The Fisherman

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a slapdash sequel with a ridiculously awkward title. After the success of I Know What You Did Last Summer, there was no reason to continue other than money. Now the similarities to Scream are far more obvious, but not quite as clever. Earning a dismal 7% on Rotten Tomatoes in the process. Like Scream 2, the sequel takes place a year after the previous movie’s murders. Continuing to follow the only survivors in college. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. being the only returning leads.

Another Scream 2 similarity is adding black characters to the group of victims. Once again using fresh 90’s talent. Brandy plays Julie’s roommate and Mekhi Phifer plays her boyfriend. A new guy named Will Benson joins them on a trip to the Bahamas that they win in a competition. Although Ray is still around, he doesn’t join his girlfriend on the trip. Instead he follows them when the Fisherman resurfaces. Even with the location change, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is the exact same movie. Complete with ominous messages, very gradual kills, and another “What are you waiting for?!” type scene.

Only with more cringy dialogue and an annoying rastafarian Jack Black. So embarrassing he wasn’t even credited. Since a slasher like the Fisherman can only be one specific person, the reveal isn’t at all surprising. Same with the added twist that one of Julie’s friend’s is in league with him. Despite the sequel’s reputation, it was the only movie I ever found available. The original was very hard to find. Although I can understand fans finding enjoyment in the sequel since it’s a lot of the same thrills. Still, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer has nothing new to offer.

2. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Julie and friends try to have fun

Preceded by: I Know What You Did Last Summer & Followed by: I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

What are You Waiting For?!

I Know What You Did Last Summer rejuvenated the slasher genre the same way Scream did just one year prior. With the same writer leaning into the youth conscious 90’s. A slasher element was added to the skeleton of a book where four friends cover up a hit-and-run. Out of all the popular slasher flicks I’ve seen, this was less about the killer and more about its hip young stars. All four celebrities are synonymous with the 90’s. You’ve got “Scream Queens” Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Helen), along with teen “it boys” Ryan Phillippe (Barry) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (Ray).

It’s because of I Know What You Did Last Summer that Gellar & Prinze have been married since 2002. Despite not being a couple in the movie itself. Instead, Julie is dating Ray and Helen is dating Barry. They’re all close friends living in a small fishing community. They start partying after attending Helen’s crown winning beauty pageant, but an unfortunate series of events ends in the presumed death of an unknown man. Rather than ruin their futures, they make the grave mistake of throwing the body in a lake. Only it ends up ruining their futures anyway. Since the guilt is too much for Julie and everyone’s broken up. That’s when they discover the ominous note “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

The movie does contain some nods and winks, but it’s not exactly self-referential. The “Hush” trailer really leaned into the comedic aspects though. Specifically the infamous “What are you waiting for?!” Even though kills can still be very brutal. After a lot of investigation, the killer is revealed to be a Fisherman. Not exactly an instant icon, but the Urban Legend inspired hook and rain slicker are threatening. I Know What You Did Last Summer can get a little cheesy, but it does balance a dark set up with bloody hallmarks.

1. I Know What You Did Last Summer

Julie and her friends cover up a murder

Followed by: I Still Know What You Did Summer

Shot-for-Shot

Psycho (1998) is the worst kind of remake. There’s nothing more pointless than a shot-for-shot remake of an untouchable classic. It’s neither clever nor creative. Even though Gus Van Sant is a capable director, I don’t know what made him think remaking Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was a good idea. One of his reasons is proving a movie can’t be 100% recreated, but you’re still left with an inferior version in the end. There’s no point in explaining the plot, because it’s the exact same movie practically word-for-word. Granted there are changes, but that only makes it worse.

The setting is now 1998 and apart from a stray walkman or price inflation, there’s no other reason for that change. A lot of the dialogue is still nothing anyone outside 1960 would say. Another problem is the use of color. It’s one thing to shoot in color, but it’s another to use it obnoxiously. Everything is bright and colorful with most dramatic scenes taking place in broad daylight. There’s no atmosphere. However, the biggest problem is the all-star cast. Anne Heche is not Marione Crane. Nothing she says or does feels believable. Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Forster, nobody feels natural. We know how these lines are supposed to be delivered, so it just feels off when other actors are repeating them.

But the worst casting choice is easily Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. I can’t take him seriously in a role like this. Even worse when he’s dressed like “Mother.” Most of the smaller changes surround him. Specifically having him appear more perverted while spying on Marion or having out of nowhere images flash during his two stabbing scenes. The recreation of the shower scene misses the point of the original completely. The famous theme comes in late, there’s less obscured nudity, and color removes all tension. There’s nothing you can get out of Psycho (1998) that you can’t get 10 times better in the original.

6. Psycho

Marion Crane is stabbed in the shower

Remake of: Psycho (1960)

Before Bates Motel

Psycho IV: The Beginning is both the beginning and the end of the completely unnecessary Psycho franchise. It’s either the 4th installment or the 5th if you count another made-for-TV movie I didn’t see titled Bates Motel (no, not that Bates Motel). The difference between the two, is that Psycho IV retains both an R rating and Anthony Perkins. This was Perkins final time playing Norman Bates only a few short years before his death.

Psycho IV picks up with Norman once again released from an institution. Possibly for the first time, since there’s no mention of the pointless past altering events of Psycho II and Psycho III. It wouldn’t really make sense for Norman to be released after only 4 years anyway. Norman calls a radio talk show with the unusually specific topic of sons who kill their mothers using the name Ed (as a nod to the killer that inspired him). For whatever reason Norma Bates is played by the British Olivia Hussey. There mother-son relationship is explored in uncomfortable detail made worse by bad dialogue.

There’s another shower scene, but neither of the 2 previously mentioned kills have anything to do with it. An older Henry Thomas plays his first horror character as the younger Norman Bates. He’s good in the role since the original actor was their to help, but the inevitable murder of his mother and her boyfriend is just too overdramatized. Back in the present, Norman is revealed to be married with the intention of killing his wife. Let’s just say the ending is happier than you’d expect. Psycho IV: The Beginning proves some events are better left unseen.

5. Psycho IV The Beginning

Norma dresses Norman up like a girl

Preceded by: Psycho III

Just a Little Mad

Psycho III officially falls into 80’s slasher territory. Psycho II may have been long and a bit meandering, but at least it felt somewhat original. Psycho III practically falls back into the pattern of the original movie. To the point it either recreates scenes or reuses famous quotes. One part of the sequel I wasn’t aware of was Anthony Perkins being the director. He’s no Alfred Hitchcock, but he does understand Norman Bates well by this point. Even if he’s back to being a killer driven mad by his “Mother.”

After an almost out of nowhere opening, Norman has reopened Bates Motel and hires a douchey aspiring guitarist to help out. At the same time, a nosy journalist tries to do a story on him and Norman becomes infatuated with a woman baring Marion Crane’s initials. Footage of the shower scene is shown yet again, because they still think we forgot. Maureen Coyle is a former nun who (as if required) recreates the shower scene. Only with less deadly consequences. Norman actually attempts to start a romantic relationship with her and although it’s an interesting idea, it doesn’t go anywhere.

Psycho III is bloodier with more nudity and the kills have become more convoluted with an all over the place tone. There’s nothing iconic about being killed in a phone booth or on a toilet. SPOILER ALERT! Mrs. Spool isn’t Norman’s mother after all and everything the second movie did is now pointless. Just like before, Psycho III is another sequel to a classic that should have stayed buried.

4. Psycho III

Norman sits under an owl

Preceded by: Psycho II & Followed by: Psycho IV: The Beginning

Not Insane

Psycho II is desperate to recapture the success of the far superior Hitchcock classic. The sequel literally opens with the iconic shower scene. As if anyone’s forgotten about it. Why make a sequel to an untouchable black & white 1960 film 22 years after the fact (and in color)? Apparently it’s because the original author wrote a sequel 1 year prior to the film’s release. So the studio wanted to make their own film in response. Plus it was the 80’s, when any horror property could be exploited.

Psycho II does manage to bring back both Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles. Norman Bates is no longer insane and hopeful to rebuild his life. Lila Loomis (who understandably married Sam) desperately protests his release. On one hand, the idea of a reformed psycho trying to move on is interesting. Perkins manages to recapture Norman at an older age with more sympathy, but way too much time is spent on it. He meets a girl at work named Mary Samuels who predictably recreates the shower scene only with more nudity.

SPOILER ALERT! Mary is Lila’s daughter who along with her mother drives Norman insane in an attempt to re-institutionalize him. Only Mary starts to bond with Norman and a string of murders start to become real confusing. It may have worked better if there weren’t so many fake outs. Plus I don’t appreciate turning a classic character like Lila into an antagonist. Although that explanation would have been better than what they ended up with. Where a random character you completely forgot about turns out to be “Mother.” Psycho II ends right where it began, rendering the whole sequel pointless.

3. Psycho II

Norman Bates uses his shovel

Preceded by: Psycho & Followed by: Psycho III

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes

Psycho is in my opinion, the greatest film Alfred Hitchcock ever directed. This is the peak of Hitchcock filmmaking. There was no way I’d miss out on seeing such a classic. Even if the shocking twist is one of the most well known in movie history. By this point, everyone should know about the infamous shower scene. One of the most iconic moments in horror movie history. One of the many reasons Psycho influenced the slasher genre. If there’s any movie I wish I could have seen unspoiled at the time of its release, it would be Psycho. Rather than seeing popular scenes in pieces, before watching in full. I can only imagine how 1960’s audiences reacted to it.

Like most of Alfred Hitchcock’s best remembered work, Psycho was made later in his career. It was based on a book published 1 year prior to the film’s release. Due to the edgy material in the book, Hitchcock had to get creative. Like most of the best horror movies, Psycho was made with a low budget. Hence the use of black & white at a time when color was common. In order to preserve the twist, Hitchcock shot a vague unusually upbeat set tour trailer and demanded that nobody be seated after the movie started. Good thing the internet didn’t exist…

1. Psycho

Marion Crane takes a shower

Psychoย was a major game changer. Most of the violent, sexual, or risque material was practically unheard of in American films at the time. You can immediately tell based on the opening. Which depicts an unmarried couple sharing a bed with the woman in a bra. The blonde woman in question is pioneer scream queen Janet Leigh. Mother of future scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. Leigh plays “lead” character Marion Crane. Like all great Hitchcock movies, we’re led astray by a false sense of security. As Marion and her boyfriend Sam Loomis discuss his debt and how they’ll ever be able to get married. A lot of time is spent on Marion’s decision to steal $40,000 from a client at her real-estate job. It’s there Alfred Hitchcock makes his all important cameo. The suspense builds as Marion is spotted by her boss, stopped by a police officer, and trades her car in at a dealership. All of which is just as engaging as what follows.

Marion ends up at the all too ominous Bates Motel. A secluded motel with a creepy looking house on a hill right next door. The very innocent looking Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates. The proprietor who lives with his controlling mother. Norman awkwardly flirts with Marion and they discuss his off-putting taxidermied bird collection and the mental state of his dear mother. It’s here that the most iconic lines, “A boy’s best friend is his mother” and “We all go a little mad sometimes” are dropped. Marion is inspired to return the money, unbeknownst that Norman is peeping through a hole in another iconic shot. Along with disrobing, this is the first film to show a toilet being flushed. Something that’s far too important to be cut out.

Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Marion takes a shower and is greeted by a shadowy figure who stabs her multiple times. Everything about the scene is perfect. From the angles to the quick cuts. It’s so well shot that your mind tricks you into thinking you’re seeing more violence and nudity then you actually are. Chocolate syrup was famously used for blood. One of the major benefits of shooting in black & white. The scene is only enhanced by its famous screechy violin theme. The official theme is ominous as well. Needless to say a shower is the worst place to find yourself cornered by a killer. You’re completely vulnerable and there’s nowhere to run. So now the lead character who we’ve come to know after nearly an hour of screen time is dead.

All attention is shifted to Marion’s equally blonde sister Lila Crane played by Vera Miles. Lila teams up with Sam in order to find her, but not before the new lead Private Investigator Arbogast is introduced. He questions an increasingly frantic Norman and attempts to see his mother. Just like before, Arbogast is another false lead who’s killed by mother Bates. People don’t talk about it as much, but being killed at the top of the stairs is just as terrifying. Lila and Sam investigate, only to find conflicting stories given by the local sheriff. They check into Bates Motel and discover an unflushed piece of evidence in the toilet.

As Lila attempts to find Mrs. Bates, the second big twist is revealed. That she’d been dead the entire time and that Norman and “Mother” are one and the same. Cross-dressing was just as risque a topic to cover back then. In the final shot, Norman is consumed by his mother and unable to harm a fly. Psycho broke so much new ground in 1960. Pivotal moments and themes have been imitated many times since its release. So it’s hard to believe Psycho didn’t win any Oscars. Even without them, Psycho is a psychological masterpiece that forever ruined taking showers.

2. Psycho

“She wouldn’t even harm a fly”

Followed by: Psycho II

Hear No Evil

Hush completes the three senses of horror trilogy. 2010’s horror movies that represent the three wise monkeys. If Bird Box represents “see no evil” and A Quiet Place represents “speak no evil,” then Hush represents “hear no evil.” It was part of a meme that I’m sure had a lot of people scratching their heads. Since not a whole lot of people were familiar with Hush (myself included). It’s not a Netflix original, but that was the only place to check it out.

Hush has the terrifying concept of having a deaf protagonist pursued by a killer she’s unable to hear. Horror director Mike Flanagan builds suspense with a nontraditional home invasion set up. Maddie Young is a deaf mute writer who lives alone at a secluded home with only her cat and two neighbors to keep her company. She can only sign to people she knows through her computer or phone, but she can read lips. All of which either works for or against her when a masked killer carrying a knife and crossbow unexpectedly drops by. With her unable to hear any of the horror.

Although simply credited as “The Man,” the hunter would have been a more accurate description. The mystery is dropped very quickly when he’s revealed to be nothing more than an ordinary guy. Albeit a coward that stalks easy prey. Making him a very realistic killer. Things turn into a game of cat and mouse where Maddie desperately tries to survive any way she can. Until she finally outsmarts him with wit and determination. For a practically silent film with only two characters, Hush terrifies by effectively stimulating the senses.

Hush

Maddie can’t hear the killer behind her

H40: 40 Years Later

Halloween (2018) is confusingly the third movie titled Halloween. Even though it’s a sequel not a remake, but that didn’t stop it from finally being a worthy follow up to the original. It only took 11 movies. After 9 years with no Halloween movies, it seemed like this franchise was as dead as other slasher franchises from the 80’s. However, some slashers just can’t stay down. So the unlikely comedy duo of Danny McBride and David Gordon Green brought us a surprisingly strong sequel that erases every movie that isn’t the original from existence.

Meaning Michael Myers has now been locked up for 40 years. Once Laurie Strode was Michael’s sister (not anymore) whom she killed on the same Halloween night. Then she was killed off screen leaving behind a daughter named Jamie. Then she was alive again with a son, seeming to kill Michael, but dying anyway. Then she was remade into a selfish brat (the less said about that the better). Now Laurie is alive once again. This time as a badass gun-toting shut in with PTSD. Jamie Lee Curtis is just as good as any of her other returns to the franchise.

After Michael’s inevitable escape, he goes on a killing spree which leads to a much anticipated final confrontation. Halloween (2018) manages to bring back the slow building dread that made the original a classic. Only with a higher body count and more graphic kills. There’s also three generations worth of final girls that all have their time to shine. Laurie’s now daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson all face the elderly Michael Myers. Save for a few cringy moments, a distracting lack of nudity, and some very out of place humor, Halloween (2018) is the best Halloween sequel we’ve gotten.

11. Halloween

Michael gets his mask back

Preceded by: Halloween (1978) & Followed by: Halloween Kills

Love Hurts

Halloween II (2009) is an awful sorry excuse for a Halloween movie. Which is saying something. Halloween II (2009) does what the original sequel did by starting where the last movie left off and taking place in a hospital. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. All that stuff is part of one extra long nightmare that doesn’t lead anywhere and is completely pointless. Almost like they give up halfway through to focus on something else. Halloween II (2009) is actually about Laurie’s connection with her brother Michael Myers.

When I said every character was unlikeable in the last movie, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I’m not even exaggerating when I say every character, victim, or otherwise is a horrible person with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Then again, what do you expect from Rob Zombie. Even characters that were sort of likeable aren’t anymore. Laurie is now a self-destructive brat and Loomis is a greedy jerk who only cares about personal gain. The only character who seems to have a soul is Laurie’s one surviving friend. Danielle Harris is once again the only person to care about in any of her appearances.

The excessive nature of the sequel is much worse than before. Making it the goriest film in the franchise. With nudity that’s too close to the violence. Michael Myers is also shown eating a dog. The plot contains many stupid moments. The ghost of Michael’s mom and his younger self appear with a white horse shot to look like one of Zombie’s music videos. Thereโ€™s also an out of nowhere cameo from Weird Al Yankovic! Probably the worst offender happens only in the director’s cut. Halloween II (2009) is such a slap in the face to the legacy of this character. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have seen either of these dreadful remakes if I wasn’t such a dedicated franchise watcher.

10. Halloween II

Michael stabs

Remake of: Halloween II (1981) & Preceded by: Halloween (2007)