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!

Oct 10, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 7: Cat People



Oliver (Kent Smith) spies Irena (Simone Simon) sketching outside the panther cage at the zoo one day and strikes up a conversation. She invites him back to her apartment for tea, and before the end of the day they're in love. Irena's got a few...mmm...hangups, I guess you could say; she fears she's descended from the Cat People of Serbia and if her passions are at all inflamed, why, she'll turn feline and deadly. Because of this fear, she's set herself apart from society- she's new to America and has never had a friend. She certainly never expected to fall in love, although she agrees to marry Oliver regardless. Consummating the union is another story, however, and Irena refuses to even so much as kiss her new husband lest she flip out and kill him.

And so goes Cat People (1942). Oliver is a patient man, but eventually comes to think that perhaps Irena is just plain crazy and maybe he was too hasty with this marriage thing and Irena's not really responding to attempts to help her and isn't he a better match with his officemate Alice (Jane Randolph) anyway?

Meanwhile, Irena becomes increasingly jealous of the friendship between her husband and Alice and jealousy means passion and passion means maybe oh no cat person!

You might be thinking "Like, okay, so it's a werewolf movie but with cats? Werecats?" and that is...possible. Though there are two sequences that are among the most famous in all of horror- one featuring Alice followed by something along the empty streets and another featuring Alice in a swimming pool, stalked by something growly along its edges (man, poor Alice)- we're never given any hard evidence that there's any transformation, that there's any such thing as a cat person, that Irena is or isn't insane. The ambiguity doesn't make the film any less effective as a horror film; in fact, not seeing cheesy cat attacks and/or cat people keeps the suspense high. It's more eerie than shocking, more sinister undertones than overt action.

Cat People is an awfully melancholy film. Watching poor Irena struggle with her own desires, afraid of the danger lurking within her because she's been taught (by her religion, no less) that sex is bad, living in fear of killing the only person she's ever allowed herself to love...depressing. Watching as she endures everyone around her telling her that she doesn't know herself or her own feelings because she's likely insane...depressing. The entire film is drenched in a sadness as heavy and palpable as the shadows that obscure whatever it is that's lurking there, just out of sight.

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Oct 9, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 6: Slither



Ah my friends...I know I am woefully behind on the SHOCKtober shocks, and I will likely remain so because lately, the things I have to do and the time I have in which to do them are out of whack. Such is the way of the world, and woe are we all!

This brings me to Slither, a cult fave for sure...and a film I have still yet to see. I KNOW. I don't know what it is about this movie, beloved by many, that instills in me such a feeling of "I really can't be bothered to watch this movie." It makes me positively apathetic, and I can't figure out why. What's my problem? Elizabeth Banks! I love her! Nathan Fillion, what's not to like! It seems...fun? I guess? Like a gross riff on Night of the Creeps? It's odd. While I though SHOCKtober would finally make it happen (and it still may, don't count me out yet), I just...don't feel like sitting through Slither. That probably says more about me than it does about the film, I know. SO SUE ME.

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Oct 5, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 5: Nosferatu



When I was in college, I took a class on German gothic film and literature (man, college is the best) and as you might expect, eventually we got to Nosferatu. This spawned a discussion about vampires in general and what, if anything, we find frightening about them. A battle of the gross vampire vs the sexy vampire was born: which is more horrifying, a monster that looks like a monster (à la Nosferatu) or a monster that can seduce you and put you in harm's way before you even realize it (à la Christoper Lee as Dracula)?

While there's something theoretically scary about the vampire-as-seducer - that you could end up falling for someone who ultimately only views you as prey - I'm much more into the obvious and the aesthetic. Team Nosferatu all the way!

Whether it's Max Schrek or Klaus Kinski underneath those rat teeth and pointed ears (or even their descendent, Mr. Barlow of 'Salem's Lot), I really can't handle this guy. The very idea of him creeping up the stairs in the dark...maybe I'm easy, but he absolutely terrifies me. I mean, it's to the point where I can't watch Kinski in anything without having some sort of weird feelings of wariness that stem from the 1979 Werner Herzog take on this creature. I don't even like looking at those pictures I posted up there and I don't want to look at them anymore, so I bid you good day. I SAID GOOD DAY.

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Life Between Frames
It's Dark in the Dark
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Oct 4, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 4: Audition



Have you seen Audition? If not, stop reading this. Don't read anything about it before you watch it. Sure, there are twists and turns to the story that shouldn't be spoiled for you in advance, but the bigger point is that Audition is a film that should be experienced rather than discussed. Not that there isn't plenty to discuss, and I mean beyond the infamous (oh so rightly infamous...every warning you've heard about this film is completely warranted) denouement: Audition is a compelling examination of loneliness, relationships, gender roles, happiness, and, more than anything else, honesty. It's also, as you know if you're still reading this, a GD horror masterpiece laden in unease.

And since you're only still reading this if you've seen it RIGHT, then I don't need to talk about it any more. Instead, I will post some Audition fan art because who knew there was Audition fan art? Well now we all know there's Audition fan art and by gum, everyone else needs to know about it too.






















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Oct 3, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 3: The Haunting of Julia



You know what I love about Mia Farrow? It's the way she appears so vulnerable and fragile- what with her slight frame and her look of bewilderment and her delicate features- but she's got such a goddamn spine to her. I find myself wanting to protect her (or, I suppose I should say, characters like Rosemary Woodhouse and Julia Lofting), but when push comes to shove she proves she won't be pushed or shoved.

And so after the tragic death of her young daughter and a breakdown, Julia ups and leaves her husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) on the spur of the moment as she leaves the hospital. Before long, Julia is...wait for it...haunted. But by what? The spirit of her daughter? Her own guilt? The spirit of the house's former resident? Unlike nearly every other supernatural flick on the market, The Haunting of Julia keeps all the goings-on vague and subtle...so much so that we're hard-pressed to discern whether or not there's any haunting going on at all. There aren't any Poltergeist-style furniture-flying-around-on-its-own theatrics to be found; sure, there's some blood shed and casualties, but it's more about atmosphere or, as Julia puts it, the "feeling of hate" that engulfs her home.

Still, what's a good ghost story without some sort of mystery to be solved (not to mention that since it's a 70s film, there's a good old fashioned séance to boot)? And boy, Julia uncovers a good one- a downright chilling one, with a ghost that could give The Ring's Samara a lesson or two in evil. A note to wayward ghosts everywhere: I'm not fucking helping you, you're on your own.

The Haunting of Julia is a quiet film that will get under your skin more that it will outright scare you, and if quiet-n-subdued ain't your bag, it will undoubtedly get on your nerves more than it will get under your skin. But if you're in the mood for some precious blonde daughter dies early on and does she come back as a ghost or is her mother just mad with guilt? horror (that's totally a subgenre, you know), pair this up with Don't Look Now and go nuts!

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Oct 2, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 2: Let the Right One In



It took me a while to get around to watching Let the Right One In (2008). Vampires? Mehhhhh. Oh, it's supposed to be super great? Mehhhhh. Repeat the mehhhhhs for...oh, a year or so? At least?...until I finally sit down- practically in a huff!- to check it out and OKAY FINE it's as great as everyone claims it is.

Let the Right One In tells the story of Oskar, a lonely 12-year-old who is bullied when he's not completely ignored and Eli, the 12-year-old newcomer who befriends him...mind you, Eli has been 12 for about 200 years and OH YEAH is a vampire. To simply call this a "vampire movie", however, is to sell it short. It's an examination of devotion and romance- although it's the only film I can recall where the "happy ending" is actually incredibly bleak and depressing.

Look, the thing is, YES, everyone is right about this movie. It's full of gut-wrenching, stop-you-in-your-tracks horror set pieces. The lead actors are perfectly subdued. The entire affair is as grim and beautiful and unrelenting as a long Swedish winter. I can't praise Let the Right One In enough, or do it any justice in a shitty blog post. It's a film a love more every time I see it. If you haven't seen it yet...if you're sitting around all mehhhhh like I was, then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Also, what the hell is wrong with you? Go watch it.


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Oct 1, 2012

SHOCKtober Day 1: Sunshine



Lawd a lawdy, I do so love all things outer space. This love goes back to my formative years, although perhaps every kid is enamoured with the stars and such? If they're not, they certainly should be...although I will say I grew up during a pretty damn good period for that love to blossom: after the Apollo years, but smack in the middle of the Space Shuttle years. It certainly helped that pop culture was also experiencing a bit of AstroFever, what with the Star Wars and the Star Trek movies and the Space: 1999 and the Battlestar Galactica and The Last Starfighter and yeah, even the Space Invaders and the Asteroids.

In another lifetime, perhaps, I will do something with all of this love I have for the final frontier. Maybe instead of just...umm...shedding a few holy fucking shit tears as I did whilst watching JPL engineers watch screens telling them that Curiosity landed on Mars (ON MARS YOU GUYS), I will be more like one of my college friends, who helped build this.

In this lifetime, though, it is not to be. My brain is simply not wired that way, and while sometimes that makes me sad or I find myself angrily shaking my fist at my brain for not being more practical, I've accepted it. I also realize that at times, I have an advantage over my science-leaning brethren for you see, I can pop in a spacetastic film like Sunshine and watch it safely from the "I don't know any better" zone. I am dazzled and ignorant, never bogged down by "well, that math is wrong" or "that is completely impossible because of reasons and science"...I just go with it all. I tells ya, it's a wonderful zone in which to be! (see also: enjoying Prometheus)


So does this tale of astronauts on a journey to launch a bomb with a mass equal to Manhattan into the sun in order to "jump start" said sun because it's dying contain dubious science despite the obvious intelligence of the script? I DON'T KNOW AND I DON'T CARE.

Spur of the moment life-or-death decisions...Icarus II receiving a distress signal from Icarus I, the first ship sent on this same mission and lost seven years prior...watching tensions rise and potentially rip the crew apart...all of it makes Sunshine a particularly riveting film that's absolutely gorgeous to boot.

It's a shame, then, when the movie heads off the rails and devolves into more familiar "there's a monster on the ship" territory. It all wraps up too quickly and at a disservice to the characters, the previous 3/4 of the film, and the audience. This is not to say that as a whole, it's not a terrific package because it really is. You know how it is, though...sometimes films take a sharp turn at some point and whatever's around the corner works for you or it doesn't. The final act of Sunshine doesn't quite work for me, but it doesn't negate the thrills I get out of the rest of it. Space porn, Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, a sexy ship computer voice, and Michelle fucking Yeoh are more than good enough for this ignoramus! As for how I feel about it in my next lifetime, though, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


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Into the Mirror