Thursday, 5 September 2013


thought was a pretty decent run on this here blog. But, provided things don’t go massively tits up, I reckon I could well be updating again quite regularly. Wouldn’t that be just swell?

And what better way to come back, than by courting controversy?
So now I’m going to fly in the face of common opinion and I’m going to reinvestigate a couple of horror properties that could do with a revisit or even a reintroduction to today’s genre fans.

So let’s get the ball rolling…


The misadventures of Matt Cordell are an odd thing. Those who know about the MC trilogy often speak of the films with fondness and a misty eyed nostalgia. Yet there really aren’t that many of them.
The film series did pretty well first time around. For those unfamiliar, the original 1988 film (starring none other than the legendary BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE CAMPBELL) spawned two sequels and made a decent, if not earth-shaking amount of money.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it followed police officer Matt Cordell, a tough no nonsense cop who would shoot first and ask questions… well, never, because he’d shot everybody. The twisty-turny back story revealed that Matt was framed by his superiors and sent to the notorious Sing Sing penitentiary after he came close to uncovering corruption among the upper echelons of the police force and city hall.
Needless to say, Matthew was not very popular among his fellow inmates, and despite being a great big badass (played by the great Robert Z’Dar, the man with the biggest jawbone in HISTORY), he got promptly shivved with a shank or shanked with a shiv (so, I’ve never done time! How am I meant to know???) during shower time.

Of course, this is a horror film, so he rose from near death and became consumed with a burning rage and need for vengeance. However, he also seemed to just kill lots of innocent bystanders for reasons that are never clearly explained.
Where Maniac Cop and its American police force baiting antics (several police representatives condemned the film for its portrayal of a monstrous bobby) really came into its own, was the sheer coolness of the way Cordell would dispatch victims. Not just the typical lumbering, Voorhees-esque hulk slasher, Cordell showed some dexterity and imagination. He actually used his policing skills and tools of the trade (including a really rather spiffy, if non-regulation blade inside his nightstick) from his backstory to help him stand out from the crowd. THAT’S what I’m talking about!
Best case in point: casually handcuffing a yuppy’s hands behind his back, then pushing his face into wet cement. YES!
And now the clincher… you know how Jason, Freddy, Myers et al have their own trademark musical stings? Cordell had a theme tune too!
Add in some plot tomfoolery involving citizens becoming terrified of the force assigned to protect them, a doomed love story (seriously) and, um, voodoo and you’ve got a rich smorgasbord to pick and choose the tastiest cuts from.
A couple of years ago it even seemed that something might be happening with the property too, as first a sequel, then a remake were rumoured, but since then all has gone VERY quiet.
I think it’s too late for a sequel, so I’m going to go the whole way and say this one is RIPE for remaking.
It’s a semi-recognisable property and today’s more gory and brutal take on slayings could really add a level of cruel darkness that a story with so many shady and amoral characters richly deserves.
Just keep the theme tune, dude. Keep the theme tune.


Five years ago, when I sat down in the cinema to watch The Strangers, I didn’t expect that much. It starred Liv Tyler, already a pretty recognisable name, and seemed to have crept into cinemas. I thought I’d get a fairly creepy thriller masquerading as a terrifying horror film, kind of like Robert De Niro’s Hide and Seek.
What I got was a need to change my pants.
Such was its greatness, The Strangers pretty much kickstarted the modern trend for Home Invasion horror films (although it wasn’t first by a long stretch, it was certainly the most successful).
The film traded on tension and near heart-crushing suspense, it featured actual human characters who behaved like real people, and three of the most terrifying yet realistic antagonists I’ve ever seen.
As if that wasn’t enough, it even made folk music scary.
Yes it did.
Furthermore (and more importantly to people who value cold hard cash more highly than eerie banjo strings… um, so EVERYBODY then), it became a sleeper hit, more than doubling its budget at the box office in its opening weekend.
With that kind of performance and host of questions left unanswered (including the final fate of our leads), surely it was just a matter of time until the wheels started moving on a sequel, right?
A script was quickly knocked up (reviews can be found all over the internet and if somebody can find a link to the script online, please hit me up with it!), a director was found and then… NOTHING.
It seems that when Rogue Pictures, the company that were poised to film the sequel was purchased by Relativity Media, its new owners weren’t sure if The Strangers Part 2 was a good fit for them.
What kind of company isn’t sure if a project that will almost certainly make money is a good fit for them?
So there it is. A film well and truly languishing in development limbo.
Perhaps one day we’ll see The Man In The Mask, Pin-Up Girl and Dollface back terrorising more victims on the big screen. Maybe we’ll find out exactly what became of Kristen. 

Until then, the only motive we have for the chilling events of the first film is the one given by Dollface — ‘Because you were home.’


This film, right here, is something that could only have been dreamed up during the carefree, ‘we’ll make anything because we’re all coked up off our brain’ era of the 80s. It’s a concept that is so, so beautiful.
Some stupid teenagers decide to have an after-hours party in the shopping mall where they work… despite the fact that the mall now has some state-of-the-art, mechanical security robots.
So during the raucous party that consists of several awkward looking 30 year olds trying to dance like teenagers to synth heavy electropop, then taking off their tops, lightning strikes the control centre and causes the robots to go BATSHIT and KILL EVERYBODY.
You wish this film was your brainchild, don’t you?
You do.
First some background. The film was originally released to an abysmal reception under the title Killbots. When somebody came up with the puntastic new title, they hurriedly edited the film (cutting 15 minutes from it’s already slim running time), then re-released it and it did brilliantly.

Despite the fact that there is no chopping at all. The killbots don’t chop anybody.
This vexes me.
Perhaps a little irritatingly, this film has been set for a remake.
‘But that’s not irritating? In fact, that’s exactly what this whole feature is about, you great big bi-polar freak!’ I hear you cry.
And you’d be right… IF they hadn’t said that the new film will NOT feature awesome killbots and will have a supernatural menace instead.
So it’s not a remake, is it? It’s a different film set in a mall with the same title. It’s like saying: ‘We’re going to remake The Night of the Living Dead, but instead of having zombies putting a farmhouse under siege, we’re going for a giant crocodile stalking the guests in a luxury hotel!’
To make matters worse, if you’ve seen the brilliant Cabin In The Woods, the more eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a robotic menace brutally dispatching victims among the carnage of ‘the Purge’ sequence towards the film’s conclusion. This robot was a direct nod to the superb killbots of Chopping Mall fame and showed just how well today’s special effects could bring the murderous machines to life in a modern day interpretation of the film.

It’s the advances in special effects that really make this film so well-suited to a remake. Aside from one (admittedly superb) kill, Chopping Mall never really delivers on the promise of killbots murdering the crap out of people in a shopping mall. Let’s get some truly spectacular villainous robots, a more convincing cast, a little more social commentary and most of all, some actual CHOPPING out there.
Or we could just watch a film with a giant crocodile stalking the guests in a luxury hotel. That too.


Those of you that were around here when I last posted know that this is one of those rare occasions where we could actually see the sequel that I’m after. But for those of you that missed out on the first film (and for this I respectfully call you a STUPIDHEAD), let me enlighten you. First off you can forget Scream and The Cabin in the Woods, if you want the definitive referential, metafilm in the horror genre, Behind the Mask is the place to go.
It’s the story of a documentary team who follow the title’s Leslie Vernon as he prepares for a killing spree to make his name as legendary as horror’s real big hitters. The film is packed with references to classic titles (Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street), plus a loving look at the tropes of the genre.
It combined a smart script, lovely touches to explain the usual nonsensical goings-on of horror films and, most importantly, a damn scary final act. As the final credits rolled (and even these featured an excellent horror cliché done well) Leslie looked all set to launch a franchise like those same icons he was so inspired by.
But chuff all happened.
Perhaps this is because the people that made the film had no more story to tell?
Balls, they didn’t.
They have written a script and secured a cast and crew.
The problem, it would seem, is financing. SIGH.
Once again, some complete moron somewhere isn’t sure that this film could do well enough to warrant a pretty tiny investment.
Yet even this hasn’t swayed the film’s makers. They want to make this film so much, they even looked at raising the production costs themselves.
Last year I linked to the film’s kickstarter page, where a donation would reward supporters with a range of rewards, from having your name in the film’s end credits to an exclusive edition of the DVD to even appearing in the film!
Alas, the kickstarter campaign failed to raise the requisite level of funding, but the makers are still scraping together financial backing and seem determined to get this thing made. Before the Mask (as the film has been titled) has its own Facebook page.
Interestingly, the creators refer to the film as a ‘spreemake’, saying it is kind of a prequel, sequel and reboot combined. This is something I need to see made. Luckily, much like the murderous Leslie, it seems that nothing can keep Before the Mask down.
Here’s hoping, but until then, focus on your cardio. Leslie would approve. 


Now I could give you the rundown on the plot of this film, but instead I’m going to shamelessly pop the link to my review of this 80s slasher classic right HERE.
The Burning is one of the veritable AVALANCHE of Friday the 13th clones that flooded video shops in the 80s. It gained some notoriety for getting caught up in the ‘video nasty’ furore due to its gruesome ‘raft massacre’ sequence.
It’s cheap, silly, gory, the cast mainly consists of people with bull’s-eyes painted on their heads, the music is horribly dated and the baddy is a true cinema boogeyman. And that is about all it has going for it.
Which is why I think a remake could be such a great idea. It is already semi-recognisable, it has a selling point (from a story so extreme it was banned for years!) and, well, here’s the kicker — the first film was pretty silly so why not embrace that? Here’s my take.
Set the film in the 80s. LOAD it with self referential tongue in cheek humour like the Piranha remake released three years ago (or better yet, go full-on Grindhouse with it, deliberately making as schlocky a film as possible). I want something that gels with Hobo With A Shotgun here. (This is what the world needs — more films that gel with Hobo With A Shotgun and pizzaburgers. Yes please.)
I’m talking gratuitous nudity, a bit of fun poked at 80s fashions and technology, a whole host of well-crafted one liners and a version of the demonic Cropsy that todays effects can bring to life. Think a cross between The Hills Have Eyes/Wrong Turn’s inbred wildmen crossed with some truly horrific burns a la the Dark Knight’s Two-Face or the Elm Street remake’s new-look Freddy. With shears.
It could be the BEST beer film for a group of lads to have fun with or for groups of teens to both squeal with laughter or terror.

Let’s just try not to cast any RnB singers or rappers in this. We know what happens when they get involved in horror films.
Well, unless Snoop Dogg wants to play the Superfly Pimpin’ Shaft MD orderly at the beginning. He’d OWN that.


Right, put your shotgun/chainsaw/killer orb down and hear me out here.
First, I am not suggesting that we remake this legit horror classic. Hell no. Not in the slightest.
That would be like remaking Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, The Hills Have Eyes, Black Christmas, Friday the 13th, The Last House On The Left, Dawn of the Dead, The Haunting, The Fog, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Amityville HorrorThe Evil Dead or The Omen!


No, what I’m suggesting is that we get what we were promised YEARS ago.
For those unfamiliar with The Phantasm franchise and the ongoing battle between Mike and Reggie and The Tall Man and his sinister army of flying chrome balls(!), I refer you to my comment in the Behind The Mask section above. Thank you.
Don Coscarelli’s microbudgeted 1979 classic (and its sequels) is a trippy, dreamlike journey into, well, an odd sci-fi/horror hybrid featuring the simply AWESOME Angus Scrimm as the dimension travelling Tall Man, whose plan involves turning the dead into dwarf minions and conquering the world.
I told you it was trippy.
The films are brilliant, truly imaginative and the complex (and very weird) backstory weaves an interesting tale that slowly but surely adds more layers to the premise of the psychedelic original.
The last film, OblIVion (it was film IV in the series, see!) had a bizarre but poignant open ending. I don’t mind those, in fact, some of the very greatest films get you to do some of the work.
And (despite the evident low budget afforded to the 4th film) this ending would have been fine… if we hadn’t heard about Phantasm 1999AD/Phantasm’s End.
You see, hot off of winning an Oscar for his work on the screenplay of Pulp Fiction, Roger Avary was a BIG DEAL. He was able to pick and choose his projects… and he chose a labour of love.
A self professed Phan of the series, Avary wrote a sequel to the third film that can only be described as balls-out, arse-slapping genius (although I may be the only person to describe it in that way).
Get this, in the not to distant future, the Tall Man is on the verge of complete victory. Now there are just three states remaining in the United States: New York on the East Coast; California over on the West; and in the middle, The Plague Zone. This is the area that has fallen to The Tall Man’s inexorable march. It has earned its name from a mysterious disease, caused by The Tall Man’s gross yellow embalming fluid, known as the Bag Virus. Carriers of the disease (known as Baggers) see their head slowly decay and fill with pus until, eventually, it can’t take the pressure any longer and explodes, spraying Bag Virus carrying ooze over anybody stupid enough to be within range.
As such the US Government has built walls, keeping the Baggers away from the crumbling civilisations in LA and NY.
Eventually the government has enough (despite having an agreement with the Tall Man whereby social outcasts and criminals are cast into the Plague Zone) and assembles a crack squad of badasses, led by series hero Reggie — who is still haunted by nightmares regarding what became of best bud Mike, to travel into the Plague Zone — all the way to The Tall Man’s gargantuan mausoleum fortress and detonate a ‘universe-destroying bomb’ in the Tall Man’s dimension, ending the threat once and for all.
I know, awesome right?
There were even talks that Phantasm 1999AD (as it was then known) could become a trilogy itself. GOLD.
But then, guess what?
Go on, bet you can’t.
Yep, finances became a problem. SIGH AGAIN.
In the end series runner Don Coscarelli wrote, directed and produced OblIVion (for about $600,000!) as a stop gap, aiming to set the stage for the eventual release of Avary’s film (now retitled Phantasm’s End as 1999 stsrted to loom ever nearer). Certain plot elements that would be addressed in final film are even hinted at in Coscarelli’s sequel.
As if to make the eventual crushing disappointment worse, rumours swirled that BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE CAMPBELL would be playing one of the aforementioned military badasses on the mission and that there might also be a monkey on the team.


Anyway, after Don said he thought he’d be able to deliver the huge scope and awesome of the film for a relatively small $8m, people sat back and waited.
And waited.

And waited.
Since then, we’ve had nothing but rumours. Coscarelli himself has said Phantasm is over, but he’s also said the fan demand is such that it may have to happen. He’s written SEVERAL drafts of sequels to the series and even teased us all with a video clip showing Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin in character as The Tall Man and Mike respectively.

But still nothing.
As ghoulish as it may sound to say, according to Angus Scrimm’s imdb entry, he is now 87 years old (albeit in rude health and still pretty spritely). If the Phantasm sequel is to be made, it needs to be made sooner, rather than later.
Because if it needs one thing, only one, it is the great Angus’s trademark delivery of the line: ‘Booooooooyyyyyyyyyyyyy!’

So, any thoughts on my proposed list? Does this stuff float your boat or do you think it’s an entirely different kind of floater?
Feel free to drop any comments below.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.


  1. Most obvious way to keep the Phantasm phranchise going would be to mount a prequel with a spooky young chap as the Tall Boy. Then pray the actor you cast in the role doesn't become such a megastar that he's too darn busy to do the next phive philms in the series.