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!

Jun 9, 2017

Friday the 13th Part THE GAME: Final Girl vs Jason

As we all know, there's street smarts (gained via various life experiences) and and there's book smarts (gained via being a nerd), and it's not often the twain get to meetin'. "Sure, sure, maybe you know how to start a fire with nothing but two sticks and some hope," a nerd might say. "But do you know anything about the Teapot Dome Scandal?"

"Who cares?" the streetwise sassafras may reply. "I know all of the spots in my neighborhood where I can mooch off of someone's unprotected wifi. That's way cooler than something something quadratic equations."

My point is, as I have journeyed through life, as I have evolved from a nubile ingenue wizened crone into a full-on swamp hag, I have come to realize that I am severely lacking in street smarts, and nowhere is this deficiency more evident than in the realm of horror. Yes yes, I can talk about Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes all damn day (and I will, just try me)...I can bore dazzle you with some sweet-ass subtext analyzin' or maybe yet another list of obscure titles. But what good will all this nerd knowledge do me when I come face to mask with a deranged, homicidal wackadoo with copious mommy issues? Absolutely none.

You would think I'd know how to behave in Horror Movie Situations. You would think I'd be the last one alive, the one who gets away...geez, it's right there in my blog name.

You would think all that. But thanks to Friday the 13th: The Game, I've learned some cold, hard truths about myself. The biggest, perhaps, is that I should probably change the name of this blog to THE ONE WHO HAS TROUBLE OPENING DOORS AND MAKES BAD DECISIONS AND IS PRETTY MUCH ALWAYS THE FIRST TO DIE. It's not as catchy as "FINAL GIRL", but it's much more honest.

*record scratch* YES THERE'S A FRIDAY THE 13th VIDEO GAME.


Friday the 13th in an asymmetrical 3rd-person survival horror game for PS4, Xbox One, and PC that attempts–and often succeeds–at capturing the spirit of the wonderful, terrible, long-running film series. You can play as Jason Voorhees and stalk all the jerks your mommy has told you to kill, or you can play as one of the counselors, desperately trying to find some means of escape. The game maps and Jasons are pulled directly from the films (for example, Part 2's Baghead Jason might chase you through Higgins Haven, as seen in Parts 3 and 4), while the counselors are more simple homages to movie characters, such as the designer impostor version of Violet from A New Beginning.

Jason has a plethora of skills and tools at his disposal: he can teleport throughout the map, lay down bear traps, and sense where you are. Counselors have varying strength and stats–things like stamina and repair–and can find weapons and first aid sprays scattered throughout the numerous cabins. There are several ways to make it out alive: fix up a car and drive on home, fix up a boat and boat on home, fix the telephone and call the cops, or simply survive for the entire 20 minutes of a match. Chances are, though, Jason is gonna get you. This is Friday the 13th, man! That's what he does! The movies feature a "Final Girl", not a "Final Everybody", after all.

As I intimated earlier, I'm pretty bad at this game. I die. A lot. Should I play as Jason (the killer is randomly chosen as the match starts), I bumble around and the body count is low. Sometimes, salvation is within my grasp and it still slips away, like in this clip, where some dude can't wait one second for me to get in the boat and he drives away, leaving me to my (eventual) fate:

And despite all of my ineptitude and horrifying win/loss record, every single match is so much damn fun. I have screamed and been startled so many times that I'm sure several years have been taken off my life. I've been creeped out, I've cried from's just a grand ol' violent time, particularly if you play with friends. I mean, there's more tension in this gif than there is some of the later entries in the film series:

Critical reviews for the game haven't been kind; in fact, they've been fairly excruciating. Many of the criticisms are fair: Friday the 13th was not developed by a AAA studio, and it shows. When you die, you become a spectator–leaving a match early means you gain no xp, and if you die early,'re gonna be spectating for a while, and that might bore you. There are glitches, bugs, and server issues that crop up somewhat frequently. These issues are being addressed, however, and a recent patch improved wait times dramatically. Essentially, the game is only going to get better, and bigger: there's a story mode planned for release later this year, and you can be sure the game will expand via DLC. There is a shit ton of potential for this game to grow and improve and enjoy a long lifespan.

While the critical reviews have been damning, player reviews have been stellar, generally boiling down to yeah, it's got some jankiness but I don't care, I'm having a blast. As a Friday the 13th fan, there is so much to love here: I can play as a designer impostor Chris Higgins or a Baghead Jason. I can find Jason's cabin and put on his mom's crusty old sweater. If you die or escape early, there's a chance you can return as Tommy Jarvis. Jason can punch my head clean off à la Part VIII, or he can finish me off with the famous sleeping bag death from Part VII. It's frequently scary, frequently hilarious, always bloody, and often captures the essence of what makes slasher films so enjoyable. Honestly, I'd only be happier if I could play as Ethel Hubbard or the Banana Girl Hitchhiker. I've got my fingers crossed they'll be available eventually.

Knock Jason's mask off and reveal the grossness underneath!

I'm absolutely addicted to this game, I'm telling you. If you want to see it in action, to see me make a complete fool of myself and get murdered in any number of disgusting ways, I'll be livestreaming with my video game super pal Travis this Sunday, the 11th, at 7pm EST on my new twitch channel. To be honest, it's kind of all I want to do with my life at this hopefully I'll see you at Higgins Haven! (For the ten seconds before Jason rips my jaw off, yay!)

Mar 8, 2017

Too Many Pazuzuzzzz

I'm sure that you think I sit here atop Mount Horror Blog, all exhausted from having seen every horror-flavored movie and read every horror-flavored book. I get it! Horror blogging is elite business, for 100% experts only. You can't just start a blog because you want to, it takes years of training and education. But here's the truth, dear reader: there's some stuff I haven't seen. There's some stuff I haven't read! For example, can you believe that I, in all of my 83 years on this planet, am only just reading William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist for the very first time? Much like me and a glass of Riunite on ice, the book is a bona fide classic...and yet here we are. Ah well, better late than never, there's a first time for everything, you're only as young as you feel, etc etc.

(aside: now I have "beautiful Mount Horror Blog!" stuck in my head to this tune)

Now then, my telling you all this isn't solely to brag that I do, in fact, know how to read. Nor is it to dazzle you with erudite insights like "Hey, The Exorcist is pretty good," oh no no. I'm telling you all this because the book got my brain all a-buzzin' with The Exorcist (duh) which got me watchin' the movie which got me thinking "Hey, there are way too many Pazuzus in The Exorcist Extended Director's Cut Version You've Never Seen."

The wholly terrifying subliminal demon face is used quite sparingly–and to great effect–in the original cut of the film. It scared me so badly that I really couldn't handle it. I hated it! It was great. Then along came The Version You've Never Seen and the floodgates were opened. Excised footage was unexcised, Friedkin got all George Lucas about it and added a bunch of stuff, like that awful Regan computer face when she grab's the doctor's junk. You know what I mean. It's bad. Heck, I'd just forever opt for the original cut, but I admit: I am a sucker for the spider walk. It's over-the-top and silly but I love it. So sue me.

Perhaps the worst, though, is that the latest editions of the film include a baker's dozen or more new subliminal demon faces. Let's face it (omg "FACE" it lol lol) once this shot happened... was obvious that this was no longer your mama's Pazuzu. It's everywhere! And so it's really no longer scary. Less is more, more is way less.

On my most recent watch, though, I realized just how many Pazuzus are lurking. It is some Where's Waldo shit for real. Look at these screencaps!

Some of those aren't even subliminal! Yes, William Friedkin is a great director and a master of the craft and all that, but to be honest I don't know what he was thinking with all of this.

Jan 26, 2017

Sadako vs Kayako vs Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Treatment

That's right, folks, it's time to step into The Ring for The Grudge match of the century! HAHA GET IT?

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system right up front so we can all get through the rest of this post in peace.

Boy oh boy, horror fans sure love a fight, don't they? The genre landscape is littered with films wherein two evil ne'er-do-wells face off in a deadly game of death: Freddy vs Jason, Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Chucky vs Madea, Alien vs Predator, and so on. Well. Those of you who were waiting for some J-horror entities to go to town on each other (yes I know how that sounds) can, like, stop waiting! Sadako vs Kayako is here to bring you a battle the likes of which have not seen since 1998, when Brandy and Monica sung at each other to the death over The Boy.

"The curse is mine..."

Going into this film, I had some serious questions in need of some serious answers. The largest, most troubling, perhaps: how could Kayako and Sadako hate each other so much that they'd rather fight each other than team up and fight the living and then spend their down time brushing each other's hair and trading care tips? While I am happy to say that most of my questions were eventually answered, I am sad to say that the film does not end with the two evil ghost ladies brushing each other's hair. (SPOILER)

Two college gals buy a VCR at a secondhand shop and discover that there's a copy of the infamous cursed tape tucked away inside. They watch it and as you might expect, a phone call from Sadako ensues. She'll be there in two days to kill 'em because...well, because that's just what she does.

A high school student moves next door to the infamous murder house and eventually wanders over to check it out. As you might expect, Kayako starts creepin' down the stairs because...well, because that's just what she does.

With their lives at stake, all the girls find an exorcist–a young, cool exorcist, mind–to help them. His big idea is for everyone to become cursed by all the curses, for this curseception will cause Sadako and Kayako to duke it out so that one curse may rule them all. It's the obvious solution, isn't it? Duh.

Pro tip: DO NOT DO

Really, though, who cares why the two evil entities brawl so long as they brawl, yes? It's right there in the title! It's what we came for! And oh my goodness, it takes a long time to get there. Storylines are developed, mythologies are explained for the three people who have yet to see a The Ring or a The Grudge...and I'm not saying I wasn't interested–I admittedly have a soft spot for ghost-flavored Asian-flavored horror–but for a large portion of the film you feel as if you're watching a so-so sequel in each franchise, and you're left wondering when you're gonna get to The Good Stuff.

And what of The Good Stuff? What of the title bout? While there are a few moments that evoke a visceral cringing in that wonderful horror movie way (ugh, SO MUCH HAIR), it's not nearly as outrageous as you think it's gonna be. Two angry ghosts fighting, right? What a ridiculous notion! But the final act lacks the ridiculous zeal or self-aware goofiness of something like Freddy vs Jason. Imagine a friend says they're coming over with a pizza, and then they arrive and it's a frozen pizza. When you're done eating you will probably say "Hmm, I thought you'd be bringing a real pizza and while I ate what you brought and I didn't hate it–in fact, I even sort of enjoyed it–to be honest, now that it's over I feel a vague disappointment as my expectations were not met."

And that is how Sadako vs Kayako is a lot like frozen pizza vs real pizza, the end.

 Yes, of course he's in it.

PS: Sadako vs Kayako is available exclusively on AMC's Shudder, which is basically a horror Netflix so you'd think I'd just have Shudder playing all the time, wouldn't you. WOULDN'T YOU.

Sep 10, 2016

Hi, hello

Hey there! How's it going? How have you been? You look great! That's a really great item of clothing you're wearing, there, it really compliments your face. I mean it!

I also mean to again say thank you thank you for all of the incredibly kind comments on my last post. I was going to say "my last–and I do mean last!–post" because it was a farewell/I'm indefinitely hiatusin' for sure post. But since I'm writing this now, I guess it wasn't the LAST last post, right? Hmm. I did say I'd poke me noggin in now and again if I have something worth pokin' me noggin in for, so I suppose it's fair to say that we might not know what the actual last post is until I'm dead. Unless maybe I can update from the great beyond...? Boy, I bet you've sure missed my deep philosophizing. Yes, I still contain multitudes, etc etc.

Anyway. What's got me dusting this place off for a moment is: it's getting to be Fall up in here! Skeletons at the grocery store and horror on the brain...scary times. Scary times, my friends! And to help get in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year (as if we're not all always in the mood for it), I wrote a little piece o' interactive horror fiction. Yeah, fiction! Yeah, interactive! That means if you wanna read it, you're gonna have to do some clicking. It's short–maybe a five-ten minute read–and there is audio on the first and last pages. I don't normally write fiction, and I certainly don't do any kind of...web design? Whatever it is I did to get the story to do what I wanted it to I'm pretty satisfied with the result. That's right, I said it!

So. Give it a read if'n you want to. The link is below. I'm sure I'll make my way around these parts again before you can say...I don't know. Say whatever you want! Run your own damn life!

the bed

Jun 3, 2016

Well. That's that.

Okay. Yes. Here goes. It's time to write the post I've wanted to write for a while now, the post where I tell you that I'm shutting down the ol' Final Girl.

This site has been such a large part of my life for so long that to be honest, I am not entirely sure what I will do without it, but this decision feels right for many reasons. Most of these reasons are not understandable, some of them are unshareable, and two of the reasons are Lunchable.

Final Girl is approaching its eleventh anniversary, and that is a long time! 11 years is almost 1/10th of my lifespan so far! Many things can change in 11 years, I don't need to tell you that. In the span of that 11 years, I've moved cross-country twice. I've lost a beloved pet. (I mean he died, not that he vanished and I don't know where he is.) For some of that 11 years, I knew what I was doing, I think. That is not really the case anymore. Sometimes it seems I have things figured out, but mostly it feels like I'll never have things figured out. "I must confess I've made a mess of what should be a small success"–that's a line (from one of my favorite songs of the last few years, Courtney Barnett is really great, you guys) that rings awfully true.

I know I'm probably not making sense. Let's just say that my relationships with horror and movies and horror movies have changed over the last decade.

I am maybe too quick to bug out when something's not working for me, be it a job or a city or a person or a hairstyle. At the first sign of strife, I make a rash decision that changes all of my circumstances. Usually listening to my gut or The Universe or whatever proves to be the right thing to do and life vastly improves.

Once in a while, though, I hang on to something just a bit too long. This isn't working for me, but the wages are nice. This isn't working for me, but the rent is cheap. This isn't working for me, but I like your face. This isn't working for me, but I guess you'll grow out at your own pace won't you.

I kind of feel like I've hung on to Final Girl for too long.

How could I not hang on? Again, it's been such a large part of my life. It's brought me great things, great opportunities and experiences, and great people. But at the present...I'm not sure what we're giving each other anymore. Or what I'm giving Final Girl, really. I can't be bothered to get worked up–negatively or positively–over some new piece of horror news. Horror movies now constitute approximately 10% of what I watch. When I do watch a horror movie, I no longer feel the need to pontificate, to judge, to have an opinion. It's not just about reviews, per se, it's about all of it. I've thought about turning this into a "movie blog" instead of a "horror movie blog" but this is a horror movie blog. And there's an abundance of those. Horror movie sites are everywhere. Plenty of people are writing lists and talking about Final Girls and examining this movie or that, and I don't much feel the need to add my voice to the din anymore. Ugh, I'm sick of myself and I'm tired of mouthing off...and what good is a blog if you're not gonna mouth off on it?

So what does all of this mean? Well, the site isn't going anywhere. It'll still exist, I'm not going to 404 it from The Information Superhighway. Briefcase Woman will never die! (More to the point, she cannot die.) I'm not cutting horror or horror movies out of my life completely, I just need to reevaluate my relationship to them. I need to write other things, and do other things. But who knows, maybe I will run a piece once in a while–I probably won't be able to resist Final Girl's siren song. I will update with any newsworthy news Regarding my work, I mean. But I won't be updating with any regularity, and you should know that because it's the worst when sites fall into limbo. I would say that maybe I'll find some kind of "Activia for the horror blogger" and my irregularity will become regularity–maybe Final Girl will be struck by lightning or accidentally resurrected via telekinesis. But then that would make this post and all of my fretting over it–and boy have I been fretting–silly. Sillier than it already is. Then again, as I said, I do love a rash decision!

Even if I vanish completely into the ether after hitting publish on this post, though, know that from the bottom of my tiny cold nub of a heart that I thank you. Thank you so much for reading over the years, for commenting and talking and sharing and making me feel like this has indeed been a worthwhile endeavor.

Edited to add: Listen you guys, wow wow. Thank you all so very much for all of the kind words here, in emails, on the Faceplace, all of it. I had no idea! It's incredibly humbling and, to be totally honest, more than a little motivating. It's a good thing I've left the door open here. *cackles, twirls metaphorical handlebar moustache*

May 27, 2016

awesome movie poster friday - the VHS WEEK edition!

Well, friends, the long national nightmare known as VHS Week is finally over. Back to regular life as we know it. Back to movies (mostly) on disc or made out of pixels or whatever. Don't worry, I still have some tapes around here to watch and I'm sure I'll let you know when I do, even the garbage ones. What am I saying! I mean especially the garbage ones. For now, though, let's celebrate with some awesome movie posters from some of the awesome and not entirely awesome movies from VHS Week. You probably knew this was coming because of the post title, right? Good job, you, and thanks for reading!

VHS Week Day 14: MARTIN (1977)

George A. Romero: he's more than just zombies. I know that you know that, you're savvy and learned. I'm simply pointing it out to the total horror noobs who only know Romero from his three (AND ONLY THREE) (okay, maybe Land of the Dead is kind of fun to watch once, but THAT'S IT) great zombie films: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Brunch Day of the Dead. Though the films are often overlooked, Romero has explored horror in ways far removed from those undead shuffling people-eaters. One such film is 1977's Martin.

Set amidst the depressed, crumbling landscape of fading steel town Braddock, PA, Martin tells the tale of...well, of Martin (John Amplas), who believes himself to be a vampire. His elderly cousin Cuda also believes that Martin is a vampire. It's been a family curse for generations, and while Cuda allows Martin to live with him, he also makes the young man a promise: "First I will save your soul...then I will destroy you." But is Martin actually a vampire? Or is he simply a kookadook?

Romero isn't interested in definitive answers as much as he is in deconstructing the vampire genre and deromanticizing the myths. Regardless of Martin's true nature, he's no gothic-flavored bloodsucker from a Hammer production; nor is he a terrifying, otherworldly creature à la Salem's Lot's Mr. Barlow. Garlic, crosses, and sunlight give Martin no pause. He's incapable of mesmerizing victims into submission, so he relies on drug injections to do it for him. He has no fangs, so he wields a razor blade. Martin's reality is completely unlike the bodice-rippers and monsters we're accustomed to calling "vampire."

Martin is rife with the same types of simple metaphors and symbolism that Romero incorporates into many of his films. It's an examination of sexual repression and insecurity as well as a swipe at religion, particularly the ways in which staunch religious beliefs can twist a person or a family. The "family curse"–what Cuda claims is the curse of Nosferatu–can be seen as any kind of "otherness" or perhaps it's merely hereditary mental illness.

Aside from all of this, Martin works fairly well as a straight-up horror movie. Because the attacks rarely go as smoothly as Martin plans, they're prolonged and all the more shocking as his victims fight back. While it's easy to feel sympathy for poor, confused Martin, there's no doubt that he is a monster. Whether he's of the mythical or the mundane variety, though, that's for you to decide.

May 26, 2016

VHS Week Day 13: THE ATTIC (1980)

A suicidal, depressed librarian. An abusive curmudgeon in a wheelchair. A chimpanzee in a sailor suit. YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

Ugh, stupid Final Girl...clickbait goes in the headline, not in the post itself. This will never go viral now!

Meet Louise (Carrie Snodgress), our suicidal, depressed librarian. She spends her days kind of hating her job–the books...they look at her sometimes and so she tries to burn the place down. She spends her nights crying over the man who left her at the altar years before and taking care of her father, Wendel (Ray Milland), our abusive curmudgeon in a wheelchair. Louise's life is a big, drab, sad mess, but that doesn't mean it's without some bright spots: alcohol, one night stands, and her coworker Emily. The women strike up a friendship that's equal parts support and pity; Emily feels sorry for Louise and tries to nudge her out of her drudgery, while Louise tries to save Emily from falling into the same. Louise buys Emily a one-way ticket to California so she can escape her domineering mother and marry her love, Emily buys Louise a chimpanzee. You know. Friendship!

Wendel loathes pretty much everything, but he loathes his daughter and her chimp most of all. Horror fans know this is all gonna come to a head at some point, right? Like, maybe Dickie the Chimp will attack Wendel and then, having acquired a taste for human flesh, he will totally flip out and eat everyone in Wichita, Kansas?

Look, I'm not going to spoil the end of this movie, even though it's like 70 years old, but I will let you know that Dickie the Chimp does not flip out, so don't get your hopes up. But don't worry! The ending still packs a serious wallop. A seriously depressing wallop. We've all seen some depressing endings before (even during this never-ending VHS Week!), but lawd-a-mighty, The Attic might just take the cake. And then it throws the cake into the void of existential despair, and then you jump in after it not only because you can't bear to see a cake go to waste, but also because everything is terrible and life is cruel and what does anything even matter.

Don't get me wrong–it's not just the ending. The entire GD movie is depressing! Loneliness, alienation, lives spent lost and adrift...this is by no means a light watch, even if the film's incongruous musical cues and bizarre jokes sometimes give it the feel of one. A better life for Louise seems to be just out of reach, and you desperately hope she'll get there, but this is a horror film, not a life-affirming yogurt love journey movie.

From time to time, though, you might find yourself wondering if The Attic really is a horror movie. It's not so much a "slow burn" as it is a "slow drama/character piece with some horror elements crammed into the last seven minutes." Those seven minutes are worth it, mind, I just want you to know what you're in store for if you're fixin' to check this one out. Then again, The Attic boasts a scene where a showercap-wearing Ray Milland sits in a bathtub with a Reader's Digest propped in front of him and a bowl of spiced gum drops at his side. That's what really makes watching it worth your time as far as I'm concerned.