FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Jan 31, 2006

Supernatural 70s Tuesday!

I'm on the fence about Marcello Aliprandi's 1976 film A Whisper in the Dark. Tiffany, can you help me out a little here?

"Coulda been so beautiful...coulda been so riiiiight..."

Thanks, T.

Meet the surnameless, large, Italian aristocrat family: dad Alex is a bit of a playboy, wife Camilla seems a bit distracted and high-strung, governess Francoise is secretly in love with Alex and cuddles with one of his pilfered shirts at night, Camilla's mother, The Countess, is a stuck-up high society dame who uses a cigarette holder and adds to her daughter's anxiety. Then there's the children: bratty twins Milena and Mathilde, their 12-year old brother Martino, and his imaginary friend Luca.

Most people in the family tease Martino about his friend, or get outright fed up with Martino's "Luca doesn't like the plum jam, he wants the peach jam" bull. Camilla, however, is convinced he's telling the truth:
I believe that children relive our memories. If not...how come my son named his invisible brother with the same name I'd chosen for my lost child- Luca?
Yup, it seems that Luca is the ghost of Camilla's baby, born prematurely and dead soon thereafter- events that happened before Martino was born. Does Luca exist in reality, or only in Martino's mind? What exactly does Luca want? He wants "to be loved, at any cost" according to Martino. Sounds ominous, eh? And when a psychiatrist who wants to take Martino away for treatment (Joseph Cotten, in little more than an extended cameo) winds up dead, it seems Luca will soon be running the show.

Alas, thatidea never comes to fruition. The movie starts out with much promise as we learn more and more about Luca. In fact, in the opening scenes, Martino talks about a dream he had in which he received a letter from his brother. Luca writes:
Finding yourself in a place full of horrible people, my brother, is the most frightening thing about death.
I was expecting some serious back-from-beyond-the-grave action after that, and for a while it seemed that the film was building towards...something. While we never saw Luca himself, director Aliprandi frequently used a subjective camera as the dead child began to interact with people besides Martino. In addition, there were some nice spooky goings-on: swings moving on their own, a red balloon floating along a wooded path, a ball that comes to a stop when Luca is playing goalie, Mathilde balancing on a high balcony ledge at the urgings of her dead brother...but ultimately nothing panned out. I waited for Luca to get down to business and cause some real damage, but I guess he wimped out.

Towards the end, the A Whisper in the Dark meanders into a big fat pile of "What the-?" as Camilla decides that she'll be the one to take care of Luca once and for all. She leads the ghost through a fog-enshrouded, snowy garden to a gate and then...well, who knows. It's a beautiful-looking scene, but then Camilla wakes up and there's no more fog, no more snow, and we have no clue what the hell is going on. The movie ends as it began, with the family at breakfast. Martino still claims that Luca is bitching about his jam choices, and that's pretty much that.

I suppose one could deconstruct the film and analyze it as a metaphor for family, motherhood, sexuality, and any other dry, boring-ass topic one wishes. That's easier to do, however, when the film is coherent and successful on its most basic level, as is Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, from which Aliprandi borrows heavily. A Whisper in the Dark is alot of wasted potential, a notion which tends to bum me out more than a straight-up flop would. Hey Hollywood, why don't you remake something that could actually be improved upon, rather than genre classics like The fucking Fog? Hmm? I'm talkin to you, Hollywood! In the end, it saddens me...but I must give A Whisper in the Dark a mere 6 out of 10 close but no cigars. Coulda been so beautiful, indeed.

Jan 30, 2006

some stuff

All right, all right. I know Supernatural 70s Week! fizzled out. I still haven't watched the end of A Whisper in the Dark, but I will tomorrow and then put the damn stunt out of its misery. I had a friend come in from out of town and we spent the weekend in a haze of crack, King Cobra, and hookers Playstation 2 and Dallas Season 4 on DVD...but I was thinking about you the whole time, Final Girl, I swear. Quite frankly, I've still got about 21 episodes of Dallas left to watch so you're lucky you're getting any of my time at all. I'm about to find out who shot JR! That smarmy bastard.

If you read the comments in the post before this one, you'll see that reader Michelle pointed out the fact that the full trailer for Silent Hill is up. I checked it out last week, and was waiting for the right time to talk yet again about the upcoming movie. I may form a line outside of the theatre sometime next month, like a Star Wars geek. I'm sure it will only be me sitting out there on the sidewalk, though, and I may end up arrested for vagrancy. Anyway, watch the trailer here. I've watched it several times, and man, I'm still salivating. Just so you know, I'm probably going to be posting about this movie alot until I see it. I shouldn't get my hopes up, but it looks so damn good- it really seems to have captured the feel of the games. I just want some scary. Yes, these lovely ladies show up on screen:

Now then, when you're done watching that trailer, go read Brennon Slattery's post about High Tension, at his blog Look Back in Anger. See what happens when I have a social life for the weekend and spend my time playing Guitar Hero instead of watching horror movies? Someone beats me to the punch: High Tension is waiting in a Netflix envelope atop my TV. Waiting! Waaaiiiting! I'm still gonna watch it, though- I've been waiting for it to arrive for a long time. Damn you, Slattery! Damn you to hellllll! (It's OK kids- I'm just f-f-f-foolin'. He wrote a damn fine review. The bastard.)

Tomorrow, I'll be back and better than ever. Well, I'll be back at least. I promise nothing else!

Jan 26, 2006

The Time-Out Chair

Oh, my babies. Yes, we'll be spending the duration of this post in The Time-Out Chair because there ain't no supernatural 70s hi-jinx happening today. What happened? Funny you should ask. It's quite simple, really: I started watching a movie and then, just like your average 80-year-old, I fell asleep. I woke up when the DVD player shut itself off and the TV went all loud-n-snowy. At least I had the good fortune not to have drooled all over myself in the process.

There's something soporific* about Thursdays for me. It's completely unintentional, but somehow I end up taking a big nap in the middle of the afternoon on Thursdays. I can get up early and go to bed late the other six days of the week, but Thursday afternoons leave me dozing on the couch without fail. One would think I would avoid said couch on Sleepday afternoons, but one would fail to realize that I'm a slow learner.

*Props for my mad SAT word skillz.

The movie I was watching, A Whisper in the Dark, was really quite good and I look forward to finishing it tomorrow. It wasn't the movie itself that put me to sleep, so tomorrow should be aces. But today...sorry kids, but we're trapped in the unsupernatural here and now.

I don't want to leave y'all hanging, though, so here's a link to an interview with Wes Craven at Suicide Girls. The good news is, he's interested in making more horror movies where he's really in control of the picture: think more A Nightmare on Elm Street, less Cursed. The bad news is, there's rumours of a Scream 4, but the only person kinda attached to it so far is Neve Campbell. Go read about Wes Craven, look at some goth girl boobs, and tomorrow we'll go back to pretending I'm cool and totally un-old-person-like.

Just when you thought this post couldn't get any lamer...I was going to put a picture here but Blogger is being a snatch. Close your eyes and imagine Freddy Krueger. I'll go sit in the corner now and think about what I've done.

Jan 25, 2006

Supernatural 70s Week! Day 3

This past weekend while browsing through the racks at a used video store, Rachael picked up a copy of the 1977 thriller The Psychic and handed it to me. I took one look at the HR Giger-esque box art, read "Directed by Lucio Fulci" on the back, and decided it had to come home with us. "Hot diggity dog!" I exclaimed, then jumped in the air and clicked my heels together. I hopped into the convertible and headed back to Riverdale with Archie and the gang.

OK, only some of that is true- you figure it out. Whatever really happened that day, The Psychic did in fact make it home with us and became the hump in Supernatural 70s Week.

Jennifer "Battle of the Network Stars" O'Neill stars as Virginia, a woman who's had psychic visions ever since the day she 'saw' her mother commit suicide hundreds of miles away. Yup, l'il Virginia started to freak out in Italy while mom was plummeting off a cliff in England. Spooooky!

Next thing you know, it's 18 years after the incident (and YES, of course there's a sensitive musical montage over the opening credits), and Virginia begins to have visions of a murder that took place in the house she's going to renovate to surprise her husband. She sees sorta wavy, sorta foggy images of paintings, lamps, bloody faces, a woman who looks like Phyllis Diller in a blue fright wig...you know how these visions are. She spots a watermark on the wall and immediately flips out. Virginia takes a pick axe to the wall and eventually finds a skeletal body hidden away! Yeeaagggh!

While the house is an unliveable dump, Virginia's husband has owned it for years. The police eventually figure out the identity of the body in the wall- it's a young woman who was, of course, a lover of Virginia's husband. Put one and one together and hubby is in jail for murder.

Standing by her man in true fashion, Virginia gets her Murder She Wrote on and decides to decipher the clues in her visions to figure out the real culprit. That's all fine and dandy until Virginia realizes that she's been having visions of the future, not the past...

Lucio "We are going to eat you!" Fulci, the man behind Zombie, has crafted a thriller here that falls short of being...well, good. While it's got a tighter plot than most of his other films, The Psychic also has atrocious dialogue and a huge span in the middle that is just plain dull. Virginia has visions so often...actually, just one vision, over and over...and they're accompanied by lots of staring. Quiet staring. Staring. Staring. Staring. Wavy foggy vision. Staring. Boring, right?

Fulci was reknowned for his gore, but it's in short supply here. In fact, the only shocking bit comes right at the beginning: when Virginia's mom takes a swan dive, her face repeatedly hits the cliff as she falls- leaving, shall we say, skid marks on the rock. There's some blood in the rest of the movie, but if you're looking for Fulci grossness, watch Zombie again.

The Psychic has a great beginning, a pretty decent ending (it would've been pretty damn good, but it sort of stops mid-sentence, if you know what I mean), and a very tedious middle. Great, crazy Goblin-ish soundtrack, though. Overall, meh. I give it 4 out of 10 face chunks.

That box art, to the best of my knowledge, is not by HR Giger. The more you look at it, the less Giger-y it seems. Lips on a skull are simultaneously funny and disturbing, though. While trying to solve the mystery of its origins, I did come across this however:

Excuse me, how fucking sweet is that? It's outside the Giger museum in Switzerland. I wish cities would grow some sac and do crazy stuff like that more often. Why aren't there aliens everywhere? Hanging from trees, hidden around corners...it would certainly make walking to the store more fun. Maybe I should run for mayor or something.

I also found this during my research:

It's the cover for an Emerson Lake and Palmer album, by Giger. My parents had it, and the cover used to terrify me. It was a gatefold: the dark part with the skull-looking thingy opened up and there was a face underneath. Completely terrified me, yet I looked at it every time my parents had the record playing.

Jan 24, 2006

Supernatural 70s Week! Day 2

Purportedly based on a true story, The Amityville Horror (1979) recounts the 19 days the Lutz family spent in their new home in Amityville, Long Island. We all know the story by now- the portal to Hell may or may not be in the secret red room in the Lutz basement. Either way, enough disturbing and spooky things happen in the house that the Lutzes flee in the middle of the night, never to return- finally heeding the house’s command to “GET OUT!”

Disturbing and spooky things? Well, there’s bleeding walls, vomiting nuns, flies a-plenty, black goo in the toilet, an imaginary friend who turns out to be not-so-imaginary…and yes, the house does actually intone “GET OUT!” ominously. Throw into the mix the possibility that George Lutz is turning into a homicidal maniac and you’ve got yourself plenty of disturbing and spooky things, I'd say.

When I was but a wee bonny lass, The Amityville Horror scared the living crap outta me. The masses of flies were gross, windows closing on their own were dangerous, Jody the Imaginary Friend’s evil red eyes staring at Margot Kidder through the window was horrifying. The fact that it was all true was the icing on the cake! I pored over Jay Anson’s trashy paperback of the same name repeatedly, scared to death of Jody. Watching the movie recently, well…it turns out that...Jody is a giant purple pig. Yes, I hadn’t seen this flick in ages, and when we got the long-distance shot of Jody in the window, his fat purple pig ass filling up the entire room, I giggled. When the house told the priest to “GET OUT!”, I giggled. James Brolin is still menacing as he clutches his axe and grimaces, but when he grabbed big fistfuls of his afro and screamed “I’m coming aparrrrt!”, I giggled. The bleeding walls, however, still rock.

There’s been a lot of back and forth about the veracity of all these happenings and whether something actually happened in the house or the Lutzes were simply out to make a buck. Regardless, this movie is still fun- and somehow, all the silliness and disparate elements come together to make a movie that’s unsettling, if not scary. And how can you not love a movie with an evil, giant, purple pig? I do! I give it 7 out of 10 vomiting nuns.

Umm, is that a giant purple pig in my attic, or did I eat too many shrooms today?

In his non-fiction book on horror, Danse Macabre, Stephen King offers up an interesting interpretation of the movie- one that makes The Amityville Horror a film that goes beyond its inherent late-70s schlockiness. The movie, King argues, is an allegory for economic insecurity and stress:
Here is a horror movie for every woman who ever wept over a plugged-up toilet…for every man who ever did a slow burn when the weight of the snow caused his gutters to give way…As horror goes, Amityville is pretty pedestrian. So’s beer, but you can get drunk on it…The Amityville Horror, beneath its ghost-story exterior, is really a financial demolition derby.
In other words, the Lutzes bought a money pit. Whether this subtext is intentional or not, who knows- but it’s there. The house is always cold- it needs insulation. I mentioned the black goo- the house has bad plumbing. The bills pile up, they can’t afford the house, George isn’t working, and $1500 goes missing. George Lutz gets increasingly stressed out as the family falls further and further into financial ruin, until eventually they flee from the house and creditors alike. In today’s economy, where people work 40-60 hours a week and still can’t get by, The Amityville Horror may be more relevant than anyone thought it ever could be.

Jan 23, 2006

Supernatural 70s Week! Day 1

Are you scratching your l'il noggin over that there title- "Supernatural 70s Week!", wondering just what tricks I've got up my sleeve now? Are ya, punk? Are you saying to yourself, "How dare she! I came here to read about slasher flicks, dammit, not those delightfully obtuse, sometimes even a bit freaky movies from the 1970s involving the supernatural! I want masked killers chasing teenagers, not possessions and haunted houses and other assorted weird goings-on! What the f?". Well, to those of you out there who've got your panties in a bunch over this, I say- chillax, homies. It's just a week! Besides- must you box me in? Hmm? When Steven Seagal said "I may be a chubby, lethargic actor and a zen C-grade action star, but is there not more to me?", how did the world respond, readers? That's right- the world said "Oh Steven Seagal, show us MORE!" and gave the man a recording contract. And if Steven Seagal can branch out, goldurnit, than so can I. Plus, it's just a week!

To kick off the week I took in The Legacy (1978), starring Stepford Wife Katharine Ross and Roadhouse tough guy Sam Elliott as an American couple who encounter bizarre happenings at an English manor. Yeeagh!

Maggie and Pete (Ross and Elliott) are New York architects (or something- it's never really explained what they do) who get a vague job offer from an unknown employer- they get paid $50,000 as an advance and are told to report to England in a week to get all the details. Despite such scant information, Maggie is hot to trot and convinces Pete (who's rightfully dubious about the whole thing) to come along. They leave for England right away so they can have a little sightseeing vacation before getting down to work.

Then we have the credit sequence, and we're immediately reminded that the movie was birthed in the 70s: the sensitive musical montage. That's right, there are shots of the young couple buying oranges, walking hand in hand, laying atop a blanket in a field...while we're treated to some primo Kiki Dee soundtrack action. Yes, Kiki Dee, she who couldn't break Elton John's heart if she tried. Sometimes I feel like every movie from the 70s, whether a horror flick or not, had to have a 'theme song'. You know what I mean? Usually performed by someone you've never heard of, the song gets its own shout-out in the credits. It's kind of distracting, but that could just be me.

As the strains of Kiki fade away, Pete and Maggie are driving down a winding road on a motorcycle, going rather fast. Around the corner comes a car, there's swerving, there's a spinning camera, there's Pete and Maggie on the ground. Don't worry- they're alright, but the motorcycle needs some repairs before it can be driven again. The fellow being chauffeured in the car, Jason Mountolive, tells the couple that he'll arrange for the repairs to the bike, but in the meantime they simply MUST come back to his house for a spot of tea. Those crazy Brits! Cheerio, ol chap! Ta ta! Spare a pence, guv'nah?

They arrive at Jason's pad- one of those sprawling English manors snuggled into the rolling hillside- and the host tells his guests to go on inside and make themselves comfy. Then he pops a few pills and drives off. Okey-dokey...no matter that they're left alone, because Pete and Maggie interpret "make yourselves comfy" to mean "go have it off", and so they do. Pete decides on a post-coital shower, and while he's rinsing off the stench of their sweet sweet lovemakings, the water...gets really hot! And Pete can't turn it off! He crashes through the glass shower doors to avoid getting burned and makes a mess everywhere. Is there something evil afoot at the Mountolive residence? Or is it simply...bad plumbing? Ooo-eeee-ooo!

Soon enough, 5 other guests arrive via helicopter to liven things up a bit. Host Jason, however, is nowhere to be found. Or is he? Is that him watching everyone from afar, all wheezy and shaky? And why does his creepy staff- including the really creepy Nurse Adams, who may or may not have the ability to turn into a cat- keep whispering amongst themselves that "The master is fading fast"?

Soon, one of the guests, Maria, is cavorting alone in the pool, doing what looks to be one-half of a synchronized swim routine. When she comes up for air, though, she finds she cannot break the surface of the water! It's as if someone has laid plexiglass atop the pool, or Maria is just adding some mime-ery to her swim routine. Either way, she can't get her head above water and she sinks to the bottom, then floats. Uh oh! When they find her body, the guests all assume Maria hit her head or something and drowned- except for Pete, who notices that there's no marks on the body. Is there something evil afoot at the Mountolive residence? Or is it simply...an accident? Ooo-eeee-ooo!

Later on, Pete is left to his own devices while Maggie and the 4 remaining guests are summoned to the host's room. Jason, who was a man in his 40s earlier in the day, is now a wheezy, wrinkly old thing, bed-ridden behind some sort of hyperbaric curtains. He's hooked up to all sorts of machinery, monitored by the suspicious Adams. Jason rasps to his audience about "the legacy"- that the ring each of them is wearing binds them to him, and when he dies only one of them will take his place and inherit everything. Maggie's a bit confused, since she isn't wearing a ring. Jason beckons her to his side, though, and a hand that looks like it's made out of beef jerky thrusts out from behind the curtain and grabs her wrist! Suddenly...Maggie is wearing the ring! And she can't get it off! Is there something evil afoot at the Mountolive residence? Or is it simply...that Jason didn't know her ring size? Ooo-eeee-ooo!

Eww, you can keep your ring, Grossilocks!

Maggie and Pete decide that it's the former, and try to make a break for it. They steal some horses, gallop into town and steal a car...but no matter which road they take, they end up back at Jason Mountolive's house! What the-? How is that possible? After several attempts at escape, the couple just gives up and heads beack inside for some grub.

At dinner, Maggie asks fellow ring-wearer Roger Daltrey (yes, from The Who) if everyone's into black magic. Surprisingly, they all say yes, and it's no big whoop. Then Roger Daltrey chokes on some ham and dies.

From this point on, you may be shocked to learn that it gets a little convoluted. Maggie uncovers some truths via my favorite cinematic method: the damning newspaper clippings left lying around! Yes, Maggie discovers that everyone at the house has a sordid past...Jason "bought their lives" and now their punishment fits their crime. See, like, you know how I said that Roger Daltrey choked on some ham, right? And stuff? Well, it turns out that a long time ago he gave one of his bandmates some drugs...and the bandmate choked on the pills and died! And stuff!

Eventually there are only two competing heirs remaining: Maggie and the evil Frenchman Jacques. Jacques is up on the roof, shooting at Pete with a shotgun. Pete is shooting back with a crossbow. They shoot each other, but not fatally- then Maggie rushes out to Pete's side as he lays on the grass bleeding. Jacques raises the shotgun, Maggie raises her hand, and the shotgun gets clogged and blows up in the Frenchman's face! He falls off the roof to his death, and now Maggie is the final heir! She goes to Jason's side to claim her prize. He's really about to bite the dust now, and he wheezes: "Take my necklace...and my powwwwwww-ahhhhhhhhhh!". Oh, in case you didn't know by now, he means the power of Satan. Eventually, Maggie will find 6 worthy potential heirs to her legacy, kill 5 of them, and pass the necklace and the powah onto the survivor. Maggie seems fine with all of this, for some reason.

Meanwhile, Pete is battling mano a mano with Nurse Adams. He pushes her down the stairs, and I kid you not...she meows all the way down. Yes, apparently she COULD turn into a cat. Pete makes his way into Jason's room, goes nuts, and smashes everything...but he's too late! Maggie is the new master of the house! She has inherited...The Legacy! And in one of the most ridiculous, pulled-out-of-the-writer's-ass endings ever, Maggie and Pete are perfectly a-ok with the fact that she's now a vessel for Satan. Maggie gives Pete her ring, meaning he'll be one of the six potential heirs some day...also meaning, she may end up killing him at some point! But that's cool! It's all good! And witness the exchange that ends the movie:

"You're getting to be tough to deal with, Slim."
"I know. I've got the power!"
"Yeah, I know you have. Now what're you gonna do with it?"
"Anything I want!"

OK...what the fuck? She didn't get her GED, she didn't get reconstructive surgery, she didn't leave her abusive husband... she inherited the powers of Satan! How can they just accept that so easily?! They wanted to escape the house earlier in the day, and now it's like they won fucking Powerball! Ah, well. I love this whole subgenre, even if the movies are more confusing and ludicrous than they are frightening or...well, good. That's why I'm dedicating a whole week to 'em! And I give the inaugural flick...6 and a half out of 10 beef jerky fingers!

Jan 20, 2006

Phew!

Phew, I say! Phew! My losing streak has been broken! Finally, today I was crying tears of joy instead of pain and rage. I scored a copy of the rare treat Home for the Holidays on eBay, watched it, and now my sanity is restored. It's just amazing what happens when you combine good acting, good writing, and good directing. You know what happens? Ready for this? You get... a good movie! Wow, go figure! This 1972 made-for-TV slasher /thriller is better than most of the junk you get in theatres nowadays, and it's certainly better than anything I've watched in the last few weeks. Ugh...everytime I use the term "nowadays" I start to feel like that boring old person who talks about ten-cent loaves of bread ad nauseum. But I can't help it! And another thing! Why is it that in the 1970s we were treated to made-for-tv flicks like Home for the Holidays and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, while today we get mostly heartwarming wuv stories starring people like Matthew Perry? Where's the scary, dammit? Look at that box! A shadowy figure in a rain slicker! A pitchfork! A floating Sally Field head! All in a movie set during Christmas! What's the matter with you, modern made-for-TV movies? Where's the scary? And why is bread so damn expensive?!

OK, I'm better now. Like I said, this movie has a lot going for it right off the bat. It's written by Joseph Stefano, the man behind the screenplay for this other movie you may know called Psycho. The cast includes veteran actor Walter Brennan (in one of his final roles), Jessica Walter (the crazed Clint Eastwood fan in Play Misty For Me), a pre-Norma Rae Sally Field, and the inimitable Julie Harris of The Haunting. Directing this strong group is TV-horror vet John Llewellyn Moxey...and if all those names aren't enough to give this flick the street cred it deserves, then how about these two little words: Aaron. Spelling. Yes, when I saw his name pop up as executive producer, I just sat back and relaxed, knowing I was in for a good time. Yes, the mighty he of Dynasty, Models Inc., TJ Hooker, Home For the Holidays, and Tori Spelling. Is there anything Aaron Spelling can't do?

Brennan stars as Benjamin Morgan, a mean old coot who beckons his four daughters home after their nine-year abscence. He's convinced that his current wife Elizabeth (Harris) is slowly poisoning him to death. Elizabeth's first husband died under mysterious circumstances, and Benjamin wants his girls to do away with her before she does away with him. Nice, eh? Welcome home, girls!

When the rain falls hard for days on end, the roads are washed out, the phones don't work, and everyone is trapped in the sprawling house, surrounded by woods. Before long, a figure in a yellow rain slicker begins to pick off the Morgan sisters one by one. Is it Elizabeth? Is she really a Black Widow, or is Benjamin imagining everything?

You think I'm gonna tell you here? I'm not! This movie is hard to find and it took me quite a while to get a copy, but it was well worth the wait. Harris carries the movie with a great performance all the way through. Hey, maybe some nerd out there will start an internet petition to get this released on DVD, who knows. Until then, get your Murder She Wrote on and track it down! I give it 8-and-a-half out of 10 "now that's how it's done!"s.

Best reaction to anything ever.

I'm glad this movie rocked so hard. I'm headed out of town for the weekend, and I'd hate to leave you on a bad note. You kids behave while I'm gone, and I'll see you Monday!

Jan 19, 2006

Everything You Wanted to Know About Tom Savini...

...but I was afraid to ask.

Remember last November when I went to that horror con, Dark Xmas, and I wanted to talk to Tom Savini really bad and stuff but I was all like "Ooh, he looks all bored and cranky" and he did look a little bored and cranky but it was probably just me being too chickenshit to go talk to him even though he was at the fucking con so people would go up and talk to him and I was all super wicked bummed about it and stuff?

What? You don't remember every little detail of my life? Well, fine. Refresh your memory here while I go fetch a snack.

Ok, see? Yes, I wanted to talk to Tom Savini and I even had thoughts of interviewing him for this site. I've never interviewed anyone before, though...no wait, I did interview my grandmother for a 9th grade Social Studies project, but that doesn't really count. I asked dull questions, she kept her language in check, and lemme tell ya- what a snooze-fest. Before I go interviewing people I don't know for Final Girl, I need to...watch alot of Murphy Brown re-runs or whatever it is people do to learn the tricks of the trade.

Lucky for all of us, the fine folks at Slasherama know a thing or two about journalism, and they're not afraid to talk to Tom Savini. They've got a huge interview with him right here- so read it if you want to know just about everything there is to know about the man. He talks about The Burning, Romero and the zombie flicks, Friday the 13th, how he got his start in special effects, everything. He considers Day of the Dead to be his best work, and I might have to agree with him.
I won an award for Day Of The Dead. I wasn't there in France when I won it and I don't even know what it's called, but it was an award, anyway. That film is my masterpiece of splatter: my best work.
I love the fact that he wasn't there and doesn't know what the award is called. He seems like a chatty, cool guy, too. See? I'm a chicken! Bawk bawk!

Despite my cowardice in the face of an interview, I do feel like Lois Motherfucking Lane today, as my column is up on Pretty/Scary. Beer will be had.

Jan 18, 2006

A Very Special Final Girl

Hello, I'm Stacie, Your Ship's Blogger, and I'd like to introduce you to my
100th post!
Yes, dear readers, we've come a long, long way since June. I'd like to say that I have something spectacular planned for today, but I'm afraid I don't, sorry. I fear I got all pooped out today tackling my new venture- something I've been dying to tell you all about but managed to keep mum about. What new venture? Well, I'm branching out, ma! That's right, just like an Ebola-riddled Paris Hilton, your humble Stacie is spreading herself around, infecting others...namely the readers of a little website called Pretty/Scary. If you're not cool and in the know, then lemme tell ya- Pretty/Scary is the premiere website on the Information Superhighway on horror, for women and by women. Information Superhighway is italicized to emphasize my loathing of that term.

A while ago I got an email from site co-founder Heidi Martinuzzi about this here little blog o' my heart. One thing led to another and now she's having my baby I'm writing a MONTHLY COLUMN for the site! I'm really, really excited about the whole deal and most grateful for the opportunity. My first column hits tomorrow, so be sure to check it out if you're into horror, women, or any combination thereof. While this certainly doesn't mean I'm a real live journalist or anything, I have begun to incorporate "Whatta scoop!" into my vocabulary, much to the annoyance of everyone around me.

Oh, and incidentally, I just figured out out to do that cool strikethrough thingy with the font, so expect that to be popping up alot around here. I love it! Call me 1997.

I'm sure I'll remind you whenever I've got a new column going up, but you should definitely check out the site regularly regardless. You'll find interviews, articles, other columnists, forums, reviews...and while the site is geared toward women in horror, you're welcome even if you're an 'outie'.

I feel like I won a fucking Oscar or something, but I need to thank all the people who read my ramblings regularly and who comment often and make this enterprise so much fun.

Yay! Group hug...except you over there- you're a little grimy. Eh, what the hell. Group hug everybody!

Gaze into his scary, waxen eyes...behold his meaty lips...thrill! to his chiclet teeth...and rejoice!

Jan 17, 2006

Just Call Me Billie

As you may or may not be aware, the website for the forthcoming flick Creepshow 3 is now live and somewhat kicking.

Nope, sorry- Creepshow 3 will not be a reunion for horror maestros George Romero and Stephen King. In fact, they've got nothing to do with this effort. The duo behind this is Ana Clavell and James Dudelson, the pair who brought us Horror 101, Horror 102, and Day of the Dead 2: Contagium. I've yet to see that last one yet, but I must admit, it takes a primo pair of gold-plated balls to hop on Romero's back like a pair of little monkeys as they did. I have seen H-101 and H-102, and I must say- my hopes for Creepshow 3 are quite low. Damn those cheap DVD 2-packs straight to hell!

Back during the Shocktober! marathon, I talked a bit about my love for horror anthology flicks. It's because of this (and plain ol' curiosity) that I'm sure I'll check out Creepshow 3. But like I said, for once I'm not getting my hopes up- though I'll try to view it with an open mind, and maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Creepshow has a place in just about every horror fan's heart. Writer Stephen King and director George Romero absolutely nailed the look and vibe they were going for: that of William Gaines's EC Comics of the 1950s. In fact, there's a fantastic original comic book companion to the film, written by Stephen King with art by the amazing Bernie Wrightson.

The movie isn't particularly scary (although soggy, bloated, zombified Ted Danson and Gaylen Ross from Something to Tide You Over really got to me), and hell, maybe it isn't even particularly good. I have no idea, and I can't really be impartial about it. I was 10 when it first appeared, and to a 10-year-old Stacie, that movie was pure fucking gold. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've seen it so many times I practically have it memorized. I loved it when the mean dad (Tom Atkins) got his at the end of the wraparound story; I loved it when Nate Grantham clawed his way out of the grave in Father's Day; the cockroaches in They're Creeping Up on You grossed me out majorly, and I always laughed when Jordy Verrill yelled "Oh no! Not there!" when he first caught a glimpse of his newly weed-covered wang. But for me, the absolute highlight of the film: Adrienne Barbeau as the obnoxious Billie in The Crate. I already knew and loved her from The Fog and Escape From New York (and yes, from Maude as well), but here she's at her crankiest, her most foul-mouthed, campy over-acting best. Absolutely perfect.

In 1987, Romero and King teamed up once again to write the screenplay for Creepshow 2, while directing duties went to Michael Gornick. There's no doubt that movie, trimmed from 5 stories to 3, isn't as strong as its predecessor. It's missing that comic-book vibe of the first, and so it feels just like any other run-of-the-mill horror anthology: meaning, fun to watch, some bits better than others, but ultimately just... sort of... there. While most people will claim The Hitchhiker- with its famous "Thanks for the ride, lady!"- as their favorite story, the story that's really stuck with me all this time is The Raft. It's certainly the most frightening of the three stories- I mean, who isn't afraid of carniverous goo? And you know the downer of an ending rocks. I wish Clavell and Dudelson all the luck in the world with this effort, I really do. If they do their job right, we all win- and I do love an anthology flick. If they dip into Romero's well yet again and come up dry, though, they may have to hop onto Uwe Boll's back next time.

Jan 16, 2006

It's a Hard Knock Life

I'm going to blame poor business practices for the fact that today I had to sit through Terror at Tenkiller (1986). How's that gonna work, you ask? Well, let me explain.

Media Play, a chain of stores that sells DVDs, CDs, books, and toys, has priced themselves right out of business. While they did occasionally have a cheap movie here and there, or a good sale, the regular prices on their DVDs were in the $30 range. Who in their right mind would spend that kind of money for a movie when you can get it much cheaper anywhere else? Well, no one would, that's who. And so, shortly before Christmas, Media Play began to put everything in the store on sale: the chain is closing its doors forever. They began discounting items about 10%, which isn't that great, considering the original prices. Soon enough, though, they marked everything down to 60% off, which is much more attractive. At these low low prices, I found myself picking up things I wouldn't have otherwise...like the "Slasher Classic 2-Pack" featuring that turd I can still smell today, The Last Slumber Party, and today's stinker, Terror at Tenkiller. I got both movies for about $3, which, quite frankly, is still too high. I paid a much higher price than that for watching these- I lost many tiny little pieces of my soul in the process.

As much as I loathed The Last Slumber Party, it did have one advantage over today's movie. It was so bad that I was actually somewhat intrigued to see how bad it could get. My hatred, nay- my rage at how bad The Last Slumber Party eventually got to be was actually somehow energizing. Terror at Tenkiller was bad, and oh, ever-so-boring. I was really struggling to stay awake during this one. If nothing else, I'm proud of my endurance.

This is the story of two college students (by 'college' students I mean 'clearly they were too old to be undergrads years ago') who head to Lake Tenkiller for the summer. Lesley (Stacy Logan) is going to escape her abusive boyfriend, while Janna (Michelle Merchant) is going to revisit her childhood hangout and have a good time.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. There's lots of conversations between the two girls, wherein Lesley acts all wishy-washy about her guy while Janna tells her to grow some sac and kick him to the curb. There's a weird local guy named Tor, yes, TOR, who I imagine is supposed to be some sort of dreamboat despite his lack of a personality and his bad skin. Oh, and Tor has a bad habit of killing people as well.

This flick left me so lethargic that I haven't the energy to go into a blow-by-blow breakdown of everything terrible about it. But, a few highlights for you:

- The dialogue is almost completely dubbed. Dubbing is fine when it's done competently...NOT when it's recorded inside a tin can, inside a closet, underground.
- The soundtrack was clearly recorded by one man with a Casio. I imagine he was wearing a blazer with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and a skinny tie while he plonked away at the keys.
- A lesson to aspiring filmmakers: when you use a body double in a film, keep in mind that the term is "BODY double". In one scene, Janna enters a room to change into a bikini. In the room, she takes off her top to change. We see side boob, and note that her boobs have grown exponentially since she walked through the door. However, we also see her head and face, and the magical doorway has somehow also made her hair 6 inches longer and changed her facial structure. Then she goes back outside, and it's the same ol' Janna.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a nap. The Last Slumber Party/Terror at Tenkiller 2-pack...hmm...I smell another giveaway contest...

I give this 2 out of 10 magical doorways. Peeeee-yoooooou!

Jan 14, 2006

Hip Hip Hooray

It's time to declare a winner in the Silent Hill 2 Giveaway Contest! You're tired of hearing about it, and I'm tired of writing about it- so let's draw a name and give the damn game away already.

Here to draw the winner's name, we've got a winner himself. Here he is, the scariest slasher psycho around, Michael Myers, everybody! Michael, how do you feel about being chosen a winner and having the honor of choosing another?

Hmm. Alright then. I know, Michael, we're all bored, so let's get down to business. Here we have the hat containing the names of everyone who was rad enough to enter the contest...and yes, when I said "pull a name out of a hat", I meant it. It's my very own winter hat, even, for that personal touch.

Now, onward to the action! Behold as Michael reaches into the cauldron of names...

...pulls out a slip of paper...

...and reveals the winner's name!

Anthony Marella! Congratulations, Anthony- I hope you like the game even a little bit as much as I do. And thanks to everyone who entered, as well. I love contests!

Despite what you might be thinking after reading this post- looking at the pictures, realizing that I actually took the time to take those pictures (which, err...required playing with a Michael Myers action figure)- I'd just like to point out that I'm not drunk. Yet.

Jan 13, 2006

The Final Girl Hall of Infamy

Just as I promised, kids, here's a rundown of the worst slasher killers to grace the screen- in my humble opinion, of course. This list was actually tougher to compile than yesterday's, for I had to wax philosophical on such questions as- "What's lamer? A killer in no special garb at all? Or a killer in a stupid costume?". Decisions, decisions. Once again, the films themselves have no bearing on inclusion in this list. I do like some of these movies, even if the psychos themselves are less fear-inducing than Everybody Loves Raymond. Without further ado, here's the inductees for The Final Girl Hall of Infamy, 2006!

10.

The killings in Night School are quite frightening to behold. The killer, sadly, is not. Crocodile Dundee would be proud of that knife, but the rest of the ensemble looks like it belongs on a bad guy from Renegade or Walker, Texas Ranger. Vroom vroom!

9.

While the killer in Graduation Day does use my absolute favorite slasher weapon, the football- with- a- sword- attached, he looks like he's in the middle of gym class. A grey sweatsuit is frightening indeed, but not for the reasons they were going for in this flick.

8.

Behold my scary, scary jean jacket! I'm... going to... glare at you while I sweat! Yeah, that's it! Booga booga! This guy from Slumber Party Massacre might be a big ol' drill-wielding pervert, but scary-looking he ain't. The glistening sweat sheen is gross, though, I'll give him that.

7.

The next entry in the "normal guys doing nothing scary are not scary, dammit" category* is this non- threatening fellow from Pranks. I'm having trouble deciding which of the following is the biggest reason he's so very dull: the light blue t-shirt, the feathered hair, or the fact that he has no weapon. You're a triple threat of boredom there, dude.

*see also: He Knows You're Alone

6.

Oh, you know I loves me some Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. As Ricky, Eric Freeman chews up the scenery like it's made out of Rice Krispie Treats, and I couldn't be happier. I could, however, be more scared. Look at that mug! The only thing scary here is the bad, oh so very bad overacting.

5.

Fie thee, The Last Slumber Party! A pox on your house! Sores on your private no-no parts! These and many other bad things I wish upon thee, foul beast. Verily. This guy needs to learn a thing or two about hamming it up from Eric Freeman. He does, however, repeatedly hold a scalpel up the the camera in a threatening fashion...and he's still not in the least bit terrifying.

4.

OK, I know I'm supposed to find the killer in Terror Train scary. I know I am, but I look at this picture and I just have to laugh. He looks like Gene Shalit! Gene Shalit, staring at me... stalking me...whoa. Wait a minute...that is scary.

3.

Maybe... maybe, if done absolutely right, there's a chance that a psycho in a mascot outfit might be a little bit... unsettling. I doubt it, but I always like to have hope- that's just how I roll. What this geek from Girls Nite Out shows us, however, is that if your mascot looks like a mentally handicapped bear wearing a toupee, there's no chance in hell.

2.

Oh my dear god, do I love Killer Workout. Really, truly, I adore this movie. The videotape is one of the true gems of my collection. I'm going to write a nice, juicy post about it one of these days, whenever I feel I can do justice to a slasher movie set in an aerobics studio. Until then, though, feast your eyes on Rhonda and her weapon of choice, the oversized novelty safety pin. I love the fact that she's posing for us with her oversized novelty safety pin. She's not scary in the least, but she rocks my face off anyway.

1.

Sweet, sweet Charles Nelson Reilly above, won't someone save us from the killer in Slumber Party Massacre 2? Please? Not because I'm afraid of him, but because I'm afraid I may gouge my own eyes out just so there's never a chance that I'll see him again. Yes, readers, the top spot in The Final Girl Hall of Infamy belongs to this tool, the worst slasher psycho I've ever witnessed. He's the resurrected killer from Slumber Party Massacre, and somehow he's sprung forth from the dreams of Crystal Bernard of television's Wings. As if that idea isn't the worst you've ever heard, you should know that he comes to life as a "rock and roller"- complete with silver-tipped, high-heeled boots and tassels on his black leather jacket. He dances, he sings, he does the fucking worm and spins on his back. There are many musical montages, wherein he dances around acting "cool" while he chases his intended victims. I repeat: there are musical montages. He does the worm. It sounds alot more fun than it actually is, believe me. The scariest thing about the whole affair is that I've actually sat through it all.

On a final note, I present the Lifetime Achievement Award to my favorite movie psycho. She's not scary, yet she's not unscary. She's very righteous, and if you're a racist, a drug-taker, a fornicator, a cheerleader, or a bad rapper, she will take you down. She used to have a penis, but now she's a girl and just as cute as a button. She wields a mean acoustic guitar as well as a mean lawn mower, and she is one Happy Camper. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Angela from Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland. Bravo!


Again, feel free to list your favorite terrible killers. I do so love a list.

The clock is ticking kids, and at 11:59pm EST tonight, my Silent Hill 2 Giveaway Contest will turn back into a pumpkin. Don't miss your chance to enter! Follow the link for the rules.

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody!

Jan 12, 2006

The Final Girl Hall of Fame

Welcome to the Final Girl Hall of Fame! What is this so-called "Hall" of "Fame", you ask? Will there be a televised broadcast of the induction ceremony, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Dean Cain? First of all, no...no televised ceremony, sorry. I hope you didn't get too excited over the prospect. Secondly, the Hall of Fame is...a list! That's right! A List! I love a list. Who doesn't? Only jerks don't like lists.

Herein we've got the 10 Scariest Killers in Slasher Movies, according to yours truly. I thought about calling this my 'favorite killers' list or something, but the phrase 'favorite killers' just sounded a little too sick and twisted to me. So here are what I consider to be the scariest killers, based mostly on their appearance, but the way they move, sound, and generally carry on will be taken into consideration as well. The quality and/or scariness of the movies in which they appear has no bearing on inclusion or ranking- the movies themselves could be meh. This is just a list of the slasher psychos who give me the biggest, best heebie jeebies. Without further ado, please welcome the Final Girl Hall of Fame 2006 inductees!

10.

They're creepy and they're kooky...yes, readers, it's the boys from Just Before Dawn. These overgrown inbred brothers are exactly who you don't want to run into on your camping trip. They're not as deformed as the inbred brothers from Wrong Turn, but they don't need to be in order to skeeze me out. They wheeze and they giggle and they've got weird sores and they'll put your clothes on after they kill you. They seem to really get a kick out of killing people who wander into their neck of the woods- seriously ooky, indeed.

9.

One of my favorite slasher flicks from back in the day is My Bloody Valentine. Harry, the vengeful miner out to put the kibosh on the Valentine's Day Dance, has always gotten under my skin. The black miner garb (complete with headlamp, gasmask, and pickaxe) makes Harry look damn threatening as he's stalking the tunnels of the mine. Watch the sequence where he's smashing out lightbulbs with his axe as he moves along the tunnel, enveloping himself in darkness as he goes- and see if I'm not right!


8.

You're probably sick of hearing me go on about this movie by now, but what would a list of my favorite/ most scary things be without a mention of Black Christmas? It certainly wouldn't be complete, I can tell you that. So, nestled in at #8 is Billy, the psycho in the attic who kills off sorority girls one by one, at his leisure. Assuming his name really IS Billy- we never quite know for sure. The picture of him here is about the only time you really see him in the movie, and that's just fine. Look at that eye! This dude is one psycho psycho. I can't really describe for you the phone calls he makes to his intended victims- you've just gotta hear them for yourself. The calls get more frightening and more twisted as the victims pile up, and by the end I'm quaking in my Tims. NOTE: I do not wear Tims.

7.

Poor Cropsy. He just wanted to pass out on his bed in peace after a long night with the bottle, but those damn campers had to try to be funny, and Cropsy ends up burned within an inch of his life. Soon he heals up enough to put on some raggy-looking clothes, grab some giant hedge-clipper/scissor things, and get down to business. The business of killing campers in a movie called The Burning, that is. Cropsy is mighty pissed and he has giant scissors which he will use to cut you up into many tiny pieces. I don't like that in a person, as a rule. People like that frighten me.

6.

In Friday the 13th Part VII, Kane Hodder took over the role of Jason Voorhees, and he really made the character his own. Suddenly, Jason seemed to be 8 feet tall and built like a house ...just huge and imposing ...and damn if he didn't have a purpose. Jason storms around, very intent on getting to his victims, all the while unaware of how gross he's become. He's gooey and almost melting, he's done the "I'm alive- no, I'm dead- no, really, I'm alive" thing so many times. But with Kane Hodder in his squishy shoes, Jason is a force to be reckoned with, and you're simply not going to escape.

5.

Before he became reanimated Super Jason, or Jason in Space, Mrs. Voorhees' boy was just a confused psycho, living in the woods at Crystal Lake with a potato sack covering his disfigured face. Clad in overalls, Jason still didn't fuck around, though- if you were on his turf, well...you wouldn't be for long. This backwoods weirdo Jason from Friday the 13th Part II creeps me out, from his shanty hut with the mom shrine to his one eyeball peering at me through the sack. Put the pitchfork down, Jason. Listen to mommy! That's a good boy, Jason.

4.

One yellow rain slicker + one weird, vaguely see- through mask with makeup on it = Fuck. That. Noise. This ensemble, sported by the killer in Alice, Sweet Alice, is seriously frightening. I don't even like looking at it.

3.

You know what? The first 15 minutes or so of Scream comprise one of my favorite scenes from any slasher flick. C'mon readers, think back to that time, before horror movies became all ironic and "too cool" to actually be scary...before Scary Movie played this up for laughs. Think back- you know Ghost Face scared the hell outta you the first time you saw him. You can't lie to me! The moment during the phone conversation, when he tells Drew Barrymore that he can see her, was devastating. Catching that glimpse of Ghost Face running by the window behind her- I could feel the tension in the movie theatre when I saw this flick. People were scared. When he chased down poor Drew, all in slow motion, black robe flying and knife raised, I was completely terrified. Way to go, Wes Craven!

2.

Curtains is a little-known slasher flick from 1983. As movies in this genre go, it's pretty standard fare- but the mask the killer wears is simply beyond eerie. If you talk to someone who's seen Curtains, without a doubt, they'll mention the ice skating scene- the highlight of the movie. A young woman is out on the ice, doing her thing early one morning. She finds a creepy doll buried beneath the snow, and then begins a magnificent sequence- one of the best in all slasherhood (I think I made that word up, but go with it). The killer, dressed entirely in black, wearing a hag mask, and wielding a scythe, skates intently toward the young woman. She raises the scythe...and you know the rest. It's all done in slow motion, and the scene takes place in bright, broad daylight- a great touch- proving that you don't need the darkness to create terror. Once you see this scene, it'll never leave you- and neither will that face.

1.

Is there any doubt as to who'd be at the top? Call me predictable, but of course, it's The Boogeyman himself. Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for Halloween's Michael Myers! Yes, The Shape from the first Halloween (OK, maybe a bit from Part II...) is the one who kept me awake many a night as a kid, and who still has me looking over my shoulder when I'm alone at night as an adult. Nick Castle, who had the role in the first movie, was almost graceful in his movements- very threatening and commanding, yet ethereal and fluid at the same time. There's a quietness about him here, and you never know where he is at any given time. He doesn't stomp around- you only hear him breathe. The expressionless white mask with the darkened eyeholes is the stuff of nightmares. Somehow, in all the subsequent Halloween flicks, they managed to fuck up the mask every single time. The shape of it changed, the amount of hair on it changed so much that Michael Myers ended up looking like a dorky, pasty-faced troll doll by Part 6. None of the subsequent actors in the role could match Castle's movements, and Michael Myers went from being The Boogeyman to being a weird chubby guy in a jumpsuit. It's a shame, really, because even after 25 years, the original is still so terrifying.

So there you have it, folks! feel free to chime in with your OWN choices. Tomorrow I'll be running a list that's the evil twin to this one: the slasher killers who aren't scary whatsoever. Now that's a good time.

Remember, my Silent Hill 2 Giveaway Contest ends tomorrow, Friday the 13th (yikes!) at 11:59pm EST! Many will enter, but only one will win! Will it be you? Who knows. Miss Cleo might know, but I think she's on the lam.

Jan 11, 2006

How Fitting.

How absolutely fitting that I was in the middle of a my post about The Last Slumber Party (1987) when it disappeared. Poof. Just like that. How was it fitting? Well, I was in the middle of a sentence declaring this movie the biggest pile of crap I've ever seen. The same evil force that made me buy The Last Slumber Party obviously doesn't want me talking smack about it either, and therefore made me click 'ok' at the wrong moment, sending my rant into the foul netherworld from whence it came. The Patron Saint of Giant Shitpiles Caught on Tape, meddling again, I guess. Sigh. I will try again, because I honestly believe that this movie is so bad, that if I can spew enough bile about it and maybe I can prevent just one more person from seeing it, then I will have accomplished some sort of mission in my life. You know I love a so-bad-it's-good movie. This movie, though...this movie...I think I may make it a personal goal to buy every copy of this movie in existence. Then I will load all the copies into a big box truck, haul them out to the New Mexico desert, where I will commence burying them in a big hole next to all those Atari ET game cartridges. Before I bury them, however, I will dump my dirty cat box on them and flip them off with both hands just to show them some more hate.

I think the plot was something like this: some girls are having a slumber party. The father of the girl hosting the party is a doctor at a mental hospital. One of his patients escapes, comes to the house, and kills everybody.

I say "I think" because I couldn't hear the dialogue for the first 10 or so minutes of the movie, either because the sound was simply so poor or because there was music drowning it out altogether. Yes, lame metal music by "Firstryke" just played and played and played while people talked about something. You know, it doesn't even matter that I heard nothing, because what I did hear made virtually no sense at all. The writing and direction in this flick were the absolute worst I've ever seen in any movie. Ever. Evvvvaaaaaaaaar. There were jump cuts, characters inexplicably winding up in entirely different locations from one scene to the next...long, lingering shots that went far beyond long and lingering...I can't describe accurately how bad it was. It's far beyond my feeble grasp on language to do so. Take this shot, for example:

It's one of the "I'm 'in high school' but I look like a 40-year-old crack whore" characters in the shower. This shot, with a little zoom in and a little zoom out and a little shitty synthesizer noise, goes on for well over a minute. I timed it. I want you to stare at that picture while saying "beep beep beep" over and over for a minute and ten seconds, so you can feel my pain. A minute is alot longer than you'd think. A minute is a very long time in hell, indeed.

The writing is second to the directing in general crappiness only because the characters manage to speak in complete sentences. The same sentences, over and over and over, but complete sentences, at least. If I had to hear "You scared the shit outta me!" when nothing had happened one more time...pow! Zoom! To the fucking moon with this dvd, off the end of my foot! Here are some choice names for the boys used repeatedly throughout the movie: queer, queerbait, faggot, homo. And for the ladies: bitch, whore, wench. I don't even know the character names.

Judging from the beginning, I thought the movie was going to try to rip off Halloween alot more than it actually did. Check out this shot:

Remind you of anything? Laurie, Annie, and Lynda (Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, PJ Soles) walking home, having some 'girl talk' maybe? And the one in the middle there is the 'nerdy' one...her girlfriends are gonna set her up with a guy, despite her protests! Yeah, just like the whole Ben Tramer bit in Halloween. Had it continued the blatant rip-offs and been a 5th-rate Halloween, The Last Slumber Party would've been a much better movie then what it actually is.

Want to feel like you were there with me? Stare at this for a minute or two:

Yes, an action news flash that's just a poorly dubbed voiceover accompanying a lame graphic. It's actually one of the more exciting shots in the movie.

The killer, dressed in surgical scrubs, kills everyone the same way: by drawing a red line across their throats with a scalpel. Then he bugs out his eyes and holds the scalpel up to the camera for thirty seconds or so. Why, I don't know. But he does it...over...and over...and over...

You know, if I were me (wait, I am me) and I were reading this exact same review, I might think "Well, yeah, but I like bad movies- I'm gonna check this one out!". I might check it out, and later I would kick myself in the ass so hard I'd never see my Buster Browns again. I do like bad movies, of a type. Not this type. Please, readers, please...stay away from The Last Slumber Party. Stay as far away as possible. I really took one for the team by watching this. I suffered so you don't have to- that's how much I care. Take my word for it. Look- even Tom Selleck hates this movie!

See how unhappy he is, despite the bug-eyed killer? If Tom Selleck can't enjoy it, then how can we mere mortals expect to?

I feel a bit like this review is a jumbled mess- sort of all over the place and garbled. If you find it that way, too, then again, I say- how fitting. Because The Last Slumber Party is a big garbled mess that makes no fucking sense. I give it one quarter out of 10 stuck up middle fingers. You know why it didn't get a zero? Because at some point, one of the characters said "Who'd you think it was, Shelley Hack?" and any movie that name-drops Shelley Hack deserves one quarter of something. Otherwise, I hate you, The Last Slumber Party! F you and the dvd you rode in on!

Jan 9, 2006

Slasher in Four Colors

Conveying scares and horror on the printed page is tough business (yes, even for you, Stephen King!). Add pictures into the mix and it's... umm... tougher. With film, the director (and by default, the editor) retain complete control of the train even after it's left the station. The audience sits in the theatre and the movie plays out before them. They've got no choice about the pacing or the atmosphere; they're thrust into the story, for good or for bad. Yes, of course at home you can pause the dvd and all that, ya weisenheimer. But ultimately, the story itself is going to play out as the director intended.

With a comic book, though, the reader is in complete control of the process, from beginning to end. You can breeze through the entire story in a minute, or take an hour, closely inspecting each and every panel. Given the variables, it's difficult for a real atmosphere or mood to be established. To my mind, atmosphere and mood are key elements in deciding whether or not a horror movie is successful. That said, what chance does a horror comic have at hitting its mark...particularly a slasher comic?

Well, after reading Hack/Slash: Girls Gone Dead, I came to the conclusion that the slasher genre is surprisingly well-suited to the comic book medium. There's not many scares, per se, but there's a heck of a lot of fun. Think not Friday the 13th, but rather Friday the 13th Part III and you'll get the idea.

Hack/Slash is the story of Cassie Hack, the survivor of an attack by a killer called The Lunch Lady- who just so happens to be Cassie's mother. Cassie teams up with Vlad, a scary-looking monster-type guy, and the duo sets out to rid the world of 'slasher killers' one at a time.

In Girls Gone Dead, Cassie and Vlad are in Panama City Beach, Florida, tracking down what they think might be another slasher. The action begins on page 4, and it couldn't be more like your typical...well, slasher. Boy A and Girl B head out onto the sand for a little you-know-what*, and they meet their grisly end- complete with the trip-n'-fall from Girl B:

*I mean 'sex', as if you didn't know. Don't play coy with me!

Eventually, the daring duo tracks the killer to his hotel room, and they discover who- and what- he is. He's Father Wrath, a hateful televangelist turned murderous-avenger.

I'm not gonna reveal all of Father Wrath's story here (and there's alot more to it), in case you want to seek this out. If you're into comics and slashers, well, this is like two great tastes that taste great together. Writer/creator Tim Seeley obviously has a huge love for the genre, and the book has all the hallmarks of what makes these movies fun. And you know what? Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to see Father Wrath on the screen, in action. He's pretty damn spooky looking. Scarier than the school mascot-turned-killer in Girls Nite Out, that's for sure.

The artwork by penciler Federica Manfredi and colorist Davide Amici is a perfect blend of realism and 'comic book' style, and there's a decent amount of blood spilled.

I'm really looking forward to reading more of the adventures of Cassie and Vlad. I'll get to come March, when Seeley and Co. release Hack/Slash: Trailers. It's- you got it- shorts acting as trailers for stories that won't be... an idea that, quite frankly, I'm insanely jealous of. Why didn't I think of that, dammit? It's alright, though. I trust Mr. Seeley to take care of the genre- I wish I could say the same about Hollywood .

To read more about Hack/Slash: Trailers, head over here.

Oh, and if you haven't done so yet, well, why don't you enter my Silent Hill 2 Giveaway Contest? See, I added a link there so you don't even have to scroll down. Hugz.