SLASHER MONTH: Hatchet (2006)

How much does Adam Green like slashers? He was in a band called Haddonfield. And he’s made four movies in the Hatchet series, as well as writing the Tommy Jarvis tapes in Friday the 13th: The Game.

Hatchet straddles the line between tribute to the past, humor and being a slasher that can stand on its own quite well. I was pleased to discover how much I loved every single one of these movies.

Victor Crowley was born when his father Thomas (both roles are played by slasher killer elite Kane Hodder) has a child with the nurse of his terminally ill wife, who curses the child. Born deformed in a difficult birth that claims the life of his mother, Thomas has raised the child as best he can when a prank causes a house fire and an accidental hatchet to the face kills the boy, who must now roam the New Orleans swamps as a ghost forever searching for his father and ready to kill anyone in his way.

Woe be to anyone who takes a tourist boat ride through the swamps on a night that Victor is out roaming, which is the perfect set-up for this type of film. I mean, how much more do you want to know?

Crowley is opposed by Marybeth Dunston (Tamara Feldman for the first film, to be followed by Danielle Harris in the others), who blames Crowley for the deaths of her father and brother.

The other thing this movie gets right is having Tony Todd in the cast. He elevates everything he’s ever been in and is a standout here as Rev. Zombie, who has been sued too many times to lead tours. He’ll become more essential in the second film. Actually, if you watch the first three movies together, they tell one big story, kind of like Halloween and Halloween 2. Robert Englund shows up as well, making this the second movie that Hodder, Todd and Englund all appear in (the other is The Wishmaster).

You can watch this on Tubi.

Final Destination 3 (2006)

I realize that I watch a lot of movies. However, this point was hammered home when I realized that I saw three movies where people were killed by a tanning bed in one week. For anyone else, they’d see this as a moment to step back. Not me. I glared into the gaping maw of early 2000’s teen-friendly horror sequels and looked back before diving in, sternly speaking right to the camera, stating “I’ll see you in Hell.”

Directed by the returning James Wong (series creator Jeffrey Reddick did not come back), this film starts with a rollercoaster accident scene that will, much like flying in the first movie and driving in the second, make you never want to go to a theme park again.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Wendy Christensen, whose premonition of the disaster keeps her friends from getting on the coaster, which leads to…look, if you’ve seen any of these movies, you understand how they work. You show up for the insane death sequences and wait for Tony Todd to show up and remind you exactly how much you love him. This time, all you get is his voice as the Devil before a ride and as the announcer on the subway.

Winstead teamed up again with Ryan Merriman, who she also appeared in The Ring Two as the teens that try — as always, in vain — to rescue the people that Death is killing. The funny thing is, this movie makes it obvious that you shouldn’t fight fate, because then you end up baked to a crisp while just trying to get a good summer glow on.

My DVD of this movie also features a Choose Their Fate option, which gives you some control over the movie, mainly changing some of the death scenes. My favorite part is that if you decide to keep the characters from even boarding the roller coaster, the movie goes directly to the credits. Like I always say, when people ask, “Why do people do such dumb things in horror movies?” I say, “Well, we wouldn’t have this movie otherwise.”

I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)

Despite the ending of the last film teasing you with another chapter in the lives of Julie James and Ray Bronson, the time between films was too long for everyone in the eight years between installments — and Sylvian White was brought in to replace original director Damon Santostefano (Bring It On Again, the Fangoria Scream Greats videos). He also directed the movies Stomp the YardThe Losers and Slender Man, a film that pretty much disappeared upon release.

A year ago, Amber, Colby (David Paetkau, Final Destination 2), Zoe (Torrey DeVitto, Pretty Little Liars), Roger, and P.J. prank their entire town, who all know the legend of the Hook (or Fishman) from the first two films. However, instead of landing safely on a mattress, P.J. is impaled. Everyone believes that the Fishman killed him and the kids make a pact — learning nothing from the last two movies — to keep all of this a secret.

Fast forward and Amber is the only one who left town, with Colby giving up a scholarship and Roger a suicidal drunk. Oh yeah — and someone has waited twelve months to start texting her, “I know what you did last summer.”

This series follows the Vorhees formula by making its killer a supernatural force by the third film while also Myers formula by getting Don Shanks to play the slasher.

After three movies, we have the same ending each time. In the first movie, the Hook jumps through a shower door to attack Julie. He pulls her under a bed in the second. And in the third, despite escaping the danger of the film and garnering our sympathies as a final girl, Amber’s jeep breaks down and we see the Hook coming for her. You could see this as setting up a sequel while I see it as a film that cares absolutely nothing for its main characters and wastes all of the worry that you just invested in them by casually throwing them away in such quick fashion.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Justin Lin comes into the franchise here and, well, he has none of the original cast members coming back. So what do you do? Concentrate on the cars. Also, the chronological history of the story would change from here on out, with installments until 2015’s Furious 7 being set between 2 Fast 2 Furious and this movie.

Yes, you’d be shocked how confusing — and deep — these movies go. I watched all of them within a day or two, so I’m still amazed how we go from street gangs to the family basically being the G.I. Joe team.

High school student Sean Boswell keeps getting arrested for street racing, so he is sent to live in Japan with his father. There, he discovers, well, street racing. Are you surprised? There he meets Twinkie (Bow Wow), who gets him in and he starts doing that Tokyo Drift, as they say.

Sung Kang, who plays Han Lue, originated that role in Lin’s movie Better Luck Tomorrow. He’d return in Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, as well as the short film Los Bandoleros, all set between the events of Better Luck Tomorrow and this movie. Han’s explosive car crash was revisited in post-credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, which introduced Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw.

Boswell would return in Furious 7, while he, Kang and Twinkie will all be back for F9. How is Kang still alive? We’ll see.

Following poor test screenings, Vin Diesel agreed to make a cameo as Dom in exchange for Universal’s ownership to the rights of the Riddick series and character. No money exchanged hands. I’m always amazed at how canny Diesel is. This allowed him to make 2013’s Riddick as an independent film. Also, of course Dom won in the race against Boswell. Come on.

Regreso a Moira (2006)

Known here as Spectre, this was directed by Mateo Gil, who wrote the 1997 movie Abre De Ojos that was remade here as Vanilla Sky.

Tomás became a success as a writer but has never returned to Spain. But after the death of his wife, a tarot card lures him back to the town where he was born, reminding him of his young days, when he fell for a woman that everyone said was a witch. Now, despite her being burned alive, she is calling him from beyond.

This was part of a Spanish TV movie series, Six Films To Keep You Awake. This is less a horror movie and more doomed romance, a tale of the superstitions of a small village before it became a tourist trap and the lives that were destroyed along the way.

It’s a slow burn, so be warned.

You can watch this on Tubi.

La Verdadera Historia De La Llorona (2006)

Every few decades, we get another La Llorona movie. The description for this one could be the same for any of them: “A woman dreams every night that she wanders around the city screaming for her dead children and realizes that the old house where she lives is actually the tomb of murdered children.”

This telenovela title translates as The True Story of the Weeping Woman. I do not think that this one is anywhere near the truth. I just have a feeling.

This was directed by Aurora Martinez, whose credits stretch way back to 1989 as a director. His Bloody Tarot has been a movie I’ve been hunting for some time. But after this, I’m not so sure.

You can watch this on Tubi or on YouTube.

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale goes back to the beginning, with Daniel Craig playing a rougher and more brusque Bond at the start of his career As for the story, Eon Productions won the rights in 1999 after Sony Pictures Entertainment exchanged them for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s rights to Spider-Man.

How odd that 40 years into Bond, it is he — and not a woman — rising nearly nude from the sea? I still think of Craig as the new Bond, despite him owning the role for nearly 14 years.

In this film, we meet the new Bond, watch as he gains 00 status and then falls for — and loses — Vesper Lynn (Eva Green) as he is on the trail of Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker to the world’s terrorists.

Bond even goes as far to quit MI6 over love in this movie and pays the price. At the end, he finally says his catchphrase, “The name’s Bond. James Bond,” before coldly dispatching of a villain.

Between the parkour scene and the emphasis on violence over gadgetry, this was a new Bond that was more Jason Bourne than Roger Moore. For a fanbase that was violently opposed to Craig as their hero, things have settled down over time.

This is the first time that the theme of a Bond movie — Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” — didn’t appear on the soundtrack. It’s also the only Bond film other than Live and Let Die where Q doesn’t appear.

One Missed Call: Final (2006)

The third installment of the Japanese horror franchise was written by franchise creator Yasushi Akimoto and directed by Manabu Asou.

A high school student named PAM has been bullied so much that she hangs herself, but is saved and survives in a mental hospital while in a coma. Asuka Matsuda, her bullied friend, takes revenge by exposing their class to the cell phone curse as they travel on a field trip to Busan, South Korea. As each of the bullies gets a death text, they forward it on to try to escape the curse of Mimiko.

This version of the story moves past voice calls and into the world of texts and private messages, keeping the curse of Mimiko vibrant and real as technology and culture evolves.

Bullying is not an issue just in the U.S. This movie shows how it can cause people worldwide to not try to end their lives, but those of the people around them.

This film is available on the One Missed Call Trilogy release from Arrow Video. Not only does it have all three films in high-def 1080p, it also features plenty of extras for each film. This one includes a making of doc, behind the scenes footage, a short film The Love Story that ties in to this movie and a location tour with Mimiko.

DISCLAIMER: This set was sent to us by Arrow Video.

Box Office Failures Week: Southland Tales (2006)

Much like how I never got It Follows and worship Under the Silver Lake, Richard Kelly followed up Donnie Darko with the impenetrable Southland Tales, a movie seemingly designed to appeal to literally a handful of people.

How did this happen? Was no one saying no? And more importantly, where are the people obsessing over this movie?

As for me, I’m just as guilty. I’ve had the blu ray in my possession for nearly a decade and kept saying, “Well, I’ll get to it.”

On a cold Sunday morning at 5:45 AM — my favorite time to watch films — this mess of a movie blew my mind up real good.

Kelly wrote this movie before 9-11. Before he became someone Hollywood would throw money at. And after the attacks and the fame, he started revising it until it became not unlike the zeppelin that flies at the end of the film — sure, it gets airborne, but it’s awfully bloated. But dammit, I kind of love this ridiculous movie that feels like the 90’s never ended and has the audacity to include musical numbers and Jon Lovitz as a racist cop not played for laughs.

For his part, Kelly said that the movie was a “tapestry of ideas all related to some of the biggest issues that I think we’re facing right now …alternative fuel or the increasing obsession with celebrity and how celebrity now intertwines with politics.”

Man, I love when filmmakers go crazy. I love when they have multiple graphic novels to explain their messes of movies. And I love when ensemble casts get dragged into a shaggy dog of a film, trying to act their way out of something that at times makes no sense. Is that the point?

I mean — this movie somehow was influenced by Phillip K. Dick — characters outright say titles from his books in casual conversation — and Pulp FictionDr. Strangelove and the nuclear doom of Kiss Me Deadly. This is a place where Biblical verse walks hand in hand with song and dance set to the music of Moby and The Killers.

That said — the director’s cut has been referred to as “the ugliest mess I’ve ever seen” and “the biggest disaster since The Brown Bunny” and worst of all, “so bad it made me wonder if [Kelly] had ever met a human being.” And you know what? I want to see it. I want to see it with all my heart. Richard Roeper said that it was “two hours and twenty-four minutes of abstract crap.” I want all of it and more.

Oh yeah — those graphic novels. Southland Tales was initially planned to be a nine-part “interactive experience”, with the first six parts taking up a hundred pages in comic book form, with the movie as the last three parts of the story. And oh yeah — there was a website. Audiences can barely care about anything these days and here’s this movie demanding you do your homework.

Then again, this only played 63 theaters.

On July 4th, 2005, El Paso and Abilene were destroyed by nuclear attacks, which leads to America being under non-stop surveillance. While this is all going on, a company figures out how to make non-stop energy called Fluid Karma which is ripping holes through the fabric of space and time. And oh yeah — there’s a neo-Marxist terrorist plot involving the missing and amnesiac Boxer Santaros (The Rock, who was out of his depth when this was made but would be perfect now), a psychic porn star and singer named (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the twin Taverner brothers (yep, another Philip K. Dick reference; Sean William Scott plays them) and a screenplay that portends the future.

Somewhere in all of this is Mandy Moore as Boxer’s wife, Justin Timberlake narrating it all (he once said the movie was performance art and claimed to have no idea what it’s all about), Miranda Richardson as the nemesis behind it all, Bai Ling as Serpentine (she’s all film noir here), Wallace Shawn as the Baron who is trying to get the new energy out to the world (when he’s not watching commercials where trucks have sex), Nora Dunn as a terrorist and porn director, John Larroquette (!), Kevin Smith, Cheri Oteri, Amy Pohler, Curtis Armstrong (!), Christopher Lambert (!), Zelda Rubinstein, Will Sasso (of all people!) and a cut for time Janeane Garofalo.

This is a movie that desperately and hopelessly wants to be about something for someone. Let me be that someone. And let me have so many questions, like why do the police cars have the Caligula quote “Let them hate so long as they fear” on them? Why have Jane’s Addiction lyrics come out of a character’s mouth? Why cut the scene where Boxer gets blasted back in time to the 1920’s? Why does Boxer have the same name in his prophetic movie — Jericho Caine — as Arnold in End of Days? What if Rick Moranis had really been in this?

Please watch this movie so I am not alone in my mania for it. Because man — I feel like I might watch this non-stop for a few weeks. Or months. Or years.

Dark Ride (2006)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Craig Edwards is an award-winning blogger as well as a self-proclaimed Media Guy and a consumer of pop culture for a lot of years. He also writes a great blog called Let’s Get Out of Here!

We start out in 1989 New Jersey, watching as twin sisters take a trip through a “Dark Ride” – aka an amusement part attraction where you ride a roller coaster-like train through a dark and spooky environment – and not to shock you – but they don’t finish the ride and go for cotton candy. No, instead they get killed by a hulking goon who is promptly arrested, charged with the murders of the fourteen bodies found scattered about the place, and taken off to the booby hatch. This Dark Ride goes truly dark. Someteen years later, a group of five college students and one unstable but easy on the eyes female hitchhiker decides to take a trip to the amusement park, reopening after all those years. And wouldn’t you just know it? The psycho escapes from the asylum and heads right back to where it all began – the same Dark Ride the kids have decided to break into and party in. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

Dark Ride ends up a meh misfire of a movie. The ingredients are sorta there – you have a mostly unknown but  adequate cast, with Sigler proving an adequate lead for what she’s asked to do here; you have a big creepy killer; you have a smidge of nudity; and you have some fairly gruesome and gory kills, including two that are undeniably awesome in their graphic nastiness. But there are some pretty big problems, and to mention them I’m going to need to whip out The Sword of Spoiler! First off: big ol’ killer Jonah. He’s deformed and wears a babyface mask for the bulk of the movie. We hear about his disfigurement a few times. But when he’s maskless for a brief interval in the middle of the movie — in admittedly poor lighting conditions — his face seems mostly okay. And then, come the end of the movie – they “forget” to show us what’s under that mask — not even a Final Jump reveal. WTH?

And, while we’re on the subject of our Psycho du Jour – it turns out ol’ killer Jonah is really just a big kid with the mind of a child in the body of the Hulk. My co-watchers and I had a discussion about this during the movie – what’s scarier? A big dumb guy who doesn’t realize what he’s doing but wants to recreate the gory scenes of the Dark Ride he lives in using your body? Or a confident and intelligent nutjob who wants to kill you because 1. he likes it. 2. he wants to. and 3. because he can? Well, having seen this movie — I have to go with the latter — the sick fear of knowing someone is working hard to get you into position to slaughter you – creeeeeppppyyyy! Wandering into a place and having a big goon grab you and mindlessly mash you into hamburger – well, don’t get me wrong – it still seems like it would make for a lousy afternoon – but it’s not really as scary.

Oh, and another problem with the movie – it’s slow enough that my co-watchers and I could have the above discussion about the movie during the movie and not feel like we were missing the movie. Yep, some big slow patches in that middle section lead to wandering attentions and offscreen anecdotes a flyin’. The filmmakers take no care to clue us in on the layout of the Dark Ride, so in the later reels there’s no sense of where anyone is at any time, and the place seems as big as a small town, which adds nothing to the suspense bank at all. There are also weird stylized directorial touches by Singer that bring nothing to the table, like the sped-up patty cake game in the van, and Sigler being front and center while the background spins around her twice. Dial it back there, Hitchcock Junior! And the script has problems as well – giving us characters who are mostly at best unlikable and sometimes really annoying, and plot holes – I thought I heard something about a trip from California to New Orleans — by way of New Jersey? Worst navigation ever! Finally, and this is a big one — there’s a big twist near the end — turns out one of the college kids had a secret agenda all along. Well, okay, during the final minutes of the movie I’m not going to say I was surprised, but I went with it. But now, having thought about it – this character was working overtime to get everyone into that funhouse – but the subplot of Jonah’s escape plainly shows it to be a random bad luck thing involving a stupid choice on the part of his guards. And not in a “planning to escape first chance I get ah here it is now” kind of way either. You got Jonah sitting in catatonia in a room, followed by the guards blatantly breaking one of the cardinal food rules of his incarceration — yes, much like a Gremlin — followed by this event winding Jonah back up to his old murderous ways and putting him on the path to walking out and heading back to the Dark Ride. What incredible luck; that happening right on the same night when the plotter in the amusement park just happened to get several new victims lined up inside the joint. That’s a key point of storytelling that these filmmakers totally tried to gloss over. And I’m calling them on it. Shenanigans indeed.

So, in the end, this one might be worth a look for desperate slasher junkies in need of a fix, but they could save a lot of time and check out a death scenes compilation on YouTube. Everyone else? Your tickets to the Dark Ride are revoked. You can thank me later.