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, 2009

we are not amused

There came a point last night when I was faced with that dilemma which has plagued mankind since the very dawn of time- you know, when you sit on the couch late at night, all slack-jawed, thinking to yourself "I totally feel like watching something, but oh, whatever shall I watch?" Most times, I spend precious moments scanning my shelves (and my roommate's shelves) for a title to catch my eye, but then I end up watching nothing because I talk myself out of watching everything. This be how I do:
  • "I've seen that movie too many times already and I know everything that happens and I can't be bothered to labor through it all again at the moment" (Event Horizon)
  • "I've never seen that movie and I'll review it one of these days but I know it's going to be dreadful and I just don't feel like dreadful right now" (Nail Gun Massacre)
  • "It will most likely be good and perhaps even scary, but I know it's going to be a very, very quiet movie and I'll fall asleep within ten minutes and if I'm going to fall asleep I'd might as well go to bed because my bed is much more comfortable than our Golden Girls couch" (any ghost-flavored Asian horror flick)
  • "I wouldn't mind watching that, but it's not horror and I really ought to watch something I can review on my blog, which has taken over every facet of my being" (Sunset Boulevard)
  • "The Asylum...Maneater Series...Ghosthouse...After Dark...mehhhhhhhhhh" (any Asylum, Maneater, Ghosthouse, or After Dark title)
...and so on, until my brain finally 1) catches on fire, 2) freezes itself with liquid nitrogen, then smashes itself into a kajagoogooillion pieces with a hammer, or 3) goes and sits by itself in the corner, wondering what the members of Kajagoogoo are up to today.

Don't ask how my brain wields hammers and/or sits down- just trust me when I say that it does. The point is, life is very hard when it's late and you're kind of tired but not really tired enough to go to bed and you want to watch something but you can't figure out what. Wait! Actually, the real point of this is that last night I watched the direct-to-DVD feature Amusement (2009), a film I hoped would keep me awake and wouldn't be so bad that I wanted to kill myself- yes, sometimes my standards are that low.

Oh, don't act so surprised.

Amusement is an anthology that's not really an anthology; in other words, the film comprises 3 segments which eventually come together in a big, fat, denouement. Not a bad idea. Then again, someone though Crystal Pepsi was a good idea. Which it was. Wasn't it?

Okay, I'm not going to lie: I've never had a Crystal Pepsi. I'm a Diet Coke fan, what can I say? But I saw one once and it was totally futuristic, so it must have been a good idea.


ANYWAY. As the movie begins we meet Shelby (Laura Breckinridge), a young woman going...somewhere...for...some reason or another. Look, let's not get hung up on the details, alright? You need to keep in mind the big picture, which is that Shelby is the passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend. Her boyfriend has an inexplicable boner for convoys. No, not the film, which might be understandable- I mean he's obsessed with being in a convoy, and he spouts dialogue which makes it seem as if 3-car convoys are what all the kids are into nowadays. Merr? The Boyfriend gets even more excited when - GASP! - the entire supermassive three-vehicle convoy stops for gas. Can you feel the excitement?

The Boyfriend introduces himself to one of the other drivers, The Nerd, but they're both ignored by the third driver, The Creepy Trucker. Shelby spots a bug-eyed girl in the window of The Creepy Trucker's rig, and it's obvious that something's just not right. Soon, though, everyone is back on the road, heading through the woods and the something's just not rightness gets amped up when the bug-eyed girl holds up a sign that says HELP ME. Moments later, she's somehow launched out of the 18-wheeler and splats in the middle of the road.


Et cetera et cetera, The Nerd is really the bad guy and he kidnaps Shelby. I'm serious when I say "et cetera et cetera". If I attempted to actually relay the happenings and twists and turns of the segment, all while trying to ignore a little something called LOGIC, my fingers would shrivel with exhaustion and you'd be holding up your own sign asking for help.

Cut to Tabitha (Katheryn Winnick), who shows up at her aunt's house for...some reason to...do something (noticing a trend?). She finds her two nephews home alone- they claim the babysitter just up and left. This is a good enough excuse for Tabitha, who decides to stay the night. Soon, a mysterious stranger shows up at the front door to let Tabitha that he knows what she did last summer asking about his girlfriend, the missing babysitter. Hmm...I get the feeling that something's just not right!

After he leaves, Tabitha settles in to her aunt's clown room for a little nighty-night sleepy time. What, doesn't every house have a clown room? This one is extra-special because it features a life-size clown with an eeeevil face. Oh, and he's alive.

He eventually chases after Tabitha, but her fate is unknown. Yours isn't, however: you've got another segment to deal with!

Meet Lisa (Jessica Lucas). Lisa is concerned that her cautious roommate went on a one-night stand with some dude from a bar and never came home. She remembers something about the guy, that he's staying in some hotel out in the middle of nowhere or something, so she goes to look for him.

Okay, I'm going to cut through half an hour of bullshit: the guy who runs the "hotel" is also The Nerd, who is also The Big Clown. He's lured Shelby, Tabitha, and Lisa to his headquarters to...exact revenge on them because, as we learn through a clumsy flashback, they did not find his 4th-grade diorama (in which he flayed a rat while it was still alive) funny. All of the scenarios he rigged to capture the girls reflect the subject matter of their 4th-grade dioramas.

Yes, Amusement ultimately revolves around 4th-grade dioramas.

AnyonetimeIdidaFrankensteindiorama, we come to discover that this dude apparently has built the entire town of Silent Hill miles underneath the farmhouse where he's keeping the girls. I can't be fucked to tell you any more than that, other than one of the girls escapes. The entire plot is built on the flimsiest of flimsy slasher movie-style 'revenge for childhood taunting' setups, and if you think about anything you're seeing or what this dude has actually done throughout the film for more than a nanosecond, your logic circuits will surely smoke, spark, and overload. That would be a bad thing.

I will say this: the three girls are decent enough actors. The dude, however, was far more irritating than frightening...and all you need to know about his performance can be summed up with this picture, specifically what's indicated by the helpful yellow arrow I added:

Tongue. See, that's how you know he's ca-RAZY!

Amusement was also nicely photographed, although it might have benefited from, say, 70% fewer dolly shots. But overall, it was pretty.

And pretty fucking ludicrous. Beyond pretty fucking ludicrous, actually...but I stayed awake throughout the entire affair, so I guess that's worth something.

10 Sentence Review: The Final Destination

It was love at first sight: from the moment I first caught a glance of Final Destination across a crowded room, I fell and I fell hard. I was only a little ashamed to admit that these films (which showcase Death's blacker-than-black humor as he employs a Rube Goldberg meets Grand Guignol meets Milton Bradley's Mouse Trap devices to slaughter those who try to cheat him) had become, perhaps, my very favorite modern franchise. Part 3 had left me a little cold, but I hoped Part 4- which promises to be The Final Destination- would rekindle our love affair...after all, it's in 3- uh, excuse me, REAL D, and I loves me some...err, 3D. Real D. Crap flying at my face from the screen...whatevs.

As I'd hoped (and as we all expected), the death sequences in The Final Destination are such a hoot that they're, like, supersonic and you can't even hear said hoots. Blood and chunks fly as Death makes good on his life-claiming promises- as you know by now, no one can beat him. This franchise has never been about character development or plot...the films have always been little more than a showcase for Death's grand design. Unfortunately, the folks behind The Final Destination have finally admitted as much, and the nonexistent effort put into the violence-free sequences makes this entry in the series the weakest of the bunch, Real D mayhem or no. There's still tons fun to be had, for sure, but it's glaringly obvious that sadly, Death is on his last legs.

Aug 30, 2009

Remember that time...

...you first heard about the original version of Bob Clark's Black Christmas which, instead of detailing the exploits of a stab-crazy wackadoo stalking girls in a sorority house, was about teeny tiny naked chicks trapped inside glass holiday ornaments, where they doze the years away as they float forever in a red-hued negative zone?

Yeah, me too. I shuddered so hard.

Aug 27, 2009

Remember that time...

...when the paramilitary commando dudes were going after the Red Queen when they accidentally tripped her defense system and suddenly the hallway they were all standing in had these deadly deadly lasers scooting down it, slicing up everything in their path? And then that one paramilitary commando dude was all ready to face the final laser, like, to jump over that shit or squeeze under it or something, and he was all, "Up YOURS, laser!" but then that eeeeevil, wily laser was all, "Pfft- up YOURS, paramilitary commando dude!" and it turned into a grid and diced him up real good? Yeah, that was cool.




And remember how the same sort of thing had been done a few years earlier in Cube? But when Resident Evil came around, the idea still was a bit novel...but now horror movie schmoes getting silently sliced and then slowly collapsing into a pile of grue-n-chunks is practically de rigueur? Yeah.

Anyway, my buddy JA of My New Plaid Pants has, of course, examined the sequences in Resident Evil and Cube before as part of his most excellent Thursday's Ways Not to Die series. You should check it out, if you know what's good for you!

Speaking of things to check out and knowing what's good for you, here's something else: Scott Weinberg, old friend of both Final Girl and darkness, has bravely gone and posted two massive lists: his top 100 horror and top 100 sci fi films. Mayhaps I'll do a big ol' horror list like that someday so people can get all riled up and call me a jerk for not including House of 1000 Corpses or whatevs. Oh, lists...why can't The Internet quit you?

Another thing to check out, etc etc: tonight- yes, TONIGHT- I- yes, I- will be- yes, BE- (okay that's enough, do-over)...tonight, I wll be a guest on The Graveyard Show podcast! It is something to which you can listen! It will be posted tonight: midnight, EST/9pm PST. I don't remember what I blathered on about, but I do remember that I had a wonderful time talking with The Caretaker. Perhaps this means you will enjoy listening...or not. I can no longer predict your reactions things- in fact, I feel like I don't know you at all anymore. But still, listen listen listen!!

One last thing: as you may have figured out by now, I am a huge fan of all things Resident Evil (although I wouldn't watch the second film again with ten-foot eyes) (whatever that means). It's no surprise, then, that when I saw a television spot for Avon's newest magical age-defying de-wrinkling serum or whatever the fuck it is, I immediately thought Umbrella Corporation. After searching for a picture of said serum online, I quickly discovered that I am not the only massive RE nerd in the galaxy. Behold, the truth behind Avon's serum! It's clearly a bioweapon.

I should warn my mom and gramma about this, lest they procure some and later transform into crimes against nature...although...hmm...that might liven up family functions a bit. Oh, what a dilemma I face!

Aug 26, 2009

Babies are evil and being pregnant is weird!


That post title is the sentiment behind my newest AMC column. Mind you now, I'm not the one I speak of who's pregnant- the friend is not a "friend", nosiree. Still, I've seen enough baby & pregnancy-related horror flicks to know that the entire idea of having babies is wrong wrong wrong. Once that parasite starts leeching (which is immediate), the whole 'miracle of life' thing simply no longer applies as far as I'm concerned.

If you're into it, though, that's cool and more power to ya. I'm glad my mom was into it, otherwise I wouldn't have been made...and then where would the world be? Surely everything would be a little less elegant.

I blame it all on this poster, which I saw hanging outside the long-gone movie theater that stood next to the long-gone Barker's department store. I was with my mom, and I was only very, very, very small, but this shit gave me some serious nightmares. Therefore, we can all blame the fact that my bloodline will NOT continue on one Mr. Larry Cohen.

Well, blame or give thanks. Whatevs.

Aug 25, 2009

shape showdown!

Way over yonder by The Old Horror Blips Place, there's a Carpenter flavored Michael Myers vs Zombie flavored Michael Myers smackdown taking place. Well, I suppose it's not really a smackdown as much as it is a few horror bloggers weighing in with their opinions about which incarnation of the Shatner-faced boogeyman is the scariest. Click and read to find out what I think...and what, among others, B-Sol of The Vault of Horror and BC of Horror Movie a Day think. The results aren't terribly surprising, but still.

In related news, between "B-Sol", "BC", and "BJ-C" of Day of the Woman, I feel that "Stacie Ponder" simply isn't snazzy enough. Mayhaps "S-Po"? That kind of rolls off the tongue. Anyway, enough of my identity problems. Let's get on with...THE POLLENING.

Which Myers do YOU prefer? Yes, you.

Carpenter-flavored


Zombie-flavored


Cynthia-flavored

Your mom-flavored

Sorry, I've never actually seen a picture of your mom...I'm just making assumptions here.

Aug 24, 2009

dream a little dream

Okay okay okay...you guys...I had the best dream last night. See, it was about Jack the Ripper, right? Well, in a way it was. Okay, so, the cops were chasing him across London Bridge...and I know that London Bridge isn't anywhere near Whitechapel, but it was a dream, so gimme a break! Anyway, the cops were chasing him and they shot him and he fell into the Thames...only on the way down, this, like, big rock from the bridge came loose and it, too, fell in the river. And yes, I know that Jack the Ripper was never shot, but again...dream. I mean, I've never met Madonna either, but this one time I had a dream that we sat next to each other on the bus, so clearly in Dreamworld anything goes.

Then, all of a sudden, I was in freakin' Arizona! And it was 1985! Dreams are so crazy, lol. Soooo, there was this, like, recreation of an English village or something, except it wasn't very English-y...you know how it is when, in your dreams, you know it's supposed to be something even though if you were awake you'd be like, "Okay, this is not at all like it's supposed to be!"? It was like that. What I mean is, the English village had a gift shop with severed wax heads which, as I said, isn't very village-y, but I remember seeing a sign so I guess it was a village- or at least the Arizonian concept of an English village. But I'm getting off track!

Okay, so London Bridge ended up in the Arizona fake English village. Like, they shipped it over stone by stone...which seems like a really stupid idea, I know. And you're all "Okay, now I know it was a dream!"...but dudes and dudettes, the whole bridge thing really happened. I remember reading about it on The Internet, which I guess is how it leaked into my dream. Weird, right? But it gets weirder!

So, remember that stone that fell into the Thames alongside Jack the Ripper? Yeah, well, the next thing you know, it was found, brought to Arizona, and put in place on the bridge. Next thing you know, someone's bleeding on it- I know, kooky!- and I remember, like, a puff of smoke or fog or some shit and POOF. Jack the Ripper was alive again, in Arizona! I know, it totally doesn't make sense, but there you go.

The best part about this dream, though, was that there were so many cool people there...like Clu Gulager and Rose Marie and Randolph Mantooth and Stepfanie Kramer of television's Hunter and Adrienne freakin' Barbeau! The last time I had a dream featuring all those people, it was like I was a contestant on some game show that was like a cross between Hollywood Squares and Press Your Luck. I was about to win BIG MONEY, but then I woke up. I hate that! Last night, though, my dream went on and on AND ON...and David Hasselhoff was there, and he was a cop who was all "troubled" because he shot a kid who'd robbed a store- Hoff thought the kid was carrying a gun, but it turned out he was actually holding a can opener. Ha ha, dreams be so crazy!

Anyway, the dream was exceedingly boring and stupid and not scary and most decidedly NOT a nightmare, but right before I woke up David Hasselhoff got into a fist fight with Jack the Ripper, so I guess that was cool. Plus, I was sleeping anyway- and what else is there to do while you're asleep then have stupid dreams?

Oh God...that was no dream...that was really happening!