Hide and Seek with Gage – Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (directed by Mary Lambert, 1989) If an old man tells you not to bury your dead son in an ancient Mi’kmaq burial ground, for god sake, don’t do it! Resurrection becomes a problem for the Creed family and their neighbor Jed. First their cat, Church, rises from the grave, and then their son Gage follows suit. In one of the most cringe-worthy scenes (in my opinion) in film, the boy, Gage, slices the old man’s Achilles tendon while hiding under the bed. If you can watch this scene without wincing, you are not human. Fred Gwynn (Herman Munster) plays the slightly off-kilter, sometimes wise Jed. As the boy is slicing and biting up old Jed, the feline zombie, Church, watches on with green glowing eyes. I saw Pet Semetary in the drive in when I was thirteen, and it still gives me the creeps.
The video quality is shoddy, but it was the only clip of the scene I could find.
Cool Fact – Stephen King was inspired to write the novel Pet Semetary after his daughter’s pet cat was hit by a car on the highway near their home in Maine.
Die Franklin, Die – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Tobe Hooper, 1974) Usually in film, as in life, you cheer for a person who has a disability. Whether it is a physical, or mental handicap, you want the person to succeed. That is unless the person is hateful, whiny, and annoying. This describes the character of Franklin in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. For lack of a better term, Franklin is an asshole. From the start of the film, until his demise, I find him to be a constant distraction and a real nuisance. Four friends, including Franklin’s sister Sally (the heroine of the film), along with fifth wheel Franklin, set out in Texas to go to a childhood home. They find more than they bargain for when they run headlong into the Sawyer family. They have a severe hankerin’ for Texas Barbecue, but beef isn’t on the menu. You get the point. Regardless, Franklin meets his maker (Leatherface), and it couldn’t come sooner. It is just a shame that Leatherface did not have a chance to get to know Franklin better. He would have sawed him into smaller pieces.
I have included two videos. First to demonstrate what a cry baby Franklin was, and the second is the kill video.
Cool Fact – Although the film is called Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Franklin is the only character to actually be murdered with a chainsaw.
Late Night Swim – The Prowler (directed by Joseph Zito, 1981) After years of hearing about this film, I actually got to see it the other night. I must say, it is a great little old school slasher film, that features amazing special make-up effects, courtesy of the one and only Tom Savini. The effects are very gritty and realistic. I chose the swimming pool death, simply because it is cool. A young woman goes for a dip in the pool after dark. The Prowler strikes. Slit throats are a dime a dozen in this type of fair, but this one is different. The killer actually slices into the victim’s throat, and we see the blade of the knife buried half way in to her neck. Pretty gruesome and real looking stuff. If you listen, the score playing during this scene is reminiscent of the Jaws theme. I am not sure if this is an homage because of the water element it shares with Jaws or not, but it is pretty cool. There is also a graphic shower scene featuring a buxom lady and a pitchfork that is gore filled (I could not find footage). Joseph Zito also directed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which Tom Savini also did the make-up effects for. The Prowler is good slasher fun, which I recommend to anyone that is a fan of the genre.
Cool Fact – Tom Savini served as a combat cameraman in Vietnam, and draws from the real life death and gore he witnessed to create his special effects.
Blood Bath! – Glen’s Gruesome Demise (A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven, 1984) When are we most vulnerable? When we are asleep. This is what makes Freddy Krueger unique and different from other slashers. He lost his ability to terrorize the kids of Elm Street in the living physical world when he was lynched and burned to death by the parents of Springwood. What do you do when you are a vengeful ghost looking fora measure of retribution? Attack and butcher your victims in their dreams, of course. Glen (a young Johnny Depp) is trying his hardest to stay awake so he can help protect his girlfriend and neighbor Nancy from the nightmare known as Freddy Krueger. Remember; if you fall asleep, chances are you are not waking up. Unfortunately, Mr. Sandman gets the best of Glen and he succumbs to exhaustion. Enter Freddy. Glen is immediately pulled inside his bed. We are not really sure what happens while Glen is in Freddy’s clutches, but we do see the aftermath. Freddy decorates Glen’s bedroom with a rather large stream of blood that does not want to end. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic tale of fantasy terror, crafted by a master, Wes Craven. Sadly, Mr. Craven passed away a few days ago, but his legacy will never be forgotten. His spirit and legacy will live forever through his amazing films like A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Cool Fact – A Nightmare on Elm Street is Johnny Depp’s first film role. He was only at the auditions because he accompanied a friend who was interested in a role. In a weird twist of fate, that friend, Jackie Earle Haley, went on to play Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
“See, I got this problem. Cops don’t like me, so I don’t like cops”
– Clarence Boddicker (Robocop)
Dead or Alive…The “Death of Sgt. Murphy (Robocop 1987) – There are some scenes from films that just stick with you throughout time. This scene is a good example of that. My folks bought a VHS machine in 1987, and the following weekend they promised me I could rent two movies and have some friends sleep over. My friends and I went to the drugstore across the street (not a great selection, but it was close) to pick out the movies. So being eleven year old boys, naturally we chose Predator (Arnold’s sci-fi action gem), and Robocop. Two ‘R’ rated films! Fast forward to later that night, and we were two minutes into the film, and the scene in question comes on. At this point in my life, I’d watched my fair share of horror, but I knew it was not real. This scene left a mark on me because it looked and felt so real (reminder; I was eleven). A gang of thugs, including their leader Clarence Boddicker (masterfully played by Eric Forman‘s T.V. dad, Kurtwood Smith) trap Sgt. Murphy in an abandoned warehouse. After a witty verbal exchange, the criminals open fire on Murphy and use him as a human target. Murphy then goes on to become Robocop, and the gang of thugs goes on to be dead. The word violent can sum this scene up nicely. I still love this film and feel it has stoop the test of time quite well. The 2014 remake was flashy but sorely lacked the acting and heart of the Paul Verhoeven directed original.
Cool fact – Robocop re-cut and submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) 12 times before it could achieve an ‘R’ rating. It was deemed to violent without the changes being made.
Casey Becker (talking to Ghostface on phone): “What do you want?”
Ghostface: “To see what your insides look like.”
– Opening scene of Scream, 1996
Do You Like Scary Movies?…The death of Casey Becker (Wes Craven’s Scream, 1996) This is a great example of how to set the tone for a horror movie. The opening scene of Scream has atmosphere, suspense, action, and a little brutality. Drew Barrymore is amazing as Ghostface‘s first victim. At first, she is a flirt and plays coy with the stranger on the other end of the “wrong number” call. As the tension builds and she realizes this is not a random call, she is wonderfully terrified. After a little cat and mouse chase, Casey finally makes it outside to see the headlights of her parents car pulling down the driveway. Unfortunately, it’s too little too late, as Ghostface catches up to her (in a nicely timed slow-motion shot) and stabs her in the heart. Her parents hearing their daughter’s last breath over the phone is a nice touch. In my opinion, this film rejuvenated the slasher genre. It’s too bad that none of the Scream sequels lived up to the original.
Cool Trivia – Drew Barrymore was cast in Scream before a director was hired (Wes Craven was eventually chosen to direct).
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to my newest segment here on How Heavy This Axe, aptly titled KILL OF THE DAY. (Hopefully) each day I will bring you one of my favorite death scenes from film or television. Be it one of the most bloody, violent, clever, or funny deaths (or a combination), I will do my best to satisfy your lust for murder and mayhem. I may do weekly themes, or it may be completely random, but it will be fun regardless. Let’s kick it off…here is the first Kill of the Day!
“Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.”
– Quint, Captain of The Orca
Quint Goes Down With The Ship (Jaws, 1975) – Quint (played by Robert Shaw, was the salty old veteran of the sea that entertained Brody (Roy Scheider) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) with drunken song and tales of nautical adventure, while leading them on a hunt for the shark that had been terrorizing their Amity Island beaches. Is it ironic then, that Quint is eaten alive on his own boat, while hunting his greatest foe, while two men who barely have their sea legs watch in horror? I suspect it is more of a case of man dying while doing what he loved to do. Also, you may notice that while Quint is being bitten in half, he is still bad ass enough to be driving a hunting knife into the side of the sharks face. Jaws is great because instead of relying on ghosts and masked killers, it uses the real life fear of what unknown terror lurks beneath the ocean’s surface. Quint came face to face with the unknown, and unfortunately it was the greatest of the Great Whites. May his headband rest in peace.
Cool fact: Quint’s boat, The Orca, is named after the sharks only natural predator, the Killer Whale.