You Have to See This! Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

“She’s empowering herself… with cock.” – Leslie Vernon

Scott Glosserman’s horror masterpiece is a beautiful examination of the slasher sub-genre and its once simplistic genre elements takes a story, and provides a whole new twist to the axe wielding maniac. In the process, it presents us with dark humor that’s actually funny, great performances, and debuts from actors you’ll want to see more often after this. The humor in “Behind the Mask” is never smug of self-aware, and the movie never once breaks the fourth wall by making audiences aware that yes, they are watching a slasher film. Director Scott Glosserman breaks down the elements of the sub-genre forcing audiences to take a second look at the whole concept of the slasher film and the axe wielding maniac.

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You Have to See This! Terror Tract (2000)

Lance W. Dreesen and Clint Hutchison’s horror anthology is a movie that’s managed to slip under the radar and remain fairly obscure. Even in the age where old titles are being revived for physical releases, and even in the age of the anthology renaissance, not too many people talk about “Terror Tract.” It’s a shame, since the 2000 horror film is a bold mix of terror, dark comedy, and zany violence that make it feel like an EC Comic that is slowly losing its sanity as it unfolds. You wouldn’t think that the late John Ritter could have been a great person to lead such a stellar horror anthology, but he’s top notch in a film that’s so unfairly overlooked.

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You Have to See This! Rad (1986)

Although I was born in ’83, I’m old enough to remember when BMX bikes of all kinds were the biggest thing in pop culture. I also recall them inevitably seeping their way in to television and movies. I’m old enough to recall my cousins bickering about BMX Bikes, (and girls, and video games) so much so that Hollywood inevitably made a few movies to capitalize on the popularity. Along with “BMX Bandits,” 1986’s “Rad” is a bland and utterly silly attempt to grab some money out of one of the biggest eighties crazes of the decade.

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You Have to See This! Showgirls (1995)

The nineties had a weird trend where studios took classic films and attempted to rework them in to contemporary trash films. Pamela Anderson starred in a “Casablanca” remake with “Barb Wire,” Vanilla Ice tried for his own “Rebel Without a Cause” remake with “Cool as Ice,” and oddly enough Paul Verhoeven aims for a remake of “All About Eve” with the cult Joe Esterhas anomaly known as “Showgirls.” Simultaneously lambasted and praised for being so unabashedly stupid and sleazy, Verhoeven attempts to hide a narrative better suited Skinemax than world wide release in theaters beneath thin art house veneers that fool no one.

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You Have to See This! The Vast of Night (2020)

With the accessibility of independent filmmaking, often times filmmakers have chosen to pay homage to the Grindhouse era, and with often varying results. It’s not too often we can sit down to watch a genuinely scary film that pays tribute to the atomic age and the classic anthology series from the golden age of television. Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night” is absolute accomplishment. It’s a movie I reviewed during Slamdance 2019 and have yet to quit talking about or boasting about since it was scooped up by Amazon Video. It’s a cinematic gem filled with horror, mystery, science fiction, and pure suspense that will hook audiences the moment the film begins.

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You Have To See This! Masters of the Universe (1987)

I was a hardcore He-Man fan when I was a child. He’s pretty much the precursor to my obsession with Superman and for many years fueled my love for fantasy and action. My love for He-Man is long and storied, especially with how he helped me appreciate the fantasy genre, and I look forward to a time where he can come back and enthrall a new generation of fans. It seems like the time for a He-Mannaisance is rapidly approaching, thankfully, and I couldn’t help but think back to “Masters of the Universe.” In 1987 studios were still searching far and wide for their own “Star Wars” that would allow them to pump out action figures and all kinds of merchandise for young fans.

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You Have to See This! The Last Halloween (1991)

I’d say the best marketing The Last Halloween ever had was on a bag of Reese’s Pieces during the Halloween of 1991. I can still remember my mom buying the big bag of Reese’s Pieces and on the lower left hand corner there was the ad for the CBS special premiering that month with the “Mission to MARS” mascots front and center. It was a fine Halloween, with a great special that ran once on CBS and before disappearing into obscurity. Serving as a promotional film for the candy company MARS Company, “The Last Halloween” was a half hour movie about a small town named Crystal Lake with an economy reliant on their massive candy factory.

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You Have to See This! Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

When I was a kid, “Hello Mary Lou” was one of my all time favorite horror movies. It was a sequel to a film I didn’t see until many years later, and it was always presented in edited, cut for time versions on Channel 11 WPIX in New York, but I sure as hell loved it. It was just a wacky, occasionally creepy movie that was so much crazier than I originally thought it was. The only theme that “Prom Night II” has in common with the original slasher movie is the overtone of revenge from days past. That is about as far as it goes, as “Prom Night II” takes a massive departure from the original premise involving an axe murderer out for revenge stalking high schoolers leading in to a disco centric prom with Jamie Lee Curtis front and center.

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