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 Dan's Rewatch Reviews

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PostSubject: Dan's Rewatch Reviews   Mon 16 Apr 2018 - 9:35

This will sort of be the sister thread for my movie reviews thread, which I admit is in dire need of updating but one step at a time. Instead, I want a thread where I can devote to movies I see again. I'll probably be posting these reviews one at a time, as I have more to say about them given that I took the time to watch them again.

Long ago when I first got Amazon Prime, I watched a few subpar horror films that I recently got the chance to see in much, much better quality. So, I want to talk about one of them. I have another film that I might post about later on.

The Forest (1982)



I can't even go into just how awful the quality of this film was when I first saw it on Amazon Prime a few years ago, but let's just say that the Code Red DVD while not the best out there in Horror Digital Land still does the film a lot of good.

This seemingly routine 80s slasher may check a lot of the clich├ęs to start out with, but this tea was brewed from a different pot. Sure, you have the typical opening kill, with the madman offing a couple in the woods. Then, you meet our soon-to-be victims planning a vacation to the same woods, though they oddly decide to go separately (boys vs. girls and all) though they all plan to meet at the same destination by the next night. Don't forget about the sherriff warning two of the victims that people have disappeared without a trace after venturing in these said woods, which is meant to set the tone. All of these qualities can be found in any good slasher of its time.

Then, things get weird when they all enter the woods. It soon becomes clear that this is no longer your average, by-the-numbers slasher. Sure, there's the madman in the woods killing anything that walks, but soon you discover there are ghosts of children whose voices have been altered so that they sound like possessed aliens, and they like to hide from their evil ghost mamma. Their mamma has a habit of making her presence known to our victims, saying that she's looking for her children and if they see them to send them home because they just have to be punished. And the madman has a tie to them (wait until the exposition scene). This is ALL bizarre as fuck, and you can't decide if your watching something trying to be played straight or for laughs. Maybe I need to watch the extras to get some insight on the creator's intentions.

The better quality reveals the forest to be a character all in itself - beautiful scenery, and the atmosphere is actually pretty good with the screeching bobcats and the POV shots of the killer spying on our victims. The victims are likeable enough and the entire thing almost plays like a romantic comedy to start out. One couple is on the brink of divorce and neither one are really unlikeable, so you're hoping for their reconciliation. And the other couple has a cocky man and a wife who has something to prove by going camping with her girl friend alone without the boys. There's a little bit of arguing between the boys at times (being lost does that to people, I'd imagine), but overall you get the sense that this is a real group of friends who don't spend most of the film being bitches to each other. It's annoying when that happens and this movie averts that for the most part. Hell, even the killer is painted with a tinge of humanity so you kind of feel sorry for him despite his horrific acts.

Yet, none of this really helps. The Forest, despite its likeability, is still technically a bad slasher. You go in expecting carnage, but despite the couple of decent death scenes, this isn't really scary and there aren't enough of them. Rather, it's a puzzling slasher/ghost story hybrid with a hefty dose of cheesiness to boot. And I think this will turn off a lot of viewers. I had originally given it a 4/10, but some of the stalking sequences and the better sense of the woods with a better-quality view has me bumping it up to 5/10.
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PostSubject: Re: Dan's Rewatch Reviews   Tue 17 Apr 2018 - 17:05

Silent Night Bloody Night (1972)



Before I get sass about talking about a Christmas movie in April, let me preface this by saying that Christmas was merely used as a backdrop to a very dark murder mystery. This story easily could've been plucked from this time on the calendar and planted somewhere else, and it would've worked just as well. Aside from the dark, snowy setting and the occasional Christmas tree or ornamental lights on the wall, Christmas has no bearing on this story. In truth, I wasn't really going to talk much about this one, mostly because I don't think I have much of an audience who enjoys these obscure 70s films quite the same way that I do. Laughing At least not on this forum. Have you ever seen it, Shred? Tyler? I know you guys like 80s stuff, but I don't hear much about 70s stuff. Still, I do know that you guys enjoy slasher flicks and this one is as proto-slasher as they come so maybe you guys could still find value in a review of this. I want to record my thoughts anyway, so here they are.

It's Christmas Eve in a weird, remote 70s town and some unknown assailant is butchering people who dare venture into this old weird, remote house. The movie originally follows a lawyer and his lover there at the house on business, until it pulls a Psycho and kills them off in a no-doubt brutal death scene for its time. Then, the action cuts to a mysterious man (possible killer? maybe....) who shows up in town and immediately makes acquaintance with our attractive heroine, who serves as our investigative final girl and grown daughter of the town sheriff. More murders ensure, until everyone eventually makes their way to the house of doom and the big reveal occurs, followed by the final showdown.

I think this movie was doomed to the public-domain shelf for much of its lifetime, so the version I first saw it in was absolutely dreadful. Though I wasn't the biggest fan of it upon first watching it, I did remember that it was a film with a lot of character and an interesting setting, and the restored DVD sat on Amazon for a mere $5.00 bucks (very cheap compared to most restored copies) so I couldn't pass it up the chance to give this one a second chance. Mostly because it felt wrong to dislike this one not because of the story, but because of how bad it looked. It just didn't seem fair.

And, like I said, it was one of the first slasher films ever. You can't take that away from it. It barely came before The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Black Christmas, both often credited for inventing the genre that would later be popularized by films like Halloween and Friday the 13th. However, Silent Night Bloody Night like those other early 70s slashers didn't emphasize on gore, but rather atmosphere and the raging sense of doom associated with its setting. The occasional townsfolk who got killed off wasn't the focus of the story, but just part of the overall mystery that was unfolding.

The problem with this one, unfortunately, is how slow it is. It's only like a 85-minute film, but it's slow as hell. Aside from the lawyer and his lover (wife? girlfriend? mistress? I can't remember) getting cut while doing the nasty, the other death scenes were no where near as good. There's a lot of extra character scenes added that felt like filler, easily cut like fat from ham and the story still wouldn't have felt incomplete. Though our final girl wasn't quite as helpless as her counterparts in films like Psycho (sorry Lila) or Torso, her final confrontation with the killer was no where near as memorable as Sally Hardesty or Jess Bradford's in the aforementioned seminal slashers that followed. And the twist ending, though interesting, was revealed in such a lame, too-long exposition scene which zaps it of any impact or excitement. Not to mention that Don't Look in the Basement which came later revealed a similar twist so much better.

I've already let this go on for a bit too long for a film I'm pretty confident no one here has ever seen (or ever will), but it's interesting going back in time and seeing one of the roots of one of my favorite subgenres of horror. I had originally rated this one at being 5/10 and while the restoration on the affordable FilmChest DVD was a revelation, the movie still was a bit too boring for me to even give it a generous 6/10. So, I kept my rating the same.

In closing, I hear that there is a sequel out now. Might be checking it out soon... though I've also been meaning to check out the sequel to Don't Look in the Basement as well and that's going on like two years now. Long watch list and all, you know how it goes.
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