Queens of Scream – Triple Feature (Blu-ray Review)
Rated: R/Region A/2:40/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Mill Creek Entertainment
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Directed By: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.
Adaptation of Lois Duncan’s thriller about four teenagers trying to cover up a hit-and-run. Love Hewitt plays Julie, a high school senior who goes trip with her friends and accidentally hits a fisherman. They think he is dead and dump him into the waters. But later they get a strange letter that says “I know what you did last summer.”
You could say that in the same way, Halloween inspired stuff like Friday the 13th in the 80s, that this film got just as much inspiration from Scream in the 90s. Only this film has the same writer and was actually written first. It just didn’t get done until Scream hit as big as it did. The years, however, have tamed this film just a bit. It was a lot of fun on a first watch as it was basically a slasher “who done it” like most slashers of the 90s. On re-watch, you know who the killer is and you realize some faults, like the movie, isn’t that bloody. I know blood does fly, but the gore is little to none. Still, this film deserves credit for being probably one of the more rememberable horror slashers of the 90s, even if the cast and the title might be mainly why.
I do think the movie builds up lots of suspense. When our characters are stalked it isn’t an easy task for the killer. That builds up suspense and that is something that lacks in some cases with films even today. The script is a smart one. I won’t say it is as smart as Scream was, but it doesn’t go the dumb route that was a staple of the 80s before. Yes, a film like this was a slasher, but it became clear that this was a new type of slasher and this is one of the ones that along with stuff like Scream and Urban Legend ushered that style in. I won’t say that the film isn’t a little dated to watch today, but it can still be fun. This is a movie that works as a time capsule to a certain time in horror. It also doesn’t hurt that it has a strong lead in Jennifer Love Hewitt and the source is a well-written script as well.
QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 91%
When a Stranger Calls (2006)
Directed By: Simon West
Starring: Camilla Belle, Tommy Flanagan, Katie Cassidy
Jill Johnson is being forced to babysit at a BIG house all by herself for exceeding her telephone minutes. Then all of a sudden a stranger calls making these weird remarks. Jill decides to call the police to trace the call. Jill is freaked out when she finds out that the call is coming from inside the house! Jill runs in a hurry trying to get the children and leave. Will Jill make it in the house in time? Will she live? Well, you just have to watch the movie to find out!
Here we are in 2006 when pretty much everything was bring remade! This leads to the remake of the moody, but pretty darn boring, When a Stranger Calls. How does one up the level of that? Well, it should have been easy, but the result is a film that tries to build up things, but instead has about 50 minutes of what one could call equally as dull as the original film. Look, I know you got to build mystery and the film tries to keep things creepy. I just think you could have done something to fill in the gaps, possibly even more of a body count. She’s in school, she has friends, and there is a party going on. So maybe have more show up at the house and give us a full-on slasher? They went with the thriller method and the PG-13 method, which sadly hurts the film a lot.
I do think Camilla Belle does an alright job. She doesn’t have much to play off of besides trying to hit the stages of panic after getting weird call after weird call. All things considered there I guess we can’t complain. The movie does hit a nice stride during the ending part of it and I just wish more of the film could have had that type of panic to it. Remakes are tricky, but this is one remake that could have used more shuffling than it got. I also don’t think the ending was that great either. That all comes together to sadly make the 2006 version of When a Stranger Calls as sub-par as you might have heard.
QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 92%
Directed By: Nimród Antal
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry
When David (Luke Wilson) and Amy’s (Kate Beckinsale) car breaks down, they have little choice but to spend the night at a remote hotel. The couple entertains themselves by watching low-budget slasher movies on TV — until they realize that the horrifying images they see were recorded in the room in which they are staying. With hidden cameras capturing their every move, David and Amy must find a way out before they become the latest stars in another film in the series of snuff films.
The history of the “snuff tape” is a bit of a complex one in the world of horror movies, but if you have ever pondered about how one might go about making one then Vacancy is a movie you’ll want to check out. Here we have a couple played by Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson who have some pretty bad luck and end up being in the worst possible place. That’s where you get the terror and the tension as Vacancy plays out more like a very edge of the seat thriller most of the time rather than a straight-up horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of down and dirty horror stuff as well, but this movie has thriller roots that are even more seeded into the film due to the performances of Beckinsale and Wilson. I know Kate Beckinsale can carry a horror type movie, but I was very shocked and impressed with what Wilson had here as well.
Vacancy keeps you watching and you are never too sure just how the darn thing is going to turn out in the end. I remember the first time I saw it being pretty into what I was seeing and I appreciate it now even if it isn’t something you’ll probably keep going back to over time. It’s a mix of a few different things, but at least it isn’t dull. There’s some violence, some interesting characters, and a pretty creeping setting for it all. It could probably have used a little more gore in the darn thing but all in all, I can’t call it a bad movie because of it. Plus, I’ll watch just about anything just as long as we have Kate Beckinsale in the darn thing.
QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 92%