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!

Sep 30, 2007

Speaking of lists...

...lists and dreams, that is...here's a list of 50 horror films I would unhesitatingly shell out cold, hard cash to see.
  1. EsKILLator
  2. The Eyes Have Eyes
  3. Deadly Dress 4: Never a Bride
  4. Elderly of the Corn
  5. Hell Face
  6. Hell Face 3-D: Evil Never Dies
  7. Wicked Harvest: You Are Food
  8. Kill Your Television!
  9. An American Werewolf in America
  10. 666 Nightmare Boulevard: Hell Co-Op
  11. Eat 2: They Chew
  12. Death Fort
  13. Killer Wig
  14. Wig of a Killer
  15. Wig of a Killer 2: The Reweavening
  16. Wilford Brimley vs Jason
  17. I Stab Your Neck
  18. Death is My Co-Pilot
  19. For Whom the Bell Kills
  20. The Dwarves Under the Stairs
  21. Stop, Or My Mom Will Eat Your Face!
  22. I Am So Not Even Kidding When I Say That Someone Told Me What You Did Last Summer
  23. 4th of July: Red, White, and Blood
  24. Necronomicorn: Ears of Evil
  25. With This Ring, I Thee Kill
  26. Blood Vacation
  27. Blood Vacation 6: Frequent DIEer
  28. Taste of Flesh, Taste of Fear
  29. Werewolf in a Girl's Panties
  30. Die, Paco, Die!
  31. The Hairdresser: Shear Terror
  32. But I Killed You Yesterday!
  33. Who's Been in the Herb Garden?
  34. And A Child Shall Kill Them
  35. Pencil Neck Freak
  36. Black Thesis
  37. Black Thesis 2: Ibid
  38. Demon of the Food Court
  39. Don't Look in the Bureau!
  40. Don't Look in the Bureau 4: The Bottom Drawer
  41. Clawz: Urban Werewolf
  42. Terror Nightmare of Bloody Fear
  43. Left of Hell
  44. Voodoo Party Revenge
  45. Murder Me Dead
  46. In Satan's Closet
  47. Where the Worms Go
  48. Blood Cauldron: Hell Stew
  49. Now I Lay Me Down To Die
  50. Jazzercide

Sep 29, 2007

like, lists are hard.

Now, I know that Final Girl is the only blog you read, and I really, truly appreciate that. I'm touched, honest I am. But the truth is, I'm a magnanimous soul and as such, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that there are, in fact, other blogs out there to read. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to say that there are other blogs out there you should read...go ahead! They're on my sidebar. Read them! Don't worry, I know you still like me best.

One blog I recommend is Ed Hardy Jr's Shoot the Projectionist. Seeing as how you only read Final Girl, I'm sure you weren't aware of Ed's ambitious 31 Horror Films LISTRAVAGANZA, wherein you're welcome to submit a list of 31 horror flicks that give you the willies by Saturday, October 13. He's going to compile qualifying films (those on 3 or more lists) into a master list, then we'll all vote for something or other and flip off all the losers. Or something.

Anyway, for days now I've been racking my brain, pulling my hair, and punching my couch over this list. I've even been griping to people about it, in email and in real life, ruminating on parameters and rules and what to include and what not to include and how can I tie it all into my SHOCKtober EXTRAVATONYDANZAGANZA that's starting in like two days and how did it get to be October already and do I want to do the same thing I've done during October for the last two years with the whole a review per day of a film I've never seen before maybe I should change it this year but October starts in, like, 20 minutes and I don't know what else to do and ohhhhh life is so hard sometimes I just want to punch my couch and I swear that's not a euphemism for anything at all.

See? Like, lists are hard.

But! Fret not, dear reader. I think I've got it under control. I think I narrowed it down. I think I even managed to meld it with my October shenanigans.

I submitted My Willies List to Ed...and no, it didn't include Willie Tyler and Lester, although in hindsight, perhaps it should have.

Please...please please please click that Willie Tyler and Lester link and let the music play for a few minutes- it just gets better and better and better. That music will make your day, if not your next 12 days or so.

Anyway, my list. I gave Ed the required 31 titles, including some of which I've reviewed here at Final Girl already, and some I have not. Here are the films I've already reviewed (you can look up the reviews yourself over on the sidebar there, because I'm way too lazy to do it for you right now):

The Brood
The Changeling

Don't Look Now

The Haunting ('63)
Friday the 13th Part 2
The Blair Witch Project

My Bloody Valentine

The Ring

Candyman
The Shining

The Descent

Session 9
Ju-on

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
('74)
Night of the Living Dead ('68)

The remainder of the films on the list I submitted will be reviewed, one per day, here during October. However, that's only 16 films. Soooo...for the remaining days of October I'll still review a film per day, the catch being that they're the "runners-up" to the list, if you will- some of them will be films I've mentioned around here a zillion times but I've never formally reviewed. The excitement, she grows!

Basically, at the month's end, I'll have given you a list of 46 films that would make up, in my humble opinion, one wicked kick-ass horror library.

But wait! There's more!

2 films I've reviewed but didn't include on my list: Halloween and The Exorcist. I love them dearly and yes, they give me the willies big time, but they've been included on practically every horror list ever and I wanted to make some unusual choices. Yes, you could point out the fact that I included The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on my list and it's not unusual at all, but then, I'm...I don't know, a hypocrite or something. But I couldn't not include it- it rocks way too fucking hard.

3 films I've never reviewed but I left off the list for the same reasons described above: Psycho, Alien, and Jaws.

However, if you add those five titles to my list, you get 51 extremely fantastafuckingmazing horror films. Maybe I should just come up with 49 more movies and create a supergigantor list of 100 horror films....yeah...

See? Like, lists are hard. But October SHOCKtober rules!

Sep 28, 2007

awesome movie poster friday- the DOLLS edition!

No review today, because last night I decided to watch Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). It has the word 'dolls' in the title so at least it's a bit tangentially related to the theme this week. Not that it matters. This movie rules and sometimes you just need to watch it, dig? "This is my happening and it freaks me out!"

Doesn't this Pinocchio poster make it look like some deep, disturbing psychological film?

I like this one better, however, for its use of the word "puppe". Say it- you'll like it, too.





There's a review of Devil Doll (1964) coming, I swear!

The first box art I've got for Dolly Dearest is a bit more...err, tasteful than the second, where Dolly is all...not...sitting like a lady.


Sep 27, 2007

Hello, Dolly! - Day 4

Before the FBI "don't steal" warning was finished rolling on my video of Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)- yes, I said video- I found myself deep in thought about how the word "revenge" automatically makes a movie something I want to see. Though I don't consider myself to be a particularly vengeful person, there's just something about that word, a je ne sais quoi, if you will, that piques my interest. Take, for example, The Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Now, you might not want to touch that film with ten foot...umm...eyeballs. But what if that title were instead The Facts of Life Goes to Paris: Natalie's Revenge? What if the sequel was dubbed The Facts of Life Goes to Paris 2: The Revenge of Edna Garrett? Tell me you wouldn't be all over that shit. You know you would! I'm telling you, it's irrefutable: revenge makes any movie more interesting. I don't even care if there's actually any...revengening taking place in the film- if the word is in the title, then the movie is awesome and that's that. Not interested in Jane Eyre? Who can blame you, what with all the "governess this" and "I heart Mr Rochester" that...but call it "The Revenge of Mad Bertha Mason" and it sounds exciting! You feel me?

By the time I snapped out of my reverie, I realized that I'd missed the first ten minutes or so of Pinocchio's Revenge and I had to rewind. What can I say? I am but a humble philosopher.

A long time ago (5 years) in a galaxy far, far away (Florida), a man is stopped by police as he buries a child and a mysterious package in the woods during a rainstorm. The movie promptly cuts to the present day and we learn that the man, "local wood sculptor and accused serial killer" Vincent Gotto (Lewis Van Bergen), is on death row: the body he was burying was that of his son, and the mysterious package contained a large Pinocchio puppet. His attorney, Jennifer Garrick (Rosalind Allen), is convinced he's not a serial killer and she fights to keep him alive...but it turns out that she's a single mother, so what does she know? Gotto, however, just wants to be put to death for killing his son. Eventually he gets his way and takes a trip to visit Ol' Sparky, and the Pinocchio doll ends up going home with Jennifer.

"Say what?"

Jennifer's young daughter Zoe (Brittany Alyse Smith) gets into a fight at school and pulls a Mike Tyson on the other girl: she chomps on her frickin' ear! Clearly, Jennifer is a failure as both an attorney and a mother- see, this is what happens when women divorce. Zoe is only grounded until her birthday, however, and then it's party time! When Zoe's real present fails to show up on time (Jesus, can't single mothers do anything right?), Jennifer gives her daughter the Pinocchio doll- but only temporarily, since, you know, it belonged to a serial killer and all that. Once the girl gets attached to her new toy, mom will take it away. Seems like a great plan!

And boy oh boy, do Zoe and Pinocchio get attached! Maybe I'm reading too much into things, or maybe writer/director Kevin Tenney meant for things to take a disturbing turn, who can say? But when Zoe lies in bed listening to her mother and her mother's boyfriend David (Todd Allen) have sex, then turns to Pinocchio and says "I wish you were a real boy so I wouldn't have to be alone", I think it's a little weird. There's also plenty of sequences wherein Zoe and Pinocchio lie together exactly as Jennifer and David do- and shall we talk about the scene where Pinocchio watches babysitter Sophia (Candace McKenzie) in the shower? According to Zoe, he just "wants to learn about women's bodies" after hearing Jennifer and David boinking. Clearly, Pinocchio's Revenge is going to be a different sort of killer doll movie.

Zoe brings the doll to school and he falls into the hands of the same girl Zoe fought with days earlier. The girl tosses Pinocchio over a fence and makes her getaway on her bike. The next thing you know, someone shoves a rake handle into her bike spokes, sending the girl flying over her handlebars; she lands and promptly gets run over by a school bus. But who was wielding that rake? Who, I ask you? oooEEEEEEooooooo!

According to Zoe, it was Pinocchio. According to Zoe's psychiatrist, Zoe is cuckoo nutso. I don't know what to believe any more! Sweet Mother of God, I'm coming apart!

Oops, wrong movie. Anyway, Zoe scolds Pinocchio for being kind of a jerk and Pinocchio exploits Zoe's fear of abandonment, telling her that he just wants to be her real brother and they'd be together forever if only they could just get rid of her mom's boyfriend! Zoe's a little unsure, but the next thing you know, someone is pushing David down the stairs. David ends up in the hospital and Zoe scolds Pinocchio again. The doll counters with "Pfft- hey, maybe it was you. No one saw me do it!" and you know, he kind of has a point. In fact, Zoe's doctor feels the same way and wants the girl committed; he shows Jennifer a video of Zoe having a decidedly one-sided conversation with her puppet companion. The girl's mother balks, however, for she knows that Zoe is simply a misunderstood moppet with a heart of gold and ringlets of off-gold.

Pinocchio promises Zoe that things would be so much better if she'd only cut his strings...and if they got rid of that pesky babysitter! Zoe complies and the puppet promptly takes off for the hospital where he finishes what he started with David by unplugging the dude's...medical thingamajig. Shortly after returning home, Sophia gets a fireplace poker upside the head repeatedly (Poker? I hardly knew her!) and it's bye bye babysitter. Still, however, we're not entirely sure if it's Zoe or her doll doing the dirty work...the dirty work of killing, that is.

It's another dark and stormy night, so eerily reminiscent of the dark and stormy night at the beginning of the film, when Jennifer comes home to find the babysitter's body and have a showdown with Pinocchio once and for all. Finally, we get some doll running around action! The puppet chases Jennifer, brandishing a butcher knife and I ask you: what's better than watching the drama of actor vs puppet unfold on screen? Nothing, that's what!

She gets stabbed a few times here and there, but eventually Jennifer prevails...however, Pinocchio's Revenge has an ending that will shock you! Shock you to your very core!

All right, maybe it's not that explosive...but it's a decent twist. This film is an interesting entry in the killer doll genre thanks to the relationship between Zoe and Pinocchio. It's established before the doll comes home that the girl is tapped, and the kill sequences leave the audience guessing as to who's...dare I say it...pulling the strings (feel free to groan). The idea of an "evil force" is explored briefly; Jennifer posits that maybe demons and evil can take any form- maybe Son of Sam wasn't "crazy", but rather maybe the neighbor's dog really was telling him to kill kill kill. Unfortunately, no one countered with "I see your point, Jennifer. However, that doesn't mean that Mr Berkowitz had to kill all those people. If the neighbor's dog told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it? Does doing what a dog tells you to do make you crazy?"

Undoubtedly Pinocchio's Revenge is more of a thriller than a horror film (it's really really not scary whatsoever), but hey- who says killer doll movies can't have a bit of substance and character development sometimes? I'm holding out for a sequel, hopefully titled Pinocchio's Revenge 2: The Revenge of Zoe. According to my science calculator, the double use of the word "revenge" means that such a film would have the potential to be the best movie evar!

Sep 26, 2007

Hello, Dolly! - Day 3

I know people who went to see Dead Silence (2007) in the theatre- I managed to miss it- and when they pinched up their faces and told me "It...wasn't very good", I refused to believe it. Though I value their opinions greatly, I basically threw up my hand, uttered a "Bah!" and stormed off. Dead Silence is about a ventriloquist's dummy! Dead Silence is going to revive the sagging killer doll/dummy genre that no one has wanted to touch thanks to some jerk named Chucky! Dead Silence has to be good! It just has to!

Folks...it's a dark, dark day here at Final Girl Headquarters. I've learned a cold, hard life lesson today, and I'm afraid it's maybe...just maybe...turned my glittery pink heart of childlike innocence into a dull, coal-black heart of coal. In a span of just 90-odd minutes, I'm tellin' you...I went from Iris to Easy Iris like nobody's business.

Don't cry for me, dear reader- cry for all of us. Cry for all of us, because the lesson I learned affects us all, no matter our station in life. Cry for all of us, because nothing will ever be the same. Cry for all of us, because everything we've ever known is slipping away into a vortex of confusion, mystery, and glitter. Clutch someone you love close to your side before you read my next few statements, for surely it will hit you almost as hard as it hit me:

Just because a movie features a dummy or a doll, it doesn't mean the movie will be good.


Just because a movie features a dummy or a doll, it doesn't mean the movie will be scary.

That hurt. That really, really hurt me. It's like a slap in the face from an ice-cold glove of ice-covered iron, isn't it? Somehow, typing it makes it...I don't know, it makes it real. It's like finding out all at once that there's no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, and no Mrs Butterworth. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but what is there left to live for?
Beware the stare of Mary Shaw-
she had no children, only dolls.
If you see her in your dreams,
be sure you never, ever scream.
So goes the "eerie" rhyme that the parents of Raven's Fair use to keep their children in line. Now, I'm all about scary poems used to terrify children into good behavior- but I think the citizens of Raven's Fair could have done a bit better- what's up with trying to pass off "Shaw" and "dolls" as words that rhyme?

Anyway, Mary Shaw was some old ventriloquist broad who fell victim to some Freddy Krueger-style justice many moons ago. When she's accused to kidnapping and possibly killing a young boy, the good citizens of Raven's Fair take justice into their own hands and kill Mary Shaw- they kill her dead! For some reason, though, the good citizens of Raven's Fair decide to carry out Mary's absurd, elaborate, and no doubt pricy burial requests anyway: she wants each of her 100 dolls to be buried individually in little coffins, and she wants...to be made to look like a doll herself.

Sigh.

Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife Lisa are perplexed when one of Mary's dummies, Billy, mysteriously shows up on their doorstep. Before the night is through, Lisa is dead and Jamie heads back to his childhood home in Raven's Fair to solve the mystery. The mystery gets more and more ridiculous and less and less scary until it finally explodes in a fiery clusterfuck of CGI-laden bullshit riddled with plot holes like so much CGI-rendered swiss cheese.

Honestly, I'm hard pressed to think of anything that Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell get right in Dead Silence, because they get so fucking much wrong it's depressing.

- The 'mystery' of the dummies simply isn't mysterious, and it doesn't open up through stuff like...oh, clues and discoveries, but rather through people telling one another very explicitly what's going on. When it comes to a horror movie centered around a mystery, one of the finest examples I can think of from recent years is The Ring. The story of the sinister videotape unfolded throughout the entire film, right up until the last few moments. As Rachel (Naomi Watts) pieced the puzzle together, the audience did as well- there were red herrings, misdirections...and nothing was spelled out or dumbed down. Imagine what a different film it would have been if, in the first fifteen minutes, Rachel had inquired about the tape only to be answered with "Oh yeah, the tape. You've never heard the story of the tape? Let me tell you! See, there was this girl, right? And she totally...blah blah blah that's the whole story! Someone else will tell you all about it again in half an hour!" That "different film" is Dead Silence.

- The "dummies are creepy" angle works when the dummies actually DO something, like move or talk or whatever. In a movie such as this, the effectiveness of seeing a doll just plain sitting there, immobile, wears off after maybe two shots. Yeah, Billy's eyes move every once in a while- but that's it. The dolls don't kill in Dead Silence...a CGIed Mary Shaw kills. Way to squander the opportunity to exploit (most) people's inherent fear of dolls.

- Whatever happened to shots that last longer than 4 seconds? A ghostly figure floating down a hallway could be scary- if we saw it for longer than a second at a time. Jump cuts and the such are so overused in this movie, even in scenes where two people are simply talking. Jump cuts are a tool that should be used to strengthen a sequence- not a filmmaking style to be used for 90 minutes. It sucks all the tension out of a scene and leaves the viewer confused, pulling him or her out of the action.

- If only a little bit of attention had been given to the characters in the film- even a teeny-weeny little bit! I know he wasn't given much to work with, but Ryan Kwanten made for one of the dullest, most dreadful leading men I've seen since...well, ever. He had less personality than Billy did, even when Mary Shaw's hand wasn't shoved up his butt. Billy's butt, that is.

Dead Silence reminded me of another 'childhood terror/legend' stinker: Darkness Falls. In other words, it's a laughable mess of wasted opportunities- simply put, a huge fucking disappointment.

You know what, though? I'm not gonna let this suckfest ruin my hopes for the next dummy movie that comes down the pipe. It'll be scary, I just know it will! It has to be!

Sep 25, 2007

Hello, Dolly! - Day 2


The 1945 British thriller Dead of Night has been on my 'must see' list 4-evah; girl, please- it's an anthology film and it features a creepy ventriloquist's dummy? It's as if it were written in the stars that Dead of Night and I were meant to be together. Hello, Dolly! Week was nothing if not an excuse for me to basically force myself to watch this damn movie at long last...and now, yes, I've seen it. Wow, dreams really do come true! You, there! Your dream can come true, too- someday, you will play Harold to someone's Maude, I just knows it! And you, over there! You won't always be saddled with that ridiculous haircut, I promise! Hey lady! You, lady- cursing at your life...you're a discontented mother and a regimented wife, yeah? I've no doubt you dream about the things you'll never do...but I wish someone had talked to me like I wanna talk to you. I've been to Georgia and California and anywhere I could run! I took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun-- whoa whoa whoa WHOA. Hold on a second.

Sorry about that- sometimes I get carried away and the next thing I know, I'm channeling Charlene all over the place. The reality of it is, however, that I have seen some things a woman ain't supposed to see but no, I've never been to me. I digress.

As I said ten minutes ago, Dead of Night is an anthology flick. The wraparound story concerns architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) who, when summoned to a country house, is unnerved when he meets the other guests gathered there: it seems he's seen them all in his recurring nightmares, and he just knows that somehow the night will end badly. The shrink in the crowd, Dr Van Straaten (Frederick Valk) thinks it's all bunk- but as each guest recounts his or her own experiences with the paranormal (each of which serves as a story segment in the film), even Van Straaten begins to think that Craig might be more prescient than he originally believed.

Hearse Driver: A race car driver (Anthony Baird) has a premonition and subsequently avoids death; it's an enjoyable precursor to the Final Destination films, but the tale is so brief it can barely be considered anything more than a piece designed simply to establish mood.

Christmas Story: A tale that was haunting in 1945, perhaps, but terribly predictable now: young Sally (Sally Ann Howes) tells of a game of hide and seek during which she encountered the ghost of a murdered boy.

The Haunted Mirror: Things pick up a bit during this tale of...umm...a haunted mirror. Joan (Googie Withers) (yes, 'Googie Withers' is the best name ever) buys her fiance Peter (Ralph Michael) a mirror for his birthday- the mirror's sordid history slowly drives Peter to madness- madness, I tells ya!- and just might spell doom for Googie...or not, since she's the one telling the story.

Golfing Story: Hey, you got your comedy in my horror movie! Yes, this comedic segment (starring famed British duo Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford) concerns a man who commits suicide after losing a game of golf (and thus the hand of a super lady who just couldn't choose between the two men); he returns to haunt the winner when the man is exposed as a cheat. This story sticks out like a sore thumb, obviously, although it's established in the wraparound segment that the assembled guests want a tale to lighten the mood a bit. But that doesn't mean that I do, ya jerks!

The Ventriloquist's Dummy: Ah, at last, the payoff! And yeah, this story (and the subsequent wraparound wrap-up) is worth waiting for. Michael Redgrave stars as Maxwell Frere, a ventriloquist whose dummy, Hugo, has sinister ambitions of his own- or maybe Frere is just plain cuckoo. It's an ambiguous tale and though the 'evil dummy' angle has been explored many times since then, one of the first is still one of the best, thanks to a sweaty, twitchy performance by Redgrave as the tortured Frere.

Overall, Dead of Night is what you'd expect from an anthology film: mostly blah with one shining spot. It's worth seeking out, however, for the final tale alone. As for me, I finally get to cross it off my to-do list. Wow, I'm such a young go getter! Still, though, I never knew I'd be bitter from the sweet. I've spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free-- ah, dammit, there I go again with the Charlene.

Sep 24, 2007

Hello, Dolly! - Day 1

Yup, that "Day 1" in the post title means that all this week I'll be talking about killer doll/killer dummy movies. Can you feel the excitement??

Poor, poor Dolly Dearest (1992). This straight-to-video killer doll flick has long been lambasted as little more than an equal opportunity Child's Play rip-off- an obvious cash-in. But is it just Chucky in a dress? And is it as bad as all that?

No, yes, kinda, sorta, maybe. Dolly Dearest is nothing if not the perfect cheesefest to pop in when you're bored at 2am, and as we all know by now, I've yet to meet a killer doll movie I don't like.

A lovely whitebread American family moves to Mexico where hubby Elliot (Sam Bottoms) has bought an old doll factory in the hopes of flooding the market with Dolly Dearest, a doll that's simply so exquisite that Elliot knows that every little girl in the whole world will want one. I realize that little Final Girl preferred Star Wars figures to dolls, but still...sorry, Elliot, I just don't see the "craze" potential here.

Clearly, however, that's just me. Young Jessica is immediately taken by the doll and proclaims it her new best friend. She needs a new best friend after all, because Elliot has gone and stranded his family in the middle of the Mexican desert- and if that wasn't bad enough, the doll factory was built right next to an Ancient Indian Burial Ground!

Yes, folks, killer dolls and Ancient Indian Burial Grounds. Dolly Dearest has it all!

Soon enough Jessica is getting a little too attached to Dolly- she locks herself away in her playhouse for secret meetings with Dolly, she relates that Dolly has been talking smack about mom Marilyn (Denise Crosby), and she's even gone so far as to occasionally speak in tongues. Whatever has gotten into little Jessica?

As usual, the hyper-religious Mexican housekeeper knows the score (see also: Devil Dog, The Hound of Hell): the doll- if not Jessica her very self!- is possessed by the spirit of the Child of Satan! Marilyn, of course, thinks it's all bunk, and Camilla (Lupe Ontiveros) is left with no choice but to wield the strongest magic of all: Mexican Catholicism!

Camilla's meddling and mumbling irritate Dolly to no end, however, which can only mean one thing: it's time for the first kill. Through a series of plot contrivances, Camilla and Dolly end up alone in the basement together. Instead of necking or playing Dungeons & Dragons as you might expect, though, they do a dance of death! Dolly pushes Camilla down the stairs, stabs her multiple times, knocks her into a big pool of water (never mind why there's a big pool of water in the basement- just go with it), and electrocutes her. Despite all evidence to the contrary, when Elliot discovers Camilla's body, he chalks it up as an accident.

See, here's the thing: I don't care how sucky or lame a movie is overall- sequences where dolls walk around and scuttle about in the shadows are just plain creepy. It's an undeniable fact, like how women are bad drivers or how deaf people have a superhuman sense of smell.

Meanwhile, at the Departamento de Arquiologia...

Dr. Resnick (Rip Torn) (yes, I said Rip Torn) (why I act surprised to see Rip Torn in a piece of junk like Dolly Dearest, I'm not sure...I mean, he was in The Beastmaster and RoboCop III, you know?) (don't get me wrong, I love The Beastmaster, but that doesn't mean that it's good) is researching the so-called "Ancient Indian Burial Ground" next to the doll factory. Turns out the tomb belongs to the Sanzia cult, some real mean-types who wanted to raise a Satan Child of their very own. Somehow they made a creature with the body of a child and the head of a goat and fed it the blood of sacrificed children; when the Satan Child turned out to be...you know...bad, they killed it. All this mucking about in the tomb has released the spirit of the Satan Child, which has possessed all the Dollies in the factory and even Jessica. Like, duh.

Now that there's a bonafide scientist telling her all this instead of "the help", Marilyn buys it. Where does she turn for aid in her time of need, though? To Camilla's sister, who just so happens to be A Sister. Marilyn gets herself to the nunnery and pleas with Camilla's sister, who's a little reticent for a daughter of God, if you ask me. She scolds Marilyn about her "modern ways", whatever those are, and the only advice she gives is to pray. Gosh, thanks, sister. Marilyn decides to take matters into her own hands and yells "I am not losing my daughter to a goddamn 900-year-old goat head!", which, if you think about it, is probably the best line of dialogue in any movie in the history of ever- and not just because Marilyn was taking the Lord's name in vain in a convent. That Marilyn, she's got brass ones!

It's then time for a family-vs-Dolly showdown, and despite the whole Exorcist-wannabe religious angle to Dolly Dearest, it seems that Dolly isn't at all immune to a few blasts from a good ol' fashioned double-barrel shotgun and a few sticks of dynamite. Whoda thunkit?

This movie certainly has a bad rep, but honestly, it's not that bad. The blending of dolls-n-devils is interesting, if not carried out to a logical, satisfying conclusion. The effects aren't terrible, and there's plenty of Dolly running around action. Dolly Dearest's biggest fault (aside from the...uh...what's thinner than paper-thin? annoying characters and the lousy acting) is that there's simply not nearly enough killing- the only deaths, in fact, are hapless Mexicans: an archaeologist, Camilla, and the night watchman at the doll factory. Whether or not this flick ever reached heights of awesomeness, however, it'd still be seen as a rip-off of Child's Play. That damn Chucky sure cornered the market on homicidal dolls!

Sep 21, 2007

tgiampf

What is it about a vaguely-smiling, one-eyed, bloodied, skeletal miner that I find so appealing?


This broad has a really long neck and a whopper of a hangover, apparently.
I like this one because the dapper skeleton is basically flashing us, but instead showing off his manpurse, he's revealed a coffin and a tiny woman in flowy robes. Tasteful!




This one was sent to me by reader Lance, and man...what a find! Even the presence of that damned Gene Shalit can't detract from the awesomeness of this German Terror Train poster. The topless lizard man is a bit disturbing, however.

Sep 20, 2007

quickies

IN the past few days I've seen three wildly divergent horror films, but I can't muster the energy to write full reviews for any of them. Therefore, I'm taking the lame way out and simply writing a few thoughts on each...and you'll like it, dammit!

THE HOST (2006)

You know, I'd heard only glowing reviews of this Korean monster movie, even from some of my most trusted sources. Was I simply not in the mood for this? Were my expectations too high? I don't know...but I just wasn't feeling it. I'm definitely going against the grain when I say I wasn't overly impressed, but I think that much of my...unimpressedness was due to the effects: there was never a time when the monster felt real to me. The plot had some depth, and it's easy to read multiple metaphors into the goings-on, but the Sci-Fi Channel-esque CGI effects continually distracted me. Maybe I was just being cranky, who knows.

VACANCY (2007)

I missed Vacancy when it hit theatres, and I was bummed- I was really looking forward to this tale of hapless travelers who find themselves trapped in a hotel where guests end up unwitting participants in snuff movies. Again, was I expecting too much? I don't know, but I was a bit disappointed by this one as well. The first half hour or so was great- thumpings on the doors, shadowy figures running by windows...it was some suspenseful shit. Once Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale figured out what was going on and began their attempts to escape, though...eh. I don't know, it got sort of boring, somehow. Sigh. Is it me?

FROSTBITTEN (2006)

Third time's a charm! I read the synopsis for this Swedish flick- vampires descend upon a town during Polar Night (when the sun doesn't come up for 30 days)- and immediately pegged it as a cash-in on the upcoming 30 Days of Night, wherein vampires descend upon a small Alaskan town during...umm...30 days of night. I popped it in expecting a pile of crap, but hey! I kind of loved this movie. It was bloody and it was funny, which took me completely by surprise. The ending was a bit abrupt, and at times the vampire effects were a bit wonky, but overall it was fun. Having read the 30 Days of Night graphic novel, I can honestly say this story has nothing in common with Steve Niles's story beyond pointy teeth and Polar Night. I know that sounds like a lot of similarities, but trust me, it isn't. And besides, Frostbitten has talking dogs, so how can you lose?

Sep 18, 2007

mama's boy

Mayhaps you've heard by now, but in case you haven't...it seems that the Friday the 13th remake/reimagining/ricardomontalbanening is GO! Shock 'Till You Drop and every other movie website on The Internet have all got the scoop on the latest adventures of Jason Voorhees.

The Platinum Dunes production has recently taken on writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, and there's a chance that director Jonathan Liebesman is attached to helm the flick. So let's see...Shannon and Swift are the scribes behind Freddy vs Jason, which I just...umm...loved; Liebesman directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which I thought was...err...awesome; and we all know that Platinum Dunes is the production company of Michael Bay, which is a name that speaks for itself.

In other words, this movie's gonna be great, and I can't wait! Viva la remake!

Sep 14, 2007

omg! awesome movie poster friday

Croaked (1975), also known as Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, received a miserable 1.8/10 on imdb. This poster is certainly fitting in with that dreadful rating: the awfully-drawn fearful "woman" looks like the result stemming from a wild night of passion between a blow-up doll, Zap of the American Gladiators, and a half gallon of spray-on tan. Of course, none of this means I don't want to see this film rather desperately.


Okay, I know this next one is way more sci-fi than horror, but I couldn't NOT include it. I mean...the UFO is a fucking chandelier. Add to that "Erik" and "Estrada", two words I love when they're linked together in one name, and I'm all over this. That spaceship will never get old!

Beyond the Door (1974) is simply another in a long line of sub-par Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby ripoffs. This poster is exactly what would have given little Final Girl nightmares, though, so for that, Beyond the Door...I commend thee!

Sep 13, 2007

that girl from that thing

In honor of the fact that today is Thursday the 13th, I thought I'd post about a fascinating bit of Friday the 13th trivia!

True, that makes no sense, but whatevs.

You know that whole Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game? The game that purports that basically everyone in the known universe is no more than six degrees away from Kevin Bacon? Well...I was going to suggest that one could easily play Six Degrees of Jason Voorhees, but then I remembered that Kevin Bacon is in the first Friday film, meaning anyone related to Jason through the films would also be related to Kevin Bacon through the films, rendering Six Degrees of Jason Voorhees useless. Dammit! That Kevin Bacon is such a glory hog.

Get it? "Hog"? "Bacon"? OMG LOL.

Anyway, before she "Hi-YAA!"ed her way into our hearts as Lady Deathstrike in X2 (2003), Kelly Hu was a total twat as the popular and bitchy Eva Watanabe in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

Yes, Ms. Hu's silver screen debut came in 1989 in what most folks seem to agree is the worst Friday the 13th film in the series. Yay! Also notable is that her death is most likely one of the least-thrilling in the series: Jason chases her and...chokes her. That's it!

Though her characters in both films are dead, this Kelly Hu connection makes me wonder...at this point, why not have some overblown X-Men/Friday crossover film extravaganza? I mean, the Friday films can't really sink any lower, right? So why not have Jason wreaking havoc somewhere and the X-Men have to come in to save the day? Come on...that's a fantastic idea! Then in the sequel they can all go to space and something something the love of a little orphan girl will save the world.

It's brill!

Sep 11, 2007

picking and burning

Now that we have Rob Zombie's Halloween out of the way, it's time for me to choose another Film Club title...yay!
As some of you may be aware, today sees the long-awaited official release of the cult-fave 1981 slasher The Burning. Thrill! to the adventures of Cropsy as he chases a hirsute Jason Alexander! Yes, folks, The Burning is what it is...and additionally, it's the next Film Club choice as well. I've seen it, but I've never seen it uncut...supposedly the DVD is the film in all its gory glory.

It's available on Netflix here, and if you're one of those who likes to buy stuff, it's not so expensive on Amazon here. No matter how you catch it, though, catch it in time for the next Club meeting...it's about as prime an '80s slasher as prime gets!

The film: The Burning
The due date: Monday, October 8

Sep 10, 2007

Film Club: Halloween (2007)

Yarrr...here there be spoilers.

Once upon a time, when I learned that Rob Zombie was making a film called House of 1000 Corpses, I was nothing but wide-eyed enthusiasm. Judging by his stage persona, his general aesthetic, and his famous love of the genre, I thought Here's the man who will save horror from the post-Scream tedium! If Rob Zombie can't make a scary movie, then who can? Then I went to see House of 1000 Corpses in the theatre, and I came out so very close to walking out. Simply put, I really hated it. The characters were irritating, the humor was decidedly frat-boy, the longer it went the less sense it made, and above all else, it sure as shit wasn't scary. I was hugely disappointed, so much so that the bad taste 1000 Corpses left in my mouth was still strong years later; strong enough that I stayed far away from The Devil's Rejects a couple of years later, despite the fact that it was generally getting decent reviews. Even people who loathed 1000 Corpses as much as I did. I held strong against it, but a few months back I gave in and gave the DVD a whirl. I steeled myself against the anticipated pain and...

...it was better than 1000 Corpses, but I still didn't like it. There was no character development in what could be considered a "road movie"- the characters were unceasingly irritating. Far too many scenes full of that frat-boy humor..."torture" scenes that were just dull...and again, it wasn't scary. The film does have its moments- Leslie Easterbrook and Priscilla Barnes rocked the fucking house, the first 10 minutes were great, and Bill Moseley was fantastic despite the fact that he had nothing to work with. Watching The Devil's Rejects was like having a 90-minute out-of-body experience; as the film progressed, I found myself outside of the action, thinking about the action: okay, I should be laughing here...alright, I'm supposed to find that horrifying...yes, I know that during this 15-minute "Free Bird"-flavored denouement I'm supposed to feel pathos and sympathy for the Firefly family, but I really, really don't. I like the look and feel of Rob Zombie's films- not his filmmaking style, necessarily, but the general package wrapping up the proceedings. However, there's always a serious emotional disconnect between me and said proceedings, and until that chasm is closed, chances are I'm not going to be making out with Rob Zombie's films.

So was I predisposed to disliking Halloween? Perhaps, but I don't think so. My hopes weren't high, certainly...but I had hopes. In fact, I desperately wanted to enjoy this film. I don't want to watch shitty horror movies, even if they're remakes of films I adore. If anything, I give remakes a shot- I was predisposed to disliking the Dawn of the Dead remake, and it ended up rocking my face off. I can say, however, that I came out of Halloween the way I came out of The Devil's Rejects: there were a couple of good performances, there were about 10 great minutes, and I felt a complete emotional disconnect from the characters and proceedings.

And it sure as shit wasn't scary.

Halloween is essentially divided into three major acts: a bit from Michael's childhood, leading up to the night he killed his sister Judith; Michael's years at Smith's Grove Sanitarium; and Michael's return to Haddonfield.

Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) suffers a terrible childhood. His older sister Judith (Hannah Hall) makes fun of him, his mom's boyfriend Ronny (William Forsythe) makes fun of him, his baby sister "Boo" coos when Michael kisses her, and his mom Deborah (Sheri Moon-Zombie) is a stripper who really loves him and tries really hard to be a good mother...I mean, it's no wonder that young Michael has taken to mutilating and killing animals, including his own pets! Honestly, Dawn "Wiener Dog" Wiener had more reason to turn psychopath than young Michael.

But turn psychopath Michael does. When a fellow student makes lewd comments about his stripper mom, Michael follows the boy into the woods and beats him to death with a large branch. Halloween arrives and poor Michael is forced to go trick-or-treating by himself when Judith and her boyfriend spend the night in bed. After pouting and inhaling candy corn to the strains of Nazareth's "Love Hurts", Michael dispatches Ronny, Judith, and Judith's boyfriend in short, bloody order.

Michael is sent to Smith's Grove, where he begins to develop a relationship with Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael spends his time at the sanitarium making masks and visiting with mom once a week. Eventually he decides to stop talking, and one fine afternoon he snaps and kills a nurse. Deborah is so distraught she goes home and kills herself.

Fifteen years later, chubby little Daeg Faerch has morphed into the hulking muscle-bound Tyler Mane. Michael Myers spends wordless days in his cell, surrounded by hundreds of his hand-made masks. Dr. Loomis has long since given up on Michael; he simply can't get through to him, despite the fact that upon his arrival, Michael was practically feeding Loomis "psycho-speak" from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Treating Sociopaths: "My masks hide my ugliness!". Loomis decides to write a book called (no, I'm not kidding) "The Devil's Eyes" and go on the lecture circuit, cashing in on the Myers family tragedies. During a routine patient transfer, Michael breaks free and heads back to Haddonfield in search of Boo.

Boo, however, was adopted long ago and she's now Laurie Strode. The last act of Rob Zombie's Halloween is essentially a compressed recreation of John Carpenter's Halloween, and we all know how that goes. Stalk, stab, evil.

Halloween is remarkable in that the violence is exceedingly brutal, yet it's not at all explicit. Zombie films the violence in such a way that I found myself shrinking down in my seat, but I thought I was seeing more than I actually was. The early scene where Michael kills his classmate, in particular, was exceedingly harrowing, and it was one of the film's highlights.

Unfortunately, Zombie can't marry this sort of...violent restraint and masterful touch to his dialogue, and this is where, in my opinion, Halloween was a total failure: the characters. Mr Zombie seems only to be able to write in caricature- Ronny is so over-the-top he's a joke...Laurie, Annie, and Lynda are indistinguishable from one another. Dr Loomis, in particular, is given the short end of the stick; Malcolm McDowell, one hopes, does the best he can, but his dialogue is simply dreadful. He never once comes across as actually being frightened by Michael, never mind obsessed with his subject.

The first half of the film seems to treat Michael like an ordinary, if murderous, young boy. He kisses his baby sister, he eats candy corn, he's excited about Halloween night. To then go on and insist that he's 'the boogeyman', the embodiment of pure evil, simply doesn't match up: why does Michael go back in search of Laurie? Why does Michael follow her friends around, murdering them? How does Michael know that "Boo" is now "Laurie Strode"? Despite the attempts to explain, we're left with more questions than we were in Carpenter's film, and what's worse, I couldn't care less.

That said, there were some things about the film I enjoyed, among them Ken Foree's scene-stealing turn as a truck driver, Dee Wallace and Pat Skipper as Laurie's parents, and, shockingly enough, Sheri Moon-Zombie's turn as Deborah Myers. The iconic Michael Myers mask was flat-out frightening and fantastic, undoubtedly the best one that's been on-screen since the original.

What I'd really like is to see Rob Zombie direct a film written by someone else. He can do violence, he can create intriguing aesthetics...but I'm not a fan of his writing. I've seen worse than Rob Zombie's Halloween, to be sure, but a week after watching it, I'm already forgetting it.

And honestly? The biggest travesty of this film, in my opinion, came in the credits: Halloween is dedicated to Moustapha Akkad, the late producer of every Halloween film save Zombie's...yet there's no mention at all of the late Debra Hill. She produced and co-wrote Halloween and Halloween 2...she co-created Michael fucking Myers and she's ignored in the credits? Poorly played, Mr Zombie.
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Film Club Coolies!
post your links in the comments, and add them here, I shall.

Look Back In Anger
Craig Moorhead
Light, Bright and Sparkling
Cinevistaramascope
Emma Blackwood
Cinema Fromage
Something Wicked...
Mermaid Heather
Queen Anthai
Divinely Wounded: Pierced By God
Nightmares and Midnight Wanderings
Evil on Two Legs

Sep 7, 2007

yet another awesome movie poster friday

Here we have one of the many flicks from the spate of "crazy old woman" thrillers, the titles of which were inquiries of gossipy concern: Whatever Happened To...? ; What's The Matter With...? ; Whoever Slew...? I have no idea what happened to Aunt Alice. I do know, however, that it will take forever to bury a body with such a tiny shovel. Or to bury a giantess with a regular-sized shovel.


This is by far..BY FAR one of the most disturbing posters I've ever seen. "Hey, buddy...my eyes are up here...no wait, they are down there. Well, whaddaya know? Please, continue staring at my tits."

I love love love loooooove this poster. Why they felt the need to include "obviously", however, is beyond me.


Including the poster for I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are! today is more of a plea than anything else. I've desperately been wanting to see this film forever...I know it probably isn't that great, but William Castle + Joan Crawford + telephone pranks gone awry + uxoricide is, like, pulled directly from my list of cinematic wet dreams, so what can I say? The DVD is out there, but out of print and therefore mucho expensive-o. Doesn't somebody I know have it, though? One of you? One of you surely has this film in your possession. Ahem.

Never met a dummy movie I didn't like. No matter how bad the film is, dummies are inherently creepy enough that I will end up hearting it.

Sep 6, 2007

secret ingredients

Slasher films are like chili.

Man, I haven't had chili in forever. I admit, I haven't much felt like having chili these last couple of weeks, as I've been up to my...up to my...whole body in a heat wave like nobody's business. Seriously, fuck that whole "fry an egg on the sidewalk" shit- it's been so hot you probably could have fried an egg on my neck. In fact, I almost tried that very stunt one afternoon when my brain went soft due to the heat. I stopped myself in time, but my haze o' delirium got me thinking that my Faster Pussycat...Kill! Kill! poster was laughing at me and I hurt my hand when I punched it.

The point is, today was the first day in about 2 weeks that the temperature fell under 5482649 degrees, and if the weather continues to be...you know, live-in-able, I think maybe I'll make some chili.

No, wait! That's not the point at all. Wait...what was my point? Something about slasher films being like chili? Where the hell was I going with that? Hmm...

Alright, slasher films are like chili because while there are countless permutations in assembling the final product, essentially all true slasher films, like all true chilis, have similar ingredients.

Man, I just can't do it. This is awful. Let's start over.

One of the key elements in the standard slasher film, as I've mentioned before, is what is known as the remote location. Get your horny teens to a summer camp, to the mountains, to outer space...it doesn't really matter so long as help is far, far away. This approach is fully realized in Harvest Moon (2007), a slasher film set in an eeeeeevil apple orchard tucked away in the mountains. Yes, folks, there finally exists a horror film that combines blood and pointy objects with the wholesome power of fruit.

Adam Baldini (Brad Ashten), heir to the Baldini Apple throne, has recently taken over the orchard after his father's suicide. He invites his girlfriend Alicia (Karen Corona) and her pals to the orchard to help him get things up and running- Adam and creepy caretaker Leonard (David Wilson) can't run the place all on their own.

Before long, Adam is acting like a douchebag, Leonard is muttering to himself and the voices only he can hear, couples are fighting, and people are dying. Will we ever find out the hideous secret behind the great taste of the famous Baldini Apple? Will anyone live to see another day, to taste another sweet delicious Baldini Apple? Will Leonard be crowned the winner of this year's Tor Johnson Lookalike Contest?

As I said earlier, the location in Harvest Moon is fantastic. Not only does the setting truly feels remote, the surrounding mountains and valleys gives director Brent Nowak (who also appears in the film as Mel, one of Alicia's friends) and cinematographer Matthew Boyd a chance to frame some beautiful shots.

While the film is largely a slasher, there are some supernatural elements thrown into the mix (See what I mean? That would be like putting zucchini in your chili!)- ghosts haunt the orchard, though their motivation is never quite clear. Do they intend to harm, or are they warning those still living to, in the words of the Amityville house, get ouuuuut? They're just sort of...there, and though it's a noble effort to mix the slasher with the supernatural, it's an effort that's not quite fully realized.

So how do the slasher elements stack up? Not bad. Though there's definitely some blood, the majority of the violence takes place off-screen. This isn't always a negative, however, as sound can often get your imagination working and can sometimes be more satisfying than low-budget gore.

I was impressed with the script, mostly because it wasn't...well, it wasn't dumb. The characters, though essentially simply fodder, were somewhat well-developed and there were some interesting relationships happening. It's not lowest-common-denominator writing, which is refreshing in an indie horror flick.

At times, however...in fact, in virtually every scene that didn't take place outdoors in the daytime, the film was simply too damn dark to tell what was transpiring. I was watching a screener copy, though, and hopefully the print will be cleaned up for the official release.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy some beans.

And apples.