New Nightmare (1994)
Director: Wes Craven
Granted... An Elm Street movie that takes place in reality - it's one of the greatest and most intriguing, most thought-provoking ideas Wes Craven ever had. Krueger entering the real world, haunting actress Heather Langenkamp, Krueger-actor Robert Englund and Craven himself. Meta as fuck and original as hell!
Dafuq? I saw it a couple of times, and the more often I watch it/the older I get, the less does it work for me. Back in the 90s, I quite enjoyed it, but I wasn't in love with it. Nowadays, I'm rather bored by it. It's too slow, at times downright boring. There's hardly anything happening in the overlong and tedious first half. The movie focuses way too hard on Heather Langenkamp whose performance is mediocre at best. There's not enough Krueger in it, his new make-up looks just weird and his new nightmare world looks completely out of place. Worst of all: the damn kid who is just a pain in the ass. I might be wrong, but I'm 100% sure that Craven is to blame for all these misfires. He was just too much in love with the idea of creating a 'new nightmare', that eventually ended up 'too new'. IMO, the movie would have been so much more interesting if it would have focused on Krueger haunting Englund, maybe turning Englund into a child murderer, or using his body to come into the real world "Freddy's Revenge"-style. Why Craven passed on this will always be a huge conundrum for me.
Why is it so popular then? Maybe because it was directed by Craven? Maybe because people are just in love with the basic meta-idea? I have no idea. Well, at least, I realized that its reputation these days isn't as high as twenty years ago, and I also know a couple of peeps who, like me, enjoyed it at first, but don't enjoy it that much now. Still, IMO it totally gets way too much praise (Hi Kevin Sommerfield!).
To Quote... Evan Dickson, Bloody Disgusting
"I know a lot of people prefer New Nightmare over Scream, which is insane to me. The film has a bunch of interesting post-modern concepts, stuff that Scream would later improve upon (...), but the execution here is haphazard. The design of the "new" Freddy isn't remotely frightening or aesthetically pleasing and the film is too in love with its ideas to let them play out organically. Almost 20 years later, this film feels forced."
"Even the worst of the Nightmare movies were at the very least creative, and while New Nightmare is creative, it's a creativity that spits on the unfolding story of all that happened in the Nightmare films. Freddy first terrorizing Nancy in part one. The reveal that his mother was raped and impregnated, resulting in a "devil child." The fact that he has a daughter and killed his wife. All of this means nothing when New Nightmare comes along, all because of Wes Craven's inflated ego.
(...) Craven thought he was doing a favor for fans by bringing something drastically new to the table, and because he is who he is, people would be okay with it. Well, I'm calling bullshit. More times than not, the sequels did bring something new and they did it by keeping it contained in this fantastic imaginary world that six movies crafted, and one movie destroyed."
Better: You want a meta-movie with Robert Englund that takes place in the real world? A world where Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers exist for real? No problem, go watch "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" (2006), one of the best meta-horror-movies ever made, and also one of the best slasher-homage-parodies next to the "Scream" films.
American Mary (2012)
Directors: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Granted... At a time when David "God of Body Horror" Cronenberg was already long done with body horror and nearly no-one else dared to get into the bowels of the body horror subgenre, the Soska Sisters single-handedly revived it with this little flick and opened the doors for future filmmakers to explore the organic side of Horror.
Dafuq? A good idea quite badly executed by the god-awful Canadian Soska twin sisters, probably the most overhyped/overpraised/overrated filmmakers of the 21st century. Their only talents are to dress oh-so-sexy, to watch wrestling, to read comics, to hang around on social networks and to appear at every single horror-convention on this planet. That's it. Their fanbase is as horrible as Eli Roth's, their output is as sparse as Eli Roth's, and their movies... well, at least Roth's filmography is somewhat solid, while the Soska's filmography consists only of no-budget exploitation dreck and WWE-produced low-budget crap. Call me misogynistic, but I strongly assume that a great deal of their fans just love them because they're female filmmakers. Damn, I give a fuck if they're male, female, transgender etc. If they'd make good movies, I'd obviously love them too - but they don't, and that's why I hate them. There's a thread on Reddit where people explaining their love for the Soskas, claiming 'they worked their asses off on social media' - if that's what makes a filmmaker applaudable nowadays, then I'm outta here.
Admittably, "American Mary" is their most innovative effort and the only watchable movie they made so far, but it's still far, far from being what some of their fan-dorks call 'instant cult-classic' or 'first-rate shocker'. It starts out good, but ends up as fucking mess, thanks to massive pacing problems, implausible character U-turns and super-pointless scenes. It's neither good, nor bad, just okay; a good idea badly executed. I can see people like Cronenberg, Brian Yuzna, Clive Barker, Darren Lynn Bousman, Rob Zombie, maybe even someone like Lloyd Kaufman turning this into the badass shocker it should have been, but with someone as half-assed, pretentious and lazy as the Soskas, it was supposed to fail from the very beginning. Pity.
To Quote... Cassie Carnage, Cassie Carnage's House of Horror
"American Mary is a movie that started out with a good premise and ran with it for awhile at full steam, before it formed a debilitating cramp in its side and the plot suddenly, and rather abruptly, fell apart at the seams as it stopped to catch its breath.
For all of the recognition American Mary, and the Soska Sisters, received for being an important entry in modern horror, to me the movie just didn't earn its praise. This is mainly because it turned out to be just another slasher film with a lot of revenge porn in it, and that was very disappointing, because for all of it's potential, (it) really didn't live up to it's hype in the slightest."
Richard Haridy, Quickflix
"For the first hour, (it) has remarkable restraint and direction, but the last thirty minutes fragment the narrative into several tangential sub-plots that never coalesce. Story threads that barely registered suddenly become significant, whilst others that seemed important are thrown by the wayside. It's a frustrating experience that gives the impression the Soska sisters either didn't know where to take their story or just lost control of their vision."
Better: You want an indie horror flick with a weirdo-girl that wants to be a surgeon, as well as some serious body horror? Do yourself a favor, erase the words 'Soska' and 'Sisters' out of your life, and watch the amazing "Excision" (2012) right fucking now, a movie that manages to be surprisingly clever, highly amusing and super-shocking at the very same time.
Black Christmas (1974)
Director: Bob Clark
Granted... Back in the good old days when made-for-TV horror movies were still really good, director Bob Clark (a.k.a the guy with the weirdest filmography ever) created an original and quite inventive variation of the average Christmas-themed movie and laid the basic foundation for the entire American 80s slasher movement.
Dafuq? How his snorefest could have ever become one of the most most celebrated, if not THE most celebrated Christmas-themed horror film of all time will always be completely beyond me. Yes, the cast is lovely, and yes, there are some neatly made tension scenes, and yes, there are a bunch of elements which later became well-known standard slasher tropes - but christ(mas) goddammit, this movie is just a tedious and highly frustrating hodgepodge of too many characters and too many subplots; it's too slow and (even at a length of 'only' about 100 minutes) it's far too long, there's too much stuff that just doesn't make any sense and the non-ending is just craptacular. I saw it two times, and both times my reactions towards it were the same time: why? Tell me, people, please, tell me: why is this so popular? I read tons of positive reviews and discussions threads all over the web, but I still don't get what's oh-so-awesome about it. Clark was definitely a talented director, but looking at all the projects he chose to direct... well, IMO "Black Christmas" is about as uneven as his overall output.
People who claim that "Black Christmas" is scary/have scared them... well, they probably haven't seen many other scary horror flicks. People who claim that this is the best slasher ever made, are either nuts or simply haven't seen many other slashers. People who claim that this is one of the best horror movies ever made... IRRELEVANT.
To Quote... CdM Scott, Cinema de Merde
"Don't worry if you don't catch the first 14 shots of the plastic-encased corpse face as it reposes in the attic - there'll be 28 more interspersed throughout the film, obviously there to make you say 'Oh my God! There's a corpse in the attic!' Though after the first hour that changes to: 'How come the fucking dumb police haven't found the rather prominently-placed plastic-encased corpse in the attic?'
(...) Now, obviously one needs to be understanding and realize that this movie was made before the classic slasher movie tropes were solidly in place, and that it doesn't move to the same pace we're used to, and seeing a plastic-covered corpse in the attic like 206 times probably WAS scary back in the day, and people weren't used to being stalked by psychopaths, so they wouldn't think to, you know, lock the doors or windows. (...) You see, people were stupid back in the 70s. We have to understand that."
Rob Gonsalves, eFilmcritic.com
"Perhaps frightening in 1974, it really doesn't hold up today unless you can forget the 12,000 films exactly like it, which is difficult."
Better: If you want an Xmas Slasher filled with blood, gore, nudity and quotable dialogue, you should either watch the 2006 reboot "Black Xmas" which is probably the most misunderstood, most entertaining remake in horror history, or the notorious 80s classic "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (1984).
If you prefer eerie and chilling 70s Xmas Horror, you should check out the completely overlooked "Silent Night, Bloody Night (a.k.a "Night of the Dark Full Moon", 1972), and/or the equally forgotten "Home for the Holidays" (1972), both superb, both made before "Black Christmas", and, obviously, both way, way better than "Black Christmas".
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Director: John McNaughton
Granted... John McNaughton is a great and unbelievably underrated filmmaker, and his debut "Henry" is a unique and interesting variation of the serial-killer genre with a cool cast, lots of intense violence and fabulous camera work.
Dafuq? Yes, it's well-made, yes, it's quite intriguing, but omg, I just don't understand all the praise it has got - and still gets! It's definitely a unique movie and it takes an interesting look at a serial killer's life without being exploitative, and without being a simple-minded gore-feast, but it's also so cold and distant, and it feels so goddamn aloof and distanced from anything and anyone, it's ultimately a rather bland experience. Actually, the whole thing feels as if it wasn't even made for an actual audience... for ANY audience; as if the director just wanted to get this out of his system without any kind of emotional investment. Good for him, bad for the viewers.
Watching Henry and his strange buddy talking and killing and driving around and killing and buying a television and etc. etc... to me, it's about as exciting as watching someone emptying a dishwasher. There's nothing that grabs me, or moves me, or shocks me. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is not exactly bland or boring or frustrating... it is just there. It just exists. The movie starts, stuff is happening, and about 80 minutes later it ends and I lean back, wondering what's all the fuss about it. What's with all the people calling it a groundbreaking masterpiece? Or the people being super-disturbed by it? I may have felt a slight emptiness during a few scenes, but most of the time, I felt absolutely nothing.
To Quote... Terrence Rafferty, New Yorker
"Sure, it's compelling; the nature of the material guarantees that. But it doesn't seem to be telling us much more than that the world is a scary place and murder is ugly. We knew those things. This is tabloid chic."
Hal Hinson, The Washington Post
"Henry leaves us feeling more numbed than moved. Half art film, half schlock-horror cheapie, Henry isn't quite sure what it wants to be. (...) It's unrelievedly ugly, and yet there's a kind of "conceptual" white space surrounding the barbarity - it lives in its own art bubble.
(...) What you want Henry to be is Taxi Driver - a movie that, while avoiding facile explanations, knows what it wants to say about its subject. The point McNaughton seems to make about his protagonist is that he's dead inside. In one scene he gazes into a mirror, and there's absolutely nothing in his eyes. The void looks into the void. But the emptiness in Henry seems like an artistic convenience or, worse, an evasion. What we suspect, finally, is that the deficiencies belong more to the artist than to his subject."
Better: There aren't that many 80s movies about the every-day life of a disturbed serial killer, but there's at least one from that era that is so much more satisfying than "Henry", so much more diverting and unsettling at the very same time: William Lustig's "Maniac" (1980), a classic that definitely won't make you feel bland and empty. Even better: Franck Khalfoun's riveting and electrifying 2013 "Maniac" remake that is surprisingly even more effective!