Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

Reviewed By: Billy

Planning a sequel must be great fun. Seriously, can we at Tower Farm please get in on this job? Think about it: it’s the late 90s, and I Know What You Did Last Summer had just turned into a huge hit. Two idiot brothers in Indiana saw it 17 times in the theatre, for God’s sakes – they alone put it in the black (but we won't name names...). Anyway, studio execs know they’ve got a budding franchise on their hands, and sit down to think about how to take is up a notch for part 2. Teenagers loved the first one, right? So this time, our 40-year-old execs are going to come up with everything they think teenagers like…and stretch it out over 90 minutes. Here’s what they came up with:

1. Brandy
2. people talking non-stop about sex
3. dance clubs
4. tropical settings
5. karaoke
6. Jack Black
7. pot smoking
8. drinking (anyone know what a Dark & Stormy is?)
9. geography

Actually, not geography…in fact, execs are banking on the fact that we're all so stupid that we won’t know the capital of Brazil, which ends up being a big clue somewhere down the road. Anyway, you get the picture. This is why sequels are always so great: they throw in everything plus the kitchen sink. And in this movie, it’s everything plus tanning bed.

So…somehow Jennifer and Brandy and Mekhi Phifer (trying hard to be a tough guy, but coming off as a complete a-hole) end up at a deserted Bahamas resort on the 4th of July, which they learn is the “first day of storm season” and considered “off-season” for tourists. I’d just like to point out that in real life, hurricane season starts in June and that cruises stay booked up through the entire summer. Anyway…also along for the ride is a character named Will Benson. Let me just say that again: WILL BENSON. First of all, in a horror movie, when you get a character’s first and last name, it’s usually significant. Second of all, if you saw the first movie, or even read the back of the box, you’ll instantly recognize the name and know that Will Benson, although he acts like a mentally deficient Midwestern farmhand, is not exactly what he seems.

What sets this movie apart is that the cheap “jump” scares come so frequently and are so completely overdone – not to mention we've got more red herrings than the Netherlands in summer – that you’ll be screaming with laughter for almost the entire 90-minute duration. Things kick off fast, with Jennifer walking sullenly through a church and going into a confessional, where she tells a priest that she killed someone the year before. The priest, meanwhile, is grunting in tones so ominous that if it wasn’t the killer, you’d wonder what the hell he was doing in there. Anyway, it is the killer…but it’s all a dream, of course…and Jennifer wakes up screaming in class in a scene ripped right from Nancy’s classroom freak-out in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

From this auspicious start, we get a series of cheap scares including the slicker-clad killer in a dance club, Jennifer locked in a tanning bed (seriously…couldn’t she just slide out the top or the bottom?), Jack Black popping up from under water with a (waterproof?) joint in his mouth, a body in the closet which is cleaned up in a matter of 30 seconds, and, in one of the greatest scenes in slasher history, the words “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER” rolling across the screen on a karaoke machine. Clearly the killer wasn’t trying to scare anyone…he just wanted Jennifer to stop singing “I Will Survive.”

I’ve always liked Jennifer Love; she was good in the first movie, and she gave a truly terrifying performance in that Audrey Hepburn TV biopic. But this one is a vanity performance if there ever was one; not only does she sing karaoke (not even Brandy sings…and she’s a real singer), but one of Jennifer's own songs is part of the soundtrack, and plays during a random Freddie Prinze, Jr. scene (one of the VERY few he has). Mekhi Phifer, as noted before, just comes off as a complete jerk and has an irritating comeback to every line of dialogue. Our favorite addition is Brandy’s backside, which becomes a character unto itself. Wearing skintight leggings for the majority of the movie, it appears Brandy has shoved a 12-pound Butterball Turkey down her pants…truly, her caboose is a wonder to behold, and will keep you transfixed when the movie starts losing steam (which, ironically, is right around when the “sudden” hurricane hits – something that, being from Florida, we can tell you is impossible).

There is so much to write about here that I should probably just stop now; after all, the joy of watching this movie is discovering all the little ludicrous plot points and ridiculous lines of dialogue for yourself. Suffice it to say, if you have to see just one Last Summer movie, this one is it. It’s got everything you could ask for in a horror movie…no, make that everything you could possibly ever imagine being jammed into one script…so grab a Dark & Stormy and enjoy!



  1. Well, Billy, I will proudly write the first comment.


    I'd write more. But, I am in Gainesville and just received word that a sudden hurrcane is expected to rip across Florida in the next 30 minutes. Better get my bottled waters and granola bars in order. God, what I would give for a Dopler or something in the south!

  2. Ha ha, I haven't seen this in a while, but I used to watch it all the time with my friends when I was younger. I always wondered how the killer hijacked the radio station and staged the fake contest, just waiting for Jennifer or Brandy to call????

  3. Used to watch it all the time when I was younger? You people know how to make a man feel old. When you're 36, when you went to see it at the cinema feels like last week.
    Anyway, loved it then, love it now. Jennifer Love Hewitt. No question about her. Jack Black. Never knew that's who it was till now. Don't suppose it was him at the time, was it? Just some buffoon who later on was Jack Black. Bit like Jim Carrey in The Dead Pool. Or maybe Jack Black was already famous at the time in America then? He certainly wasn't in Britain. We can barely tolerate him now.
    So anyway, does she just imagine the guy in the slicker in the nightclub, or has a big guy really got past the bouncers carrying a sickle and wearing a slicker and a big rubber hat? You mention the 30 second corpse clean-up job, but what about the speed with which the original Ben manages to get all those crabs out of the car and spirit them away over at episode one?
    And as for the execs banking on the fact that we're all so stupid that we won’t know the capital of Brazil... they banked wisely with me. Honestly, I didn't know.

  4. I think it is a safe bet to say that Jack Black is pretty well finished up in America, too. By the way, I am 32 and Billy is 29. We saw a lot of these 90s slashers first run, too.