Sunday, October 31, 2010

Critic Vs. Critic: Rob Zombie's Halloween I & II (2007 & 2009) [2/2]

Since the start of, we’ve pride ourselves with the notion that we present to our readers with critiques built on high standards and quality writing, presenting only honesty and an unbiased moral high ground, though because we allow vast freedom of speech among our writers, there’s always going to be a spin zone due to difference of opinions, and from time to time one or more critics here will voice their opinion in a completely different direction of the others. So in the sprite of outspoken voices we at TCWreviews would like to present a new exciting edition of Critic Vs. Critic!

Tonight TCWreviews’ Editor in Chief and Chief film critic Clifford Kiyabu sits down with fellow film critic, columnist and colleague Kelsey Zukowski. In this edition of Critic Vs. Critic: we talk about Dimension Films successful remake Halloween (2007) and it’s not so well received sequel Halloween II (2009) written and directed by Rob Zombie.

Kelsey: The sequel was messy, but I love it, flaws included. It just had so much guts and I respect the hell out of the film and Rob Zombie for going in such a bold direction. He gives us a completely new identity to Michael Myers. I understand fans being pissed about this and not accepting it. To enjoy this movie you have to let the mysterious, silent Michael Myers go. Halloween 2 is all about unmasking Michael. It is a re-imagining and just one possible theory of what a maniacal murderer like Michael Myers might have bottled up inside of him. Myers has always shown a cold blooded hatred for his family, but it’s interesting how his outlook on family is presented here. Perhaps he didn’t hate his entire family. Here family actually appears to be a value of his, something he fights and strives to have close to him. They give him his identity and without Laurie, there is still piece to the puzzle missing. That night was about eliminating the poison that constantly tormented both him and his mother.

As far as Laurie goes, I would argue she wasn’t the good girl next-door type that she was in the original series. In Rob Zombie’s Halloween Laurie was much more sassy and audacious. There is a transition between the first and the second movie with Laurie though. It is a change I welcome though. In case you didn’t know anti-social rocker chicks are cool. Seriously though, don’t you think she would change after what she had been through? There are darker tones within her and she hits a rebellious streak, she really has to if she is to have any hope of keeping any sanity in tact.

We are in agreement on Loomis though. His character is one of the better hero characters in slasher history. In the remake they stayed pretty true to the character. I hated him here, a sellout who was just out for a quick buck. That is not even Rob Zombie’s Loomis and I’m not quite sure why he made that change. Loomis was always desperate to protect the world from the monster he witnessed evolve over the years. There have never been ulterior motives.

I agree that the opening rocked, but I’m glad it was just an introduction and the whole film wasn’t set at the hospital. You have to remember this is not a remake of Halloween 2, it’s a sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween. As we’ve discussed there’s a big difference between the two. The fact that Zombie used this to pay homage to the original Halloween 2 was very cool. It had a surreal vibe to it so the dream sequence worked out fine, while still branching away and being its own film. It might have had a lot going on, but I just feel like there was no holding back or rehashing of previous films in this one. It was completely it’s own creation and a surge of exhilaration.

Clifford: Oh don’t get me wrong Kel, I respect Zombie for wanting to “go there” in terms of taking a big risk, I mean you’d have to have a pretty big set of cojones to even think about going the rout Zombie went with the sequel and yet he did [Laughs] thing is I don’t mind having filmmakers change things up for the icons we all know and love every once in a while. However my dislike to what RZ did with the sequel was that it didn’t feel like a Halloween movie at all, it felt like I was watching the sequel to The Devil’s Rejects instead, and though Devils Rejects is one of Zombie’s better films, a Halloween film it is not. There are certain aspects of a horror icon that needs to be addressed and respected above all things, and what defined Michael Myers was 1; His mask which concealed the true face of evil from the world much like the hockey mask did for Jason Voorhees, and just like the Jason‘s hockey mask, Michael‘s ghostly white mask is what makes him stand out so notably to the majority of moviegoers and 2; His deadly ability to remain stealthy and imaginatively clever in any situation. Without any of these attributes he would be just another hulking juggernaut rampaging through obstacles pointlessly like any other carbine copy slasher.

As for Laurie, I can see your point of view with the development of the character and how she went down a spiraling path of self-destruction after surviving the eye of the storm that was Michael’s killing spree. And yes I agree, rocker chicks are cool and very likeable, but Laurie was not. She was neither likeable nor cool. In the first film I wanted her to survive and prevail the nightmarish horror Michael put before her, but I wanted the complete opposite for her in the sequel, all I wanted for her character to do in part 2 was to bite the big one because I could not for the life of me like any fiber of her being, and believe me I tried real hard to understand the pain she was going through but no matter how you look at it she was just a very unlikable person in the sequel.

All and all, with a few tweaks to the plot this film would have been a fantastic idea for stand alone horror film that was not attached to the Halloween series. But Rob Zombie still gets kudos from me for effort, though it was a horrible film in my opinion, at least he tried to make a worthy sequel to his 2007 blockbuster remake. Do I blame her for this disastrous sequel? No, I blame the studio execs who relentlessly approached him to do it even though he admitted he didn’t have it in him to do another Halloween film. Had they listen to his honesty maybe we would have ended up with a moderate sequel instead of this underwhelming attempt. My rating for both films are: Halloween (2007) 8/10, Halloween II (2009) 5/10.

Kelsey: I can see where you're coming from, because it's a whole different animal from the original series. That was too big of an issue for some, but I was able to really enjoy the new series. This is actually kind of reminding me of our debate on the Nightmare remake where you were arguing that this was the new Freddy/Nightmare franchise and it was something separate from the original. Personally, I think this was the far better revamping and something that I can not only accept but admire as the Michael Myers of today. Even if you don't agree perhaps put in those terms you will see the merit I think it holds.

We are just going to have to disagree on Laurie. I think she is more likeable in the sequel than the original, where I cared less if she was killed. Sometimes you just don’t like certain characters and there’s no reason why you should care about what happens to them. I can see the entire film falling apart in this case.

I don’t think it’s that Halloween 2 was like another Devil’s Rejects, it just incorporated the style that Rob Zombie has become accustomed to. There were a few things that did seem excessive. I usually have no aversion to swearing in films, but especially in that beginning death it seemed way over the top and forced. I also did have a bit of an issue with the hulking brute Michael Myers. I like the new philosophy, story, and mindset of Michael Myers, but not the form and technique. Michael Myers was never a monster in size, always in mind. The technique of the kills are really animalistic and lingering. Myers always had a swift, emotionless form to his killing, as if it was effortless. This only made him seem like more of an immortal monster. Here it almost looks like he is trying too hard. It really shouldn’t look like work.

I will give you that some of the mother/young Michael/horse psychological elements do get a little confused amongst some of the other themes. I still appreciated that something so different was done with the film, making it exciting to watch and see where it would go next. These elements did add to the mental haunting that Laurie went through even if it was a little messy. I do honestly feel it took what the first film did, just scratching the surface, and took it to the next level.

And that concludes the Co-review of Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween (2007) and it’s sequel Halloween II (2009). While I loved most of the ideas the remake brought to the table, it’s sequel I did not, one thing we can mutually agree on is that whether we like it or not Zombie’s Halloween remake is a film for the next generation of horror moviegoers. Though I’ll happily stick with my classic 1978 original I’ll just have to accept the sobering fact that this disappointing sequel to a decent remake is here and by the looks of it, to stay. However I will gladly accept any idea future filmmakers will offer up to the table once more sequels are pumped out by the studio (and I‘m almost certain they will) Kelsey on the other hand greatly enjoy the sequel for the very things I disliked it, and while we have difference of opinion on the we both can mutually agree to disagree.

However despite what you’ve read here between us it’s still up to you, the reader, to decide if you agree or disagree with any of the opinions laid out here, and if you’re still not sure then by all means take the leap of faith and find out for yourself. I want to thanks Kelsey Zukowski for taking the time to sit down and have this little chit-chat about one of the most revolutionary film icons in horror cinema. We invite you to join Kelsey and I again as we debate it out like maniacs in the next edition of CRITIC VS. CRITIC! Coming Soon.


Pot Sweetening Edition to Live or Die Campaign Which Ends Halloween Midnight!

There’s less then 24 hrs left for the “Live or Die” Kickstarter Campaign! In addition to the prizes already given out to those who donate at certain levels, filmmaker Phil Calderone is adding one more additional prize to the first person who donates a $100 or more.

Additional Reward: The complete 8-DVD set of “8 Films To Die For, Year 2” for the first pledge at $100 or higher. This is on top of the rewards already offered at the $100+ level, making this a one-time unique reward.
Live or Die Kickstarter page

My favorite movie in this set is the horror/thriller “Tooth and Nail,” though most people like best “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” a remarkably well made, stylish movie (the “Groundhog Day” of horror films). “Borderland” too is chilling.

This is from my personal collection and it’s with some hesitation that I offer it, but priorities prevail. There is only one set available so I'm trying to find more premiums but only 4 days remain. Check the link above each day thru Sunday.
(If you'd like to donate anything as a premium reward please contact me ASAP!)

You’ve got respect the man for willing to depart from such a cool collection of horror films for a cause, and who deny that it’s pretty sweet deal seeing that you’ll get all the prizes someone normally would get at a $100 donation level and an additional prizes such as this and plus you’d totally be supporting the indie arts!

Critic Vs. Critic: Rob Zombie's Halloween I & II (2007 & 2009) [1/2]

Since the start of, we’ve pride ourselves with the notion that we present to our readers with critiques built on high standards and quality writing, presenting only honesty and an unbiased moral high ground, though because we allow vast freedom of speech among our writers, there’s always going to be a spin zone due to difference of opinions, and from time to time one or more critics here will voice their opinion in a completely different direction of the others. So in the sprite of outspoken voices we at TCWreviews present a new exciting edition of Critic Vs. Critic!

Tonight TCWreviews’ Editor in Chief and Chief film critic Clifford Kiyabu sits down with fellow film critic, columnist and colleague Kelsey Zukowski. In this edition of Critic Vs. Critic: we talk about Dimension Films successful remake Halloween (2007) and it’s not so well received sequel Halloween II (2009) written and directed by Rob Zombie.

Clifford: John Carpenter’s 1978 iconic classic slasher film, Halloween, set the tone for slasher films everywhere by simply masking it’s antagonist, an escapes psychiatric patient from Smith's Grove Sanitarium named Michael Myers, in nothing more then a mechanic’s jumpsuit and donning a pale white mask. With absolute silence fueling his undying determination, this little known killer known originally as “The Shape” would soon become a world renowned icon. Fast forward six sequels (not counting Halloween III: Season of the Witch for obvious reasons) and 30 plus years later, what we have is a household name built on the misery of Michael Myers’ victims. The franchise has easily had a highly successful run finically even though the series may not have been well received critically all the time and has had it‘s fair share of blockbuster stardom with a slew of top notch celebrities taking turns to face off and become the latest victim of Michael’s merciless mayhem. I’m normally against the idea of remakes because 99.9% of the time they’re not warranted nor necessary and are usually insults to that of the original material, however with that being said and despite a do over for the franchise not being desired by fans, the series ended on quite a low mark with Halloween: Resurrection (2002) as it‘s final note, which was not the franchise’s proudest moment I must say, it was time for a fresh kick start back to basics for the whole franchise.

Just like the majority I had no expectations what-so-ever for the remake since past remakes on such iconic figures had turned out to be utter failures and downright disastrous. However, to my surprise, Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake turned out to be a huge success, because it stuck close to the source material while at the same time expanding the back-story of Michael Myers and dared to ask; what fueled his murderous rampage? The remake provided a profound look into Michael’s early years at Smith's Grove and showed the chilling transformation of a misguided young boy turned monster which was greatly absent in the original, the remake even begs the question; are monsters created or born? Zombie’s Halloween left this opened to debate among viewers with a big question mark, because while some will say it was in part of Michael’s upbringing, others like myself, feel there was a darkness lurking about in him deep down inside and his time at Smith's Grove only further the advancement of this developing darkness. My only true beef with the remake is I did not like Zombie’s hulking take on Michael Myers which turned him from the sleek illusive silent, yet crafty killer to an unstoppable juggernaut.

Kelsey: The Halloween series really didn’t end on the best note with Halloween: Resurrection, even though I do enjoy it on a fun, cheesy note. “Trick or Treat Mother F***er!”. Perhaps this is one reason for remakes since most series don’t end on their best note otherwise they would keep on making sequels if they think there’s still potential with the series or even as long as people will keep on seeing the films. Still, I don’t think there’s any real question that the Halloween remake was not at all needed. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a classic that painted a mysterious and silent killer, clearly tormented and vicious. There are slashers that predate it, but Halloween was one of the most prolific that heavily inspired the entire sub-genre of horror. Of course there is no way a remake could be better and most likely would just take away from the original.

With Rob Zombie directing I actually did have some faith even though I still had my doubts as well. House of 1,000 Corpses might be flawed, but The Devil’s Rejects remains one of the best horror films in the past decade and really showed just what Zombie was capable of as a filmmaker. Also, just the fact that he is clearly a fan of the horror genre meant a lot considering half the time these remakes are made by people who couldn’t care less and just want to take short cuts to make a profit off of watered down material that was originally terrifying, intriguing, and iconic. RZ clearly was going to make an effort, whether it failed or not was the only question. Honestly, I can appreciate that enough, that it was an honest effort.

Personally, I really enjoyed and appreciated a lot of things about the movie even though I think it is a flawed film in the end. It’s really that creation of a monster that makes the film stand out. RZ shows us another side to Michael Myers. Bringing something new to the table is exactly what a remake should do, otherwise why bother remaking it? Zombie dives in to his past and brings a new light to how Michael Myers became such a brutal monster, leaving any sense of humanity far behind. I think it’s a mixture of being born a certain way and his surroundings and upbringing. He had a bad home life and was constantly picked on in school. It only makes sense that he needed an outlet to hurt those weaker then him. Of course, with murdering most of his family, revenge was a part of what set him off and led him on the path to becoming an instinctual serial killer. It was really the first half hour or so, showing this uprising that I found fascinating. Towards the end, it’s the same Michael Myers slashing we have seen a million times before. There is no real problem with this since it is a recreation not a sequel. Still, it almost felt like two different films and I just thought the first one offered a hell of a lot more.

Clifford: I concur with you wholeheartedly Kelsey, Zombie had something great going with the opening half hour of Halloween, he created a fascinating back story on Myers that I feel the original franchise did terribly on (Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers was a poor attempt at trying to make sense of why Michael did the things he did. Still though, it was fun watching), but the second half of the remake felt different, it was like watching two completely different films. First you have a deep meaningful look into the creation of a monster in a complete possible scenario, and in the hype of it’s own originality it became the same recycled storyline we‘ve all seen and live through before (not that it’s a bad thing).

However, though flawed, the remake turned out to be quite enjoyable and deserves to be noted as one of the better remakes in recent years, and unlike most films where the unrated, extended or directors cut usually prove to be superior to the inferior theatrical cut, the theatrical cut actually turned out to be more grounded and more coherent then it‘s Unrated companion. What I didn’t care for in the remake was the rape scene in the sanitarium because it felt out of place and was not needed and quite frankly there was no logic behind it. I mean seriously, what man is going to rape a girl in the presence of a violently insane man? (and built like a juggernaut I might add).

Now with that being said. It’s sequel was a total mess [Note: I viewed the Unrated Cut not the Theatrical Cut of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2]. Make no mistake, the opening scene at the hospital was outstanding, it paid homage to Rick Rosenthal and John Carpenter’s 1982 sequel. But then when it is revealed to be an extremely drawn out dream sequence, I thought less of it paying tribute and felt it was more like it being rudely insulting to the franchise and to all it’s loyal fans who built it up from nothing. There was too much going on in this film to fully understand half the things that was happening, RZ wanted fans to see the mysterious connection between Michael and his sister Laurie, okay I can dig that. But then he wanted to go further down the rabbit hole with going out of the norm and into insanity of Michael’s mind which I could appreciate as well, but then he wanted to explore the more human side of Michael we never saw before. That’s when things got both confusing and incoherent.

Zombie tried to do too many things at once which I feel canceled out everything that was going good for it. The story was incoherent, the characters where completely unlikable which is disappointing since I really cared for the well being of every characters in the first film. Laurie’s transformation from nice small town girl to anti-social rocker chick was a terrible idea. And Dr. Loomis had no place in the film, where he played a superior role in the remake’s plot he played little, if not no role at all aside from showing up in the sequel. Sheriff Lee Brackett was a complete waste of a good character. Ultimately it was seriously disappointing, RZ poured too much of his own film works into this movie (House of a 1000 Corpses kept coming to mind) that the film lost it’s identity in the process. I don’t blame Zombie with most of the fault however, he said it himself that he didn’t have it in him to do a sequel, but the studio pushed him into doing it. So kel, what’s your 2 cents on the sequel?


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comedy Web Series Addresses Life After Legalization

Since the start of marijuana prohibition (Also known as The Harrison Act of 1914 with the “Marijuana Tax Act” added to it in 1937) there’s been a ever growing support to have Marijuana legalized once more. While the subject of this mind altering drug is a heated debate from cost to cost of the United States, there‘s been a slew of points taken from both sides on the spectrum on this matter. While one side claims crime will drop as the government will cash in quite successfully in a market they’ve yet to tape into, another side see’s the legalization of Marijuana as a gateway to the legalization of more powerful, more deadlier drugs. Which ever side you’re with on this matter, one Web-series is attempting to show a much more humorous side to this subject that will have folks everywhere talking!

Burbank, CA – October 27, 2010 — DEAL WITH IT, a new comedy web series to be released in early October, focuses on the life of a marijuana dealer after weed is legalized. Written by Matt Giegerich and Chelsea Mize and directed by Daniel Doherty II, the series films throughout Los Angeles, and explores the impending changes of life after marijuana prohibition.

DEAL WITH IT follows Quincy the Dealer as he struggles to unload a huge crop of marijuana and pay back his debts in a post Prop 19 world. The series investigates Quincyʼs new life through an absurd comedic lens, as he fights to outwit a murderous loan shark and sell the rest of his stash.

“Marijuana enthusiasts and patients are excited about the possibility of legalization, and Prop 19 is an incredible development in the marijuana movement. But pot dealers will also be affected,” said Giegerich. “Weʼre excited to add to the discussion about legalization, and to bring comedy to an important issue.” Giegerich and Mize are co producing the series with Doherty and Jennifer Ferguson (the Assistant Director on the project). Doherty, a 2008 NYFA graduate, is directing a diverse cast of actors whose experiences range from musical theater to television and film.

DEAL WITH IT released its first episode in late October. New episodes are set to release each subsequent week. The series can be seen at as well as on Facebook on Youtube at “DealWithItSeries”.

The first two Episodes are currently online, so weather you agree with it or not it’s recommended to at least giving the show a chance.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Director Troy Duffy has built a rather massive worldwide fan-base around the cult classic, The Boondock Saints (1999), and fans eagerly anticipated it’s long awaited sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009).

Without giving fans a chance to catch their breath from the release of the long awaited sequel, a two-issue comic book series was then released as a companion to the movie with an extended graphic novel is now on it’s way with extra content not currently available offline. Before reading on, it is highly recommended that all fans and Boondock Betties say “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti” for the news in which they are about to receive.

As earlier reports circulating the web about a possible Boondock Saints game on it’s way were just brushed off as rumor, it is now official; A Boondock Saints Mobile Game will be blasting it’s way onto the Apple App Store for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad later this month [Oct. 28th].

Bringing the same explosive action and attitude that fueled the iconic, cult-classic movie, players will unleash the deadly skills of the brothers MacManus in this unique top-down shooter game, experiencing an exclusive Boondock Saints story created just for this game. Play as Connor or Murphy with special appearances from familiar faces from the movies while on a righteous mission of revenge. A wide range of weapons are at your disposal, including Molotov cocktails and stun grenades to take out determined foes. As you progress through the game, tattoos are placed on the brothers to mark completed missions. On the walls of the tattoo parlor are links to Facebook, Twitter and Open Feint where players can track achievements and communicate with friends. In addition, scenes from the films will be available on the iPad.
The Boondock Saints Mobile Game will be available in the Apple App Store on Oct. 28th for a limited time launch price of $1.99 (through Nov. 1st in celebration of All Saints Day. Thereafter, price will be $2.99.)
The game App complements the newly released Boondock Saints Official Soundboard featuring the greatest one-liners from the films.

With the holiday season just around the corner, the game would make the perfect little gift or treat to any Boondock saints fan or Boondock Betty out there and with the low set price of a few bucks, who could go wrong, right?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bread for Dough for New Web Series "Live Or Die"

We at TCWreviews has always pride ourselves for supporting the independent arts, especially when the those involved are truly passionate about their work. So when we got wind of filmmaker Phil Calderone’s ‘Live or Die’ project which consists of mutable shorts in which you, the viewer, will get to decide weather who lives and who dies in each episode in an online vote, we immediately jumped on board to spread the word for this ingenious idea that allows each and every viewer the chance to get involved in the content they are viewing. And if that’s not enough to put a smile on any horror fan’s face, Calderone is also a baker and as part of his campaign to raise money for the web series which he proclaims is a splice between "Blind Date" meets "Final Destination." He has created multiple ways to show his appreciation for each and every donation, ranging from a copy of the Manhater DVD, a Live or Die T-shirt, a producer’s credit, or a loaf of his famous unique home-made bread which is a part of his Bread for Dough campaign for those who donate a certain amount.

The Manhater movie is done and now it's time to let people know about it in a big way, beyond cast/crew/friends and even Facebook. The core idea is to expose audience to the Manhater web site via a series of comedy/horror shorts based on the Manhater theme. I'm talking shorts that are funny enough for people to spread around of their own accord, while inducing audience participation and building up our following.

The web series, six episodes, is entitled "Manhater Movie's Live or Die." Think "Blind Date" meets "Final Destination."

Each episode will be a self-standing sketch, an interaction between a man and woman, climaxing with the man doing something worthy of his demise. These will be distributed all across the internet (including sites such as Funny or Die) with the audience voting on the ending--thumbs up or down on the outcome.

Of course every episode will come with links to the Manhater movie site and store, already up and running:

The Kickstarter funds will be used in two ways:
1) purchase of a Canon T2i camera kit
2) production of six Live or Die web series episodes
Kickstarter Campaign Fun:
-Video Updates: Sunday PM, Monday, Wednesday, & Friday
-Coffee with Phil
-Bread for Dough (Friday)
-Decide Practice -- there will be voting!
and more to come.

whether you like the shorts they’ve already produced or not, one cannot deny that their Bread for Dough offer is a great idea and a unique incentive to get finical backing to further support a project, and their Live or Die campaign is not a bad idea either which allows you, the viewer, to get more involved in the process of movie making as well as letting you decide how you want the story unfold. If you’re interested in showing your support then you can do so by checking out the filmmaker’s Kickstart page and donate whatever you can.

And while you’re at it, you can visit the offical website or follow him on Twitter or befriend him on Facebook

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Critic Vs. Critic: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) [2/2]

Since the start of We’ve pride ourselves with the notion that we present to our readers with critiques built on high standards and quality writing, presenting only honesty and an unbiased moral high ground, though because we allow vast freedom of speech among our writers there’s always going to be a spin zone due to difference of opinions, and from time to time one or more critics here will voice their opinion in a completely different direction of the others. So in the sprite of outspoken voices we at TCWreviews would like to present what we hope will be the first of many editions of Citric Vs. Critic!

Tonight, TCWreviews’ Editor in Chief and Chief film critic Clifford Kiyabu will talk it out with fellow Critic, columnist and colleague Kelsey Zukowski. In this edition of Critic Vs. Critic we talk about Platinum Dunes remake A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) directed by Samuel Bayer.

Clifford: Well I guess we’re on the same page here as far as the look goes, we can mutually agree that they could have done a much much better job on his appearance. I understand that they wanted to go with a more realist take to the character’s appearance but by doing so they failed to see the true nature of Freddy, that there was more to his look then meets the eye, Freddy wasn’t just another burn victim and his appearance certainly wasn’t based on the fact that he died a horrific death such as burning. Though he did suffer a fiery death by the hands of the vengeance seeking parents whom wanted justice for the sickly demented things he had done to their children. A major part of his complexion in the dream world was based upon the evil that lurked within him, he could have easily morphed into a version of himself that resembled his pre-dream demon self but chose to remain the hellish version we all know and love because it resembled who he was deep down inside. I believe Showtime’s Dexter put it quite simpler, it was his own personal “Dark Passenger“. Freddy did the things he did because he was acting on the urges presented to him by his dark needs, and when he finally met his end in our realm he was reborn in the darkness that soon became his dominion

So yes I agree they botched Freddy’s look quite badly. however in spite of how bad his appearance turned out or how badly the film may have been, I seriously don‘t think it was in any way worst then Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. I don‘t care if Englund was in it, that movie was so dreadful I cannot for the life of me watch it without having the overwhelming feeling of wanting to hang myself with some dental floss! [Laughs]

And for a time being it was considered the final nail in the coffin for the franchise (Thank god for Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare!) so with that being said I know I’ll probably get a lot of negative feedback for saying this; but I firmly stand by my rating (7/10) because this new Elm street was a break from the traditional Freddy in terms of character in general which I believe will make them stand more apart from each other as time goes. The positive to look forward to out of all of this is that when a sequel is made, and I’m more then certain it will be made seeing that both Jackie Earle Haley and Rooney Mara have signed a three picture deal with Platinum Dunes to reprise their roles as Freddy and Nancy. Is that they’ll make up for their mistakes with this film in the next, and hopefully the sequel will be much better received by fans and critics alike for it, but as they say only time will tell. What say you Kel?

Kelsey: Beautifully put Clifford, you’re completely right. Freddy is far more than a burn victim. I think we all know that Freddy could never even really be a victim. He’s a dream master; eternally a villain, never a victim. There is no point in trying to make him look like a man when he is all monster. Any part of a man that once lay inside of him died when he was burned alive that night. He was evil before, but once he reached his death is when he truly embraced the darkness and let it devour his soul, making him an immortal being who feed off the fear of the children of Elm Street.

I actually have to disagree with you on Freddy’s Dead. I do think it’s the worst Freddy sequel, but it’s just so ridiculous and cheesy that you can still have a good time with it, even if you are laughing at it more than you are laughing with it. It’s all in good fun. The difference is the Nightmare remake took a serious tone and where comedy was attempted it failed miserably. It really seemed like they barely tried. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was a much more fitting ending and even Freddy vs. Jason was a better film.

The only things I can at all appreciate about this movie are the performances by Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara. I’ve been a fan of Gallner since his work on Veronica Mars. Even movies that aren’t the greatest (A Haunting in Connecticut), he still seems to bring a certain likeability out through his characters. He has great screen presence and it is easy to connect with his character here. He is really the only reason I could care about anything that was going on in the film. Personally, I love Heather Langenkamp in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, but I know there are plenty of people who think her performance was overacted. With Rooney Mara we get a more subtler approach, which might make Nancy and what she’s going through more believable. She is less direct and active than Heather’s Nancy, but along with Quentin is one of the only characters I cared about.

The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, might be different from the other Freddy films, but that doesn’t make it good. It took the original material of a darkly infused slasher classic and dumbed it down so much that nothing good was left. Most of the original material was took and thrown in to this film with making it look much worse when the potential was there to explore these intriguing themes and terrifying persona that is Freddy Kruger. Where it did branch out it felt very artificial and forced and wasn’t bold enough to really going in to the mindset of the maniacal Freddy Kruger. I highly doubt a sequel would show an improvement when there is nothing in the first as far as the material goes that is at all compelling, smart, or frightening. Obviously, what we got here is what we are stuck with and I cringe at the thought that the series will probably only go downhill from here (which is probably the only scary thing about this version of Freddy). Damn you ,Platinum Dunes, you have gone too far now.

Clifford: I’m a little shocked that you haven’t mentioned A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge in terms of worst in the franchise as it is widely known by fans as one of the most unsavory sequels in the series due to Freddy’s absence throughout most of the film (except for it’s ending) and for it‘s high overtones of homosexuality.

I however on the other hand actually liked it due to it’s standing out from the bunch and taking a very difference route from the other films and while some people didn‘t notice it, it‘s plot line actually set the stage for the future films (not to mention it‘s the only one in the bunch that Freddy shows his more serious side as well as letting you know he’s pissed off). The reason I cannot enjoy one bit of Freddy’s Dead is because there wasn’t anymore horror in the franchise at this point, it was just 90 plus minutes of Freddy throwing one liners around while killing a sad group of kids no one would give two S###’s about, simply put, the magic that made Freddy the iconic slasher we loved was gone, his essence was replaced with a carbine copy molded by the studio execs, heck even Englund knew it as he phoned in the performance, if it wasn‘t for New Nightmare to save the day I would have lost all faith in the franchise because New Nightmare returned Kruger back to his former glory as the notoriously devious boogieman that kept us laying awake at night, But here I go again going off topic.

The acting I thought was pretty decent compared to other horror remakes to come out recently, I mean let’s face it, My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night were just horrible, and I really like Jaime King and Brittany Snow, but their performance was just, terrible… so, so terrible. So when comparing it to films like that I have to say the cast of the Elm street remake did a pretty decant job. I thought Jackie Earle Haley did a fairly good job on his first attempt as Freddy, though I agree with you that there was so much potential that laid wasted here, but I don’t blame him for this, I blame the filmmakers. As for Katie Cassidy, I liked her performance a lot but once again it lacked in certain areas and I thought the amount of screen time given to her did more harm then good as it distracted viewers away from the true lead which was always Rooney Mara’s character Nancy, and while Rooney Mara was okay as Nancy I have to say I could not get into liking the character all that much, because I did not like the re-characterization of Nancy Thompson into Nancy Holbrook, the fact they turned her from being the bad ass heroin we all remembered loving into a depressed artsy EMO was very disappointing. For me Nancy is and always will be Heather Langenkamp. However, I am willing to give this new Nancy a chance if the character is given more depth in the sequel.

Kelsey: I actually don’t have the problems with Freddy’s Revenge that many fans of the series do. The homosexual overtones are definitely there and there are moments where it has a campy feel, but they are enjoyable all the same. I think the story works and it’s a way for the Nightmare to continue. I agree, that is helped turn the Elm Street movies in another direction.

The original is the best and is the perfect balance of sadistic comedy and chilling fear. Still, I love nearly every movie in the series for what it is. I wouldn’t go that far with Freddy’s Dead. It’s obviously of much lesser quality than any of the other films in the series and I recognize it as the worst film in the original franchise. The horror is overshadowed by the cheesy one liners. I like the films that take Freddy a little more seriously as a villain. However, one of the reasons why I always preferred him to Jason and Michael was his demented sense of humor and that he was just so in your face; it made him seem even more crazy. You really never know what he will do, but have no choice but to face whatever his psychotic mind thinks up. I love Freddy’s one liners even though I prefer them to be sprinkled in with escalating terror and mental mayhem. That’s not really the case with Freddy’s Dead, but I can still enjoy it as a cheesy Freddy film.

Hold on a second though, My Bloody Valentine is far better than this remake in nearly every way. I actually wasn’t the hugest fan of the original. Cool premise, but I just couldn’t care or take anything in it seriously. The obsession with the evils of dancing and Valentine’s Day celebrating was a little too much. What are we in, Footloose town? So when the remake came out in 3d no less I wasn’t all that interested. I was very pleasantly surprised. It is one of the few horror remakes I think is better than the original. I could easily care about all the characters and I thought all of the actors brought them out well. They actually depicted what was uprising in the town as something suspenseful and chilling.

Back in relation to the Nightmare remake, the acting was one of the only elements that I can say anything positive about at all. I already described the two performances I enjoyed. Katie Cassidy was just alright to me. She did what the role required, but nothing more. Kellan Lutz was at about the same quality. He showed fear and created a bit of an eerie aura around his character, still nothing particularly notable.

Aside from the atrocious writing, Jackie Earl Haley was probably the biggest disappointment of the film to me. I had really invested a lot of hope in him and I have seen him tackle a dark, demented character with such grace. He just didn’t bring that to the table here. I can deal with a new version of Freddy. I fully embrace Rob Zombie’s version of Michael Myers even though it is completely different from the mysterious masked man John Carpenter gave birth to. This Freddy Krueger is neither funny or scary, neither quick or suspenseful. Haley’s performance actually makes him seem slow and like he doesn’t have a quick witted cell in his body. Not to mention half of what he says doesn’t even make sense. This Freddy isn’t menacing or scary at all and it seems like most teenagers wouldn’t have a problem escaping from him without so much as breaking a sweat. Haley and Platinum Dunes collectively took what Freddy was and obliterated him. Haley will never be Freddy and this will never be a part of the true Elm Street series.

And that conclude the Co-review of Platinum Dunes re-imagining of A Nightmare on Elm Street Directed by Samuel Bayer. While I thought the film had it’s good points as well bad, my colleague did not care for it very much. However despite what you’ve read here between us it’s still up to you, the reader, to decide if you agree or disagree with any of the opinions laid out here, and if you’re still not sure then by all means take the leap of faith and find out for yourself. I want to thanks Kelsey Zukowski for taking the time to sit down and have this little chit-chat about one of the most talked about horror icons in cinema. We invite you to join Kelsey and I again as we debate it out like maniacs in the next edition of CRITIC VS. CRITIC! Coming Soon.


Critic Vs. Critic: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) [1/2]

Since the start of We’ve pride ourselves with the notion that we present to our readers with critiques built on high standards and quality writing, presenting only honesty and an unbiased moral high ground, though because we allow vast freedom of speech among our writers there’s always going to be a spin zone due to difference of opinions, and from time to time one or more critics here will voice their opinion in a completely different direction of the others. So in the sprite of outspoken voices we at TCWreviews would like to present what we hope will be the first of many editions of Critic Vs. Critic!

Tonight TCWreviews’ Editor in Chief and Chief film critic Clifford Kiyabu sits down with fellow film critic, columnist and colleague Kelsey Zukowski. In this edition of Critic Vs. Critic: we talk about Platinum Dunes remake A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) directed by Samuel Bayer.

Clifford: Much like most people who grew up watching horror films as a child I was a mega fan of the Elm Street franchise, while most kids were too afraid to watch then alone talk about these films. I was staying up late into the early morning hour watching horror icons like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Pinhead. So when Platinum Dunes started remaking everything I grew up with I felt like my childhood memories were being devoured right before my very eyes (with the exception of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)) and it certainly didn’t make things any better once the announced plans for an Elm Street remake was in the works. I immediately went on the fence about it because when push comes to shove you‘re only going to take so much before you start pushing back. However, shockingly enough it didn’t turn out as bad as I’d originally thought it would, because it, in my opinion, brought to the table what the filmmakers had promised, a completely new and fresh take on a franchise which kept to the same predictable themes for more then 25 years with little new marital to work with. So as much as it pains me to say it, a reboot was in it’s own right warranted and weather you liked it or not it’s here and to stay. So what do you think Kelsey?

Kelsey: The one thing I can agree with is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wasn’t bad for a remake. It’s actually one of the better ones we have gotten. It held on to that gritty, intense feeling of the first. Platinum Dunes horror remakes only went downhill from there though. It seems like they have progressively gotten worse with each film. The Hitcher was watchable, but only because it was so cheesy and over the top with scenes like somehow Sophia Bush’s character kicking and jumping through the air of a bolted up police van with a mini skirt and shot gun in hand. The cheese factor wasn’t just simply the ridiculousness of this, but how much things had changed from the simplicity of the original, largely underrated film. The Friday the 13th remake would have been an okay film if it wasn’t a Friday the 13th film, because in reality it wasn’t. There was nothing that defined it as such. It could have been any other killer and could have been any other film. It was simply a forced, confused rehashing and it felt like that.

Platinum Dunes reached an entirely different level of disgrace and shameless exploiting when it came to the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. When I first heard about it, of course I was skeptical; remakes alone will give me that reaction let alone one of my all time favorite film by my favorite director and a career defining performance by Robert Englund that gave birth to my favorite villain. I try to have an open mind though and I did with this remake. As it went along my confidence was dropping until it was announced that Jackie Earle Haley would be playing Freddy. Of course I was disappointed that Englund wouldn’t be reprising the role, but I had faith in Haley. He gave a tragic and dark portrayal of a child molester in Little Children, it seemed like he could bring out the twisted shades of a child murderer just as well even if it was a different version of Freddy. Unfortunately, his talents weren’t taken advantage of the version of Freddy we were left with was downright insulting.

Clifford: I couldn’t agree with you more with how Platinum Dunes have been on a one way trip downhill with the quality of their remakes, especially with The Hitcher which I thought was mildly okay seeing that they took a simple good old fashion Thriller and tried to blow it up in proportion which was highly unnecessary and unwarranted. Simple put, there was just way too much cheese being flung around for someone to enjoy it properly (which isn‘t to say I didn‘t enjoy some part of it though) and in my opinion it felt too much like 2001’s Joy Ride then anything else, but I will give it points for Sean Bean who I thought did a great job with his performance. As far as things went with the Friday The 13th remake. I disliked it a lot, much in agreement with you on this subject, I thought everything that was presented was quite enjoyable to some extent, except for the fact that Jason Voorhees was in it. I’m a huge fan of the Friday The 13th franchise, but what made the films so magical was the darkness that surrounded his origins, it was so alluring because it never started with him, though he sure did finish it. Witnessing his own mother’s brutal demise was what made him the killer we all know and love and watching this develop so carefully on the big screen was what made the original Friday so fantastic, I feel director Marcus Nispel failed the fans as well as the character when he decided to rush the entire origins of Jason in a 2 minute credit opening which is disappointing seeing that he directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. Now let’s get back on point before we end up dissecting Platinum Dunes in general. [Laughs]

Anyway I guess my point I’m getting at here is that I couldn’t agree with you more on the notion that Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger, and Wes Craven will always be it’s creator. But, and this is a big but, we have to face the ultimate facts here, Englund is our Freddy Krueger, he’s our generation’s Freddy just like Christopher Lee is the previous generation’s Count Dracula. We’ll always respect him for playing the original Count just as much we’ll always respect Englund as Krueger. But these are new waters we’re treading in, I mean gosh we’re at a point and time in history where something like Jersey Shore is considered Primetime Entertainment! So if something as WTF like that is passable in today’s day and age I firmly believe that Jackie Earle Haley has the chance at becoming the next generation’s Freddy, and keep in mind that while you’ll probably disagree with me here, it’s not us who’ll be the judge of this but the fans in time, remember when the original was first released in 1984, critics bashed the film, I even remember reading once that a columnist even criticized that it would be forgotten in time and yet the fans like you and me proved them wrong. So keeping that in mind I have to say what I like most about this re-imagining is that it went deeper into who Freddy was before he became the dream demon, and for once we finally get s straight forward answer on weather or not he was a child molester, I perfectly understood that is was always highly suggested in the original films, but there’s a vast difference between suggestion and straight forward acknowledgement, though I highly agree that the dialog was incredibly weak and the one-liners needed more work and the pasting got a little slow at times. So kel what are your thoughts on the re-design of Krueger’s appearance and his new glove?

Kelsey: You make a good point about the Friday remake, they really didn’t show Jason at all as the killer he was. He was a killer, that’s it. There was no real reflection on his motives or who he was and the lack of concentration on his mother took a great deal away. Jason stalks and kills teens for a certain sense of personal revenge for his death, but he has always been fueled by his mother; her actions and the mental and emotional power that she alone seemed to have over him. That being said you’re right, this is a discussion on the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, not Platinum Dunes descent in to ruining classic horror films.

As far as Freddy Krueger goes, it wasn’t just the fact that someone else was going to play Freddy. Of course it posed the question of whether anyone could possibly measure up to the staples that Englund had created. I honestly couldn’t think of one actor that would be an ideal choice, let alone someone that Platinum Dunes would actually go with. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised when Haley was the choice. Haley was not and never will be Freddy Krueger. Robert Englund would have been a part of this, but I can even understand them wanting to go in a different direction, a younger Freddy. The writing was not there, so any actor wouldn’t have been able to bring life to this psychological gripping monster out of nothing. My point about Englund was just that he created Freddy Krueger nearly as much as Wes Craven did. I am all for a new Freddy, but I refuse to believe that this version of him has any shred of Freddy Krueger in him.

As far as the look goes, I thought it was an atrocious change. He doesn’t look menacing at all. Even the basic shape of it seems so much a much lesser version without the intensity of the red burns that had become a part of Freddy’s face. I also really didn’t like how throughout most of it they almost tried to make Freddy a victim. Even in life Freddy Krueger has always been a villain; never a victim. Was there a downward spiral towards becoming the immortal monster that we know him as? Of course, but that really wasn’t what was depicted here as it should have been if they were going to go at all in to the past. The problem was this wasn’t a re-imagining. Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies are a re-imagining. He has created an entirely new Michael Myers and I embrace that new character and respect the hell out of Zombie to be so bold to go there and bring something new to the table. It’s not an issue of not being able to let go of the original character, I can easily do that, just not when it’s so watered down and stripped of its essence that it just becomes insulting.