A Resurrected Killer Doll vs. A Reconstructed Slasher Killer :: Saturday Horror Movies

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Saturday Horror Movies :: Curse of Chucky (2013) and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

The original theme for this Saturday Double Feature was going to be new chapters to horror franchises, but one of the films we chose to watch had a audio glitch so we switched out one for a movie that is somewhat meta in its take on the slasher killer trope, where all famous cinematic killers are real, and a new one is attempting to be born. In some ways, I suppose it fits into our original theme, after all.

Our first film is a rebooted tale about the notoriously iconic doll that we all know as Chucky. Killer dolls have always been a guaranteed “jump scare” trigger to me, ever since I was scared out of my wits as a child by the Zuni fetish doll of Trilogy of Terror, thus I have never seen any of the “Chucky/Child’s Play” franchise, so this was more of an introduction, than a new chapter.

The second film, as I previously mentioned, starts off as a documentary on slasher killer legends, and centers on a new one set to join the ranks of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. The film features some familiar actors from the horror genre, with Robert Englund (Freddy Kruger from The Nightmare On Elm Street franchise), Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina Barrons from the Poltergeist franchise) and Scott Wilson (recently as Hershel Greene in The Walking Dead Series).

Both films were great horror fun this week, so pop some popcorn (we have a few boxes of movie style left) and join us for a little taste of Curse of Chucky and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Please leave your thoughts in the comments, and let us know if you have seen the films, or go and see them after reading, and tell us what you thought. Also, please leaver your recommendations and requests to watch and review on upcoming Saturday Horror Movie nights – we are always looking for a few good scares around here!

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Curse of Chucky (2013)

A mysterious package containing an iconic doll from the late 80’s arrives at the door and no one questions it which starts off our tale of inevitable horror and has me wondering “has no one in a horror movie never seen a horror movie?” I mean, we all know that strange dolls or artifacts sent to you anonymously will always end up being evil, right? Well, not this Mother and daughter. The daughter, who is wheel chair bound, brings in the box that is addressed to her overbearing Mother (yet another horror trope that should signal danger ahead) and smiles, unconcerned, as she opens it. The Mother does not make it until the next day, and the mysterious gifted doll sits on a chair in the corner with a serenely innocent look, but we all know what is going on behind those dead doll eyes.

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The daughter Nica, played by the daughter of the iconic “voice of Chucky” (Fiona Dourif) welcomes in her estranged sister, her sisters husband and daughter and their stereotypical “hot blonde nanny“.

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The young girl, Nica’s niece, takes an instant liking to Chucky, and action that is more understandable of a reaction, we can assure ourselves that a little girl has most likely not seen any horror films, and it is a talking doll (though creepy, one has to admit). The niece, Alice, begins telling her Mother that Chucky has debunked God and warned her that they are all going to die. This is dismissed, of course, and the family persists in both drama and infidelity. The nanny is of course the other half of the cheating, but as a small twist, she is having the affair with the wife, Nica’s sister Barb.

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Horror strikes at night, it seems, and as the family tucks in to go to sleep we know that the doll will soon be waking up. Nica is the first to catch on when we get a more clear cut back story about Charles Lee Ray, and also a through line of connection to Nica’s family.

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The movie both pays homage to the original series, for instance when Nica cuts his head off Chucky’s and watches as it re-assembles itself, Chucky getting back up to attack again, and also in the final, pre-credit scenes between Alice and Chucky. The pre-credits also feature a guest star from the original franchise, Tiffany, who may be the key to the re-appearance of Chucky, and his soul-inhabitant, Charles Lee Ray.

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The return of the “Bride” (but stay tuned to the end of the credits for another franchise return)

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Oh, and killer dolls still give me “jump scares” (some things never change).

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Behind the Mask: The Rise Leslie Vernon (2006)

Imagine a world where movie psycho killers were real and were part of what took down the tourism and economy of the town’s they took place in. Now imagine that an up-and-coming news journalist (Taylor) decides to find herself the next Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger or Jason Voorhees and produce a documentary about him. And, what if this discovered psycho killer involved said journalist in the set-up of his next big slasher kill? If you were the journalist, would you try to stop it?

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Meet Leslie Vernon, he comes from a broken and violent home and is rumored to be dead. He has surrogate parents who are made up of a slasher killer and his “survivor girl” who he married. Leslie is set on being the next best killer, and his Daddy-of-choice (played by Scott Wilson) is convinced that the world needs evil in order for there to be good, so hey, psycho, slasher killers are necessary. For any horror movie fan, especially fans of the slasher franchises, this is the movie for you – it goes beyond homage into meta storytelling, and is one hell of a good time.

That said, all my co-horror movie fans out there, keep your eyes open for moments and mementos from past films. Here’s a few to look out for:

The first time Taylor interviews Eugene and his wife, a Lament Configuration puzzle box from Hellraiser can be seen sitting on a table.

Doc Halloran’s (Robert Englund’s) wardrobe (and beard) is nearly identical to that of Donald Pleasence’s character Doctor Loomis from the Halloween films.

When Leslie is applying his makeup while being interviewed about his target, the song playing in the background is the same as that heard at the end of The Shining, where Jack Torrence appears in the photo: ‘Midnight, The Stars and You,’ sung by Al Bowlly with the Ray Noble Orchestra, 1934.

When Leslie first takes Taylor and her crew to meet Eugene and his wife, the car parked in Eugene’s driveway is the same color, make and model as the car seen in The Evil Dead films.

(There is plenty more, so keep your eyes peeled and a notebook close at hand)

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Packed full of horror guest stars, it is Robert Englund’s turn as the “Ahab” (a Moby Dick reference to describe the Van Helsing trope of one who challenges the big bad beast). You can just tell that Englund loves being such a horror movie star, the joy impossible to ignore as he tries to save the new “survivor girl” and stop the media from making Leslie into something notorious.

Will Taylor get her story, or become Leslie’s story?

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I strive to not spoil any plots, but I will tell you that it is worth “staying through the credits” to see a set-up for a sequel (which is rumored to be called B4TM – Before the Mask), as well as hear a clever inclusion of Talking Heads’ song,  Psycho Killer.

Psycho Killer :: Talking Heads

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It is a great mask, isn’t it?

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