A Jabootu Nugget by Jason MacIsaac
Its father was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Its
mother was Psycho. It was tutored by Halloween. It is the
The Slasher Movie had a devastating impact on
"horror" movies. For one thing, it almost destroyed the genre
entirely. In fact, staunch horror movie lovers would tell you that Slashers
arenít really horror films at all. They took away a creeping dread and
fear of the unknown and the malignant. Instead, they substituted buckets of
gore and cheap scares, mainly consisting of some guy suddenly leaping out of
somewhere while the soundtrack was cranked 3000 decibels, over and over
Halloween, of course, started the trend. It was made
on a shoestring with a largely unknown cast. The exception was Donald
Pleasance, the talented character actor. Unfortunately, his clout was dying
out by the time he starred in this flick. (In fact, he himself was only
offered the part after horror icon Christopher Lee had turned it down.)
Sadly, like so many other good actors before him, Pleasanceís films in the
years before his death were a parade of embarrassmentsóincluding the
increasingly desultory slate of Halloween sequels.
Meanwhile, John Carpenterís direction was mysterious
and skillful. He would rarely provide us a good look at killer Michael
Myers, or "The Shape," as he is listed in the credits. Of course,
such subtleties were lost in the avalanche of Slashers that followed. All
they noted was a formula that could be imitated, a formula that made money.
Slashers were by no means new when Halloween came along, but it was
the first one to achieve such heavy box office success. Not only that, a few
mainstream critics gave their approval. Apparently, Roger Ebert even went so
far as to compare it to Psycho.
Watching Halloween today is bound to provoke a
mixed reaction, depending on your point of reference. Young Slasher fans
probably wonít think much of it, because it doesnít have the buckets of
gore or elaborate deaths that are the mainstay of Slashers now. Latter-day
film fans will probably be able to examine it in a historical context, and
appreciate it to that extent. Long time horror movie fans will probably
grudgingly acknowledge that there was some style in it after all, especially
compared to all the clones that came after.
Personally, seeing Halloween again for the first
time in a long time, I thought it was closer to a traditional horror movie
than the slasher template that we know today. Ken noted in his nugget on The
Lost World that itís amazing how Jaws, although it created the
clichť for every "Monster on the loose, letís close the park, no letís
not" movie to follow, still remains today refreshingly original and
three-dimensional. Although it too was imitated to death, Halloween
offers intriguingly different elements that make the film work on a whole
The police cooperate with Dr. Loomis, the
raving lunatic who warns everyone about the danger theyíre in. Itís
true they donít appreciate the situation fully, but they do listen and
they do assist him. In future Slasher movies, it took forever to get
authorities involved, if they showed up at all. And even if they did,
the lone dopey deputy usually got hacked up. As for the lunaticís
warning, nobody ever pays any appreciable attention until itís too
Initially, killer Michael Myers is given no
real motivation for his rampage. (He would in the sequels, although said
motivation became increasingly bizarre with each one). His seemingly
random attacks and the fact that you rarely get a good look at him
afford him a kind of otherworldly quality. All Slashers henceforth would
usually throw in some kind of twisted-revenge-for-past-wrongs plot. It
is implied that sexual activity somehow drives Myers into his homicidal
impulses (his first victim is his sister when he was a little boy, who
had just had a little tryst with her boyfriend). This popularized the
whole "Whomsoever shall have sex will be butchered, but the
virginal shall be spared" tradition of Slasher movies.
Incidentally, Carpenter and co-writer Debra Hill still deny that they
were deliberately playing on the whole "sex means death"
Myers walks in full view of people in the
neighborhood, but doesnít attack them. Itís Halloween, so he doesnít
look out of place wandering around the way he is. Since we donít know
what heís motivated by, itís unnerving to watch him strolling
around, not knowing what heíll do.
Myers uses modern equipment, such as a car.
Most Slashers wonít allow the killer to use anything but his legs to
get around on.
Thereís actually little gore or
bloodletting in Halloween. Its scariest moments are in little,
seemingly inconsequential things. For me the creepiest moment is when
Myers simply stares thoughtfully at a recently dispatched victim. You
wonder with a chill what heís thinking. Another occurs during a
struggle with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Laurie pulls Myersí
mask away briefly. Though we donít get a good look, we can see that
there is an ordinary-looking human beneath. Myers pulls the mask down
again, and then resumes his attack. To me, this is far more unnerving
than the unmasking scenes that would follow in the clones, which would
usually reveal a some kind of deformed killer realized with a ton of
Yep, they do the Killer Isnít Dead thing
at the end, but the way itís done leaves a much bigger impression that
the usual "jump-out-of-the-shadows" thing that all the
imitators would do. Loomis fills Myers with enough bullets to bring
anybody down, and The Shape falls over a rail. Loomis checks on Strode,
then looks over the rail. All he sees is a Michael-shaped impression on
the ground, but no Myers. The end. It further gives the impression that
Myers wasnít merely a psycho, but some kind of Angel of Death.
Such nuances were lost on the imitators. All that was
required was an isolated bunch of horny teens, some guy in a menacing mask,
a variety of edged weapons, and lots and lots of fake blood (and intestines,
severed heads, dismembered limbsÖ). And as we know, Slashers flooded the
market. It got so bad that the Halloween series eventually began
imitating the series that got their start imitating it, such as Friday
Halloween was not cloned over and over merely because
it was successful. (At the time, it held the record for the highest
proportional returns to production budget, a record since smashed by The
Blair Witch Project). Titanic was insanely successful, so why donít
you see a hundred clones of that movie? Answer: Titanic cost $200
million to make, whereas Halloween cost 48 cents and still did great
business. Why make a Poltergeist clone, which requires a big budget
and names like Steven Spielberg and expensive special effects when you can
put together a cast of unknowns and just hack them up over a holiday weekend
for pocket change?
Thatís why Slasher movies caught on--even when they
started to lose their popularity, they were still cheap to make. The
emerging direct-to-video market also helped here, because there was
additional money to be made from young teen girls renting Slashers for
slumber parties. (Some geniuses, noting this trend, actually made one called
The Slumber Party Massacre. Oddly, they included self-described
feminists including author Rita Mae Brown, who wrote the screenplay, and
director Amy Jones. Their film proved to be as breasts-Ďn-gore motivated
as any other in the field.)
Through the 80s and 90s, Slashers were about the only
kind of scary movie being produced. Very little was being done in the way of
traditional haunted houses, vampires, werewolves, and other traditional
mainstays of horror. Fortunately, though, the occasional exception was often
a good one--something like Poltergeist. I also recommend the very
disturbing Jacobís Ladder, which scared the bejeezus out of me when
I first saw it in the theater. Still, towards the end of the 90s, with
people only making the occasional Slasher, with the formula run threadbare,
it looked like the end of scary movies.
Ironically, all that turned around with the release of Scream.
This movie was a Slasher flick, and yet at the same time it was a spoof of
Slasher movies (if an affectionate one). Characters in Scream had
actually seen Slasher movies and knew all the clichťs. At one point in the
movie, one character stands up and describes the "rules" of
Slasher movies, and practically narrates Scream in the process.
Scream made horror fashionable and profitable
again. As a result, the guys with money are now willing to back anything
that theyíre told is going to be "scary, like Scream."
This has unfortunately led to things like the remakes of The Haunting
and Psycho, but there have also been better efforts, such as The
Sixth Sense. The extraordinary success of that movie and The Blair
Witch Project means that more horror movies are going to get made. Some,
perhaps even the majority, will undoubtedly be mediocre clones. But there is
hope that somebody will back something original, well made, and scary.
But letís talk about the mediocre clones. Scream
has its imitators already, and just as the more artistic elements of Halloween
were forgotten, theyíre already ignoring the new conventions that Scream
set. The most of famous of these is I Know What You Did Last Summer
and its sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
The plot of the Ďoriginalí: Julie James (Jennifer
Love Hewitt), Ray Bronson (Freddy Prinze Jr), Barry Cox (Ryan Phillippe) and
Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are four kids who are celebrating
their last Fourth of July weekend together before preparing to pursue their
dreams as young adults. After a night of sex, drinking and partying (big
slasher movie no-nos) they accidentally run down a man on a dark road.
Rather than own up to what they did, they decide to toss the body into the
ocean and cover up the crime. . Some (namely Julie), are more reluctant than
others, but all go along. At the last moment, the body springs to life
before going under water, making it murder. The four swear never to mention
the incident. The dirty secret they share poisons their friendship, and so
they go their separate ways.
A year later, Julie returns home from college. She is now
feeling tremendously guilty about the incident and itís taking her toll on
her life. No sooner does she arrive home than she starts receives a note
proclaiming "I know what you did last summer." Soon, a mysterious
figure in a rain slicker is stalking her friends, and then killing them.
The original Summer flick was adapted from a
script by Kevin Williamson, who also wrote Scream. Williamson wrote
the script for Summer first, before he had written his Slasher-lampooning
series (Williamson alleges that heíd always intended Scream to be a
trilogy). Scream however, was produced first. It didnít matter that
Summer suffered from all the cliches that Scream made fun of.
All the suited-types cared about was finding a hot property, and for a time
Kevin Williamson merely had to sneeze on a piece of paper to get something
produced, explaining the existence of Teaching Mrs. Tingle and the TV
Summer was flawed and forgettable. Somebody once took
me to task though for saying I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
wasnít Jabootu worthy. I stand by that opinion. Now, let me explain my
Most importantly, compared to the lame-o things that came
out in the wake of Halloween, these movies arenít nearly as bad,
believe me. If you grew up during the 80s Slasher boom, you survived a lot
of drek that isnít comparable to whatís being produced now. There are
three key differences between Slasher movies of today and yesteryear.
Modern Slashers have a bit of a budget. No, you donít
see anyone coughing up 20 million or whatever to slice and dice Adam Sandler
(oh wow, do I have a great idea for a movie!), but you do see modern
Slashers splurging a little to get Neve Campbells and Jennifer Love Hewitts,
who, acting ability aside, are relatively known actresses with successful
projects. Original Slashers usually required nothing more out of their
actresses than the willingness to remove their tops. The production values
are also reasonably solid in the new wave of Slashers, whereas the majority
of originals were cheap, cheap, cheap.
Modern Slashers are trendy. Look at all the Scream
fansites. Much time and effort was recently spent speculating as to which
hot young actresses would have the honor of being carved up to kick off Scream
3. The only Ďcelebritiesí that original Slashers could afford were
unknowns and older actors and actresses near the end of their careers (poor
Donald PleasanceÖnot to mention Leslie Nielsen, Glenn Ford, Hal HolbrookÖ).
Starlets getting axed in Slasher movies now is an in-joke, a way to prove
youíre with it. Back then it was career suicide, or something you hid
later in your career, like that photospread you did for Penthouse. Do
you see Kevin Bacon going around advertising that he was in Friday the
Scream popularized movies where the characters had
actually seen Slasher movies and could make hip, self-referencing remarks
(there are a number of movies that had similar ideas to Scream that
came earlier, but never really caught on). Because of this self-referencing,
itís hard to take the "horror" seriously. Do you lie in bed at
night worrying that the Ghostface killer will get you? Of course not. You
spend as much time snickering at Scream as you do jumping at it, and
the filmmakers are well aware of that. Older Slashers were presented in a
totally serious, straightforward manner.
Regarding point #3: Iím not saying that Scream
isnít a clever lampoon of Slashers (it is). But you canít get lost in
the illusion during the film, never mind have it stay with you afterwards. The
Exorcist didnít just gross people out, it made even the skeptics
think, if only for a minute, that the Devil was very real, and had the
ability to reach out and destroy their lives if they werenít careful. Good
horror makes you lie in your bed awake wondering what that noise was that
you've ignored a hundred times before. It stays with you. How many campers
are now thinking dubiously about their next excursion into the woods, thanks
to Blair Witch? Probably quite a few.
These three factors dampen the Jabootu-value of I
Still KnowÖ. That is not to imply by any means that itís a good
movie. In fact, letís get it on record. It sucks. Itís an idiotic movie.
But it isnít really the pits, and most of the faults it has weíve seen a
hundred times before. Itís just a lazy movie, created to get the cash out
of bored teenagers. That acting isnít great, but compared to the
performances weíve seen in other flicks on this site, let me put it this
way: Brandy is no Madonna.
As for Jennifer Love Hewitt, sheís often been called a
bad actress. Still, I canít really make fun of her acting skills because
she is one of those actresses who manages to sound a lot smarter when sheís
reciting a writerís lines (even a bad writerís lines) than when sheís
speaking in real life. Donít believe me? Check out just about any
interview sheís done and wonder why zillions were spent on putting the
Hubble telescope into deep space when NASA can talk to Jennifer Love Hewitt
for free. Her lines in both Summer flicks sound like Martin Luther
Kingís "I Have a Dream" speech in comparison to the stuff she
comes up with on her own. Incidentally, another actress I find suffers from
the same syndrome also appears in the first Summer, and thatís Anne
Heche. Maybe itís just me, but every time I hear that actress interviewed,
she too acts like a complete space cadet. It makes you wonder what Ellen
sees in her.
Anyway, compared to the original wave of Slashers, with
their complete lack of a budget and casts of unknowns who stayed unknowns
for good reasons, there is no comparison for sheer badness. I will prove
this very soon, as I am now combing the Slasher library for one that is
truly Jabootu worthy. I shall find it, of this I am confident. But in the
meanwhile, letís take a look at just whatís so wrong with the I Know
Tens Things (and a whole lot more) I Hated About
I Know What You Did Last Summer
While perhaps not the direct fault of the
filmmakers, the video version is padded with the most advertising Iíve
seen on a cassette in a very long time. It had the trailer for the next
movie, coming attractions for other movies on their way into theater at
the time, coming soon to video trailers, direct to video coming
attractions, a plug for the sound track, and even for the novels of Lois
Duncan! It gave me Coming Attractions Amnesia, which normally occurs only
in theaters (the affliction by which, after watching a dozen previews,
five commercials, and about a half-dozen bits of hype for the sound system
of your theater, you forget which movie youíre actually about to watch.
Opening credits feature a helicopter fly-in
over water to South Port, the town where the movie takes place. Yep, the
originality is coming on strong already. Prominent use of soundtrack, too
(grunge remake of old classic). In fact, Iím pretty sure the soundtrack
of both movies received equal billing as the performers.
Yes, thanks for the "Dawsonís
Beach" reference, Kevin.
Ray tells a story and identifies it as an
urban legend. While trying to tell it, his friends chip in different
details about the gory finale that contradict his own. Ray has apparently
heard about urban legends, but not enough to realize that they all have
different spins and variations on them. His bit about them all containing
"a grain of truth" is enough to give them a long pause. Wimps.
Better not tell them the one about the munchkin who hung himself in The
Wizard of Oz.
The foursome are supposed to be just out of
high school. HmmmÖsome are a little too old, but the age gap isnít as
bad as most movies featuring "high school kids." At the time of
the movieís release, Hewitt was the youngest at 18, Phillipe the oldest
When they hit the guy that will eventually
come after them, they do so hard enough to splatter blood on a person who
was hanging out the sunroof. Itís hard to see how the killer would have
survived, but if he lived, he should be very little threat to stalk and
slash them as a quadriplegic. Barry apparently was actually hit by the
body as it went over, and yet he didnít get his spine snapped in half
We learn that Ray lacks family connections
and wealth. Thus he goes along with the cover-up because he doesnít
think theyíll have any chance if the police arrest him. Itís sort of
implied that Ray is afraid because of his disadvantaged position, and that
he is less guilty because of it. (As opposed to Rich Guy Sweater-Wearing
Barry, who might be able to buy his way out of trouble.) While his fear
may be genuine, money doesnít buy you any moral advantage, and neither
Having taken their victim to a nearby dock,
the foursome try to toss him over the dock. However, he springs back to
life before they throw him in. Barry dives in to retrieve a crown (donít
ask) he snatched off Helenís head. Before pulling it away, the killerís
eyes pop open. And yet they are quite surprised to discover later that he
isnít dead. Duh.
Upon receiving her note from the killer,
Julie observes that there is no postmark or return address. All it has is
her name and address. The killer canít have mailed it without postage,
so he must he just popped by and dropped it off. Why did he put her full
address on it? Needed a reminder in front of him?
Julie is surprised to see that Helen has
returned from New York, and is now working in the family department store.
We learn her plans did not work out. Iím sure struggling actresses in
the trenches will be heartbroken to know that Helen tried for less than a year
to become a big star, and failed. Why she went to New York as opposed to
Hollywood is never addressed.
Meeting Ray a year later, he looks like
Calvin Klein material, not someone who has worked as a fisherman for
"nearly a year."
The killer steals Barryís car and chases
him down the street with it. Naturally Barry runs down the street, as
opposed to finding cover off to the side.
Now that Barryís been the victim of a
little hit and run of his own, thereís still no police involvement,
despite property damage.
At one point Helenís father appears to be
watching a baseball game that must be a good 15 years old, perhaps more.
Helen escapes a night at work by telling her
bitchy older sister, who runs the store where she works, that the outgoing
"Miss Croaker Queen" (again, donít ask) has to ride in the
parade. Miraculously, this works.
No one seems big on locking doors (especially
when they know someone is stalking them), permitting the killer to waltz
right in and cut Helenís hair. She must be a sound sleeper.
Iím told that the killer, all decked out in
his fishing hat and wet weather slicker, bares a startling resemblance to
the "Gortonís Fisherman," who is on a brand of seafood in the
States. I guess that this made a lot of US audiences feel about as
threatened as if they were being stalked by the Pillsbury Doughboy or
Colonel Sanders (maybe it was a bizarre product placement).
The killerís choice of victims for stalking
and killing doesnít make sense. Initially, he does things like sneak
into their homes to taunt them that he was nearby and could have
done something to them. Only after tormenting them a little does he
actually kill them. This I can live with--it is believable that a sadistic
killer might want to torment them before their deaths. However, he attacks
and kills immediately someone who has absolutely nothing to do with the
whole incident, and was in no way interfering with his plans. This body
later turns up in Julieís car (see below). Did he kill this person just
for the sake of freaking out Julie? Thatís a stretch. He also kills two
other people that arenít involved, but they were preventing his access
to the victims, so this can be accepted.
Actually, the killerís victims do make
sense according to traditional Slasher movie morality. Their deaths are
practically pre-ordained the moment you meet them. Mr. Innocent Bystander
is a bit of a jerkweed, so he gets it. So does the bitch sister. Arrogant
rich guy Barry. Helen seems to like sex for its own sake (Ray and Julie do
it, but they have a kind of "pure romantic" love), so Helen gets
it too. The Dopey Cop also gets the hook.
Suspecting foul play, Julie checks her trunk
in the middle of a suburban area, in the middle of broad daylight. Inside
is the corpse of Mr. Complete Innocent Bystander, covered with seaweed and
crabs. Julie closes the trunk and runs away. A few minutes later, she
returns with friends, only the trunk is now completely empty. Some have
said she was only hallucinating. If so, why did the killer bother with Mr.
CIB to begin with? The idea that he would kill someone and leave the
corpse for Julie to find, just to torment her, at least provides him with
a grain of motivation. Meanwhile, if the corpse really was there, how did
he dispose of the body, the crabs, the smell in the trunk--all in a few
minutes in the middle of a suburban area in broad daylight? This guy
should work for the mob.
The killer, not a supernatural one, either,
continues to leave gory messes, and then cleans them up in seconds. During
one scene, he attacks Barry on a balcony with a hook, and only Helen
Shivers notices. (There are only about a bazillion people right underneath
the balcony, but whatever, moving on.) About thirty seconds later, Helen
is up there with a cop, looking at what should be the crime scene. Since
the killer has just attacked somebody with a fishing gaff, the place
should be covered in blood. However, only one little stain (which isnít
noticed) has been left, no body in sight.
Believing the killer to be a person named
"Billy Blue" (long story), Julie formulates a plan to catch him.
Ray, meanwhile, favors coming clean to the police like they should have
done in the first place. Julie seems to have adopted a more mercenary
attitude than before, saying "I donít wanna do whatís right. I
wanna do whatís smart." Well, okay, but how is catching him the
smart thing to do? If they do that, theyíll probably have to come clean
anyway, unless she just wants to kill him.
Spotting a man in a rain slicker during the
parade, Barry catches up to him and tackles him. It turns out to be a
stammering old man. Barry curses and resumes looking. Question: how does
he know for sure this isnít the killer? Heís dressed exactly like the
man who attacked him earlierÖ
Missy Egan, sister of David Egan, our hit and
runnersí supposed victim, keeps her brotherís suicide note nearby so
that she can show it to strangers. (This despite needing to hide it from
the insurance company.) Julie, seeing the message "I will never
forget last summer" recognizes the same handwriting in the
threatening note she received. Missy apparently didnít notice that the
handwriting in the "suicide note" didnít match her brotherís.
She also tells Julie to "get out of my house," despite the fact
that Julie isnít actually in it.
The killer uses the Vorhees Unreality Engine
ô to anticipate that Helen will be taken home by police car. So he sets
up a roadblock on the townís streets in order to divert Deputy Dufus
down an alley where he can be killed, leaving Helen at the killerís
Being struck by a hook in the stomach is
instantly fatal to Deputy Doofus, and causes a gusher of blood to escape
from his mouth.
The scene where Helen is racing towards the
department store in order to evade the killer is lifted nearly frame by
frame out of a similar scene in Halloween.
The killer is naturally able to keep pace
with Helen, who is running for dear life, even though heís lazily
Does Helenís sister Elsa (She Wolf of the
SS) really need keys to lock and unlock the department store doors--from
Helen abandons a phone call to the police to
go hunting for her sister. In the dark. Without turning the lights on.
The killer somehow manages to turn off what
little lighting there is while hiding under a plastic sheet about five
feet away from Helen.
Helen runs through several public areas (and
at one point stops a few yards from a big crowd and safety), but refrains
from screaming her lungs out.
In order to make some inquiries about their
hit and run victim, Julieís boyfriend Ray visited Missy using the name
of his boat ("Billy Blue") as an alias. In a coastal town where
fishing is the major industry. Brilliant, Ray.
Ray owns a boat, period. Heís established
as being from a lower income family. Where did he get the boat? They ainít
The killer, when revealed, is a character we
have not been introduced to. This after weíve gone through the whole
rigmarole of Julie trying to determine who their victim was through some
snooping. Itís a little like constructing an Agatha Christie-style
whodunit and then revealing at the end that the killer was an escaped
mental patient from a nearby asylum.
The killer, Ben Willis, is without a doubt a
moron. Hereís what happens: He goes out and murders his daughterís
fiancť David Egan, believing him responsible for his daughterís death
in car accident last July 4th. While disposing of the corpse, he is struck
by Julieís entourage. Thinking Willis dead, they throw him in the water
to disguise what happened. The authorities find the body of David
Egan--Julie and friends believe that this is the man they struck and
killed. Willis has somehow managed to survive and presumably swim to
safety. A year later, Willis decides to risk getting caught trying to
stalk and kill them. Why? Initially they believe that they struck and
killed the victim of Bennyís crime--the perfect cover for a murderer.
Okay, Willis may not realize that. All the same, theyíre obviously being
quiet because they think theyíre guilty of something. Why stalk them and
draw police attention to the incident?
Ray plays the Heroes Death Battle
Exemptionô card to remain alive after being knocked cold by Ben
Willis (in the guise of a friendly fisherman). Willis had no reason not to
kill him, then finish off Julie, isolated on his boat.
Despite staring at a shrine devoted to Willisí
victims and their movements, Julie doesnít run from the boat
immediately. In fact, she might even be unaware that her helpful fisherman
is the killer.
Running from Willis on his boat, Julie doesnít
seem to look at the option of jumping over the side and swimming. It has
been not established that she canít swim. Even if she couldnít, faced
with a choice of possibly drowning or definitely being gutted...
Julie goes through a traditional Slasher
movie "Last Girl finds the bodies of previously dispatched
victims" sequence. The interior of the boat looks somewhat large
compared to the outside shot.
Itís implied that because theyíve figured
out that Ben Willis was a murderer, their guilt over the hit and run
cover-up was unnecessary. Thatís a little like saying itís okay for me
to murder someone in cold blood because we determined after the fact that
he robbed banks. They still committed a crime, and then covered it up.
Theyíre still guilty.
The movie flash-forwards to an utterly
typical and pointless "The Killer Isnít Dead" shock. Which isnít
shocking, since only the killerís hand clutching a hook is recovered.
Tens Things (and a whole lot more) I Hated About
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Well, itís not often the idiocy begins
right in the title. The second movie takes place a year after the first,
making the time when they hit Ben Willis two summers ago. Of
course, since the end of the first movie flash-forwards a year for its
"The Killer Isnít Dead" moment, itís possible that the
second movie takes place an additional year after this, making the
hit and run three years ago. True, "I Still Know What You Did
Three Summers Ago" is a lame title, but what was wrong with one of
the working titlesó"I Still Know"?
So, what did happen at the end of the
first movie? Was the killer-isnít-dead moment just a dream sequence? A
throwaway line implies it was a dream.
The movie begins with a dream sequence. Yep,
thatís original. Julie is a confession booth telling a priest that she
killed someone, but it was an accident. (What about the part about dumping
the body, Julie? Was that an accident too?) Julie wakes up shrieking in
the middle of a class. The teacher ends up treating this like a little
joke, as if sheíd just nodded off and woke up with a mild start. The
class also giggles. Only Will Benson expresses any concern for what is
obviously real duress.
To her credit, suspecting someone in her
apartment (wow, what a palace for a college student), Julie actually flips
on a light! However, it immediately burns out. Then she runs around the
place without trying to turn on any more lights.
Karla (Brandy Norwood), who has been briefed
on Julieís past (well, mostly, see below), thinks nothing of sneaking
around, knowing that Julie is still troubled by what she experienced.
Julie keeps seeing Ben Willis, slicker and
all, at a dance club. (By the way, Iíll bet absolutely none of the songs
played at the club appear on the soundtrack. Nope. Not a one.) If sheís
hallucinating, why does the audience see the shadow of Willis, only to
have it disappear when she turns to face it?
One of the people we meet near the beginning
marches up and says "Hi there, Iím the killer." Okay, he does
not do that. But he does the next best thing. Heís kind and thoughtful
towards Julie. That alone is a dead giveaway. Anybody whoís kind and
does nothing to indicate that he might be a killer is always the killer.
But we also learn his name is "Will Benson." Later, during the
"shock" revelation scene, he draws attention to his
name--"Benís son." Thanks, we got it well over sixty minutes
ago, Willy. The only surprise that comes from the revelation is that, yes,
apparently the filmmakers thought we were that stupid. Most people with a
brain were thinking "They canít really be that obvious, can they?
The capital of Brazil is Brasilia. By winning
a trip by answering the question "What is the capital of
Brazil?" with "Rio de Janero," this was supposed to be the
big clue that it was all a set-up. This perhaps might have been more
effective if the movie wasnít already so idiotic that its title doesnít
make sense. Itís too easy to pass off as a mistake by the filmmakers. Itís
also established that Julie is taking political science, a discipline that
usually requires some geo-political knowledge. Apparently Julie really is
doing badly in her classes.
Julieís roommate Karla wins the fake
contest. The killerís plan hinges on the idea that she will actually
take Julie on vacation with her, as well as "Benís son." Does
Willis know Karla so well that he can anticipate this?
If I hear any more "delighted like
little girls" squealing from Norwood and Hewitt, I really will have
precious little alternative but to go on a murderous rampage.
All the emotional issues that were settled at
the end of the first movie (well, not really, but you know what I
mean)--the guilt of the cover-up, the breaking up with Ray--are of course
reset for this movie so we can work through them all again.
After initially turning down Julieís offer
of a vacation, Rayís friend convinces him to show up unannounced with an
engagement ring. Smart idea. He doesnít know when sheís leaving, so he
could get down there and find her long gone.
Ben Willis uses the VUEô to anticipate what
route Ray and his pal will drive down from their hometown to Julieís
college in order to ambush them.
While being chased by Willis, who is trying
to run him down with a truck, Ray runs down the road. And not up a steep
wooded hill where the truck could not possibly follow.
Karla keeps urging Julie to dump Ray and have
a good time, i.e. pick up another man. She also repeatedly tries to set
her up with Will. I think sheís supposed to be the feisty "You go,
girl" type. (God, I hate that phrase.) However troubled their
relationship might be, Karlaís urging that Julie cheat on him doesnít
really make her a likeable character.
In order to isolate the victims at what
should be a packed tourist trap, itís established that its big tourist
season has ended. On the Fourth of July weekend. They try to justify this
by saying that this is when "storm season" begins. Sure. Iím
surprised that a resort that must close its doors during the height of
summer is in business at all.
Along the same lines, why hasnít the hotel
shut its doors completely to tourists? Why isnít just a custodial staff
there? Why are all the facilities still available to exactly four guests?
Although supposedly arriving on the last day
of the season, there are no lines of people waiting to leave.
The local drug dealer (a white guy who tries
to speak jive, probably modeled after Gary Oldmanís far superior
character in True Romance) continues to hang out on the island even
though his clientele is about to be reduced to four people whoíve
already turned him down.
While Ray recovers at a hospital, a cop
dismisses his story. Even though he could easily check on the name Ben
Willis, which Ray gives him. Ray escapes from the hospital to go after
Julie, but before he determines whether the authorities will help him or
not. By the way, I think doctors move a little quicker than a stroll when
The words "I still know blah blah
blah" appear on a kareoke machine while Julie sings (shudder). Either
she canít hallucinate the correct dates, or Ben Wilson needs to keep
track of dates better. If it wasnít a hallucination, the monitor it
appears on faces Julieís friends. He was taking an awful chance of them
Every time someone is being stalked,
especially during the false alarms, things unwind in an aggravatingly slow
Once again, Benny leaves a body dripping
blood for Julie to find. She freaks and goes to get help. Naturally, upon
return the olí Advanced Vorhees Unreality Engineô has struck again,
removing the body with nary an incriminating blood stain in sight.
Why kill the drug dealer? The other victims
were in his way, or had access to boats, but what threat did he pose?
Answer: none. They just wanted a larger pool of victims. Of course, he did
violate Slasher movie morality, soÖ
A pawnbroker in what looks like a rough part
of town happily gives Ray a gun, ammo, and $300 for a ring he claims is
worth about $250.
Despite it being storm season, the hotelís
facilities are not sealed up with storm shutters.
Karla works out in a gym while Julie is on a
tanning bed in the next room. Hearing a noise, she eventually discovers a
body in another adjoining room. Willis then apparently locks her in.
(Although we donít see this, and Karlaís screams canít be heard in
the scene immediately following). I guess the filmmakers didnít want to
reduce the breast count, because everyone else Willis had isolated got
their ticket punched pronto.
Liberal use of the Heroesí Death Battle
Exemptionô to keep Julie alive. Willis locks Julie in a tanning bed
instead of just skewering her. (He even has a plastic tie handy for this
purpose.) It defies reason that Julie, already half-convinced that the
killer is on the island, would let her guard down like this. And Ben, whoís
already had trouble killing her, takes the less efficient route to
dispatch her, giving her friends time to come to her rescue.
During the above-mentioned scene, Julieís
friends rush over and try to open the tanning bed. No one thinks to turn
it off or yank the cord out of the wall.
The hotel is in strict compliance with the
One Radio Rule. Take a wild guess as to if it gets smashed or not.
Iíll say it. Both movies have obviously
been designed to showcase the actressesí breasts as much as possible
without showing actual nudity. This is so obvious it prompted Mr. Cranky
to retitle this movie "I Still
Know What Your Breasts Did Last Summer" and refer to Hewittís
breasts as though they were a character in the movie throughout the
We learn that Julie told Karla all about her
experience with Ben Willis except for the minor detail that his body was
never found. She apparently omitted this just so Karla could have a
pointless "Youíre supposed to trust me Iím your friend"
Tyrell believes Estes is the killer, even
though Julie has told him who the killer is. He draws this conclusion from
the fact that no one else is left alive on the island. (Oh, except the
bartender. Why doesnít she count?) Upon discovering that Estes practices
voodoo, Tyrell seems to think this confirms it. Karla believes it as well.
Upon establishing that there is a killer
loose, people continue to split up for no good reason. On one occasion,
the girls are left behind in the lobby because "Itís safer."
Estes apparently figured out something was up
early in the game, so he tried a voodoo ritual to protect them. A word of
warning would also have been appreciated, Iím sure.
If Iím not mistaken, thatís the grave of
Benís daughter in the cemetery. Did they really bury her here, hauling
her body all the way from South Port, North Carolina?
The "What are you waiting for, Iím
right here" speech from the first movie was just so good they decided
to have Julie do it again in this movie, nearly verbatim. It also gives
Hewitt another opportunity to bounce her ample cleavage.
Ray doesnít try to summon help until heís
off the coast of the island. After extended tooling around on the
mainland. Naturally, he canít get through.
After the death of Tyrell, the three women
are chased by Willis and run through the hotel--and up the stairs. Not out
the front door.
Trapped on a glass roof, Karla walks on the
fragile glass panels instead of rolling and evenly distributing the
weight. Despite this instance, Karla doesnít act as consistently stupid
as Sarah Harding in The Lost World, but be fair--she had fewer
opportunities. Oh, and when she does fall through, her back isnít
lacerated like it should be.
After we see a door thatís chained shut,
Karla, cut off on her own, tries it and says "Damn, itís
locked." Thanks Karla. Youíll keep us posted on another further
developments, wonít you?
At one point, the killer is closing in on
Karla, huddled around the door that is chained shut. (Karla, ever helpful,
explains to Nancy and Julie that door is locked.) Julie grabs a fire axe,
breaks the window so Karla can escapeÖand then they run away. Uh, guys,
itís three on one and one of you has an axeÖ
The bodies are all moved from individual
locations, even after they are initially discovered, just so we can have
another moment of the heroine finding all the bodies.
Julie lets Will throw the axe away without
When "Benís Son" comes forward,
his performance is obviously ripped off from the revelation sequence in Scream.
All the victims are telegraphed. Naturally
the horny guy gets it. As do the rude hotel staff. A drug dealer. The red
herring suspect. Not a single surprise.
Ray arrives with his gun, but hesitates as
Ben mocks him, telling him he doesnít have it in him. Thatís a
foolhardy assessment, seeing as how in the past Ray has fought with him
hand to hand and tried to cover up his hit and run death. Just once, Iíd
love to see a movie scene where someone gets this far into the taunt:
"You donít have it inó" and then is interrupted by a bullet
to the head.
Ray tries to shootÖnada. Why didnít Rayís
gun fire? Didnít he load all the chambers? How does Julie fire eight
shots with the same gun minutes later?
Although itís "storm season" and
in fact there has been a storm on the island, naturally the weather is all
calm and quiet once the killers are "dead."
Another The Killer Isnít Dead
"Surprise" to end the movie. Considering the damage the killer
received (8 bullets to the chest) this one is even less likely.
And the scariest thing is that there is talk of making
another one of these damn movies.
Maybe that one finally reach Jabootu standards.