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!

Feb 25, 2010

The Crazies

While I could simply launch into my review of The Crazies (2010), I feel the need to clue you all in on the circus that was last night's screening. Apparently it was an event staged for horror press; non-genre journalists attended a regular ol' red carpet screening the night before. Folks like myself (and those from all the major horror outlets) endured an "immersive" affair that began a week or so ago, when we had to call to RSVP for the...quarantine.

Last night our car was stopped at the studio gate by "Army guys" (some in gas masks, all brandishing rifles) who checked our IDs and wanted to know if we'd imbibed any tap water that day. I lied and said no- I'm clearly not to be trusted at the End of Days. We drove deep into the "quarantine zone" past more shouting, flashlight-waving army guys and sheriff's department officers, past humvees and warning signs and flashing lights. After we finally parked, we were herded into a line where it would be determined whether or not we were "infected". Army guys checked my credentials while "doctors" took my temperature (in my ear, thank jebus)...as we were apparently "clean", we were given green wristbands and yelled at some more. Guns were pointed at us as "MOVE MOVE MOVE!" was barked, Crazies on gurneys pleaded for help, other crazies were restrained at gunpoint...it was all very loud and bewildering. Finally we got on a school bus and were driven...not the half-block to the movie theater, but to another location. We were forced off the bus and told to walk single-file...of course, we were heading to the theater, but now we had to walk a greater distance than it was from the parking garage where we started. And it was raining. And there was so much yelling! Despite all the threats, none of the journalists seemed to "hustle".

Finally we got to the fucking theater. Before the movie began there was a "security breach" and Army guys hauled off a Crazy. I wondered why we were sitting in a movie theater when clearly the world was ending and there were people dying right outside. Then the movie began.

Was all of that fun? Sure it was. I probably would have rather just, you know, gone to a screening, but I do enjoy those haunted houses that pop up during October, you know? While the extravaganza didn't influence my opinion of the film, I suppose that's a possibility with some critics so bear that in mind when you read reviews. Shit like this goes on and perks are given to journalists...and while I certainly don't want to accuse anyone or any websites of giving out good reviews solely due to said perks (or the opportunity to be quoted on a poster or ad), I think you should know about the wooing. I mean, I haven't even gotten to the after-party yet.

The small town of Ogden Marsh, IA falls apart quickly after residents suddenly become...homicidally weird. A man locks his family in the house and sets the house on fire. The town drunk brings a shotgun to a high school baseball game. People are just plain jerks.

Some hunters find a dead body out in a marsh; his tangled parachute indicates that he was a pilot, so Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) goes in search of the downed plane. It's found a short time later and Dutton quickly deduces that this water feeds into Ogden Marsh's drinking supply- something from the wreckage could be causing the widespread wackadoo-ness.

Before Dutton or his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), the town's doctor, can figure out a way to help people or stop the spread, the Army sweeps in. They quickly round up the denizens of Ogden Marsh, executing the infected and quarantining the town. The Duttons, along with a couple of their colleagues, need to get the fuck out of Dodge.

If you're familiar at all with the 1973 film upon which The Crazies is based, you'll see that the plot hasn't much changed. Trixie, a biological weapon developed by the military, is still to blame for the onset of violence. The Army still takes drastic measures to contain the outbreak. What's changed in the 35 years since George Romero's effort is style and approach. While the original film was subtle by no means (so much yelling), the "Crazies" themselves were a bit more insidious than they are in their modern incarnation. The developing illness was a gradual thing, and it was almost impossible to tell who had murderous intent until it was too late. Here, the incubation period is fairly short and there's a physical change to the infected...they get grody. They're also extremely violent, but it's of the 'kill kill' variety; again, if you've seen Romero's film you'll realize that there's a lot of abhorrent violence one can inflict that doesn't simply mean "murder". The Crazies '10 never pushes that boundary, despite plenty of opportunities to do so.

Director Breck Eisner's effort is very solid. It's well-made, it looks terrific, and it's a hell of a lotta fun. There are some very welcome touches of humor, there's plenty of gore and action, the cast makes us care a bit about characters that aren't all that interesting. It's possible that The Crazies would be best seen with a group, so everyone can scream and yell and have those sorts of communal horror experiences. It's that kind of movie. It's also worth noting that the editing, thank Christ, is not of the frenetic variety. Even when the action is at its height, you can see everything and tell what's going on. I wish that approach to horror filmmaking wasn't noteworthy, but these days it is.

The Crazies is also the kind of movie that relies heavily (I can't stress that word enough) on jump scares- enough that it gets a little grating after a while. Music stings and loud noises, one can only take so much, you know? Eisner also goes to the well a few too many times in certain instances, employing the same trick over and over: you know, one of those JUMP SCARE - "It's just me!" moments repeated several times, or "Oh no, the Crazy is gonna kill me oh no oh no oh no PHEW my friend saved me!" executed so often that you quickly realize the protagonists are never going to die.

Overall, would I recommend The Crazies? Yeah. It's a good time. It's not necessarily a thoughtful time- whether that matters to you or not may determine if you drop your 15 bucks on it. If you're looking for a film that's going to provoke discourse (beyond the requisite logic issues that spring up) or tap into, you know, grand themes or give insights into human nature, well, you'd best keep looking. Still, you could do a a lot worse- The Crazies is better than any number of recent theatrical horror releases.

Oh, and Lynn Lowry gets a cameo so it's alright in my book.

So, that after-party...it was a fucking circus. Music, free drinks, free food; various photo opportunities, the option to get your face done up all Crazy-like; a stuntman set himself on fire for our entertainment. Radha Mitchell and Timothy Olyphant were there to work the crowd. Heidi and I spent some time telling them how we would have liked the film to end, and they laughed at our jokes so that's fine. Ms. Mitchell asked if I enjoyed the movie overall, and I told her basically what I told you above. I mentioned the original film, and we had this exchange:

Her: You what scene I missed from the original?
Me: The rape scene?
Her: Exactly!
Me: Right, you don't know your dad's a Crazy until he's, you know, raping you.
Her: They really should have kept that. It was remarkable.

Then I had a cookie, watched the stuntman burn, and left.

EDITED TO ADD: Shock Till You Drop has a photo gallery of the screening madness.

probably saved myself a lot of pain

Late last night I was browsing the choices to stream o'er Netflix and I came across Scourge. I would haved immediately filed it under "Nahhhh" or "Maybe when I've watched everything else on Earth except for all the Troma movies", but then I read the description:

When a local church burns down, an ancient evil creature is awakened and soon wreaks havoc on the small town of Harborford, WA. The population slowly shrinks as the so-called "scourge" travels from body to body.

...and I got SO EXCITED. Before I could click "play now", however, I realized that "The population slowly shrinks..." didn't mean that the townsfolk of Harborford were going to actually get smaller, it meant their numbers were going to decrease. Totally different than what I wanted from the movie. Oh well.

Now, someone needs to make a film wherein a virus actually causes people to shrink, if only to please me. Thank you for your time.

23:45 - The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Feb 24, 2010

Bloggenaire: Joel Harley, Porkhead's Horror Review Hole

Joel Harley's blog, Porkhead's Horror Review Hole, isn't nearly as disturbing as the juxtaposition of the words "porkhead" and "hole" may lead you to expect it to be. Or maybe you expect something totally different than what I expected, I can't really say. That's because I'm not you. I'm also not Joel Harley, and therefore the answers below are not mine. They're his. I just blew your mind, didn't I?

1) What's the key moment that led you to click that "Start Your Blog" button?

Possibly that time when I watched that movie and realized I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer. My witless opinion needs hearing.

2) Please describe your blog in no more than 3 sentences. You must include the words / phrases "morbid", "aesthetic", and "electromagnetic".

The sleaziest movie review site on the web. Might not be aesthetically pleasing, but it’s more fun than a dose of electromagnetic shocks up the arse. Morbidly interesting, I suppose.

3) Bearing in mind that opinions are subjective (except mine because I'm always right), do you enjoy movies that are generally considered "bad"? Why or why not?

Yes, because 2006’s Wicker Man has Nic Cage punching women in the face whilst dressed as a bear. And I Know Who Killed Me has Lindsay Lohan hopping around on an artificial leg. Name me one legitimately good movie that boasts *those* particular treasures.

4) Did you know that there exists one variety of carnivorous parrot? It's true. They live in the mountains of New Zealand, and they eat the fat surrounding the kidneys of sheep- WHILE THE SHEEP ARE ALIVE. It's horrible.

No, I didn’t know that. But they definitely should show more of that sorta thing on The Discovery Channel.

5) What's the one- ONE- horror movie you love so much you want to stick it down your pants?

Evil Dead 2.

6) Adrienne Barbeau. Discuss.

She was good in Escape from New York and The Fog. I just looked on IMDB, and I saw she was in Arkham Asylum. Infinite kudos.

7) Why should people bother to read your blog?

They shouldn’t. But, I suppose, it’s the best place to go if you like semi-coherent ranting about Twilight and lots of swearing.

8) Where does Jigsaw get all the money he needs to build all those traps and buy all that warehouse space? Better yet, does he have some sort of engineering background? He must, right, if he designs all that crap?

Abuse of some grant from Marie Curie Cancer Care, perhaps?

9) Several theories regarding the reasons why people would subject themselves to watching horror films (when they're so, you know, traumatic) exist. Which is closest in line with your feelings on and reactions to the genre? Feel free to elaborate. Or don't, see if I care.

a) RELIEF THEORY: The unpleasant feelings of distress cause more stimulating feelings of relief when the unpleasantness passes- the stressed arousal caused by fear becomes pleasurable arousal later on.
b) CONTINUOUS REWARD: The excitement felt during the film is the appeal in and of itself.
c) SOCIAL THEORIES:

1) Stereotypical gender roles are reinforced: men act as protectors, women need protection.

2) Violating social norms- watching "deviant" entertainment- is exciting.
3) Experiencing heightened emotions with others makes us feel like we "belong" and we're truly part of a group.


The one about the “deviant” entertainment thing, probably. That’s why I watch them. Although the Continuous Reward theory’s a good one too.

10) Which year produced better horror movies: 1977 or 1981? Why?

Yeesh, I’m tempted to say 1977 simply because of The Hills Have Eyes, but 81 did yield American Werewolf, My Bloody Valentine and The Burning. I love me some Bloody Valentine.

11) What the eff is up with those French and their crazy horror flicks?

Apparently it originated with the Marquis De Sade, and his ilk. Kinda figures. Haute Tension is hella overrated though, dare I say it.

12) What's your favorite Animals Run Amok movie?

Piranha. Bring on the remake.

13) If Jason Voorhees is on a train heading east at 80mph and Leatherface is on a train heading west at 65mph…why the hell would anyone ever watch Rob Zombie's Halloween?

Self-loathing? Masochism? Insanity? Whatever, I got me a ton of mileage out of all that Zombieweiner hate.

Hating Zombieweiner: now in three dimensions!

14) What are your funereal wishes?

I want to be buried in a crate full of my DVDs, comics and assorted shit. I want to be wearing my Texas Chainsaw Massacre t-shirt. No-one, at any point (EVER) quotes the lyrics to “Candle in the Wind”. But “Bat out of Hell” and “Highway to Hell” must be played as my coffin is dumped in the ground. Finally, someone has to change my facebook status update to read “is dead”.

15) Why do I have such a fondness for Shelley Hack? It's not like she's really done much to deserve it, but there it is.

Well, she was one of Charlie’s Angels. Nuff said, really.

16) You're on a sinking ghost ship that's being piloted by a witch. What are your last words?

Something profound and witty.

17) Asking about your funereal wishes and your last words means nothing, I swear.

Good ‘O. Worry not, I want these things to be known anyway. I swear, anyone even mentions “Candle in the Wind”, I shall rise from my coffin and… sorry.

18) Do you know where I can get some lye?

Make it yourself: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lye

19) Weren't you glad when THAT JERK in THAT HORROR MOVIE got what was coming to him?

Meh, the jerks are the best characters. I generally prefer it when all the nice people die first.

20) Overall, what’s your favorite era of horror films?

Most likely the 80s, funny as that sounds. Both Evil Dead, the best Friday, the best 3 Nightmares… and all the good 70s’ shit would’ve been out on VHS by then anyway.

21) Would you rather be: 1) a vampire 2) a witch/warlock 3) a werewolf 4) a Frankenstein (and yes, I know technically it’s “Frankenstein’s monster” but “a Frankenstein” sounds better) 5) a Jaws

A vampire, but not a sparkly one.

22) If you could turn back time- if you could find a way- would you take back those words that hurt me, so I’d stay?

No, because when Ashton Kutcher tried that, all his arms and legs fell off and he ended up married to Demi Moore.

23) What's something you want people to know about you or your blog that I didn't ask?

Well, since you asked: yes, I think I might actually be a bit gay for Bruce Campbell.

-----------
Big thanks to Joel! Kids, if you're a horror blogger and you want to be featured here, then read and find out how. Meanwhile, keep your dial set to Final Girl for another exciting episode of...THE BLOGGENAIRES!

"I feel like we've been here before."


Return of the Living Dead Part II
(1988) is a sequel in the same vein as Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II, meaning it's kind of a sequel but it's also kind of a remake. Director Ken Wiederhorn goes so far as to bring back RotLD actors James Karen and Thom Mathews. The character names and occupations are different (here they're grave robbers, not morgue attendants), but their personalities are essentially the same this go-round. When they begin spouting lines from the original film, you may begin to wonder why you're not just watching the original instead.

A drum containing a corpse and a batch of 245-Trioxin falls off an Army truck and ends up in a sewage pipe. A few curious kids poke at the barrel until it cracks; a toxic green cloud rises into the sky, there's a convenient insta-rainstorm, and before you can say "This seems familiar...", the dead are rising from their graves.

A few survivors band together, James Karen and Thom Mathews turn into zombies...why, the only thing missing here is a naked Linnea Quigley. Of course, I say that about most movies- but you know what I mean. Return of the Living Dead II swaps kids for punk rockers, but otherwise...yeah, we've seen this.

And that's kind of okay. If RotLD is 70% horror and 30% humor, RotLD II is the opposite. Everything here is played for laughs, from the zombies to the non-zombies. The zombies look straight outta Thriller, bad wigs and all- an MJ lookalike even busts out some moves at the end. Karen and Mathews are given little to do but scream, whine, and mug, but it's funny. Mind you, I adore James Karen so your mileage may vary.

All in all, it's a pleasant enough diversion, an above-average horror comedy...or rather, comedy horror. Still, I'm not sure why you wouldn't simply watch the original- it's this film minus kids plus Linnea Quigley: math makes Return of the Living Dead the right choice. What are you, a weirdo?

23:45 - Pandorum

Feb 23, 2010

Bloggenaire: Corey, Evil on Two Legs

Reading Corey's answers, I found out some interesting things regarding the genesis of Evil on Two Legs, one of Final Girl's oldest and raddest cyber-friends. SOME VERY INTERESTING THINGS. What I didn't find out, however, is why he eschews capital letters so very much! Oh well, next time.


1) What's the key moment that led you to click that "Start Your Blog" button?

Eo2L originally existed in 2000 as a more traditional website with reviews and articles dealing with the slasher genre, organized by film. It lasted for a few years until I shut it down, due to a lack of time to devote to it. (The following is absolutely true, and not just me brown-nosing.). In 2007, I came across finalgirl.blogspot.com and began reading it chronologically from the beginning, leaving comments as I went. I was impressed by the combination of a highly personal and conversational writing style with the focus on a singular subject matter (horror films). Days later, when I got caught up to the current post, I decided that, with the help of my best friend Jon, I was going to resurrect Eo2L as a horror blog focusing on slasher films. So yeah. Basically, I ripped you off. Sorry ‘bout that.

2) Please describe your blog in no more than 3 sentences. You must include the words / phrases "morbid", "aesthetic", and "electromagnetic".

Like most horror blogs, Eo2L is a contradiction. Devoted to an undeniably morbid topic (the cinematic portrayal of young adults being murdered by masked psychopaths with sharp objects), our site approaches this subject matter with humor, passion and a cartoony visual aesthetic. Many of the anagrams for the name of our site (e.g., Loveliest Gown, Legit Snow Love), like many of those for the word electromagnetic (e.g., Arctic Melee Tong, Tentacle Crime Go!, Cancer Gem Toilet), make little sense but would be great titles for the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing.

3) Bearing in mind that opinions are subjective (except mine because I'm always right), do you enjoy movies that are generally considered "bad"? Why or why not?

The biggest crime a film can commit is being dull. I enjoy almost any film that holds my attention, regardless of why. It’s fantastic when that reason is talented filmmaking, but I can’t deny that I’m mesmerized by inept storytelling, nonsensical plots and bizarre direction (e.g., H2 or anything by Dr. Uwe Boll).

4) Did you know that there exists one variety of carnivorous parrot? It's true. They live in the mountains of New Zealand, and they eat the fat surrounding the kidneys of sheep- WHILE THE SHEEP ARE ALIVE. It's horrible.

This sounds like a decent setup for a made-for-television SyFy thriller. Jimmy Buffett could direct, star in, and write a song for it. Maybe call it Carnivoritaville?

Holy fucking shit, Stacie can't stand Jimmy Buffett!

5) What's the one- ONE- horror movie you love so much you want to stick it down your pants?

Is that the front of the pants or the back? Depending on which, it’d either be Halloween (1978) or Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood.

6) Adrienne Barbeau. Discuss.

Not a huge fan, but this question prompted me to look her up on IMDB. Did you know she’s the only female in John Carpenter’s The Thing? She’s the voice of the chess computer. That’s the kind of juicy role you can only get by being married to the director.

Corey's time in High School was...well, it was weird.

7) Why should people bother to read your blog?

Three words: Sexy Sidebar Widgets.

8) Where does Jigsaw get all the money he needs to build all those traps and buy all that warehouse space? Better yet, does he have some sort of engineering background? He must, right, if he designs all that crap?

While they quickly changed their age requirement and put strict restrictions on what could and could not be asked for, the Make-a-Wish Foundation grudgingly granted his wish for 100 abandoned warehouse real estate holdings, a dedicated team of electrical and mechanical engineers, 10 pig masks and (I quote) “a spiffy red/black cape that doesn’t make me look fat.”

9) Several theories regarding the reasons why people would subject themselves to watching horror films (when they're so, you know, traumatic) exist. Which is closest in line with your feelings on and reactions to the genre? Feel free to elaborate. Or don't, see if I care.

a) RELIEF THEORY: The unpleasant feelings of distress cause more stimulating feelings of relief when the unpleasantness passes- the stressed arousal caused by fear becomes pleasurable arousal later on.
b) CONTINUOUS REWARD: The excitement felt during the film is the appeal in and of itself.
c) SOCIAL THEORIES:

1) Stereotypical gender roles are reinforced: men act as protectors, women need protection.

2) Violating social norms- watching "deviant" entertainment- is exciting.
3) Experiencing heightened emotions with others makes us feel like we "belong" and we're truly part of a group.


Horror films are, in many ways, comparable to roller-coaster rides. You get all the positive aspects of a traumatic experience (excitement, adrenaline, etc.) without the inconvenience of actually dying. There’s also something to be said for the idea that horror films are a way to deal with our fears in a controlled setting that, logically, offers little danger but emotionally feels quite real. Death is, of course, the ultimate fear – and maybe horror films allow us to come to a better understanding of it. Or, less optimistically, perhaps they strengthen our own personal denial of death since we experience it through the characters in films over and over again, and yet are still fine once the credits roll.

10) Which year produced better horror movies: 1977 or 1981? Why?

1981 is the bee’s knees. In addition to being THE year for slasher films (Halloween 2, My Bloody Valentine, Friday the 13th part 2, The Burning, The Prowler) 1981 also gave us Saturday the 14th. Case closed.

11) What the eff is up with those French and their crazy horror flicks?
I know, right? It’s like they took a film canister and filled it with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a bunch of croissants, two servings of crazy and ten servings of awesome and shook it all around.

12) What's your favorite Animals Run Amok movie?

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. Or Jaws.

13) If Jason Voorhees is on a train heading east at 80mph and Leatherface is on a train heading west at 65mph…why the hell would anyone ever watch Rob Zombie's Halloween?

They’re big Nazareth fans?

Love does indeed hurt. So do knives. And sometimes, love hurts just like a knife.

14) What are your funereal wishes?

Um, eternal life? Unless that involves sparkling in the sunlight.

15) Why do I have such a fondness for Shelley Hack? It's not like she's really done much to deserve it, but there it is.

You’re a weirdo. In a good way.

16) You're on a sinking ghost ship that's being piloted by a witch. What are your last words?

“LSD is not as fun as I was hoping.”

17) Asking about your funereal wishes and your last words means nothing, I swear.

That’s a relief. I was beginning to wonder.

18) Do you know where I can get some lye?
Yeah, try www.aaa-chemicals.com and search fo… HEY!

19) Weren't you glad when THAT JERK in THAT HORROR MOVIE got what was coming to him?

Dude, that was Sa-WEET.

20) Overall, what’s your favorite era of horror films?

Like most Gen-Xers, I loved the 1980s. And I’m pretty fond of our current one, actually.

21) Would you rather be: 1) a vampire 2) a witch/warlock 3) a werewolf 4) a Frankenstein (and yes, I know technically it’s “Frankenstein’s monster” but “a Frankenstein” sounds better) 5) a Jaws

“5) a Jaws” made me laugh, but I’d have to go with #1. Assuming the “no sparkle” rule from before.

22) If you could turn back time- if you could find a way- would you take back those words that hurt me, so I’d stay?

What am I supposed to do, sit around and wait for you? And I can't do that-there's no turning back. I need time to move on, I need love to feel strong 'cause I've had time to think it through. And maybe I'm too good for you. Ohh. Oh.

I'd like to caption this with "Which witch is which?", but that wouldn't make sense.

23) What's something you want people to know about you or your blog that I didn't ask?

If we’d known how many leg fetishists Google would mistakenly filter to our site – we might have chosen a different name.

-----------------------------------

Big thanks to Corey! Kids, if you're a horror blogger and you want to be featured here, then read and find out how. Meanwhile, keep your dial set to Final Girl for another exciting episode of...THE BLOGGENAIRES!

for the THING lover in your life!

Treat him or her to this luscious 20" x 24" acrylic-on-canvas painting by moi!

Put a little MacReady in your home today! Fits with any decor. Don't believe me? Then behold!