Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

Kane Hodder Finally Has His Tommy Jarvis

I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason. Well, one of them. Come to think of it, the path may be more meandering than straight but we’ll get there, just stick with me.

To many, Kane Hodder is the definitive Jason Voorhees. From his spine-tingling introduction from the icy depths of Crystal Lake to his heaving breaths to what Robert Englund described as “his bulk,” Hodder incomprehensibly set the standard for a character that had already existed for six films when he first donned the hock in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988).

Which was why Friday fans simply could not fathom that Hodder wasn’t asked to return opposite Englund for what had been the most highly anticipated film of the franchise, FREDDY VS. JASON (2003). After playing the masked maniac for 4 installments, the Kane era unceremoniously (and inexplicably) came to a close.

What’s worse, the Tommy Jarvis trilogy wrapped just before Hodder assumed the role, which meant that despite four takes, what many felt had been the finest portrayal of Jason never got to square off with his chief rival.

But that’s where a kinda-sorta Friday the 13th gift entered the fray.

Five years after JASON X (2001), an upstart filmmaker from Holliston, Massachusetts offered Hodder the role of another woods-roaming, crazed killer–and Victor Crowley was born.

While Adam Green had a trilogy in mind when production began on HATCHET (2006), he couldn’t have known that the villain he’d conjured at the age of eight (from stories about a hatchet-faced killer told by, ironically enough, camp counselors) would achieve icon status, no more than he was unaware that one of his original casting decisions would become what he has come to describe as his “secret weapon.”

Enter Parry Shen.

A consummate professional and on-set leader, Shen would go on to appear in a pair of Green’s Halloween shorts [THE TIVO (2008) and FAIRY TALE POLICE (2009)], and an episode of HOLLISTON, to say nothing of his roles in each installment of the HATCHET series, where Green has identified Shen as the true final girl of Honey Island Swamp.

Like Hodder in the Friday franchise, Shen has appeared in four HATCHET flicks, though it’s been more Shemping-but-not-really, because I, Survivor has played three different characters: Shawn, the hustling faux-boat tour guide in the original, his brother Justin in the sequel, and finally Andrew Yong, the paramedic turned wanna-be author in HATCHET III (2013) and VICTORY CROWLEY (2017), respectively.

Nestled betwixt the gore and the giggles, however, is the gift. See, with three characters over four films Shen is not the final girl of the series, but rather its Tommy Jarvis.

Let’s break it down. Hodder never got to square off with Jason’s nemesis, so Green gave him one. Just because the intent didn’t necessarily exist doesn’t make it any less true. In fact, on numerous occasions, Kane has commented that Shen is someone he just can’t kill off for good. Why does that sound familiar? To steal one from ROUNDERS’ Teddy KGB, “kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.” I mean, Louisiana. Swamps. Gators. It works, just let it be.

Look, three different actors played Jason’s frequent foe, so who cares if one actor has played three characters that Crowley just can’t dispose of?

I get it, Jarvis never died. But he did suffer a couple of wounds in A NEW BEGINNING (1985), and Jason did kinda-sorta drown him in JASON LIVES (1986), So, while Shen’s Shawn and Justin were both, shall we say, dispatched in the first two HATCHET pictures, with Yong, Shen now has a character who has narrowly escaped (twice) and like Jarvis been overwhelmed with trauma and fear.

It wouldn’t be surprising for Yong to be approaching Thom Mathews levels of vengeful should we get a fifth chapter of HATCHET because at some point you just have to assume that he believes Crowley belongs in hell and wants to see that he gets there. But then there’s that whole issue with Shen’s character being a bit of frightened bunny coupled with the mid-end credits glimpse of Marybeth Dustan (Danielle Harris) waiting in the wings.

Yong wasn’t the one who resurrected Crowley, but he was dragged back to the swamp against his will, so Jarvis-like similarities aren’t really a reach. Perhaps we’ll see a pair of final girls team to take down the Bayou Butcher, but the Honey Island version of Mathews and Jennifer Cooke just sounds better, doesn’t it?

Regardless, it’s sure to be a hell of a ride.

Ted White had Corey Feldman, Tom Morga was blessed with John Shepherd, and C.J. Graham battled Mathews, but Hodder never got his shot.

Until he wandered from a lake to a swamp. And found Parry Shen.

{WATCH} Give Yourself a Halloween Treat and Revisit Freddy’s Nightmares Halloween Special!

Ahh. Freddy’s Nightmares– the Nightmare on Elm Street primetime series that starred Robert Englund in all his primetime bitch glory as Freddy. Who, in total Crypt Keeper fashion, hosted a show focused on the residents of Springwood and their wacky as hell nightmares. I want to believe most 80s’ kids remember the short-lived, basic cable phenomenon where Krueger had risen to God-like heights of popularity. However, if you don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a refresher:

Freddy isn’t really a part of the stories but merely serves as your horror host; a trend that had become ever so popular in this era. But yes, for most of the series, Freddy served only as the introduction with the exception of the Tobe Hooper directed pilot episode that dives into Krueger’s backstory. And of course, that amazingly cheesy intro!

Now let’s dive into season one, episode four entitled “Freddy’s Tricks and Treats”, which actually plays out like a true Nightmare on Elm Street installment with Freddy as the main character; IN A HALLOWEEN EPISODE NO LESS. Worth noting, before we dunk our balls in the murky waters’ of the boiler room, is the numerous horror movie homages throughout this glorious episode. Some dip dons a Jason hockey mask for Halloween night. There’s a very familiar-looking pumpkin mask and scene with said Halloween prop that screams out Season of the Witch with the main character clawing at her face while wearing it. And finally, while I admit I may be looking too deep into Easter Eggs here, Freddy carving BOO onto the forehead of a stiff at the morgue is completely reminiscent of Joey’s comatose state in Dream Warriors.

Premiering on October 29th, 1988, “Freddy’s Tricks and Treats” stars a pre-Law and Order Mariska Hargitay who plays a young medical student named Marsha. Little Miss Marsha is a bookworm who dismisses the spirit of Halloween by opting to study and dissect corpses rather than party-hardy. I mean, that does sound like a pretty awesome way to spend Halloween night, so if you’re asking me I would say she’s having all the fun here.

Anyway, Marsha is feeling distracted from her studies at a college house Halloween shin-dig, so she heads to her school to spruce up on some good old-fashioned human dissection. But not before she hears the story of Springwood’s ultimate nightmare, Freddy, from the school security guard. Which opens the red and green striped Pandora box and unleashing Freddy and hell on poor Marsha. Freddy torments the young med student with visions of the death of her kind-of-a-bitch Grandmother, for which she feels responsible, driving her into complete madness. Freddy is known to be pretty good at mind-fucking his targets into submission, so yeah she loses her shit and it’s a good time to watch.

Oh yes, there is also a VCR that records nightmares. I feel like this kooky, yet fascinating premise needs a damn movie of its own. And yep, you guessed it, Freddy has a lot of fun with this little wrench thrown in.

Well, with that being said, let’s get to it! Happy Halloween Nostalgic Nuggets!

Dracula! Bela Lugosi’s Dark Spell

In honor of Bela Lugosi’s birthday (A day late I’m afraid, but better late than never), I’ve sat down to treat myself once more to the fantastical whimsy of the horror film that really started it all, Dracula. No denying the German expressionism films were the pioneers of horror cinema, but Dracula was the very first ‘talky’ horror film. 

The fog crowded scenes and hypnotic visuals of the Count’s foreboding and far-away realm could now be heard as well as seen, and they used sound to their advantage for this eerie new project. Rattling carriages drawn by horses, creaking doors, and hissing bats. Audiences sat dumbfounded by all they heard. It brought the night-shaded horror of Transylvania straight to them. And there was no escape. Horror had entered a brave new era.

There was no going back. Dracula opened a secret door and a monsoon rush of sensational horror films has flooded through ever since. 

From the cracking whine of a camera in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the tolling of the bell in Hellraiser, a sing-song lullaby in Nightmare on Elm Street, and, last but certainly not least, the iconic sound Jason makes all stand out in our blood-splattered minds. These sounds immediately take us back to the chills and thrills of the films and are as iconic as the monsters we love.

Dracula began it all.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in each little minute detail of the film, but I’m no expert on the matter, just an avid fan. Somehow rewatching it this time around reminds me of the first time I ever sat my butt down to experience this macabre treasure. 

image courtesy of Universal, Bela Lugosi ‘Dracula’

Any of you remember those drop-dead sexy VHS covers Universal released a few decades back for each of their Classic Monsters library?

image via Amazon

One Halloween my mom got me both Dracula and Frankenstein, both of which I’m still proud to say I still own 

I was in 1st Grade and Castlevania had just released earlier that year and was my favorite game. Mom thought it was high time her little Manic watched the very original Dracula movie. I’d seen so many different movies with Dracula in them but never the initial film. That Halloween all that changed. 

I don’t think I moved or fidgeted once. I may have not even blinked! I was transfixed to the glowing screen, it being the only light allowed to remain on, as the living shadows of this gothic epic played out spectrally before my eyes. Sure I was a young kid but the film’s unique majesty and gripping narrative weren’t lost on me. 

To The Prince of Darkness

Now at the end of Bela Lugosi’s birthday, I lift a glass to his eternal legacy. A cheer of thanks and of memories to him.

Against the odds of English not being his native tongue Lugosi pain-stakingly pronounced each word spoken with adjective deliberate concentration. It gave the Count his often mimicked manner of speech and deepened his mesmerizing effect over horror history .

So the imitated accent of Dracula was in fact Lugosi’s Hungarian one. It served the part well.

image via belalugosi.com

Lugosi was not the first choice for Dracula, nor was he even the second. A fact that pained the actor considering how he’d played the part on stage and mastered the role to damn near perfection. So when the time came for him to don the vampire’s cape Lugosi fought and earned his right to bring Bram Stoker’s legendary nosferatu to cinematic life.

As grand and wondrous as he is in Dracula that’s not, in fact, my favorite of his various roles. That honor goes to his hideously fun part in Son of Frankenstein where Lugosi ditches the cloak for a huched back. Playing the nefarious Igor, Bela Lugosi shines and steals the show!

image courtesy of Universal, Bela Lugosi ‘Son of Frankenstein’

I feel that Igor allowed the man to show his more playful side. Even though his face is hidden beneath a ratty beard and layered of makeup the man can’t help but bristle with fun and life. He never loses that sinister sparkle in his beady, little eyes nor that vicious smile.

You know what? Stop right here. If you’ve not seen Son of Frankenstein then I insist you go do yourself a favor and correct that right away, my Nasties. Go watch Uncle Lugosi have the time of his life!

Bela Lugosi had both magnetism and charisma. Not unlike the genius of Lon Chaney before him, Lugosi could captivate people on a whim.

image courtesy of Universal, Bela Lugosi ‘Dracula’

Those who knew Lugosi said he carried an unearthly mystique about him. He would enter a room and every eye would gravitationally be drawn to him.

He was indeed Dracula, so much so that he was even buried in a cape echoing back to his most treasured role. 

Hope you’re enjoying this witching season, my Nasties. And I hope that in your Halloween movie watching you have a chance to pay respect to Lugosi’s devilish spell over horror history.