Tagged Series

Halloween II: One of the Few Perfect Slasher Sequels

Halloween II. 1981. Directed by Rick Rosenthal. Screenplay by John Carpenter & Debra Hill.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Pamela Susan Shoop, Hunter von Leer, Dick Warlock, Leo Rossi, Gloria Gifford, and Tawny Moyer. Dino De Laurentiis Company.
Rated R. 92 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★★ (Film)
★★★★★ (Blu ray release)
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There are very few sequels which come out living up to the greatness of the original film. Especially when we consider horror movies, there are not too many franchises that end up pumping out sequels that match the first.
However, I’d argue that Halloween II is more than a worthy sequel compared to its predecessor. I don’t like this more than the first Halloween, but all the same I think it’s one of the most flawless slasher horrors out there, and definitely a favourite of mine out of the 1980s; an era that held so much great, as well as shlocky and awful, horror from start to finish.
While John Carpenter only returned to this film in the form of screenwriter, I still find that Rick Rosenthal attempted to keep up with a particular style laid out by Carpenter in the original. In that way, with a build of tension and suspense alongside the continuously solid acting from both Donald Pleasance and Scream Queen original Jamie Lee Curtis, my opinion is that Rosenthal made a worthy sequel that should stand next to the original and not be derided as some less than decent sequel trying to capitalize off the success of Carpenter’s first film. Though Carpenter expressed more than once he wasn’t too pleased about a sequel, I think that in 1978 with an ending such as the original Halloween had, there was no way they couldn’t make a continuation. Today, it’s easy to say “no more sequels” because everything is a sequel, a remake, a reboot, a rehash – but in 1981, I bet tons of people wanted more Michael Myers. Maybe going on for over half a dozen movies was not the perfect concept, however, I love this sequel and I think it has enough of all the good stuff to warrant it being an excellent horror movie on its own, even without riding the coattails of Carpenter completely. Luckily, the script works well and it doesn’t come off as a needless movie, and I’m happy that at least Carpenter put his mark on things, even if only slightly through the script with Debra Hill.
Halloween II Myers in windowBeginning immediately after the events of 1978’s Halloween, we pick up as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is brought to the hospital. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is somehow still trying to convince the authorities of Michael Myers’ impending danger, while the masked serial killer continues on stalking through the darkened streets of Haddondfield, trick-or-treaters still running around in their own costumes. Police are out, looking for the murderer, but Loomis still can’t get through to everyone how Michael is essentially the physical embodiment of evil.
With a quiet and isolated setting in a cold, sterile hospital, Halloween II gives us a claustrophobic romp through terror, as Michael Myers wants to find Laurie Strode – for reasons we come to discover – and he will stop at nothing to find her. Moving through the dark halls of the hospital, Myers cuts and cracks his way through everyone and every single thing in his way, until it’s only him, Dr. Loomis, and Laurie Strode left.
Halloween II 1981 8Really dig how the story starts right after the original events. This makes the tension and suspense feel as if it’s still lingering. Even years and years later, starting from the night of Michael Myers’ return and heading right into the plot of this film, I think it was one of the smartest screenwriting choices they could’ve made. It’s as if we’ve never left the streets of Haddonfield, like Michael Myers has been continually stalking Laurie, Loomis, all of us, ever since we last watched the 1978 original. Every time I watch it, the opening scenes from Carpenter’s Halloween that work into the official first scenes of Halloween II really put me back into that terrifying seat where last I sat. A great effect.
halloween-ii-2A few wonderful Steadicam shots throughout the halls of the hospital. I think not only does Rosenthal stick with a structure of suspense, he also goes for a similar visual style to the first film, which helps again to keep us in that mood extending out of Carpenter’s Halloween. There’s just enough of the movie sticking close to the 1978 classic while still remaining a separate film that I sort of love Halloween and Halloween II as a pair. Though I love the original most, there’s something perfect about how these two horror movies come together. They’re different beasts, but cut from the same cloth. To me, Halloween II becomes a logical extension of the first instead of merely coming off as rushed piece of work to be forced into the market, hoping to spawn more movies. Maybe others see it that way. Me – I love this and think it’s a great addition to the first, making Halloween into a legitimate series. Some say Halloween III: Season of the Witch ought not be considered as a part of the series – it’s more of a stand alone picture – however, I think it works in wonderfully. A lot say the series falls off heavily after this one, but I find the 3rd, 4th, and 5th instalments a lot of fun. That’s just my opinion. Not as good as the first two, but these first two films made it possible for Michael Myers to become that never dying embodiment of evil. At least in Halloween II, we’re treated to an excellent slasher film that works as an impressive double feature with the first.
halloween-ii-2-e1430018078368Apparently Carpenter went back, after believing Rosenthal’s version didn’t have enough blood, and re-shot some extra nasty parts to make it more visceral. Even though Rosenthal did not like it; he planned to go the same route as Carpenter did in the original, with little-to-no blood. So the story goes, Carpenter thought that with the newer slashers coming out and going for heavy gore, nasty kills, this sequel would fail to compete with the others and get washed away in a tide of new horror movies. I don’t think it detracts at all from the film, and even while Rosenthal didn’t approve I believe Carpenter did the right thing. There’s still a ton of suspense and genuine tension built up through the cinematography and how Rosenthal has that dark, fluid sort of movement with the camera going from one shot to the next. So in the end, I really don’t think Carpenter’s decision to add in a little more bloody stuff was a bad one. Stepped things up a notch while also not trying to imitate every last little detail of the original. Sets it apart slightly from the film it follows.
The kills add another dimension to this movie. I love Carpenter’s style in the first, but again, I think he’s totally justified in making this one a slight bit messier – on the blood side. Not that it’s outrageous, not at all. Though, there are a couple worthy moments of blood and terror, it isn’t anything over the top. It’s like that cherry on the top of all that succulent, delicious icing.
One of my favourite kill scenes is the part where he scalds the nurse to death. It is vicious, but it also starts off so subtly. First, in the background as the nurse towels off, we see her male companion get offed by Michael, almost in a fuzzy view. Then he works his way out and up behind her, as Myers so often does. She’s lulled into a false sense of security, thinking it’s her man back again for a good time, but then he
hall2blu_shot9nlNote: amazing to have included Samhain in what is most likely blood on a chalkboard in the school. Thought that was an expertly creepy touch. Not sure if it was Carpenter, Hill, or Rosenthal who came up with that one. Either way, it adds another level of creepiness to Michael Myers as a killer. Almost as if there’s something… supernatural at work. Though, there’s no effort to linger on that. And I think it’s why I love that moment – there’s no explanation, we’re left with only the weird word of Samhain: the beginning of the darker part of the year, a celebration at the end of harvest season. Is this meant in terms of Michael out harvesting his crops, cutting down victims? Or is it merely creepiness the child in Michael picked up along the way? Something he grafted onto his personality, the savage terror that sits behind his blank mask. Who knows. Regardless, it’s great.

The hospital setting really does it for me. One reason I enjoyed the modern slasher Fritt Vilt II is due to its reminiscence, but not carbon copying, of the setting and suspense from this movie; it really pulls off an excellent Halloween II vibe without stealing anything or trying to replicate it. A lot of that has to do with that setting of the hospital – it’s a place we’re meant to feel safe, a haven, somewhere the bad people and things aren’t supposed to be able to get us. However, Michael Myers always manages to go where he is not wanted, where others do not go. He will find a way in. And that’s what I find worming under my skin – the fact Myers is virtually unstoppable. Not even so much that you can’t kill the guy, but the idea there’s nowhere he cannot find you. He’s the ultimate apex predator.
Once inside the hospital, there comes all that claustrophobia, the stuffy feeling of not being able to get away. Not only that, Laurie Strode (Curtis) is also banged up, needing a little medical attention, so there’s a vulnerability to the hospital setting which ratchets up all that creepiness and makes the suspenseful moments inside the location all that more intense.
halloween-returns-5-fan-favorites-that-should-make-a-return-in-the-sequel-donald-pleas-522650Like I’ve continually pointed out, I love this movie. Both as its own scary movie, with much more on-screen killing and blood/graphic horror than the original, as well as the perfect companion to John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece of slasher horror Halloween. Certainly there’s enough of the DNA from the original film to make it work, I think Rick Rosenthal crafts his own thing here, making Michael Myers his own for 92 minutes.
And who can complain about getting more of Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis? Donald Pleasence continues to make Loomis one of the best horror movie heroes out there – part madman himself, the doctor is unstoppable almost like his evil counterpart in Myers. All the while, Jamie Lee Curtis proves she has the chops even more in this movie than the first. There’s another aspect to Laurie Strode here once bits of her past are revealed, as well as the fact she’s injured and medicated in the hospital. Great performances once more from these two fine, fine actors. They bring real legitimacy to these first two films and I think it’s another big part of the reason why I’ve enjoyed it so much over the years.
No matter what the case, Halloween II lives up to what I think it should be: a tense and unsettling, claustrophobic romp through slasher horror. Myers is ever frightful and dangerous, while the revelations Laurie Strode faces bring new life to the young girl we saw emerge from the terror of Michael’s killing spree at the end of the original film. A bit of good nasty stuff with the kill scenes and excellent cinematographic choices on the part of Rosenthal, as well as a couple pieces shot by Carpenter himself, and you’ve got a great hour and a half of slasher madness. And never forget the always eerie music of Halloween, another significant element to the liquid terror oozing out of nearly every single scene.
I always recommend this as one of the best sequels out there in the horror genre. I’ll continue to do so, even if people think that’s foolishness. This is a great slasher and stands up there alongside the best, including its predecessor.

The Blu ray is pretty damn solid all the way through from picture and sound quality to the additional features included in the release from Universal Pictures. There are deleted scenes, an alternate ending, as well as the documentary film Terror in the Aisles, which is hosted by the ever fabulous Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen; it’s a big compilation of scenes and trailers from crime, drama, horror, and sci-fi films from the 1930s up to the 1980s. Excellent addition to the Blu ray. Also, the quality is beyond incredible! What a great transfer. The scenes are so crisp, you just feel all the atmosphere leaking out from each scene. Most definitely worth a purchase. A solid part of my horror movie collection.

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 9: “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.19.25 AMNBC’s Hannibal
Season 3, Episode 9: “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”
Directed by John Dahl (RoundersJoy RideBreaking BadDexter)
Written by Bryan Fuller/Steve Lightfoot/Helen Shang/Jeff Vlaming

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Great Red Dragon” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.30 AMWill Graham (Hugh Dancy) has become distanced from Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) since three years ago, when they were still sickly close to one another, tit for tatting with arterial spray all over the place. Now they’re no longer on a first name basis, as Will seems to completely refuse calling him by name – always doctor, or Dr. Lecter. Evidence of Will truly wanting to have a life separate from their odd connection that once was, and still is – deep, beneath the skin, down in the heart. As always, Hannibal mines for details trying hard to uncover all he can about Will’s personal life: his new life, without Hannibal. It’s intriguing and sad all at once.

We’re served up a flashback from events in the very first season with Hannibal and Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), as he prepares the crime scene he concocted which framed Will for a time.

Basically we are seeing Hannibal, jealous of Will’s new life/fatherhood, looking back at the closest he’ll ever come to that sort of life – the family life. Abigail became like the child of Hannibal and Will. Hannibal reverts back to moments with Abigail, to both capture that feeling Will has which he is missing out on and also to feel close with Will; like a divorced parent remembering the good times with his child that helps him simultaneously remember the good days with his ex-partner.
You accepted your father. Would it be so difficult to accept me?” Hannibal asks.
I don’t know if it would be smart,” replies Abigail.
We don’t get wiser as we get older, Abigail. But, we do learn to avoid or raise a certain amount of Hell. Depending on which we prefer.
I’ll need to collect some flesh,” says Hannibal. “Not a pound, only a piece.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.19.50 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.20.01 AMIncredible exchange here as they play on the phrase of “The King is dead – long live the King“…
Hannibal: “Abigail Hobbs is dead.
Abigail: “Long live Abigail Hobbs.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.27 AMPoor Will is being reluctantly sucked back into the entirety of his old life, working with the FBI and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Also there is Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) who has brought a Verger baby into the world herself, a true son of her own with Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle).
But it’s Will who is in the most danger. Everyone else seems sort of sectioned off and encased in their own new worlds, yet Will is always in that danger, the peril of slipping back into the arms of Hannibal.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.32 AMHannibal: “This is a very shy boy, Will. I’d love to meet him.
As they work together, Will and Hannibal inhabit the Memory Palace. It goes to show how Will and Hannibal are so intricately linked in their psyches now that the Memory Palace where they go together is something of their simultaneous creation; they are partners, in so many senses of the word. They have rooms in their Memory Palace which are identical, perhaps even meant solely for the two of them and no one else. It’s a great visual representation that doesn’t have to do a big ton of exposition to get the point across.
Furthermore, Hannibal and Will walk around in the crime scene together. A testament to both of their powers to empathize, their twisted minds much alike, and also that connection constantly running strong. It’s as if they hadn’t skipped a beat in those years apart, each living other lives yet yearning to be together in some way.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.40 AMHave you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.
A great image of Will standing like Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) did in the previous episode, painted in the black blood of his victims and naked in the moonlight.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.51 AMBack again is Freddy Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), the awful and immoral tabloid reporter. Snooping around, watching Will Graham. Naughty, naughty. Tsk. How rude, Ms. Lounds!

Will: “You called us Murder Husbands.” – CLASSIC LINE! I fucking loved that.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.40 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.02 AMI like the new dynamic between Dr. Bloom and Dr. Lecter. Very interesting. They’ve crossed so many borders in their relationship. Especially when Alana let him go at Muskrat Farm when she could’ve just as easily let Mason Verger (Joe Anderson) eat him, torture him kill him. So it’s fun to see scenes between them both now. Once lovers, now enemies, at odds with one another. Furthermore, Hannibal is in a different position from before. He is uneasy now because of being trapped in that big cell, that fish tank, that observatory – like some bug, there to be studied. And Alana is there, poking, prodding. We also find out that the reason Lecter has cushy surroundings is due to Alana getting some of that Verger cash from the new male heir she gave birth to along with Margot, so that’s how he has been afforded some luxuries. It’s also a way for Alana to existentially torture him, I suppose.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.56 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.25.12 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.25.32 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.10 AMMore Francis Dolarhyde moments bring us deeper into the psyche of Mr. Tooth Fairy himself. INCREDIBLE MOMENT = as Dolarhyde squirms and groans in his becoming there slithers a dragon’s tail back beyond the projector – amazing little shot thrown in there.
What interests me here is we’re seeing Dolarhyde trying to come to grips with who he is – he does not know, he thinks he’s becoming and he’s undergoing a transformation – meanwhile, Will is trying to get inside this guy’s head. It’s an almost impossible task; surely why Will feels the need to go back to Hannibal. However, it’s still an excellent duality where we’re seeing Will fall apart again, at least slightly, while trying to figure out who this man is: a man who does not even know himself.
There’s some amazing yet brief shots giving bits of insight into the past of Dolarhyde. I’ve included a couple screenshots that show a wonderful scene that goes so quick you can almost miss it. Includes some stuff from the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon in a real intense, fast moment.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.26 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.33 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.45 AMI cannot get enough of Richard Armitage as Dolarhyde. I mean, it’s incredible. His physicality, the way he embodies the character and truly becomes him; it’s the essence of the character. Plus, he has several episodes to flesh out that performance. Perfect actor to have chosen for this role. Armitage rules – I am now a believer!
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.12 AMHere in this episode, “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”, Dolarhyde meets his blind love interest. A perfect fit I always thought, for a man who has truly disturbing issues surrounding his own physical appearance. Rutina Wesley plays Reba McClane, previously a role inhabited by both Joan Allen and Emily Watson – so I’m interested to see Wesley’s take on it and see how well she handles it. From what we get to see in this episode, she will do great! She has a nice presence and tons of charisma.
I find the relationship between her and Dolarhyde so ripe for tension. It just fits so perfectly. Incredible adaptation here of Harris’ work. However, the original characters in the Harris novel are just amazing as is; what a writer.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.18 AMAgain, again – love the visuals!
While the conversation between Will and his wife Molly (Nina Arianda) happens, Will uses his Memory Palace to imagine the two of them on the bed together, sitting, in love. It’s an awesome little use of the imagery we so often get on Hannibal. Plus, a nice scene between Will and his loving wife; she is good for him, even if he’s beginning to tear at the seams of his being. The dreams are starting to reappear, he’s sweating: harkens us back to the first two seasons when he descended into madness and instability.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.27 AMJack: “We’re all in this stew together, Dr. Lecter.
Such a fitting line for Jack to say. It describes everything so perfectly, almost literally at times as Hannibal has made plenty of stews/other dishes out of people, ones they’ve known, and at the same time they’re all just boiling in one big pot together with their hatreds and their grudges and ill feelings towards one another – Hannibal, Jack, Will, Alana, Bedelia – like a giant circle, swirling in that pot, they all curl around each other. We’re constantly wondering: who’s the next to die, to be eaten, to feel the full length of the horror?
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.40 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.48 AMThe end of the episode is excellent. We get another great flashback involving Hannibal and Abigail; right after Will called Hannibal in the Season Two finale. There’s lots of good things here, giving us more and more insight into the “sensitive” side, if you will, of Hannibal Lecter; if there truly can be one.
Then of course we see another relationship budding – a new one for Hannibal onto which he can latch (because for all he is Lecter is a parasyte). Francis Dolarhyde reaches him by phone, posing as Lecter’s attorney.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.28.04 AMDolarhyde: “The important thing is what I am becoming.
This moment with Hannibal and Francis on the phone at the end is a creepy bit. There’s a duality again between Hannibal and Francis, just as there exists one between Hannibal/Will and Will/Francis. So much going on, like a twisted and scary love triangle of the worst kind.
Gets really tense especially after Lecter asks him what he’s becoming, to which Dolarhyde replies, in an awful tone: “The Great Red Dragon
We’re building more and more to see a huge confrontation between Will and Francis Dolarhyde, ultimately another game initiated by Hannibal. This time, I think it’s also a confused bit of revenge/an attempt at bringing Will Graham back into his world on Hannibal’s part. Either way, there are so many things happening and I can’t wait to see how Dolarhyde is slowly going to go further mad and twist things up.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, directed by Guillermo Navarro, titled “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun”

I hate that this is cancelled, shame once more NBC! I say it again. Such great horror. I hope this will somehow help mainstream horror television, maybe, maybe not. Wish there was some way to #SaveHannibal – alas, it looks as if it is dead. Hannibal, we hardly knew ye.

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 7: “Digestivo”

NBC’s Hannibal Season
3, Episode 7:
 “Digestivo
Directed by Adam Kane
Written by Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot

* For a review of the next episode, “The Great Red Dragon” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Dolce” – click here Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.39.28 PMTo start, the episode’s title “Digestivo” comes from another part of the formal Italian meal. The literal meaning is, of course, ‘digestif’, which is an alcoholic drink (sweet or bitter) that is drank after a meal; as you can tell, it is meant to help the digestive process. I think Bryan Fuller and Co. chose this particular name for Episode Seven because this is a transitional episode.
We begin at the precarious position in which Vincenzo Natali left us during “Dolce”, where Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) was forced to watch Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) start sawing into Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), right through the forehead. By the end of the episode, we’re miles – literally hundreds of thousands – away from where things started. So, in a way, this episode is the digestif which will help along the process – it helps us to digest the plot and story going forward.

After we pick up, Hannibal is stopped in the midst of his meal preparation (he and Jack were no doubt about to feast on a nice hunk of Will’s grey matter). The new Inspector under Mason Verger’s (Joe Anderson) thumb comes with reinforcements. However, they’re not about to go by the book. They pack up both Hannibal and Will to bring back to Muskrat Farm. Jack is left, along with an officer instructed to “Open him up like he did with the other one.
Fortunately, Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) is still looking out for Hannibal, and in the process saves Jack – in turn, he gives Chiyo the exact location of where Hannibal is being taken. This speeds things up nicely. The digestif has begun to work its magic.
Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.40.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.34 PMAt the end of “Dolce”, we saw the Hannibal/Will duo hanging upside down like sides of beef, or in this case pork. Mason has had them relocated to Muskrat Farm, where Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler) will begin to ready them for their respective fates.
Hannibal, all smiles, and Will, less smiley, are dressed to the nines and wheeled out to Mason’s beautifully set grand table. There, Hannibal is brought some small appetizers, as Mason remarked earlier (while jabbing his dearly departed father’s pocket blade into Hannibal’s thigh) the naughty doctor was looking “a little lean“; he needed to be fattened up. Meanwhile, it is revealed Cordell will be transplanting Will’s face onto Mason – he will then proceed to eat Dr. Lecter with Will’s face on. Twisted. When Cordell goes to apply some moisturizer to Graham, as he is “looking a little dry“, Will surprisingly takes a nice bite out of Cordell’s face. He spits a hunk of cheek out onto the plate in front of him. There’s certainly lots of fight left in Mr. Graham.

As I said before in one of my previous reviews, I love how Bryan Fuller and Co. have tweaked Mason’s revenge slightly. We got bits of the mandating pigs in Season Two, so I think it’s genius how they decided to make Mason decide on eating Lecter. It works in well with the whole fixation of Mason’s on transubstantiation, the risen Jesus Christ or “The Riz” as Mason so lovingly calls him: for those who don’t know, transubstantiation is the concept in the Roman Catholic Church that by eating the bread and wine at Holy Communion, you are not just figuratively eating the body and blood of Christ, you are literally eating it. The way this plays into Mason’s decision is perfect, as even in the Thomas Harris novel Hannibal he is, while simultaneously a sadistic paedophile, a raving fan of Christianity – mainly Catholicism and how confession can absolve one from their heinous acts. Great work on the adaptation here, once more; I feel I’m wearing that sentence out, but whatever. It’s true. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.10 PMAs Will is mostly just waiting around to have his face removed, sitting at the big table and getting in a chat with his old flame Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), there are far more torturous plans for Dr. Lecter. Out where the pigs are kept, Cordell (his face patched up) ties Hannibal up in a pen, amongst the hay and the pig shit. He brands Hannibal at the centre of the back; just the same as any other pig. What I find ironic is how Hannibal ate people for being rude, or rather ‘piggish’. Now we find the cannibal stuck exactly in the metaphorical place of his victims – he is now a pig himself. We get another glimpse at how controlled Hannibal is, most of the time, in his mental process. The pain of the brand barely registers; he closes his eyes and wishes it away. Still, all the time he is awaiting his death, Hannibal flashes those smug, defiant smiles. As if he knows something; something nobody else knows, something we will never know. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.39 PMOne thing I really loved about this episode, aside from the obvious intensity and excitement, is how Alana is basically faced with the prospect of watching Will die, horribly, or letting Hannibal go. Though it seems like a quick decision for her, as she comes into the pig pens where Hannibal and Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) are having a quiet discussion, I think it’s the earlier scene between Alana and Will which really pushes her to action. Will’s shaming of Alana makes her realize that, though there is no doubt Hannibal deserves whatever he gets, and more, by being complicit with what happens to Hannibal (and in turn Will because of the situation) she is no better than him. There’s a lot of morality flying around, and perhaps Will is not perfect when it comes to morals, but what he says works. The moment Hannibal is let free things start to become more terrifying by the moment. But first, before I discuss the finale of the episode and all it entails, let’s take a step back… Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.53 PMThe part of the episode I found most disturbing was the surrogate – the pig. Now, the reason I found this so effectively creepy and unsettling is because of how vicious it shows Mason to be. We knew this anyways, but in the novel Hannibal there is so much more to Mason, as well as Margot, than we end up with in either the film adaptation, or the series. While Mason is fleshed out more here in the series, obviously, as opposed to the film adaptation of Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott, there are aspects we don’t full-on see too much about.
For instance, we only get a small inkling in the Second Season about Mason’s predilections: he is a terribly sick and violent child molester. That’s where the whole “taking the chocolate” thing comes from, as well as the games he played with Margot when she was little. However, Fuller and Co. have certainly stuck with the whole plot of Mason treating Margot like absolute filth.
What I found disturbing about the whole surrogate scene in “Digestivo” is how it takes things up a notch from the book. Harris’ novel has Margot as infertile, as well as a lesbian, but in the series Mason has actually taken out her reproductive parts – he’s literally ripped the ability to give life out of her. So then by further going ahead and planting Margot’s baby (for those who don’t realize it: the baby is that of Margot and Will – notice how big it is? Looks to be about a 9-10 month old infant + the time jump earlier between Will waking up from a coma and his trip to Italy was 8 months… not hard to put together) into a surrogate, a pig, there’s so much malice. It not only represents just utter disregard for Margot and her feelings, her wishes to have a Verger baby, by having the pig as the surrogate Mason is saying that the pig is more worthy to carry a child with a Verger name than Margot – that the pigs are more family and more Verger than Margot.
It is so vicious that it’s perfect. Worked wonders, these scenes. Especially while the baby is being removed/a face is being removed while Will sits strapped into a medical gurney next to Cordell. Disturbing yet incredibly visual. The imagery here was unreal. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.06 PMBIG TIME SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
In the novel Hannibal, Margot talks with Hannibal, just like in this episode – he offers to be the scapegoat for Mason’s murder, should Margot decide on committing it. Hannibal tells her it wouldn’t matter for another charge to be laid on him, that he will write a letter boasting about enjoying the murder of Mason Verger; he offers some hair, right from the scalp, to lay in Mason’s hands after he is dead.
I like how Alana Bloom is present here, as opposed to it just being Margot in the novel – seeing Alana rip the hair out of Hannibal’s scalp is a perfect, tiny little blow on her part, at least she get some kind of revenge even if it’s not much. Also, in the novel Margot kills her brother by jamming the eel down his throat, as well as milking his prostate with a cattle prod to gather some viable sperm samples to make a true Verger baby later on.
Here, I like that Margot and Alana had a hand in the murder. I also thought it was just perfect that the eel went on in Mason’s mouth by itself, without being shoved down his throat. Sort of shows how everyone/everything around Mason hates him and knows how disgustingly cruel/sadistic he can be deep down – even the eel wanted to be a part of his death. Very fun, highly macabre stuff in this episode! What a scene left at Muskrat Farm. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.24 PMThe end of the episode is what works most wonderfully to me. I won’t spoil how Will is sprung loose, however, Hannibal brings his dear friend back home, lays him in bed. Chiyo and Hannibal have a brief chat outside – Lecter tells her she is stable, on the periodic table of elements “between iron and silver“.
Inside, Lecter tries to take things back to the old days: him in the chair, Will laying back and recounting his darkest thoughts. Unfortunately for Hannibal, his friend does not want the friendship anymore. Will has realized, after all that’s happened, no matter how bad he feels close to Hannibal they are no good together, in any way. Will tells him that he doesn’t want to know where Hannibal is, he won’t look for him, because he does not want to know where he is; he has had enough. Clearly hurt, Hannibal leaves to seemingly vanish. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.42 PMJack Crawford and the FBI show up, but Will says that Lecter is gone. Hannibal willingly surrenders. He gloats in his own way, telling Jack: “You’ve finally caught the Chesapeake Ripper.
Jack replies by saying Hannibal wasn’t caught, he gave himself up. Hauntingly, Dr. Lecter looks at Jack first, then Will and says: “I want you to know exactly where I am. That way, you can always find me.” To hear that – to see Hannibal in this Fuller and Co. adaptation of Thomas Harris giving himself up willingly – is so refreshing. It is the truly disturbed, sick, haunted relationship between Will and Hannibal which drives everything. Will hurt Hannibal by rejecting further friendship and saying he didn’t care where Lecter ended up.
Therefore, Hannibal spited Will by turning himself in, so that the thought of knowing exactly where he’d be, locked in a cell somewhere, would always be with Will. That way, Hannibal ensures he will always be a part of Will’s life.

The most exciting part is the next episode – “The Great Red Dragon” – because there’s a time jump. We go forward, and yet somehow backward (to Harris’ work in a sense). We’ll get to see exactly how haunted Will is when Jack has to pull him back into a murder investigation, and how desperate will it make them: desperate enough to go see Dr. Lecter again?
Stay tuned and check out for Episode Eight’s review!

WRONG TURN’s Freaky Backwoods Cannibal Horror

Wrong Turn. 2003. Directed by Rob Schmidt. Screenplay by Alan McElroy. Starring Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, Julian Richings, Gary Robbins, Ted Clark, Yvonne Gaudry, and Wayne Robson. Summit Entertainment. Rated R. 84 minutes. Horror.

★★★WrongTurnIn my last review, for the 2009 Indonesian gorefest Macabre, I mentioned how there are a plethora of ‘cannibal family in the woods’ films, especially in the past decade since 2003’s Anchor Bay remake of Tobe Hooper’s classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. There have been so many movies that copied TCM, but like Macabre there are also a lot of solid efforts in the horror field which emulate and pay homage instead of trying to cover all the same ground.
Wrong Turn, released in the same year as the aforementioned remake of Hooper’s low budget masterpiece, is a film that certainly has its roots in TCM and no doubt there are bits that remind people of it. However, Rob Schmidt’s backwoods horror film does enough to separate it from the carbon copies with some decent acting, creepy characters, and several intense kills, and though it isn’t a great movie it is a head above so many lame, boring cannibal horror movies flooding the theatre these past dozen years.

Wrong Turn begins as Chris Flynn (Dexter‘s Desmond Harrington) travels through West Virginia. On a backroad, he accidentally slams into a vehicle. Chris discovers the vehicle belongs to a group of friends – Jessie (Eliza Dushku), Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Scott (Jeremy Sisto), Evan (Kevin Zegers), and Francine (Lindy Booth). After they make sure Chris is all right, the group discovers someone threw a trap into the road: a length of spiked metal and barbed wire designed to blow tires out. They wander around for awhile looking for some way to call for help, or anything that might give them a hand. The group comes across a sort of shanty-house out in the woods. Chris decides to head inside, followed by some of the others. Meanwhile, Evan and Francine are murdered as they wait back at the car. Soon enough the inbred cannibalistic murderers who live in the shanty, One-Eye (Ted Clark), Saw-Tooth (Garry Robbins), and Three Finger (Julian Richings) return, with the body of Francine in tow, and the rest of the group do their best to hide where they can in the house. The horror has only just begun.
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Probably one of the best things Wrong Turn has going for it overall is the fact that Dushku, Harrington, and Sisto are three pretty solid actors. Not that the others aren’t – Emmanuelle Chriqui is probably the only good thing about Entourage – but those three are actors I’ve enjoyed in other things, and they help to carry the emotionality and tension needed in a horror film. So many horrors, especially ones similar to this involving good amounts of blood/guts and disturbing material (inbred cannibal murderers & no doubt they like to rape), suffer due to poor acting. Because a lot of low budget horror gets put out, maybe more so than any other genre, many of those films end up with unknown actors. And unknown actors are fine, as long as they can act. Many times in horror, I think low budget outings try and make up for the acting in other ways, but the fact is you need good actors to sell the emotions and complexity of a horror film. Even if it’s one about inbred cannibals in the woods of West Virginia.
Perhaps my favourite part of the film is when Scott (Jeremy Sisto) tries to calm his fiancee Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) after their first close encounter with the cannibals. He tells her: “We’re going home, we’re gonna get married, all right? And we are never going into the woods again.” In another movie, this might’ve come off too sentimental and cheesy, but Sisto really sells it the way it’s meant to go, and Chriqui does well acting off of him. This is just one instance of some actual decent acting, which often times gets left at the door in (too) many horror movies. The weak links are no doubt Kevin Zegers and Lindy Booth, but luckily there isn’t much screen time for them until they meet a grisly, bloody end.
mountain-men-wrong-turn-2003-The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is, and always will be, one of the scariest films I’ve personally ever seen with my two eyes. Something about it hit me right in the correct scary spots. What I like about Wrong Turn in comparison is how it doesn’t opt to have this family of cannibals act with any semblance of organization, outside of the fact they’ve got a house and they have not been discovered/caught. In TCM it isn’t as if Leatherface and the clan are criminal masterminds or anything, but Drayton Sawyer at least has a job, he appears as a member of the Texan community, and this is all a part of how the family does their business. With Wrong Turn, these nasty boys are just a bunch of savage monsters; they live in the hills and take whoever they can from off the roads to fill their pots of stew and their freezer. It works because the actors who are playing Three Finger, Saw-Tooth, and One-Eye sell their characters so well.
I think the scene where the group of friends has to hide in the old shanty while the boys arrive home is a great one. Very tense, lots of quiet suspense. The point where one of the cannibals tosses Francine’s body to the floor, wrapped in metal and barbed wire, dead, bloody, is rough – in the best way possible. That whole scene really set things up for the moment where Chris and the others flee the house, into the woods, and the cannibals wake up from their nap. Honestly, it reminded me of a twisted version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.
movies-wrong-turnNot near a perfect horror, I can still honestly give Wrong Turn 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can do much worse than watch this movie if you’re looking for something with a decent bit of gore, quality acting, and a nice handful of thrills. Plus, the inbred cannibals are terrifying. The best way, for me personally, to enjoy these types of ‘survival horror’ movies or the ‘backwoods horror’ stuff is to try and put yourself in the shoes of the characters – how would you truly react? Me, I would run, and scream, and cry, and probably ruin my pants. I’d probably be the first to die, or close to first. That’s why Wrong Turn creeps me out so hard, though it has flaws, and another reason The Texas Chain Saw Massacre does a number on my head because I imagine myself in those scenarios, how bad it would be. The acting is good from the lead characters, the make-up effects and gore is a lot of fun, the cannibals scare the hell out of me – check this out if you haven’t. The entire series is not up to par, but there are definitely a couple decent ones in my opinion, at least better than so much of the other generic crap being funnelled into theatres and straight-to-video/VOD. Worth the time to enjoy some internal organs and terrifying, inbred murderers.