Posted in Other Media

Countdown to October: Movies 28–30

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Year: 1987
Runtime: 1h 36m
Rated: R

Director: Chuck Russell

Writers: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell

Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Craig Wasson

Initial: I was in the mood for 80s horror and ended up picking three sequels from 1987. As is not the case with the other two movies, I have seen parts 1 & 2 of this franchise.

Production Notes: Film debut of Patricia Arquette and featuring “Larry” Fishburne. Also Frank Darabont’s first writing credit.

What Did I Think:
One of the things I like about Nightmare on Elm Street films is that the “character having a weird dream” trope is entirely valid. Pretty much everything is fair game because anything can happen in dreams. About the only movie that does a similar premise, but does it much better, is Tarsem Signh’s The Cell (2000).

In some ways Dream Warriors is a retread of the original, but it has style and there has been a certain level of plot iteration. It’s a good sequel because it includes things that made the first one good, but also advances story forward, if just a little. Between Dream Warriors and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise spawned two very solid sequels. It’s a shame the 2010 remake/reboot didn’t try a little harder.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II

Year: 1987
Runtime: 1h 37m
Rated: R

Director: Bruce Pittman

Writers: Ron Oliver

Stars: Lisa Schrage, Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon

Initial: A recent Random Number Generator Horror Podcast No. 9 pick, which is partly how I ended up with a trio of 1987 sequels. I have not see the original.

Production Notes: The only connection Prom Night II has to Prom Night (1980) is the *name* of the high school. It’s not even the same high school.

What Did I Think:
What even *is* this movie? Hello Mary Lou is kind of a possession movie, but it doesn’t hit the beats of one. And it’s kind of a jilted woman, Γ  la Carrie (1976), but I’m not sure if we’re supposed to root for Mary Lou. Yet, the movie makes her too cool to believe that she’s completely the villain. It starts with the usual moral stance of deviance being punished, but never quite follows through on religion or moral uprightness being useful in the situation.

There are a few good horror set pieces, but also some extraneous ones. What is up with the full-sized carousel/rocking horse in Vicky’s room? Was a nude chase through a locker room really needed?

House II: The Second Story

Year: 1987
Runtime: 1h 28m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Ethan Wiley

Writers: Fred Dekker, Ethan Wiley

Stars: Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Royal Dano

Initial: Not sure if I’ve seen House (1986). This franchise has such iconic VHS box art.

Production Notes: Actually, it doesn’t matter if I’ve seen House because this movie is standalone, despite its Roman numerals.

What Did I Think:
This movie has a 9% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not going to claim it’s good, but it’s by far not the least entertaining movie I’ve seen in the past month.

House II could have just been this: the angry, undead, double-crossed partner of Jesse’s great-great-grandfather plays cat-and-mouse with Jesse for possession of a mystical crystal skull. But, no, the titular house of this film has doorways to other times and places and *everybody* wants the skull. A cave man? Sure. He crashes a Halloween party and steals the skull. Mayan warriors? Them too. Since chases through time might get tedious, the electrician who shows up to work on the house (nearly an hour into the movie) happens to be an “adventurer” who is ten times more competent than our protagonists. (I’m sad there wasn’t a “Bill, Electrician & Adventurer” TV spin-off.) All the while, Jesse is forming a found family of his annoying best friend, his zombie great-great-grandfather, a caterpuppy, and a pterodactyl chick.

The movie is as befuddling and ambitious as the character wigs are atrocious.