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Five Reasons Why the Paranormal Activity Franchise Should Rest in Peace

Well… it was fun while it lasted. After five years and five movies, the Paranormal Activity franchise is, at last, dead on arrival. The final nail in the coffin? The anemic debut of the so-called "spin-off" installment, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which attempted to capitalize on the first-week-of-January release date that's been so horror-friendly in past years (just look at the first-weekend grosses for Texas Chainsaw 3D and The Devil Inside) but wound up getting trounced by Frozen's dynamic duo of Elsa and Anna, who re-claimed the top spot following their film's seventh week in theaters.

You’re Next: Not Reinventing the Horror Wheel, But Still One Hell of a Fun Ride

"Hollywood always comes up with the same idea." It's a cry heard time and time again, especially from horror buffs. And perhaps they're right, but at the core of every horror movie, even the most berserk and original, isn't the main goal to scare the crap out of you? Whether it's creepy crawly things that go bump in the night in a haunted house or a masked menace, we go for the thrill of the idea of losing sleep. All horror movies, whether it's a slasher flick or a monster movie are slightly tweaked variations of one another, even the best ones, and when the genre does reinvent itself, it just regenerates those "new" ideas. In the past 20 years, it's been torture porn and found footage, both of which outstayed their welcome.

Indie Snapshot: Aftershock

by Ethan Alter May 10, 2013 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: Aftershock

I'll give Eli Roth this; having found a successful gimmick, he's not about to surrender it anytime soon. That particular gimmick can best be described as "Assholes abroad" -- an idea he tried out in the first Hostel and returns to again in Aftershock, the new horror film/disaster movie he co-wrote, produced and stars in, but didn't direct. Be grateful for small favors, I guess.

Evil Dead: Back to the Cabin in the Woods

by Ethan Alter April 5, 2013 8:01 am
Evil Dead: Back to the Cabin in the Woods

I don't have much to say about the Evil Dead remake that's opening in theaters today. It's a film that Hollywood has been threatening to produce for years and finally did and the final result is... fine. Neither an epic fail nor a bold reimagining that tops the original, Evil Dead 2.0 is content to go about its business with minimal fuss and maximum gore for its slender 91-minute runtime. And I suppose that's all Sam Raimi -- who produced the film along with fellow Evil Dead veteran Bruce Campbell and personally handpicked its director, Fede Alvarez -- really wanted from this unnecessary remake of the 1981 bloodbath that launched his career: a movie that kept the brand name alive without taking any significant creative risks that might scare away mainstream audiences and studios. I walked out of the movie moderately entertained, but also wondering "Is that all there is?"

Scream 4: It’s Like The CW, But Covered in Blood

Scream 4 had some harsh realities to face when it was coming together. For one thing, it's been 11 long years since the third movie and the horror landscape has changed dramatically since then -- the masses are now more into low budget ghost stories like Paranormal Activity and torture porn like Saw than slasher flicks. Plus, there's a whole new generation of kids who have no idea who Neve Campbell even is. And then there's the small issue of the fact that nobody at all was clamoring for this franchise to return. But, somewhat amazingly, director Wes Craven and screenwriter (and WB/CW phenom) Kevin Williamson reunited to stab those obstacles into submission, and the result is one of the smartest, most entertaining films I've seen in ages.

Hobo With a Shotgun: A Boxcar Full of Bullets, a Shopping Cart Full of Guts

When the bloody double feature Grindhouse was released, the two featured movies had their supporters and detractors, but all four of the fake trailers -- Wright's Don't, Roth's Thanksgiving, Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS and Rodriguez's Machete -- were loudly hailed as movies that needed to be made. However, few moviegoers got to see the fifth trailer, a fan-made contest winner called Hobo With a Shotgun. Widely praised online, it was about pretty much what the title says its about, and now it's the second trailer to get made into a full-length film. And not only is it infinitely more entertaining than Machete, it packs in so much hilariously over-the-top dialogue, inventive deaths and an overall body count that it makes Robert Rodriguez's film look like Spy Kids 4.

Detroit Won't Make a Statue of Robocop, But Other Cities Should Honor Their Icons

Why ask for ideas on how to improve your city's image if you're going to reject the best one? The mayor of Detroit apparently felt that the Twitter-suggested "erecting a statue of Robocop" was not the best way to boost his city's public image, and we respectfully disagree. (As do others.) Dystopic and bloody though it may be, Robocop is still most non-Detroitians' fondest memory of Detroit (even though the movie barely even filmed there), so why not idolize the cyborg civil servant who cleaned up the town? It'll be a great tourist destination, it's a symbol of the motor oil that flows in the city's veins. In fact, we think more cities should put up statues of their most famous and/or controversial movie residents. Here are a few we'd make a pilgrimage to.

The Rite: The Power of Anthony Hopkins Compels You

It seems like over the last decade there's been a veritable cavalcade of movies about exorcisms, hauntings and paranormal activity, so it's hard to build up any enthusiasm for yet another one. But Sir Anthony Hopkins is a game-changer. Having such a fine actor in such a formulaic genre film, even one purportedly based on a true story (but aren't they all?) seems like a waste, but at the same time it's always fun to see the man really cut loose, as he did in Dracula and The Wolfman and a dozen other horror and thriller movies. Add this one to his list of masterful performances, because he single-handedly makes the movie a horror staple.

Saw 3D: Rest in Pieces, Silly Franchise

by Zach Oat November 1, 2010 1:17 pm
Saw 3D: Rest in Pieces, Silly Franchise

The final Saw movie came out in theaters this past weekend, promising to end the franchise with a giant, 3D explosion of gore and limbs. Unfortunately, the movie ended not with a bang, but with a whimper from Jigsaw's various mutilated victims, as they had their skulls pierced with sawed-off section of pipe and had their appendages torn off by science. There was no real sense of resolution, as the character deaths that were required of the film all felt quick and anti-climactic, and the ending was disappointingly left open for another installment with a new Jigsaw at the helm. Not that I expected The Return of the King, but even getting Jaws IV would have been nice.

Let Me In: Why Did This Need to Get Remade, Again?

The box office numbers are in, and while The Social Network easily took number one for the weekend, the weekend's other new release (not counting the long-delayed Case 39) barely cracked the Top Ten. Let Me In is the remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In, about a young vampire girl who moves into an apartment complex, next door to a bullied boy. It only pulled in $5.3 million, which puts it in eighth place, and raises the question, "Why bother remaking a movie that's only two years old, especially if you're going to remake it exactly?"

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