Back in 2007 after the collaborative efforts of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez known as “Grindhouse” flopped, one of the popular elements of the double feature that lingered on was the mock trailers during intermission. After delivering a very popular faux trailer with “Thanksgiving,” director Eli Roth finally gives us what we’ve been begging for almost twenty years later. Thankfully while the whole faux grindhouse aesthetic has fallen out of favor with mainstream cinema, “Thanksgiving” ends as a pretty great slasher film with its own merits to offer the horror genre.
There’s a horror sequel to “Bring it On.” Repeat: There is a horror sequel (part seven!) to “Bring it On.” The cheerleading sports teen comedy that birthed a series of cheerleading sports teen comedies actually has a sequel that is a full on horror movie. That’s kind of like a sequel to “Mission Impossible” that’s a full on slasher film or something. It’s kind of amazing. It’s too bad “Cheer or Die” just isn’t.
Allegedly Gary J. Tunnicliffe originally drew up a script for a “Hellraiser” movie which he then retooled in to an indie horror film after it was rejected. Later his concept was reworked in to a “Hellraiser” movie as a means of keeping the series in motion. Without the bits about the Cenobites, “Judgment” feels like a cheap “Seven” knock off about a serial killer that weaponizes the ten commandments instead of the seven deadly sins. It feels like a movie that was made in 2002 with choppy editing and murky directing that made it feel like a music video for Evanescence or System of a Down.
A lot of modern directors are cultivating a formula of taking classic eighties and nineties movies and giving them a clever horror twist. While many have likened “Totally Killer” to “The Final Girls,” I’m more prone to consider “Totally Killer” a horror twist on “Back to the Future.” It’s very much a nod to Robert Zemeckis’ film right down to the similar finale. The way director Nahnatchka Khan stages her horror comedy is so much in the vein of the classic film, but that thankfully doesn’t hinder the experience.
I have to say that I quite love “Return to Horror High.” Yes it’s convoluted and mostly a nonsensical meta horror comedy about the horror genre, but a lot of the ideas it lays out during the duration of its story are so ahead of their time. “Return to Horror High” (not a sequel, by the way) has the distinction of being cited as one of the precursors to “Scream,” but it really only holds that distinction in how it takes a step back and analyzes horror. Beyond that Bill Froehlich’s film is only really connected in that it’s a slasher with a whodunit twist. The rest of the movie is a pretty nonsensical meshing of storytelling styles, and twists that make no sense. Nonsensical is the key word to “Return to Horror High,” but that’s also what makes it so good.
One of the things I wish horror movies would stop doing is the meta-dialogue drop where a character proclaims “I feel like I’m in a horror movie!” to which someone replies “Well this isn’t a horror movie! This is real life.” Please stop that. I know I’m watching a horror movie. I don’t need to know that the characters know that we’re watching a horror movie. That said, “Pillow Party Massacre” is a mix of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Slaughter High” but with none of the fun hacking and slashing that goes with them. There’s nary a pillow party or a respectable massacre to be had.
If you love “Scream” and you loved “Scream VI” then you have to see “Screaming.” I mean you have to see it. I mean yes it is a fan film, but it’s such a wonderfully developed short slice of the “Scream” universe that is as meta as all get out and celebrates the inherent dissection of the horror genre from beginning to end.
Wes Craven’s “Scream” series has always been first a slasher series, and second a movie series that comments on the horror fandom. Thankfully while Craven’s loss is still sorely felt in the overall franchise, “Scream VI” has kept much of the spirit alive. The next logical step in the franchise is pulling it out of Woodsboro and giving it a wider scope, and it does this by changing the backdrop to the big city of New York. While this would otherwise hinder the series’ development, the massive scale of New York gives “Scream” something of an automatic reset that I welcome.