I have picked Jigsaw because he is unique among Horror villains. When outlining the blog i was unsure if Jigsaw was retro enough for reaction. However next year will see the first SAW movie featuring Jigsaw's first appearance (sort off) reach 10 years of age.
Now your possibly realizing this column thinking SAW is nothing but torture and in the large part you would be correct. There were moments in the film series where even this horror hardened analyst just COULDN'T WATCH. Not through fear but through pure disgust for the materiel on screen. The there are moments when these films are very clever indeed!
The premise of SAW is the Jigsaw killer. Jigsaw an alias of cancer sufferer John Kramer (played by Tobin Bell and yes that appears to be his real voice.) Kramer traps his victims in torturous situations in an attempt to make them appreciate their lives as a gift. Sounds inspirational right? It most certainly is NOT. The irony here as many a SAW franchise follower will tell you is that Jigsaw is not a serial killer. He claims to have never murdered anybody.
Those he traps always have the chance of escape.
I say chance. The chance usually lies in something horrendous. Perhaps scratching a key out of your own eye? nice.
Again I'm focusing too much on the torture, which is horrible stuff. The brilliance in Jigsaw is in the mind bending traps Kramer creates and in those investigating. It really is a film series of two halves. Sometimes the tracking and investigating of Jigsaw in sequels becomes as bigger part of the story as Kramer himself. Part of the reason Jigsaw did not outstay his welcome year upon year is because he is used sparingly and we lean just a little more about him in each film. As testament to this is that he was actually dead and seen in flashbacks in later films.
So Jigsaw deserves his place in our demons run for originality. Saw is the marmite horror series. It's intelligent but full of far too much gore!
So far our horror icon's have all had difficult upbringings. Myers killed his family Issac and the other child preachers had tragic back story’s and yep killed their family’s. The Leprechaun was a little guy locked in a box (ok not too tragic but still you get the trend here)
Samara Morgan is not a knife wielding maniac. Yet she invokes a lot of fear. In the Hollywood remake of the Ring Samara is at her best as a vengeful spirit. She traps her own memories onto a video tape. Once a person watched this tape she was free to haunt them. The haunting resulted in a lot of psychological horror and ultimately Samara could cause physical harm and death to her victim’s.
Samara's history is complex. Mostly the story plays on her innocence and morality. Samara's father is unknown. She is born to a woman named Evelyn. Samara somehow warns Evelyn that there is a “demon inside of her” and the only way to stop this demon is to kill her. Samara helpfully suggests drowning in the pond. Evelyn is caught in the act and placed in an asylum. Samara is put up for adoption.
She is adopted by Anna and Richard Morgan who try to isolate Samara by building an isolated bedroom. When Samara managed to drown Anna's horses using just the power of her mind Anna lost it and on a visit to a cabin in the woods (because we all go to these isolated cabin's in the woods) Anna pushed Samara into a well and trapped her there.
Now the morality issue. Was Samara a misunderstood gifted young girl? Or a demon hell bent on causing death and destruction.
The film teases the first option and as Rachel the heroine of the movie discovers more, you begin to feel sympathy for Samara's character.
Then she frees Samara's body from the well. A real feel good ending right? Samara gets a fair justified burial? Everyone wins. Until Rachel explains what she did to her slightly psychic son.
“Why would you do that.. She won't stop, she never stops”
We find that Samara is the Demon she has been portrayed all along. This is a rare case where the American remake brilliantly builds upon (and compliments) the Japanese original Ringu. We get the Hollywood polish and the great Japanese storytelling. Make no mistake about it Samara is a horror icon.
John Carpenters Halloween is often miss-credited as the first stalk and slash movie. But perhaps a lot of that is down to the films trend setting brilliance. The young girl (Jamie Lee Curtis) gets stalked by evil psycho killer Mike Myers (played by near on any of the stuntman). Of course evil Mike got his hands on plenty of victims just so as he could show the audience what he planned to do Curtis's Laurie character should he get his wicked way.
So we look at Mike Myers why should we be afraid. Mike killed his entire family (as you do) and was taken into psychiatric care. But I don't see Mike as a representation of mental illness as so many horror icons are. Mike is described best by a psychiatric doctor character in the film.
“I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.”
We're still not sure exactly what Mike Myers is. John Carpenter dismissed the film as a morality play, however the film seems to threaten violence against woman. At the same time it turns the victim into the hero.
I took Mike to be a bit of a “grim reaper” figure. All that sitting up and indestructible stuff, as well as having the devil's eyes. Some kind of embodiment of evil? Certainly he gives no reason for his violence. That's what is scary and keeps this late 70s movie at the top of the all time scare lists. There's something about not knowing a characters motives that is more frightening than a chilling back story.
You can't reason with Myers because he doesn't talk. He just represents nonsensical unprovoked violence and I think that is something we all fear
Have a great dayyyyy!!!
The entire set of Children of the Corn films were loosely based on one short story from Stephen King's The Night Shift book. So to say they stretched the concept a little far is probably a fair criticism. Again I haven't seen every film in this series. I have seen he initial film and one of the sequels where I was surprised to see a relatively unknown Naomi Watts.
So we look at our “big bad” and in these films it is always a child preacher. The most iconic of which was the first films Issac. Child preacher is scarey enough but he combined the image with the Undertaker's old hat (hey they were both 1980s which way round was that) to give him that true evil silhouette. Fair play kid! If your going to be a horror villain you do need a good silhouette.
Of course Issac was just a preacher for "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" which despite Josiah in the fourth film being teased I always took to mean the devil. Could be wrong there, but I am sure that is what is being implied.
So what fears does our mini taker clad Issac hope to provoke in the paying horror public. My best guess is the idea of children who are vulnerable being taken into a bad crowd. There is no doubt that things end badly for child followers of Issac (or whichever child preacher is the baddie in the version your watching). There is also that theme of rebellion. When children get to a certain age they tend to.. well, rebel don't they?
Or perhaps Issacs entire basis for fear is just that children can be creepy and this guy is exceptionally so? I thought this film was also highlighting Americas fear of the rural areas. (always seems to happen in a quite little town doesn’t it?)
As far as the verdict. Children of the Corn has not aged well. That said it is different enough to be worth a watch. It's certainly not your stereotypical mad man in a mask movie. Like many films on reviewed here on reaction this was a chilling film back in the day. I live in an area filled with cornfields so this to me was more of an applicable horror as "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" could well reside round the next corner.
With the privilege of time and watched through aging eyes the fear is gone and what remains is a great little story told in a dated but watchable movie.
Most horror villains have a back story. The Leprechaun's is woven into the fabric of fantasy. Irish folklore has these little green men that guard gold at the end of the rainbow. So naturally we have the basis for a horror character. The Leprechaun is played by Warwick Davis. The film itself is.. well probably what you would expect from a film with a murderous Leprechaun. Warwick does his best with the role making the little Leprechaun suitably creepy and in places humorous.
The first film also see's a young and relatively unknown Jennifer Aniston as the Leprechaun's intended victim. The film is worth a watch just to see Aniston do something that differs from the usual romcom stuff.
We see in the early part of the film that the Leprechaun has a weakness in a four leafed clover. The clover seems to work sort of like a crucifix for a demonic possession. He can also be locked up in a box and stored for years seemingly without food or water. (Well he is a mythological creature I guess)
You would be forgiven for thinking there was one Leprechaun movie. That it was one slightly humorous misfire in the Hollywood machine. Sadly you will be wrong. As is the case with many horror series there were sequels galore. Sequels that saw the Leprechaun head into space, turn to stone, find love among other things. I will be honest I haven't seen the sequels. There could be a gem among them. But the general consensus seems to be there isn't
On a re-watch the Leprechaun is fun nonsense. It is not the sort of Horror film that will set a new trend or change the genre of horror. It's probably not the type of horror film you will recall that well the day after for a blog *cough. But there is something pretty creepy about folklore. So for that reason it goes into Retro Reaction's demon’s run. Because he is that kind of horror character you forget about until seeing him on TV again and suddenly remembering, yeah I have seen that.
It provokes a retro reaction even if that reaction is not entirely good nostalgic.
And it probably isn't over just yet. WWE studios were threatening to reboot the series with Leprechaun Origin starring WWE's resident little man Hornswoggle. Recently things have gone very quite. Perhaps the Leprechaun is again resting, waiting to unleash himself on our TV screens again!
Retro Reaction are bringing out the old Horror VHS tapes and looking back at some of the very best monsters in Retro TV history. Welcome to Retro Reaction 11.0 the Demons run.
Whether it be the 70s, 80s 90's or 00s there was always a supernatural (or not) boogeyman to run away from. The video nasty you dare not watch, the films that inspired the monsters under our beds. Yeah we may have hid behind, oh that is not so scarey but really you wanted to crap yourself every time you entered Barry's video shop. No.. just me with Nightmare on Elm street?
Well we have covered NOES previously so no Freddy on this set.
No were looking at some of the other demons in that VHS attic.
11.1 The Leprechaun – You may believe that leprechaun's cant be scarey, you would most likely be right. But we look at a franchise that started in 1993 and featured big stars Warrick Davies and Jennifer Aniston
11.2 Issac Children of the Corn – This film introduced us to he who walks behind the Rows” way back in 1984. Based on a Stephen King short this film was, a little different.
11.3 Mike Myers Halloween – The movie that is largely credited with starting the slasher craze (debatable Black Christmas?) We look at Mike Myers
11.4 Samara The Ring – Much like Children of the Corn the evil doer is a child. Samara, seems disturbed but innocent right? Was her evil all her step parents doing? It would be nice if it was wouldn't it. She never stops!
11.5 Jigsaw Saw Series – Unsure if this guy is Retro or not. However the series has “ended” for now so we guess he is safe for reaction fodder. A mixture of god awful shock value torture and part well, kinda moral / detective drama. But did Jigsaw actually kill anybody?
11.6 Mysterious Killer – Scream – This was interesting. For those wrestling reader among you this was the smark horror film. Some argue this cemented NOES creator Wes Craven's legacy. The first time around I thought it was a step too far. But the best thing about Reaction is revisiting right?
So.What's your favorite scary movie?
We see a change now in advertising. The two main adverts featured on reaction this week are not selling a product. More a service, a price comparison service. I am of course talking about that annoying Go Compare man. He doesn't just invade your television but your radio and internet screens too. An obese opera singer who wants to shout at you to Go Compare. I do wonder if that works. I never thought of singing about the spaceman site in a high pitched voice. I think it would probably not get me any more readers. But may land me somewhere with soft white walls.
He is not the only one. You know the Meerkat for compare the market. He is angry about getting the names confused. The fact I can remember gocompare and compare the market .com's without the aid of a Google search tells me these two annoyances are doing something right.
There is an interesting advert, still modern(ish) for phone company phones for you. It's an odd advert as the first part focuses on a car. Here I thought this was just another of those new car adverts. The advert has given me that false seance of security. Then a ghostly, well monstrous little girl turns up trying to convey that this is a phones for you advert. The girl looks like something from a horror movie and her sudden appearance could scares someone watching adverts too closely. And that is exactly what happened with parental complaints. Complaints that horror has its place. But probably not at tea time..
That is the end of Retro Reaction's commercial break but the horror of that phones for you advert takes us into the next set of Reaction. We are heading back in time to look at some of the 70s, 80sand 90's horror icons. Retro reaction will be back next week with the demons run!
The Adverts and TV sometimes are separated by a very thin line. This week we look at some adverts that went to the movies, and the other way around
Remember the Home Alone movies. The ones where the kid sets traps for the burglars. Well Aviva insurance in the UK ran an advert campaign with the now grown Home alone star Macaulay Cullkin. Yeah I know! We haven’t seen him since home alone! The advert was a parody of the movies but a nice little reminder of their existence. If you don't know of these movies take a look back in Retro Reaction.
Next we have the crash test dummies. They were used on TV often for car manufacturers to brag about their latest saftey features. After all if the dummy got out alive you would right? These evil looking mannequins managed a spin of SNES and Gameboy game as well as their own television special The adventures on incredible crash test dummies
The discovery channel also regularly use these in the form of crash test Danny.
Mr Potato-head was a must have toy thanks in large to his advertising. This in turn lead to Disney including the toy in their huge Toy Story franchise. OK this one maybe cheating a little but it is partly down to successful advertising that Hasbro's character originally advertised in 1952 is still a favorite.
The final character on our list today started life as an advert and went on to be a movie franchise. Rowan Atkinson rarely touches a bad character. So when he embarked on a series of adverts for Barkleycard as Johnny English a James Bond style secret service spoof character a franchise was born. Though the character itself was a mix of bond, bumbling Mr Bean and the foot in mouth Edmond Blackadder These adverts have spawned two films and another character for this rubber faced comic genius!
- Retro Reaction #10.4 Yellow Pages and Mr Muscle
- Retro Reaction #10.3 – Epic Adverts Hovis through Time, CocaCola and the Chimps
- Retro Reaction #10.2 Mr Soft, Cadburys Gorilla and Eye Brows and the Milkeybars are on me!
- Retro Reaction #10.1 Ronald McDonald and Tangoed
- Retro Reaction #10.0 A Commercial Break
- Retro Reaction #9.6 Qbert
- Retro Reaction #9.5 The Mario Bros before they became Super
- Retro Reaction #9.4 Original Donkey Kong
- Retro Reaction #9.3 Pac Man – Outsmarting the little buggers
- Retro Reaction #9.2 Frogger - A dangerous virtual version of the green cross code