The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Granted... It's laudable and applaudable that Tobe Hooper dared to create a sequel to his very own uber-cult-hit "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" more than 12 years later; a sequel that is not same ol' same ol', but actually radically different in terms of budget, tone and atmosphere, replacing realistic violence with wacky over-the-top comedy, adding the great Dennis Hopper as the lead.
Dafuq? Tobe Hooper shouldn't have directed this sequel. Plain and simple. Maybe Wes Craven, or Frank Henenlotter, or Kevin Tenney - but not Hooper. The movies he made prior to were box office bombs ("Lifeforce" and "Invaders from Mars"), so this was pretty much his last chance before the Three-Strikes-and-you're-out rule was about to kick in. Well, the movie was a financial disappointment and audiences didn't like it. The rule kicked in, Hooper fled to Television-and-direct-to-video land where he spent the rest of his days directing episodes for various TV series (mostly short-lived ones...) and utter crap like "The Mangler", "Crocodile" or "Night Terrors".
The movie gained some weird popularity over the last 10-15 years, but I'm very sure only because an armada of irredeemable nostalgics had enough of the Lionsgate-produced TCM remakes and prequels (which are acually lightyears better than TCM2!), as well as then-popular hillbilly/redneck/backwoods-flicks like "2001 Maniacs" or "Wrong Turn" gained a craving for similar rubbish among simpleton horror fans who claim that it is 'underrated' and 'misunderstood', that it was 'ahead of the curve' and 'has aged very well'. All crap. If there's one TCM movie that is really underrated, then it's "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III". It's a much, much better movie that completely ignores the 2nd part, and goes back to TCM's basic roots. Part 3 works - Part 2 doesn't.
To Quote... Timothy Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"TCM 2 isn't funny, in a particularly aggressive manner: the whole movie shrieks and whoops and plays for the seats behind the back seats with the biggest, zaniest humor that (...) money could buy (...), and at every step of the way it's powerfully unamusing, and when super-duper wackiness is unamusing, it feels like having nails driven into your ears. (...) TCM 2, rather oddly, doesn't even attempt to work as a horror film above and beyond the comedy - every last gore scene is played for a laugh - there is absolutely nothing to distract us from the sheer misery of watching oblivious clowns cracking awful jokes."
Better: You want hillbillies, sheer terror and wacky comedy, brutal kills and silly jokes? Then there's no way around Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses" (2003) and its sequel "The Devil's Rejects" (2005), the first one mostly focusing on fun and entertaining violence, the second one delivering darkness, terror and unsettling violence. A fantastic double feature that feels like you're watching "Eaten Alive" (1977) and "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974) back to back.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Granted... Sean S. Cunningham's very first horror film is an okay slasher with some nice music (Ki Ki Ki, Ma Ma Ma...) and a couple of cool kills, one helluva unforeseeable final twist and Kevin Bacon in one of his very first roles. No more, no less
Dafuq? It will forever be a big fucking mystery to me how this little low-budget flick could have ever become one of Horror's most popular franchises of all time, spawning 9 sequels, 1 remake and 1 spin-off! Admittably, continuing the Camp Crystal Lake-centered storyline by focusing on the killer's son "Jason" was an absolutely excellent idea, but this idea also led to a couple of sequels that are so much better than the first one...
Don't get me wrong, I think that "Friday the 13th" is definitely a solid flick, but... well, it is absolutely nothing special, and there's also absolutely nothing special about it, thanks to the mediocre pacing and direction, the poorly written script + an armada of annoying characters and wooden actors. If it wouldn't have been so successful, it would be remembered as just another post-"Halloween" early 80s slasher - and... hell, there are so many post-"Halloween" early 80s slashers that are so fucking much better, it makes "Friday the 13th"'s huge popularity appear really unfair and undeserved.
Nevermind the fact that certain hardcore-slasher-dou... fans still call it a "true 80s slasher classic" or "one of the best slashers of all time" which is simply ridiculous since it's actually not even a thoroughbred slasher, but more of a simple whodunit...
To Quote... Shaun Anderson, The Celluloid Highway
"Not a single aspect of Friday the 13th is original, yet the film is lauded as an important landmark in horror history. The only thing that was different about it, is that a major Hollywood studio (in this case Paramount) produced it. It was by no means the first slasher film, it wasn’t even the first ‘body count’ horror film, and even the ’shock’ ending is lifted from Carrie (1976) so what’s all the fuss about? This is no better or no worse than the myriad of slasher films that proliferated in the 1980’s, yet it is seen by many as being a cut above. The reason for this has never been explained to my satisfaction. I welcome anybody to explain to me the significance of this film."
Better: When it comes to the "Friday the 13th" franchise itself, most of the sequels are way more entertaining, IMO especially parts 2 (1981), 3 (1982), 4 (1984), 6 (1986), 7 (1988), 10 (2001) and the Elm Street crossover "Freddy Vs. Jason" (2003).
However, when it comes to the camping-slasher subgenre, there's absolutely no denying that classics like "The Burning" (1981), "Just Before Dawn" (1981) and "Sleepaway Camp" (1983) are far better, far more satisfying, especially in terms of suspense, atmosphere and gore. Even the not-that-well-known late-80s knock-off "Cheerleader Camp" (1988) is so much more rewatchable.
The Howling (1981)
Director: Joe Dante
Granted... The werewolf genre has always been one of horror's most inconsistent subgenres, with too many mediocre-to-awful entries against only 15-20 movies that are actually good. Joe Dante's third feature "The Howling" is one of those good entries, in hindsight one of Dante's most unique movies and one of very, very few werewolf flicks with a stunningly believable transformation scene.
Dafuq? I'm a fan of Joe Dante's work and I totally have nothing against "The Howling", but I never understood why it got, and still gets so much praise, let alone the fact that it spawned 7(!) sequels (most of them terrible). Even though it's a decently made movie with terrific special effects, it's actually really nothing outstanding. Compared to most of Dante's other movies, "The Howling" is surprisingly slow, too dreary, too dull, too uneventful. Most of the humor just didn't work for me, and its weird, inconsistent tone feels slightly all over the place... heck there's just not much going on. When the end credits start to roll, you wonder "What? That's it? That's 'The Howling'? Really?". Maybe Dante was just the wrong director for this... maybe the movie shouldn't have focused so strongly on the humor... or maybe it should have been a straight horror-comedy...? Oh, what the howl... er, hell do I know.
"The oddball storyline (...) takes far too long to get going and eventually places all the action within a bizarre woodland retreat. (...) That the film ultimately doesn't work is made all-the-more baffling by the presence of director Joe Dante, who's no stranger to this sort of thing (ie Gremlins).
(...) With its slow pace and lack of compelling characters, it's hard not to wonder just what it is about the movie that fans have latched onto."
Better: You want a badass 80s werewolf flick with hilarious humor, terrifyingly realistic special effects and super-cool action? No problem, just watch John Landis' "An American Werewolf in London" (1981), a wonderfully entertaining true werewolf classic that never gets old, and delivers everything you expect from quality lycanthrope cinema.
But if you really want a "Howling" flick instead, I recommend to check out the sixth part, "Howling VI: The Freaks" (1991), a bizarre yet highly interesting and immensely overlooked oddity with werewolves, vampires and circus freaks. Extremely recommended!
Halloween 2 (1981)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Granted... Even though a sequel to John Carpenter's Best Horror Movie of all Time a.k.a "Halloween" was totally unnecessary, I like the idea that the second part takes place right after the events in the original (incl. some bafflingly awesome continuity), that Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence reprised their roles, that Carpenter and Debra Hill returned to write the screenplay, and... well, that's it.
Dafuq? "Halloween 2" is an annoyingly boring movie. Everyone who disagrees with me... eh, what the hell? Why do you like it? There's hardly any suspense or tension, gone is Carpenter's gripping and breathtaking atmosphere, the chilling piano score was replaced with lousy synth jingle-jangle, and Michael Myers' fascinating I'd-like-to-play-with-my-victims-before-I-kill-them behavior was transformed into a retarded I-give-a-fuck-I-just-kill sorta method. Aside from some nasty kills, there's nothing that stands out, nothing that makes you go Wow. There's just nothing there.
It's not terrible. It has its moments, but compared to its predecessor, it's such an insanely weak disaster, it's embarrassing. As a stand-alone movie, it fails even more. Look all at the shitloads of slasher flicks that came out in 1981 ("The Burning", "My Bloody Valentine", "Happy Birthday To Me", "The Funhouse", "Final Exam", "The Prowler"...) - most of them are lightyears better than this. The one to blame is undoubtedly director Rick Rosenthal, a solid filmmaker when it comes to TV series and stuff, but quite a hack when it comes to horror films. Look at his silly Halloween-eightquel "Halloween: Resurrection", or his even sillier "The Birds" sequel. This guy is just not able to create ANY kind of tension or suspense. If only Carpenter would have directed it...
To Quote... Timothy Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"(...) the real reason that Halloween II sucks giant scrotums with quite such effortless flair is the dire, dire screenplay, with its flat logic and non-existent momentum and deeply ill-considered retconning. And just look at the screenwriters - John Carpenter and Debra Hill! Hey, you know what other movie they co-wrote? (...)
Halloween II commits a single narrative sin that does the worst thing any sequel can ever do: it retroactively taints the original and makes it less interesting. We hates it, we hates it forever."
When it comes to the Halloween-series, Part 4 "The Return of Michael Myers" (1988) and Part 7 "Halloween H20" (1998) are pretty much the only fully satisfying sequels (Is it coincidence that the only good Myers flicks were made in years that end with an 8...?)
But if you want an awesome slasher that takes place in a creepy hospital where a maniac killer with seemingly supernatural powers creates a massacre, check out "Cold Prey 2" (2008), the excellent sequel to Roar Uthaug's excellent "Cold Prey" (2006). It's no Carpenter, but with all its tension, eerieness and brutality, it puts "Halloween 2" completely to shame.