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!

Apr 13, 2018

Things to Wear, Things to See

Hello! Happy Friday the 13th to you. How will you be celebrating? Playing the game? Watching A New Beginning yet again? Let me tell you, friends, ever since I began loving Part V, my life has improved in countless ways. My hair is shinier and fuller, my IQ is up nearly three-quarters of a point, I am wary those damn enchiladas, and I now carry a picture of myself in my wallet everywhere I go. You could say I'm a hashtag blessed big dildo!

Anyway. Enough about me. OH WAIT IT'S NOT ENOUGH!

First of all, I know you know what's up, which means you're a fan of The Faculty of Horror. It's the horror podcast to end all horror podcasts, so I bet you can guess how stoked I was when they asked me to art up-n-design their limited edition Class of 2018 t-shirt. (Hint: I was wicked stoked!) (Okay that's not so much a "hint" as it is an "answer" but whatever.) And now this t-shirt is available for purchase! When purchased, it will be available for you to wear! ON YOUR BODY!

If you want it FOR YOUR BODY or to put on that weird mannequin you have in the corner of your bedroom (I'm not judging) (okay "weird" is a little judge-y but come on), well, here's the link.

"But what if I want some of your art to celebrate today's holiday but I don't have a body?" you might ask. Well, I would posit that you could gift the t-shirt to someone who does have a body. But! If you are only thinking about yourself, today is the perfect day for me to remind you about my book Death Count: All of the Deaths in the Friday the 13th Film Series, Illustrated. Buy it and see what someone probably called "Okay"!

As always on this most holy of days, I wish you all a ki ki ki and a ma ma ma.

Apr 10, 2018

I've seen stuff!

Good news, my dudes: yes, I may look it on the outside and feel it on the inside, but as it turns out I am not actually dead! I've been doing stuff and things, writing stuff and things about horror games over at Kotaku, eating stuff and things...just lots of stuff and things. "Is this pertinent?" you may ask.

I may respond, "What, like you have anything better to do than read my rambling nonsense? But also yes, it's kind of pertinent because some of those stuffs and things I've been doing are horror movies."

Then I would hasten to add "I mean I've been watching horror movies, not doing them. That would be impractical and likely unhygienic."

"Yes," you might reply. "I figured."

Anyway, rather than recount our entire imaginary conversation, why don't I recount some of MY OPINIONS regarding some of the movies I've watched over the last eight years (or however long it's been since I last posted)?

Blood Diner (1987)

Now that I've finally seen Blood Diner, I can shuffle off to that great blood diner in the sky knowing that my time here on Earth was...not necessarily well-spent, I suppose, but it was definitely spent.

You will have a lot of questions before, during, and after you've seen Blood Diner. The biggest question of them all, however, is "Wait, did I see Blood Diner?" for even as the end credits roll, you will not be sure. This is because Blood Diner isn't a movie you watch...Blood Diner is an experience that happens to you and sometimes at you.

This horror-comedy about a couple of wackadoo brothers attempting to resurrect a goddess for some reason (I think that's what it's about?) exists entirely in its own universe...and I don't mean that in some "Marvel Universe" or "Star Wars Whatever" way. I mean its "universe" is solely the mind of director Jackie Kong's made manifest and the center of that universe cannot hold. There are no rules whatsoever; people do not act like people do, but sometimes not-people do act like people do. I know that doesn't make sense, but when that statement is refracted through the Blood Diner prism it kind of does. The whole movie is like that, a cacophonous assault on your eyes and ears so jam-packed with what-the-fuckery in every inch of the frame, you will wonder–even as you're dazed and dizzy–just how this movie happened. You will wonder what it's supposed to mean. You will come out the other side–if you come out the other side all all–wondering who you are and questioning your reality.

So yes, I loved it. I think? It's not good, but it's also a blessing. I think? I laughed unironically. I think? Blood Diner is perhaps a bit like Schrödinger's Horror Movie, as it simultaneously exists and doesn't exist. It's the only movie I've ever seen that I'll never forget, but I also can't remember anything about it.

Veronica (2017)

So there I was, just a-loafin' on the couch and a-scrollin' through the Netflix when I spot Veronica, the tale of a Ouija Board gone wrong but a possession gone oh so right. It's written and directed by Paco Plaza, one of the creators behind [REC] and since I fucking love [REC] forever and always, I decided to give it a shot. This was unusual for me, as my usual solo Netflix experience is "browse for 45 minutes, add 12 things I'll never watch to my queue, turn off Netflix." Sometimes that last part is "put on an episode of a reality show about prison life and fall asleep fifteen minutes later." This time, though, I was excited enough to follow through on the whole "movie watching" thing.

Veronica is...fine. While I did not wish that I'd opted to fall asleep to an episode of Lock Up or Lockdown or Lock This Way instead, I was decidedly underwhelmed. It's a veritable checklist of "spooky stuff" every horror fan has seen before: there's a creepy nun, a mouth that opens unnaturally wide thanks to CGI, a shadowy figure standing in the corner, a "based on a true story" angle, blah blah blah. It's perfectly serviceable, to be sure, in particular the strong performances from the children in the cast. But I hoped for more thanks to the [REC] pedigree and my fondness for a possession tale.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a text from a friend a couple of days later asking if I'd seen it yet. Apparently it'd been making the rounds on the social medias, with folks claiming it's so puke-in-your-pants scary that no one could finish watching it. Are you imagining my surprise? It was a big one.

Look, I love a bit of William Castle chutzpah, a touch of Herschell Gordon Lewis moxie. You know, that good ol' fashioned horror movie barfbaggery wherein you need an insurance policy lest a film scare you right to death. Hype posts on Faceplaces ain't that to me, though. In this era of Russian bots and FAKE NEWS and endless trolling everywhere, it simply feels like another lie on the fire. Because it's a lie! Veronica might be the scariest thing you've ever seen if you've never seen another horror movie. And you might not finish watching it if you decide to, like, go to bed instead.

Dead Awake (2016)

Oh dear me.

The phenomenon known as sleep paralysis (that state between sleeping and waking where you can't speak or move but you're totally aware of things happening around you) is terrifying...but not terrifying enough, says Dead Awake. What's even way more terrifyinger is, like, a "hag" who comes to you seeking skin moisturizer kills you when you're in the grips of sleep paralysis.

I mean. This is not a good movie, but then I don't know what I was expecting. I only watched it because I saw that it stars Jocelin "House of the Devil" Donahue as twins. Twins! Who could resist a horror movie with twins? But trust me, these are no fun time horror twins à la the dueling Daphne Zunigas in The Initiation. These twins are not having fun at all, a fact owing largely to how you can tell throughout that Jocelin Donahue knew this movie would end up a big pile. Boy, was she right!

Jocelin Donahue deserves better. Friend o' Final Girl Brea Grant deserves better. Swimfan deserves better. I know that I for sure deserve better!

Editor's note: I know that Jesse Bradford is not the swim fan in Swimfan, rather he is the swimmer. Still, when he popped up on screen I said "Hey! Swimfan!" so there you go.

Editor's second note: Also I know that "House of the Devil" is (probably) not Jocelin Donahue's nickname, but since that's where you probably know her from I put it in quotes like that. I am just saying.

Deadly Eyes (1982)

Ohhhh baby, now we're talkin'. Here's a movie I deserve!

Before I talk about what makes Deadly Eyes so great, let me clear the air: the giant rats of Deadly Eyes do not, in fact, have deadly eyes. They're just big rats, and as such they have deadly mouths. While Deadly Mouths is a more truthful title, it's not as good as Deadly Eyes, however, so here we are. I want total transparency here.

Now then. As science and math have proven time and time again, contaminated grain + rats = large rats with a taste for human flesh. That's just nature, and that's really all there is to this movie. So what makes it a superlative animals run amok flick? Two things:

1. In much of the film, the rats are played by dachshunds in rat costumes.

I'll get to #2 after you've had some time to recover from that information.

2. No one is safe from these hungry rats! Deadly Eyes does not discriminate, nor does it give a fuck. Are you an old? CHOMP. Are you a toddler? CHOMP. Are you a main character? CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP. Deadly Eyes does what it wants, and what it wants is to eat everyone without prejudice nor a lick o' CGI in sight. It's so great.

The Nest (1988)

Watched The Nest the same night I watched Deadly Eyes and had an inadvertent Lisa Langlois creature double feature, highly recommended.

As science and math have proven time and time again, biohazardous waste + cockroaches = cockroaches with not only a taste for human flesh, but also with the ability to somehow mutate their victims into cockroach-victim hybrids.

As you may have surmised, The Nest is not entirely serious. It's not necessarily a horror-comedy, but it is a Concorde Pictures/Corman production and it definitely leans into the campiness. It feels like a 1950s monster movie by way of 80s synthesizers and garishness. It's frequently gross, always ludicrous, and doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's pure drive-in style fun.

The poster, seen above, has always filled my mind with questions, none of which have really been answered after seeing the film. Still lingering in my brain:

Is that a giant cockroach? Or is it a very tiny woman? Am I supposed to be turned on by this image? It is everything wrong perfect and right with 1980s videocassette box aesthetics.

The Ritual (2017)

I don't know if The Ritual is actually super terrific or if I was high on too much Riunite but man, this shit did it for me! I was into it, my friends, cowering behind a blanket and feeling all kinds of tension. I was creeped out but good, like I haven't been in forever. This is some Blair Witch on steroids business and it worked: it's got woods, woods, and more woods; dark woods; scary stuff in said woods; a village in the woods full of creeps; some of the best creature design I've ever seen. Beyond that I don't want to give anything away, so let's just say that I love all of those things very much and I loved this movie very very much, a real gem. And you can trust my opinion on that: I have a horror blog!

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Another wee little gem, Tragedy Girls is to slasher flicks what Shaun of the Dead is to zombie flicks. Both a self-aware satire of and straight play of its genre, it's full of clever dialogue, charming and charismatic characters, a few outrageous set pieces, lots of humor and even more blood. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp are terrific as Sadie and McKayla, death-obsessed teenage besties hungry for social media hits who must create their own content when the town's psycho doesn't murder enough for their liking. It's a neon- and gore-drenched good time.

So there you go, a roundup of MY OPINIONS about some of the horror movies I've seen sort of lately. See you in another eight years!

Nov 1, 2017

A Wee SHOCKtober Wrap Up!

Well, here we are in lame November. Stores are putting away the fake eyeballs and putting up the fake trees. While it's safe to say that most–if not all–of us will continue to indulge in all things horror no matter what the stupid calendar says, it's a sad fact that another SHOCKtober has come to an end. There's only one thing left to do, and that's some good old-fashioned number crunchin' and comparin'.

Let's face it, when it comes to clicking, the world of "2017" is a much lazier place than the "2010" world gone by. People simply do not want to click more than once! We've grown so accustomed to sites like hell Facebook, hubs that allow you to scroll and watch videos and message people and comment and read articles on other sites without ever really leaving the confines of Facebook itself. Had I allowed folks to leave their lists as comments over there, I assure you there would have been a higher turnout. People "liked" my posts but never sent emails–emails are a lot of work! I get it. The Internet and the way we interact with it has changed a shit ton over the last seven years, so I was not expecting 2010 numbers. And I didn't get them! But the turnout was terrific anyway, and I thank everyone who sent in a list of their 20 favorite horror movies. We got another great master list with more variety and--aw heck, let's just get to the numbers.

Total movies on the list: 632 (2017) / 732 (2010)

I didn't keep track of the number of people who submitted lists, but it was far, far fewer this time around. You can't really tell by the total number of films on the list–only 100 fewer!–but the number of votes really gives it away. Still, dang, 632 movies ain't nothin' to sneeze at. SO DON'T SNEEZE AT THEM.

Number of movies released since 2010: 78

A kind reader tallied up that a total of 258 movies appear on the 2017 list that did not appear on the 2010 list. That's nuts! According to my science calculator, 78 films on the 2017 list were released after 2010. That's nuts-ier! Heck, one of those films, It Follows, made the Top 20. I'd say horror is doing just fine, thank you.

Number of women directors: 9 (2010) / 26 (2017)

This is the most telling number of all (and my favorite)–there are more and more women making movies out there! And wow, some of the movies are great! How nice that future lists of " the best horror movies directed by women" won't simply include Near Dark and American Psycho. Gee golly, maybe one day there will be so many women directors out there that they won't be segregated. A Final Girl can dream!

The Top 10s

Now here is where we see how much of a drop off in participants there was from 2010 to 2017: the #10 movie in 2010 received more votes than the #1 movie in 2017! And the #1 movie in 2010 received more than twice the votes than the #1 movie in 2017. But it's quite interesting to compare the Top 10s, no?

10. 2017: Carrie // 2010: The Descent
  9. 2017: Black Christmas // 2010: A Nightmare on Elm Street
  8. 2017: Night of the Living Dead // 2010: Suspiria
  7. 2017: Dawn of the Dead // 2010: Dawn of the Dead
  6. 2017: Alien // 2010: Night of the Living Dead
  5. 2017: The Shining // 2010: The Shining
  4. 2017: The Exorcist // 2010: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
  3. 2017: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre // 2010: The Exorcist
  2. 2017: The Thing // 2010: The Thing
  1. 2017: Halloween (52 votes) // 2010: Halloween (123 votes)

Weird, right? Some flip-floppin', some samey-samin'. In, say, 40 years when my ghost is running SHOCKtober 2057, what will the Top 10 look like? Where will these movies place? I think some recent films are absolutely classics already (hello, The VVitch) and down the line they'll be as revered as the "canon" is. Right? Maybe? I guess we'll have to wait and see!

A fun little question posted in the comments recently: starting at #1, how far down the list do you have to go before you get to a movie you haven't seen yet? I made it to 109–I haven't seen The Final Girls yet. (I know, right? That's some Alanis Morrisette-level irony right there!)

Again, thank you to everyone who participated. Although, again: I am disappointed in every single one of you! Nary a vote for Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes. That's fine, I'll be over here in the corner all by myself talking to the possessed floor lamp.

Oct 31, 2017

SHOCKtober: 10-1

Here we are, the Top 10, the Final Countdown, the winner's circle, the crème de la crème, the head honchos, the big cheeses, your favorite horror movies of ALL TIME! Bold numbers indicate number of votes received.

10. Carrie (1976, Brian De Palma) -- 26

9. Black Christmas (1974, Bob Clark) -- 27

8. Night of the Living Dead (1968, George A. Romero) -- 27

7. Dawn of the Dead (1978, George A. Romero) -- 33

6. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott) -- 34

5. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick) -- 34

4. The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin) -- 36

3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper) -- 39

2. The Thing (1982, John Carpenter) -- 48

1. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter) -- 52

I have to admit, I was kind of rooting for The Thing to take the #1 spot just so there'd be an upset, but there's no toppling the tale of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. They were close right until the end (heck, the whole Top 10 was pretty close), though, and ultimately they're not separated by that many votes. Maybe when I do this again in like ten years...? Eh, who am I kidding, Halloween is just way too beloved. But congrats to John Carpenter on taking the #1 and #2 spots, I'm sure he finds this to be the highest honor he's ever received!

YES I know there are some ties in there–Black Christmas and Night of the Living Dead, Alien and The Shining–but as I said way back when, this ain't yer mama's countdown! I play by my own rules, and my own rules say the rankings are sometimes arbitrary!

And just like that, it's over.

OR IS IT? I'll be back tomorrow with some kind of a post-game show... much like evil, SHOCKtober never dies! Thanks to everyone who cast a vote! Thanks to everyone who's just reading along! Happy Halloween! Exclamation point!

Oct 30, 2017

SHOCKtober: 20-11

Today we enter the Top 20! Amazing, isn't it. As always, the bold number is the number of votes each movie received.

20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Philip Kaufman) -- 17

19. Scream (1996, Wes Craven) -- 17

18. The Fog (1980, John Carpenter) -- 17

17. The Blair Witch Project (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez) -- 18

16. Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) -- 19

15. It Follows (2014, David Robert Mitchell) -- 20

14. Rosemary's Baby (1968, Roman Polanski) -- 23

13. Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg) -- 24

12. Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento) -- 24

11. The Descent (2005, Neil Marshall) -- 25

And there you have it. Tomorrow–your Top 10 favorites! Well, it's the Top 10 favorites of some of you. In a way. You know what I mean.

Oct 29, 2017

SHOCKtober: 41-21

I can't believe SHOCKtober is winding down! Time flies when you're...doing this stuff.

The bold number is the number of votes each film received:

41. Don't Look Now -- 1973, Nicolas Roeg -- 11
40. Friday the 13th -- 1980, Sean S. Cunningham -- 11
39. Let the Right One In -- 2008, Tomas Alfredson -- 11
38. The House of the Devil -- 2009, Ti West -- 11
37. Hellraiser -- 1987, Clive Barker -- 12
36. Phantasm -- 1979, Don Coscarelli -- 12
35. The Changeling -- 1980, Peter Medak -- 12
34. Creepshow -- 1982, George A. Romero -- 13
33. Evil Dead II -- 1987, Sam Raimi -- 13
32. Poltergeist -- 1982, Tobe Hooper -- 13
31. Prince of Darkness -- 1987, John Carpenter -- 13
30. Re-Animator -- 1985, Stuart Gordon -- 13
29. The Return of the Living Dead -- 1985, Dan O'Bannon -- 13
28. Session 9 -- 2001, Brad Anderson -- 13
27. The Silence of the Lambs -- 1991, Jonathan Demme -- 13
26. An American Werewolf in London -- 1981, John Landis -- 15
25. Candyman -- 1992, Bernard Rose -- 15
24. The Evil Dead -- 1981, Sam Raimi -- 15
23. The Haunting -- 1963, Robert Wise -- 16
22. The VVitch -- 2015, Robert Eggers -- 16
21. A Nightmare on Elm Street -- 1984, Wes Craven-- 17

I introduced some pals to Creepshow recently and they really dug it (thank goodness, otherwise we'd have to stop being pals). I was especially pleased that they each made an astute observation: "Are we supposed to hate Billie? I don't, she's fun."

Oct 28, 2017

Death Count Giveaway!

Man I tells ya, the warm reception that Death Count has gotten so far really warms me in my heart place.

The limited sketch edition has sold out, so thanks to everyone who picked one up! If you missed out, though, I've got good news: I'm doing a sketch edition giveaway! The winner will receive a copy of the book along with the Crystal Lake Kick Line sketch you see below! All you have to do is follow me on Instagram @finalgrrl and hashtag something or other with #f13DeathCount. I'll be drawing a winner on November 1st from everyone who hashtags and follows, so give it a go! A moment of social media pain is worth a lifetime of having this book and original art.

As you know, reader pics are my everything so keep 'em coming, I'll never get enough. And for real, the enthusiasm and all of it means the world.

SHOCKtober: 61-42

Can you feel the excitement in the air? We're breaking into the Top 50, aww yeah!

The following films received EIGHT VOTES each!

61. 28 Days Later -- 2002, Danny Boyle
60. The Cabin in the Woods -- 2012, Drew Goddard
59. Deep Red -- 1975, Dario Argento
58. Friday the 13th Part 2 -- 1981, Steve Miner
57. Martyrs -- 2008, Pascal Laugier
56. Tenebre -- 1982, Dario Argento
55. The Babadook -- 2014, Jennifer Kent
54. The Birds -- 1963, Alfred Hitchcock
53. The Innocents -- 1961, Jack Clayton
52. Videodrome -- 1983, David Cronenberg

The following films received NINE VOTES each:

51. Bride of Frankenstein -- 1935, James Whale
50. Carnival of Souls -- 1962, Herk Harvey
49. Halloween III: Season of the Witch -- 1982, Tommy Lee Wallace
48. Sleepaway Camp -- 1983, Robert Hiltzik
47. The Beyond -- 1981, Lucio Fulci
46. The Ring -- 2002, Gore Verbinski
45. The Wicker Man -- 1973, Robin Hardy
44. You're Next -- 2011, Adam Wingard

The following films received TEN VOTES each:

43. The Brood -- 1979, David Cronenberg
42. Trick 'r Treat -- 2007, Michael Dougherty

How crazy is Halloween III? It's crazy! Not every day that you see a horror movie whose villain wants the wholesale slaughter of children, never mind that the plan involves masks that, when triggered, make snakes come out of kids' faces. I don't understand the science behind it, but I sure do love it. (That gif, by the way, is courtesy of our pal Jason over at My New Plaid Pants, who featured Season of the Witch in his excellent, long-running "Ways Not to Die" series.)