Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hot Child In the Cinema

Sure, we know that Angela Baker and Jason Voorhees are eternally guarding the sleepaway camp gates, but what about all the other joys of summer? Here’s a roundup of other treats to be enjoyed between June and September, which the Farmer’s Almanac constantly rates as the peak time of year to slaughter young people in cinematic ways. 


I’m the kind of pasty white woman who spends an extra $1.50 to raise my SPF to 50, so the very idea of laying encased in an electrified tomb simply to get a little brown is horrifying in itself. Hence, I'll always appreciate the most ingenious death scene of Final Destination 3, in which two sweetly bubblegum airheads meet their end via a poorly designed tanning salon. Plus, it incorporates another staple of July, Slurpee-ish drinks! Double death, double points. 


There’s something incredibly joyful about riding a temporary feris wheel operated by a toothless nomad trying desperately to flirt with underage locals.  Of course, it’s even more fun when such an evening involves homicide. Tobe Hooper’s 1981 The Funhouse is an excellent little slasher that utilizes its carnival setting to kill a few disrespectful teens. That’s right kids: no matter how tempting it may be, spending a night inside a temporary amusement park will run you the risk of being hanged, raped, or mocked by an animatronic fat lady. 

Lazy Days

In between camp and softball practice, my childhood summer was generally spent in a pool, in front of a VCR, or on a bike pretending to sniff out an exciting adventure that often involved Ewoks. Maybe that’s because I grew up in a kinder, simpler time where kids could be opposed to the sadistic era of poodle skirts, jukeboxes, and Jack Ketchum’s novel turned film, The Girl Next Door. Instead of playing stickball or hiking across town to view a corpse like normal kids, these young Americans of prefer kinky tag, drinking cheap beer with mom, and sexually violating the new girl in town. Sure, they occasionally celebrate hot weather with an ice pop or betting on red vs. black ant wars, but this is one neighborhood that needs to hall its delinquents to the teenage wasteland of  Sleepaway Camp III.

School’s Out

As Tiny Tim once said, the true meaning of summer is not having to go to school. Sadly this thrill wears away when you join the typical workforce, but thankfully, we’ll always have horror films that cast well-past-graduation aged actors as horny teenagers without a care in the world come June. The soon-to-finally-be-released-and-seen-by-every-American-horror-fan-complaining-about-the-lack-of-good-original-movies All the Boys Love Mandy Lane captures this hedonistic innocence by driving a group of pretty high school juniors to a sprawling ranch for a start-of-summer party. Once there, the boys plot to woo the titular beauty while the girls judge each others’ appearances and ...well, I’ll say no more for fear of spoilage. But lots of stuff happens, none of which involves friendship circles or marshmallows.

Ring Ring

What’s that sound? A mobile merry-go-round? A really loud music box? \nGoodness no! It’s the Good Humor Man! Or the creepy, inexplicably living creature with a head that somehow stays solid under the summer sun, Mr. Softee! Or--wait. This guy looks different. A little short. A tad ratty. Familiar in a character actor sort of way. \n\nBecause, of course, it’s none other than Clint Howard playing the world’s most evil purveyor of dairy delights. Sure, Masters of Horror’s We All Scream For Ice Cream gave this summer staple a nice follow up, but it’s the lesser Howard Brother’s star turn that truly made ice cream trucks vehicles to fear. Or find mildly revolting and extremely hilarious. Either way, this is the film that clinched Howard’s MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, so you know it has to be brilliant. And it is.

I’m skipping the beach because a) I burn easily and b) I simply refuse to mention the most mentioned summer horror classic in this column. Oh fine: Jaws IV: The Revenge is by far the best film to ever unit sand, sharks, and Mario Von Peebles. Happy now?

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