Celebrate Friday the 13th with this Top 5

FRIDAY THE 13TH TOP FIVE
Friday the 13th is like Christmas for horror fans… Actually that’s probably more likely to be Halloween, and calling it Easter for horror fans seems inappropriate, especially seeing as how technically Easter has a disturbing tale of a revenant in it…

OK, I’ve got it. Friday the 13th is like Mother’s or Father’s Day for horror fans, and if card companies were clever, there would be a series of Friday the 13th cards available for the spooky end of the human spectrum to give each other whenever that day turns up. The cards could say things like ‘To my spooky love on Friday the 13th’ or ‘Wishing you the best of luck on Black Friday’, and we could give each other lollie ladders to walk under and black cat cakes.


Anyway, I digress: there is no doubt that most horror fans will watch one of the Friday the 13th series of films on Friday the 13th and I thought to myself ‘rather than just watch a F13 film, why not share with the readers of the To Watch Pile what my Top 5 favourite Friday the 13th films are’, because no one EVER does top fives on the Internet.

Gosh, my capacity for originality is astounding… Almost of as high a standard as my sarcasm.

Now I’m not going to attempt to re-educate those who SHOULD have watched the entire Friday series of films with a giant series of plot synopses though I will quickly say this ‘Crystal Lake has a whole lot of horrible murders happen there, and they all revolve around the Voorhees family and the legend surrounding them and the murders they committed’: so here we go, the top five Friday the 13th films as told by J.R. of the To Watch Pile.

5. Friday the 13th The Final Chapter. Define the 80s in two people; l can: Crispin ‘George Mcfly’ Glover and Corey ‘Not Haim’ Feldman. The two of them are the Godfathers of 80s films, along with Anthony Michael Hall, and their presence here powers this film to the top five. Add hot skinny-dipping twins and one of the greatest dance sequences ever committed to film and you’ve got a winner.


Oh, I suppose I should mention the fact that Jason Voorhees is in this one too and he has some pretty sweet kills. It remained quite serious for most of the time, but the humour is incidental and feels like the sort of amusing stuff friends would do and say to each other.

4. Friday the 13th Part 3. Jason gets his signature hockey mask. I still well up when he first places it on his face. It’s akin to watching an angel get his wings. 

Some of the 3D stuff is silly when you watch it in 2D… That bloody yo-yo, for example… But any other crime committed can be ignored for that one simple thing.

3. Friday the 13th Part VI Jason Lives. I would have to say that this is one of the F13s I have watched the most because as a teen I had my own copy on VHS which was given to me by a closing video shop as a gift for being a faithful staff member and a solid customer. There is a lot of levity in this one and the smart-arsey-ness of 80s Brat Pack films, not to mention another Return of the Living Dead actor (more on that later). As an adult I probably can’t really name what it is that I like about this film other than nostalgia, but sometimes that’s enough, I suppose.


2. Friday the 13th (1980). There is a reason why these films have the longevity they do, and it all comes from this foundation. This movie is one of those perfect horror films, like Halloween or Psycho: there is always something happening and there is a bunch of nice victims who you care about when they are dispatched. All of the other Fridays had characters who may as well have had ‘stereotypical victim: please kill’ tattooed to their forehead, but this had well rounded people filling up the cast. The surprise reveal of the killer really makes the film. Any horror fan who doesn’t have this in his collection, doesn’t have a well curated horror film collection at all.

1. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Since the first time I saw this entry in the series it’s been my favourite, and this is for many reasons. I like how for the first time since the original there was a air of deceit about the identity of the killer (it wasn’t Jason remember, he ‘died’ in the last one) and my future affection for gialli possibly started here, except for the fact that the identity is hilariously telegraphed almost from the first time he is spotted. Also this film has two actors from my much loved Return of the Living Dead, has a hilarious hillbilly mother and son duo that crack me up every time I see them, a girl who does ‘the robot’ to Pseudo Echo (how very 80s) and easily the best boobs in the entire series attached to front of an actress whose surname is Voorhees! How can you best that? Add to that a general air of sleaziness and most funny, a pair of 50s styled greasers (?) who are so out of place that one thinks for a tiny minute that it’s some kind of obscure flashback. 


… And I guess I should label which one I think is the worst…

For me, the worst Friday the 13th is Jason Goes to Hell. I think when you have to change the entire M.O. of an antagonist, you are not just diminishing him, but taking away his power all together. This film, whilst innovating in its attempt to explain Jason’s regenerative powers, makes him a lesser bad guy. Yes, it does have Buck Rogers’ Erin Grey in it, and it really does attempt to do something different, but it gets a fail from me. At least it set up the premise for Freddy vs Jason.


So that’s it, my list. I hope you all have a great Friday the 13th. If you like, leave a comment about which is your favourite Friday and why!

Glass Doll Films News

Some great news from the Glass Doll Film company and we here at the To Watch Pile have an exclusive just for you DVD and film collectors who have been impressed with their releases so far.

Glass Doll Films Pty Ltd have acquired Siren Visual Enterainment and their entire catalogue of anime and the odd horror and thriller (including Cannibal Holocaust and Manhunter). For how good their efforts have been so far (see my review of Dead Kids right here on this very site) this is great news, and we here at the To Watch Pile wish them all the best in this extension of their business.


Their wares can be found at these addresses:

http://glassdollfilms.bigcartel.com

http://www.sirenvisual.com.au

Goodnight Mommy aka Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014) Review

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there, and heres one from the to watch pile…
Goodnight Mommy aka Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014)


Film: This is one of those films that I heard a lot about but never thought I’d see. Several of the podcasts I listen to talked it up and I have read many reviews that admired it too, but what do you know; the good people at Áccent Film here in Australia have released it!

This is an Austrian film, written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz so it is performed in German with subtitles, but in this case, if you don’t like subtitled movies, it is hardly intrusive as the film is not dialogue heavy: actions certainly speak louder than words in this case.

Goodnight Mommy tells the tale of young twin boys Elias and Lukas (played by Lukas and Elias Schwarz), who have been moved from Vienna to the country by their newly separated mother (Susanne Wuest), whom soon after decides to have some plastic surgery done on her face.


We, the viewer, never see mother before the operation, but the boys have a firm belief that she is not the same woman, and in actual fact another person has replaced her under the guise of having a facelift as her entire attitude towards the boys has completely changed: she is far more aggressive, and refuses to even acknowledge one of the boys over a previous transgression.

So the boys have to decide if this is their mother, and if not, what should they do about it…


This is quite an amazing film for several reasons.

The first is how compelling the story is. The directors manage to block out their scenes really well, and you start to notice clever ways the story is being told visually, with the obscuring if the mothers identity, and how elements of backstory are told not through flashbacks or exposition, but through such mundane incidental things like photo albums and a game of Celebrity Head (you know, you put a name on someone’s head and they have to get what the thing or person is). 

The second is the location. This amazingly beautiful modern country house that sits between the woods and a cornfield has this tangible personality of its own, and again, the direction and photography is bright and easy to absorb, which is juxtaposed nicely with the dark places the story takes us.

If I am to take this film to task at all, it’s with the acting. Wuest is amazing, and it is a difficult role for her as her face is obscured for most of the film, and as an actress, your face is your label,miso keeping it covered is a brave and admirable move. Unfortunately the twins, who get the most screen time, occasionally seem like they are waiting for direction. This isn’t a completely fair criticism though, as the nuances needed for their characters would be difficult for an experienced actor let alone boys who were maybe 11 or 12 years old.


Sometimes those slow burn, subtle films move me more than an action filled gorefest, and this is one. Beautifully shot and shocking, and the shock continues later when you think about the things that took place during the film… And what they REALLY mean.

Score: ****

Format: This is thevAustralian bluray release of Goodnight Mommy and it runs for approximately 99 minutes and is presented in a perfectly transferred 2.35:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for The Conspiracy, Little Accidents, I’ll Follow You Down and Static. Other than the trailer for THIS film, that’s it!


Score: *

WISIA: It’s a great movie, for sure, but like a magician’s trick, once you know the secret, it loses its power. I probably will watch it once more to see if there is any nuances of the performances I may have missed out on. 

A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)


Film: When a moronic, tryhard janitor accidentally starts the zombie apocalypse, only those skilled at survival even stand the slightest chance of getting by.

Thankfully, scouting offers one all the right tools and skills to make it!

Our tale follows the exploits of the only three members of scout troop 264: the keen and excitable Augie (Joey Morgan), motormouth Carter (Logan Miller) and nice guy Ben (Tye Sheridan) who after cutting short an overnight scout trip to go to a secret high school senior’s party find themselves in a town that empty except for zombies and a hot cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont) who is as tough as nails, has the longest legs in the history of mankind and is a shotgun diva… Literally. 


The kids at the secret party, including Carter’s sister (and Ben’s secret crush) Kendall (Halston Sage) don’t know what has happened to the rest of the town, and our heroes find themselves with a time limit to save the partygoers when they discover the entire town is going to be bombed by the military to contain the ‘zombie problem’. 

So what do scout’s do when they face the zombie apocalypse? Why improvise, of course… Let’s just hope that zombiefied Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner) doesn’t catch up with them…

In general I am not a fan of the term ‘horror comedy’ as I don’t believe the two elements sit together at all because I want my horror to be, well, horrible: I want to be scared by it… And realistically, whenever we talk about ‘horror comedies’ we are referring more to either a comedy with monsters, or a gore-comedy. Films like Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator and Shaun of the Dead nail both those descriptions perfectly, and I reckon I’d put this film in with those three comfortably, though it would certainly be the lesser of them, as whilst it appealed to my love of gory movies, it also tickled my less mature delight towards dumb, dick, tit and fart joke comedies.

Basically, if the Goonies grew up to be the kids from Superbad and had to fight Shaun of the Dead zombies in the town Monster Squad took place in, that contained a strip club that someone like Porky would own, this would be their story. 

Phew!


It’s not very often that a film can be both laugh out loud at the comedy one second, and cringe with empathy at an act of violence the next. The writers, Lona Williams, Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki and director Christopher Landon (who also has a script credit) really nailed the balance well, and once it gets underway, the movie never stops for a breather. The four main actors nail their stereotypes perfectly, and parody them well too, but they are also well rounded characters, with back stories and histories that are touched on but never to the detriment or the movement of the story.

In the extras the crew regularly comment that they are trying to get that eighties teen sex comedy feel and that is done well, but the tributes to other horror are there also. The film takes Romero’s tropes of residual zombie memory and turns it on its head, and also nods to Dr Tongue from Day of the Dead (in a scene that echoes Reanimator’s head-giving-head scene, but with more tongue), and did I see a road sign showing how far away Haddonfield was?


I can’t finish this review without mentioning that the wonderful Cloris Leachman makes an appearance as a very cranky old cat lady and really steals the few scenes in which she appears.

Essentially, the sophomoric humour lover and gore hound in me really loved this film, and if you like films that don’t take themselves too seriously, you will probably get a kick out of this.

Score: ****

Format: The review copy of this film was the Australian bluray release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes, and is presented in an immaculate 2.39:1 image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: A nice bunch of extras on this disc, and with titles reminiscent of my Cub Scout days…


Scout’s Guide to Filmmaking is you normal ‘making of’ mini-doc but the personalities of the filmmakers and the cast make it quite entertaining. Sure there’s the usual mutual-masturbation ‘oh he/she’s SO good’ stuff, but it doesn’t come across as fake, they actually seem genuine.

The Zombie Make-up FX Handbook is all about the practical and CGI zombie effects. I love these sorts of extras as I’ve always had an interest in make up effects.

Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography takes a look at the work done by choreographer Mark Steger who taught the cast and extras how to ‘move’ like a ‘real’ zombie. His concepts of these zombies being quick because they are fresh, rather than the slow, disinterred old dead was interesting.

Uniforms and You: Costume Design shows us the skill of the costume designer Marylou Lim and the subtleties of some of the costuming, and how they individualised the zombies.

There’s only two Deleted Scenes: extended Scouting video and Pharmacy. They certainly aren’t missed in the film.

Score: ****

WISIA: A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a gory and funny movie with a lot of personality so I can definitely see me watching it again.

The New Han Solo


Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new Han Solo!!

Alden Ehrenreich, of the films Stoker and Beautiful Creatures, has been cast as the young Han Solo for the film coming in 2018 from the Star Wars stable at the Disney ranch. At the moment the film is an anthology film with two directors attached, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who directed the wonderful Lego Movie, with a script from Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. 

The role of Han Solo is a big pair of shoes to fill, so the To Watch Pile wishes Ehrenreich all the luck in the world, and would like to offer this advice:

ALWAYS shoot first.

Captain America Civil War (2016) Review

Occasionally the To Watch Pile allows me a small freedom to go and see a film from somewhere other than in front of the old flatscreen, and today is one of those days! This review will receive an addendum in the future when the BD is released and all the extras come into play.
So here is a bonus review, one from the cinema watch pile…
Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Film: Marvel comics have certainly taken the reigns of cinema superheroes from DC over the last few years. After DC’s domination for so long, with multiple Superman and Batman films, not to mention other stuff like Watchmen, and as far as I am concerned, the underrated The Losers, Marvel pulled their socks up and have created a cinema sourced universe like that of which hasn’t been seen since the multi-monster based Universal horror movies of the old days.

Sure, the comic related stuff like Spider-Man and X-Men films have done well, but they aren’t MADE by Marvel themselves like the ‘Avengers’ related films that have been deliberately tied in since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, (well, it was once mentioned that George Lucas’ Howard the Duck is officially part of it too… But we may ignore that even though he does appear at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy) and bravo to the collective writers, directors and actors for managing to create an essentially cohesive cinematic universe, that tells a continuing story with returning actors as regular players!

Now as a kid, Captain America was my favourite comic character, without fail. I first read his stuff with the second Marvel run that Jack Kirby did during the late 70s, which started a love of Kirby’s art as well that remains to this day (even my daughter is named after him), but when Mick Zeck took over the art and Cap’s association with SHIELD really kicked in, I was hooked, and remained that way until comic art turned to crap in the nineties when every man and his dog wanted to be either the next Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld or Jim Lee.


I did however return to Cap’s fold during the early part of this century, and the writer and artists of that period really got him (during the Winter Soldier storylines and thereabouts), and made the perfect stories for him, that is, James Bond stories starring a man in tights.

Captain America shouldn’t work in international cinema though. Here in Australia almost every film reviewer criticises when a film is full of too much American rah-rah, like ID4, and all those disaster films where ‘MERICA stands supreme at the end and everyone bows to the Christian/ democratic/ capitalistic way that is celebrated by what it seemingly stands for, and here is a character who is the physical embodiment of all those ideas: more truth, justice and the American Way than Superman could ever hope to represent… He’s dressed in a freaking American flag, for Clinton’s sake!

Anyway, Captain America starts with Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) foiling a terrorist plot in Lagos, which unfortunately results in much collateral damage.

After this devastating event, UN representative, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) informs Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) that the UN have decided that the Avengers need to register themselves and act only as emissaries of their will.

This doesn’t sit well with Captain America and he refuses to sign the document. During the UN meeting to ratify the policy, a explosion goes off killing the King of African nation Wakanda, who’s son, T’Challa (Cahdwick Boseman) swears vengeance on whomever caused the explosion, and it would appear it is Captain America’s childhood friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) under his guise of The Winter Soldier!

Cap doesn’t believe it though and very quickly lines are drawn in the sand, and heroes pick sides to defend their beliefs. On one side, Cap’s heroes consist of The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, Scarlett Witch, Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-man (Paul Rudd). Stark’s side consist of Black Widow, T’Challa in his Black Panther costume, War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany) and…. You ready for it, the new improved amazing Spider-man (Tom Holland).

Yep, you read that right…. Or saw it in the Internet like 3 months ago…


A big battle ensues, but there is a real villain behind the scenes pulling all the strings, but what are his motives?

Watch the damned movie and find out!

The movie hits all the right notes as far as popcorn action is concerned, and the effects are bang on. I must also say the production design and the costumes of the characters are awesome, and those who have make-up effects, like The Vision, are really well realised. Unfortunately all those big budget sound effects though mean the score just sat in the background as mood music and really didn’t get a proper hearing until the end credits.

Whilst I enjoyed all the superhero hullabaloo in this film, it did commit one crime that is almost unforgivable. The bad guy’s reason for all the devastation and planning and death didn’t come across as valid. I get that grief can change a person, but the lengths of effort didn’t seem to have any resonance at all, and he came across like a terribly conceived James Bond villain.

Also, the comic fan in me thinks the Captain America bad guy name they used was wasted, as that particular bad guy is just as important in Captain America comics as the Red Skull.

On the plus side, the characters who have played before by their actors are well into the roles and the fit like a bunch of great friends at the pub on a Friday night, but this doesn’t detract from actors playing newcomers either, who immediately seem to fit perfectly… though I still don’t quite think that Sebastian Stan is the greatest choice for the character of Bucky: I just feel that he and Evans have little or no chemistry for a pair of guys who were supposed to have grown up together. I get that that may be the point, but he just leaves me a little flat. 

It brings me though to two problems with these movies. The problem with superhero films has always been the need for the makers to apply some fan-service within the film, be that to keep them onside or to get them to buy more toys and more t-shirts and more books. 

This has that in spades, oh boy! At some point I think the makers of these films need to wind back how much they enjoy throwing extra characters in for those of us who are comic fans, and need to just concentrate on a smaller story. It worked for Ant-man, and should work for other characters they intend on introducing.

The other is the weight of the overall tale and how all the films tie in so much they are almost a 40s styled serial. My wife, who is a casual watcher of genre stuff, unless it’s disaster or alien invasion films in with case she is all-in, hadn’t watched the last three or four films in their entirety, and had to ask me several times who some of the players were. You can’t start midway in these films, no, The Avengers films require a solid investment of seeing all the films mention from the Incredible Hulk as I mentioned above. Even though Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four was miserable and far too short, at least it didn’t have to carry the trailer load of support material that goes along with these films. 

Back to my wife though, the highlight for her was the appearance of Spider-man, he was definitely one of the positives for a few reasons. We didn’t have to see his origin again. Surely the four most famous origins must be, in order, Batman, Spider-man, Superman and Jesus, and doing films of any of them don’t require a revisiting of the origin. It was sure nice just to see the film say: ‘ this is a new guy playing Spider-man and a new woman (Marisa Tomei) playing Aunt May. Deal with it.’ His introduction lent itself well to the type of films these have become, and Stark’s knowledge of his existence played well to his character and his obsession with knowledge. The other was how the appearance of him, and Ant-man, brought a levity that the film desperately needed.

I must admit, and I won’t spoil it, but the appearance of one character’s new abilities made me sit up and smile so wide my ears almost fell off, and when ‘it’ happens, it’s played with so much fun that you can’t help but totally freak out over it.

Of course, don’t for get to sit through the credits for not one, but two epilogues, both of which lead themselves into future Marvel films.

I liked this film a little bit less than Captain America The Winter Soldier, which is my favourite of all the Marvel films. This film, at times, had me sitting on the edge of my seat like a kid whose been collecting comics since he was 4 years old. Sometimes, nostalgia makes me wish I could have seen these films as that kid… But that’s what nostalgia is all about, isn’t it.

Score: ****

Format: I saw this movie at Westfield Miranda’s Event cinemas in Cinema 1, which is one of their Vmax Cinemas. The film went for 2 hours and 27 minutes and the picture was amazing and presented in 2.35:1 and has the totally ear blitzing Dolby Atmos sound. If I am to criticise the experience though, I ordered my tickets online which cost $78, and then three drinks and a medium popcorn cost another $26.50: if I am paying over $100 Australian for three people to see a film, which I don’t mind, I do expect the cinema itself to be the height of cleanliness. We were in the second session of the day, and it wasn’t.


Score: ****

Extras: N/A

Score: N/A

WISIA: Honestly, I just can’t wait for the bluray release so I can see it again just for the big fight scene in the middle. The comics fan in me nerd-jaculated all over the seat in front.