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!

Oct 19, 2020

SHOCKtober: 364-337

SPOILER ALERT today is the last days of, shall we say, the full twosies. I will miss the sort of platonic horror nerd "missed connections" vibe of the last few days, but if there's one thing we should all know by now, it's that SHOCKtober marches ever onward. This is a countdown, after all, not a countstayinoneplace or whatever. So please, enjoy this last list chunk that solely comprises films that received two votes each, for tomorrow will soon be here. Nothing gold can stay!

364. The Convent -- 2000, Mike Mendez
363. The Devil Rides Out -- 1968, Terence Fisher
362. The Devil's Rejects -- 2005, Rob Zombie
361. The Endless -- 2017, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
360. The Fly -- 1958, Kurt Neumann
359. The Fourth Kind -- 2009, Olatunde Osunsanmi
358. The Girl with All the Gifts -- 2016, Colm McCarthy
357. The Haunting of Julia (aka Full Circle) -- 1977, Richard Loncraine
356. The Hills Have Eyes -- 2006, Alexandre Aja
355. The House by the Cemetery -- 1981, Lucio Fulci
354. The House of the Laughing Windows (aka The House with Laughing Windows)-- 1976, Pupi Avati
353. The Initiation -- 1984, Larry Stewart & Peter Crane
352. The Keep -- 1983, Michael Mann
351. The Last House on the Left -- 1972, Wes Craven
350. The Legend of Boggy Creek -- 1972, Charles B. Pierce
349. The Monster Club -- 1981, Roy Ward Baker
348. The Monster Squad -- 1987, Fred Dekker
347. The Night Stalker -- 1972, John Llewellyn Moxey
346. The Pact -- 2012, Nicholas McCarthy
345. The Prowler -- 1981, Joseph Zito
344. The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- 1975, Jim Sharman
343. The Stepfather -- 1987, Joseph Ruben
342. The Town That Dreaded Sundown -- 1976, Charles B. Pierce
341. The Village -- 2004, M. Night Shyamalan
340. The Void -- 2016, Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
339. The Watcher in the Woods -- 1980, John Hough & Vincent McEveety
338. Them (aka Ils) -- 2006, David Moreau & Xavier Palud
337. Them! -- 1954, Gordon Douglas

  • I am so into The House by the Cemetery, it's my favorite Fulci film. It's got his patented grossness and some genuine chills. It's got a New England gothic haunted house vibe that speaks to who I am and everything I love. And most importantly, it's got Bob. HAHA just kidding Bob BOB? BOB! BOB BOB BOB is too much but even BOB cannot dampen my feelings for this film!
  • LOVE to see two Charles B. Pierce movies represented! I just picked up The Evictors which is a new one for me but Pierce + Jessica Harper means I'm sure to dig it.
  • Surely I don't need to reiterate how much I love The Convent, but I would like to point out that it is somehow more than 20 years old???? I feel like that makes me somehow more than 120 years old????
  • The Haunting of Julia is such a GD beautiful, atmospheric downer and more people would know that IF IT EVER GOT SOME KIND OF POST-VHS RELEASE
  • Speaking of beautiful, atmospheric films, if you love art and dread then you should check out The House with Laughing Windows ASAP. Criminally underseen. CRIMINALLY I SAY

Oct 18, 2020

SHOCKtober: 397-365

I love the chunks o' list that covers the two vote films for I love to imagine the voters finding each other and being like...

So nod away, you unlikely duos...each of the following films received two votes!

397. ParaNorman -- 2012, Chris Butler & Sam Fell
396. Pet Sematary II -- Mary Lambert
395. Prevenge -- 2016, Alice Lowe
394. Prom Night -- 1980, Paul Lynch
393. Prometheus -- 2012, Ridley Scott
392. Puppet Master -- 1989, David Schmoeller
391. Quatermass and the Pit -- Roy Ward Baker
390. Safe -- 1995, Todd Haynes
389. Saw -- 2004, James Wan
388. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark -- 2019, André Øvredal
387. Scream 3 -- 2000, Wes Craven
386. Season of the Witch (aka Hungry Wives) -- 1972, George A. Romero
385. Seven -- 1995, David Fincher
384. Shadow of the Vampire -- 2000, E. Elias Merhige
383. Shivers -- 1975, David Cronenberg
382. Signs -- 2002, M. Night Shyamalan
381. Sinister -- 2012, Scott Derrickson
380. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers -- 1988, Michael A. Simpson
379. Sorority House Massacre -- 1986, Carol Frank
378. Spring -- 2014, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
377. Strait-Jacket -- 1964, William Castle
376. Strangeland -- 1998, John Pieplow
375. Street Trash -- 1987, James M. Muro
374. Summer of 84 -- 2018, François Simard, Anouk Whissell, & Yoann-Karl Whissell
373. The Amityville Horror -- 1979, Stuart Rosenberg
372. The Bay -- 2012, Barry Levinson
371. The Blob -- 1958, Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr & Russell S. Doughten Jr
370. The Borderlands (aka Final Prayer) -- 2013, Elliot Goldner
369. The Brides of Dracula -- 1960, Terence Fisher
368. The Cell -- 2000, Tarsem Singh
367. The Children -- 1980, Max Kalmanowicz
366. The Company of Wolves -- 1984, Neil Jordan
365. The Conjuring 2 -- 2016, James Wan

  • Ah yes, Amityville. I totally understand the love, for a love of all things Amityville is embedded in my DNA. It doesn't have much to do with the quality of the films or believing the story is true or whether or not one thinks the Warrens were a couple of con artists or's just...there. Part of it, I think, owes to when one first sees the '79 film or reads Jay Anson's book (or both). To a youth, they are about the epitome of terror--especially that ridculous oversized purple demon pig Jody. It's also the sheer bizarreness of it all as a pop culture phenomenon and the way we've all sort of silently agreed to act like it's all real and we're afraid of it while secretly we all know it's a big dumb crock of shit. It feels even more uniting than Hands Across America, which was...okay, that was a big dumb crock of shit, too. Shhh!
  • Safe! I will be first in line any time Todd Haynes wants to make a movie about a woman named Carol.
  • As for Strangeland, a reader says: "Dee Snider has played with my heart over a sequel for the last 20 years. I believe him every time he says he's making it and I am disappointed every time, yet I WANT TO BELIEVE!"

Oct 17, 2020

SHOCKtober: 428-398

Here we are, still in the realm of where, as the Spice Girls might say, "2 become 1." Except here the two stay as two...? I am tired. The point is, each of the following films received two votes!

428. Ghost Story -- 1981, John Irvin
427. Ghostbusters -- 1984, Ivan Reitman
426. Gothic -- 1986, Ken Russell
425. Graduation Day -- 1981, Herb Freed
424. Halloween II -- 2009, Rob Zombie
423. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers -- 1988, Dwight H. Little
422. Halloween -- 2007, Rob Zombie
421. Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages -- 1922, Benjamin Christensen
420. Hell Night -- 1981, Tom DeSimone
419. Hellbent -- 2004, Paul Etheredge
418. High Tension -- 2003, Alexandre Aja
417. Horror Express -- 1972, Eugenio Martín
416. Horror of Dracula -- 1958, Terence Fisher
415. Host -- 2020, Rob Savage
414. Hostel: Part II -- 2007, Eli Roth
413. Hour of the Wolf -- 1968, Ingmar Bergman
412. Housebound -- 2014, Gerard Johnstone
411. Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte -- Robert Aldrich
410. In a Glass Cage -- 1986, Agustí Villaronga
409. Kill List -- 2011, Ben Wheatley
408. Kuroneko (aka The Black Cat) -- 1968, Kaneto Shindô
407. Lake Placid -- 1999, Steve Miner
406. Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural -- 1973, Richard Blackburn
405. Let Me In -- 2010, Matt Reeves
404. Lights Out -- 2016, David F. Sandberg
403. Little Shop of Horrors -- 1986, Frank Oz
402. Maximum Overdrive -- 1986, Stephen King
401. Motel Hell -- 1980, Kevin Connor
400. Night Warning (aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker) -- 1981, William Asher
399. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master -- 1988, Renny Harlin
398. Only Lovers Left Alive -- 2013, Jim Jarmusch

  • No movie in the whole entire history of ever brings together the talents of Vanna White, Linnea Quigley, Christopher George, and a Football-With-a-Sword-Attached besides Graduation Day. It is the only movie! And that is worth something. And that picture of my beloved Football-With-a-Sword-Attached? About 15 years ago I paused my VHS copy of Graduation Day and took a picture of my television so I could talk about that iconic moment here at Final Girl, because that is the way I did things here at Final Girl at the time. Yes, since then I have upgraded to the Blu-ray of Graduation Day, but I do not want to update that picture with a fancy, hi-def screencap where you can actually tell, like, what's going on. I only ever want to post that shitty photo because it is a good reminder for me of this site's very early days and very humble beginnings, when I had not written anything about horror movies for public consumption (or even for my own private consumption, to be fair). It was a time when the internet was a kinder, gentler, weirder place that felt full of creative opportunities--and I don't mean financial opportunities or exposure opportunities or what have you. It was simply a new platform and people were making stuff not for clout or to be cool, but because they just wanted to do it. I certainly had no idea what I was doing. I just wanted to talk about horror movies--and there was nothing fancy about Final Girl at all, as that picture demonstrates. Final Girl isn't particularly fancy now ("Yeah, we know" - you), but the pictures are usually nicer than those days where I posted tiny-sized pictures I took of my TV screen or awful scans from horror magazines. There isn't much point to all of this rambling except to say that it was a good time! And if you were around back then, thank you. If you've found this place since then, thank you. If you are Graduation Day, thank you: All hail the Football-With-a-Sword-Attached.

Oct 16, 2020

SHOCKtober: 460-429

Here we are, at the start of the soulmates section (or the terrible twos, depending on your outlook) at last. That means each film on this chunk o' list received two votes!

As has been proven several times already this month, the list is indeed a whole journey each and every day. The surprises, shocks, and cruel twists of fate never end! Why, just yesterday a voter lamented that their beloved When a Stranger Calls was beloved only by them. It is a lament we have heard time and again, always with good reason. Isn't When a Stranger Calls a classic, a formative film, a film still referenced in wider pop culture on the regular? Are the calls no longer coming from inside the house?? 

Part of this, of course, is that this is indeed a list of "favorites"--as you no doubt discovered when you were making yours, it is a chance to follow your heart and let your freak flag fly. Yes, The Exorcist is a classic, and maybe it's also one of your favorites! Or, maybe you cite it as a classic and think it's one of the all-time greatest horror films, but the truth is you secretly enjoy Exorcist II: The Heretic more. It's more of an actual fave, and you can live that truth of yours during SHOCKtober.

But! I also wonder how much streaming has influenced the results in this iteration, and how it will continue to influence results in the future. If someone is young, is not a film nerd, is not a horror movie obsessive, doesn't buy physical media, and only subscribes to Netflix, what kind of content are they exposed to? Many services skew towards the "new" and man, there are so many new horror movies every goddamn  day. I certainly do not keep up with all of them, and I have a blog. Also I think we're in a bit of an age right now. Golden, whatever you want to call it--there have been some stone-cold will be timeless classics released in the past five years.

As for the already timeless classics, they don't always hit the way they used to, and many of them are greeted with a shrug these days by first-time viewers. Heck, I remember interviewing Marilyn Burns and she told me that her niece thought The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was dreadfully boring and vastly preferred the remake. I can only imagine what the young-uns think about John Carpenter's Halloween, never mind When a Stranger Calls. (For the record, of fucking course I dig When a Stranger Calls, and When a Stranger Calls Back is absolutely tuh-riff-ick, shockingly so for a made-for-TV sequel released ~15 years after the original. But that is the power of Carol Kane, I suppose.)

Hopefully we'll all still be around to see how this shakes out in 2025, right? Something to look forward to, at least. For now, let's dig into these gruesome twosomes!

460. 10 Cloverfield Lane -- 2016, Dan Trachtenberg
459. Aliens -- 1986, James Cameron
458. Altered States -- 1980, Ken Russell
457. American Gothic -- 1987, John Hough
456. Amulet -- 2020, Romola Garai
455. Anguish -- 1987, Bigas Luna
454. Apostle -- 2018, Gareth Evans
453. Asylum -- 1972, Roy Ward Baker
452. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage -- 1972, Dario Argento
451. Black Sheep -- 2006, Jonathan King
450. Blade II -- 2002, Guillermo del Toro
449. Blood Diner -- 1987, Jackie Kong
448. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 -- 2000, Joe Berlinger
447. Bug -- 2006, William Friedkin
446. Child's Play 2 -- 1990, John Lafia
445. Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest -- 1995, James D.R. Hickox
444. Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out) -- 1980, Lewis Jackson
443. City of the Living Dead -- 1980, Lucio Fulci
442. Creep -- 2014, Patrick Brice
441. Dark Night of the Scarecrow -- 1981, Frank De Felitta
440. Dead End -- 2003, Jean-Baptiste Andrea & Fabrice Canepa
439. Deadgirl -- 2008, Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel
438. Death Proof -- 2007, Quentin Tarantino
437. Deep Blue Sea -- 1999, Renny Harlin
436. Diabolique (aka Les diaboliques) -- 1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot
435. Doctor Sleep -- 2019, Mike Flanagan
434. Don't Look in the Basement -- 1973, S.F. Brownrigg
433. Dracula A.D. 1972 -- Alan Gibson
432. Excision -- 2012, Richard Bates Jr.
431. Final Destination 3 -- 2006, James Wong
430. Frankenhooker -- 1990, Frank Henenlotter

  • Got to see Child's Play 2 on the big screen for the first time with an enthusiastic crowd shorty before the plague descended upon us all and it was so much fun that I'd like to memorialize the experience with a Precious Moments figurine atop my mantel.
  • Blood Diner is completely bonkers and Jackie Kong rules!
  • A lot of goodies on this chunk. Diabolique, City of the Living Dead, Children of the Corn III (what a trio, all hail LIST), Dark Night of the Scarecrow! Asylum! Bug! Umm, excuse me...ALIENS!

Oct 15, 2020

SHOCKtober: 489-461


Guys guys GUYS! HEY GUYS! Today is the last day of the onesies. It's the last time this month I'll type out each of the following films received one vote, so enjoy it, for tomorrow it will be but a distant memory.

489. Undead -- 2003, Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
488. Under the Shadow -- 2016, Babak Anvari
487. Under the Silver Lake -- 2018, David Robert Mitchell
486. Underwater -- 2020, William Eubank
485. Underworld -- 2003, Len Wiseman
484. Unfriended -- 2014, Levan Gabriadze
483. Unsane -- Steven Soderbergh
482. Valentine -- 2001, Jamie Blanks
481. Vampire Circus -- 1972, Robert Young
480. Wait Until Dark -- 1967, Terence Young
479. Wake in Fright -- 1971, Ted Kotcheff
478. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit -- 2005, Steve Box & Nick Park
477. Warlock -- 1959, Steve Miner
476. Waxwork -- 1988, Anthony Hickox
475. Werewolf of London -- 1935, Stuart Walker
474. What Have You Done to Solange? -- 1972, Massimo Dallamano
473. When a Stranger Calls -- 1979, Fred Walton
472. When a Stranger Calls -- 2006, Simon West
471. When a Stranger Calls Back -- 1993, Fred Walton
470. White Zombie -- 1932, Victor Halperin
469. Who Can Kill a Child? -- Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
468. The Wizard of Gore -- 1970, Herschell Gordon Lewis
467. Wolf -- 1994, Mike Nichols
466. Wolf Creek -- 2005, Greg McLean
465. Wounds -- 2019, Babak Anvari
464. Wrong Turn -- 2003, Rob Schmidt
463. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes -- 1963, Roger Corman
462. XX -- 2017, Roxanne Benjamin, Sofia Carillo, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, & Jovanka Vuckovic
461. Yoga Hakwon (aka Yoga Class) -- 2009, Jae-yeon Yun

  • I am always here for Valentine love! If its gore wasn't cut by the dastardly MPAA, t'would be at home amongst the slasher flicks of yore. The characters ain't much, but the cast sure is! I don't need to name any beyond Denise Richards, do I? (No.)
  • I really dig Under the Shadow, and I'm glad to see it make the list. I recommend it often and I will continue to do so because it's a creepy little creepfest with a delicious political angle and it deserves attention.
  • Strange I haven't yet checked out Wounds, since it's from the same director as Under the Shadow and it stars Dakota Johnson. Can I even call myself the leader of the sovereign nation of Dakotastan? YES OF COURSE I CAN, it is a lifetime appointment.
  • Who Can Kill a Child? is top-notch but I admit, every time I've watched it since the first time I watched it, I skip the newsreel opening.
  • Bless our great goddess SHOCKtobra, bless our great Reader Whomever that submitted Yoga Hakwon. I had never heard of it before, but a South Korean horror movie about an ex-shopping channel host who joins an evil yoga class? From the director of Wishing Stairs?? YES PLEASE, I am quite literally watching it tonight.
  • In the 2010 SHOCKtober celebration, Wrong Turn got six votes. In 2017 and 2020, however, it received but one. It just goes to show, something something.

FAVE 20: Jason Adams

If you've been hanging around her for any length of time then I'm sure you're a Jason Adams fan. I am! I feel a real cyberpal kinship with Jason, not only because he is a rad and righteous dude, but because he has been in the blogging game as long as I have. Final Girl and Jason's blog, My New Plaid Pants, both plopped on outta Mama Internet's cyberwomb in June, 2005, a mere three days apart. Unlike me, however, Jason still posts virtually every day, usually more than if you are looking for sharp, often poignant film criticism, Tilda Swinton updates, Jake Gyllenhaal updates, or slab after slab of hot, juicy beefcake, get thee to MNPP. Or check out Jason's wonderful work alongside a shitton of other wonderful work at Nathaniel Rogers's 100% essential site The Film Experience.

Jason sent me his Fave 20 list and then an addendum, asking to swap one film for another. But to this, I say no! If someone is going to kindly donate words to this experiment, then I shall publish those words! And so Jason's Fave 20 is actually Jason's Fave 21. Rejoice!

ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968, Roman Polanski)

Give or take a Rear Window my favorite movie of all time. The American Dream, little Andy or Jenny, perverted beyond recognition. Ruth Gordon eating cake. Doctor Shand playing the recorder. His father’s eyes! And the unsettling knowledge that I’d do it all for an apartment in the Dakota in an echo of a shadow of a heartbeat. “This is no dream this is really happening…” 

DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977, George Barry)
You go into this movie expecting a joke, and you get a joke… but you also get so much more, ya know? The bed, it eats people. The title don’t lie. That happens. But this movie makes you believe you’re now in a world where there could be beds that eat people — it is so deeply weird, Lynchian even. And there are sequences of shocking beauty. You don’t soon forget Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Ya just don’t! 

SUSPIRIA (2018, Luca Guadagnino)
Everything Stacie said is true! Times ten! This is the most recent film on my list but I have absolutely no qualms about including it — no doubts that it will eventually be seen… by the right people anyway… as the queer (in all senses) masterpiece that it is. Whenever I have a spare ten minutes I will start this up on Amazon to kill time and before I know it it’s two hours later and “Volk” is happening and Tilda’s in her big orange eatin’ dress and Susie, sweet Susie, is showing us her beautiful singing chest vagina all over again… 

SOCIETY (1989, Brian Yuzna)
I love that this movie talks about Class in America, where we pretend we don’t have Class. (No we don’t have class class, but the other kind.) And I love that it took the subject just about as outrageously far as it… will ever be taken? A lot of fun stuff happens in Society before the end of Society but… that ending reaches up in and makes you kinda forget the rest… as in “the rest of what movies have done, ever.” I just admire its dedication to its own geewillikers bonkers gumption. Unforgettable.

Every time I sit down to watch this movie excited thinking about how hot Christian Bale looks strutting around in his tighty-whities, and every time this movie elegantly stabs me just so in the eyeball for being so base. It’s so subtle, how Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner spilled out the innards of Bret Easton Ellis’s book, how they make Patrick Bateman, beautiful Patrick Bateman, absolutely riotously pathetic — it’s so subtle, even as it sweats and screams and frantically smashes a kitten into an ATM machine, that a lot of clueless dude-bros even in 2020 still don’t seem to get the joke’s not on them, it is them.

FREAKS (1932, Tod Browning)
I know this movie makes some people uncomfortable (heaven forbid) but I’ve always viewed it as being on the side of the carnival performers, even when they’re crawling through the mud with knives in their teeth at the end. They are the heroes dammit, carving up the grotesque patriarchy one bad apple at a time, and I’d gladly be one of them gooble gobble.

GHOSTWATCH (1992, Lesley Manning)
PIPES!!! Like my hostess with the mostess here at Final Girl I love love love me some Found Footage Horror and I had to include at least one on my list and if it wasn’t going to be The Blair Witch Project (which is probably the correct answer but I wanna be special) it had to be this BBC TV production, which managed to War-of-the-Worlds an entire new generation when it aired on Halloween Night in 1992, tricking people into believing they were watching a real documentary about a haunted house. Haunted by… Pipes! PIPES!!! Ugh, Pipes. Pipes forever haunts my nightmares.

PAPERHOUSE (1988, Bernard Rose)
Looking back on this Bernard Rose flick as an adult I realize it’s less of a horror movie than it seemed to me as a kid when I rented it a thousand times from the local library, but to that kid-of-divorce this fever dream that turns nightmare for its midsection tapped into something real primal and personal, and just thinking about the scene where little Anna’s father comes home is giving me gooseflesh as I type it.

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955, Charles Laughton)
Charles Laughton’s only directorial effort is one of the greatest films ever made — a fairy-tale-tinged descent into the (literal) dark side of Americana, two innocent little children being chased across an almost Caligari-level abstracted rural landscape, and one of the screen’s most terrifying (and sweaty) monsters nipping at their heels the whole way. Like Paperhouse this one gets at the scared little child in me. 

DEMONS (1985, Lamberto Bava)
This shit’s just rad. Snorting cocaine from a coke can rad! Inexplicable demon masks and motorcycles in a movie theater lobby rad! GERETTA GERETTA RAD.

SLUGS (1988, Juan Piquer Simón)
For some reason Slugs was filmed in my itty bitty upstate New York hometown when I was 10-years-old, alongside the far classier ghost film Lady in White with Lukas Haas — I have never been able to figure out why those two films filmed at the same time in the same out of the way place, but it was a sensation amongst my classmates! Lots of kids skipped class to go see filming happen — I did not, because I was a good little gay boy, and I didn’t see Slugs until many years later. It was love at first slime trail!

SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000, E. Elias Merhige)
One of my favorite movies about the making of a movie ever, even if lord knows they maybe fudged the details a little, here and there. Just a little though. It’s absolutely impossible for me to watch Murnau’s Nosferatu now without thinking of Willem Dafoe — in a year of great performances that included Christian Bale in American Psycho Dafoe’s turn as “Max Schreck” still comes out on top; it’s a miracle, funny and spine-chilling all at once. Woefully underrated, this sucker.

JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981, Jeff Lieberman)
I couldn’t make this list without a 1981 slasher on it and I was torn between this and My Bloody Valentine, but JBD’s seeming obscurity pushed it just out ahead. Where’s this movie’s deluxe blu-ray edition? Even as it trots through all of the tropes this year was setting into stone — horny young people camping in the woods, a wise older man (GEORGE KENNEDY) warning them not to — this flick always still manages to unsettle me. Its weird soundscape is one big plus — the forest sounds turned real strange — and its genuinely creepy bad guys are another, but most of all my heart belongs its final girl Constance (Deborah Benson) and her one-of-a-kind arc, which sees her becoming more feminine as she also grows wilder and tougher; it’s the opposite of how these things usually work and it fascinates me every time. And that fistful of an ending!

WOLF CREEK (2005, Greg McLean)
Wolf Creek would actually make a killer double-feature with Just Before Dawn, I’m now realizing seeing the titles beside each other. They both have such an eerie sense of place, of weird nature closing in on all sides. They both make wide open spaces seem nightmarishly claustrophobic. This movie made me sick with anxiety the first time I watched it, so sick I almost had to leave the theater. And it’s kept that up it every time, many many times, since.

BLUE VELVET (1986, David Lynch)
There are so many images in this, David Lynch’s most terrifying nightmare (out of many many most terrifying nightmares), that have been haunting me for decades. The bugs under the lawn. The ear. Dean Stockwell with his car lamp microphone. Dennis Hopper’s fake mustache — that’s no joke, we’re not talking the replacement mustache on the cop in Sleepaway Camp here. We are talking about a genuinely unsettling fake mustache, half glimpsed in a stairwell. How even? But none more viscerally upsetting than Isabella Rossellini standing naked (arms out at her sides in a pose that’s always been to me sickeningly reminiscent of the so-called “Napalm Girl” photograph from the Vietnam War) on a suburban front lawn. None ever, in anything ever made, more haunting than that. Nobody rifles around in our collective unconscious and comes up with the same hallucinatory power, beautiful, disturbing, as Lynch can.

FINAL DESTINATION 2 (2003, David R. Ellis)
My favorite entry in my favorite horror franchise! I genuinely love all five films but Part 2 gets all the perverse elements of what makes these movies a good time just right, from that never not jaw-dropping freeway pile-up opening sequence through to every damn death set-piece… I’ve seen this movie dozens of times and I still scream with shock and awe at every blood-splattering bit.

DEATH PROOF (2007, Quentin Tarantino)
J’adore the way Tarantino turns the Slasher Formula inside out, making into two distinct acts his symbolic ruminations on female representation in the genre – Act One: The Victim and Act Two: The Final Girl. And then he just stuffs the whole she-bang with some of his best most quotable most fun dialogue ever, and hands it all over to a metric shit ton of talented young women to savor every twisty drop. I’m more inclined towards the second act because I’m slightly more inclined towards the second act’s actresses, not to mention its joyousness against the stark nihilism of the opening half. Either way I leave this movie flying sky high on goofballs, grinning ear to ear every dang time.

THE FLY (1986, David Cronenberg)
I went back and forth on which Cronenberg I’d include in my list (a Cronenberg was a must) but between this movie and Dead Ringers and Videodrome and The Brood and Shivers and Scanners and Rabid, ohh my, having just re-watched The Fly a few weeks ago it gets the edge, and I do think it marries all of his obsessions into the greatest overall package. And I’m not (just) talking about how hot Jeff Goldblum looks pre-Brundlefly. Some of the grossest special effects still put on-screen, and at the same time Geena Davis genuinely busts my heart open in this. It’s got everything.

CARRIE (1976, Brian De Palma)
Anchored by two of the greatest horror performances of all time -- each of them working on entirely different registers and yet somehow perfectly complementing one another -- this movie fools me every time. Every time I find my brain convincing me that maybe Carrie White will be okay, maybe the bucket won’t fall and we’ll all wake up happy, bathed in light. Saddest damn movie ever. Sissy Spacek For President.

MARTYRS (2008, Pascal Laugier)
An ice-cold masterpiece that interrogates Why Horror Movies – what it is that makes us as human beings want--nay, need--to stare at atrocities over and over and over again – without needing to get Meta about it. Pascal Laugier’s more interested in the human condition, the under the skin parts of us, and how far we’ll go to strip one another bare to get at them. And he generates shock through the ingenuity of his storytelling, starting deep with his core idea and layering fully formed skin sacks around it, one on top of the other – there are entire great movies that would have stood on their own yanked off in his race to get back down to his base. Traumatic, by design.

PEEPING TOM (1960, Michael Powell)
Before there was Michael Myers and a butcher knife, before there was Freddy Krueger and his knife fingers, even before there was Billy in the attic with a plastic sheet and Norman friggin Bates, there was Mark Lewis (played by a bug-eyed Karlheinz Böhmand) and his camera tripod penis knife of death. So ahead of its time it ruined a storied director's career, but time has been very, very good to this very, very dark picture.

Oct 14, 2020

SHOCKtober: 520-490

Listen, try as you might, you cannot stop the power of the force of nature called LIST. 

The following films each received one vote! Still! But hey, we broke that 500 barrier, y'all! 

520. The Sixth Sense -- 1999, M. Night Shyamalan
519. The Skin I Live In -- 2011, Pedro Almodóvar
518. The Slayer -- 1982, J.S. Cardone
517. The Spiral Staircase -- 1946, Robert Siodmak
516. The Strangers: Prey at Night -- 2018, Johannes Roberts
515. The Tenant -- 1976, Roman Polanski
514. The Thing from Another World -- 1951, Christian Nyby & Howard Hawks
513. The Thing That Couldn't Die -- 1958, Will Cowan
512. The Ugly -- 1997, Scott Reynolds
511. The Unknown -- 1927, Tod Browning
510. The Vampire Doll -- 1970, Michio Yamamoto
509. The Vampire Lovers -- 1970, Roy Ward Baker
508. The War of the Gargantuas -- 1966, Ishirô Honda
507. The Whip and the Body -- 1963, Mario Bava
506. The White Ribbon -- 2009, Michael Haneke
505. Wishing Stairs -- 2003, Jae-yeon Yun
504. The Witch in the Window -- 2018, Andy Mitton
503. The Wolf Man -- 1941, George Waggner
502. The X from Outer Space -- 1967, Kazui Nihonmatsu
501. Thesis -- 1996, Alejandro Amenábar
500. They Look Like People -- 2015, Perry Blackshear
499. Thirteen Ghosts -- 2001, Steve Beck
498. Three...Extremes -- 2004, Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, & Chan-wook Park
497. Tigers Are Not Afraid -- 2017, Issa López
496. Timecrimes -- 2007, Nacho Vigalondo
495. To Die For -- 1988, Deran Sarafian
494. The Tomb of Ligeia -- 1964, Roger Corman
493. Topper Returns -- 1941, Roy Del Ruth
492. Trilogy of Terror II -- 1996, Dan Curtis
491. Trollhunter -- 2010, André Øvredal
490. Tusk -- 2014, Kevin Smith

  • Yeah yeah yeah The Slayer! What a little gem. A creepy allegory about the creative process, and a bit of a sweet-ass predecessor to A Nightmare on Elm Street. More people should see The Slayer!
  • I admit, putting together these chunks o' list have given me a bit of a desire to watch 1960s Japanese monster movies. The monsters do not have to be oversized, necessarily. They all look like fun! Pastel-colored fun.
  • Of The Tomb of Ligeia, a reader said: "My favorite of Corman's Poe cycle of films benefits from location filming, stylish camerawork, and a great performance from Vincent Price, one of his best."
  • You'll be hearing a bit more about Wishing Stairs later in the month! *evil laugh*
  • The Skin I Live In, The Vampire Lovers, Trilogy of Terror II, and more good stuff on this chunk--it's true what they say, Final Girl has the best readers, only readers with discerning, superior taste!
  • I especially like that when they made Trilogy of Terror II, they basically said "Okay look, we know you guys just want the Zuni fetish doll, so here's some more Zuni fetish doll." Also, if you like Trilogy of Terror II, be sure to check out Dead of Night (1977) which features the original version of the story "Bobby" because man, in Dead of Night that story is les tits.

Oct 13, 2020

SHOCKtober: 553-521

Someday we will begin counting down movies that earned multiple votes. Today is not that day. Each of the following films received one vote!

553. The Last Exorcism -- 2010, Daniel Stamm
552. The Last Horror Film -- 1982, David Winters
551. The Last Horror Movie -- 2003, Julian Richards
550. The Last Man on Earth -- 1964, Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow
549. The Legacy -- 1978, Richard Marquand
548. The Legend of Hillbilly John -- 1972, John Newland
547. The Legend of Lizzie Borden -- 1975, Paul Wendkos
546. The Mad Magician -- 1954, John Brahm
545. The Mangler -- 1995, Tobe Hooper
544. The Manster -- 1959, George P. Breakston & Kenneth G. Crane
543. The Masque of the Red Death -- Roger Corman
542. The Moth Diaries -- 2011, Mary Harron
541. The Mummy -- 1999, Stephen Sommers
540. The Nest -- 1987, Terence H. Winkless
539. The New York Ripper -- 1982, Lucio Fulci
538. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave -- 1971, Emilio Miraglia
537. The Night Flyer -- 1997, Mark Pavia
536. The Night Strangler -- 1973, Dan Curtis
535. The Ninth Gate -- 1999, Roman Polanski
534. From a Whisper to a Scream (aka The Offspring) -- 1987, Jeff Burr
533. The Pit -- 1981, Lew Lehman
532. The Pit and the Pendulum -- 1961, Roger Corman
531. The Prophecy -- 1995, Gregory Widen
530. The Rage: Carrie 2 -- 1999, Katt Shea & Robert Mandel
529. Le Corbeau -- 1943, Henri-Georges Clouzot
528. The Raven -- 1935, Lew Landers
527. The Ruins -- 2008, Carter Smith
526. The Seduction -- 1982, David Schmoeller
525. The Sender -- 1982, Roger Christian
524. The Serpent and the Rainbow -- 1988, Wes Craven
523. The Seventh Victim -- 1943, Mark Robson
522. The Shallows -- 2016, Jaume Collet-Serra
521. The Shrine -- 2010, Jon Knautz

  • The Seventh Victim is one of those movies that'll haunt you long after it's over. Moody, gorgeous (Jean Brooks's iconic wig alone!), creepy, and very very sad. It's a classic for a reason.
  • I loves me some Lucio Fulci, but I've yet to see The New York Ripper. I've almost done it several times, but...I don't know, one of these days I'll be in the mood for some vicious sleaze with a whiff of misogyny. Probably. Maybe? Possibly. 
  •  The Shrine was a pleasant little creeptastic surprise. Again (x10000), I love a town with a secret!
  • Also again, no one can sum up The Pit better than this imdb comment: "I don't know if it's the greatest horror film ever, but it's definitely the greatest horror film in which a 12-year-old pervert is encouraged by his possessed teddy bear to push all his various enemies into a pit full of hungry troglodytes." I love The Pit

FAVE 20: Alexandra West

I'm sure I don't need to introduce you to Alex West, but I will anyway! She's a smart and prolific writer, with two books under her belt (so far, I should say): Films of the New French Extremity and The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle. Additionally she's got words all over the place, from essays in books like Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion, and Worship in the Horror Film to the pages of Rue Morgue magazine and everywhere in between. If you prefer using your earholes to your eyeballs, well, you can catch Alex on The Faculty of Horror, the podcast she co-hosts alongside Andrea Subisatti. Undoubtedly her greatest achievement, however, is providing a list of her favorite 20 horror movies for this here blog, right? RIGHT?!

BOXING HELENA (1993, Jennifer Lynch)
One of the most gloriously silly movies ever committed to film. Don't believe me? Kim Basinger went bankrupt just to get out of being in it. 

I'll take the theatrical OR the Producer's Cut...I love this stupid movie that fills Michael with goo. 

PET SEMATARY II (1992, Mary Lambert)
I was indoctrinated on this one when it played repeatedly on AMC's Fear Fest. I think Anthony Edwards is super sexy (give me a bulky knit and an air of responsibility and I. Am. There.). 

THE INVITATION (2015, Karyn Kusama)
Karyn Kusama's moody adult dinner party horror doesn't get as much credit as it deserves, it's layered, creepy as fuck, beautifully made and accurately depicts my fear of small talk. I've seen it multiple times and look forward to watching it many more.

DARKNESS FALLS (2003, Jonathan Liebesman)
"I see you, bitch!" says it all... but the first ten or so minutes of this film are super affecting and then rest is delightfully stupid. 

HOUSE (aka Hausu; 1977, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi)
I have Andrea Subissati to thank for getting me on board the House train. Witch cats and witch ladies for the win. For as wild as it gets, it has a beating heart which hits a bit different each time I see it.

CRIMSON PEAK (2015, Guillermo del Toro)
This delightfully bonkers Del Toro film captures the twisty, nonsensical novels that he was inspired by so perfectly without being too precious with them.

CHERRY FALLS (2000, Geoffrey Wright)

I HAVE to watch this every few years to remind myself it's real.

PULSE (aka Kairo; 2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Another film that continues to grow in relevancy making it even scarier.

AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000, Mary Harron)
This film continues to reveal itself to me and since its release 20 years ago has only become more prescient since Patrick Bateman cypher Donald Trump has become President.

GHOSTWATCH (1992, Lesley Manning)
TV SPECIAL OR REAL?? I adore this British Gen X take on War of the Worlds.

INSIDE (aka À l'intérieur; 2007, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury)
A good reminder to always invite Beatrice Dalle in when asked nicely.

PYEWACKET (2017, Adam MacDonald)
This is one of those films that makes me proud to be Canadian and another one that Andrea put me on to. Adam MacDonald created a fully realized world that has stayed with me and haunted me since I first saw it.

THE FLY (1986, David Cronenberg)
Sometimes we all need a good cry and this film breaks me.

THE DEAD ZONE (1983, David Cronenberg)
Speaking of Cronenberg, I love this adaptation of Stephen King's work as it shares a coldness with Kubrick's version of The Shining that reaches me. Also Christopher Walken

SCREAM (1996, Wes Craven)
This was my gateway to horror. It holds a very special place in my heart and continues to be as watchable as it was formative.

THE SHINING (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
I love The Shining. I love it more the older I get. I love the mean-ness of it. I wish it didn't continue to resonate with me the way it does but here we are.

SUSPIRIA (2018, Luca Guadagnino)
I would call this one an imperfect-perfect film. For the bits I find a bit less than (the opening scene--I'm just not a Chloe Grace Mortez fan--and some of the weird camera effects at the end) it FLIES higher than the majority of other films horror could ever dare to. It is a treatise on many things and I love that everyone who "gets" this film, gets something different from it.

THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975, Bryan Forbes)
I love this fucking movie so hard. Yes, it may be peak white feminism but the allegory is so wonderfully insidious there's a reason Jordan Peele was influenced by it.

GET OUT (2017, Jordan Peele)
Speaking of Jordan Peele, I think this is a perfect film, beat-by-beat, shot-by-shot it was (and is) a searing wake-up call.