Zombie Film Roundup

Here’s part one in what I hope could be a multi-part zombie film review. Let me know if you have any zombie films that you dig because I would love to check them out.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Image Ten, 96 min., Dir. George A. Romero, black and white

The defining zombie film that sparked a myriad of imitators never once uses “the zed word” during the film. I’m not a film scholar, so it’s hard to say whether NotLD is supposed to be set in the 50’s, or is just a low budget flick with old school sentimentalities.

Every female is a hysterical wreck who can’t help anyone with anything and needs a good slap, and every male is stereotype (strong man, posturer, greedy self-lover). The screenplay is, frankly, quite awful. The characters aren’t fleshed out very much and important details are tossed in as time permits.

The cinematography is quite a different story, however. The film begins during the early evening, and stretches through the night until the following morning. Since the film is shot in black and white, lighting is a huge consideration. Details such as the lighting of the face, dark makeup, and patterns of light and darkness all add to the viewing experience. The soundtrack, which Tobey Hooper obviously took stock of for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), uses otherworldly distortion and long-lasting crescendos to raise the stakes on otherwise stiff zombies and slow, low-budget action.

If you enjoy zombie films or are just starting to get into the genre, this is the gateway for you. Most every detail, and often times, characters, can be found in every zombie film you have seen. Romero’s films alone are their own cannon, but this film was the progenitor of zombie films to follow.


The Omega Man (1971)

Warner Bros., 98 min., Dir. Boris Sagal

Boris Sagal was a television director for an unbelievable amount of series, so it’s not too surprising that this movie plays like an extended television show. It could have been a pilot for a longer series.

The film is the second in three film adaptations of Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend. The novel itself depicts the force that represents ‘otherness’ as vampires, but this film is clearly a zombie picture. The forces against the protagonist can’t venture into daylight, but that doesn’t differentiate them from zombies since they also avoid daylight. You never see anyone eating flesh, but they aren’t sucking blood either. In fact, the question of how these particular undead corpses survive is largely left unanswered. Their stiff appearance and style of attack seem very zombie-like in my opinion.

Charlton Heston plays Robert Neville, a scientist that survives a plague, a plague that seemingly wipes out all of mankind, by injecting himself with the last dose of vaccine after a helicopter crash prevents him from delivering it to the rest of the U.S., er, world, that is…he was definitely going to share it with the whole world…after the U.S. was safe, of course.

His arch nemesis after the plague apocalypse, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), is the leader of the undead horde who wants to kill Neville. Neville is (in his mansion with a car, electricity, and decently aged scotch) an affront to Matthias’ stone age mentality cult of plague infected weirdos who won’t even pick up a gun to attack him, and want to return to a simpler life where there’s no chance of wiping out humanity with biological warfare. What a bunch of losers. Although, maybe I could read their pamphlet, just to see what a bunch of losers they are. I mean, I won’t want to join or anything, but you can’t dispute what they say, you know what I mean?? It’s not so crazy, I mean, their ideas. And what with those damn terrorists, you never know, I mean, they could totally do that, and shit. Aww man, I should really start looking into bomb shelters. But, I guess I’ll finish this review first.

Neville finds some other folks who aren’t yet zombie like followers of Matthias, so his life is given purpose other than hunting down the jerks who try to kill him every night. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so play like a Charlton Heston NRA commercial: “How would I kill these damn zombies without my beloved Uzi? You’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!”

This film is about as seventies as it gets. Wah-wah bass lines pervade, Heston watches Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock (1970) at the beginning of the film, and the clothes have magnificently large lapels. Oh, and everyone is drinking some kind of brown liquor out of a tumbler at some point, poured from a cut crystal decanter, but of course. Rosalind Cash’s (Lisa’s) fro is something else, and Paul Koslo (Dutch) looks like he just walked off Woodstock and into the wrong film set, maaahn. Still, watch for the awsomeness that is the finale, and for 70’s style nostalgia. I’ll totally have to do a 70’s horror film roundup at some point.


Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Universal Pictures, 99 min., Dir. Edgar Wright

Probably the quintessential zombie movie of this decade, Shaun of the Dead draws heavily on Night of the Living Dead in a loving way, erasing the foolishness and flaws of the original and replacing them with tongue-in-cheek references which are hilarious. Barbara (Penelope Wilton) is as dazed as her namesake in NotLD (Judith O’Day), and many of the character types mirror the originals. Despite the allusion to Dawn of the Dead (1985), Shaun of the Dead only lightly references that film.

I won’t go too much into detail, since the film is so enjoyable that it really should be watched and not picked apart. There is a theme of repetition, with strong undertones that we all live like zombies and it takes a massive change of pace to help us excel to our full potential, even if that event is the end of the world. In some ways, it is a coming of age piece (buildungsroman), where the protagonist must shed his juvenile exterior and mature into a robust man who is capable of determining his own destiny. The humor is best appreciated by a gen X audience (perhaps British as well), so there are numerous cultural references that exceed my understanding; however, the humor is so endearing that you will have no problem joining in on the fun.

While a parody of zombie/horror films could easily become tiresome (see every Scary Movie for instance), this film is a tutorial in how to parody a genre by including fans and not obtusely excluding the people who would most enjoy a poke at a genre of film that is overdone or short on levity. You need only go as far as the trailer for Vampires Suck to see how parody can epically fail.


As I said above, I’d like to keep watching some zombie films and writing about them, so if you have any suggestions, send them my way.

Let the Right One In (2008)

EFTI, 115 min., Dir. Tomas Alfredson, Sweedish with English Sub- and Super-titles, available on Netflix Instant Queue

Something about this film resonates with those of us who have lived in a place where there is a desolate winter, which is anyone in Chicago. There is a strange sense of foreboding provided by the deserted natural landscapes, reinforced by the performances and carefully calculated presentation of the child actors in the lead roles. Every detail is attended to, and there is no escaping the longing for a sense of relief at every moment in the film: a sense that everything will be sorted out. The tension is exquisite.

It probably doesn’t hurt that I watched this film during a thunderstorm, which provided the appropriate, morose backdrop, occasionally punctuated with thunder claps for effect. The settings and shots are beautiful, but in an eerie way which reminds one that the starkness of the architecture and landscape mirrors the emotional climate of the characters, cold and subdued.

The innocence and desperation of the protagonist, a 12 year old boy named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) contrasts with the need for attachment and understanding by the young vampire, a “twelve year old” “girl” named Eli (Lina Leandersson). Oskar is tormented by bullies and emboldened by Eli to defend himself, the irony resting in the fact that the timid girl who prescribes retaliation is herself a merciless predator.

It plays out in a way that should not be ruined for viewers, so I won’t talk further of the plot. Of vampire movies, which I rightly or wrongly consider myself a burgeoning aficionado, I highly recommend it. The plot action and acting is straight as an arrow, so don’t expect laughs outside of the infrequent comic relief. Vampire rules are redefined along conventional lines, so there’s no learning curve. I hate to bring up Nadja since I will reference that in my Bowie roundup, but the lighting and shots in the film are similar. There is an effort (in my opinion) to avoid face shots in scenes in order to build contrast between the activities of the everyday and the visually stunning shots that break into the consciousness of the viewer later in the film.

The setting and sense of place in the film are unusual. I wasn’t sure for a while whether this film takes place in the late 70’s / early 80’s, or whether props and wardrobe are meant to convey social class (e.g. Napoleon Dynamite). There are some political hints tossed in, but my Swedish history is a bit rusty. I couldn’t really pinpoint the language either, which was a distraction since I felt I was missing some supporting details that a European viewer might pick up on.

I felt throughout the whole movie that there was an unsettling undercurrent surrounding each character. In that way, the film was very Hemingway-esque. You saw just enough of the characters to interject your own back story, rather than sitting through an extra hour of film. This is really a film that you should see for yourself, so I’ll recommend a viewing.


The Dead Zone (1983)

I’ll pretty much watch anything with Christopher Walken in it, and I guess this is no exception. The Dead Zone follows the life of a high school English teacher who gets into a car accident just prior to marrying his fiancee (Brooke Adams), wakes up after a five year coma to discover she’s married, and, oh yeah, can predict the future by shaking someones hand.

The film hangs on to that classic style of cinema that I might not have described in my House of the Devil review, but typifies what I know of 70’s/early 80’s cinema. The opening sequence usually sets the stage for a film, but doesn’t concern itself with introducing all of the characters that will be relevant/alive for the whole film. There are two or three tense events, with each one feeling as though it could be the climax of the film since the stakes are genuinely important. Films shot in the last two decades seem to have leveled out the plot line so that everything is just a waste until you get to the big finish, which usually disappoints.

I won’t give any spoilers here for those of you who want to see TDZ (it is available on Hulu and Netflix), but the segmentation of the movie involves roughly three episodes that lead Walken’s character to a moral dilemma that is murky at best. Walken plays the role as only he could, and if you are a fan of his particular style of line delivery, there’s no shortage of it in this film. Martin Sheen also makes an appearance as a sleezeball political candidate, which was kind of a shocker after seeing him play the president character in The West Wing. He must have “politician” stamped on his forehead.

I’ll digress and talk about a sweet 70’s movie that this reminded me of. When a Stranger Calls (1979) has the same type of ebb and flow plotline that I think is missing from films in the 90’s/00’s era. The film does a flip midway through that is completely unexpected. Likewise for Dirty Harry which I just watched recently and never get tired of. There’s something about the idea that you can have two or three critical moments in a movie that I just don’t think writers/directors buy into anymore. The only film I can think of that I saw recently where the plot action dies with a character or is resurrected with a new storyline is…well, I’m actually drawing a blank, so clue me in if you can think of one.

7/10: three words: weapon of choice

Update: I was thinking about it, and Iron Man (2008) kind of has that feel to it when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is in the cave in Afghanistan. When I first saw it, I thought the movie would play out entirely in that setting, but the action shifts midway through and another plot develops.

The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Remember when virtual reality was going to be part of every aspect of computing, nay, life itself? Neither do I. The closest I remember to thinking virtual reality was going to be useful for something was that scene in Jurassic Park (1993) when the scientist was using a gloves and goggles setup to manipulate a DNA double helix in 3D. The makers of The Lawnmower Man, however, really bought into VR as the technology of the future, and simultaneously roped in Pierce Brosnan to play the protagonist in this shabby special effects showpiece. For some reason, I had a notion that this was a widely regarded horror film, but I think I confused this movie and Hellraiser (1987), a mistake that would cost me 107 minutes.

I read a novel in grade school called Flowers for Algernon where a cognitively disabled man is given the same surgery as a mouse in order to vastly improve his intelligence. Apparently the characters in this movie had no contact with this book, as their message is mostly the same. I’ve seen other movies where people are vaulted to genius from relative obscurity (Phenomenon (1996) with Travolta comes to mind) and they all seem to reach the same conclusion: with super genius comes utter contempt for your former idiot friends and a soul crushing loneliness that is only alleviated by your death or eventual redumbification.

The poor, dimwitted “Lawnmower Man” Jobe (Jeff Fahey)–BTW, since when is “Lawnmower Man” a pseudonym for folks who cut grass for a living?–anyway, his only skill seems to be designing ridiculous looking lawnmowers, cutting grass, and working on his abs, though we don’t see the last one in any scenes of the movie. Dr. Angelo, who’s recent chimpanzee subject killed a bunch of guards, decides it’s time to move on to a human subject. If only the damn military weren’t corrupting his research, and injecting rage-ohol into his subjects along with the super brain drugs. Jobe starts his training, which consists of Dr. Angelo throwing Aztec calendars and Alchemy charts at his face in a virtual world. Unexpectedly (for those in the movie only) Jobe starts developing superhuman powers and hatches a plan to dominate the world.

If nothing else, this film has value in that it was just plain wrong about virtual reality. Take a look at this highly scientific caption that begins the movie:

I shall now write the rest of my review as if this prediction had become true…

LOCATION: The cyber-underground bunker, the last place VIRTUAL REALITY is not in widespread use

Hello my virtual friends. Brace yourself for this communication, and make sure you have enough time to download it on your 56k modem, print on your dot matrix printer, and delete it before Jobe’s VirtuaCops detect you with their VR helmet scanners.

I am composing this message in the underground, using what they referred to in the 20th century as a “key-board.” Sure, it’d be easy to compose this message by strapping on my virtual reality helmet, gloves with wires attached to the fingers, and a tight fitting body suit with neon piping that glows for no explainable reason, but then I’d be opening myself up to Jobe’s mind control algorithm, and I won’t do that.

I know it might be tempting to use the technology of VIRTUAL REALITY to enter computer generated worlds as unlimited as the imagination itself, where you can access the millions of positive uses that the creators of this technology envisioned, but stay strong my brothers and sisters of the resistance. Until next non-VIRTUAL REALITY cyber-textual-communication activity, formerly known as “electronic-mailing”


4/10: We were promised virtual reality

Eraserhead (1976)

There’s a scene in an episode of The Simpsons where Homer is watching Twin Peaks (also, directed by David Lynch) and he says, with inflection indicating he is making a profoundly intelligent comment, “I have no idea what’s going on.” That is roughly how I felt about Mr. Lynch’s Eraserhead.

I always wanted to take film classes as my elective, but my abortive attempt at Biology and my double major prevented me from doing so. Occasionally, I would cut class to go with Nicole to her film class, where the professor would let me watch what the film students watched. In that class I saw movies like Pink Flamingos (1972) and The Naked Kiss (1964), and Nicole introduced me to lots of other films that are too numerous to mention but expanded my limited knowledge of independent, cult film classics that are brain jarring.

I didn’t particularly like Eraserhead, not so much because, like Homer Simpson, I didn’t understand it completely, but more because it missed the mark in terms of my expectations of what it would be. I expect a movie, like a novel, or even a piece of short fiction, to create a world and transport me into that world. The world needn’t make sense, but I should feel like I am a part of it, or that I’ll never be a part of it. In this film, I couldn’t grasp the rules, and I wasn’t aware of the fact that there were no rules either. It had enough of the real interspersed to disrupt the surreal.

I have watched some great silent era films that toyed with the conventions of film making and employed creative techniques in order to dazzle, but I didn’t get the sense of that here. It’s a mood piece, at best, and at worst, a jumble of disjointed sequences that fail to connect.

Here’s what I can tell you that I liked about what I watched. Without a large knowledge base of film history, I’m guessing the brutally simplistic and unrelenting tonal soundtrack that builds to crescendos and creates a general uneasiness in the viewer was innovative at the time. What works for me is the juxtaposition of those sounds with lighthearted pipe organ pieces that will remind any Chicago reader of the pre-curtain performance experienced on a trip to the Music Box Theater.

I read on Wikipedia–and by the way, not to get all defensive, but I’ll assert my prerogative as a recreational reviewer in this context to use what I read on Wikipedia as a talking point in my analysis despite that fact that it’s a cop out for traditional film research. Anyway, I read on Wikipedia that Stanley Kubrick made the cast of The Shining (1980) watch Eraserhead to demonstrate the feel he wanted, and it doesn’t surprise me. There seems to me to be a give and take between the crescendo and the tonal punctuation sound methods used in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (such as when the astronaut approaches Io in the light tunnel and the shot of the monolith at the foot of the bed, respectively) and Eraserhead; this give and take is further developed in the quick cuts paired with sharp tonal sounds in Eraserhead, which Kubrick also used in The Shining. Even if this is some crackpot analysis, the use of sound in Eraserhead certainly made a great pairing with the images.

To call this film a horror movie seemed at first to me over the top in the first thirty or so minutes. But looking at the jerky character movements (prefiguring the use of stop motion for the same effect) and the way that the sound, image, and lighting combine to sear imagery in your brain, it can’t be called anything else.

Technical prowess aside, the symbolism is paper thin, and I question if any images in this film are meant to have a meaning other than “this is some weird s*&t that I think will trip people out.” I had a professor who told me once that dreams in fiction shouldn’t make sense, and should have no meaning. Writers who include dream sequences often fail for use of overly symbolic interpretations that come off as desperate attempts to guide a character’s action by providing a convenient subliminal revelation in the form of a dream. However, if you interpret this film as a surreal nightmare of industrialization and the subtext for the dissolution of every fiber of civilization that holds rational meaning…you’d probably still be wrong.

The film has parts that must surely entice a film student, and I submit that this is a film student’s film, ripe for dissection of techniques and good for inspiring iconoclastic work. In terms of a Wednesday night Netflix watch, you might be hard pressed to make it through the first twenty minutes. If you do, beware, because I must have said in my head that I was turning it off every five minutes up until the credits, and you might want to psychologically prepare yourself for some unsettling imagery if you choose to stick it out through the end.

5/10: My vow to you: next time I see a woman with deformed cheeks singing and tap dancing in my radiator, I will definitely call a licensed repair worker immediately

The House of the Devil (2009)

The House of the Devil was promoted big time last year as the horror film to see. I heard comparisons to Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever (2002) which I saw in theaters as a junior in college, and is possibly one of my favorite films of all time. I have to say, this film cashes in on the current (or, perhaps, ongoing for the last six to eight years) zeitgeist of 1980’s nostalgia. I buy into that fad a lot, despite being, as my wife continually reminds me, too young to really remember most of the 80’s. I was born in 1982, but I had two older brothers who were teenagers when I was a child, so I was probably exposed to more Def Leppard and die cast Ferrari models/A-Team episodes than the average 1980’s child.

THotD takes place on a wintry college campus which looks eerily deserted, and for land grant university alums the opening scene where the protagonist babysitter, Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) drops a paper in an office mailbox will immediately evoke memories of turning in your last paper just before Christmas break. Samantha lives with a roommate that is much more concerned with some gym sock on the doorknob action with random dudes than washing any of her clothes or taking down messages, so she is hoping to find $300 quickly for her deposit on a new study pad free of roommate aggravation. Against the wishes of her best friend, she signs up for an odd type of babysitting gig for a creepy old man in the middle of nowhere. Sound hackneyed? It is. But the director, Ti West, is aware of this from the beginning and the tongue-in-cheek factor is off the charts. It’s not a reductive, play with the horror movie conventions in a meta way film like Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) for instance, but more like a carefully crafted tribute to the great B movies you rented from Dollar Video on Friday nights. I was hooked from the title scene of the movie, a freeze-frame, up-angle shot of Samantha with a smile on her face and ominous yellow title text in a typeface that looks like it was salvaged from a Vincent Price adaptation of a Poe story. Perfect.

Every detail of the film was carefully crafted to place you in the time period, while at once making you conscious that you are indulging in some period nostalgia along the way. The film is singular in execution, and definitely rates among the best that I have seen all summer. I’ll say no more about the plot and twists, but the film is far more entertaining than you would imagine from the first twenty or thirty minutes.

9/10: Fire up your jiffy pop and grab a 7Up Gold out of the fridge

Update: I read a great piece on this film in Scott Tobias’ “New Cult Cannon” which talks (with much more filmy expertise) on some of the conventions that Ti West is playing with in the film and the idea of nostalgia versus careful technique in crafting suspense in horror films.

Pet Sematary II (1992)

Why do I torture myself? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that AMC Cinemas purchased my beloved Kerasotes theater chain, and promptly discontinued the Five Buck Club, my only source of entertainment outside of TiVo and reading. Given this disturbing development, I will probably be limited to reviewing movies that are available on my limited cable package and Redbox (apart from some Shakespeare adaptations to be reviewed later in July/August).

The first question must be with the tite: why “Sematary” with an “S”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, that spelling is f^&*ed up (actual quote). I guess you have to read the book by Steven King to know the answer, and that ain’t happenin'(maybe something to do with children creating the place, crafty children with the ability to fashion weird wooden representations of their pets that never decay over time, but not spell correctly).

Secondly, why a second movie? The first movie was all about a father’s desperate attempts to cheat death through unnatural means, against all kinds of ominous warnings to the contrary (the most potent being the old guy who tried to revive his son, only to create a monster). Believing that was enough of a stretch. But of course, in PSII they have to outdo the previous movie with more bodies and more gruesome fatalities, so we get an even more thinly stretched storyline.

Edward Furlong, notable for Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) reprises his role as a renegade, sullen teenager from a broken home for PSII. Anthony Edwards plays his father, estranged husband to a recently killed actress (Darlanne Fluegel) who achieves temporary rest after being electrocuted on the set of her new horror film. The survivors move to Ludlow, Maine, a city full of people without New England accents. I’m no linguist, but why would the Sheriff who was born and raised in Ludlow, Maine have an accent similar to this famous cartoon rooster? Keynote speech at Linguistic Society of America 2011 here I come!

My amazing discovery aside, Furlong and the Sheriff’s son bury a dog at the cursed Indian burial grounds after the overly sleazy Sheriff murders the poor animal for disrupting his sleazy, drunken tryst with the boy’s mother; did I mention the Sheriff character is sleazy, and he’s an evil stepfather to boot (weirdly enough, he’s played by comic book animation voice actor Clancy Brown).

When doing some lite research (Wikipedia) I discovered that a graveyard is a confined area next to a building of worship, while a pastoral cemetery (or sematary, if you will) as we know it is usually outside of city limits thus preventing disease from decaying corpses. This Semetary is in a salt flat, which certainly makes it isolated, but seems slightly unusual for Maine (but I’ve never been there so what do I know).

*Spoiler Alert* Needless to say the dog comes back as a cheap Cujo knockoff, kills the hated Sheriff, who the boys inexplicably bring back using the Semetary. The Sheriff kills his family, digs up Edward’s wife/Furlong’s mother, somehow deposits her and the town bully (who the Sheriff also kills) into the Indian burial ground at Furlong’s request (like a traditional Caribbean work-slave zombie I might add) and there is a bloody confrontation in Furlong/Edward’s attic in which the bully and mom are electrocuted and burned to death, respectively.

Now when experimenting with an Indian burial ground corpse revival goes wrong the first time, why try it again? Sadly, this movie only gives us the thinnest attempt at an answer to the tune of “maybe it’ll work better this time!” I guess having your former mom scream “Dead is better! Dead is better!” while being burned to death would sour your optimism, but you never know, Pet Sematary III might just be a pitch away…now that’s scary stuff.

In any case:

1/10: Sometimes, the death of a storyline is better

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Those of you who know me (which, presumably, is anyone reading this right now) will know that I am lukewarm on horror films. When I saw The Ring (2002) in college, I couldn’t really sleep for three nights, and even afterward I was haunted by a parade of disturbing imagery, this being a really tame example. As such, I pretty much stayed away from horror movies for a long time.

Enter my wife who, in an excellent example of situational irony, had the same reaction to The Ring, but the exact opposite response: she loves horror films, always did, and loves watching them with me. As part of her birthday party, we were supposed to go see A Nightmare on Elm Street, but spurred by an overwhelming majority of hockey lovers (including my wife), we ended up watching the Blackhawks get destroyed by Vancouver in the first game of that series (I think we know how that turned out). But enough back story.

So here we go, two weeks later, in theaters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, a movie that this is to be the film series opener, redux and refreshed (i.e. with cell phones and the internet), in the vein of recent remakes of Halloween, James Bond, Batman, The Karate Kid, etc. etc. etc.

I understand the theory behind a remake, in that it updates the movie for a new generation of ticket buyers, er, I mean, “movie goers.” For those of us old enough to have watched the original, or rented the VHS of the original from the now dead local film rental store, the danger is that there will not be enough new material to interest a repeat viewer. If you have seen the remakes of The Omen, or The Manchurian Candidate, or really any recent remake, you know what I mean.

The other danger that series-opener remakes must contend with is the pointless repetition of elements which are smartly condensed or re-purposed in sequels to the original.

There are a few basic premises behind every NMoES movie: 1) The Threat: A pedophile is burned to death by angry townsfolk and returns to take his revenge on the children where the parents can’t protect them…IN THEIR DREAMS, HA HA AHAHAH; 2) Despite said threat, no adult believes it when it actually happens; 3) Everyone in town is hiding the pedophile BBQ from the children, hoping (paradoxically) that somehow collectively repressing their memories will be better than the children connecting the dots and figuring out some way to deal with the problem, cause children are helpless, and adults know best, so go to your goddamn room, hmph. The solution: somehow get Freddy into our world where his powers are limited, then dispose of him in the goriest way possible.

Not only do we get the agonizing repetition of these concepts, slowly developed over the film’s first hour plus, but also the overacted revelation scenes by the actors portraying female art-student-working-as-a-waitress teen and macho-yet-senstative-Joy Division-T-shirt-wearing-love-interest male teen (actor names not worth mentioning).

Unlike The Ring, this movie has nothing in the way of disturbing imagery, and uses every cliche jump scene that you’ve been watching parodied for the last decade (looking away from a mirror…then back, looking through a parted closet shutter slat/window blind…then having the killer right beside you!). Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley), now a huge hard ass take-no-prisoners type, has been robbed of the smarmyness and camp coined by Robert Englund in his performances, and is forgettable.

To boot, as my wife pointed out on the car ride home, much of the plot for this movie and even several lines (“Welcome to my world, Bitch”) are stolen directly from Freddy vs. Jason (2003), which I have to say was a far better movie.

Had I known the dreaded Bay was involved prior to the opening credits, I may have steered clear all together, but I watched it, and committed to starting my reviews yesterday, so I must reluctantly rate my first summer movie:

2/10 (worse than a broken toe)

Follow up: “I’m glad someone finally chopped his hand off…that’s all you really need to do” -my wife

Up Next: Shattered Glass starring that whiny dude from Star Wars eps. Two and Three.