I dare say that not only is “Never Hike Alone” one of the best fan films ever made, but it’s easily the best “Friday the 13th” fan film ever made. A mixture of “127 Hours” and “Friday the 13th,” director and writer Vincente DiSanti provides a riveting small scale sequel to “Friday the 13th” where he offers up a brand new twist to the conventional tale featuring Jason Voorhees. It’s a shame we might never get an actual sequel to the series because with a small bit of polish, and twenty extra minutes of extrapolation on our main character, “Never Hike Alone” could pass in theaters as the sequel to the series that we’ve always wanted. I’d say it surely is the sequel that I’ve always wanted, as it focuses less on cannon fodder and T&A and spends a lot more time on build up and suspense.
It’s fitting that Shout Factory would release “Land of the Dead” right around the same time as 2004’s version of “Dawn of the Dead.” After almost twenty years in development hell, and with the title “Dead Reckoning,” Romero was able to finally complete his planned fourth part of his dead series thanks to the success of “Dawn.” Even Romero admitted that he owed a lot of his ability to make “Land” thanks to the evident success of “Dawn.” While “Land of the Dead” feels incomplete and under developed, I give Romero a huge pass mainly because he was given so much hell while filming the long awaited sequel. Not only did he have to scale down his story yet again like he did with “Day of the Dead,” but he couldn’t film in Pittsburgh which he always did with his zombie epics.
Remember that thing we learned about Samara from “The Ring” and “The Ring Two”? There’s a bit more of the story we didn’t learn about her and we have to sit through a hundred minutes to find it out. Why? All for the sake of a surprise ending that apes James Wan, but packs none of his usual flare. Like, you know… an actual surprise. Truthfully, I saw the surprise twist coming for “Rings” about twenty minutes in to the actual film, and while I appreciate wanting to reboot the series for a new generation that only knows what a VHS or VCR is through history books or novelty articles on Buzzfeed, “Rings” just isn’t a good movie.
After five years on the shelf constantly being rescheduled and postponed, “Amityville: the Awakening” is here and–makes apparent why it was postponed for so long. At ninety minutes, “The Awakening” feels like there are at least twenty minutes of good exposition missing. What we get is a pretty ineffective and monotonous horror film that feels very much like another run of the mill sequel in the oddly long running “Amityville” series. It has a lot of potential to really break out of the doldrums of being just another cash grab, and could have done some great things with its emphases on family, but every time it reaches out to become something different, it inevitably just pulls back again and seems intent on just making it to the end credits with no real effect.
The “Wes Craven Presents Dracula” series has been one of the kookiest and oddest trilogies ever conceived by a studio. Obviously the trilogy is just a hodgepodge of three vampire movies connected because Dracula. But it’s an eccentric trilogy when you take a step back. The first was a sleek action horror film with Dracula being the reincarnated Judas. The second is a goofy thriller about scientists trying to manipulate Dracula’s blood in to a healing medicine. The third is a romance with a martial arts fighting rogue priest who is trying to stop immigrants from becoming Dracula’s imported food.
Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” was about the materialism of Christmas, and how it’s the spirit that counts. “Halloween is Grinch Night” is about how you—uh—shouldn’t let… Grinches… ruin Halloween for you. And stuff…? Despite being written by Dr. Seuss, “Halloween is Grinch Night” is a weak prequel that doesn’t quite bind with the “Christmas” exploits of our angry green monster. For one, his dog Max leaves him in the final scene when he fails to hurt Whoville on “Grinch Night,” thus there’s not a lot of explanation when he’s back in the actual short film. Also, the animation compared to the original is so drastic, it’s distracting.
At only twenty four minutes I wouldn’t have minded more of Fred Flintstone adjusting to his new neighbors, but we get much more of the Frankenstone family down the road. One of the later additions to the Flintstones lore, the Frankenstones are an odd new family, but they’re at least funnier than The Great Gazoo. Surprised to learn that a new family is moving in to the neighborhood, Fred is horrified when the family is non-traditional monsters that are menacing, but very sweet, and neighborly. An obvious ode to “The Addams Family,” The Frankenstones seek to make friends with Fred and Wilma and Fred is flabbergasted at the way they live.
Hot woman unleashes genie, genie meets hot woman, genie comes between hot woman and her husband, husband and genie fight for the love of the hot woman. Isn’t that always how it goes? Same old story. “Wishmaster 4” is a noticeable departure in quality, to the point where it’s almost distracting. The prologue is filmed in what looks like an HD camcorder, there’s a gratuitous sex scene not two minutes in to the film, and this time the evil djinn makes his grand appearance by emerging from a closet, as opposed to the previous times where he required a wish to take on full anthropomorphic form. Completely giving up on scaring the audience, “Wishmaster 4” is now dark fantasy, with our djinn humanized for the sake of a goofy romance.