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Wes Craven's "Scream" was a strikingly dead-on persiflage of the
Slasher genre while at the same time including enough scares to become
more than just a parody, but an important part of that genre itself.
"Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon" is very similar in that
aspect, but it's also completely different in others.
For the most part the movie is a fake documentary in true "Spinal Tap"-fashion. A TV crew follows Leslie Vernon around, a guy who has the ambition to become the next slasher legend after his idols Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger (who exist in the movie's reality). As Leslie shows the team how he prepares for a killing spree he deconstructs one horror rule after the other with pretty amusing results. The movie observes the genre pretty well and the sort of "Backstage" look we get of a horror icon lovingly planning his big night is nothing short of hilarious. Where "Scream" made fun of some ridiculous horror clichés and toyed around with them, "Behind The Mask" is merely explaining just how those seemingly supernatural killers are able to work so effectively. So, although both movies cover similar ground, "Behind The Mask" is never in any way repetitive.
Leslie Vernon turns out to be a really sweet guy who just loves what he's doing. He's friends with an older, more experienced slasher, who's also very warm and talkative. Neither of those guys look like typical maniacs, so when Leslie does make his first appearance masked and all, it's rather amusing.
However, the movie makes a pretty amazing turn in the final third. For the big showdown we leave the movie-within-a-movie scenario created by the documentary set-up and are taken right into the movie's reality. All of a sudden "Behind The Mask" turns into a real slasher film. Although this last part isn't half-bad, it's not quite as enjoyable as what preceded it. The twist is a bit predictable and the movie lacks real gore and suspense at the end in order to work as a slasher flick. One has to say that "Scream" coming from an old professional such as Wes Craven was more successful in that aspect. Still, regarding the fact that this movie strictly concentrates on fun in the first two thirds and only begins to throw in full on horror bits in the end, the showdown works quite well.
Leslie's mask was chosen wisely. It can look ridiculous and scary depending on the mood of the scene. Nathan Baesel, who makes his movie debut here, was chosen even more wisely. He can play the nice guy and the psychopath without ever overacting and hands in a great, great performance. The other member of the cast that must be mentioned is horror legend Robert Englund who does a nice Donald Pleasance-impersonation.
The subtle little homages to "Friday The 13th", "Halloween" and "A Nightmare On Elm Street" throughout the movie are the icing on the cake and will make the heart of every true horror fan beat faster. And that's the only true flaw of "Behind The Mask" right there: it's for true horror geeks only who can laugh about the inside jokes. Everyone else will probably not be entertained as much. If you're into the genre, though, there's no way you should miss this excellent motion picture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love how people complain about the slasher part of this movie and
their complaints are exactly what this movie was making fun of. These
comments such as why didn't they run, why didn't they kill him, why
don't they group together are all addressed in the documentary part of
the film. This movie was genius because it shows you how the slashing
will happen beforehand and the victims are victims because they are too
stupid act properly against the killer's foreshadowing. That's the
movie, that's what makes it funny. Although it's a slasher flick, it's
not a serious slasher flick, at all.
Watch it again and you'll see why it's an awesome movie. It makes fun of the genre in a way that has never been done before. It doesn't steal from the Scream series. The Scream series made fun of the horror film in general, this movie pretended the killers in those films were real and makes fun of how stupid victims can be and how predictable the sequences are in a slasher situation.
I saw this on the recommendation of a friend. I had never heard of it,
but I was assured it was a good movie. Understanding the premise helps
a lot, because this is a great movie and excellent concept. The
beginning of the movie sets up the second half. In the first part, we
see Leslie as human. He sometimes says creepy things, like when they
begin to discuss his library of text books, mostly medical and anatomy.
He makes a joke of this, saying these are necessary for the trade. He
always refers to his need to kill as a profession and even has a
mentor. Through them we see the world as if it were a game. The
mockumentary parts are not only hilarious, we get to see the monsters
side of things. The door that won't stay open? Probably rigged. Those
ever-so-creepy newspaper articles the main character always seems to
find at just the right moment? Those require more effort then the
viewers might consider.
The second half of the movie is when we get to see Leslie in action. Because we have seen him as human in the first half, seeing him as a monster in the second isn't as scary as one might expect. It is not supposed to be. Leslie Vernon has become a person we know, who made us laugh, who keeps pet turtles. He is not some random resurrected guy with an axe to grind. He is a guy at work, albeit disgusting and immoral work, he is still a guy at work. Set up this way, it is a bit like watching two movies. The two parts play off each other very well.
This movie is darkly funny. No one wants to laugh as scary things happen, but when things work out just as Leslie predicts they will, even the "documentary" crew gets very enthusiastic.
Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger) read this script and was impressed. being a big name in horror, he admittedly gets swamped with scripts. This movie interested him enough that he accepted the role. If you can't decide if you should watch it, remember that. And then rent it, with friends.
Everyone needs someone to look up to. Leslie realized he will never reach the fame of Mike (Meyers), Chuckie or Freddy, but he is trying.
I highly highly recommend this movie. It's a black comedy/mockumentary/horror movie that's bloody hilarious. I LOVED it. I can't recommend it enough!!! If you're a horror film junkie, or even if you're not (for example, my boyfriend doesn't particularly like horror films but is fond of intelligent comedy and was right beside me laughing for this one) you should DEFINITELY see this movie! It's so respectful of the genre at the same time that it plays with it... Nathan Baesel, who says he was inspired by Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter really pulls off charming and cheery -- not copying Lecter, but applying the influence to create a new and lovable serial killer (this is what makes him both funny AND creepy - it's impossible not to like him!).
This film rocks sports fans. Its Man bites dog meets Halloween. Brilliant performances, great direction, very funny, inspired film making! Nathan Baesel was especially entertaining as the "Michael Mires" style character, keep an eye out for him in the future. And with appearances from Robert Englund, Scott Wilson, and Kane Hodder makes this an absolute must for any old school slasher fan. the only reason it did not get a 10 from me was the gore, it didn't need it but some hard core, well done Peter Jackson (braindead) style gore would have made this film one of the all time greats and been the proverbial icing on the cake. if you're a Rami, Jacksoon, Carpenter, Craven etc. fan then you MUST SEE THIS FILM!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For those considering if they should invest the 80 minutes or so to
watch this film, allow a true horror fan to give you his ten cents.
First let's talk about the bad...because lets face it...it's rare for a
film to get something right.
BAD: 1.) Plot holes: There are a few plot holes in the film in regards to a few of the central characters: Leslie's background, Eugene is never explained, and of course neither is the doc's (sorry, forgot his name).
2.) The reaction of the film crew...at times they seem to be having fun with this whole, 'real life' slasher/movie guru, but there is a big shift at the end when the killing starts. This is odd, because earlier in the film someone gets killed too and nobody seemed that worked up over it...oh wait...it must have been because she was some short, old woman.
3.) Acting: This is hard to classify seeing as this is a low-budget B movie, but sometimes the actors do a great job and then other times it didn't work for me. Some of the lines seemed forced and the acting, here and there, a bit stiff and wooden. Especially all the teens, oh man, they sucked! 4.) Gore hounds will be disappointed in this movie because most of the kills aren't shown or are shot at a distant. This didn't bother me in this day and age where gore is constant in films (Hostel/Saw). However, when making a parody of 80's slasher films, gore was everywhere. I mean hell, it was the rise of the splatter flick! How can you make a movie like this without having gore? Feddy, Michael, and Jason created the slasher/gore genre in the states! If they were going to do this part of the film better they should have made the gore over the top in a kind of Peter Jackson/Sam Raimi style. Oh well, maybe it wasn't in their budget.
4.) The last five minutes of the movie was a bust. Things happened so quick I couldn't help but think--oh no, they're running out of money. It was either that or the editor made a few too many snips. I won't point anything out, because it spoil a few kills, but you'll see it when it happens.
GOOD 1.) Extremely funny! I wasn't sure about this movie when I got it--went out on a limb after hearing some decent reviews. This movie hooked me from the start with its campiness, black humor, and twist. A lot of people point at Scream as being the movie that turned the horror genre upside down by playing with a particular genre--but I think BEHIND THE MASK did a much better job.
2.) Great lines and for the most part, good performances. The main characters, Leslie, Reporter chick, Eugene, etc. where all acted really well. Sure they missed a few spots here and there, but over all, they were good. Leslie really sold his role well, better than some of the leading Hollywood actors these days that's for sure.
3>) Fun story! This is what the horror genre needs, people who make fun camp movies. In today's sick age where we got all these stupid TORTURE PORN movies, it's nice to sit back and just enjoy the story. Sure, as I mentioned above, the gore was missed to an extent, but at least it wasn't in my face the whole time, replacing good storytelling with some cheap splatter effects.
4.) This movie is great for drinking games! Man, there are so many symbols, inside jokes, and references that I want to see it again just to see what I missed during the first viewing.
Okay, overall, it's an enjoyable film--especially for us guys from the 80's who grew up with the movies referenced in this. For those looking for something scary or full of gore--skip it. You'll only be disappointed, but if your looking for a fun flick, check this one out.
A clever mock-umentary style horror movie about a film crew following
around a "slasher movie" type serial killer.
Sure, it dragged at parts, and not everyone was the best actor, but it was different, and it was fun.
It shines a new light on the slasher movie genre. Unlike others, this one offers you a different vantage point.... you are tagging along with the killer. You go though his choices of weapons, the planning, you meet his mentor, and watch as they trade "industry tips & secrets"
Like it or don't, it stands alone from other slasher movies. Some people just won't like the view from..... Behind the Mask!
Leslie Vernon, a highly-enthusiastic wannabe "supernatural" serial
killer, along the lines of Halloween's Michael Meyers or Friday the
13th's Jason, invites a film crew along to document his initial spree
this original horror comedy that allows you to see a killing spree from
the point of view of the killer. The film crew soon finds itself
rooting for the likable Leslie, well-played by Nathan Baesel, who has
planned his spree to the last detail. The crew slowly moves from
documenting the events to aiding and abetting them, but it has second
thoughts as the reality of the events overwhelm them. They discover too
late that Leslie isn't exactly who he claims to be, and he has worked
out everything, including their last minute hesitations, into his
The documentary approach gives the filmmakers enough distance from the events to successfully spoof the conventions of slasher genre. However, the filmmakers managed to restore genuine tension by limiting that distance by making the witnesses, the filmmakers, into participants. That's why this film succeeded where other spoofs and "found footage" failed. It delivers both narrative perspective and intimacy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hypothetical question time, peeps. Let's say you're a budding
collegiate journalist, and you are looking for the scoop of the
century. Something way outside the box. Something that doesn't involve
covering rush week parties, local charity bake sales, sports events and
the usual bland 'human interest' stories.
Let's kick it up a notch, even. Fred Krueger. Michael Myers. Jason Voorhees. Charles Lee Ray, aka "Chucky." What would it be worth to you to be able to interview these guys BEFORE they started their careers in stalking, terror and mass murder, and then have the rare opportunity to be able to follow them, step-by-step, as they outlined every trick of the trade, every detail of how they create their 'legend' at the very beginning?
You will finally find your answers in Scott Glosserman's blackly funny docu-satire BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON. There have been very similar movies made in this vein, such as MAN BITES DOG and in some respects THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but the best and most effective examples of this sub-genre have always come from overseas. BEHIND THE MASK is the first independently-made American feature that finally gets it right.
Nathan Baesel is a name you should be watching for in the future, because in his film debut as the titular 'hero' of the piece, he's funny, charming, self-ingratiating and as focused, dedicated and meticulous as any up-and-coming, hard-charging young hopeful should be. Too bad his biggest dream in life is to become the heir apparent to Mikey, Freddy and Jason. He's like Jim Carrey with a sharp implement fetish...only scarier!
Angela Goethals is also very good as Taylor Gentry, the aspiring on-camera reporter who gets sucked into Leslie's disarming charm when he agrees to allow her and her film crew to document every aspect of his first major endeavor: the selection, preparation for and actual execution of a bunch of drunk, horny teens. At one point, the crew even get roped into becoming co-conspirators of sorts.
Taylor and her team are even introduced to Les' doting mentor, Eugene (a great turn by Scott Wilson) and his lovely wife. It's all a good time until somebody gets a post-hole digger shoved through their chest...
There are really so many things I want to blab about concerning this great deconstruction of the slasher horror genre, one of the best since the first SCREAM installment. But the delights go over better if you know nothing about what's coming, so as far as saying anything else, I love the fact that horror icons Robert Englund, Zelda Rubenstein and Kane Hodder all lend their considerable presences to the film. (I won't say where you'll see them...just pay close attention.)
And I also want to mention the best part of the flick - when it makes its startling transition from "faux horror documentary" to out-and-out horror film. Don't worry; you'll pretty much know when it happens.
Glosserman and co-writer David J. Stieve have done a great job in finding an imaginative way to recharge the batteries of the slasher flick on a low-budget, using clichés in a manner that nobody has ever thought of, rather than simply giving in to the temptation to simply use them like every other 'FRIDAY THE 13TH'/NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET/HALLOWEEN knockoff.Gorehounds will find the relatively light blood-letting a little disappointing, but there's so much more to enjoy here than the raptures of evisceration and dismemberment.
I'm excited that this is Glosserman's first feature, because it makes a great calling card, and gives us fans so much more to look forward to from him.
So if you are a fan who's become a little jaded with the horror releases of late, go rent BEHIND THE MASK immediately!. You won't be sorry, I promise. And DO stick around for the credits, if just to hear the Talking Heads' original rendition of the great (and fitting) song, "Psycho Killer"...you'll be glad you did!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I may have seen nearly all the introspective takes on slasher films.
This isn't the most radical, but it is very clever.
The thing starts out being a documentary of an aspiring young slasher legend. He sets up what otherwise would be an ordinary slasher movie. This first half of the film is not a mockumentary, at least not in the Chris Guest pattern (and is there another?). It is a quite interesting "Dinner with Andre" for Gen X, about the nature of film, fantasy and the necessity of evil. Sure, there are pokes at the genre: you need a virgin, the teens never break out the window and so on. But the business about fate driving film patterns is precious. Worthy of a folding essay.
And then it folds: the camera slowly ceases to be those of the inner filmmakers and becomes of the outer ones as our film crew becomes among the hunted. This part is there to allow us to believe it is a film and to bask in the (limited) internal knowledge of what is scripted.
Early in the thing, we meet a retired serial killer and his trophy wife. Now this may escape folks not looking at the narrative platforms, but here with this couple especially the actress playing the wife is the same introspective folds we are given, but from the other side, the inside. "The Final Cut," or "Scream," this ain't; they take themselves seriously. This is about film, and genre and sex. Serious in a different way.
I have "Man Bites Dog" on the way.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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