Child’s Play (Netflix Review)

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18 – 87mins – 1988


 

BATTERIES NOT INSERTED

“Hey, wanna play?!”

The Conjuring‘s breakout star Annabelle – who has since been granted not one but two origin stories, reviewed HERE and HERE – may have recently reawakened the public’s fear in perturbed porcelain playthings, but the first toy to terrorise audiences (and court controversy for allegedly invoking violence in children) was creator Don Mancini’s possessed Good Guys doll, who over a near 20-year period has headlined a further six supernatural serial-killing sequels.

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Happy Death Day (Cinema Review)

15 – 100mins – 2017


 

TOMORROW ALWAYS DIES

Openly acknowledging its similarity to a charming early-90s cult classic in a meta closing exchange in which protagonist Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) claims, rather unfathomably, to never have heard of the film nor star Bill Ghostbusters Murray (as if!), Happy Death Day is unabashedly Groundhog Day given a Scream-esque slasher reimagining.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 97mins – 1987


 

INTO THE FIRE

“Welcome to the snake pit!”

Both ANOES creator Wes Craven and breakout star Heather Langenkamp return to Elm Street after sitting out subtext-heavy, quick-fire follow-up Freddy’s Revenge (reviewed HERE). Like its immediate predecessor, Dream Warriors hits the ground running with a wealth of fiendishly fresh ideas and retrofitted backstory, contributing emphatically to dream-stalking child-killer Freddy Krueger’s (Robert Lake Placid vs Anaconda Englund) grizzly mythology.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 91mins – 1984


 

SLEEP DISORDER

“Everybody’s got to dream, young lady.”

Inexcusably falling into the ‘genre classic I’ve somehow never seen’ category, I remedied my unintentional aversion to Wes Craven’s Elm Street franchise by picking up the 5-disc Blu-ray boxset recently, which neatly includes all 7 original entries and only skips on the 2010 remake (which, shamefully, is the only one I had previously seen).

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Wish Upon (Cinema Review)

15 – 90mins – 2017


 

MY SOUL TO TAKE

I don’t know what the hell I’ve been doing for the past twenty summers, but it is now TWO DECADES since Ryan Phillippe played the teenage protagonist in late 90s slasher hit I Know What You Did Last Summer – and now, at 41 years old, he’s playing the father to a teenage daughter in a supernatural horror which very much feels like a purposeful hark back to those now retro genre hits, which spawned many a franchise (Scream, Final Destination, Urban Legend). Boy do I feel old!

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The Zero Boys (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 89mins – 1985


 

WEEKEND WARRIORS

“This is not a picnic!”

A team of teenage Rambo-wannabe war game champions, their girlfriends and Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) happen upon a lived-in but deserted farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and spontaneously decide to squat in the vacant space to spur on their sexy post-paintball celebrations, scarcely sparing a second thought for the absent owners, who are more than a little hacked off when they return…

“It’s not a game anymore!”

While the often snowy image on this recent Arrow Video 30th Anniversary remaster does almost as bad a job of disguising the age of the film print as the horrendous hairstyles, short shorts and cringeworthy political incorrectness (“faggots,” “raping Mother Nature,” “I’m crippled!”), cult director Nico Hired to Kill Mastorakis’ trashy action-horror is such a product of its time that the wear and tear (even on crisp blu-ray) actually aids the retro charm. If, indeed, you can label a film with torture and slaughter charming!

While the puffed up blurb on the back lauds The Zero Boys as “genre-bending”, I would go even further in christening it a treasure trove of trusty terror tropes. From yokel maniac stalkers chiefly shot in smoke-shrouded silhouette, to storm-stranded survivalists separated and strung up by their own stupidity, Mastorakis mashs it all into a relentless multitudinous scream-fest.

If The Evil Dead, Red Dawn and Last House on the Left were to have a threesome, this would be the ungainly bastard hybrid offspring. There is Zero originality or subtly in these Boys‘ stumbling struggle for survival against sadistic slashers, nevertheless, with its cocksure and outright ballsy 80’s attitude and smorgasboard of excess exploitation, this is still a riotous retro watch perfect for a Friday night beer and pizza marathon – laughable shoelace-scuppering silliness, dire-logue and all!

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars