Hi, everyone! Welcome to Oh God Why?! Nostalgia Reviews! I’m your snarky recapper/reviewer, JC. I grew up on all things horror, thriller, chiller, suspense, and all combinations thereof – a healthy dose of 1990’s teen thriller novels and all manner of scary movies, but now I’m wondering: Are they as good as I remember them being? (Spoiler alert – no. No, they are not.) So join me as I recap and review the teen chillers and horror movies of my youth, and laugh along with me as I lament what bad taste 12-year-old me had.
The handy helpful Master Recap List is posted here, containing current and future recaps.
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Description: Meet the sexy new neighbor, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell). He’s dangerously charming – and utterly lethal. That’s because he just happens to be a vampire, and out for blood . . . buckets of it. After high school senior Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) makes the connection between Jerry’s suspicious activity and a steadily rising body count, he vows to end the reign of terror next door. But he can’t do it alone. His only hope is Las Vegas magician/vampire-slayer Peter Vincent (David Tennant). Together, this unlikely duo set out to end Jerry’s evil rampage. But Jerry is a ruthless, relentless killer, and he’s not going down without a fight. Get set to sink your teeth into this thrilling re-vamp of the terrifying horror classic. Featuring a star-studded cast and crawling with bonus (sic), Fright Night will captivate you from the very first bite!
So, like I said in my recap of the original Fright Night, I decided to recap both versions of this movie as a combination of my 50th recap for this site and my birthday recap. I couldn’t think of anything birthday related, and I suddenly got it in my head that this would be fun. So I had to run out to the mall (yep, that’s . . . still a thing) and buy this version, because I didn’t own it and it’s not streaming anywhere. Boyfriend wasn’t even aware this version existed, but when I told him David Tennant and Colin Farrell are in it, he told me, “Ah, okay, that explains why you like it.” I mean . . . he’s not wrong. Anyway, it’s just a happy coincidence that both the OG and this one came out in theaters in August of their respective years. So we’re all celebrating birthdays this month! Yay!
I don’t have the same connection to this one that I have to the original – I saw it once in February of 2012, and didn’t remember it at all. Watching it for this recap was seriously like watching it for the first time – I didn’t remember anything that was going to happen. I didn’t even remember how much I liked it before, but I found the old notebook in which I used to write down every movie I watched (look, I’m very precise about very odd things, okay?) and I found this one listed as such: “2/6/2012: Fright Night 2011 – Pretty great remake. Not as cheesy as the original.” (It was also the 32nd movie I’d watched so far that year. Damn I’ve slowed down my movie-watching since then.)
So, I guess I liked it. And I’m not alone – it has a 6.4 on IMDb, and a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. Which is a bit higher than I expected, given the tendency of people to shit on remakes just because they can.
Also, real quick: I’m not here to compare and contrast this version with the OG in this recap. Some comparison may be unavoidable, but I’m going to do my best to approach this version on its own merits. Despite being a remake, it’s not really the same story at all, and is very much its own thing, so I’m going to treat it that way.
Description: Meet Jerry Dandrige. He’s sweet, sexy, and he likes to sleep in late. You might think he’s the perfect neighbor. But before inviting Jerry in for a nightcap, there’s just one thing you should know. Jerry prefers his drinks warm, red – and straight from the jugular! It’s FRIGHT NIGHT, a horrific howl starring Chris Sarandon as the seductive vampire and William Ragsdale as the frantic teenager struggling to keep Jerry’s deadly fangs out of his neck. Only 17-year-old Charley Brewster knows Jerry’s bloodcurdling secret. When Charley can’t get anybody to believe him, he turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who used to be the “Great Vampire Killer” of the movies. Can these mortals save Charley and his sweetheart Amy (Amanda Bearse) from the wrathful bloodsucker’s toothy embrace? If you love being scared, FRIGHT NIGHT will give you the nightmare of your life!
So, we’re back around to August, which means it’s time for my birthday again, which also happens to coincide with my 50th recap. This year, I decided to do something I’ve never done before, which is to recap a movie and its remake back-to-back. Hence why this is labeled Recap #50a instead of just 50. The 2011 version of Fright Night will of course be Recap #50b.
This movie was released eleven days before my fourth birthday. I can’t for the life of me remember when I saw it for the first time. I was super obsessed with vampires between the ages of about 16-19, so it was probably sometime in there. This movie is 80s as fuck. The effects are cheesy as hell. But it’s a vampire classic, and deservedly so. I’ve seen it an obscene number of times at this point, and I still love its cheesy, goofy ass.
I also love these back-of-box descriptions that are basically acting as hype man for the movie. Eighties. As. Fuck. (Except the box description for the 2011 version also kind of does this, so I guess I can’t completely blame the 80s. *shrug*)
She awoke in the woods beside a dead body. There was a knife in her hand, blood on her clothes. Had she killed the young woman who lay beside her? She couldn’t remember.
She couldn’t remember anything.
Not even her own name.
It was as if someone had stolen her mind.
Stolen her soul.
Guys! I’m really excited to recap this book! This used to be one of my absolute favorite Pike books. I’m a sucker for this type of story, with amnesia and . . . something that’s a spoiler. This story had concepts in it that I became obsessed with for years after reading it.
I don’t remember when I read this; I would have turned 14 the month it was released, but I could have sworn I was a few years older than that when I read it. Maybe it took me a while to get around to it, I don’t know. Anyway, I went ahead and reread this one before I started recapping this time around, and it turns out I still love this book! It’s not without its issues, as most of these books from the 90s aren’t, but it’s still pretty great, y’all.
Note from Future Me: I really struggled and procrastinated with this recap. Apparently I’m only excited and good at recapping things I hate. *tries to figure out how to give myself the side-eye*
Starring: Clancy Brown, Clifton Collins Jr., Larry Fessenden
Tagline: Deliver them to evil (There’s also “They’re going to hell so we won’t have to.” I picked the one I liked better to feature here.)
Description: The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, a team of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, work to drag the worst of demons back to Hell. (From IMDb.)
So, hi guys! You might have noticed that my title up there says “Review” rather than “Recap,” and you might further be wondering what the hell I’m doing here, changing up formats and such. (Unless this is your first visit to this site and therefore you have no fucking clue what I’m blabbering about, in which case, Welcome! and how dare you accuse me of blabbering.) To which I respond that every now and then I watch a movie that I want to talk about, but don’t really have the desire to do a full recap of, for whatever reason. So, this marks the first time I’m going to attempt a review with more substance to it than what I write on Letterboxd, but less involved than a full recap. And you get to take this wild ride with me, as I work out all the kinks and bullshit! Lucky(???) you!
Note: because I’m me, there will definitely be spoilers ahead. There are movies/books I’ll review spoiler-free, but this ain’t one of them, y’all.
Description: It’s been years since Chucky, the doll with the soul and the voice (Brad Dourif) of a psychopathic killer, was apparently destroyed in a fire at a doll factory. Now Chucky’s manufacturer is remaking the same line of toys with the old, still haunted materials. This resurrects Chucky, who goes after Andy (Justin Whalin), his former owner, who now attends military school. Chucky slashes his way through a string of grotesque murders as Andy tries to stop the homicidal doll and the spirit within it. (From Google movies)
Welcome back to Dove and my Child’s Play recaps! (You can find our other recaps in the series here or here.)
Now, objectively this is the worst movie of the “original” three (23% Rotten Tomatoes; 5.1 IMDb), but it has a special place in my heart. It was the first Chucky movie I ever saw, recorded one night on a VHS tape that also had A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 & 5 on it. I had asked my dad to record one of those movies for me (I think it was Nightmare 5, because I remember the TV station was showing them out of order), and rather than program a recording time, my dad put the tape in, hit record, and let it record until the end of the six-hour tape. So I ended up with the two Freddy movies, with Child’s Play 3 in between them. And about 5-10 minutes of . . . something else at the end of the tape. The tape ended before that movie reached the opening credits, so it shall forever remain a mystery. (It might have been Halloween 2.)
I know Dove has something she wants to say about the controversy this movie caused in the UK because of some little shithead murderers, so I’ll let her get to that here if she feels like it, and then we’ll jump into the recap. Dove?
[Dove: If you’re in the UK and you were into horror movies in the 90s, then this film will be forever linked with the murder of James Bulger a month before his third birthday by two ten-year-old boys. At the time, our gobshite tabloids and Mary Whitehouse decided to push an agenda of trying to ban “video nasties”, by tastelessly cashing in on the brutal murder of a toddler. Even though it was a tenuous link (one of the murderers’ fathers had rented it, and it was never established whether either of the boys had ever seen it), the tabloids had a field day telling everyone that horror movies were to blame, due to some similarities. For me, this movie will always be attached to that horrible crime, even though I don’t believe it was a contributing factor – or if it was, it was at the bottom of a long list that started with far uglier things than a mediocre slasher movie. Also, people gave me the side-eye when I reported that I was only a year or two older than the murderers, I had rented the movie around the same time, and somehow I managed to not kill anyone.
I know this has nothing to do with the movie, but it feels a bit weird to recap it without mentioning the controversy that was attached – however feebly – to it.]
Tagline: Kathy’s new house hides old secrets that could frighten her to death
Description: Too good to be true.
When the Colby family moved to a suburb of Washington, DC, they found a huge old mansion in a great part of town. But when sixteen-year-old Kathy was alone in the house, she had the strangest feeling that someone was there, listening. Soon she learned that the perfect house had a disturbing past. Ten years before, a family had been murdered there. Although they never caught the killer, the police knew who it was. That killer was supposed to be dead, but Kathy didn’t like the creepy character who hung around the neighborhood doing odd jobs. Kathy didn’t like him at all, but nobody was listening to her.
First off, whew, that description pretty much gives the whole story away, doesn’t it? Or does it? It’s been so long since I’ve read this, I don’t remember a lot about the story. Still, that description seems like it tells you pretty much everything that happens, huh?
So, I remember lying on the couch in my living room to read this book when I was fourteen. I was enchanted and somewhat obsessed with the snippet of poem that starts us off on the title page – it’s The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, and the snippet goes like this: . . . But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men
I loved that bit. (The full poem can be found here. I don’t love it in its entirety as much as I loved that one excerpt, though.) I remember finding this book spooky and beautiful; eerie like that bit of poem. I think there were real ghosts, and I fucking love this cover art. But, then again, I said the same exact things about Rice’s Music From the Dead, and that turned out to be a total shitshow on my revisit. With that in mind, I can’t quite work up the enthusiasm my memory is insisting this book deserves. But the only way to find out is to get to it, right?
Description: There’s no place like this home . . .
At first, Brandt McCloy thinks moving to Shadyside is great. He has attracted the attention of three beautiful girls – Meg, Jinny, and Abbie. [The book doesn’t actually put the Oxford comma between the last two girls’ names, but fuck that mess. Also, I hate how Jinny is spelled.] But Brandt hasn’t heard the terrifying stories about his new home – 99 Fear Street. He doesn’t know about the headless bodies, the bleeding walls. [Wait, what? When did the walls bleed? The ceiling bled . . .] He doesn’t know that Cally Frasier still haunts the house and plans gruesome deaths for him and everyone close to him. Poor Brandt – what he doesn’t know will hurt him. [That . . . that’s not the expression at all.]
Note: You can find the recap for The First Horror right here. While it’s probably not absolutely necessary to read it before diving into this one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Anyway, it’s there if you want to check it out. I will probably refer to jokes I made in that recap, so it’s best to be prepared. Um, something something, shameless self-promotion.
Well, here we are, guys. Back to R.L. Stine. It had to happen sometime, huh? Fortunately, I really enjoy (or at least, remember enjoying) this trilogy, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t remember this one as clearly as I did the first one, except for the twist ending. Well, one of the twists. I think there are a couple. Other than that, I remembered nothing about the story. I think this one is the weakest of the trilogy, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
Description: After Peter fails a job interview at a toy factory conducted by a computer, Mike makes the same machine short circuit and is promptly hired. Soon all four Monkees take a stand against the technology minded Mr Daggart in favor of old fashioned, hand made toys. (From IMDb)
I unashamedly and unironically love the Monkees, guys. About 10-15 years ago I started really diving into the music and watched all the episodes on DVD. Before that, I remember watching them with my cousin when the show was rerun on MTV in the 80s. There was only one specific episode I remember from then, and this isn’t it, but this one is one of my favorites. Reportedly it was also one of Peter Tork’s favorites, and when I heard he had died in February of this year (2019 if you’re reading this in the future) I decided to recap this as soon as I could. It took me a while to get to it, because I was in the middle of recapping the ever-so-shitty book, The Yearbook, but we’re here now, folks.
Also, for some reason I always think this episode is more Peter-centric, but then it turns more into a Mike episode, and I always somehow forget that.
Description: According to his IQ test, David Kallas is a genius, even if his teachers think he’s a slacker. His sole extracurricular activity is the yearbook, and he only became editor as an excuse to get close to Ariana Maas. On his way to the printer’s to check on the book, he takes a shortcut to spy on Ariana and her boyfriend—the impossibly perfect Stephen Taylor—and ends up finding something even nastier than two students making out: a butchered corpse floating in the creek. The body leads David to a disturbing secret about his school’s past. When members of the senior class start dying, David is determined to solve the mystery and save the school—even if he has to destroy himself to do it.
Well, it had to happen. After a short run recapping things I actually enjoyed, we had to get back to a book that makes me rage. I might be biased from reading the book, but that description absolutely makes David sound like an incel Nice Guy™ asshole, right? Because he is. Which I unfortunately didn’t remember before buying the Kindle version of this. This character is the fucking worst.
Anyway, I remember owning this book; I didn’t remember the overall story, though. I remembered exactly two oddly specific things – the first was the lead female character tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. The second was the same character talking about Pepsi dissolving a tooth left in it overnight. I remember this leading me to test this out with one of my baby teeth (this book came out when I was 13, so I shouldn’t have still been losing baby teeth, so I’m a little confused where the tooth came from), and finding out it’s bullshit. I’m sure Pepsi will dissolve teeth eventually, but it takes longer than overnight.
Anyway, after reading and refreshing my memory, I have no idea why this book is called The Yearbook, or why that cover up there exists. The yearbook is only a peripheral part of the story, really. I guess it would have been too on the nose to title it “Lovecraftian Monsters in the School Basement.” However, there is a second cover (I suspect it’s the UK cover) that gets to the point much quicker than the US cover.
Much more honest. Also much more WTF. They really don’t bury the lede on the UK covers, do they?
Anyway, this book is weird. We have time jumps, secret cults, eldritch horrors, and a protagonist that I want to set on fire. I think the scariest part of this book is the fact that we’re supposed to be on David’s side. Like, he’s the hero. We’re supposed to root for him. We’re, I think, supposed to be rooting for him to get together with the girl he’s stalking and girlfriend-zoning (basically friendzoning, but from the uninterested girl’s perspective). It’s gross and I hate it. Prepare to read 10,000 words of me raging. [Note from Future Me: 10,000 words was way too conservative an estimate.]
Description: Chaank Armaments is experimenting with the ultimate fighting machine which is part human – part machine. So far, the Hardman project has been unreliable and has killed a number of innocent people. The genius behind this project is Jack who lives in a world of models, toys and magazines. When he is fired by Cale for killing a few corporate officers, he unleashes the ultimate killing machine called the ‘Warbeast’ against Cale and those who would help her.
Note: Recently, Dove (of the Nostalgic Bookshelf recapping empire) asked me to watch one of her favorite “bad” movies, Necromentia, and comment on her recap of it, with the offer of doing the same for me. We just about had my pick nailed down, when I actually watched Necromentia, and decided that everything I had previously considered was much too tame and mainstream. I can’t top Necromentia‘s sheer WTF-ness, but you know what I can do? I can give you a bizarre over-the-top rip off of every late 80s/early 90s action/horror/sci-fi movie ever made, starring Brad Dourif at his most scenery-chewing, with a script that was apparently written by someone who has never spoken to another human being in their life. Yes, that is what I can do. (When I told Dove about this movie, she told me I “had her at Brad Dourif.” Now that she’s actually watched it, I hope we’re still friends.)
[Dove: I watched this movie when Raven (my husband) was out. When he came back, he asked how I liked the movie. My response was, “It was exactly what I deserved after Necromentia.” (Yes, JC and I are still friends.)]
Full disclosure: I love me some Brad Dourif. This is one of those movies that I’m pretty sure only hardcore Dourif fans and people who watch every sci-fi/horror/action movie that comes out have seen. I know Dourif is the entire reason I watched it years and years ago, and I really didn’t like it all that much the first time around. Shocked? Then I gave it another shot and really liked it on every subsequent viewing. (I also hated Fargo on first viewing. My first impressions are very subject to change.) Oh sure, it’s pretty terrible, but there’s something mesmerizing about it. It might be the obvious lack of fucks the filmmakers had to give. The character names alone – nearly everyone is named after a famous director. It’s gleefully egregious. Or, to use one of Dove’s terms, it’s eye-poking. But gleefully so. No fucks to give. I have no defense for this movie; I love its stupid dumb ass. The best description I can give is that it’s like if William Gibson (the cyberpunk author, not the playwright) wrote Die Hard, then Robocop hate-fucked it while Universal Soldier jerked off in the corner.
There are I think four different versions with four different running times. I believe the one I’m recapping is the 111 minute long director’s cut. As far as I can tell, the only difference between this one and the one I rented the fuck out of in the late 90s/early 2000s is one extra backstory scene and a few references to that backstory. It’s not actually important to the story, but I’m glad it’s there because it is so over-the-top ridiculous that I’d be sad if I didn’t get to mock it.
[Dove: I tried to watch the 111 minute version, but I started to go into the future, because the constantly-moving background was giving me a real headache. I watched the 122 minute version. Though by the time I swapped over, I had missed those minutes. They happen all before the first 19 minutes of the copy JC watched. I have not yet gone back to watch them.][JC: As far as I can tell, no official 122 minute version exists, so I’m curious what was going on in that version.]