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!

Jan 30, 2010

Help a brutha out!

Friend o' Final Girl Spazmo left the following inquiry on a post recently:
Ok, the episode (I think it was a horror anthology series, possibly from ten or fifteen years ago) features a woman in a boarding house, her "daughter", and a male tenant. The young girl, whose face is covered by a China doll's porcelain mask, is perhaps a homicidal killer. Or an evil doll.

Anyway, at the end, the man confronts the girl/doll and a crack appears in her mask revealing a section of disgustingly mottled human tissue underneath. The mother saves(?) the man from the thing's murderous wrath and explains that her daughter preferred to be looked upon as a perfect doll, instead of a hideous freak, hence the mask, etc, etc, and then that's the end.

If you've seen this, please let me know what the hell it is and where it's from. Someone once suggested it might be an old Goosebumps episode, but this was creepy as hell and really not kiddie fare. I've wanted to prove this exists outside my imagination so bad for so long; and keyword searching the IMDB has gotten me absolutely nowhere :(
This sounds oh so familiar I'm pretty sure I've seen it, and yet I can't place it. Tales from the Darkside, maybe? Putcher thinking cap on and leave your guesses in the comments! Let's all help put Spazmo's mind at ease, because we all at Final Girl care...and this is the kind of thing that can totally drive a person nutso- trust me. There was one time way back before The Internet when I could not for the life of me remember the name of the sister on Good Times. Why I was trying to remember in the first place, I have no idea; the point is, the question became the bane of my existence. Finally, a couple of days after the subject first came up, I woke up in the middle of the night, going "Thelma! It was Thelma!". My brain could finally rest.

I'd hate to see that kind of torture happen to someone again, wouldn't you?

Viscera winners announced

Check it, y'all:
The Viscera Film Festival, a horror Film Festival that presents women created horror films from all over the world has announced the 2009-2010 officially selected Viscera films. Viscera judges Heidi Martinuzzi, Devi Snively, Elisabeth Fies, Stacie Ponder, and Shannon Lark are proud to present the following:

Barbee Butcher by Sophie Lagues

Beautiful As You Are by Doug Mallette and Mary Katherine Sisco

Hollywood Skin by Maude Michaud

I Spit on Eli Roth by Devi Snively

Mary Jane Go Round by Ginnetta Correli (Viscera Award Winner)

Mockingbird
by Marichelle Daywalt

Salome's Picnic by Victoria Waghorn

Switch by Melanie Light

The selected films are placed on a compilation DVD which is viewed by Viscera's Sponsors, who are journalists, websites, artists, and affiliated Film Festivals for potential reviews/screenings around the world. The Viscera Film Festival will have its first screening in the Spring of 2010 (date TBA) in Los Angeles, celebrating Viscera's 2009, 2008, and 2007's selections, accompanied with an award ceremony.

Each selected filmmaker will receive a Viscera Statue and filmmaker Ginnetta Correli will receive the 2009-2010 Viscera Award for her film "Mary Jane Go Round." The Viscera Award is a monetary award suited specifically for women coming together exclusively or creating films on their own instead of participating in cat fights and talking about hairspray.
Hooray, I was a judge! This fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams, dating back to Wapner of yesteryear. It was everything I'd hoped it would be...in other words, Liz, Heidi, Devi, Shannon, and I sat around looking like this:

...watching short horror films. Then we had a pillow fight and talked about Brown vs. Board of Education.

Anyway, the Viscera 2008-2009 DVD should be available soon, which means you'll be able to watch my short film Taste of Flesh, Taste of Fear on your very own television! With your very own eyes! Please, try to contain yourself.

I can't believe there's a "Slutty Sexy Judge" Halloween costume.

23:45 - Dolly Dearest

Jan 29, 2010

A wee bit about...

...Daybreakers!


As I've mentioned before, I'm not one to get all goo goo over vampires- particularly the ones that are more "sexy" than "monstrous". I mean, I have zippo interest in True Blood. I'm not one to get all goo goo over Ethan Hawke, either, so why did I actually pay to see Daybreakers in a theatre?

Well, I didn't- my mom did, as she treated me during an afternoon out whilst I was home on vacation. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting much from the film, maybe it's because I like ruminating on the "what about...?"s of horror (what about when zombies run out of people to eat? what about when vampires run out of blood? what about NOT bringing Jason back to life, so he'll stay the fuck dead?), but I was surprised to find I enjoyed it.

Yes, this is a future world in which vampirism has taken over- it spread throughout the populace like the Black Plague or Pac-Man Fever- and the world's blood supply is almost dried up. Hawke stars as Edward Dalton, a scientist charged with finding a solution to this food shortage problem; if the vampires go too long without feeding, they'll devolve from pale-but-pretty to leathery-and-scary. Quelle horreur!

Actually, the animalistic vampires featured are pretty damn scary and I wish there'd been lots more of them. I suppose, however, this isn't a people vs. scary vampires movie; rather, it's more non-jerk vampires vs. jerk vampires with a dash of scary vampires thrown in.

Overall, Daybreakers stylish and violent- and it probably takes itself a bit too seriously, but it's rather nice to see a horror movie in the multiplex that takes itself seriously at all, so I can't complain. Why, I would've been happy even if I had to pay for my own ticket!


wud up, category #8 in Operation: 101010?

awesome movie poster friday - the FILM CLUB edition!

This week is so Final Girl Film Club Week, what with our write-ups on Black Sabbath and me picking the next movie for us to love, hate, dissect, and ignore. It feels only appropriate, then, to traipse down memory lane by revisiting some Film Club choices of yore. Click ze links to read ze reviews...if you've got the guts.

I love love LOVE that there's a poster for The Wicker Man featuring Britt Ekland's naked slap dance.












The Italian poster for Near Dark is so...Italian horror movie poster, if you know what I mean- and I think you do.




















23:45 - Funny Games

Jan 28, 2010

but what about tony?

I was just poking around my hard drive (not as sexy as it sounds) and I found this Shining-related comic strip from...well, from the days when I was doin' a comic strip (also not as sexy as it sounds). It's a few years old (!!!), so it may be new to you. Yes, this is the thrift store of posts- click to embiggen!

let's do it...

...let's get WEIRD! For the next meeting of the ol' Final Girl Film Club, let's all try to wrap our minds around the 2000 film Uzumaki.

from the manga by Junji Ito

I've never seen it or read the comic it's based on, but both have long been on my list. I say it's time to make the leap from dreams to reality! From the Netflix description (yes, y'all, it's available there):
Discover Akiro Higuchi's groundbreaking film, Uzumaki (which means vortex), an aptly named masterpiece about a town gripped with fear because of the menacing march of an otherworldly force that threatens to destroy the area and turn its residents into ghastly snails. Can a young girl, Kirie (Eriko Hatsume), and her paramour, Shuichi (Fhifan), save their homes and neighbors? Or are they the next victims of the unstoppable force?
Mmm, a big helping of Japanese cinema with a side of wackadoo. I'm so excited I could puke!

The film: Uzumaki (2000)
The due date: Monday, March 1

You know the drill...link to me in your write-up, then shoot yer URL to me at stacieponder(at)gmail(dot)com.

pieces of Jennifer's Body

Save for remakes and the work of Uwe Boll, few films have been as maligned as Jennifer's Body (2009). From the moment it was announced that Juno scribe Diablo Cody had written a horror film to star babe of three minutes ago Megan Fox, genre fans started frothing at the mouth. Cody was knocked, Fox was bashed, and the premise (a young woman sacrificed by a rock band seeking favor with the devil returns to life all eeeevil and stuff) was pronounced "stupid" from the get go. I'm not going to say I was looking forward to the film- I'm not particularly a fan of Cody's writing style- but the uproar smacked of a bit of elitism on the part of the horror community, as if people like Diablo Cody, Megan Fox, and director Karyn Kusama didn't have the right to play in our playground. Couple that with The Internet's proclivity for naysaying for the sake of it and Jennifer's Body was doomed before it hit screens. When the box office numbers proved to be only wee, horror fans felt validated- not that ticket sales always correlate to quality, of course, but everyone was happy that the movie failed.

Yes, I'm generalizing here, but I'm allowed.

It was released on DVD around the holidays to no fanfare...but does it deserve some? I mean, wouldn't it be kind of nice if the movie was actually worth watching and not the big, steaming pile that genre fans hoped it would be? Well? Wouldn't it? Answer me, dammit! I...

...err, yes. "Needy" (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) are total besties, and they have been since early grade school. Now high schoolers, they're navigating life in the town of Devil's Kettle, a cold, rural town in the Midwest. When the band Low Shoulder comes to play at the Kettle's only excuse for a bar, Jennifer drags Needy to the show. The band is just capable and just cute enough to entrance Jennifer, whose eyes are glued to the stage. Needy, however, notices that all of a sudden the bar is on fucking fire- the girls and the band make it out alive, but eight other people don't.

As the tavern burns, the band's singer (Adam Brody) cajoles a shocked Jennifer to get in his van. Despite Needy's insistence that it's a really bad idea, she climbs in. As she settles in, surrounded by a bunch of skeevy guys, there's a sort of great moment between Jennifer and Needy; the latter looks on helplessly, and there's a hint that Jennifer may have changed her mind, may have realized at the last moment that yeah- this is a really bad idea. Still, she's resigned to her fate; the door of the van closes and it drives away. Sometimes movies have those perfect moments that ring of absolute truth, and this is one. Everyone knows a girl...or maybe is a girl...who would quiet the voice of reason and climb into that van. It's the girl who would sleep with a z-grade rocker for that tiny bit of fame that would...well, rub off on her and give her a moment's escape from her shitty life in her shitty small town. I have no idea if Kusama and Cody meant that moment to be as deep as I'm saying it is- who knows, maybe it's not that deep at all- but with the specter of gang rape hanging over Jennifer's head (and the inability of Needy to prevent it), it's really the most horrifying sequence in the film.



Low Shoulder didn't abscond with Jennifer for sex, however- they're simply looking for a virgin to sacrifice in the hopes that Satan will grant them success. The wrench in the works: Jennifer's not a virgin. Surpisingly, this isn't a detriment to the band's efforts; they get the success they desired and it's Jennifer who still pays the price. She shows up at Needy's house bloodied, muddied, and ravenous. She pukes up some black liquid that seems alive, then splits to leave her best friend to wonder what's going on.

What's going on is that Jennifer now has a demon inside her. She's been transformed into a succubus, and in order to survive she must feast on the blood of men- or, at least, the male population of Devil's Kettle High.


Boys start turning up dead, Jennifer is alternately greasy & sallow and clean & squeaky, while Needy tries to figure what's going on and stop it before her boyfriend becomes a victim. As you may have guessed, this all puts a bit of a strain on the relationship between the girls.

So what's wrong here? Doesn't all the world love a good succubus story?

The downfall of Jennifer's Body is that it's not enough of any one thing; it falls squarely between genres, residing in some cinematic Negative Zone. It's not horror enough for the horror crowd, it's too horror for the comedy crowd; though it's about young people, it's a bit too mature to resonate with that demographic. Jennifer doesn't have a proper home.

Karyn Kusama bathes the world in pretty, candilicious color, perhaps in an attempt to give Jennifer's Body a fairy tale feel. While it does make the film enjoyable to watch, again- it's not enough of any one thing. Were the theatricality heightened, the story might come off like a Tim Burton film, a fable true to the folklore of the succubus. Were the horror movie aspects heightened- more gore, more violence- it would have succeeded as a monster movie.

And then, of course, there's Maude Diablo Cody. The dialogue in Jennifer's Body is much like the dialogue in Juno- people don't converse, they quip. They call each other funny names and they drop pop culture references at a lightning-fast pace. It's a conceit that ultimately does a disservice to both Cody's ability and the film itself; when everyone in the movie speaks so cleverly all the time, no real emotion ever peeks through the artifice. There are several instances during the course of the movie that are completely undermined by the jokes- instances that could have packed some sort of wallop, or maybe a scare. It's a testament to the ability of Amanda Seyfried (and yes, Megan Fox- she's actually kind of terrific in this) that we feel anything at all.

Though it's more than a bit futile to spend much time wishing a movie was this or that instead of what it actually is, sometimes you can't help it...or I can't help it, especially when it comes to Jennifer's Body. There are a few baby-sized ideas at work that, had any been developed further, would have made for a much more interesting film. In particular, I'm thinking of the relationship between Needy and Jennifer. Though seemingly a mismatched pair (Needy's a geek! Jennifer's a hottie!), the friendship between the two has survived because they just get each other.

The kiss between the girls, talked about during the film's production to drum up buzz, is a bit of sensationalism, sure...but in the context of their relationship, it makes sense. There are broad hints that Jennifer and Needy are simply in love with one another. They kiss, they hold hands, they gaze at each other from afar...Needy thinks about Jennifer while having sex with her boyfriend- granted, it's not necessarily sexual thoughts, but the point stands. Had this theme been fleshed out rather than hinted at, it would have made a stronger film. Instead, the idea withers on the vine.

Towards the end of the film, Needy lets fly the "truth" about Jennifer: that she's a terrible friend, a has-been at school, a girl pretty thanks to an eating disorder. Mind you, nothing in all the minutes that preceded that scene gave us any notion that their friendship wasn't anything but healthy- Jennifer's lousy behavior didn't start until after she was sacrificed. Again, it's a coulda been plot thread; the once-popular girl driven to great lengths to recapture her glory days would have been interesting (not to mention it would have echoed the succubus lore nicely). But alas, we're left to just take Needy's word for it.

I know all this reads as if I'm not endorsing Jennifer's Body, but I am. I watched it twice before I reviewed it (both the theatrical and extended versions), and it was a much more satisfying film the second go-round. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, certainly; as I said, it's decidedly a "Diablo Cody" film (if a person can be rendered a genre), and in the horror department it's rather lite. Still, I don't think it necessarily deserved the huge ass-whuppin' it got. It looks nice, it's got a bit to chew on, and really- who doesn't love a good succubus story?

That said, I'm still irritated by the song that begins the end credit sequence. If you're going to name your film after a track from Hole's Live Through This and you decide to use a track from Hole's Live Through This in said film, why the fuck would you use "Violet" instead of "Jennifer's Body"? This, it makes no sense. Just had to get that off my chest.

23:45 - The Changeling

thats-a spicy...meatball

From the 'keyword analysis' stats page (aka "what people type into Google before they end up on Final Girl"):


See? I told you it was a movie! I FEEL GLORIOUS.

Jan 27, 2010

urgent

Film Club: Black Sabbath


I want to make out with Mario Bava's Black Sabbath. I want Black Sabbath to like me in that sort of desperate way, the way you feel when you're smitten with someone who's so much cooler than you are, someone who's prettier and has an accent and manages to command a room by simply walking into it. Mmm, Black Sabbath. I tre volti della paura. The Three Faces of Fear. Whatever you call it, this 1963 movie has style and atmosphere and it's an anthology and yes, an accent...so what's not to love? Nothin', that's what! There, now that that's settled...

Bava does away with any attempt at a typical lame framing narrative by simply having star Boris Karloff stand in front of a candy-colored screen and let us know that...well, that we're going to watch a movie. It will be a journey into the supernatural, we'll be scared, etc etc. It's all rather trippy and mood-setting, but it's a bit of a bummer that Karloff's wonderful voice is dubbed over in Italian. Still, it's good that we don't waste any time before getting down to business.

THE TELEPHONE

Preceding Black Christmas, When a Stranger Calls, Scream, and all the other great terror-on- the-telephone flicks, this segment features Rosy (Michele Mercier), a young woman who comes home one fine evening and immediately receives a series of threatening phone calls.

As the calls coincide with the prison escape of her violent ex-boyfriend, she's rightfully anxious about the whole "You're gonna die tonight!" thing. To ease her mind, Rosy calls Mary (Lidia Alfonsi) and asks her to come over. It turns out that Mary is another of Rosy's exes, and she may also have nefarious plans for Mary...

Mua ha ha! There are several twists and turns in The Telephone, and it all zips by like one of those summer breezes that makes you feel fine. There's a minimal amount of dialogue, the action is confined to a single set, and it's pure tension barfed up on screen. We all know that tension is best when it's barfed up, so it goes without saying that The Telephone is a success. Before the premise overstays its welcome, we're whisked away to the magical land of...

THE WURDALAK

A family, living way out in the woodsy middle of nowhere, awaits the return of their patriarch Gorca (Boris Karloff), anxious that he may have succumbed to the curse of the wurdulak, a type of vampire who craves the blood of its loved ones. When Gorca finally arrives (bearing the head of an eeeevil cursed Turk), it's difficult for everyone to discern whether or not he's been transformed...what's not difficult to discern, however, is that Gorca alarmingly resembles something a cat would cough up.

So begins a long night of waiting and suspecting- who, if anyone, has become a wurdulak? Wouldn't you like to be a wurdulak, too? Again, Bava employs minimal yap yap; there are lengthy passages, silent save for a constant wind, throughout the segment that create a feeling of creeping dread. When these periods of quiet are broken by the sound of a dog howling or, even more frighteningly, the pleas of a child thought dead, the effect is startling.

Bava truly captures the feel of a gothic fairytale in The Wurdulak; the colors and the artifice of the sets (interspersed with real outdoor locations) make it play out like a Hammer film by way of Dario Argento. The pace may be slow, but the visuals are scrumptious. It's tempting to simply post the entire segment frame by frame, but that would perhaps imply some sort of mania on my behalf, so here are a mere few of my favorites.





THE DROP OF WATER


The first two stories in Black Sabbath may leave you riding high, but it only gets better: Bava saves the best for last.

A nurse is called to the home of a recently-deceased countess; the body needs to be dressed and the resident housekeeper is way too skeezed out to do it. And who can blame her? If I walked into that bedroom and was confronted by this visage:

...I'd probably just go squat in a corner and cry.

It seems that the reclusive countess was heavy into séances and the like, trying for whatever reason to make contact with the spirit world. The local populace believes that it was this tinkering with ghosts that killed her, not the reported heart attack.

Nursie doesn't buy into the mumbo jumbo and quickly does her duty, pausing only to swipe a ring off the corpse's finger. As you may have guessed, this is a big karmic no-no. The countess doesn't look kindly on this from her perch in the afterlife, and the nurse (who I kept pretending was actually somehow Diana Scarwid) soon learns that pre-grave robbing is not a good idea. In a word*, The Drop of Water is hair-raisingly creepy, outright terrifying, and more than worth your ticket price to Black Sabbath.

In a bizarre, brief, 4th wall-breaking outro, Karloff lets us know that he hopes we enjoyed our journey into the supernatural. Yes, Boris, I truly did. Black Sabbath is a true Creep Show, all old school storytelling and oodles of atmosphere. I like it so very much...I just hope it likes me back.



*may be more than one word

By the way, I'm counting this film towards Category 1 in Operation: 101010!


Film Club Coolies, y'all!
--------------------------------
Nilbog Milk
Moving Pictures - Haiku Film Reviews
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Banned in Queensland
In One Ear...
namtab
The House of Sparrows
Things That Don't Suck
United Monkee
Film Shuffle
firthofforth
emma blackwood
Mother Firefly's Faster Pussycats!
Mondo Bizarro
RJ Battles