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, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 30, 2007

I am SO outta here

MAMMA MIA! IT'S FRIDAY!
And so I take my leave of you, Faire Readers, for the weekend. I'll be putting in a stint at Cinema Wasteland as Final Girl, Cub Reporter, covering the events there for Pretty/Scary. Isn't that exciting? Yes...yes, it is.

If you're going to be at the con, be sure to look for me: I'll be sporting a bright blue muumuu- it's my conventionin' muumuu!

I sincerely hope to get involved with some Carl Kolchak-style hijinks while I'm there, like maybe the lifesize cardboard Pinhead standee in the corner will come to life at night and start killing people. I'll be the one who figures it out, but no one will heed my warnings and then I'll have to sneak onto the con floor after hours with my little camera and I'll have to fight the lifesize cardboard Pinhead standee...it'll end up burned to ash and then no one will believe my story whatsoever- but you'll know the truth, Final Girl readers! Fingers crossed that the Holiday Inn was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, or even a regular burial ground where they only moved the headstones.

In the meantime, there's some...me out there to tide you over:

Adam Ross has been running a cool and interesting weekly feature called Friday Screen Test on his film blog, DVD Panache, wherein various movie blog peeps get to pontificate on questions posed by Adam. This week, the test subject is me! I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity, so please go forth and show Adam (and me, I guess) some love.

If that's not enough Final Girl to tide you over, well...as I said earlier, it's Friday, which means another Horror Roundtable over at The Horror Blog! Huzzah! As of this writing, the Roundtable results (week 40!) aren't posted yet, but be sure to check back frequently and/or harass blog owner Steven until they're up. The topic this week was obscure horror films that deserve more attention, and I for one am really interested in what everyone's got to say- and what you have to say on the topic, too.

OK, barring a bad turnout in my battle against the lifesize cardboard Pinhead standee, I'll be back next week after a Wasteland weekend of movie viewing, spending money I don't have, beer, and trying to remember where I know that guy sitting behind the table from. Be good while I'm gone!

Mar 29, 2007

blood on the plow

Horror fans like myself, who might consider themselves to be of A Certain Age- the 60+ crowd, that is- most likely have fond memories of the 1981 made-for-TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow. That’s right, this little gem is from that magical year for horror- and also the golden age of made-for-TV movies. Not to sound all crotchety, like “things were so much better way back when”…but things were better, dammit! Why? Because there were horror movies on TV that were made for TV. There were slasher movies and ghost movies and monster movies. With the advent of cable and the VCR and the DVD player and the internet and virtual reality, made-for-TV movies are no longer an “event”- even though that’s what they’re always labeled. Should one actually turn up on a network, chances are it’s not going to be a horror movie- it’s going to be something heartwarming, most likely involving Christmas, a letter, romance, and maybe a disease. Where’s the rain-slickered slasher killers? Where’s the tiny little creatures who want to kill you? Where’s the creepy-ass vampires? I swear to you now, Final Girl readers, when I am crowned President of Television, I promise to bring back the made-for-TV horror film. And yes, I will wear a crown…and probably a robe. I will also carry a jeweled scepter, and I will be a kind but firm ruler. My subjects will bring me gifts of candies (which my food-tester will sample first, of course) and old Batman comics- not because they have to, but because they love me. Each year we shall reap healthy crops, at which time there will be a festival where I will—

Whoa.

Larry “Dr Giggles” Drake stars as Bubba, a sweet retarded man whose constant companion is the young Marylee (Tonya Crowe). It’s a completely innocent relationship- the two spend their days picking flowers and singing together- but the other men of this small farming community don’t like it one bit, in particular Otis, the town’s mailman (played with true sleazy gusto by Charles Durning).

Hell hath no fury like a mailman scorned.

Otis has a huge hate-on for Bubba, and he’s positively itching for an excuse to “permanently remove” the poor man, calling him a blight on their fine town. Unfortunately, Otis doesn’t have to wait long for his excuse to roll around: when Marylee is seemingly killed, the blame falls to Bubba.

Despite Bubba's cries of “Bubba didn’t do it!”, Otis rounds up a small lynch mob to see that “justice” is done. Bubba takes to hiding- he poses as a scarecrow in the field behind the house he shares with his mother- but Otis and his good ol’ boys find him and act as an impromptu firing squad. As Bubba hangs from the pole, bullet-riddled and lifeless, a call comes in telling the men that Marylee is fine. She was attacked by a dog and it was Bubba who saved her life. Wow, so Bubba really didn't do it. Ain’t that somethin’? They shot him up for nuthin’! Otis plants a pitchfork next to Bubba’s body and that’s that.


After the shooting there’s a hearing, but apparently the claims of self-defense by Otis and the boys is good enough for the judge and the case is thrown out of court. This makes perfect sense, as everyone knows that four angry men with shotguns stand little chance against a frightened retard with a pitchfork. Bubba’s mother is rightfully outraged at the decision, and she screams in the courtroom: “You may think you’re getting off free, but there’s other justices in the world besides the law!” No one points out to her that this is exactly the kind of thinking that led to Bubba meeting the business end of four shotguns. This little farm town ain’t no “two wrongs don’t make a right” kinda town, though- it’s an “eye for an eye” kinda town, which can mean only one thing…

IT’S REVENGENIN’ TIME!

Before long, a scarecrow shows up in the field of one of the guilty party, Harless- there’s bullet holes in the clothing, but the clothing is full of straw, not Bubba. And yes, this being a farm community, the men have names like “Harless” and “Skeeter”. Doy. At any rate, the scarecrow scares the men shitless- except Otis, naturally, who insists it’s the bitter District Attorney trying to scare the men into giving themselves up.

After darkness falls, Harless hears a who noise in his barn- someone’s walking around up in the hayloft. Before he- or we, for that matter- can find out who’s making the noise, a big ugly piece of farm equipment turns on and Harless falls in for a little justice, chop chop style.

So on and so on. The scarecrow appears as a harbinger of doom, and the men meet their fate when “accidents” occur. Otis blames everyone from the District Attorney to Bubba’s mother to Marylee to Bubba himself- but who…or WHAT…is seeking revenge on Bubba’s behalf? Is it Bubba himself, from beyond the grave? Is Bubba still alive? Is Marylee a 9-year-old capable of terrorizing men and then killing them? All is eventually revealed in an ending that kept many a child wide-eyed and awake at night when Dark Night of the Scarecrow originally aired.

As I said, this is a made-for-TV movie, so there’s not much by way of blood and guts and the grisly stuff. But who cares? Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a truly creepy thriller, and it succeeds largely due to the performances- particularly Charles Durning as Otis and Larry Drake, who’s pretty astonishing as Bubba. Drake would go on to win two Emmy awards for his portrayal of another mentally-handicapped character, “Benny” on LA Law. It should go without saying that the main reason the film succeeds is because scarecrows are…you know, pretty fucking scary.

Unfortunately, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, like so many great old films (particularly of the made-for-TV ilk), has yet to see an official DVD release. Maybe we should start an internet petition to get one out there for the masses- I’ve heard internet petitions are really effective. Unless you’ve got memories of Dark Night yourself, I’m sorry you’ll be upset that there’s a movie I’m reviewing that you most likely won’t be able to get hold of- especially after I give the movie a rating of

Mar 28, 2007

search and destroy

If this site was more of a "personal" blog...more journal-y, if you will...and had a title that was some "clever" play on my last name (Points to Ponder, Ponder's Ponderin's, etc), today I would probably talk about music.

ASIDE: by and large, I loathe "clever" blog titles like the two I mentioned above. They're akin to naming your hair salon Shear Magic or something...I hate that.

Yes, music. I'd probably mention that I'm still trying to cope with the break-up of my super awesome most favoritest band, though they've been gone for well on almost a year now. Then I'd mention that the only time they really made it into Rolling Stone magazine was when the publication trotted out their beyond lame-ass "Women in Rock!" issues- and then they'd put someone like Beyonce on the cover. After that, I'd point out how much Rolling Stone sucks anyway.

Then I might mention the fact that the last 10 songs on my iPod shuffle serve as a good indicator into how varied my musical tastes are. I'd use that to segue into brief essay positing that Disco Does Not, In Fact, Suck- no matter what the bumper stickers may have led you to believe. To add some weight to my argument, I'd submit "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by the SOS Band and "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston as examples of great songs, regardless of genre. This would no doubt bring on a mini-rant about cultural elitism and how cultural snobs can kiss my ass.

Then I'd end by bringing it full circle and mentioning how depressing it is to live in a world where there will most likely be no new Sleater-Kinney albums and how could they break up like that after putting out their best record?

But this is a horror blog, so I won't talk about any of those things. Sadly, I don't really have much horror-related to talk about either, so I'll simply post a picture of my awesome and beloved Freddy Krueger candle and I'll revisit the popular feature These Are Some Google Search Terms People Have Typed In And Subsequently Found Their Way To Final Girl. No, I still haven't come up with a better title, and yes, by "popular" I mean "I think it's funny".

You can imagine some of the hits I get due to the fact that 1) the word "girl" is in the title of the blog and 2) I tend to, on occasion, use the word "fuck". OK, I use that word all the time...but the point is, if people are looking for, say, something naughty that would encompass both "girl" and "fuck" and my review of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon pops up in the search results, why do they click through? Perhaps I should take that as a compliment. I mean, I'm sure it's the power of my words that intrigues people. After all, Final Girl was recently named Most Kick-Ass Blog Evar and Blog Most Likely to Cause the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony, while I myself was named Blogger Who Is So Cool She's Like 50 Snake Plisskens In One in a ceremony I had here at my house. You should have seen the dress I wore! At any rate...

creepy dream at a street

-This one just made me laugh. What's that movie, with a creepy dream at a street? It's right on the tip of my tongue...

she takes in the ass girls

-That is so, so sweet of her, whoever "she" is. I remember the Behind the Music episode about The Ass Girls, and how their record label and producers totally took advantage of them and that despite the millions of copies of their remake of "Mornin' Train" they sold, they ended up penniless and homeless. I'm glad someone has taken them in, and I hope they stage a comeback soon.

sexy girl blog

-You're damn right it is!

in the shining how does danny deal with the shining?

-This one is among several that make me want to put out a PSA regarding tips on web searches and how to make them effective.

which star dressed entirely in black for the final 45 years of his off screen life?

-See above. That aside, anyone have any guesses? I have no clue.

mausoleum floozy

-I love love LOVE the word "floozy". It's so grandmotherly, and for some reason it reminds me of Mrs Roper.

mermaids they er reel they come up to me

-Aw, sweetie...no...no, they don't. They really don't.

leprechaun fart

-I'm so glad that, through Final Girl, I can contribute to society in meaningful and lasting ways.

movie girl killed by computer screen

-Anyone?

poem about a game of hide-and-seek resulting in a bride dying in a chest

-Emily Dickinson's "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!"

worker boobs

-Again, that just makes me laugh. It's so blue collar!

movie from the 80s. I want me a jack, bum bum, bum bum

-Immediately I knew they were searching for Jumpin' Jack Flash, the movie also known as The Movie That Stacie Has An Inordinate Amount Of Love For And Yes She's The Only Person Who Feels That Way But It's One Of Those Unexplainable Things, Like This Album Cover.

who was the stripper whose name was freddie

-Umm...Freddie, maybe?

stop angelina jolie

-That's a cause I can totally get behind.

Mar 27, 2007

easy like Tuesday mornin'

Look at me, making a new choice for the next installment of the Film Club so quickly. 99% of you have probably already seen this one, but somehow it's always slipped under my radar. That's right, folks, I've never seen John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness! Gasp, shock, awe.

The title is available from Netflix, and I'll have the info posted on the right sidebar as a friendly reminder to both you and me.

The movie: John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
The date: April 30

In other news, check out this George Romero interview- link courtesy of the always-awesome Amanda By Night. Good ol' George! He rips into just about everything, from video games to Hollywood and back again. I love George Romero. I don't love all his movies- I mean, yeah, there's the zombie stuff, but there's also Bruiser, you know?- but I love love LOVE his attitude. For better or for worse, he's one of the very last true independent filmmakers out there- and to me, that makes even stuff like Bruiser enjoyable on some level. At least you know he's not in it simply for the paycheck.

Reading that interview bummed me out a bit, though, because it got me thinking about all the ways filmmaking has changed in the last 30-odd years. On the one hand, anyone can make a film today- scrape together a teeny bit of money for a camera and some editing software and you're good to go. Much like the facts of life, however, this is both good and bad. It's equal opportunity, but at the same time the days of getting funding for a feature film are pretty much over- and the chances of your indie feature making it into theatres are negligible as well. You read about guys like Romero and Hooper and Carpenter and how their early films- their masterpieces!- got made and...I don't know, little naive Final Girl wishes it was still possible. Someone agrees to finance you, you make you film with a group of like-minded individuals, and it gets shown on a few screens- drive-ins and Times Square porn theatres to start. And yes, I know there's no porn theatres left in Times Square, but go with me here.

And these kids- what's with their music today?

There's also a link in that Romero interview which takes you to his Resident Evil screenplay. Yes, if you want to know what would have happened if Romero had been handed the keys to Capcom's zombie franchise, then click here. The Master of Unlocking commands you!

For those of you too lazy to read the script, well, I've gone ahead and done it for you. All in all it's fairly true to the game- or at least, the elements are in place. Here's a quick, uber-nerdy rundown:

-Jill and Chris are lovers. OMGLOL!!111!WTF
-Jill is a member of STARS, Chris is not. He's a Native American superstar who runs a farm near "the old Arklay place"
-Wesker leads a group of STARS members into the mansion to retrieve Dr Marcus, the man who holds the antidote to the pesky zombie virus plaguing Raccoon City- which, of course, is now located in Pennsylvania
-the group heads into the laboratories underneath the mansion but finds that Marcus is now zombified himself; they continue their search, but Wesker has other nefarious plans
-the film would end almost exactly as the game ends- the keywords being rocket launcher, helicopter, Tyrant
-all your Resident Evil pals are in place: Jill, Chris, Barry, Wesker, Rebecca, Ada Wong, the Tyrant, the Hunters, the giant snake, and Plant 42. And yes, there are zombies.

All in all, I think it would've been a big fat nerdgasm. As a film, however, well, I didn't come away thinking it would be that great. It's a little videogame-walkthrough-ish...A to B and back again. This is just based on reading the screenplay, though, so who knows. It probably would have been fun, and he didn't skimp on the monsters- I mean...Plant 42!

Not so long ago, The Horror Blog posted the Japanese commercial for Resident Evil 2 directed by Romero. Again, it's true to the game, I'll say that much. I think there's more zombies in that commercial than there were in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

Mar 26, 2007

Film Club: Deathwatch

Wow, the Film Club deadline snuck up on us, didn't it? Did any of you watch the choice this time around? If you're cool you did.

Michael J Bassett’s 2002 WWI horror film Deathwatch opens much as Peter Weir’s 1981 WWI drama Gallipoli ends: a group of young soldiers are about to emerge from their trench into a battle they’re all but sure to lose. The men charge into a hail of bullets and a gas attack, and somehow, the 11th batallion manages to emerge unscathed. Where exactly they emerge, however, is another matter entirely.

Wandering through a thick fog, the soldiers realize they’re in enemy territory when they come across a massive, labyrinthine German trench. While it’s mostly filled with ooey, gooey rotting corpses, there is still a live enemy soldier here; he’s scared witless and implores the British troops to leave, telling them that the ground is evil.

We wouldn’t have a movie if the soldiers simply replied “Oh, right. Thanks, mate! Cheers. Pip pip.”, now would we? No, we would not, and so the Brits decide to secure and maintain the German trench. They make brief radio contact with Command, who doesn’t believe the men are who they say they are: over the crackle of the airwaves, the soldiers are informed that there were no survivors of the gas attack. Hmm. Curious. No matter! The men must secure their hold and continue to wait for their fellow troops.

However, we wouldn’t have a horror movie if they held this trench and nothing evil actually occurred, now, would we? No, we would not. Over the next few days and nights, the men are subjected to all manner of terrors: barbed wire with a mind of its own, hallucinations of imminent attacks from foreign troops, mental breakdowns that result in lethal shootouts, and a shocking sequence wherein one poor soldier learns that the worst thing to happen to him isn't getting shot in the spine.

Bassett has assembled your usual motley assortment of soldier types: the na├»ve youngster who doesn’t want to kill anyone, the psychotic thrillseeker who wants to kill everyone, the seasoned career soldier in charge of the boys, and the snooty career officer in charge of everyone who loses his shit in the heat of battle. While we’ve seen these characters countless times, they never felt like tired sterotypes- whether this is the result of the writing or the acting, I’m not sure, though both served the story well. Sure, Andy “Gollum” Serkis might be a wee bit over-the-top in his performance as the maniacal Pvt Quinn, but he’s fun to watch regardless.

"Captain Caaaavemaaaan!"

Deathwatch is definitely a creepy flick- we’re never quite sure about what exactly is going on in the trenches, what the threat is, or how the men can overcome it. At the film’s end, all is explained- at least in a manner that’s open to interpretation. I’ll most likely bring up my theories about what happened and what it all meant in the comments here- I don’t want to spoil anything for peeps who’ve yet to see this.

The atmosphere and weather contribute hugely to the creepiness of the film: there’s pervasive fog and a near-relentless rain, and I couldn’t help but think the actors must have suffered through quite an uncomfortable shoot. There’s plenty of gore and goo for the folks who enjoy that sort of thing- if there’s anything I’ve learned from Bassett’s two films (read my review of his other film, Wilderness, here), it’s that he’s liberal with the blood.

The one major fault with Deathwatch, I think, is that I never really got a sense of the space occupied by the soldiers, the German trench. It was a confusing layout, and while that notion serves a purpose, I never felt like the setting was another character in the film. In films where the location is essential to the plot, the location needs to be clearly defined and made “real”, no matter the size or layout- think of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, the cave system in The Descent, or hell, even the train in Terror Train. In Deathwatch, I could never discern one muddy corner from the next, nor could I figure out the positions of the soldiers planted everywhere in relation to one another. Had there been a better handle on the trenches, the film would have been positively oozing with dread rather than…err…trickling with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s a wholly original entry into the modern horror scene, and it’s an ambitious (if not entirely successful) feature debut from writer/director Michael Bassett. He’s undoubtedly on my short list of horror makers to watch.

Film Club Coolies:
$7 Popcorn
Mermaid Heather

Mar 24, 2007

You were waiting? Really? I wasn't.

Did you know that there’s a Hitcher II? There is, and it’s called Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting. Somehow it seems to have gotten lost or overlooked in all the hullabaloo surrounding the recent remake of the original film- not that that's a bad thing, necesssarily. Hitcher II is pretty much the same as The Hitcher, except instead of Rutger Hauer as the psycho bad guy hitchhiker, this time around it's Jake Busey as the psycho bad guy hitchhiker. To me, this is the equivalent of going to a strip club once and seeing Angelina Jolie do a routine and then you return the following week and you see the same routine but it's performed by the mom from Growing Pains. She’s lovely and all, but the effect isn’t quite the same, now is it?

I just realized I talk about strip clubs a lot. I find them sort of fascinating, though in my heart I know they’re not. They're actually sort of sad and boring, yet I still find them endlessly intriguing. Oh well. Maybe I should start a blog about them.

C Thomas Howell returns as Jim Halsey, the kid who was so very traumatized by Rutger Hauer in the first film. Jim is now a cop, but he can’t seem to get over his confrontation with the evil hitchhiker; he’s plagued by flashbacks of the desert and the mullet he sported at the time.

After Jim gets trigger-happy on the job one too many times, he’s summarily fired. His girlfriend, crack cropduster pilot Maggie (Kari Wuhrer), reminds Jim that he just can’t go around killing people all the time and things have got to change. They decide to take a trip back to Texas so Jim can confront his demons once and for all.

Before long, they’re driving in the middle of a sand storm and Jim is sweating a lot and generally acting weird. He refuses to pick up a hitchhiking Jake Busey, but Maggie insists- the poor guy is out in the middle of a sand storm, after all, and man, why the fuck is Jim acting so oddly?

Yeah, see, Jim hasn’t told his girlfriend about those life-altering events long ago or exactly what demons he has to exorcise…if he had, she wouldn’t have insisted on picking up Jake Busey and then we ALL could have avoided a little heartache. They pick him up, however, and yes, he’s psycho. As in the first film, Jim soon finds himself framed for 543657651665217 murders as Jake Busey keeps fucking with him. In a super-shocking twist, however, Jim ends up dead. This means that Jake Busey now has to torment Kari Wuhrer and somehow frame HER for 543657651665217 murders.

Busey kidnaps Maggie and tucks her away in a decrepit water tower…she escapes, however, and drives off in an 18-wheeler. She heads to a rest stop/diner and contacts the sheriff, ready to explain everything. Much to her chagrin, however, Jake Busey is already at the rest stop/diner and he’s killed everyone inside. Now he’s behind the counter, posing as a short order cook, complete with hat and apron- and the sheriff is on the way! Whatever will happen?

I’ll tell you what will happen: Jake Busey will cut off one of his own fingers and throw it in the deep fryer. Then he will say- I fucking kid you not- “BAM! Kickin’ it up a notch!” Then Stacie will turn the DVD off for 20 minutes as she waits for her blood pressure to return to normal.

More and more ridiculous scenarios unfold until there’s a final showdown, with Jake Busey behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and Kari Wuhrer behind the…whatever you use to fly a plane. That’s got to be the most retarded showdown in the history of ever and I can’t believe it actually happened, but I saw it with my very own eyes.

I tells ya, the only thing that kept me going to the end of this movie was my fervent desire to see an end to Jake Busey and his Chiclet teeth and relentlessly ‘90s hairstyle once and for all.

While I think there’s something valid to the notion of sequels that deal with the aftermath of events from earlier films and their effect on characters (this idea was handled well in Halloween H2O, for example), Hitcher II ultimately felt more unnecessary than even a remake of the original film. Jim never got to sort his shit out or have any kind of real resolution: he found himself in the exact same situation he was in almost twenty years earlier, and he died a lame death. Maggie ends up traveling down the same path, which seems ludicrous to me. How many cuckoo nutso nihilistic hitchhikers are there in Texas, anyway?

You’d be right to think that the “BAM!” line would take top honors for Most Appalling of Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, but that’s only because I haven’t yet presented this evidence:




Umm…is that nose hair? I think it’s nose hair. Once I noticed it, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and I was therefore glad when Jim met an early demise. C Thomas Howell will always have a place in my heart- I mean, he’s PONYBOY. But come on…when it becomes a distraction, it's time to fucking trim that shit, dude.

Hitcher II was just plain silly, and despite a decent performance from Kari Wuhrer, I can only appoint it a rating of:

Mar 21, 2007

born free

Check it out. My stick figure zombie epic returns in They Won't Stay Dead! - The Director's Cut. You can read it in its entirety for absolutely free by CLICKING RIGHT HERE, or clicking the link to my ComicSpace page over yonder on the right.

What does "The Director's Cut" mean? It means I redrew the entire book and made it better. It means I added new panels. It means the book is now presented to you in VIOLENT VISION, which means that I used a red marker at times. And lest that frighten you away from reading, rest assured- I've prepared for that. Print and clip!

"But Stacie," you're thinking, "I bought a copy of the They Won't Stay Dead! mini-comic and I found it to be as I find you to be: perfect in every way. Why make changes?"

I appreciate your blind adoration, I really do. I'm not one to think my work is beyond making changes and improvements, however, and looking back at TWSD!, I saw it needed some changes. Don't worry- I didn't add any pesky words.

And it's still way better than House of the Dead.

Stronger, faster, better...it's like the Six Million Dollar Comic, but it's free!

Mar 20, 2007

future's so bright, it looks like 20 years ago

Let’s get a few things out of the way up front concerning Ronald Moore's 1985 cyberpunk-lite thriller Future-Kill:

-Yes, the HR Giger-designed poster art is the most terrifying thing about the film.
-The “future” of Future-Kill is actually the mid-‘80s.
-The novelty of seeing Texas Chainsaw alums Edwin Neal and Marilyn Burns reunited in a cyberpunk-lite thriller, coupled with the film’s earnest charm pretty much overshadows all the big fat shortcomings- for me, anyway.

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from Future-Kill, but whatever it may have been, the movie certainly delivered something completely different.

Wait, I do know what I was expecting: a post-apocalyptic slasher movie. Yeah, that’s it! When the title FUTURE-KILL appeared on the screen in a computeriffic font one letter at a time- each letter accompanied by a “pew pew!” sound, natch- followed by the sight of a metal-clad, mohawked Edwin Neal, I was sure I was in for a post-apocalyptic slasher flick. Somehow, though, the film got lost on its way to Pismo Beach (must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque) and turned into a…a…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Neal stars as Splatter, a psychotically violent member of an anti-nuke group known as The Mutants. The Mutants, peaceful as they may be under the leadership of Eddie Pain (Doug Davis), are hated and feared by the conservative population. They’re totally like the X-Men, you know? Except instead of being “real” mutants and having powers and flying around and shit, they just put on too much eye makeup (it draws attention to their cause, man!) and live in the ghetto.

"Why I oughta..."

Before you can say “Omigod whoever would have thought that someday there would be so many anti-nuke protesters that they’d have to splinter off from the rest of society and form their own community? And omigod again, Edwin Neal looks like the love child of the Ultimate Warrior, Wez from The Road Warrior, and Patti Smyth from the video for the song 'The Warrior'!”, however, Future-Kill changes course and becomes a wacky ‘80s frat comedy.

Say WHAT?!

Yes, here we are at a rockin' frat party, complete with inflatable dolls, nerds, keg stands, and the item I now covet most in the whole entire world, a Deep Throat pinball machine.

No frat party would be complete without nutty hijinks, and boy oh boy, does Future-Kill deliver! When our heroes (I couldn’t be bothered to learn their names, sorry) tar-n-feather the leader of a rival house, their “punishment” ties the disparate movie halves together: the boys are forced to don some primo Toyah Wilcox-style makeup and head into the ghetto to kidnap a Mutant. Golly, kidnapping sure is fun!

Unfortunately, The Frat Boyz cross paths with Splatter before they can nab their target, none other than Eddie Pain himself. Splatter kills Pain in a bid to take over the Mutants; he blames the murder on The Frat Boyz and the chase is on. The Boyz then have to find their way home, battling their way through strange turf. After revealing this major plot development, let’s take a moment to run through our “warrior”-related checklist, shall we? So far we’ve got nods to:

- The Ultimate Warrior
- The Road Warrior
- “The Warrior”
- The Warriors

If only we could tie A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors into this somehow…

I’d also like to mention that “Splatter kills Pain” sound like something out of American Gladiators: To the Extreme! Where’s Zap when you need her?

Anyway, at this point in the proceedings, yes, Future-Kill comes to resemble The Warriors quite a bit- there’s lots of running around empty, poorly-lit streets and punching. Sadly, the bad guys in Future-Kill (with the exception, perhaps, of Splatter himself) resemble nothing so cool and badass as The Baseball Furies from The Warriors; rather, most of them look like the Super Mario Brothers in “heroin chic” eye makeup.

The Frat Boyz save a Mutie Hooker from rape at the hands (and…err, the penises) of some crooked cops. Reluctantly, The Mutie Hooker decides to help The Frat Boyz find their way home. On their journey, of course, everyone learns that underneath all the abused Maybelline products and the Izod polo shirts, we’re all the same. We all have feelings and dreams and hearts that sometimes ache.

*tear*

Mutie Hooker takes The Frat Boyz to see Dorothy Grim- yes, folks, it’s Marilyn Burns…and she’s not afraid to poke a bitch with an oversized novelty fork.

Grim agrees to help The Frat Boyz only if they’ll help her get rid of Splatter once and for all- et cetera et cetera, gooey denouement.

So…Future-Kill. It’s…well, what is it, exactly? ‘Tis an odd duck, to be sure. I mean, it’s half frat house comedy, half cyberpunk-wannabe-Warriors ripoff. There’s an explanation for this, courtesy of Edwin Neal in an interview on the DVD- the first draft of the script was too short, so they padded it out…with comedy.

I said it explains it…it doesn’t, however, excuse it. Why didn’t the filmmakers pad out the script with more Splatter antics, rather than keg party antics? I guess that’ll remain one of the history’s mysteries.

Then there’s Marilyn Burns and Ed Neal in their getups, which, after having seen them both in Chainsaw...I could only smile a little and shake my head more. Awesomely bizarre. There’s also an obligatory club scene, wherein we’re treated to two songs by some no-name punk-lite band and Grade-A ‘80s dancing. While the scene only serves to slow down the proceedings, I’m sure that if I’d seen this when I was in 8th grade- when I wore my Fuzzbox cassette down to a warble- I’m sure I would’ve crowned this flick the Best Movie Ever.

Despite its numerous flaws, despite its general silliness, I still found myself enjoying Future-Kill. Why? I’m not quite sure. Was it the Texas Chainsaw alums? Was it the “pew pew pew!” title placard? Was it the Escape From New York-like plonky synth soundtrack? It could be all of those things, or it could be none of them. While watching, though, I got the feeling that the impetus behind this movie was someone simply declaring, “Hey! Let’s make a fucking movie!”…and then they all got together and they did it. I like that. Wait, that’s the key- Future-Kill’s got moxie!

And eye makeup. Lots of eye makeup.

I give it 5 out of 10 “Cannnn yooooou dig it?”s.

Mar 18, 2007

Whosoever shall be found...

...without the soul for getting down...

The Horror Roundtable discusses horror movie music this week at The Horror Blog (wow, three "horror"s in one sentence). I mostly blather, but read it and chime in with your thoughts anyway...lest ye face the hounds of hell and rot insides a corpse's shell.

Mar 15, 2007

for reals, y'all

OK, I'm really back this time. I mean it. The only reasoning I can give for such a lengthy absence is this:

Make of that what you will.

For my "grand" return to Yon Blogge, I decided to watch a movie I figured I'd enjoy, even if it sucked- the 1978 anthology flick House of the Dead, aka Alien Zone. How sad, eh? Using one title, the film is mistaken for the Uwe Boll-helmed zombie crapfest, and using the other title is slightly misleading. By "slightly misleading", I mean it's a completely inexplicable title that has nothing to do with anything. No matter! My love for horror anthologies is like my love for mint chocolate chip ice cream- it can only lead to pain and suffering, but I can't control myself.

As it's a film from the late '70s, naturally House of the Dead opens with its own theme song, "The Sound of 'Goodbye'", wherein singer Steve March (sounding like a poor man's Dan Hill, which is really saying something) lets us know that the sound of goodbye is, in fact, the saddest melody of all. I enjoy these movie theme songs for their novelty value and the fact that they were such a big deal, but let's face it- they never set the right tone, do they? This is supposed to be a horror movie. I don't want to hear about sad melodies and goodbyes...save it for Love Story, ya wuss!

The wraparound story concerns a fellow named Talmudge (John Ericson) who gets lost in a strange town after an extramarital hump. He ends up seeking shelter from a rainstorm in a funeral home, where the "creepy" mortician (Ivor Francis) tells the stories of each of his dead "clients". An easy setup, no?

Segment the First

A cranky schoolteacher who seems to hate children goes home one afternoon in a particularly foul mood. Apparently we're supposed to be scared- the teacher, after all, seems scared and keeps looking out her window. She puts on an apron and begins to prepare her dinner, but she only gets as far as cutting a tomato in half before she has to take the apron off and hop in the shower. Yes, she's that freaked out. Lest you think this is simply a ploy for some gratuitous "Hot for Teacher" shower time, let me assure you that it most certainly is not.

One of the last people I ever wanted to see in the shower was the poor man's Karen Carpenter.

Thankfully, the scene doesn't last long as the teacher gets freaked out again and heads back to the kitchen. Finally there's some cause for her anxiety- her front door is open, the phone line is cut, and there's some strange noises. Out of nowhere comes a bunch of kids dressed in their finest Ben Cooper finery.

"Hey!" thought I, "That's pretty creepy! Maybe I'm in for some Brood-style nastiness." Sadly, the kids pull off their masks to reveal some truly awful candy-corn-esque teeth, which we can assume they use to bite the teacher to death. Yes, I said "assume", because the scene cuts back to the funeral home.

Segment the Second

A weird man who loves photography sets up a motion picture camera in his living room and films himself killing blind dates. The mortician tells us he was caught and executed a year or so later.

YES, THAT'S IT!

And don't go thinking this was some sort of interesting Peeping Tom-style story, either, because it was positively dreadful. DREADFUL. We see everything through the camera the dude sets up, which means one stationary shot for the entire segment. It made me feel like I was back in acting class, sitting through everyone's boring-ass scene studies. Let me tell you...that's not a feeling I enjoy.

Segment the Third

Meet America's Greatest Detective, the Master Criminal Investigator, as he goes against all basic crime scene procedures (wear some fucking gloves, man!) to expound his theories on a hanging victim. He's such a Master Criminal Investigator that he quickly manages to deduce not only that it's murder (not suicide), but also just who the murderer is from such paltry evidence as ashes on a nearby table. Yes, just by looking at the ashes, this guy can tell that they're from one particular kind of cigar - a brand smoked only by one person in the entire city- clearly, the smoker must be the murderer! Even Jessica Fletcher weeps in jealousy over these superior sleuthing skills.

One man who's not weeping in jealousy, however, is Britain's Number One Sleuth, a Scotland Yard bobby who's come to America to witness America's Greatest Detective in action. Veddy good.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, you see, the two men are in contention for the title of World's Greatest Criminologist.

YES, I SAID ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. I WILL NOW ALSO SAY, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE? WHAT THE FUCK?


As the two men have a pissing match over a romantic candlelit dinner, America's Greatest Detective receives a threatening letter, one constructed of letters cut out from newspapers...it must be sent by a real criminal! The letter states that in 3 days, someone he knows will be murdered. America's Greatest Detective begins detecting right away- he sniffs the letter and deduces that Elmer's Glue was used, a glue he denotes as "very middle class". I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult.

After three days spent looking through magnifying glasses and microscopes (eat your heart out, CSI), America's Greatest Detective has solved the case- the letter was sent by Britain's Number One Sleuth! Britain's Number One Sleuth agrees with this conclusion and shoots America's Greatest Detective. In a shocking twist, however, America's Greatest Detective reveals he's wearing a bullet-proof vest...then he kills Britain's Number One Sleuth via a boobytrapped chair. In yet another shocking twist, America's Greatest Detective opens his briefcase to reveal a bomb, which explodes.

There's really no way to describe this segment beyond calling it just plain stupid. Did I like it? Well, yes, I did- it had me laughing my head off. It totally reminded me of something I would have written in 7th grade for a mystery-writing assignment. 2 "great" detectives, the worst police procedurals ever, magnifying glasses, 3 twist endings, and Rolling Stone magazine. I would have called it World's Greatest Murder, and my "author's bio" would have consisted exclusively of "STACIE PONDER #1".

Segment the Fourth

A man working in an office just doesn't get along with people. When a co-worker invites him to a new restaurant featuring 23 different hamburgers, the man refuses and thinks to himself "23 different morons!". Later, when a store clerk tells the man that no, they don't have any gum, the man thinks "Slob!". Even later, a crazy-looking homeless person approaches the man, who yells "Why don't you get a job!"

I don't know why, but I was really into the idea of 23 different hamburgers. I mean, it sounds incredible, right? Hardly believable, even. In reality, though, we all know that "23 different hamburgers" simply means 23 different combinations of hamburger toppings...then it doesn't seem so incredible.

Cranky Office Man inexplicably enters an empty storefront and gets locked in. Then he inexplicably falls down an open elevator shaft.

You know, "inexplicably" is a word that entered my thoughts often whilst I was watching House of the Dead.

It seems that Cranky Office Man has fallen into a trap that's sort of a prototype of those found in the Saw movies- we assume, anyway. It's never really explained. At any rate, he can't get out. Walls begin to move and he almost gets impaled on some magically-appearing nails- they stop short of killing him, however, and this causes Cranky Office Man's brain to break- we assume anyway. It's never really explained. Whoa, deja vu!

Some bottles of wine then roll into the room (yes, I know this makes no fucking sense- see? "inexplicably"!), and I guess Cranky Office Man has no choice but to drink them all. I mean, yeah, he's not forced to or anything, but if six bottles of wine rolled into the room right now, wouldn't you simply drink them all straight away?

As Cranky Office Man lies sleeping it off, a wall raises and Cranky Office Man is free to go. However, now he's all dirty and drunk and crazy- and when he approaches a man in a suit, the man says...yes...wait for it...

"Why don't you get a job!"

That's some poetic fucking justice right there.

Lest you think that Cranky Office Man could just get over his wine hangover and go back to work in a day or two, however, back at the funeral home the mortician tells us "Eventually, he died."

EVENTUALLY, HE DIED. That has got to be the lamest fucking ending to anything EVARRR. Eventually, he died??! That's IT??

The wraparound story finishes up exactly as you'd expect- Talmudge's infidelity leads to him becoming the mortician's fifth "client". Sigh.

House of the Dead didn't disappoint. I mean, it did, because it sucked, and yet there I was , enjoying it and all its inexplicablies. Maybe when the suckage is restricted to 15-minute segments I become more forgiving. Still, though..."eventually, he died". That's just bad. It's a good thing I love horror anthologies so much, or I may have punched the DVD over that one. Instead, I make like I'm going to punch it, but at the last second I give it a hug. That doesn't mean, of course, that I can recommend this movie. I can only give it 4 out of 10 kinds of hamburgers.

Mar 10, 2007

...and so I'm back from outer space

I'd really like to tell you where I've been for the last week, but I'm afraid I can't do that quite yet. I've uncovered a story that could rock society to its very core, you see, and I need to wait until the time is right to make my move. Because I care about you, though, I will tell you to prepare yourselves...once this story hits, it will be evident that everything you ever thought about everything will be totally wrong. Stock up on duct tape and button candy, that's all I'm sayin'.

Mar 2, 2007

Murder, Tonight, in the Trailer Park

Because it is a nice sunny day outside, and for the first time in a month the ground isn't covered with snow, I ain't got time to think of something lengthy and insightful to post. I'm not watching a movie either, so there. Instead, I'll simply link you to a couple of trailers and you'll like it!

Rob Zombie's Halloween

Doesn't tell you much, though Zombie's clearly going to indulge in the "your family can totally fuck you up!" angle for this film, rather than the "pure evil incarnate" angle of the original. The theme is nicely updated- me like.

Wrong Turn 2

I looooved the first Wrong Turn, and one of these years I've got to get around to reviewing it. It was what it was and it bore no conceits, if you know what I mean- and I think you do. Besides, who doesn't love a movie about cuckoo nutso backwoods deformed inbred cannibals? Only jerks don't love movies about cuckoo nutso backwoods deformed inbred cannibals. In Wrong Turn 2 (direct to DVD, but I. Don't. Care. I mean, Henry Rollins!), we get to meet Mr & Mrs Cuckoo Nutso Backwoods Deformed Inbred Cannibal, they who sired the dastardly trio of the original film. The Mr & Mrs are also brother and sister, of course, and I wouldn't be surprised if somehow they were also father and daughter. Or mother and son. Or Scarecrow and Mrs King. Or Jake and the Fatman.

Anyway, happy weekend. 10 points to anyone who knows where this post title comes from- without looking it up, of course. Cheaters.

Mar 1, 2007

Film Club Pick #6

New month, new Film Club pick! Yay! Not so long ago, as you may recall, I watched and very much enjoyed director Michael Bassett's sophomore effort, Wilderness. This month's Film Club pick is Bassett's debut, 2002's Deathwatch. Here's the skinny, courtesy of Netflix:
Jamie Bell, Hugo Speer, Laurence Fox, Andy Serkis, and Matthew Rhys play English soldiers stuck in enemy territory in this spooky World War II I (silly Netflix!) thriller. Desperate to stay unseen, they bunk out in an abandoned German hideout, where slowly, one by one, they're picked off by an otherworldly enemy they can't identify. For the rest of them to get out alive, they must understand what they're up against so they can vanquish it before it conquers them.
I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully the casting of Andy Serkis will pleas all you nerds out there who won't watch anything that doesn't have Gollum in it.*

You may notice I've added a handy-dandy Film Club pick link over yonder in the side bar...it's got the title, the due date, and the Netflix link right there for your convenience. Do you see how much I care?

The film: Deathwatch
The due date: March 26
*Totally uninteresting Final Girl story:
When I think of Gollum (which is...you know...often), I can't help but think back to seeing The Two Towers some time opening week. Rachael's mom was so excited and loves Lord of the Rings so much that she dragged us to the theatre about 2 hours early- she thought for sure we wouldn't find seats if we got there any later. Of course, we were the only people there...until Toby Todd showed up. This dude was unassuming enough, probably in his 40s, sporting a Bill Cosby sweater and a beard. Then, suddenly, he started acting like Gollum. He began climbing and crawling all over the seats, doing that "My preciousssss!" thing over and over. Having not seen The Two Towers yet, we had no idea what the fuck he was doing, so we just stared at him.

Good old Toby Todd. Yes, it's Todd. What can I say, I'm old. my memory is shot.