John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Nineteen: When Horror Parodies Horror

That was my wardrobe when I was 6.
That was my wardrobe when I was 6.

Horror is a great genre of films. However, starting about 30 years ago with "Halloween", things started repeating themselves. Slashers began to take over the genre, with movies like "Mother's Day", "Hell Night" and "The Prowler" popping out every other week, the shock and entertainment value became more like a thousand remakes. At some point, everyone had seen it all before. That's when, of all series, Friday the 13th came out and flipped the genre on it's ear. With the new direction given by director Tom McLaughlin, "Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives" made fun of itself, and the entire slasher setup. It is easily the most enjoyable of the series.

In 1991, a little movie called "There's Nothing Out There" was released to not a whole lot of theatres, but quickly picked up steam on video. I remember finding it on the horror shelf of VHS's at my video store. (Ah, the memories.) This movie again attacks not only horror and slasher, but also the monster and sci-fi genres. And does it wonderfully.

Then came the one everyone knows about. Wes Craven had inadvertantly created one of horror's icons with Freddy Krueger, and then re-hashed him into a truly terrifying creature in "New Nightmare." Then he decided he'd had enough. (Sort of.) Basically doing what the other two previously mentioned movies tried to do with a more attractive cast and a much bigger budget, he created "Scream."

So here's a review of the three movies that make you go, "Wow. Horror is hilarious."

Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives

"Friday the 13th" had spun out of control by the time "A New Beginning" reached theatres in 1985. So in need of a change, producer Frank Mancuso Jr. hired Tom McLaughlin to reboot the franchise as he wished. Given free reign, he turned the movie into more of a spoof. Jason is brought back to life using electricity. There's a Barney Phife/ Andy Griffith type police force patrolling the town. And of course, there's the scene where Jason encounters two teens having sex in a camper. He sees the camper shaking up and down, and tilts his head, as if to say, "Really? In a horror movie? How dumb are you?" The whole movie is a joy to watch, and was the first real attempt to poke fun at slashers.

There's Nothing Out There

In this movie, things start jumping out right away. Going with his friends from school to a cabin in the woods for school break, Mike sees a car off the side of the road with no bodies, and a bunch of police around. Ten minutes later, a van full of stoners pulls into the cabin's driveway and the stoners get naked and splash around in the pond. Then something starts moving in the bushes. Of course, everyone thinks Mike is just plain annoying when he tries to tell them that these are warning signs. After all, he's seen a few too many of those stupid horror movies. Even when two characters wonder off into the woods and don't come back in the morning, everyone thinks they're playing a joke on them. The best part of this movie is when one of the characters comes home from trying to get a plumber and finds the house empty, except for the alien creature (which, by the way, controls minds, breeds, and melts things with acid). Trying to escape, he looks up and sees the boom mic. Yep. Rather than avoid showing it like most movies (and I say most because, hey, you see it a lot for some reason!) he grabs onto it and swings out of harm's way! If you don't believe it's as good as I think it is, you need to get it on Netflix, immediately.

Scream

Randy is really the star in this movie, not Neve Campbell or the killer. He knows every single rule of a slasher, and lays them all out for you. If you see this movie first, then watch almost every 80's slasher movie, you'll know exactly what's going to happen in almost all of them. The killer became iconic in this movie and it spawned two sequels, in which Randy continues to explain what happens in both a sequel and a trilogy. One of Wes Craven's best creations, despite "Scream 3"'s goofy irreverance that by that time is far over the top. But who knows? Maybe Craven did that on purpose, making the third movie in a horror franchise the one that usually wears out the welcome.

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