A Nightmare A Day: Day 7 (Wes Craven’s New Nightmare)

Director: Wes Craven (Scream, and of course all of the sequels, Music Of The Heart (seriously)

Budget: $8million

US Box Office: $19.7million

  • So this is it. Super excited for this. If I remember correctly this is one of the most meta horror films until Scream practically made it essential.
  • Starts on a movie set. Always fun.
  • Heather Langenkamp is back, she was Nancy in the first and third films. Side note, her and her husband now have a special effects/Make-up business and have worked on Cabin In The Woods, Dawn Of The Dead and Angels and Demons. And here she is, having her on-screen husband show her on screen son special effects and make-up.
  • “it must have been picked up by an AD’s walkie talkie”. If that’s the case then you really need to work on your safety precautions.
  • Possible two deaths here, but not counting them as we’re not sure if they actually die. We see some of the effects from the nightmare, but not on the two supposed dead, so I’m not counting it. Basically: the previous scene was a dream, the claw came to life and killed two tech guys. Tech guys always die on set, we had four set guys crushed to death by a giant clock during Projector. But how else were we supposed to get a clear shot of a clock? Do a close up? Pfft, amateur hour.
  • “you were probably half awake and saw I got my finger cut, dreams are like that”.  He’s true, dreams are strange.
  • Someone phones her home phone and quote Freddy at her. Come on, man, if you’re going to be an abusive dickweasel and abuse people over the phone at least be original.
  • “you played that girl in that movie with the guy with the pfft” wow, it’s like you’ve known her all your life.
  • “I’m hardly a star” Come on, you’re in the back of a limo, you’re clearly either a star or 10 teenage girls.
  • “that movie’s the best, when all that blood comes out of your boyfriends bed” Creepy limo driver is creepy.
  • “we’re approaching the 10th anniversary of the original nightmare on elm street, five very popular sequels” yeah but only four of those sequels were any good.
  • “is there going to be another sequel?” How would she know she was just the actress, you know she didn’t write any of that shit right?
  • “would you trust your co-worker with your son?” What the f*ck is this dude implying? He does know there’s a difference between reality and fiction right? That’s like saying you wouldn’t trust Anthony Hopkins to make you dinner.
  • Ewww, he just touched her legs.
  • It’s odd seeing the hero worship of Freddy, I don’t just mean in this film, I mean in real life. There were actually children’s halloween costumes of Freddy. I mean, really think about that. There were children dressing up as a child molester. That would be like forcing immigrants to wear a UKIP badge (whereas we all know UKIP would much prefer if they wore yellow stars. Yeah, that’s right mother f*ckers, I’m making a holocaust reference)
  • Really cool shot of Robert Englund as Freddy standing in front of spotlights, the lights making his claws look like they stretch out into the infinite abyss. Seriously cool shot that I would love to emulate one day.
  • “just because it’s a love story doesn’t mean you can’t have a decapitation or two”. Considering our first film was a love story set during a school shooting, we wholeheartedly agree with that motto.
  • Oh, those deaths did happen. Time of first and second deaths: 5 minutes I guess? No video available online though.
  • Heather seems really confused by the concept of someone wanting to talk to her.
  • The kid was scared shitless today, and now you’re reading him Hansel and Gretel.
  • Oh, she’s aware of this, but the kid likes the story. Thereby backing up my theory that kids are stupid.
  • “And then their father covered them with kisses and they were safe” I dunno, didn’t Freddy used to do that to people too? (minus the safe part)
  • The kid is guarded by a dinosaur. Well done, kid, guarded by a species known for being dead. Smart move. Kids are stupid.
  • Time of third death: 30 minutes. Heather’s husband falls asleep whilst driving and Freddy kills him. Little sympathy for this death, he fell asleep whilst driving, he deserves to die, I’m just grateful he didn’t kill anyone else. The death isn’t available online.
  • Heather falls asleep at the funeral. I swear, half the near deaths in these films wouldn’t occur if people had some god damn common courtesy.
  • Heather gets scared when her son Dylan climbs something very high in a park and falls off whilst she’s talking to someone. That’s not Freddy, that’s just bad parenting.
  • Robert Englund makes a creepy painting of Freddy. But for some reason he doesn’t seem to realise it until he’s finished painting. This would be like me writing a story, getting to the very end then reading it and going “holy shit, this is a story about a girl called Sybil. How did that happen?” it’s like, “bitch you were creating it so could have guessed what it was like 10% of the way through.
  • Only just realised. This film didn’t have any opening credits.
  • In a nod to the original, Heather gets tongued by the phone.
  • “you haven’t shown him any of your films have you, the horror stuff? She’s done other films you know!
  • “sometimes what a child says will give a clue to what ails him” You mean, speak to someone to find out what’s wrong with them? Genius!
  • So Wes Craven is writing about a genuine ancient demon who has attached himself to the series. I dunno, even ancient demons wouldn’t want to be seen with the franchise after the abomination that was The Final Nightmare
  • “I think the only way to stop him is to make another movie” That’s how I deal with problems too.
  • They literally just showed the conversation they just had as being part of the script Craven is writing. Nice. The middle-est of high fives.
  • Okay, those special effects death were definitely genuine. Either that or they were coincidentally slashed to death.
  • “Dylan’s in an oxygen tent right now” and you didn’t think to tell the mother? The medical staff in these films are the worst.
  • “Freddy, the man from your films?” Bitch she was only in two of them, and her appearances weren’t consecutive. If you want to be annoyed at anyone be annoyed at Lisa Wilcox, she was in both 4 and 5 (before she started a footwear jewellery retailers called ToeBrights with her fellow Nightmare On Elm Street 4 cast member Tuesday Knight, true story).
  • “every kid knows who Freddy is, he’s like Santa or King Kong”. Yeah but now everything thinks of King Kong as something Peter Jackson did, and f*ck that (apparently, I haven’t seen it, but haven’t heard good things).
  • The babysitter Julie attempts to stab a nurse with a syringe “i don’t know what’s in this one, do you?” I like her. She’s fun, adorable and strange
  • She’s going to die isn’t she?
  • Time of death: 80 minutes. Julie dies in a kind of cool homage to a death in the original, being made to crawl along the ceiling and walls. It’s pretty cooler here though through a much better use of angles.
  • A nurse seems surprised by the concept of sleepwalking.
  • Only just figured out that when Heather phoned Robert Englund, the button tones created the original theme song. Nice
  • “hey man, is she okay” Yeah, that’s right everyone, worry about the adult in the middle of the road, not the child that’s also in the middle of the road. I mean, I get it, kids are dispensable, but still, rude!
  • One of the actors (playing himself) slips into his character from the first film. This would have been more effective if they did it earlier I think. This is the main event that causes Freddy to come into reality, and it occurs almost an hour and a half into the film. That’s longer than some of the original films. I get you want a slow build etc, but if you kill two people in the opening scene you can’t then switch to a slow burn. You have to chose between the two, either immediate deaths or slow burn. Can’t have both. This is why the second and third ones worked out so well for me, they were really slow burners but they didn’t feel the need to attempt to “make up” for it by killing off loads of people in the second half, they maintained the pace throughout and were all the better for it. Although I don’t think this film had opening credits so it’s possible this is all just a massive pre-credits sequence.
  • Heather slides down a concrete water path. That was either super fun or super painful to film.
  • Heather is literally reading from the script, incorrectly. “There was only….her….life” she doesn’t pause between the her and life. I don’t think she should either, but that’s how it was written.
  • Freddy looks more tendon-ey and less burn-ey in this one.
  • Freddy, destroyer of dreams, haunter of nightmares, stopped by a small gap.
  • Damnit Freddy stop tonguing children.
  • Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?
  • Freddy wraps his tongue around Heather in a scene that’s actually ridiculous and renders all comments that this film is a dark and serious one moot.
  • Dylan stabs Freddy in the tongue. That’s not the cool part, the cool part is the psycho music playing in the background.
  • More awful special effects.
  • They all go home and find a script which details pretty much exactly what happened.
  • Music comes in far too loudly after quietness. Not in a “jump scare” way, more in a “that was awkward” kind of way.

Actually disappointed with this film. It’s quite meta but isn’t really meta enough. And the whole notion of it being a script brings up interesting ideas about the concept of free will which the film doesn’t seem to pick up on (second time that’s happened in this series). It’s definitely better than the last one, but I don’t like it quite as much as the first few. Luckily Craven would perfect the meta analysis of horror with Scream (which is what I’m thinking of doing for this blog series next halloween). It just seems tonally uneven, uncertain if it wants to go for suspense or gore. It either needed ramp up the deaths (otherwise the opening half hour is basically a woman being scared by two people not turning up to work) or go the other way and make us doubt whether it’s happening or whether she’s just having hallucinations. The characters in the film think she’s just gone crazy, but what if we, the audience did to? It would tell us a lot about the pressures put on scream queens, people who are known for being the scared victim. Overall I think it’s a very good idea that just needed slight tweaking. A part of this is probably the potential, and the advertising campaign. It promises something a lot darker, a lot grittier, but in truth a lot of it is just more of the same. It promises darkness and then just hits the dimmer switch slightly.

A Nightmare A Day: Day 6 (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare)

Director: Rachel Talalay (hey, female director, nice. Well played studioheads. Oh, also directed Tank Girl, and two episodes of Doctor Who, with another two later on in the year).

Budget: $11million

US Box Office: $34.8million

  • Hey, it starts with a quote. I’ve missed these. “Do you know the terror of he who falls asleep? To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground gives way under him, and the dream begins” – Friedrich Nietzsche. And to answer the question, no, I do not know the terror of he who falls asleep. But allow me to ask a question to you, mr dead German nihilist: do you know the muffin man?
  • Oh, another quote. “Welcome to Prime Time, bitch” – Freddy Krueger. I prefer that one.
  • Odd choice for opening soundtrack: The Goo Goo Dolls
  • “Springwood, Ohio, ten years from now”. 1) so in 2025? I hate when films do this, just put the actual year you mean. Unless you’re going for a “in a distant future when technology is changed” then you automatically date the film. 2) This looks like an Atari game, and not a good one.
  • So somehow Freddy has killed a lot of teenagers and adults since the last film, we don’t get told how or shown them, because of course we don’t.
  • Damn kids are creepy.
  • “I really need to change seats” If the plane crashes you’re going to die anyway.
  • “Don’t be a pussy”. Rude.
  • This music reminds me of the Wizard Of Oz.
  • His house is somehow flying and crashing to the ground. If it lands on a witch I’m tapping out.
  • Freddy appears outside the window on a broomstick saying “I’ll get you, my pretty, and you’re little soul too”. 1) #MovieReference 2) Oh so it’s okay when Freddy says it, but when I say that to people I get told to leave Asda?
  • Wait, Brian May did the music for this? THE Brian May? Poodle-haired Queen guitarist Brian May? No way. Oh, turns out, no way, it’s a different musician called Brian May. Well that’s disappointing.
  • This guy falls down a hill. For 40 seconds. Seriously, I timed it. 40 seconds.
  • He’s a bus station and the guy selling tickets is sat behind a bloodstained window, still nicer than Wycombe station.
  • He gets hit by a bus, and is kind of stuck to the front of it. The bus stops and he goes through some kind of portal (I think) and ends up in daylight. I’m guessing he got run over into reality, as often happens.
  • He hit his head, so he now has amnesia. Because that’s totally how that works. Honestly, when will films stop using amnesia as a plot device? What kind of idiotic person would write something so cliche?
  • Hey, it’s Spencer, played by “whatshisface” from Road Trip, and absolutely nothing else.
  • “all he wants me to do is grow up and be him” and maybe stop setting cars on fire?
  • “I don’t feel like playing football and date-raping co-eds.” Well, then don’t go to school in America then.
  • This kid had a pipebomb in his room. Apparently it’s not the first one. Are we supposed to think this is typical teenage rebellion? Because it’s not, it’s terrorism. Oh wait, he’s white, it’s just “youthful hijinks”
  • “you’ll be boxing champion on the world” not with all those kicks. Silly Tracy.
  • So got a deaf guy (Carlos). And in a kind of cool scene he just removes his hearing aid and we just get silence for a few seconds. I like it.
  • Turns out he’s deaf through some kind of physical abuse from father. You know, the kind of thing people say “if we could this kids would be better behaved”. Find it strange when people say “I was hit as a child and I turned out fine” Really, dude? Because you have a strange pre-occupation with punching babies, that’s not normal.
  • Amnesia guy wakes up in a seemingly abandoned house. Good use of shadow in this scene, award yourself +5 Directing points Mrs Talalay.
  • Ok, you lost all those points through woeful CGI of him climbing invisible stairs.
  • “I’ve dealt with amnesiacs before”. Is that the word? It seems clunky.
  • A sign saying “welcome to Springwood” and the exact population of the town. How often do they have to change those things? Or is it a “throw a baby out the town as soon as it’s born” kind of deal? If I had a town I’d put a sign up saying “Full of lots of lovely people, and Dave”
  • Pretty much the entire cast (I haven’t quite figured out who the main character is supposed to be) pull into the worst looking carnival I’ve ever seen. It’s so bad you wouldn’t feel annoyed at being there, just super depressed and lonely. Or as I call it: a typical Thursday.
  • No kids, apparently this is creepy and not some kind of wonderful dream world.
  • Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr make a cameo just before a Twin Peaks reference. Placing this film exactly in the early 90’s.
  • “I can relax you with these two fingers” oh? “I’ll puncture your heart” oh 😦
  • Carlos tries to unfold a map and all he says is “the map says we’re fucked”. Which it did, literally, someone had scrawled “you’re fucked” on it in blood. They showed this before he made the comment though, which kind of messes up the humour somewhat.
  • A teacher is teaching the history of Freddy in an abandoned classroom. Not a bad scene but it could have been so much better. The character is kind of a joke at this point so going more meta wouldn’t have harmed it.
  • “I will get some sleep then I’ll get us out of here in the morning”. He’s going to die.
  • Almost on cue: Freddy appears in his dream and cleans out his deaf ear. He then cuts it off, leading to another scene of silence. This is the last time they can pull this trick off really.
  • Slight audio now but it’s very muted, like watching the film whilst you’ve got your head in a bucket of water.
  • It may have seemed like I was insulting it earlier, but the use of silence and near-silence is REALLY effective in this. Great showcase of how less can be more. We’re so used to audio cues to tell us how to feel that genuine silence unsettles us as an audience.
  • Freddy throws his ear back to him, he puts it on and all audio is magnified to him, to the point where a dripping tap causes pain.
  • Freddy drops a pin from above but Carlos managed to catch it before it hits the ground. Freddy then threatens to drop a handful of them, Carlos shouts out “you wouldn’t do this would you?”, appealing to a child killers sense of kindness. Which I can’t imagine not working. Pretty genius, this kids going to live forever.
  • Time of death: 36 minutes. Well I’m shocked that plan didn’t work. Instead he’s killed via nails down chalkboard, which is the same way….ah, I can’t be bothered to finish that joke, it’s like the third time I’ve done it in this blog, just finish that sentence with whatever celebrity you feel would die like that (I recommend 1947 Academy Award winner Loretta Young)
  • Hey it’s Johnny Depp cracking eggs on tv in one of my favourite scenes so far. He’s doing one of those “this is your brain on drugs” PSA that were popular in the 90’s. Freddy reacts in the only way someone would, and hits him with a frying pan before saying “what are you on? Looks like a frying pan and some eggs to me”. Classic Krueger.
  • We then get the classical hymn, In The Garden Of Eden by I.Ron Butterfly
  • Time of death: 45 minutes. Spencer gets sucked into a video game and killed there. Mr.Forgetful and Tracy attempt to get into the dreams to stop it. Tracy through meditation, Mr. Forgetful through being hit in the head. Disappointing lack of video game references here. At least to specific games, there is a logical reference to the ill-fated power glove which I’d have been disappointed if they didn’t make. They don’t even seem to be doing much about the loss of control. Okay, there’s a few moments where he’s obviously being controlled by Freddy, but we don’t see them from his point of view so we don’t get to feel his helplessness. I mean, the idea of being controlled by someone else and being led to your death is genuinely terrifying but this film doesn’t really do much. The scene where the tv fills with blood is quite good though.
  • Time of death: 50 Minutes The amnesiac asshole dies. Basically dropped from a great height onto spikes after finding out he’s not Freddy’s son, and is somehow disappointed with that news. The death isn’t on youtube so instead enjoy dancing from the second film that I forgot to put in the blog.
  • So one of the characters from this is Freddy’s daughter. In one of the most asinine explanations ever he’s able to kill people on any street named Elm Street.
  • A really creepy father/daughter sexual assault scene. Ends the way that things like that should end, with her beating him with a kettle.
  • The secret weapon they’re going to use to defeat Freddy: 3D glasses. Seriously, the old green and red ones. 3D Glasses, the enemy of dream demons and fashion.
  • That’s the trouble with 3D films. No matter how impressive they’d look in 3D, you have to account for the fact that a lot of people will be watching them in 2D. That’s why Coraline works so well I think, and everything Pixar does. 3D works best when it makes the film better when you watch it, not by making it worse in 2D. Too many 3D films now just feature people falling down things going “wooaaaaaaah”.
  • Freddy is being taunted by his school peers in flashback of his life. Ordinarily this is where the film is like “see, the true evils of bullying”, but he just killed a classroom pet with a hammer, so the lesson seems to be “don’t bully sociopaths, kill them instead”.
  • We see Freddy again, this time being beaten by his stepdad. Again, horrible, but….he did kill something with a hammer. His stepdad is Alice Cooper by the way.
  • Freddy strangles his wife. Just to reiterate: actual body count: 3. Flashback body count: 2, and a pet.
  • Freddy gets offered the chance to be, well, Freddy, by some kind of weird floating tadpole things which you know were made entirely to look impressive in 3D.
  • Freddy dies again. His daughter stabs him with his own glove (the only glove based death in the film) then shoves a pibebomb in his chest. Thus we get the worst bit of 3D in the film as he explodes but his head flies towards the screen, then his head comes out of his mouth and flies towards the screen again.
  • We get a montage of the much better films that predated this.

Definitely the worst one so far. Some wonderfully directed bits so can’t really fault that, I feel part of it is down to the nonsensical 3D. It’s a shame as there were at least four ways it came close to being a lot better:

  1. The original script by Peter Jackson (in retrospect not using his must have cost them loads) involved Freddy being severely weakened and the kids of elm street beating the shit out of him every night. I feel that’s a unique start and could have revitalised the franchise.
  2. The carnival. Nobody died at the carnival. All that creepiness for nothing.
  3. The idea of Freddy having a kid who’s worried about taking on his legacy could have been really interesting and said a lot about whether evil is genetic or not.
  4. The idea that the town has no children in and all the parents desperately want kids but can’t in case Freddy comes back. FANTASTIC idea for a film. Terrible idea for a nightmare on elm street film, but fantastic idea.

A Nightmare A Day: Day 5 (A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child)

Director: Stephen Hopkins (other films include Predator 2 and The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers, I know, I’m surprised too)

Budget: $8million

US Box Office: $22million

  • Ah, Alice is back from the last film. So she’s a survivor from a previous film, and I find her cute, the only way I could be more certain she’s going to die would be if she was black.
  • Odd opening credits, the names look like they’re scrawled on in childs chalk handwriting. Works.
  • Opens on Alice and Dan from the last movie naked in bed together. Brave choice assuming we’ll remember who they are.
  • Alice takes a shower, this is pretty much horror shorthand for “this woman is about to die, but don’t worry, we’ll show you her tits first”
  • Yup, the shower starts malfunctioning and she almost drowns. She managed to escape however and ends up in an asylum. Because, well of course she does.
  • Hey, there’s Robert Englund as a patient.
  • Alice is now in a nuns costume and a nametag showing she’s Freddy’s mum. She’s locked in overnight because the guards are useless nincompoops.
  • Luckily she wakes up before this film earns an X rating.
  • “that’s not what a cover girl puts in her body” True, they never put lollipops in themselves, not in mouths anyway, hey, gotta get famous somehow.
  • I feel like we should know these people but in reality we have yet to be introduced to them, seems like there was deleted scenes earlier showing who they are. As it is, they all just seem like awful awful people.
  • “look, if you don’t dream about him, he can’t hurt you”. F*cking idiotic thing to say.
  • “this boy feels the need for speed”, really, he seems more like a weed kind of guy.
  • “i was watching from behind the rafters, didn’t want to embarrass you, you know, the drunk dad showing up” subtle bit of screenwriting there.
  • The creepy singing kids are back. These kids are sometimes the creepiest thing in the films and often lure people to their deaths, yet nobody ever just punches them all in the face. I’d struggle against Freddy Krueger, but a group of seven year old girls? I reckon I could take down most of them.
  • Freddy birth scene. The doctors reaction is “holy shit, what is it”. To be honest that’s my reaction to every baby.
  • The baby looks deformed and pretty much immediately runs out of the room. I know people on facebook who would still post “oh my god, my baby is so cute and smart”. Actually that’s a point, he’s walking almost immediately, in fact he’s quite independent from birth, evil or not, that shit is advanced.
  • Freddy fully returns in a church. What is it with Freddy and churches? Yeah I know his mum was a nun but I think he’d try to avoid them. I mean, what does he see in Christianity that he likes so much? His life is based around scaring people and abusing childr-oh, I get it now.
  • “It’s a boy” Freddy looks remarkably pink faced there, is strange. Side note, apparently that line is the only one that survived from the original script.
  • “Your birth was a curse on the whole of humanity” my mum says the exact same thing to me every week.
  • “sometimes I feel like I’m living with Melicertes”. I actually understand that reference! Read about him whilst researching Sisyphus, for comedy.
  •  “Alice beckons” That sounds like a good album name.
  • This film gets +5 points and levels up just for using the phrase “dickweed”
  • Freddy criticises Dans alcohol. Rude.
  • Dan steals a bike. Tosspot.
  • Dan is fused into the bike, just to be clear, the bike he stole.
  • Time of second death: 27 minutes. I assume, I mean, it’s going to be really hard for him to escape this
  • Let’s focus on the most important part though: dan would still be alive if he hadn’t FALLEN ASLEEP WHEN DRIVING! His dream mother was right, he is a dickweed.
  • “Hey Danny, better not dream and drive”. Why’s Freddy the villain? That’s perfectly legitimate advice. Even if Freddy wasn’t killing people in dreams, Dan would have died, because he FELL ASLEEP WHILST DRIVING! I cannot emphasise that enough.
  • “you’re just a little pregnant”. 1) weirdest phrasing ever. You’re either pregnant or you’re not, it’s binary opposition. 2) So you don’t tell her alone, you decide to tell her whilst her dad is in the room. Sure that’s breaking some sort of doctor rule.
  • Creepy kid, looks like Damien from The Omen.
  • “the parents of the murdered kids got together and killed him”. Wait, no they didn’t, it was just parents on the street. The girl from the first film, her parents had a role in Freddy’s death, and unless she had a brother/sister we weren’t told about, they weren’t parents of murdered kid, just parents of a kid. Unless they were just there for the pure rush of murdering someone.
  • Time of second death: 38 minutes. Greta, who’s characterisation is pretty much “her mum wants her to be a model so doesn’t let her eat”, dies through being force fed. Again we have other odd circumstances as she fell asleep at a dinner party. So even if she hadn’t died, her manners surely did.
  • Mark (a comic book geek) discovers Freddy. Alice saves him by drawing herself into one of his comics.
  • Jacob (the creepy kid from earlier), appears again. Turns out he’s Alice’s son.
  • “Do unborn babies dream?” “yeah, they do”. Congratulations film on making abortion that bit harder for women to get, so far they’ve only had to deal with being screamed at and mentally abused. Well done.
  • The doctor asks Alice’s friend to fetch her file, isn’t that what assistants etc are for? This is America so she’s literally paying for her friend to get her file for her.
  • Alice falls asleep and gets sucked into the ultrasound where she discovers her baby is being fed the souls of the victims. Someone had to write that scene.
  • “the pregnancy might be too much for you, being single and everything”. I dunno, I’d say the “friends all dying in mysterious circumstances” is a bigger deal.
  •  “we got a phone call from the doctor, he said you’re having paranoid delusions”. Does patient/doctor confidentiality mean nothing in this film?
  • A newspaper article about Freddy’s mum. Headline “a victim of the evil within us all”. No she was the victim of a hundred rapes due to incompetence.
  • Yvonne (a diver girl who hasn’t really done much yet), has a nightmare where she tries to escape Freddy by jumping off a diving board into a swimming pool that changes into a puddle. Turns out Freddy isn’t killing her, just taking her hostage, which works for all of about 5 seconds.
  • Mark starts reading from on his many comics (all of them Marvel apart from the one he actually reads) and it basically is the plot of the film in comic book form. He gets drawn into it “Take On Me” style, but disappointingly the film doesn’t have the balls (or imagination) to go full A-ha so just settles for his dream sequence being oddly coloured, by which I mean everything in black and white except for him, like some kind of non-holocaust and non-penis Schindlers List ((odd that the two most complained about aspects of that film from American Christians anyway) both involve showers))
  • Mark actually uses logic and transforms into a gun-using comic book character. Alas he doesn’t realise he’s just a side character so dies. Time of death: 65 Minutes. This one is actually kind of cool as Mark gets turned into a paper character and sliced by Freddy, the colour draining from him like blood. Kind of inventive.
  • Back to the asylum, Freddy is pushed into a pile of the maniac rapists and disappears into the horde to be torn apart. Is that how he dies? Seriously?
  • Okay no, he appears alongside Jacob like nothing has happened.
  • Jacob tries to run to Alice, but they’re both trapped in a kind of MC Escher situation. Side note: there should be an intellectual rapper called “MC Escher”
  • “Kids, always a disappointment”, I wish this film would stop quoting my parents.
  • Freddy tears himself out of alice (where it turns out he’s been hiding all this time) in a weird body-horror-esque move. I knew she’d die 😦 just waiting for the inevitable now. Poor lovely Alice.
  • Oh wait she’s saved. Yvonne found the body of the nun and freed her spirit, by touching the body.
  • The nun appears to Jacob and helps him defeat Freddy. So after being beaten by being shouted at, a kiss, his bones being moved, and a mirror, Freddy is beaten by something more powerful than any of them…..a nun and a child. Fred Astaire died the same way.
  • “schools out Krueger” Random fact, that line only exists because the actor was a minor so wasn’t allowed to say “fuck you”
  • Ends with creepy kids again. Then rap
  • Side note: the soundtrack to this album contains a christmas number one
  • Alice survived 😀 Yay!

A Nightmare A Day: Day 4 (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

Directed by: Renny Harlin (other credits include Die Hard 2 and Deep Blue Sea)

Budget: $13million

US Box Office: $49.3million

  • The last film started with an Edgar Allen Poe quote, this one; the Bible “When deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake”. I prefer the Poe.
  • Odd song for opening credits.
  • Last film started with arts and crafts and paper mache, this one starts with chalk drawings. The Nightmare On Elm Street Films obviously have a “take your daughter to work” day on set every film.
  • Agin this film opens on daylight. Cannot say how much I love that.
  • Patricia Arquette’s character has magically transformed into Tuesday Knight. Notable as they look absolutely nothing a like besides being white and having blonde hair.
  • This series hates tricycles
  • And here comes the black guy from the third movie, obviously here to rectify not dying in the third one, as is horror tradition.
  • Oh, and the the guy Freddy kissed into a coma is here too. This is the most sequel sequel of the sequels so far.
  • “you’re going out dressed like that?” dude, she’s in a jacket and a full length dress, it would be difficult for her to be covering any more skin. Unless you want her to be more nude, in which case, dude, she’s your daughter.
  • Discount Christian Slater.
  • Discount Christian Slater is reading “Soviet Psychiatry”,  I’m not sure “killing your poor by implementing a poorly thought out five year plan which starves millions” is an effective psychiatric tool.
  • “Asthma is an inherited condition”. I learned something today.
  • “hey, you’re sucking on the wrong nozzle”. Hah, it’s funny because she’s got asthma and your response is to be a dickhole
  • “lighten up, no-one died”. Erm, yes they did.
  • 80’s karate montage!
  • The black guys dog pisses fire onto Freddy’s corpse which awakens him. No, seriously, that happened. I’m not pleased I had to type that sentence either.
  • The guy uses his super strength to push a car onto freddy. I guess this movie’s over now then, right?
  • Time of first death: 19 minutes. Freddy remembers he’s in a horror film, and as per tradition, has to kill the black guy first.
  • So, coma guy from last film is dreaming of a naked woman seducing him. Considering the last time this happened he got put in a coma you’d think he’d be somewhat cautious.
  • Time of second death: 21 minutes. Freddy pulls coma guy into a water bed and drowns him. But not before saying “how’s this for a wet dream?” Which, if I could kill people in their dreams, that’s exactly what I would say too. Oh, more boobs by the way. I’ve seen this guy dream of boobs twice, and both times he’s been harmed, there’s a moral behind this, but I can’t figure out what it is.
  • “how do you know about dreams?” “well when it’s all you have you kind of become an expert”. Don’t be silly you also have lovely long hair and a nice cardigan.
  • Not-Patricia Arquette freaks out when Roland and Joey aren’t in class. For all she knows they could just be late, or in prison, but nope, she assumes dead. She’d have felt mighty foolish if she was wrong.
  • Robert Englund in drag as a nurse. Yup, that happens.
  • So her mother has been slipping her sleeping pills. That’s all kinds of disturbing.
  • Also, what the hell kind of sleeping pills is she on that she is forced asleep within 5 minutes? One’s I’ve had has taken at least half hour and even then you had to put effort in.
  • “just dream of somewhere nice” is useless advice, pretty much the equivalent of “if you’re depressed, just cheer up” (if you’ve ever said that to someone, go impale yourself on a stick, not even joking).
  • As if to prove my point, Freddy “Jaws” his way onto a beach and pushes her under the sand. Instead of this killing her through suffocation etc, she goes to a boiler room.
  • “why don’t you reach out and touch someone?” I dunno, I got in trouble for doing that on the train one time.
  • Time of third death: 37 minutes. (couldn’t find a decent video for it, is pretty much the second fatality in that video). And in only two minutes more than it took to get to the first death in the second film, we’ve killed off the remaining cast from the previous film.
  • It’s so nice of the families that all the victims got buried next to each other. Is that how cemeteries in the US are organised, not by family or anything, but by cause of death?
  • Okay, so now all the previous cast are dead, this is like a new start. Which of the cast is next to die, Alice, the girl who can lucid dream? Discount Christian Slater? Debbie who hates bugs? Or Sheila, the black girl? I’ll give you a clue, it’s not the first three.
  • Time of fourth death: 44 minutes. Freddy kisses a school girl to death. I think he was originally written as a child molester but for some reason the studio wouldn’t allow it so he was just made a child killer (which is totally fine for some reason) but they still slipped in a few implications of molestation in there. Such as this scene. Anyway, as Freddie kisses her all the air goes from her lungs and she dies. Basic kissing mistake number one there: try not to kill the other person.
  • “i saw it, it was my dream”. Dude, phrasing, that makes it sound like you wanted it to happen.
  • Side note: the girl who plays Sheila, her real name is Toy Newkirk.
  • “how you going to fight me without your weapon Freddy?” Yeah, all he’s got now are his dream powers. You’re an idiot, discount Christian Slater.
  • Time of fifth death: 56 minutes. Rick tries to beat a serial killer who has magic powers with karate. This goes about as well as you’d expect.
  • “for Rick was in his prime, beloved by all” I dunno, I thought he was kind of a tool.
  • “Every day she changes”, yeah, for some reason she’s effected by her close friends and family dying, what a weirdo.
  • Karate montage! (set to the same song as earlier)
  • Okay, she seems to get her friends traits and abilities when they die. Luckily she only gets useful ones, she doesn’t like develop asthma or broken bones, that would suck.
  • Oddly brilliant scene here. Alice is at cinema and falls asleep. She gets dragged into the screen into a black and white movie. She looks through the screen to the audience and it’s her dead friends applauding the screen, and the body building-bug hating girl asleep.
  • They could have done more with the movie-allusion. They barely did anything with it, no references to old films or tropes. Colour me disappointed.
  • Alice dreams she works at the diner for the rest of her life. And oddly adult fear.
  • Freddy’s victims heads are now meatballs on pizza, he goes to eat the black guys head “I love soul food”. That’s racist!
  • Time of sixth death: 68 minutes. How crap this death, this death, holy crap. It’s almost Cronenberg-esque in execution and content. Pure body horror as she’s turned into a cockroach killed.
  • Alice and Dan get caught in a time loop so are unable to stop the cockroach death. When they finally get out of the loop they drive into a tree. Lesson one of driving: don’t drive into trees. Dan gets put in a coma, Alice goes home.
  • Alice tools up. Alice is badass. I like Alice.
  • “get away from him you son of a bitch” soooo close to an Alien reference.
  • Dan gets woken up and leaves Alice alone in the dream world. Oh no, however will a lucid dreamer who knows martial arts be able to survive without a football player helping her?
  • “welcome to wonderland, Alice” Did the writers call her Alice just for that? If so, well played.
  • “I am eternal”, yeah but only when dogs piss fire on you. And that surely only happens like once a week or so. What happens when we bury you at sea or behind a vacuum cleaner.
  • Alice stops Freddy with a mirror and a nursery rhyme. Richard III died the same way.
  • “I have more reasons to stay awake now” Oh, I’m sorry, was “not dying” enough of a reason?
  • We end with something truly terrifying: Sinead O Connor.

A Nightmare A Day: Day 3 (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)

Director: Chuck Russell. (Other credits include The Mask and The Scorpion King)

Budget: $4.5million

US Box Office: $44.7million

  • Ooooo, new New Line logo. This one looks less like the intro to a Commodore 64 game. Huge improvement.
  • Edgar Allen Poe quote “Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them”. This film gets points for reminding me that Eternal Darkness exists. Oh, and it’s a clever use of Poe.
  • Hey, Heather’s back.
  • This film’s so old they spell it Larry Fishburne.
  • The opening of this film seems to be a woman making pancakes. Yet through the use of music and clever angles it’s still creepier than Annabelle.
  • Oh wait, not pancakes, gluing newspaper pieces onto walls and doing other arts and crafts. Point still stands, f*ck Annabelle.
  • Mouthful of coffee grounds and swig of coke. Disgusting.
  • Wooo, heavy metal music. (Into the fire: dokken)
  • Has Patricia Arquette aged at all?
  • Dead bodies hung from the ceiling in an abandoned house. Well this film is just going to start off creepy isn’t it?
  • Wait, are they doing the first death this early?
  • Nope, she wakes up, just with slit wrists.
  • Hey kids, it’s Larry Fishburne, before he looked like a black Charlie Brooker, talking to someone who’s not entirely unlike Judge Reinhold.
  • Who’s the girl in the flannel? Looks like Kristen Stewart but 80’s.
  • Oh, guess she was just an extra.
  • Yay, Nancy/Heather’s back. I love recurring characters. Especially when they make sense. In the time between her last experience she’s actually done research into dreams etc, that makes a lot of sense and is good characterisation.
  • “kid last week sliced off his own eyelids so he could stay awake”. Holy hell that’s disturbing, I have to use that.
  • In a film, I should clarify.
  • A bike comes in, trailing three bits of blood along the floor then it kind of collapses into the floor. The real nightmare is shoddy workmanship at bike factories.
  • First death: 31 minutes. Seriously? I thought it was about 15. I suppose they’ve had to introduce a lot of new characters here so it doesn’t feel as long as it’s actually been. As big a fan as I am of the second film (especially since the rewatch yesterday), the opening act does drag a bit, although it’s worth it once it reaches it, like a two-legged dog playing fetch. This death always makes me wince and is definitely my favourite so far. Philip, who we’ve seen as being a puppet maker is being used by Freddy as some sort of marionette puppet, with his veins/arteries etc for strings. He’s then led up to the top of a tower and the strings are cut. Everyone who see’s him thinks he’s sleepwalking, which begs the question: if someone is sleepwalking through to an open window of a tall building, why would you not keep an eye on them? The security here is ridiculously bad. Yet another horror-movie death which could have been stopped by health and safety regulations.
  • Hey, flannel girl is more than an extra. Is odd as she was speaking in a previous scene and I didn’t recognise her not dressed like a lumberjack.
  • “then it was suicide, Philip quit, he gave up” Dude, not cool!
  • “he killed himself. Now, that’s a cowardly thing. That’s an empty thing” Dude, stop right there. I feel if you say anything else I’m going to wish harm upon you as a character.
  • “He let himself down. He let all of us down” I hope you get your penis caught in a combine harvester.
  • Time of second death: 38 minutes. Jennifer. Shame, I liked her, she seemed like a mix between Jennifer Tilly and Patricia Arquette. Probably the most famous death in this film due to Sassy Freddy. It’s the “welcome to prime time, bitch!” death.
  • “what faith do you follow?” “science”. How did I not remember that line is in this film? That’s brilliant.
  • Now we have the scene where everyone shows off their special dream powers, hence the “Dream Warriors” of the title. These films have been weird but every one has been unique and had it’s own purpose, they haven’t repeated themselves much. One can walk (and is a wizard), one is strong, and Taryn (the flannel girl) has knives and punk rock hotness.
  • And we have tits. Which is horror movie shorthand for “we don’t have much confidence in this, so we’re using nudity so that horny teenage boys will want to watch it”. I’m not against nudity in film, but in a lot of cases (sadly, it does have to be said, particularly in horror), it’s ridiculously exhibitionist and serves no purpose. I’m going to say this just the once: if you’ve ever watched a horror film just to see nudity, you’re an idiot. You know there are some films available online (and in certain shops) which contain nothing but nudity, right? And some even racier stuff, like kissing and hugging. If you want tits, buy tits, admit it, don’t watch a hour and a half film just for the 2 seconds of nudity, that’s idiotic, uneconomical, and just a little bit sad.
  • So Freddy pretended to be a woman, kissed this guy and then put him in a coma. There’s a myriad of different ways he could have put him in a coma. But for some reason he chose to use the method which required him kissing a teenage boy and tying him to a bed (with his tongue).
  • And here we have the origin story. Freddy’s mother was locked in an asylum and raped hundred of times, hence the nickname for Freddy “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs”. A few issues I have with this, 1) the age old myth of “all mental patients are dangerous maniacs” which was remarkably prevalent in horror before the 2000’s (seriously, count how many scary stories involve “an escaped mental patient”, not just films or books, but urban legends too). 2) “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs”. I guess we’re just ignoring the theory of mendelian genetics then? At most he’s the son of a singular maniac who’s sperm was strong enough to kill the sperm of the others.
  • Now we have another character from the first film return. It seems like they should have swapped this and the second one around.
  • So the bones must be buried in hallowed ground? Christian mythology is rife in horror films, so the next time someone says hollywood is scared of promoting Christianity, kick them in the temple.
  • Time of third death: 71 minutes. Lovely Taryn is injected with drugs as Freddy channels his inner Road Warrior. Why does everyone I love die? Oddly enough this scene is responsible for the film being banned in Australia as it was seen to promote drug use. Because obviously the first thing impressionable children think when they see someone die of a drug overdose is “drugs are awesome!”
  • Time of fourth death: 73 minutes. The guy in a wheelchair dies, because of course he does.
  • Harryhausen-esque skeleton now. Odd.
  • “I killed you once before you son of a bitch”, famous last words.
  • Time of fifth death: 82 minutes. The guy said the line in the previous note. Kind of a dull death for a returning character.
  • Time of sixth death: 86 minutes. And there goes Nancy. Normally when people return for horror film sequels they either survive or die in the opening scene. Here she’s the last death. Sad times. She had a semi-heroic death I guess but shame such an iconic character almost went out with a whimper.
  • The nun from earlier was Freddy’s mum? No, just no.
  • And the film ends with……a light turning on.

This film seems like it should have been swapped with the second. It’s a more direct sequel to the first film, seems to completely ignore the second film entirely. The series has to be commended for doing something different at least. All three films have been completely different stories. The second one was about possession, this one’s more about groups fighting back. This was the first Nightmare On Elm Street film I ever watched as my family had it on VHS back in the day. I don’t know where my family got it from, or why this was the only one they had. I guess some questions are just not meant to be answered, questions like “why are there so many songs about rainbows?”

A Nightmare A Day: Day 2 (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge)

Director: Jack Sholder (Other films include Generation X, a made for TV film based on an X-Men spinoff series and By Dawn’s Early Light)

Writer: David Chaskin

Budget: $3million

US Box Office: $29.9million

  • Opens on daylight. I like that for two reasons: 1) I think more horror should take place during the day. Daylight makes the audience feel comfortable, and horror should be about breaking people’s comforts. It’s easy to get a scare from darkness, because it’s not really you or any techniques you’re using that’s doing so, half the job is already done for you. If you make people scared in broad daylight, you’ve done a good job. Also people feel at home in daylight, so it becomes easier for them to empathise. 2) It connects to the end of the first film quite well.
  • “Special appearance by Clu Gulager”. I have literally no idea who that is, I don’t know whether it’s because of my Britishness or my age.
  • Fat kid at the back of the bus playing music loudly, thereby predicting my daily commute to work.
  • “He’s right behind us”. No he’s not, he’s in the aisle over from you and behind you. You suck at directions random bitchy high school girls.
  • Runaway bus gone for so long the natural light changes and then it stops perched on a rock tower as it collapses. Actually a really well thought out set-piece.
  • “jesse are you okay?” he wakes up screaming every morning, so I’m guessing not.
  • I don’t know who the girl is who’s playing Lisa but she looks adorable. Like a pre nosejob Jennifer Grey
  • He slapped his cheeks with a little too much affection there.
  • A guy pulls down another guys shorts, showing his ass off, then a really bad fight starts. Ended by their coach pulling them apart and saying “Assume the position” Nothing strange there.
  • Eleven minutes in we find the connection between the two films. The same house. Not the least tenuous connection I’ve seen between horror films but It kind of takes me out of the moment as it firmly establishes the house as somewhat “special”. Which it is to us, as it was the house of the main character in the first film. But it messes with the reality as there were 4 deaths in the first film, a lot of them took place in different places. So that house wouldn’t have more attention to it than the locations of the other deaths. So it kind of reminds me that this is definitely a film. It’s possible I overthink things.
  • Freddy goes into Jesse’s dream, holds him close and strokes his eyebrows whilst saying “I need you Jesse”
  • Completely pointless scene of Lisa swimming in her back garden.
  • So he just found Freddy’s glove in the basement. I suppose that now makes sense for why Freddy seems to be anchored to the house, but it raises more questions. Primarily: why the fuck did the woman in the first film keep it? I touched upon this in the previous blog but I need to go into more detail: if you were part of a vigilante group that burnt someone alive, would you go into the house of the deceased and then take something? No, because you’re not a psychopath, unlike the mother in the first film. Seriously, she’s crazy.
  • This film has yet more shirtless men. So at least the fan service is equal for both genders.
  • This film turns into The Birds as the family parrots goes crazy and claw people.
  • This film turns into Birdemic as the family parrot explodes.
  • “it’s that cheap seed you’ve been buying”. I love that that is somehow a logical conclusion to a bird exploding into flames. Imagine that with any other animal. Your family kitten explodes “Damnit Veronica, I said DON’T buy Tesco’s own brand cat food”
  • Wait, so his teacher sees him at an S&M bar and makes makes him run laps around the school gym to punish him (I’m guessing for underage drinking). Let’s look at this from a bystanders point of view: they just saw a teacher take a student home from a bar. Because that’s not dodgy.
  • This film is actually REALLY gay. Not in a “this is lame” way, more in a “there is so much homoerotic subtext.
  • It just got gayer. The gym teacher has been tied up in the showers, stripped, whipped then been hit by multiple balls. Which leads us to this:
  • Time of first death: 35 Minutes. That actually shows remarkable restraint (I would be ashamed of using that pun after the death of someone who was tie up, but the police officer in the next scene brought a naked Jesse home to his parents and told them to “put a short leash on him” so I’m not as ashamed as they should be). But yeah, the restraint: that’s over half an hour before the first death. Almost twenty minutes later than the first death in the first film. Usually horror sequels start killing people as soon as possible as that’s why the audience are there, I commend this film for waiting so long to do it.
  • Okay the mum from the first film did die. Considering she showcased the hallmarks of a serial killer, I’m glad.
  • Jesse can’t quite manage sex with Lisa and goes straight into Ron’s bedroom as he sleeps. I refuse to accept the undertones aren’t intentional.
  • Time Of second death: 57 Minutes. Ron killed, not shown explicitly really but we see Freddy’s claws come through the other side of the door so fairly obvious.
  • And now the sausages spontaneously combust just after someone complains about the heat in the pool. This film is really doing a lot with heat and temperature, kind of odd, I like it. Temperature is such a simple thing to manipulate for the purposes of death scenes and yet it’s rarely utilised in films.
  • Freddy just bit Lisa. Considering what he is supposed to have done to underage children whilst alive this is slightly weird.
  • The Lisa Vs. Jesse/Freddy scene is really creepy. Might be my favourite scene from the two films so far. Well scripted, well shot and well performed. Really effective at showcasing characters too.
  • After a quite dramatic scene we get almost complete silence in a scene where people are just standing around. It’s a shame more horror films don’t utilise calmness and silence in useful ways and can be effective.
  • Time of third death: 65 minutes. I don’t even know if this guy has a name. Just slashed across face once. Quite notable in that this is the first death that’s taken place in public (at a pool party, oh so THAT’S why they had the scene with Lisa in the pool earlier, I thought it was just to show the actress in swimwear) with everyone able to see Freddy. If this scene was done in a modern film you’d have to imagine people would film it on their phones, which would actually be a pretty interesting way to set up a sequel. Freddy lives on the fear of people, so that kind of multiple exposure across the internet could do wonders. It would be like The Ring mixed with Unfriended (only a lot lot better than Unfriended. Seriously, f*ck that film)
  • Time of (presumed) fourth and fifth deaths: 66 minutes. Not much detail is put on these and it can hard to miss the two deaths here: two unnamed characters fall into the swimming pool as it boils and are burned to death. Both of them occur within a second of each other and aren’t the focal point of the scene. Missed opportunity for some truly disturbing scenes there. Although it could be argued that the quickness of the deaths helps us feel part of the film as the characters aren’t paying much attention to what’s happening so why should we be able to? The shared panic of two. Folie A Arghhhhh.
  • Time of Sixth death: again, 66 minutes. This time it’s just someone falling into fire. Not likely to be on Freddy’s showreel.
  • Seventh death: 66 minutes 32 Seconds. Wow, after no deaths for a long time this film is really making up for it. My fondness for this death is far more than it deserves. It’s just someone being trampled by the other party guests in their panic to escape. I like when horror films do this, have the characters killed accidentally by the actions of others. It helps us feel the panic that’s taking place. Also there’s a lot of bravado in discussion of horror films, “yeah, I would easily escape”, but what if in doing so you cause the death of someone else? Then you’re not a hero, you’re a douchnozzle.
  • Eighth death: 66 minutes 36 seconds. Again, unnamed person, this time just stabbed in the gut. Good for showcasing the chaos, not much else.
  • Ninth death: 67 minutes (yay, we escaped the 66th). A Kerry Von Erich lookalike tries to calm Freddy down, this goes as well as you expect it to and he gets thrown into a BBQ grill. The first sign of Sassy Freddy as his response to “I’m here to help you” is to say “Help yourself, fucker” then kill them. Sassy!
  • Freddy dies from spontaneous combustion. They’re really pushing the fire/temperature element of this film. It’s working. Also should be pointed out that both time’s Freddy has been defeated it hasn’t involved someone directly fighting him. As such he’s the only villain who could be defeated by a pacifist time lord with a sonic screwdriver and a police box.
  • Tenth death: 79 minutes. Lisa’s friend who’s name I can’t recall right now has Freddy’s hand pop out from her chest, Alien style in a scene reminiscent of the opening.
  • Bing Crosby’s “Did You Ever See A Dream Walking? plays over the end credits. Strange but oddly works.

Post film notes: done some research and the homosexual undertones were intentional. The theme of repressed homosexuality runs throughout the film. This has been confirmed by Robert Englund and the writer of the film, David Chaskin (which, considering this was his first film should be highly commended for the work he did here). Some people have argued this even effects the casting, with the lead of Jesse played by openly gay actor Mark Patton (described by some as the first male scream queen). In summary I actually really like this film. The scares are unique and there’s some fantastic scenes. Not sure if it works as a Freddy Krueger film, but if have this as a standalone film and it’s superb.

Why we love Session 9 (and why you should see it)

Well as my colleague continues to beat on with his more relatable posts about films and TV shows normal people actually watch. I’ll cover our indie quota (aka I might have a pretentious taste in movies) and talk about the, should be better known stuff.

session_nine_xlg

Now with that said, welcome to our belated horror special, to celebrate this month of horror we call October. On today’s menu the 2001 psychological horror, Session 9, and why I love it, and you should see it. I didn’t really need to repeat that, as the title already says it.

simpososn
They look pretty guilt ridden. This wasn’t just a pointless image to pad out he words….promise…

Like with mysteries, I’ve always had a fascination with psychological horror. Starting from when I was a young teenager and got into the Silent Hill games (listen out for the coming static), and it mutated from there. But really, psychological is my favorite brand of horror, topping everything from the creature feature to slasher flicks. As I believe the scariest things always come from ourselves, and that’s what the genre reflects. Because what really keeps you up at night? The thoughts of a zombie munching its way through your abdomen, or the guilt over the bad things you’ve done?

Sequence 02To put it in movies, Session 9 is The Shining with a dash of Repulsion, but not as visually out there as either. Set over a week (and yes it even has the obligatory names of the week title cards) it follows a group of five asbestos removers as they work at a condemned Insane Asylum. Which is filmed at the real condemned Danvers State Asylum, where the majority of the film takes place. The work is hard, the personalities clash, and the weight of the place is suffocating. As in a much slower burn (yet much shorter film) than The Shining, our characters begin to crack and question what they’re doing there.

Danvers_State_Hospital
Danvers State Asylum, classic.

Though still fairly obscure, what’s helped build Session 9’s cult film status (a status any fucking film can lay claim to now a days), is it retrospectively has a great cast. Helmed by Brad Anderson, who would go onto direct The Machinist (aka, HOLY SHIT Christian Bale is an insane method actor). And led by a pre-cheesy one liner spewing, shade darning David Caruso of CSI: Miami fame (or infamy depending on who you ask….infamy definitely infamy), and the genuinely amazing and underrated Peter Mullan.
They and their lesser known co-stars do a perfect job filling out their somewhat stock characters into a likeable bunch. From Mullan and Caruso’s hard-boiled boss and cool right hand dynamic, to the annoying young one, the fun sleazy one, and the smart one whose a bit too obsessed with the Asylum. No one you haven’t seen before, but no one you will forget.

cast
How is there no cast photo! This was the closest I could get. And it’s still missing the sleazy one!

The reason Session 9 wasn’t a hit is a simple one. It just doesn’t have much mass appeal (or at the time, even much niche appeal). It lacks the bloodiness for gore hounds, or the jump-a-minute scares for tweens. It even lacks the out-there bizarreness of other psycho -horrors like Jacob’s ladder, or the prestige of budding atmospheric driven horrors like The Others (released the same year). But what it lacks in prestige it makes up for in fledgling filmic style. The camera is always moving, and moving with a purpose, to show and to tell, and the editing is the same, carefully cutting with meaning to foreshadow the coming tragedy.

session-9-suit
Okay, it does have it’s speckles of bizarreness.

Walking the line between true film and a bit home movie-ey, it creates a vividly oppressive atmosphere, without losing its sense of realism. You can feel the dust in the air, the sprinkles of asbestos  , the crackle of old tape recordings, and the cold dark as it lurks round every corner. Though never hide-behind-your-hands scary, it’s a creepy film that rots in your stomach and leaves you infected. Even as the plot gets more ambiguous and the characters get crazier, it never loses the feeling of being just five guys doing this shitty job, just to scrape by and gets some cash. Unlike a lot of modern horror films, it never lacks or loses its human centre (cough cough Until Dawn, cough cough, I know it’s a game).

wheel chair

Even if it wasn’t seen by many people, it has left a long and well warn impression on those who did. Going on to inspire imagery in Silent Hill 3, specifically the hospital level, and though far from a ‘classic’ is now a well-regarded for its atmosphere, story, and themes amongst horror aficionados. And is a personal favorite of mine in the horror genre, if I hadn’t mentioned. It also features one of my most beloved ending lines in cinema, quoted in the picture below, but without the context of the film holds little weight. So SEE IT, if you want to know what it means, and afflict this haunting picture onto yourself.

wounded

It also left us with this; either a funny but completely out of place bit of over the top hilarity, or Brad Anderson can join the ranks of other great directors, like Tommy Wiseau, of unintentionally being funny when trying too hard. But I think it’s probably the former.

If you like Session 9, I also recommend.

recommended