October 6th, 2011

SCREAM 2 (1997) ***

Scream 2 picks up with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in college trying to put her past behind her. That’s hard to do though because Hollywood has turned the tell-all book of her ordeal by Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) into a hit movie called Stab. To coincide with the premiere, another killer(s) have started picking off Sidney’s friends one by one.

Scream 2 offers some clever tweaks to the series’ formula; like when people try to call and harass Sidney but she has Caller ID now so she knows who’s calling. And I like the opening sequence where Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps go to see the Stab movie and get murdered but no one notices because everyone in the audience is wearing Ghostface masks and brandishing fake knives. It’s not as effective as the opening to the first movie, but it works.

The other stalking scenes are pretty good; the ones involving a TV news van and another in a soundproof recording studio being my favorites. As with the first film, most of the kills just revolve somebody getting stabbed, so the gore is pretty minimal. There is however a solid scene where a cop gets a pole rammed through his face.

Scream 2 is a good, not great sequel. At two hours long, it probably could’ve used some trimming. All the stuff with Sidney acting in a school play and finding her inner strength is nothing more than a flabby subplot parading as “character development”. You also have to deal with long scenes with Campbell’s boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell) that tries to set him up as a red herring that ultimately go nowhere. And having Gale and Dewey (David Arquette) break up just to have them make up seemed kinda gratuitous. Scream 2 also features what is probably the longest Talking Killer scene (actually two Talking Killer scenes back to back) in movie history.

The cast is good though. In addition to series regulars, there are fine turns by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Timothy Olyphant, Liev Schreiber, and Joshua Jackson. My favorite actors had to be the ones from the Stab movies. We’ve got Heather Graham starring as the Drew Barrymore character, and Tori Spelling and Luke Wilson are awesome together recreating scenes from the first film.

It’s David Warner who gets the best line of the movie as Campbell’s drama teacher who tells her: “The battle for the soul is fought in the forum of art!”

Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie: Scream 3.

IT CAME FROM THE THRIFT STORE: BAVA FAMILY DOUBLE FEATURE

Because it’s the 31 Days of Horror-Ween; we’re going to be doing a double shot of horror films on It Came from the Thrift Store for the entire month. First up is a two-for-one by one of the premiere directing families Italy has to offer. Of course we’re talking about the Bavas; Mario and his son Lamberto.



First up is…

BARON BLOOD (1972) ***

Peter is this smug guy who goes Vienna to visit his ancestral castle where the natives still live in fear of his long-dead relative, nicknamed Baron Blood. One night, he stupidly reads an incantation and brings the zombified Baron back to life. The Baron gets down to business pretty quickly. Wearing a black cape and big hat, The Baron goes around stabbing the holy bejesus out of any lame-o dumbass stupid enough to hang around a dude that dresses like Zorro and has a beef jerky face. And of course, the Baron’s got his old torture chamber in the basement that’s been gathering dust for centuries and he’s just itching to use it.

You’ve got to put up with a lot of expository rigmarole in the beginning but after the sluggish start, Baron Blood turns out to be a solid Mario Bava flick. There’s a great twenty minute or so stretch after the Baron crawls out of his grave where he stabs, strangles, and bludgeons everyone he comes in contact with. And the scenes inside the Baron’s torture chamber are fun. (The iron maiden scene is a goodie.) My favorite bit though comes at the end when (SPOILER) the Baron’s victims come back to life and kill him.

Because this is a Mario Bava film, you know it’s going to be loaded with creepy atmosphere. There’s a great sequence where The Baron stalks Elke Sommer that’s got some great lighting and fog effects. The lush color photography, along with an unmistakable groovy 70’s vibe, definitely adds to the overall experience and helps make Baron Blood a memorable horror flick.

AKA: The Torture Chamber of Baron Blood. AKA: Baron Vampire.

Up next is…

UNTIL DEATH (1986) **

A pregnant chick and her lover murder her husband and bury him in the woods. Six years later, their son starts having dreams of his zombie father coming out of a lake to get him. Meanwhile the chick and her lover open up a seafood restaurant. A beefy drifter comes to town and gets a job there and the lover immediately gets suspicious of the guy. Eventually our heroine falls in love with him, kills her lover, and gets it on with the drifter. And then she pretty much just goes batshit insane after that.

The ending of Until Death is pretty cool when the chick starts wigging out and seeing her dead husband everywhere. Unfortunately, the “is she really seeing this or is she going crazy” shit just keeps coming and coming until you just don’t care anymore. I did dig the snazzy bit where the drifter and her husband’s face are melded together though.

The thing about Until Death is that it’s more of a film noir flick than a horror movie. If it wasn’t for the zombie dream sequences and the kooky final reel, you’d think it was a remake of The Postman Rings Twice or something. Really though, this is one of those cases where the flick would’ve made for a good 30 minute Tales from the Crypt episode. At 90 minutes though, it’s too drawn out to really work.

Look, we all know Lamberto Bava is capable of better. Anyone who’s seen Demons can tell you that. He gives us a couple of cool shots here and there (like the scene that’s shot from inside a pair of scissors) but for the most part; Until Death is pretty forgettable.

AKA: The Changeling 2.

Next week we’ll feature another double feature of Italian horror with Evil Face and Lucifera Demon Lover.