off. Every few years he’s reinventing himself and trying something new. He strikes me as the kind person who isn’t satisfied doing things he’s already wildly successful at because he wants to do something challenging, you know what I mean?

I admire that. In many ways, I’ve modeled my career in that way. When I really established myself in television, especially science fiction television, that became a world that was available to me. And I think, taking a cue from Danny Elfman, I thought, “Okay, what else is there for me out there?” Because I want to challenge myself. I want to do something I’m not known for; I want to do something that people don’t associate with my name. Like when Good Will Hunting came out, that came out of nowhere; and in hindsight, the same can be said about the first Mission Impossible movie. These were scores that you would not think, at that time, would be something Danny Elfman would be doing. And he did. He redefined himself. And that’s the artist I want to be. I’d also throw in Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein as examples of musicians who would constantly strive to do new things.

Check back next week for the conclusion of our interview with Bear McCreary.

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Saban Acquires BETWEEN WORLDS Starring Nicolas Cage

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Saban Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to writer/director Maria Pulera’s supernatural thriller Between Worlds starring Nicolas Cage and is planning a day-and-date theatrical/VOD release.

Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley said, “Nic’s talent and star-power is unparalleled. Having worked with him on a number of films such as The Trust and USS: Indianapolis: Men of Courage, we’re thrilled to be re-teaming with him and bring this to our audiences.”

Between Worlds has been a true passion project for me and I am thrilled to partner with Saban for the theatrical release of my film in the US market,” commented Pulera, the film’s writer, director, and producer. “The story is an unusual approach to the traditional thriller but appeals to the wider audience and dives deep into the themes of family, love, and betrayal. Nicolas Cage, Franka Potente, and Penelope Mitchell give their all in a magnificent performance. I couldn’t be happier with the end result. I can’t wait to share this film with audiences around the world.”

Are you excited to check out this Nic Cage thriller? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The film is written and directed by Maria Pulera and stars Nicolas Cage, Penelope Mitchell, Franka Potente, and Hopper Penn. Eric Banoun and David Hillary produced alongside Pulera via their company Rise Up, LLC.

Synopsis:

Between Worlds follows Joe (Cage), a down-on-his-luck truck driver haunted by the memory of his deceased wife and child. He meets Julie (Potente) a spiritually gifted woman who enlists Joe in a desperate effort to find the lost soul of her comatose daughter, Billie (Mitchell). But the spirit of Joe’s dead wife Mary proves stronger, possessing the young woman’s body and determined to settle her unfinished business with the living.

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