Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, or, Dylan!!

Normally, I don’t like it when directors add their name to the title of a movie. John Carpenter did that all the time. Peruse this site, however, and one will find a review of John Carpenter’s Vampires listed as Vampires. The official title of the movie featured in this review is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. That’s a different kind of conceit on the part of writer/director Wes Craven than what directors like Carpenter have done. For, that’s a literal title. In this movie, Wes Craven plays a character named Wes Craven, he is having a new nightmare, and that nightmare is causing trouble for the other characters. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, or, Dylan!!”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Horror franchises have a lifespan. And all horror franchises exceed that lifespan, shuffling along like zombies, mere imitations of the life they once had. The third entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise still has life — a shitload, in fact — but the signs of franchise decline are also very apparent.

Wes Craven returns to write after sitting out the previous film, alongside Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, and Chuck Russell. Russell also directed. Craven’s participation means the return of the murderous and sadistic Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) to the realm of dreams, rather than wandering around in the waking world — the expansion of Freddy’s supernatural abilities from the previous film retconned. In fact, this film makes no mention of the previous entry, instead serving as a sequel to the first film in the franchise. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”

October Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This film is a horror classic. It’s the most significant film from a director, Wes Craven, who made many significant contributions to the genre. It introduced audiences to an iconic horror villain in Freddy Krueger, and spawned a film franchise that chugged along nicely for about a decade until the wheels fell off. There’s not much more that Missile Test can add, other than to urge any horror fan who has not seen this movie, to do so when the chance arises. Still, I’ll try to get 600 words out of this review. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: No Escape No Return, or, Three Riggses and No Murtaughs

The early 1990s were very much a weird time. It was an extended hangover from our experience of the ’80s, and movies reflected that. As important as music was in redefining style, and giving the younger Gen-X slackers senseless purposelessness, there was still a fair amount of big hair and mullets out there alongside the flannels and unkempt coiffures. In shitty cinema, sharp suits, tight skirts, and cocaine were still the rage, while out in the real world, alternative rock had rediscovered heroin. Movies were playing a game of catch-up when it came to popular culture, resulting in some films looking like anachronisms.

1993 saw the release of No Escape No Return, a cheap buddy cop flick that takes all the well-worn clichés of the last decade-plus and stirs them into a shitty mush. Charles T. Kanganis handled writing and directing. More importantly, Joseph Merhi, a Shitty Movie Sundays Hall of Fame inductee, was one of the producers, adding this film to an impressive list of subpar accomplishments. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: No Escape No Return, or, Three Riggses and No Murtaughs”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel

The importance of the Italian contribution to Shitty Movie Sundays cannot be overstated. Many of the most outrageous and joyfully incompetent films featured in the Watchability Index hail from that land of ancient art and culture. I’m sure that way back in the day, before the miracle that is recorded media, there were countless shitty penny operas and circuses for the masses to enjoy. For all we know Verdi had a secret passion for sleaze. My point is, shitty Italian cinema didn’t just come from nowhere. The DNA had to be there already. For every master filmmaker such as Federico Fellini, there has been an Enzo G. Castellari. For every Lina Wertmuller, a Bruno Mattei. And for every Bernardo Bertolucci, there has been a Sergio Martino. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel”

October Horrorshow: Black Christmas

Filmmaker Bob Clark had an interesting career. He started out in horror, as so many others have, but then launched the mostly forgotten Porky’s comedy franchise. His legacy now lives on most memorably at Christmas time, when one of the Turner cable channels shows A Christmas Story, which he directed and helped write, for 24 straight hours. As it turns out, A Christmas Story is not Bob Clark’s first foray into holiday-themed filmmaking. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Black Christmas”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars

Roger Corman was absolutely shameless. There wasn’t an idea he wouldn’t steal, nor a corner he wouldn’t cut to save a buck, in any of the dozens of films in which he had a part. He is hailed as a pioneering and legendary filmmaker. He launched the careers of numerous, better filmmakers and is showered with credit for their talents. And he did all this, and more, while cranking out a relentless stream of awful films. Terrible, unwatchable, dreadful sins against the art of cinema. And sometimes, he managed to make a shitty movie that was worth a damn. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars”

October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies

From Dusk Till DawnOctober has come again. It being the month of Halloween, we at Missile Test choose to celebrate by watching and reviewing horror films. Ah, blood. There just can’t be enough in October. Today’s selection has plenty of it, even though it’s mostly green. But what the hell, it’s all in fun.

Quentin Tarantino was riding high after the success of Pulp Fiction, a film that had a strong case for winning Best Picture at the Oscars the year it came out. Was it Tarantino’s youth which kept his opus from taking home the top prize? Who knows? Some of the competition were no slouches in their own right, but none broke any new ground, nor did they spawn a whole genre of imitations that crop up in cinema to this day (just like Alien and all its clones). And the winner that year, Forrest Gump, felt like little more than the Baby Boomers trying to justify their actions in retrospect by infusing their youths with blandness and innocence, when naiveté (with a sharp edge, at least) would have been a more apt description. This trivializes the profound role they played in turning public opinion against the war in Vietnam, but their role was not nearly as important as that played by the news media who brought home the images of war to the American public. The youth had always been suspicious, and were never onboard with the war policy from the beginning, but every other demographic in America couldn’t have given two shits if we had been winning the war instead of losing it. Anyway, I honestly can’t tell if that film was an apology to their parents or an apology to the directionless void of malaise left behind by their sudden thrust into real adulthood that was then passed on to their slacker Gen X children. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies”