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!

May 25, 2007

sayonara

Well, kids, I'm afraid I have to sign off for a time as the Final Girl Super Secret Clubhouse Headquarters moves approximately 46790977 miles to the left. I'll be back up and running as soon as I can- but I'm not expecting to be out, across, and in for about 10 days at least. But stranger things have happened, right? Keep your fingers crossed I don't get lost and disoriented and uh oh! Moving-truck-meets-Grand-Canyon-a-la-Thelma-and-Louise.

I know...I know. We'll all have to make it through this difficult time together- but when I'm back, I'll be back and better than ever, I swear! In the meantime, visit some other horror blogs. Visit some regular blogs. Go outside and play! Just...*sniff*...don't forget about me.

And enjoy this special goodbye video I made when I should have been, like, packing or something.



Be good! See you soon!

May 24, 2007

exchanging glances

Steven, the ultra-cool proprietor of The Horror Blog, pointed me in the direction of the poster for the upcoming horror/thriller/suspense film The Strangers and...well, see for yourself.

Ooh la la! It's bitchin'- I love it. The faux-distress creases are a bit silly, but the image itself is killer. It's very creepy and very old school, from the font right down to the soft focus of the picture. It's so Alice Sweet Alice. Ah, it makes my crusty old heart smile.

The film itself, due out later this year, stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a couple
...in a remote suburban house who are targeted by three dangerous masked strangers. The resulting clashes force the couple to go well beyond what they thought themselves capable of in order to survive.
I read that and thought "OK, so after their home is invaded, Liv Tyler will get raped or held hostage and Scott Speedman will flip out and have to rescue her by killing everyone, or maybe Scott Speedman will get killed and Liv Tyler will have to kill everyone in order to survive. Omigawd, the nice suburban couple will be reduced to savagery to make it through this ordeal...who are the monsters here? We are them and they are us! Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler will become...THE STRANGERS."

I can't wait to see how accurate my predictions are. If I nail this one, I may demand that you all start calling me Micki Dahne, Jr. And I will demand offerings of old horror movies on VHS and beer. Heed my words!

May 22, 2007

season's bleedings

Wow, that post title is really bad, huh? Hey, I'm overtired and they can't all be gems.

This year, Halloween falls on Christmas!



Incorporating sleigh bells into the Halloween theme makes it all worthwhile.

May 21, 2007

What A Feeling!

Say, do you remember when not so long ago I posted about the craptacular Knight Chills and my propensity to gobble up multi-shitty-packs? Well, it just so happens that I'm squeezing another review out of the teat that is that very same "Night Chills" 10-pack from Brentwood. Behold, dear readers, for I give you:

Oh. My. GAWD. Slash Dance (1989) is one of the absolute worst movies I've ever seen...yet it's so fucking hilarious that my new Life's Goal is to make every single person I know watch it. Thank you, Brentwood!

As the film begins, the poor man's Linnea Quigley shows up in an old theatre for a dance audition. It seems that she's the only one there, but she's largely unperturbed and decides to warm up on the stage. The poor man's Linnea Quigley puts on her walkman and starts stretching and bouncing around as a shadowy figure in a black cape approaches; he's got a black pillowcase over his head- complete with eyeholes cut out and he's holding a giant saw...this is very, very scary. By "very, very scary", of course, I mean I'm laughing already. But wait, there's more! It's time for the first kill: the caped figure simply stands off to the side and the poor man's Linnea Quigley pirouettes across the stage and smacks directly into the saw, killing herself. It. Is. AWESOME.

Now then, meet Tori Raines (Cindy Maranne), a spunky LAPD detective who takes no guff. Posing as an interested buyer, Tori busts two steroid dealers in an alleyway...and when I say "busts", I mean BUSTS with a suplex and a gut punch. That's amazing enough in and of itself, but when I tell you that Cindy Maranne is also known as "Americana" and one of the steroid dealers is also known as "Matilda the Hun"- both late of Jackie Stallone's '80s women's wrestling/comedy series G.L.O.W., you might understand why I was already down on one knee, asking Slash Dance to be mine forever.

Note to self: Matilda the Hun...Big Bad Mama...Jailbait...The Soul Patrol...Colonel Ninotchka...Hollywood and Vine...Mount Fiji...man, G.L.O.W. was the shit. Indeed, they come from a world where there is no pity!

Back at headquarters, Tori gets chewed out by her jerk of a captain; it seems Tori has a real hard time playing by the rules- not to mention a real hard time avoiding a direct look into the camera on occasion.


I for one do not care that she breaks the fourth wall all the time because she is Americana and Americana can do whatever she wants and if you disagree then the terrorists have won and you are probably a freedom hater. And why is she all gussied up like that, you ask? Oh, no reason- except that she's glamorous.

As is evidenced by The Great Steroid Caper, Officer Tori has a real knack for undercover work and no case is too small to require an undercover operation. Some scummo has been targeting bag ladies and stealing all their...umm...all their what? I don't know, exactly, but bag ladies have been targeted nonetheless (psst- bad guys! pick people to mug who might actually have something to take). Tori poses as a homeless woman and sure enough, here come the bad guys taking the bait. Yeah, they rip her shirt open- but before you can say "hiiiii-YAH!" she takes down the two muggers with some chops and kicks.

It's true, friends, this movie just keeps getting better and better.

Meanwhile, the poor man's Tanya Tucker has wandered into that ol' empty theatre for her "audition". Mercifully, the mysterious caped figure strangles her- with her own lariat, even!- during her horrid rendition of "You Are My Sunshine". Ever the professional, with her dying breath the poor man's Tanya Tucker utters "I can dance tooooooooo...". Boy, Hollywood sure does chew 'em up and spit 'em out, don't it? Truly, it's the city of broken dreams.

*tear*

We the audience get a glimpse into Tori's inner torment thanks to the cinematic device known as a "flashback". We learn that long ago, Tori's sister overdosed and her death drove Tori's mother to suicide. Tori swore to kill the drug dealer who got her sister hooked- then we see another flashback of Tori shooting a gun into blackness, so...I guess she accomplished that goal. At this point, I'm thinking to myself: with a slightly larger budget, Slash Dance could SO be a Cynthia Rothrock movie. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a sequel.

News of the murders at the theatre finally hits police headquarters, which can only mean one thing: it's undercoverin' time! First, however, there's a sequence in which Tori does some amazing detective work by window shopping and taking notes during a music montage. I think the montage is supposed to reveal Hollywood's seedy underbelly, and gosh, is it seedy! Look- there are places in Los Angeles that sell pants and...gasp...shirts! Fantasy shirts! Hold me, mother.


Eventually Tori makes her way to the theatre and begins her stint as a dancer- it's undercover work, but she uses her real name and she has her badge and service pistol right there in her gym bag. Oh well...anyway, the theatre is now bustling with activity and people- brothers Oliver (William Kerr) and is he retarded or just weird? Amos (Joel Buzz Von Ornsteiner) have taken over the failing theatre after their father's suicide. Determined to save the building and the business, they're putting on a lavish musical and they've hired a Famous Director (James Carroll Jordan) to helm the production. Famous Director got his start at this humble theatre many years ago, and he's simply thrilled to help out.

Note to you: after roles in such films as Slash Dance and Robot Holocaust failed to make him an A-list star, Joel Buzz Von Ornsteiner returned to school, earned 37529 degrees, and became "Dr. Buzz, Forensic Psychologist". Catch him on Court TV as he weighs in with his expert opinion on topics like The Death of Anna Nicole Smith!

For the next 45 minutes or so, Slash Dance is nothing but dance rehearsal after dance rehearsal after fucking dance rehearsal- I swear, should I live to be 500, I won't hear people count to eight as often as I did in the middle chunk of Slash Dance. Normally I'd find this sort of awful pacing irritating, except that the dancing was so fucking horrible I couldn't stop laughing. I wouldn't even call it "dancing" so much as I'd call it...I don't know, "aerobics for special people" or something. It was really, really bad. NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW BAD IT WAS. Someone would say "5 6 7 8 and 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and snap snap kick kick wave kick and strut!" and the girls would do the most retarded routine ever- sometimes accompanied by cheesy '80s Casio-flavored music, sometimes not, but always crammed onto the tiniest stage you could imagine.



It is completely effing hilarious. I kept wondering what kind of "production" they were possibly hoping to put on (sometimes the Famous Director would say things like "The singers are going to enter from the left!", but sadly we never get to see the singers), and somehow I was actually more confused about this once the troupe put on their costumes. I mean...what the hell is going on here?

Just when you start to think "OK, I see the dancing...now where the fuck is the slashing?", the mysterious caped figure returns! He replaces a rubber prop knife with a real knife and stupid ol' Amos stabs himself in the stomach.

In other news, Tori and the Famous Director have totally fallen in love by this point. They have sex in the dressing room- at least, that's what I inferred when the camera panned from Tori and the Famous Director making out over to a mannequin wearing a pearl necklace. The whole thing is wrong on no less than six levels, and you know, I really thought Officer Tori was more professional than that. Things get worse in the next scene when the mysterious caped figure steals Tori's gun out of her gym bag; I can only shake my head sadly over Tori's incompetence.

There's a big showdown between Tori, Oliver, and the mysterious caped figure who reveals himself to be...the Famous Director! Omigod, I never saw it coming. The Famous Director blathers on something about Oliver and Amos's father molesting him when he was young and so he killed the old pervert and now he's getting even more revenge and then the Famous Director shoots Oliver.

Tori quickly ducks behind a row of seats and pulls a sequined high heel out of her gym bag.

Can you feel what's coming?

In glorious, beautiful slow-motion, Tori chucks the high heel at the Famous Director- she chucks it so hard, in fact, that it pierces the Famous Director's forehead.


Of course, it's a terrible effect: Tori throws the shoe in slo-mo, cut to Famous Director holding the shoe up to his forehead. Ahhhhhhhhh, that's good stuff.

That's not enough to finish off the Famous Director, however, and so there's a thrilling chase scene through the back stage area leading to a denoument that had me laughing hysterically. No one messes with Officer Tori Raines! God bless Americana! OK, she doesn't say that, but I so wish she did.

I'm not going to say I didn't love Slash Dance, because I did. In fact, I wish it had 50 sequels starring the rest of the G.L.O.W. girls and Cynthia Rothrock. And maybe Ted Shackelford. I will say, however, that it's an absolutely horrendously bad film: it fails as a slasher flick, it fails as a crime thriller, and it fails as a horror-comedy- yes, there's plenty of attempted intentional humor in Slash Dance. The intentional humor is so not funny that it totally travels full-circle and becomes funny again, which is very rare and very...I don't know, meta or something. You laugh in all the right spots because it's not funny- that's deep, man. Look, if you want a decent slasher set in the world of theatre, try Stage Fright or Curtains. But if you just want some fabulously bad direct-to-VHS '80s-cheesy-style fun, I highly recommend Slash Dance, some friends, and a six-pack. Leotards are optional.

May 18, 2007

Just Say Yes

Oh, how I love discovering fantastic no-name, no-budget films. It's always a treat I can truly appreciate, for it's a rarity on par with Chupacabra sightings; the infrequency of these events bums me out, but it makes their occurrence that much more special, I suppose. And no, I'm not claiming I've ever seen a Chupacabra, but I'd much rather live in a world where it's a possibility than a world where it isn't. I mean...which is more fun? The truth is out there! Trust no one! Don't be such a Scully!

The fantastic no-name, no-budget film I discovered last night is Dan Mintz's 2001 paranoia-infused drug-ladened Cookers, a film that proves how much can be done with very little when capable hands are at work.

Hector (Brad Hunt) and Dorena (Cyia Batten) have just stolen a huge shitload of pseudoephedrine with the intent on making a mother lode of crystal meth; they vaguely dream of using the profits to fund a Caribbean-island style retirement from drugs. They hole up in an abandoned farmhouse procured by Hector's mulleted ol' juvie pal Merle (Patrick McGaw) and set about cooking up batches and shooting, snorting, and smoking as much meth as possible.

The more drugs they ingest and the longer they stay awake, the more paranoid they become. Hector puts padlocks on all the doors and blacks out all the windows; eventually Merle relates a local urban legend/ghost story that sets the gang completely over the edge. They begin to see shapes lurking around corners and hearing noises all over the house, and neither they nor the audience can discern hallucinations from reality. Are they alone in the house? Can they trust each other, even? Oops! Dorena lost a tooth! Isn't crystal meth awesome?

Cookers was made on a shoestring budget, but that's irrelevant if, as I said earlier, a filmmakers can use the budget to maximum effect by featuring a great location and hiring a capable cast- and director Mintz and crew really deliver with Cookers.

The abandoned farmhouse where a majority of the movie takes place sets the mood perfectly- there are corners everywhere, hidden doorways, and the structure is rotting and dark. Once Hector covers all the windows, the only available light comes from candles and lanterns, there are shadows upon shadows, and it's all a creepy affair.
I can't say enough good things about the cast- all of them were fantastic, in particular Brad Hunt as Hector. By all accounts his portrayal of a paranoid, potentially violent tweaker is indeed accurate- and again, I say, isn't meth awesome? We eventually get glimpses into Dorena's past that show how vulnerable people can get caught up in the lifestyle and become hardcore druggies, and again- we get a great performance by Cyia Batten. After I finished the movie, I wondered about the three actors- they were all good enough that I'd like to see them again- and I was blown away by the fact that Cyia Batten is a founding member of the fucking Pussycat Dolls. I don't know if it was the late hour, but when I read that tidbit on imdb, something about that trivia kind of turned my world upside down for just a minute. It's like finding an actor intriguing in a good film and then the actor turns out to be Baby Spice...not that her performance in Spice World was anything less than astonishing, mind you, but it just goes to show you something something.

Give Cookers a try- you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was; I really liked this film. But remember kids- hugs, not drugs!

May 17, 2007

nunzapoppin'

I didn't watch the 1975 lesbo-possesso-vampiro flick Alucarda with the intent of reviewing it. I know, I know...this might be hard for you to hear, but...sometimes I watch things and I don't tell you about it. I'm not trying to keep secrets or anything, honest. It's simply nice sometimes to watch movies without having to apply my keen critical insight, not to have to come up with jokes on the fly or think up nicknames for people in the movie or find a way to place a real turd of a flick within the cinematic cultural landscape. In other words, you know, to just watch a damn film. Wah wah, it's so hard having a movie blog.

I hope this news isn't too shocking or duplicitous-seeming. Remember, it's me, not you, and we'll always be friends, I swear.

Anyway, the cover art for Alucarda has intrigued me for quite some time and as I was taught to always judge a book by its cover (GAWD I hope no ugly people read Final Girl), I decided to finally give the movie a try. My expectations were...not exactly low, necessarily, but seeing as that the DVD release hails from Mondo Macabro, I certainly had an idea of what was in store for me: super fake blood, tits, and any manner of "-ploitation" from all around the world. Don't get me wrong- Mondo Macabro flicks are a lot of fun (if you haven't seen Dangerous Seductress or Lady Terminator yet, I suggest you do so ASAP for a craptacular good time), but not typically something I'd review here. But dammit, slap my knee and call me Debralee Scott- there's something to this so-called Alucarda...and so here we are, together on The Internet, me writing and you reading. Whooda thunkit?

Welcome to the convent: they've got fun and games an odd, cave-like structure set deep in the countryside- a place where orphaned girls can live and learn about God from nuns who dress like blood-stained mummies and flagellate themselves somewhat regularly. New arrival Justine (Susana Kamini) and lifer Alucarda (Tina Romero) strike up a friendship that quickly evolves to include copious amounts of frolicking and secret-keeping. That spells trouble!

After crossing paths with a gypsy (Claudio Brook) who hints at the aforementioned trouble, the girls frolic their way into a crypt. Alucarda is drawn to a coffin and opens it- little does she know that the dessicated corpse inside is actually her mother. Oh noes! Opening the coffin releases some evil spirits or something, and Alucarda flips out.

Somehow, it seems, the girls have just been inducted into Satan's Junior Cadets. What does this mean? It means that Justine and Alucarda totally hate God now and invoke the name of Satan to the horror of the entire convent. It means the girls scream a lot and can't stand the sight of a crucifix. It means the gypsy magically appears in their room one night and helps the girls perform their blood pact in service to Satan: Justine and Alucarda get naked, cut each other, drink each other's blood a bit, and make out. I know how that reads on paper, yet somehow this scene managed to be about as erotic as an average episode of Matlock. The girls are then led to the gypsy camp where everyone is naked and hairy and dancing around in a circle; the orgy proper begins and Beelzebub appears- well, I wasn't sure if it was actually supposed to be Beelzebub or if it was a gypsy in a ceremonial Beelzebub mask, but I suppose it makes no difference. The girls are now officially Satan's Little Helpers!

Meanwhile, back at the convent, Sister Angelica (Tina French), ever protective of Justine and Alucarda, feels that evil is afoot and so she begins to pray super ultra hard. She prays so super ultra hard, in fact, that she begins to sweat blood and leviatate, which was pretty fucking cool. That actually happened to me right before I took the SATs- man, I was nervous about getting into the college of my choice.

Later on, the girls' behavior gets so outrageous (more screaming, more Satan's name-invoking) that the priests and nuns begin ruminating on the possibility that the girls are possessed. When Justine takes dreadfully ill, Dr Oszek (Claudio Brook) is called in to treat her; when his leeches don't seem to take care of the problem, it becomes clear: the girls are, in fact, possessed. That means...it's exorcismin' time!

Justine and Alucarda are each tied to a cross while the nuns writhe around on the floor and scream. Justine is stripped nude (naturally) and...poked with a nail or something (again, naturally) until she's dead. Dr Oszek rushes in and berates everyone for this bizarre exercise in making no sense; before they can kill Alucarda as well, he takes her away to his house and to safety.

Little does he know, however, that the members of the convent were right- the girls were possessed! Whilst lying in shroud and awaiting burial, Justine's body disappears; the nun who was attending the body is found burned to death. She springs back to life, however, and must be decapitated- this is enough to prove to Dr Oszek that science is bunk and there's definitely something supernatural going on here.

Sister Angelica finds Justine in the crypt, lying in a coffin full of blood. Justine scratches and bites Angelica to death before being killed- for good this time!- by some refreshing spritzes of holy water.

Alucarda, meanwhile, has befriended Dr Oszek's blind daughter Daniela (Lili Garza). The two return to the convent where Alucarda, still pissed off over Justine's death, lays the smack down all Sissy Spacek in Carrie style, tearing down the building and setting people on fire.

You know, if I ever had to be (or decided to be) possessed, I'd much rather follow Alucarda's example than that of Regan in The Exorcist. I mean, really. What did Regan do? She got gross and laid in bed all the time, that's what she did. Alucarda keeps her good looks, and all she has to do to set a nun on fire is glare and yell "Beelzebub!". She's a proactive minion of Satan, and Regan sure seems awfully lazy in comparison.

As Alucarda rampages, some nuns carry in the dead body of Sister Angelica. Angelica suddenly opens her eyes, and Alucarda simply can't stand up to Angelica's Super Stare of Piety. I think George Michael said it best when he said
'Cause I gotta have faith...
Mmm, I gotta have faith
'Cause I gotta have faith, faith
Mmm 'cause I gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith-a

Alucarda is an odd duck to be sure, but one worth checking out if only for the visuals alone. Director Juan Lopez Moctezuma has created a bizarre, surreal world full of striking imagery, particularly in regards to the setting. At times it's blatantly artificial, an approach which, when coupled with the cast's tendency to overact, gives the film an almost fairy tale-like quality.

Despite the trashy overtones and the irritating amount of screaming (seriously, there's more screaming here than there was when The Beatles played Wembley in '64), it seems as if there just might be a deeper meaning to Alucarda. Mexican filmmakers of the era, after all, were much like American filmmakers of the era; by and large they sought to provide a viewpoint and/or social commentary in their work. Is Alucarda, then, perhaps an indictment of the Catholic Church? It's entirely possible that it is, particularly if one views the "possession" in the film as an allegory for "free love" or even homosexuality. On the other hand, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a movie about vaguely lesbian Catholic girls who become possessed by Satan and turn into fire-starting pseudo-vampires is just a movie about vaguely lesbian Catholic girls who become possessed by Satan and turn into fire-starting pseudo-vampires.

May 16, 2007

I Heart: Wrong Turn

Much like my love for House on Haunted Hill, my love for the underrated Wrong Turn (2003) is deeply rooted in the circumstances of my personal life at the time of the film's release. I realize the film is not without flaws, but it was just what the doctor ordered a few years ago and it's had a place in my heart ever since.

See, I'd moved from the pricy east coast to the less pricy midwest in the hopes of launching a career as a freelance comic book artist. To support myself on my quest, I needed what one might call a "shitty day job". How hard can it be to find a shitty day job? Well, sometimes it can be very hard. I sent out resume after resume and application after application for weeks and weeks and never got a peep in reply. Feelings of dread rose while my bank account dwindled...I started to sell stuff on eBay in the hopes of turning a buck- including my French edition of Madonna's Sex which still bums me out to this day (That's right, people- I love Madonna and I don't care how uncool that makes me. As far as I'm concerned, she's the speedboat and everyone else is just the Go-Gos on waterskis, you dig?). I was too concerned about finances to have any fun, or even work on my art without feeling guilty. Until I had some income, I couldn't do anything.

Then along came Wrong Turn. It hit theatres moments before the huge horror renaissance we're experiencing now, when a horror film on the big screen was still a bit of a novelty, and oh, how I yearned to see it! But if I couldn't watch a DVD I already owned without feeling terrible because I should be looking for a job (yes, I felt that way day and night), then how could I possibly justify- gasp- paying to see a movie in the theatre? I was lamenting my lamentations to my mom on the phone when she simply said "Ten dollars isn't going to make any difference. Go see the movie!" With said blessing I promptly marched to the local AMC, saw Wrong Turn, and fell in love.

It's got a plot that's as old as the hills- or since the hills got eyes, anyway: a group of people get lost in the middle of nowhere and fall prey to a family of inbred cannibals (the awesomely named Three-Finger, Saw-Tooth, and One-Eye; they're like the inbred cannibal version of TLC).

Sure, it's formulaic, but writer Alan McElroy and director Rob Schmidt are smart: they stick to the fucking formula. Countless horror films have been bogged down and ultimately ruined when a simple, straightforward idea just isn't good enough for the filmmakers. The example I always point to is Jeepers Creepers: a scary man driving a scary truck living in an abandoned church and stuffing bodies down a well is a great, simple premise that has potential. When the man turns out to be a weird bat creature- a weird bat creature who only feeds once every 50 years! For...um...3 days every 50 years! And...he, like, wears a fedora! And...umm...he only eats certain body parts from certain people! And...let's run the idea into the ground completely!- then the movie becomes a ridiculous clusterfuck and loses everything that made it good in the first place.

Yup, Wrong Turn is chock full of some of my favorite horror movie tropes, from the weirdo gas station attendant to the car graveyard to the gross stinky house filled with gross stinky stuff.

That's what I like about this movie so much: it simply is what it is and it doesn't try to be anything else. The straightforward story and the decent amount of gore recall the horror films of the 1970s- it's just got that vibe about it, and it doesn't ever feel put-on or fake. That's what separates Wrong Turn from, say, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake- yeah, in the latter film the narration tells me it's set in the '70s and wow! Jessica Biel sings "Sweet Home Alabama" and they're going to a Skynyrd concert!- but the film feels every bit like a 2003 film. Wrong Turn isn't full of jump-cuts and frantic music video editing. In other words, the filmmakers don't point out how "cool" they're trying to be- they just tell the story. You know, like in the good old days, dagummit.

There are some incredibly effective scenes and sequences in Wrong Turn that prove Rob Schmidt knows a thing or two about tension: when the kids are exploring the cannibals' house and the cannibals return home and the kids have to hide and keep quiet? Oh yeah, that's good. Or how about when Scott (Jeremy Sisto) is running through the woods trying to escape and he gets pegged by some arrows? Uh huh- bring it on.

As I said earlier, Wrong Turn certainly has its flaws. The supporting characters (and the actors who play them) are far more interesting than the two leads- let's face it, Eliza Dushku (Jessie) and Desmond Harrington (Chris) have about 1.75 facial expressions between the two of them- and the main characters aren't terribly fleshed out. While the pace is fast throughout, the longer the film goes on the more preposterous it becomes: I'm thinking specifically of the tree-top battle that's like something out of Crouching Cuckoo, Hidden Nutso. The film loses steam at bit in that sequence, but it picks up again for the final showdown at Casa de Cannibals.

None of these shortcomings really detract from the film for me, however, and I still enjoy the hell out of it. There's a direct-to-DVD sequel due this fall, and you'd better believe I'll be checking it out the moment it hit shelves- and I won't even ask my mom if I can first!

May 9, 2007

It's the new haiku review...

...coming right at you!

The most remarkable thing about Incubus (2005) is that it premiered on AOL as the first direct-to-download film. Insomuch as Incubus broke new ground with its release format, I thought it only fitting to break new ground here at Final Girl with the review.

INCUBUS

Two crazy doctors-
one is chasing, one hiding.
They kill each other!

A car accident
strands Tara Reid and her friends
deep in the mountains.

They all bitch about
the cold, and one is wearing
five hundred dollar

boots- but they are all
going camping, so why aren't
they better prepared?

A weird hospital
not on the map will be their
shelter from the cold.

Ten minutes in and
this movie makes no damn sense.
I start to notice

that Tara Reid is
beige. Everything is beige:
skin, hair, eyes. Jaundice?

They find a pink man
sitting comatose inside
a big glass cube thing.

He has tubes sticking
out of his skin keeping him
alive. The kids then

pull all the tubes out
but he doesn't die. Awake,
o pink man, awake!

He controls them with
the powers of his pink mind.
Tara Reid and friends

kill each other dead,
just like those crazy doctors.
Run, Tara Reid, run!

Nonsensical is
this movie. People can talk
with their tongues cut out.

A boy doesn't seem
to care when he has to kill
his girlfriend. They use

their flashlights though the
lights are on. Tara Reid learns
about the pink man,

the hospital, and
everything in about
two minutes. She's smart!

And still very beige.
"You scared the shit out of me!"
they say fifty times

But I don't seem to
be scared at all. However,
I am very bored.

They run between the
same two locations over
and over again.

The acting is bad,
the script is even worse, yo.
It's all a big mess.

I'd rather stick tubes
up my nose and in my eyes
than watch this again.

Like a pink man or
a beige actress, my mind feels
soft, squishy, and dull.

Oh, Incubus, you
had some potential, but you
blew it big time. Suck!


May 7, 2007

When Nerds Attack

Confession: I have this problem with self-control, and I think eventually it's going to get me into real trouble. Don't get me wrong, I'm not worried about my overindulgence in regards to crack, hobo wine, or midget porn...I'll overindulge in those as much as I choose and you'll pry my Night Train from my cold, dead fingers. I'm referring to my weakness for those damn ultracheap multi-movie packs. You know the ones- usually they come courtesy of Brentwood Communications, the pack is called "Horrible Horrors" or something, they've got a minimum of 10 movies (but sometimes upwards of 50), and they're like $15. I cannot resist them. And yes, I know that I'm not alone in this, but for every gem included in the set, there's at least 18 giant turds. The ratio is terrible! I end up starting so many movies and then taking them out, declaring them unwatchable- and for me to declare something unwatchable, you know it's gotta be as bad as you can get.

But still I buy the multi-packs, thinking "Wow! 50 movies for $12! How can I lose? Knight Chills...that sounds great! What a find!"- thinking it as if I'd never been burned before. I'm like an innocent, you see, a babe in the woods. Every day is a new day, every movie has the potential to be a great movie- maybe the best movie I could ever see is still out there, waiting for me! Yes, waiting for me in a 50-pack! Never give up hope! The reality of this attitude, of course, is that I end up saddled with 3985643 movies that SUCK. The most I can really hope for is that I can make it all the way through one of these movies and it's worth my time to write a review. Such is the case with the aforementioned Knight Chills (2001). It's terrible, but it's compellingly terrible, and that makes all the difference.

During the opening credits, I realize that many people wear multiple hats- the writer is also an actor, the editor is also the assistant director- and I feel...well, I can't say my warning bells went off, necessarily, but my warning bells let me know they were hanging tough and they could go off at any time. I was pleased to see that Knight Chills is directed by a woman (Katherine Hicks); the director's gender obviously has no bearing on the quality of a film, but it's great to see woman director- especially in horror- because there simply aren't enough.

Meet John (Michael Rene Walton) as he gathers items he'll be needing for this hot Saturday night- no, he's not gathering edible undies, Drakkar Noir and Riunite! John is gathering stat sheets and photos and papers, 'cause John is fixin' to go role-playing.

When John pulls up to the RPG Clubhouse, he's immediately pelted with a snowball courtesy of Hanee and Russell (Nathan Thomas and David Borowicz)- a couple of beer-drinking lugs who seem oblivious to the fact that their beer-drinking doesn't really make them much cooler that John- I mean, aren't they all there to play Dungeons and Dragons...err, I mean Pandemonium? Equal footing and all that.

The RPG Clubhouse actually belongs to Jack and Laura Nixon (Tim Jeffrey and Laura Nixon) and their young son, the cleverly named Jackson, aka Jack Jr (Jackson Kennedy). The similarity in names would go on to cause me some confusion thanks to the shitty script- "Oh, I'm worried about Jack. And what about Jack?"- but nothing would cause me to blurt "What the fuck?" more than the performance of little Jackson Kennedy.

A horrible example of nepotism-gone-as-awry-as-possible (Jackson's parents act as the film's writers, producers, art directors, etc.), the kid is simply the worst child actor I've ever seen. Ever. EVARRRRRRR. I know, you're looking at that picture and thinking that I should cut the kid some slack. You know what? Fuck that. You put the kid in the movie, he should at least be able to speak somewhat clearly. The magical Olsen twins could enunciate "I'm outta here, dude" when they were like 18 months old; this kid...I could not understand a single word he said throughout the entire movie. It was all garbled and nonsensical, and the only way I could figure out what he was supposed to be saying was to listen to the replies and try to surmise the context- and sometimes even that isn't enough to decipher the dialogue. For example, when John arrives at the Nixon house, Jack Jr greets him with "Hiser taio!" John responds by giving him a hug. Jack Jr goes on: "Inna dingdoff in tope mowe", to which John replies "OK!" Whaaaaaa?

John heads to the basement (shocking) where things are about to get underway. We've already met Hanee and Russell, who are now seated at the table, drinking beer, and shooting each other finger guns. And they have the nerve to call John a nerd?

The other RPGers are the bitchy Nancy (Sarah Klein)- she's one of those humorless nerds who doesn't readily display nerdish tendencies- and burnout couple Zac and Brooke (DJ Perry and Laura Tidwell). Jack gets his Dungeon Master- err, I mean his Lord of the Lore- on and it's time to let the games begin!

Boy oh boy, lemme tell ya- there hasn't been this much action and excitement on screen since Driving Miss Daisy! I don't care what anyone says- I've seen some riveting cinema- the car chase in The French Connection, the dogfights in Star Wars, the towering inferno in The Towering Inferno- and nothing compares to the hot RPG action of Knight Chills. I could barely catch my breath as Nancy said "I'm going to dismount and check out the camp"! I was on pins and needles wondering if John would roll the much-needed 35! And when Jack got out all his crazy-sided dice, it was like I was right there in that basement with him. I don't think "mesmerizing" is too strong of a word, really.

John and Hanee get into some sort of in-game tussle that escalates to real-world spit takes and alleged punches (someone says Hanee really smacked John a good one, but...umm...he didn't touch him), all of which puts a damper on the dungeon. The crew calls it a night, but John's misery isn't over yet- he hits on Brooke and is shot down, and he catches Nancy and Laura talking smack about him. Nancy thinks that John's weird behavior that night indicates "brain strain" and he might very well be a child molester. Laura mentions something about John having killed his little brother years ago; this is a shocking plot development, and you'd think it important enough to have some eventual bearing on the events of the film. Of course, you'd be wrong as it's never mentioned again.

Feeling dejected and rejected by his Game Club pals, John heads home. On his way to his car, he finds one of Brooke's earrings that she dropped on the ground. He picks it up and fucking sniffs it, which...you know...isn't at all weird.

The next morning, as Zac and Brooke are lying in bed recovering from their sweet sweet lovemaking- which, let's just say I'm glad this movie is PG-13 and the sweet sweet lovemaking is only talked about- Brooke mentions that her caller ID shows that John called her 14 times during the night, but he never left a message. Zac doesn't seem to think that's weird. But...14 times? 14 TIMES? Methinks the earring-sniffer is a wee bit obsessed.

But enough "character development!" Knight Chills is a film that forces the audience to walk on the razor's edge of danger and intrigue, and this means it's time for another Game Club meeting. Hooray! This Saturday the action is even more riveting than the last time, meaning I AM SO FUCKING BORED. We don't even get the slo-mo dice roll to break up the monotony of "You see a monster" "Really? Then I put on my +5 cloak of WHO FUCKING CARES!"...I mean, maybe RPGs are fun to play...I don't know, I've never played one. I'm not casting (+16 spells of) aspersions here, for I certainly love my video games. I would not, however, think that anyone would enjoy watching a movie wherein I play Cooking Mama for 20 minutes, though even that would still be far more exciting than Knight Chills.

Finally, the evening draws to a close. Zac and Brooke get into an argument outside and Zac takes off; John thinks this is the perfect time for him to make his move. He tells her about the earring, but before Brooke can reply John gets down on one knee: "Johandra should be treated like the princess she is! Let me warm you with my pledge of undying affection!" Brooke responds, literally, with "Fuck off!", which I simply don't understand. Sure, John is addressing Brooke by her role-playing character's name, and sure, he used the phrase "Let me warm you", but I think she's just uptight. Who doesn't want to be warmed by some creep who can't tell make-believe from reality?

This rejection is the last straw for poor weirdo John. He drives along rubbing Brooke's earring on his face, which again isn't at all weird, talking about completing his knight's quest for the Order of the Red Rose by the winter solstice...again, not weird. Finally he plows into a tree, and in a final gesture of not-weirdness he kisses Brooke's earring. Then the car explodes. One Extra Crispy-style Nerd, coming right up.


The next morning, Jack is in the midst of teaching his history class when he's hauled out of the room by the cops and angry administrators. A flyer for Jack's Game Club was found at the scene of John's accident, and...what's up with that? The members of the Game Club are all former students of Jack's, and now with John dead, Jack must surely have something to do with it. It makes sense to me- John was speeding along a snowy road and crashed into a tree- clearly this was murder; since Jack knows him, it stands to reason that Jack is the murderer. Jack is relentlessly drilled with such hard-hitting questions as "What is this Game Club, and how often does it meet at your house on Saturday nights?" Umm...to answer your question, the Game Club is a Game Club, and we meet on Saturday nights. That's some top fucking notch detective work.

The RPGers are nice enough to attend John's funeral, though Hanee and Russell still act like a-holes. John's mother blames the gamers for his death, and Zac spies something on John's grave that really upsets him: a red rose! Who would ever expect to find a flower on a fresh grave? No wonder he's spooked! I mean, it's so out of place that anyone would be weirded outhuhkchjsarrrrgrhghsdfgsdlvcadiUGFLDJKBV...........

Zac is so put out by the rose that he steals it...even more inexplicable than that, however, is the fact that there is one 10-second shot in this sequence that is black and white. No, it's not an artistic conceit...it's a fucking mistake. Zac walks to the grave: color. Zac bends down: B&W. Zac grabs the rose: color. It's a huge, glaring filmmaking error...but there I am looking at it. SIGH.

Anyway.

Hanee is helping out his father at their Christmas tree farm; they talk about the plight of the farmer and the sacrilege of plastic trees and it's scintillating, as you can well imagine. Hanee goes off to cut down some more trees when he finds...a red rose! The next thing you know, a knight rides up on a horse and kills Hanee with a sword. The sequence is poorly edited, devoid of thrills or tension, and mostly obscured by the heavy-handed use of a fog machine. SIGH.

Now it's Russell's turn: he's working his shift at a convenience store, he finds a red rose, the knight shows up, Russell inadvertently breaks the fourth wall, the knight kills Russell...and we see even LESS this go-round. SIGH.

The knight shows up and scares Nancy while she's in the computer lab- he doesn't kill her, even though, like, if this is a vengeance thing, well...she did call him a child molester for no apparent reason, so you'd think the knight might have a beef there. Whatevs. Nancy screams and that's that. FUCKING SIGH.

Jack and his family are still being harassed by the police, who seem to think that he's the murderer. Zac has it all figured out, though, and he shows up at the Nixon house all frantic and crazy. He knows that it's John back from beyond the grave, here to complete his quest. In the midst of this, Jack Jr waddles out into the room and quips "Inna dolie thlou. Dozen liyou eder. Inna mitchoo manna." Laura replies "Oh, honey, I'm not going anywhere!" and puts the kid to bed.

Though the scary knight is out for blood (sometimes), his quest must be completed by the winter solstice...the winter solstice begins at midnight! If the gang can just make it until midnight, they'll all be safe! Hooray! Sounds easy, right? It might be, except that no one can stay awake until midnight. Jack decides to take the first watch, and he immediately falls asleep. Zac goes to relieve him- it must still be before midnight- and Zac promptly falls asleep as well. Are you telling me that no one in the house can stay awake until MIDNIGHT even though their lives depend on it? Are you fucking kidding me?

The next morning, Jack Jr wakes up his mom and dad- he's wearing a viking helmet, carrying a plastic sword, and wheeling a suitcase. He says "Im broan don", which Jack and Laura find alarming for some reason. Oh no! Zac is dead! Oh no! The knight is here! Laura...well, Laura falls down. I have no idea if she died, if she passed out, or what. The knight is here, apparently, to take Jack Jr with him into a CGI portal. Jack, as the Lord of the Lore, tells the knight that he's free to go but the kid has to stay behind. The knight nods as if to say "Meh, whatevs" and everything is ok. Or is it? There's one final exchange between father and son:

JACK: Jackson, are you alright?
JACK JR: Eyena dadeh!
JACK: Yes it is. Your name is Jackson Kyle Nixon.

Then...then...Jack Jr clearly mouths the words "shngudad dhfdfsvauvc", but what we hear is a James Earl Jones-esque voice that says "Not anymore!"

?

??

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Yet somehow, Knight Chills gets worse: the fucking credits are riddled with punctuation errors and typos...unless "pyotechnics" is some new film thing I've never heard of. Couldn't they get anyone to proofread the credits? Good GAWD.

The worst part about all of this is that I know I still haven't learned my lesson in regards to those damn multi-packs. "Hell in the Family" 4-pack? Sign me up!

May 6, 2007

sights and sounds

Have you ever thought to yourself "Gawd, I love Final Girl and Stacie is so effing cool that it's hard for me to decide if I want to be besties with Stacie or I actually want to be Stacie."? Humor me and say yes. Then, I imagine, your thinking would continue along like "Man, the raddest thing about being Stacie's bestie or being Stacie is that either way she'd make me a mix tape!", right? Right! Well, lucky you. Last night I couldn't sleep and so I did what any rational human being would do at, like, 100 o'clock in the morning: I played around on iTunes, made an iMix, and uploaded it for all to potentially enjoy. Behold!



Cool, huh? Yup, some of my most favoritest songs in the whole wide world, spanning different genres. How does one get a nickname like "Champagne"?

Don't give me any of that "I don't have iTunes" crap, because there are no excuses- you don't need an iPod to download music or burn CDs, the program is free, and it doesn't matter if you're on a Mac or a PC. I mean, are you what Maya Angelou might call "a fucking rube" or what (I said might call)? "But Stacie," you say, "I only have 99 cents to my name...which ONE song from your supermix should I choose?" Hmm. Maybe "Jumpers" by Sleater-Kinney. Download it and play it loud. Although I can't imagine there's anyone in the world whose life wouldn't be improved by having "Lucky Number" always at hand. And if you looked at the track list and realized that there's a song from the Breaking Glass soundtrack on there- if you're familiar with Breaking Glass and/or its soundtrack at all- then you, my friend, get 1000 points.

Next up, we have a sketch card commission I done did...it's a Werewolf Woman of the SS! Hooray! Sybil Danning would be proud.

And last but most, because it's Sunday and because I love you, an amazing sequence from a film that is nothing BUT amazing sequences.

May 4, 2007

Dial R for Ribbit

I planned on including Frogs (1972) with the Animals Run Amok Week 2 festivities, but Netflix dropped the ball and the DVD didn't get here in time. Perhaps it's for the best, though, because instead of viewing it sandwiched between other animal attack flicks, I watched Frogs sandwiched between Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and some beer, and oh my friends, sometimes life is good.

As the film opens, we meet Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) as he gently paddles his canoe and takes photographs of wildlife and pollution. While he's being all sensitive, rich kids Clint and Karen Crockett (Adam Roarke and Joan Van Ark) are zipping around the same waters in their fancy speedboat. Before you can say "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!", the two boats have a near-collision and both Pickett and Clint end up in the drink. Clint and Karen offer to take Pickett back to their family homestead so he can dry off and have some lunch.

Now, we're not even ten minutes into this movie and I'm already shocked on several counts. Look at that picture! First of all, Sam Elliott is sans moustache and I found this off-putting. The man simply needs a 'stache. Second of all, who knew that Joan Van Ark was ever hot? As a faithful Knots Landing watcher in the '80s, I can assure you that I never expected to utter "Joan Van Ark" and "hot" in the same sentence, unless maybe it was a sentence about the sun or something. But check her out- she was a '70s superfox! I want those glasses.

Back at the Crockett Compound we meet the rest of the bizarre family, headed up by the crotchety, wheelchair-bound Jason (Ray Milland). They're the "ugly rich", you see, which means they're all obnoxious, they all hate each other, and they all put up with Jason's a-hole behavior because he's got the money and, therefore, the power. The family has all gathered for the annual July festivities, which includes celebrating Independence Day as well as about 23 family birthdays. Sadly, though, an odd proliferation of bullfrogs threatens to rain on everyone's parade, what with their croaking and their...uh...sitting...

My favorite frog from the film- it looks like it's wearing lipstick.

Fortunately for the Crocketts, Pickett wasn't just taking those pictures for fun- he's a super freelance environmentalist photographer! As his work in this capacity obviously renders him an expert on all things ecological, Jason asks Pickett to have a walk around the island so as to assess this frog situation- and to see if he can find one of Crockett's employees who's been missing since that morning.

Pickett sets out through the woods and soon finds the missing employee dead, face down in the muck. Or at least I think he was dead, though there was a wee smidge amount of evidence pointing to the contrary; he was very clearly breathing, and when a snake crawled over his back, he moved. Also, when Pickett turned the body over, the eyes were closed...

...but then a second later they were open.

But hey, if the environmental photographer says the dude is dead, then the dude is dead.

Pickett reports his findings to Jason, but Jason suggests they keep mum so they don't start a bloody panic. The next thing you know, however, there are frogs trying to get in the house- and there's a snake hanging from the chandelier! What on Earth is going on? Pickett says it's nature seeking revenge on Crockett for his wanton use of insecticide; Crockett says fuck that noise, mankind rules all and I'll do whatever the fuck I want on my island. Oh, Jason Crockett. If only you'd seen Day of the Animals, you'd know you're bound to eat those words!

It's now time in the proceedings for various family members to wander off on their own and meet an untimely end thanks to the frogs. Right? I mean, the movie is called Frogs, so the frogs are going to do the killing, right? Yeah, sure, the frogs on Crockett Island aren't poisonous tree frogs, they're harmless bullfrogs...but maybe they can, like, spit acid. Or maybe their tongues have poisonous barbs on the end! Or maybe they'll grow to be ginormous in size and they'll squish all the people! Or maybe, just maybe, they'll fart fire like super cockroaches do! I can't wait to find out!

The first one to wander off on his own is Jason's son Michael. As he's trudging through the woods with a rifle, he trips and shoots himself in the shin...then, he's killed by spiders, I think. See, it looks as if the spiders are blasting him with webbing, but then Michael ends up covered with Spanish Moss. He lays there on the ground buried under shrubbery going "Ahhhh!" and then there's some spiders on him and then he's dead. So...yeah, I guess the spiders bit him. Not the frogs. The frogs, however, are watching, and I suppose that's scary.

Next up, it's Crockett grandson Kenneth, who heads to the greenhouse for one reason or another. A whole bunch of lizards enter the greenhouse behind him, and as Kenneth is looking at flowers the lizards knock over some jars marked "poison". This creates a big toxic cloud which asphyxiates Kenneth...but oddly enough not the reptiles. The salamanders have a victory party on Kenneth's face as the frogs simply continue to watch.

Can you feel the terror? If you can, let me know because I sure as hell couldn't.

Pickett finds Kenneth's body and tells everyone back at the Crockett Compound. Upon hearing that Kenneth has somehow been asphyxiated by poisonous gas, someone blurts out "I knew it!" which defies...well, it defies everything. Crockett, meanwhile, isn't going to let a little something like a dead grandson and a dead employee ruin his fun: "I'm as heartbroken as anybody over this tragedy," he says, "but I won't let anything interfere with today's schedule!" Yes, God forbid they have to postpone the sandwiches and Jarts tournament.

Crockett's daughter Iris has missed all the hubbub as she's off chasing butterflies. This means, of course, that it's time for Iris's death sequence, which for me was the highlight of the film. First of all, as Iris is casually strolling along she walks into a vine and almost chokes herself. Between this and the whole "chasing butterflies" thing, we know we're dealing with someone who's...let's be politically correct and say "simple-minded", shall we?

Her close encounter with death averted, Iris continues on. Soon she encounters some frogs on the path, and she totally overreacts...she's absolutely horrified. Maybe she doesn't know that the frogs don't actually DO anything in this fucking movie.



Iris somehow musters up the courage to soldier on; before long, however, there's a rattlesnake on the path. Yes, rattlesnakes are, in fact, dangerous and frightening. Of course our Iris still completely overreacts by shrieking. Notice how her hair has fallen? The bitch is losing it!


Iris turns around only to find...another snake on the path behind her! Eyyyyagh!


Yes, Iris could just take a few steps off the path, go around the snake, and continue on her way. Remember, though- Iris is "simple-minded". As such, she drops her butterfly net and takes off into the woods. Within moments, her dress is torn and she's cut up, bleeding, running into branches, and acting like a wild woman. She's about 2 seconds away from going all crazy Clan of the Cave Bear or something.

Iris trips and falls in a big puddle...this is no ordinary puddle, however- it's a puddle full of leeches! Poor Iris!

She pulls all the leeches off and stumbles further on, only to end up right back where she started. The rattlesnake she initially freaked out over ends up biting her dead. Check out the awesome fake hand!

As Iris lays there dead, the frogs look on in an evil...oh, dammit, they're not evil! They just sit there while all the other animals do the work! Unless the frogs are controlling all the other animals with the power of their minds, then I really don't see why we need 50,000 shots of the frogs. Yes, the movie is called Frogs, but it's evident by this point that that makes no sense. To bolster this argument, I provide the following evidence: in addition to the deaths by spiders, snakes, and...crafty salamanders, people die thanks to water moccasins, alligators, and birds. What's missing from the list of killer animals? Oh yeah...FROGS.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice Crockett Compound, people are getting fed up and want to get off the island before it's too late. Jason doesn't see what the big deal is, but if everyone wants to pussy out and row back to the mainland, that's fine with him. Pickett, Karen, and a couple of nameless Crockett kids hop in Pickett's canoe and say bye-bye. Jason is left alone, and that night his house is overrun...by frogs! Jason finally gets scared, because the frogs are finally gonna do some damage, right? They've only been waiting for their moment, right?

WRONG! The frogs just sit there. Jason has a fucking heart attack and dies.

To prove once and for all that there no dignity in death nor in the late career of an aged Hollywood actor, we're treated to a shot of frogs climbing all over Ray Milland's ass. The End, indeed.

I'm not sure whether or not the title Frogs is, in fact, deceptive. There sure are a lot of frogs in the film; maybe I was wrong to assume that they'd actually do any of the killing. Of course, by that logic, the film could also be called Cake; there's a cake in the film, too, and it certainly doesn't kill anyone either. Is it false advertising? Meh, who cares. This movie was terrible, but hey...I love Sam Elliott, I love Ray Milland, Joan Van Ark was magically hot, and the death scenes were hilarious- that's good enough for me. Call me, if you will, "simple-minded" like Iris.