If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
With SCREAM 4 in theaters, and having already run down some
of the lamer fourth installments of fright franchises (see that article here),
we now present five flicks that prove the fourth time can be the charm:
LAND OF THE DEAD (2005)
Twenty years had passed since George A. Romero last visited
his zombie franchise (in 1985’s DAY OF THE DEAD), and now he was back with a
major studio (Universal) and his biggest budget for a DEAD film yet.
Unfortunately, Universal bungled its release—moving it up from October to June,
a week after BATMAN BEGINS stormed theaters—which is a shame, ’cause while LAND
isn’t on par with NIGHT and DAWN, it’s a solid little film with Romero’s
characteristic sociopolitical subtext.
The fourth DEAD takes place in that familiar Romero locale,
Pittsburgh, where a very George Bush-like Dennis Hopper owns a
luxury-skyscraper sanctuary that indulges the “haves” while the “have-nots” are
relegated to the devastated city slums and fighting off the undead. Rebellion
is inevitable, and not only from destitute humans: Big Daddy and his zombie posse
are getting smarter—and like the look of that luxury apartment (and the
affluent entrees residing there). LAND has a nice cast led by Hopper, Simon
Baker, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo and Robert Joy (plus Phil Fondacaro as
Chihuahua!), and some choice practical and prosthetic FX work by Greg Nicotero
and KNB. For a fourth film, LAND is a respectable addition to Romero’s undead
BRIDE OF CHUCKY (1998)
Whereas Freddy’s descent into utter goofball softened his
edge, Chucky was born for this. The first CHILD’S PLAY, while still a good
film, just isn’t scary past a certain age, and after a seven-year absence from
screens, Don Mancini (who thankfully has stayed involved with all of the films)
bringing him back as dark comedy gold was ingenious. Take Brad Dourif and
Jennifer Tilly’s killer delivery, a Goth-y Alexis Arquette cameo and constant
threats to Katherine Heigl’s well-being, and something silly, weird, bloody and
ridiculous was born. It’s pretty endlessly entertaining, still.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)
While it’s certainly no DREAM WARRIORS, Renny Harlin’s tour
of duty on Elm Street is nowhere near as deflating as most fourth entries—or
Sheila’s classroom kill, which, speaking of, probably doesn’t get enough love
in the pantheon of Freddy demises. The film, which begins with Krueger taking
out the remaining Dream Warriors, sees Kristen (Tuesday Knight replacing
Patricia Arquette) transfer her Dokken-enthusiast abilities to new friend Alice
(Lisa Wilcox). While super-grateful for the dream powers, Alice, her brother
Rick and friend Debbie must now contend with he-who-wears-the-striped-sweater.
DREAM MASTER teeters on the edge of Freddy’s transition to
all-around wacky, but he’s still able to inject some creep factor into the
proceedings, including the aforementioned sucking-the-life-out-of-Sheila and
Debbie’s showstopping cockroach transformation. There’s also Joey’s waterbed
drowning, which, while not as creative as the others, is no doubt horrifying to
those who had to go home to wavy sleeping. And, seriously—DREAM MASTER has a
basement karate montage to Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything.” Impossible to
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)
They’re going to kill Jason! The unstoppable, seemingly
immortal murdering machine known as Jason Voorhees was once and for all going
to be wiped out. Hell, the fourth entry in this series was being titled THE
FINAL CHAPTER. The poster featured Jason’s iconic hockey mask spiked in the eye
with a knife, a pool of blood spilling beneath it. It was 1984. I was 10. And
they were really going to kill Jason.
Sure, THE FINAL CHAPTER follows the FRIDAY formula, but
three things make this follow-up a standout in the saga: 1) The cast: Crispin
“Dead F*ck” Glover, THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN’s Lawrence Monoson, HELL NIGHT’s
Peter Barton, WEIRD SCIENCE’s Judie Aronson and Corey Feldman! 2) Tom Savini
back doing the FX: sawing a doctor’s neck, impalement from under a raft, a
harpoon to the groin (!), the corkscrew-and-cleaver scene, crushing a dude’s
head against shower tiles. And that leads to 3) The best kill of all: Jason.
Harking back to the Young Jason look of the first FRIDAY, Pamela Voorhees’
monstrous offspring certainly gets his due. And nothing beats the sight of
Jason’s scarred, disfigured mug sliding down that machete blade. Sure, it
wasn’t THE FINAL CHAPTER. But it was a good one!
THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942)
While modern fans bemoan trends in endless horror
franchising/sequelizing, it’s instructive to remember that monster hits have
been repeatedly spun off since the genre’s first Golden Age. Yet even back
then, the right approach could trump mercenary commercial concerns, and such is
the case with this underrated fourth entry in the series begun by the Boris
Karloff classic. Despite the absence of King Boris (Lon Chaney Jr. stepped into
the Monster’s big shoes for the first and only time in the Universal run),
GHOST is a sharp and entertaining flick, and frankly, a lot more fun than its
predecessor, the talky and overlong SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.
GHOST benefits greatly from the return of Bela Lugosi as the
hunchbacked Ygor, who tracks down Ludwig Frankenstein (Cedric Hardwicke), the
son of the original doctor, and convinces Ludwig to help restore the Monster to
his full strength. Ludwig has one idea about whose brain should be placed in
the Monster’s body, Ygor has another and things don’t end up well… While
Hardwicke’s performance is no match for Colin Clive’s intensity in GHOST’s
predecessors, Lugosi carries the show with a terrific, wily performance, and
director Erle C. Kenton keeps Scott Darling’s script moving along nicely.
Bonus: Look very closely among the kids during the scene with the Monster and
the little girl, and you’ll spot a very young William Smith, who grew up to be
a B-movie stalwart in the ’70s and ’80s.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment