Aug 052011
 

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                                          BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON

“That boy is about to seek revenge over the town that murdered him. He knows this, he says, because he himself is the heir apparent to that throne of terror so long held by the likes of Voorhees, Myers and Krueger. This man’s name is Leslie Vernon”

                                                                Taylor Gentry


Year Of Release
2006

Budget
Not Available

Gross
$69.136

Bogeyman
Leslie Vernon

Mask
A Grey freaky looking mask

Best Kill
Not so much the kill but the ingenious planning by Leslie that will change your view on all Slasher films ever made!

 

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The Plot:

You know legendary maniacs Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger.  Now meet Leslie Vernon, the next great psycho-slasher.  Vernon is a good natured killing machine who invites a documentary film crew to follow his every move in his preparation to become the new kid on the block.  Taking advice from his murder mentor Eugene, the film crew watch in amazement as this guy who becomes their friend, sets up a life where he too will become as infamous as those he is trying to follow.  As he plots his upcoming murder spree and also evade his nemesis Doc Halloran, the film crew see what it takes to become a slasher icon but when the actual carnage begins, where do you draw the line between voyeuristic thrills, mythic evil and good old fashioned slasher movie mayhem?  When night falls, the mask comes on, the knife is in hand and the crew with their cameras running watch on while Leslie goes to work……..

The Review:

Sometimes I watch a horror that makes me totally lost for words.  Its very rare it happens with all the crap I go through, but when it happens I get a mighty thrill to what I am witnessing.  I am going to start this review with a huge statement and one that will shock many that read my reviews and know how much I love my horror, especially the slash genre but here goes:

    BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON IS WITHOUT DOUBT THE BEST SLASHER FILM I HAVE SEEN IN OVER TWENTY YEARS

I can not possibly write the words to tell my readers in how I have fallen in love with this film.  If I was made to do a top 10 of all time great Slash films then this will be in the Top 6, I know that is a staggering quote but I have deeply fallen in love with this film and yet despite my best intentions in trying to watch and buy every horror film that gets released, this masterpiece never caught my eye until a few weeks ago.

When I was scanning the films to watch for my Slasherthon, I was looking at the many Top 100 official Best Slash Films Of All Time and what I found was this film in many of the Top 20′s.  I read fans lavishing praise on such a brilliant film and I saw many quotes that said “How they wish many horror fans knew this was out!”.  Checking for more info, I discovered that Behind The Mask was released in 2006, a long five years before I had even heard of it.  How this never came to my attention is beyond me because as you lot know my biggest thrill for my love for the horror genre is finding gems not heard of to the main public.  MaleVolence, The Torment, Session 9 and The Objective are many films that I have shouted through the roof tops for fans to watch and the HCF intention is to bring our readers the films that deserve to be known, so why did this film not come my way is a shocker.  They do say that “the best things comes to those who wait!” and that phase totally fits this review, because when I finally bought this film and watched it only this week, my black horror heart melted into a pure rush of admiration for the makers of this horror.  Any one who trusts my judgement after these past few years of reviewing for you then take my advice, “This horror film is the most original Slasher you will have seen” and it recalls the impact of Freddy Krueger way back in 1984.  There is a new boogeyman in town horror fans but you have never seen one quite like this!

Right from the off you are subjected to the most ingenious of openings that will take your breath away and its not to do with an actress being chased up the stairs while she should be heading out of the front door.  Let me tell you know guys, we do not meet Leslie way until the final half hour so I hear you cry. what happens till then?.  Well the opening scene shows Colleague Student Film Maker Taylor (Angela Goethals) starting her film about evil serial killers.  She shows us the three worst places where murders have taken place, they are Haddonfield, Camp Crystal Lake and Elm Street and I do not need to tell any horror fans who was responsible for those places.  Straight away Behind The Mask establishes the quiet surreal and ingenious logic that this film is in a world where Myers, Jason and Freddy are not fictional characters but real people where the residents of those three places are too scared to even go to sleep at nights.  Taylor is making a film where she believes the next Slash icon is going to be born, a man who will strike fear into a small town, that man being Leslie Vernon who has agreed to have a film crew document his every move in preparation for his murderous mayhem.

 We do meet Leslie from the off but he is just a normal man who just happens to be dead.  Not Zombie dead but in the sense that everyone in town thinks he is because many years ago when he was a young boy, he killed his parents and the townsfolk chased cast him into a river.  Now just an urban legend, Leslie has returned from the grave to become the new guy not to mess with but unlike his fellow friends of Jason and Co, he does not mind being filmed while he does it!
Leslie take the crew on a journey of how to become the perfect slash killer, its virtually an A-Z of becoming a Bogyman, starting at a high school where the crew film teens going about their school life.  Its here Leslie explains how it’s not only about picking out a perfect female to be his last girl standing like it is in all Slash films, but to find one that’s got a real good circle of friends.  I mean what is the point of picking out an unpopular girl when there is no back up to butch, lucky for Le
slie and for the crew he’s already got his girl picked out, he’s just doing this to show them how the process is done.
You can see from reading this that Behind The Mask is already one of the most surreal original slash films you ever get to see, and Leslie has still not finished with his master plan.

He then takes them to his childhood home, a place that will become his Camp Crystal lake where each year, on the anniversary of his “death,” the local kids dare each other to spend the night in the rundown house, a set up you see in all slash films.  This year though its going to be different, because while the kids are drinking and smoking and having the usual sex, he will appear and start his legacy, its going to be fun, bloody and nothing but mayhem.  This moment of the film is fantastic because it tells you all the things you have always wanted to know in the world of Slash.  Remember the many Halloween and Friday films that show the kids having fun and then the lights go unexpectedly out, well Leslie shows us how the lights suddenly go out like that.  Also recall the scenes of broken flashlights and weapons that the victims try to use, again we see why this happens and you can not help but be thrilled by what you are seeing, remember those TV shows called Breaking The Magician Code, a programme that showed a masked Magician giving away all the trade secrets.  Well this is the equivalent of that show and the strong focal point after watching this film is that you never ever look at Jason and co in the same light again.

                                                     
Guys like Jay, Mike and Fred took it to a whole other level” the words spoken by Gene (Scott Wilson) the voice of reason who sleeps in the ground from days on end.  We are told that Gene is a retired psycho slasher that caused mayhem in the 60’s and 70’s. who is giving advice to Leslie in how to become the person he wants to be.  Again this a surreal part of the film, Gene and his wife knows what he is planning and yet do not batter an eyelid and while there will be many fans who may dismiss this as stupidity, you have to remember that this is the world where even Chucky lived, if you can remember that then you will believe what is on offer here.
One thing I have to say is that the makers of Behind The Mask should sue Eli Roth because the much bigger and popular The Last Exorcism owes a huge debt to this film.  They are so similar in style that Roth must have seen this film and took it as inspiration for his blockbuster.  But I am telling you now readers, Behind The Mask is the much better film.  In fact there is no competition because unlike the other film, this has a climax that will leave you glued to the seat.
When night falls and Leslie all suited up, the film crew look on as he goes to work, but when he kills his first two victims there is a moment of disbelief, Taylor and her crew can not believe that he has lived up to his word and its here the film changes from being a Blair Witch kind of film to full on slasher, the crew put down their camera and we enter into a real film, where the crew either help the intended victims or get the heck out of there.
The whole selling point of this film is that we see the bogyman become the bogyman, never before as a Slash film done this and its a joy to watch.  When I said at the beginning that we do not meet Leslie until the last half hour that is true, the Leslie we see before the climax is a normal human with psycho intentions, when he is masked and starts his legacy there is no going back, he is a silent throwback to the icons we all love and he joins them instantly because he is such a terrific creation.
The film also follows in the tradition of Halloween in that there is hardly no blood.  Anyone looking for a gore fest will be very unhappy but while the killings are fun, the makers know that they are creating a unique new outlook to a well worn formula and like all masterpieces of horror, there is no need to rely on shock tactics when you have such a strong story.
Yes, if you noticed I used the word Masterpiece and I will not apologise.  This is one of the greatest slasher films of all time, a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. I can not explain why this did not do well but if you want to see the impact it made then do what I did and check the many best of  lists and you will see it on many.  Not everyone can be wrong and not those who do this for a living and it also beats Scream for the homage stakes.
Here we have Robert Englund being Dr Loomis, the unforgettable Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist) in her last role, Kane Hodder in a minor cameo and many more spot if you can background images that will leave you with a huge smile on your face.  Behind The Mask is so good that a clamour of a sequel is gathering pace but everyone wants to make sure that any follow up will do justice to this original, like Nathan Baesel (Leslie) said recently, “there’s a certain chance. I know that ideas have already been circulating around Scott and David’s heads and I’d love to take Leslie on again. However, I don’t think we’d undertake a sequel unless the script is as good or better than Behind the Mask. The first was so good it would be pissing on Leslie’s legacy to set out with anything less than inspired . . . and Leslie would never have that”
And he has a point, the original is a quite stunning creation with a great little twist at the climax and a wonderful end credit sequence that has “Psycho Killer!” by The Talking Heads playing while we see the CCTV footage of a certain something which only leads to one conclusion and with it words will be etched on all fans minds….
Sequel Please!”
The Many Homage’s that litter the film, Behind The Mask:

* The Film’s Dr Loomis type character Doc Halloran is named after the cook in The Shining

* Leslie’s real last name, Mancuso, is the surname of the actor who portrayed Billy in the 1974 Classic and of Frank Mancuso Jr a producer on most of the Friday 13th Films

* The scene where Leslie is showing the crew his intended victims at a school, look closer at the background and you see girls dressed in white and skipping, an image that has been shown in nearly all of the Elm St Films.

* The Lament Configuration can be seen next to a lamp in one scene, which all fans know is the infamous puzzle box from the Hellraiser films

* There is a scene where Leslie is standing next to sign advertising a bar called The Red Rabbit, a reference to the bar name spotted in the matchbook  of the original Halloween film

* Music from The Shining can be heard in numer
ous scenes and in one, some blocks in the blockground spell out the word “RedRum!”

* Kane Hodder (Jason) is the guy seen walking into 1428 Elm Street. This was the address that Nancy lived in the original Freddy Film.

                                                       SLASHTASTIC!

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  3 Responses to “BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON: A HCF Slasherthon special feature looking back at the greatest slasher film no one as ever heard of!”

  1. And I thought my reviews were getting long :) . I’m ashamed to say I’ve never even heard of this!!

  2. Matt Wavish

    Blimey, one hell of a review mate. I remember seeing this on the shevles of Blockbuster when I was working there, but never wanted to watxh it. I have now added it to my Amazon wishlist, I have to see this!!

  3. Well Ross, I decided to watch it before I read your review, just because you were so ecstatic about it. A very original film. I enjoyed it very much. Bit comedic in places and I did half guess the ending, but kudos to it. It created something we’ve never seen before and that needs to be applauded in this era where hardly anything is original anymore.
    I did love that in this world the film boogeymen are actually real. And that scene with the girls dressed in white with the skipping ropes was awesome. I went ‘ACE!!’. :-D

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