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

Aug 31, 2007

another awesome movie poster friday


When I was a kid, I didn't get that Motel Hell (1980) was supposed to be...you know...kinda funny. It scared me. It scared me baaaaaad.
I love that the phone booth is full of those styrofoam peanuts. Hey, you gotta prop up a corpse somehow!
This poster is ridiculous on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.
I want to hate this poster, but it's just so awful that it puts a twinkle in my eye.

WOW! Trailers on Awesome Movie Poster Friday?

This is the teaser for The Strangers I saw at SDCC. This teaser rocks. Pleeeeeeeease (fingers crossed) let this movie be good.



AND...so you don't think I exaggerate or lie or I'm crazy...

PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE. This is in my office, which is in a converted garage (please don't point out how badly it needs a paint job). Or it was...until CoHabiTron 2000 took care of business, if you know what I mean. Obviously I managed to take a snappy snap first, though I was shaking with terror! SHAKING! WITH TERROR! And then later I consulted my insect guide book (doesn't everybody have one?) and learned that the egg sac of the black widow can contain up to, like, 500 eggs. This means there could be at least 499 more of these right in this very room! It's kind of the coolest thing ever, in an I could die at any moment because of these spiders in my house kind of way. What? That's not overly dramatic. In fact, these black widows are making me embrace life way more than Dead Poets Society ever could. And they make me feel goth!

Aug 30, 2007

"a zombie gathering"

Have you heard of these so-called "zombie walks"? See, in different cities around the world, people... umm...they...err... man, how can I describe a "zombie walk" so you'll understand? It's so complicated. Okay, stay with me. In a zombie walk, people dress up like zombies...and then they walk around. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I have a hard time deciding if I think it's a cool idea or not. Perhaps I find it cooler in theory than in reality, sort of like how I feel about The Jets. I mean, obviously the world needs more Samoan family supergroups, but then their music kinda blows (yes, yes, "Crush On You" aside...however, I always found "You Got It All Over Him" more disturbing than anything else).

Apparently there was a zombie walk in London recently, and CNN has a video blurb about it. I have to admit, for one second- just one second- I saw the "breaking video news" at the top of the page and "zombie invasion" on the video, and it was almost like the zombie invasion was really happening and it was kinda the best second evar.

Yes, a lot can happen in my imagination in one second, and yes, I'm a big fat nerd.

So watch the video and see people acting like zombies. I will say that zombies speaking with British accents sort of classes up the whole affair. I will also say that finding videos on CNN with titles like "Duck! Tomato incoming!", "Naked beer thief", and "Plate throwing relieves stress" depressed me.

10 cool points to anyone who knows where the picture at the top of this post came from; 5 additional points for knowing exactly what that thing is.

Aug 29, 2007

a remake I'd like to see

So, is everybody ready for Friday? Yes, the day after tomorrow sees the release of Rob Zombie's highly anticipated Halloween remake, and I haven't come across a single person who isn't...well, highly anticipating it. I know I'm a complex person and it might be hard for you to understand, but this is how my brain works: I think about one thing, and that leads me to think about another thing, which leads me to think about another thing, and so on. Sometimes I start thinking about, say, pizza and then five minutes later I'm thinking about that scene in Winnie- you know, the movie where Meredith Baxter-Birney plays the retarded person- when Winnie foolishly accepts a ride to the library from a stranger, but then the stranger pulls over and you know he totally wants to rape her and Winnie is all "This isn't the library! Wanna go home!" and then I'm like, OK, I was just thinking about pizza and now I'm thinking about fictional retard rape, how did that happen LOLomg!!1!!!!

The point is, thinking about the Halloween remake got me thinking about remakes in general. I think we can all agree, they're mostly a good idea, right? I mean, the Dawn of the Dead remake was boring, but look at remakes like Black Xmas and The Fog (are they remakes or reimaginings? I get so confused! LOL)- they really added something to the story that the originals lacked, ie a big backstory for the "bad guys". In the original Black Christmas, we don't know why Billy kills the girls in the house, and that's stupid and makes no sense. Everybody kills for a reason, hello! But in the remake, we learn that he kills because his skin is yellow and so the story is a little more...I guess, meaty or something. And in The Fog, well, finally the tale of the ghostly lepers has a proper ending. In John Carpenter's version, the ghosts and the fog just sort of disappear and it's like "Huh?", but in the remake, you find out that the Jamie Lee Curtis character is an ancestor of the lepers or something and when she becomes a ghost at the end it's romantic and you know that the ghosts are all going to go have fun on ghost island or in their ghost condos or whatever, and the two main ghosts will have ghost babies or whatever. It's better than them just disappearing like that!

I've only given you two examples here of how films can be improved when they're remade, and I'm glad to see there are many more remakes of terrible films on the horizon, such as Alice, Sweet Alice, April Fool's Day, and The Changeling. One movie I think could use a remake (or a re-imagining, LOL) and an updating, though, is William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973). Yeah, there have been the prequels, but come on. The Exorcist is almost 40 years old! It's time to bring the story into the 21st century with better actors and better special effects. I've given this idea a lot of thought, and here are my suggestions for the remake- Hollywood, get out your pencils and take notes! I don't care if Hollywood steals my ideas; I just want to see a better version of The Exorcist in theatres.

Let's start with the actors, addressing the weakest link first. Yes, I'm talking about Ellen Burstyn. She's always been one of my least favorite actresses in general; she might be pretty, but she can't act worth beans...and really, every time she's on screen The Exorcist grinds to a halt. The movie is just as much about Chris McNeil as it is about Regan McNeil, and to make the film work you just plain need a strong actor as Chris. Now, there's a reason why Julia Roberts won an Oscar for Erin Brockovich, beating out fellow nominee- guess who?- yup, Ellen Burstyn for Requiem for a Dream. That reason is, Julia Roberts is simply a better actor. Granted, I might be a little biased- lord knows I'd love to see Julia Roberts in every film is it was possible- but I think the Oscar connection is too big to ignore...I'd cast Julia Roberts as Chris McNeil.

The part of Regan, the girl possessed, is a little tougher to cast, I'll admit. But who says Regan has to be, like, 12? Can't she be older? I think maybe if she was supposed to be in her late teens, that would work just as well. People think that The Exorcist is, like, symbolic of Regan's budding sexuality, ok, sure. If we make her older, though, then the 'possession' could be a metaphor for teen pregnancy, which in case you didn't know is a real problem these days. Sometimes I shake my head and mutter "Babies having babies..." in a way that indicates my sad disdain- obviously, it's a hot button topic. So. Who can teens relate to? Who is not much more than a teen herself? I think Hilary Duff would make a great Regan- and who knows, she sings, too, so maybe she can contribute to the soundtrack as well...Hilary Duff is at least a triple threat.

The power of my new scent "With Love by Hilary Duff" compels you!

OK, now, to talk about the rest of the characters and who I think should portray them, I need to delve a bit into the plot. Here's sort of my quick rundown/synopsis of an Exorcist remake.

First of all, I'd exorcize that whole Iraq prologue from the original. It serves no purpose, it makes no sense, and it simply adds unnecessary minutes to the film. We need to- boom!- jump right in and meet the McNeil family.

Chris McNeil isn't an actress this go-round...she's just an ordinary soccer mom, a loving wife and mother. Everything she knows is turned tragically upside down one day when Chris, daughter Regan, and husband Lex McNeil are driving home from one of Regan's soccer matches: they get in a horrible accident, and Lex dies.

I should note RIGHT NOW that Lex will be portrayed by Richard Gere. America and the rest of the world loved Richard Gere and Julia Roberts together in both Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride, so obviously America and the world will agree with me when I say that I would love to see them reunited again. Talk about chemistry!

After the accident, Chris and Regan move to Boston (who moves to Georgetown?) to recover. Chris is having a hard time- sometimes she sneaks a drink after Regan has gone to bed- but Regan finds solace in the arms of her new boyfriend Derek (played by Shia LeBoeuf). One night, after Chris has gone to bed, Regan and Derek head to the basement and...well, they do what teens do. They play board games and make out, though not in that order. Derek finds a dusty Ouija board, and dares Regan to play with him. At first it's all flirty, like "Does Derek love me?" and the board points to YES. But then, things start to get scary. Derek tells Regan a bit about the history of their house, about the murders that have taken place there, and how pilgrims used to sacrifice Native Americans on the land or something. Anyway, the Ouija board starts going crazy, right? Then, Captain Howdy- or Pazuzu- possesses Regan right there and then. In the original version of the film, you don't really see the possession taking place- the audience is left wondering for, like, an hour what's going on. Here's a chance for the effects people to work their magic, though. Just imagine if we saw a big Pazuzu fill the room and then enter Regan's body! Maybe the characters shouldn't see it happen, but the audience certainly could. It's a great opportunity for some CGI effects.

Soon, Regan begins acting weird. She's vomiting and cranky, not at all like the bright happy teen we've already come to know and love. Chris takes her to the doctor- to several doctors, and they all determine she's pregnant. Regan denies this possibility, insisting that she and Derek haven't gone all the way yet. There's a mysterious shape showing up on the ultrasound, though, so who knows what's really going on?

Consoling herself over a grande mochlattefrappucappuchai at Starbucks (hello, product placement...cha-ching!), Chris is surprised to find herself flirting with a handsome man who bumps into her, almost spilling his coffee. Here we have Father Karras, played by Colin Farrell. I say that we keep the whole "Father Karras has a crisis of faith" angle from the original, but this time we really explore why he's having the crisis- Father Karras and Chris McNeil fall in love. Will Father Karras give up the priesthood? Or will he remain a man of the cloth? It seems the only way he can really save the family he wants and loves is never to be with the family he really wants and loves, and that's called dramatic irony.

Regan's condition grows worse- Chris doesn't even recognize her own daughter anymore. She's swearing, she's sullen, and she's smoking. When the "big showdown" finally rolls around, Father Karras once again enlists the help of Father Merrin, a character I think we will all agree was a little...stiff the first time around. The guy was a major downer- in fact, the whole film was a major downer. The remake, though, gives filmmakers an opportunity to lighten things up, and I think in order to do this they should reimagine Father Merrin as a bit more...mmm, bumbling shall we say? And who says Father Merrin has to be so old? Couldn't they cast Kevin James of television's King of Queens in the role? He's an everyman that we all can relate to. Or what about Christopher Walken? Audiences will smile as soon as he walks on-screen.

Should filmmakers decide to maintain Father Merrin as an older, serious type (don't know why they would, but Hollywood works in mysterious ways sometimes LOL), then I sure hope they cast Lance Henriksen. He has horror clout beyond reproach, and when you see his name attached to a film, you know it's a harbinger of quality. Obviously, he has discerning taste as an actor; his work in such films as The Mangler 2 and Mimic 3 proves this- he doesn't simply act for a paycheck.

Now then, the final battle. I think both Fathers Karras and Merrin should die- just like the original- but not before literally drawing Pazuzu out of Regan's body. They did this in the original, I think, but it's really brief. Hello, we want to see the demon! Again, a great opportunity for some CGI work.

Oh, and I think they should change the name of the demon from Pazuzu to...well, given the history of the house, probably it should be a Native American demon. At least call it Chief Pazuzu or something.

Anyway, the priests both die, but Chief Pazuzu is still in the room! Derek and Regan are huddled on the bed (Regan is all better and pretty again), while Chris screams at the demon something like "Stay away from my family!"...and then, the ghost of Lex returns, kind of like at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors when Nancy's dad returns in a shower of sparkles to defeat Freddy. Lex defeats Chief Pazuzu (in a killer CGI battle) once and for all, and he tells Chris and Regan to never forget him, but to move on and live happy lives anyway. He disappears in the sparkle shower from whence he came.

That's when Father Karras coughs! He's not dead! Chris rushes to his side, and makes him promise to never leave her. He decides to give up the cloth right there, and he asks her if she would take "an ex-priest" for a husband. Regan makes a joke about calling him "father"...Chris laughs- that awesome Julia Roberts laugh- and we get a sweeping crane shot that pulls back out Regan's bedroom window and moves over the streets of Boston, which are safe again.

I know my Photoshop skills are clunky, but here's a poster idea I came up with- how can you have a Julia Roberts movie and not take advantage of her (not at all like) Mona Lisa Smile in the adverts?

Anyway, my idea is but one angle for remaking The Exorcist. Even if Hollywood takes it another route, I certainly do hope that they go with a remake. The film sure needs it.

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In other news...

Aug 28, 2007

The Great Body Snatch

Those wacky pod people and their from-another-planet antics! Boy, I tell ya.

Listen up, you- I've got a review of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) up over yonder at Bloody-Disgusting, so make with the click click!

Aug 27, 2007

once in a lifetime

If you've been hanging around here for any length of time, you probably know by now that I've got a serious thang for nighttime soaps and Lifetime movies that feature murder, treachery, murder and treachery, and/or someone acting crazy. When Terror in the Shadows (1995) came on the other night, it was so many great tastes tasting great together that my tongue caught on fire from all the flavor.

OK, that makes no sense, but look! The description:
A Colorado family man fears an escaped mental patient who killed his first wife and son.
Look again! The cast, honey, the cast: Genie Francis of General Hospital! Leigh McCloskey of Dallas! Marcy Walker of Santa Barbara! Victoria Wyndham of Another World! It's like Battle of the Network Soap Stars from Stacie's Childhood up in here. Now, normally I don't review these sorts of movies, but I thought the words "escaped mental patient" and "killed" might merit Terror in the Shadows the ol' Final Girl treatment. Besides, in the end, I can do whatever I want.

Right off the bat, I learned a little bit about prejudice from this film. See, after reading the description, I assumed that the cuckoo nutso in question would be some dude. Imagine my simultaneous delight and deep deep shame when Terror in the Shadows opened in an asylum and said cuckoo nutso turned out to be Marcy Walker of television's Santa Barbara. Lesson learned? Vengeful mental patients can be either gender...or perhaps, even both. Or neither!

Marcy Walker is Christine. Christine is crazy. Christine escapes the hospital by hiding an I.V. pole in her jammie jams and then using it to conk out a guard. Within minutes she's hitchhiking her way outta Albany, New York and telling "Timmy" that she's coming for him. I loves me some soap stars acting crazy.

Marcy Walker will cut a bitch.

Christine makes it to Ohio and gets picked up by some sad-sack woman who has no one in the world to love her. Christine knows an opportunity when she sees it and, having had enough of the whole thumbing a ride thing, conks the woman with a big rock and steals both her car and her identity. Yes folks, Christine is all about the conking.

Meanwhile, in Colorado...

Leigh McCloskey of television's Dallas and Genie Francis of television's General Hospital are Alex and Sarah Williams, who have been happily married for about a year. Alex is a high school teacher, Sarah owns a coffee shop, and their biggest worry is that Sarah's son Brian likes scary stuff. Horror movies and ghost stories are off-limits; they're damaging, you know...and that's so true- I mean, look at me. Reading Famous Monsters of Filmland as a child seriously fucked me up, y'all. I can barely function and remain civilized.

Alex gets a call notifying him that Christine has escaped and Sarah is all "Huh? Who's Christine?", so Alex decides to come clean about his past in delicious TV-movie fashion. See, originally he told Sarah that his first wife and baby son died in a car accident, but that was such a lie! Their son was adopted, and the birth mother was Christine- a real nutcase who didn't remember that she gave the child up for adoption. Convinced her child had been kidnapped, Christine killed Alex's wife and then managed to drop the baby before she could make her getaway. The baby died and Christine got shipped off to the asylum. Alex thought that was the end of the story, but now Christine is coming to get him, Barbara! Sarah is miffed about the lie, but hey...love conquers all.

Genie Francis SO cares.

Christine makes it to Colorado in record time and has no trouble finding Alex and his family. When I say "record time", I'm not kidding- Christine is in the Williams house and there's still a good hour and a half remaining in the film...I guess she's waiting for the right time to strike or whatever rather than going into Operation: Get 'Timmy' all willy-nilly. All willy-nilly, I say. She hides out in their basement, sneaking upstairs at night to stare at Brian and pilfering cans of tuna to survive, all the while looking sullen and crazy.

They call her one-eye.

In order to "get closer" to Brian, Christine wrangles herself a job at Sarah's coffee house. Here we meet Kay (Victoria Wyndham), who runs the shop with Sarah. I immediately peg her as The Main Character's Friend Who Is Always Suspicious Of The Too-Good-To-Be-True New Person And Will Go On To Discover The Too-Good-To-Be-True New Person's Secret And Therefore Will Be Killed Before She Can Notify Her Best Friend About Her Startling Discovery. Julianne Moore in Hand That Rocks the Cradle, anyone? Really, if you've seen one of these thrillers, you've seen them all- not that I'm complaining.

Alex receives another call from the police, this time letting him know that a body was found in Ohio and they're sure it's Christine. But we know the truth- we know the body is not Christine, but rather it's the sad-sack that Christine conked! Don't let your guard down, Alex and Sarah! The streets of Colorado still aren't safe!

Alex and Sarah do let their guard down, however, and brazenly decide to go out to dinner. Brian gets the babysitter to let him watch a horror movie: Bloody Zombies. When we see footage from "Bloody Zombies", however, it's actually George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. While I gave myself props for my mad recognizing skillz, the moment served as a sad reminder that one of the greatest horror films of all time is in the public domain for people to do with as they please. Countless inferior DVD releases and clip usage galore, and Romero doesn't see a dime (and yes, I'd feel bad for John Russo as well, but then he went and released that horrendous '30th Anniversary Edition' with all the new footage, so John Russo can suck it. OK, maybe that's a bit harsh. I've met him and he's very nice, but still). Anyway, Christine, listening to the zombie movie madness goings-on through an air vent, gets peeved that "her son" is watching a horror film- "Little boys shouldn't watch horror!" What the fuck is with these people and the condemning of the horror? Pfft, like Christine is one to talk, what with the whole stabbing and baby-dropping and the various conkings. In a righteous maternal fury, Christine cuts the power and heads upstairs...where she...oh god, this was so scary...manages to take the tape out of the VCR without anyone seeing her! BRR! A chill of fright went up my spine even now, just typing about it.

Meanwhile, back at the coffee shop...

Kay does indeed find out about Christine's secret...guess how? Yes! Via a newspaper clipping that Christine keeps in her purse! How awesome is that? Much as I predicted, Kay's discovery leads to her demise when she meets the business end of...err, well, that's a mystery. See, this is a modern-day made-for-TV film, so when push comes to shove all we see is Christine turning off the lights in a, uh, threatening fashion and that's that. The next day Sarah finds Kay's body in a pool of blood, so we can assume that Christine made with the conking yet again.

At this point, I'm thinking that it's time for Christine to make her fucking move already and take Tim- err, Brian away or whatever the hell it is she intends to do. Lo and behold, she takes my advice! Christine volunteers to take Brian out for a while so Sarah can rest and recover from The Death of Kay. Then she sets her plan of evil in motion by slipping Brian a milkshake mickey. Oh, the deviousness!

Num num...zzzzzzzzz..........

The police have finally figured out that the body found in Ohio is not Christine, and they call Alex yet again to let him know...and then Terror in the Shadows becomes a non-stop white-knuckle roller coaster thrill ride you'll never forget (that's totally my bid to get quoted on the DVD case)!

Alex goes searching for Christine and Brian! There's a sudden thunderstorm! Alex finds them and tries to convince Christine that Brian is not Timmy! Christine gets her conk on yet again and Alex is down for the count! Brian wakes up and wonders where he is! Sarah discovers Christine's secret basement hidey-hole! Christine inexplicably returns to the Williams home! Sarah and Christine have a hee-lar slo-mo fight! They move their fight outside into the relentless pouring rain! Alex returns and runs over Christine, ending her reign of lite terror! Brian calls Alex 'dad' for the first time and everyone is super psyched, hugz all around, the end.

Well, despite the absolutely blinding mega-watt star power attached to Terror in the Shadows, I have to admit that it's a (not at all unenjoyable) bit of a letdown. There's simply not much terror to be found anywhere. Marcy Walker plays a decent cuckoo nutso, but she's not really given much of a chance to actually do anything. She spends her time hanging out in the basement with her ear pressed to a heating duct, listening to the Williamses, and then when she makes her way upstairs in the dead of night she doesn't seem particularly threatening- unless staring and cooing weirds you out, which I guess depends on who's staring and cooing. Her bid to get 'in' with the family and get closer to Brian is pretty lame as well- Christine is no Peyton Flanders, if you can dig it. But then again, who is?

Like I said, though, the film is still fun to watch. The acting is what you'd expect from a bunch of soap stars, and the plot adheres to the tried-and-true thriller formula. Again, it's a contemporary made-for-TV film, so it's no Home for the Holidays or Dark Night of the Scarecrow; it's bland and unhorrifying, so you most likely won't see much of its ilk here again, unless I change my mind. I am a woman, after all, and changing our minds is what we do. Men never do that sort of thing. That's why men still think the earth is flat.

Regardless of whether or not the Lifetime flicks show their faces at Final Girl again, that doesn't mean I won't still be watching this sort of crap. Next up: Joan Van Ark of television's Knots Landing in...With Harmful Intent!

Aug 25, 2007

der winneren

I bet you guys thought I forgot allllllll about the Halloween Soundtrack Giveaway Extravaganza, huh? And that the fact that the contest was over and I needed to choose and notify a winner came to me suddenly over, say, a bowl of Yogurt Burst Cheerios this morning as I watched Carnosaur 3, right? Well...you might be correct. But I have righted the wrong (as usual) and drawn a winning name from the oodles of names in the Magic Hat. Rob Zombie, won't you let us know who won?

Yay! Congrats to regular reader Michelle. And thanks to everyone who entered- don't feel bad because you didn't win. I mean, it's not because I don't like you or anything.

Incidentally, I'm thinking of making some sort of career out of this whole "righting wrongs" thing. Mayhaps I'll call myself The Equalizer 2.0, or The Equalizer: The Next Generation.

Aug 24, 2007

awesome movie poster friday

Welcome to Awesome Movie Poster Friday, wherein I post some awesome old movie posters. Because it's Friday.

FYI, I just saw The Boogens (1982) for the first time last night, and LO! It rocked mightily.
Talk about misleading advertising! Now, we all know that there are no giant-sized man-eating frogs in Frogs (1972). If there were, that would've kicked ass...but in reality, the frogs in Frogs just sit around doing a whole lotta nothing. Jerks.
I'm not sure which poster for Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) I like more...this German one, with a gigantic killer spider...

...or this one, which could double as a poster for VD Awareness Week or something.

Omigawd, remember at the end of Friday the 13th when that giant blue woman appeared out of nowhere from behind that piece of paper? That scared me so bad when I was 10!

To answer your first question, Night of the Lepus, if it wears glasses, then four. As to the second, as many as it feels like.



Aug 18, 2007

yap yap yap

Hey, you! Head over yonder to Pretty/Scary and read my interview with actress Michelle Lee of the upcoming Trailer Park of Terror.

THRILL! to the longest introduction to an interview evar!

Yay!

Aug 17, 2007

wash your face and hands

You may not know this about me, but I consider myself to be a fairly simple girl. I don't mean "simple" as in "stupid", it's more like...plain. I don't mean "plain" as in "not attractive", it's more like...uncomplicated. I don't mean "uncomplicated" as in...ah, you get it. I just like to keep things simple. I like my burgers and pizzas mostly unfettered. I don't wear clothes covered in sparkly appliques. Why should I go through the trouble of freebasing my coke when I can simply snort it? See what I mean? Simple. What does this have to do with anything? Well, my love of the simple sometimes correlates to my love of a film, both potential and realized. Why should a plot unfold like this:
A monster lives in a cave, but the monster only emerges from the cave once every 13 years during a red moon so he can feast, but the monster will only feast upon the left pinkies of virgins who are direct descendants of the man who wrote a book about this monster 800 years ago and the book is bound in the flesh of the man's enemies and the descendants of his enemies are totally working for The Government on a Top-Secret Project that involves cloning the monster and creating an army of super-monsters but then this one Top Advisor in the project is planning on stealing all the research to sell to a foreign conglomerate and it turns out that he had an affair with a woman who is a direct descendant of the guy who wrote the book and their sweet sweet lovemaking produced a child who has grown up to be not only a virgin but also, as the only descendant of both the book-maker and his enemy, the only one who has the power to defeat the monster once and for all.
when a plot can unfold like this:
There's this abandoned house, and a pissed-off witch-spirit lives in it. She kills people.
I must say, however, the first plot seems to have potential. Hollywood, call me!

That second easy, breezy, 'n beautiful plot is basically what you get in Superstition (1982), an Amityville/Exorcist/Italian Horror wannabe that surprised me with its delightfully delightful schlockiness.

Like all the best horror films, Superstition opens with a young couple necking in a car. The young lass, however, is distracted: they've gone a-parking near a spooky old abandoned house, a spooky old abandoned house where there's been murders and rumors of hauntings! The young man counters her trepidation with a convincing argument: there's nothing to be afraid of...now let us proceed to Necking 2: The Humpening.

Suddenly, a horrible corpse-ish thing slams against the car window! The kids smartly stop the necking and peel the fuck out of there. The corpse-ish thing, however, is a fake. There's pranksters about, son! They're hanging out in the abandoned house and...err, waiting for some unsuspecting horndogs to happen by for the purposes of prankery, I suppose.

The wiseacres are chuckling and celebrating a joke well done when it becomes apparent that someone is stalking them. The Goblin/Carpenter-esque music kicks in, we get killer POV shots moving throughout the darkened, empty house...and I'll be damned if it wasn't a little spooky. Then, out of nowhere, come two of the most awesomely bizarre and bizarrely awesome killings I've seen: one prankster gets beheaded, then his head ends up in a microwave where it explodes, while his buddy ends up cut completely, grossly in half by a window. Looks like the jokes on you now, jokesters! Ba-ha-ha-HOOM!

I know it's a horror film, but I honestly wasn't expecting such violent violence in a supernatural-themed movie. It was great.

After the mysterious deaths at the abandoned house, the police pay a visit to the hip Reverend McCool (we know he's hip and cool because he's young and he smokes and he wears jeans). It seems that said abandoned house is actually church property; though there are caretakers on the property (a weird old crone and her mute son), the house has fallen into disrepair. The city is ready to tear the place down if the church doesn't make good with the house, the land, and spooooooky Black Pond out back.

The most important piece of information culled from the church-police exchange, however, is that within moments- moments, I tells ya- I figured out that I knew the Inspector from a few episodes of Dallas. In case you're wondering, he played the slimy dude who wanted Afton to sleep with him before he would sell his oil refinery to Cliff. Cliff really needed that refinery, you see, because JR was also looking to buy it because he was stockpiling oil as part of his plan to beat Bobby for control of Ewing Oil, you know, that whole scheme that Jock set in motion in the codicil of his will. So anyway, if Cliff got the refinery, then he'd beat JR for once and he'd feel like a big man and Afton loved Cliff for some reason- I don't know why, because personally I can't stand Cliff and Afton could do so much better. Anyway, so Afton sleeps with the slimy oil refinery owner, and I mean ga-ross!- but Cliff gets his refinery and JR is thwarted (but only for a short time, because come on...it's JR). The thing is, though, that Cliff didn't know about the whole Afton-sleeping-with-slimy-dude thing; he thought he won the refinery through his powerful wheeling and/or dealing. When he found out that Afton basically prostituted herself, Cliff threw her out. Threw her out like a common whore! Which she kinda was, but only that one time. Anyway, they got back together after Cliff's mom died, because Cliff was a mess after his mom died because he felt all guilty because he was supposed to be on the plane that ended up crashing, not his mom. That's about as far as I've gotten watching Dallas DVDs, but I think Cliff and Afton end up getting married or something at some point.

Wait, where was...oh yeah, Superstition, right.

Renovations on the abandoned house get underway so a new minister and his family can move in. Inspector Slimy Dude from Dallas tells Reverend McCool a bit about the house's history- in fact, there have been many houses on the foundation, and all of the tenants have met with a grisly end. Will folks around the property meet with a grisly end now?

Yes...yes they will.

A cop walking around Black Pond drops some change; when he reaches down to pick it up, a slimy-yet-crusty arm reaches up from the murky depths and pulls him in! A circular saw blade goes flying off of a running saw; it hits a priest in the chest and keeps on a-spinnin'- it cuts right through him! Someone gets a face full of broken mirror! Someone is hung! Someone is slammed about the room like a sack of potatoes! And on and on, in '80s-style gory fashion. Again, you don't normally see this type of violence in a supernatural film, but Ol' Witchy was one bad mutha.

But really...just who is Ol' Witchy? Fear not, for we learn her sordid history in flashbacks. In 1692...or maybe 1784 (the movie said the former while the VHS box says the latter, so...whatevs), Elondra Sharack was crucified and dunked in Black Pond for being a witch. The kicker is, however, unlike 100% of the women killed in Salem, Elondra really was a witch! In your stereotypical garbly "demon" voice, Elondra proclaims that she's the daughter of Satan and they'll all pay pay pay for this outrage! Her face bubbles, she goes into the drink, and a curse is born.

What can I say? Superstition fucking rocked. By turns gross, funny, and yes, even scary, they just don't make 'em like this anymore. From the synth music to the darkened corners to the creepy glimpses we get of Elondra stalking the halls, this movie is chock full of grody, cheesy, schlocky '80s fun. Though I caught the film on VHS, it's available on DVD, so what are you waiting for? Check it out- it's simple!

Aug 16, 2007

It was the best of times...

...it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, blah blah blah.

Yesterday, my friends, was a roller coaster ride of emotions- highs, lows, and creamy middles.

It all began innocently enough as I was innocently wheeling our garbage cans out to the curb for pickup...innocently. Right as I was about to walk away from the recycle bin, I looked down and saw a big ass black spider hanging out on a web towards the bottom. "Wow, neat," thought I, for I have always had an inquisitive mind, particularly in regard to The Wonders of Nature. "That is most certainly a large spider. I shall now squat down so as to examine it further." Squat I did, and I proceeded to give myself the willies simply by looking at the thing: bugs and their ilk have that effect on me. "I have never seen a large black spider such as this...could it be...? No, certainly not...", I thought- and then , the fucking thing flipped over and I saw a nice big fat red hourglass on its belly! There was a giant black widow on my garbage can.

A BLACK WIDOW. ON MY GARBAGE CAN.

THERE WAS A BLACK WIDOW ON MY GARBAGE CAN
. AND IT DID NOT LOOK LIKE THERESA RUSSELL.

I did my patented excited/creeped out dance, which...well, I'm sure that if any neighbors, oblivious to the spider's presence, saw me doing a little jig in the middle of the street for apparently no reason, they'd surely think that I'm retarded. I went to get my camera (yes, I am a nerd), but by the time I returned the spider had holed up in a crevice, and...well, fuck that noise.

After I returned to my house and calmed down a little (believe me, seeing a giant black widow in real life is very exciting to me), I made a shocking realization: if a black widow can live on my recycle bin, then there's a chance that a black widow could get in my hair...the point of which is, I almost died while taking out the garbage! Between this brush with a deadly spider and last week's earthquake, I'm totally convinced that it's The End of Times. This conviction was cemented when, a mere two hours after The Black Widow Incident, I bit my tongue whilst eating a peanut.

Somehow, in the face of all this death-defying activity, I managed to remain calm and cool when later in the evening this happened:

Yes, my mug is obscured to protect the innocent, but that picture is me and ADRIENNE BARBEAU. Yes, I finally...finally met my hero Adrienne Barbeau at a book signing last night. She was incredibly nice and I'm pretty sure I didn't make a fool of myself, despite the fact that I was completely excited and star-struck. At any rate, she seems to think I'm awesome.

Aug 15, 2007

smile

Straight outta Compton Japan comes the newest release from Tartan Asia Extreme: Carved (The Slit-Mouthed Woman)...and yes, it's fairly extreme.

The hottest urban legend making its way through the schoolyard is the tale of The Slit-Mouthed Woman; she wears a surgical mask to hide her disfigured face and roams the streets looking for children to kill with her long, pointy shears. "Am I pretty?" she asks, then she makes with what the French call le stab-stab.

Soon children begin to disappear, said to be victims of The Slit-Mouthed Woman. Desperate parents and earnest young schoolteachers mount a search to unravel the mystery before Good Ol' Slitty decimates the entire youth population.

I had a real love-hate relationship with Carved. Wait, scratch that- the 90 minutes we spent together weren't so much "love-hate" as "love-hmmm?", for you see, every amazing element about this film was counterbalanced by an unanswered question or a point of confusion. For example, by the end of the film the phrase "Am I pretty?" morphs into "Aim for my neck"- perhaps there's a translation issue, or the phrases sound similar in Japanese and the children confuse one for the other in the recounting of the tale. It's clunky, but it's not something that gets in the way of enjoying (or understanding) the film.

Much like Candyman, "The Slit-Mouthed Woman" is a name whispered in the schoolyard and used to threaten naughty children- behave yourself, or The Slit-Mouthed Woman will snatch you and kill you. Also like Candyman, this killer has an origin story that's revealed during the course of the film- and it's got nothing to do with the "origin story" explained on the DVD case! It's not the age old story of infidelity and jealous husbands, as the case claims- instead, it's a harrowing story of child abuse...and this is where Carved puts the "extreme" in...uh, "Tartan Asia Extreme".

While there's little explicitness in Carved, I honestly can't imagine this film seeing the light of day were it an American production- violence against children is one of the last taboos in cinema. I know people who were offended by the off-screen killing of a child in High Tension- they'd be certain to go apoplectic if they took in this film. Children are hit, kicked, tied up, stabbed, slashed...but again, it's not completely explicit. The child abuse is tightly-woven into the plot, however, and at times it feels a bit relentless. It's ballsy- so be warned; there's equal opportunity violence here.

To those of you who've had your fill of wet, long-haired ghosts and think that's all there is to Asian horror cinema, give Carved a try. This film is not your typical supernatural ghost story fare- The Slit-Mouthed Woman appears in broad daylight, and she does far more to her victims than simply glowering at them. Carved is much more visceral than you'd expect; it resonates in reality and in the end, it's far more disturbing than most ghost stories. I enjoyed the film more and more as it went on, and the last half-hour or so was relentlessly creepy.

Overall, Carved was a pleasantly frightening surprise. Just remember- if some strange woman asks "Am I pretty?"...always say yes.

new digs

Those of you who have been here before may have noticed the pretty new window dressing here at Final Girl. It was a change that was a long time a-comin', upgrading to the newest version of Blogger. What sayest thou? I've still got some tinkering to do, but I think I like it. I'm really looking forward to having fun with the header graphic- yes, these are the things that please the easily-amused simple-minded folk such as myself.

Overall, I have to give Final Girl 2.0 the Shaq Fu seal of approval.

Aug 14, 2007

i live to give

If there's one way I'd like to be remembered when I've moved on to The Great Beyond, it's as a generous spirit with awesome hair and a rapier wit. In my efforts to build this rep for myself, I must, from time to time, make with the ha-ha, get haircuts, and give give give. That last bit, see, is where you come in. I've got a copy of the soundtrack for Rob Zombie's Halloween- the soundtrack that's not due to be released until August 21- and it could be yours!

If you're thinking "WOW! The CD hasn't been released yet and Stacie has one to give away? I bet she traveled into the future, bought a copy of the soundtrack, and then zapped herself back to the present with the sole purpose of making one lucky reader's life better. Additionally, her hair fucking rocks!", then you're thinking the truth, my friends.

You know, I was gonna make you do something in order to be eligible to win...like, say, write a haiku or bake me cookies or what have you. But today I'm feeling so magnanimous that I've nixed the 'give a little to get a little' angle. That's right, all you have to do to be eligible to win the CD is send an email to stacieponder@gmail.com by 11:59am (PST) Monday, August 20. Write "Final Girl rules" in the subject line- my ego will swell, and your name will be tossed into my special Contest Hat. I pull out your name, you win! Easy, breezy, beautiful.

In addition to snippets of dialogue from the film, the Halloween soundtrack is chock full of the classic rock goodness you can expect from a Rob Zombie film, including tracks from KISS, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, BTO, The Misfits, and more. The CD also features Tyler Bates's updated version of John Carpenter's classic Halloween theme.

Ooh la la! Enter today!

Aug 13, 2007

sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

A recent article at The Village Voice online regarding the newest trailer for the upcoming video game Resident Evil 5 has caused a bit of a stir. Before we get into it, however, why don't you watch said trailer for yourself?



There, did you watch it? What's your first and most immediate impression? If you're anything like Village Voice writer Bonnie Ruberg, you're thinking "That game is racist!" Is she right? Is a game that features a white protagonist gunning down hordes of cranky black zombies inherently racist? I tend to think not, myself. They're zombies. The game takes place in (some say) Africa or (others say) Haiti. Zombies in Haiti kinda makes sense, doesn't it? And the 'white protagonist' is Chris Redfield, a main character in the Resident Evil series since its inception.

But I could be wrong. It could all very well be as Ruberg points out, that Resident Evil 5 is actually symbolic of the caucasian fear of a black planet, much in the way that Resident Evil 4 is symbolic of whites' fear of a Spanish planet, or Super Mario Brothers is indicative of whites' fear of an Italian planet.

At any rate, I'm not sure what kind of a person it makes me, but my first and most immediate impression of the trailer was something along the lines of "Omigawd, I cannot fucking wait to play that game!"

Aug 10, 2007

broken-hearted

There are three reasons why I picked up a copy of Lovers Lane (1999): 1) it's a slasher, 2) it was $1.99, and 3) it stars Anna Faris. I love love loooooove Anna Faris, and if you've seen any of the Scary Movies, or May, or The Hot Chick, then you should love her, too. She just plain rocks.

And yes, I said The Hot Chick. I can't help myself, I think it's funny. Well, it's not entirely funny, but the parts that make me laugh really make me laugh, so I like it. Listen, I bet you secretly like some piece of shit movie, too, so don't act all big because I like The Hot Chick.

Ahem. Speaking of piece of shit movies, let's cast our insecurities aside for a moment and discuss Lovers Lane, shall we?

Like any good and proper slasher film, Lovers Lane opens with a prologue set during a holiday: Valentine's Day, to be exact. A couple is killed whilst in flagrante out on...you guessed it...lovers lane by a cuckoo nutso with a hook for a hand. The dude is caught immediately and taken away to an insane asylum.

Cut to 13 years later, and Valentine's Day approaches. An exclusively whitebread sampling of horny teens gets into wacky teen hijinks and they decide to head out to lover's lane...or something, I think. It was all a little vague. The point here is that Jannelle (Faris) must really like being a cheerleader, because she wears her uniform throughout the entire film, both in and out of school.

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, Good Ol' Hooky's "Dr Loomis", Dr Grefe, is having a hard time connecting with his patient. There seemed to be a lack of communication or something...I'll admit, however, I wasn't really paying attention. I was far too busy trying to figure out why Dr Grefe looked so damn familiar...was Red Buttons starring as Dr Grefe? No, that wasn't right. Finally it came to me- it was friggin' Les Nessman from WKRP in Cinncinnati as the doctor. Once I figured that out, I could rest easy and start listening again.

In a frightening turn of events, Good Ol' Hooky manages to escape the asylum. He even gets his signature weapon back, as Dr Grefe conveniently kept the hook displayed on his desk under a bell jar. Oh, you'd like to keep the weapon for yourself, doctor? Sure, why not! Evidence, shmevidence!

Before he left the hospital, though, Good Ol' Hooky left a chilling message written in blood on the wall. C-H-I-L-L-I-N-G, I say. Seriously. You might want to have someone with you when you look at the screen cap below, you know, to hold hands with or something because you'll be scared to death. I myself was terrified. Even looking at it now makes me a tad uneasy...

See? I told you! I'm just glad I wasn't watching it alone.

Good Ol' Hooky heads back to his former killing grounds to...uh, kill the horny teens. Man, forget Michael Myers...this dude should be called The Shape. Throughout the film, he was always hiding in the background, just out of sight. He was so inconspicuous, no one really knew he was there. It was like you thought your eyes were playing tricks on you- "Wait, was that the killer I just saw? No...no, it couldn't have been. Must've been a shadow." Talk about scary!

The teens are picked off one by one until we reach a conclusion that defies any and all logic you might try to use to try to understand it. Honestly, deciphering string theory or the rotation of Foucault's Pendulum is easier than deciphering the finale of Lovers Lane.

In addition to the ludicrous-yet-boring story, the film is also horrible to behold. I don't know whether or not I simply got a poor DVD transfer, but the sound levels fluctuated wildly throughout (the TV would have to be turned way up for one scene, then I'd be deafened in the next) and there were times that the darkness onscreen was impenetrable. Can you figure out what's going on in this shot? Hint: there's nudity!

Now, all these checkmarks in the "suck" column don't mean that the film was a total wash. I did get to play a rousing game of "Wig or No Wig?" from scene to scene throughout the entire film with horny teen's mom-cum-high school principal Penny Lamson (Suzanne Bouchard). Here, I'll show you how it goes:

No wig!

Wig!

No wig, with condom

Wig, sans condom

No wig, dumb expression

Wig, dumb expression

Another highlight, and perhaps my favorite part of the film, occurred when Jannelle got really scared and decided to arm herself...with four knives. I have no idea whether or not it supposed to be intentionally funny, but it was awesome so I'm going to assume that Anna Faris decided to do it all on her own.

Last but not least, I think we can say with confidence that Lovers Lane boasts what has to be one of the worst fake dog heads ever committed to film. For reals, y'all...that shit looks like a cake.

There's a part of me...a small part of me...that thinks this film is a straight-faced parody of a slasher film. Maybe it's poking fun without being all nudge-nudge like Scream (and countless Scream ripoffs)...I mean, at one rewind-worthy point, Principal Wig punches out one of her female students for no good reason. Then there's that chilling message written in blood. Then there's Jannelle defending herself with four knives. Then there's the ending, in which basically everyone left alive is the killer. Could Lovers Lane be a subversive slice of slasher cinema? Sure, why not?

But then, what do I know? After all, I like The Hot Chick.