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!

Dec 30, 2005

Naughty!

Despite the fact that the Christmas holiday has come and gone, and despite the fact that fine folks everywhere will tell you expressly not to do it, I went ahead and flipped over the Silent Night, Deadly Night DVD in order to watch the sequel, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)! Yes, you read that right. I'm a daredevil, what can I say? I watched the movie...and I liked it. Nay, I loved it. I liked it so much more than I did the first flick, because Part 2 just hurts so good.

In fact, you could just skip watching Part 1 altogether, because ample footage from it comprises Part 2, making up about a third of the film's runtime. While the ending of Silent Night, Deadly Night clearly laid the groundwork for a sequel, the budget for Part 2 was a mere $250,000! Director/Editor Lee Harry worked within these constraints by creating a story wherein he could recycle almost the entire first film. If you've seen Silent Night, Deadly Night, it makes the first 45 minutes of Part 2 pretty dull, because you've seen it all before, literally.

At some mental hospital somewhere, Ricky (little brother of the murderous Billy from SNDN 1) is having a session with his doctor. Ricky is nothing but sullen attitude as he smokes cigarettes, calls the doctor "Doc", and, when asked a questions, quips- "Hey, it's your dime!". When prompted, Ricky recounts all the incidents from SNDN 1- and when I say 'all', I mean all. We get flashbacks to the orphanage, to Billy's stint at the toystore, to Linnea Quigley's pooltable boffing, to the headless sledder- I mean pretty much the entire movie. Which begs the question, how does Ricky know all this stuff? While Billy was out doing his thing (read: killing people while dressed as Santa Claus), Ricky was just a wee lad at the orphanage. And just how, the doctor asks, does Ricky know who killed his parents? He was, after all, just a squealing infant in a car seat at the time. "Because," Ricky answers, "I was there". Ah, I see. That explains it quite nicely, doesn't it?

"What do you dream about, Ricky?"
"I. Don't. Sleep."

The orphanage run by Evil Mother Superior was eventually closed down, and the children were finally placed with families. Ricky wound up with a nice Jewish family, the Rosenbergs, which would ensure that he'd have no Christmas-related mania as he grew up. Or so you'd think! It turns out, though, that any sighting of the color red is enough to get Ricky going. Whereas Billy's rage was triggered by Santa, Christmas, and boobs, Ricky freaks out when he sees red. Hey! He sees red when he sees red! That's deep.

Anyway, when Ricky was in his late teens, he was out for a lovely stroll through some fields, having a little "me time". There in the field, atop a blanket, lie Plain Girl and Aggressive Guy, making out. Ricky decides "me time" includes voyeurism and watches them from behind a bush. Aggressive Guy is being, well, aggressive, wanting Plain Girl to give in to his advances. She refuses, and Ricky has a flashback to Bad Santa atop his mom in the road that night so long ago, smacking her in the face. Ricky is not pleased! Naughty! Aggressive Guy gives up his carnal quest for a moment and heads back to his Jeep for another beer. His red Jeep. Put one and one together, and suddenly you have Ricky behind the wheel of said Jeep, running over Aggressive Guy repeatedly- back and forth, back and forth, squish squish. Plain Girl sees this and she doesn't scream, she doesn't run away...instead, she simply says thank you. Great job, Ricky- way to go!

Now that Ricky's got his first killing under his belt, the movie starts to pick up steam. It's all told in flashback because he's still recounting all this to his doctor, but at least the flashbacks are new material. It's the little things, you know? Ricky grew up and started life on his own, working in a restaurant as a busboy. One night, while taking out the trash, he comes upon a tough beating up some poor sap who owes him money. When the beating is complete, the tough guy wipes his hands...with a red handkerchief! Ricky has become some kind of avenger now, and when the red hanky sets him off, he picks up an umbrella from a garbage can for a little justice...Mary Poppins style.

Ohhhh yeah.

Ricky then tells us the story of his girlfriend, Jennifer. She was just wonderful and amazing and sweet and innocent! She and Ricky would go to the movies (where, somehow, Silent Night, Deadly Night is playing...), have sex, you know- they were just a young couple like any other. One day, they run into Jennifer's obnoxious ex-boyfriend Chip. Chip starts mouthing off to Ricky, talking about how he and Jennifer used to like to do it in the back of his car...the car he's working on right here and now...his red car...! Well, you know what Ricky's gonna do, right? Right! And with the help of some dazzling special effects, we get a crispified Chip. ZZZAP!

Oh, and in case you didn't know, by "do it", I meant "make sweet, sweet love".

Now, unlike Plain Girl, who was grateful for Ricky's...murderous forthrightness, Jennifer is a little put-off by the electrocution of her ex-boyfriend. She shouts "Are you crazy? I hate you!" at him...sheesh. "I hate you"? Women. They can just turn on a dime! Well, Ricky doesn't take kindly to this. He gets all mean-looking, and yells "PUNISH!"...to which Jennifer replies, literally..."Uh oh.". She says uh oh and swallows a big gulp, I fucking kid you not. Let that sink in for a second.
There. Ricky takes care of Jennifer with the broken-off antenna from the Chipmobile, and once again he's single and ready to mingle.

Poor Jennifer! Ricky might not have been so cranky if he'd only had access to corrective eyewear.

It turns out that a cop saw all this double-homicide action, but when he tries to arrest Ricky, the cop ends up shot in the forehead with his own service revolver...and now Ricky has a gun. He struts down the street, blowing away anyone who even looks at him. One poor guy, just taking out his trash like any other suburbanite, gets blown away after Ricky proclaims, all eyebrows-a-twitchin', "Garbage Daaaay!". Wow. I really, really love this movie.

Eventually, Ricky's rampage ends when he's stopped by some cops at a roadblock. He tries to shoot himself, but alas- he's out of bullets...and so, he ends up at the mental institution! And thus we come back to the here and now, where we find out that Ricky has somehow killed his shrink and escaped the asylum! He knows who's to blame for his problems...who's at the root of it all...it's Evil Mother Superior! That's right, good ol' Evil Mother Superior- and Ricky's a-comin' to settle the score.

After the orphanage closed, Evil Mother Superior 'retired' and is living out her days alone, just like she deserves. At some point, she suffered a stroke, which for some reason has left her looking like Two-Face:


Can a stroke do that to a person? I had no idea.

Anyway, Ricky kills a Sally Army Santa and takes his costume. Despite having had no contact with her in a good 10 years, he knows how to locate Evil Mother Superior immediately and rings her up: "Santa's back!". He finds her house, chases her around with an axe, and manages to lop her head off before he's pumped full of lead by the cops. But Ricky's not dead...and we know this because he turns to the camera and smiles. You know I love it when movies end this way, so I was happy indeed.

Much of the fun in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 comes from watching Eric Freeman as the adult Ricky. He overacts gloriously throughout the entire movie, and his performance had me rewinding the DVD on several occasions. I mean, look at these scary psychotic faces if you need any more proof!


This movie just plain rocks. It's terrible, from the acting to the bloodless murders to the plot to the countless flashbacks, and I just fucking loved it. How about these lines, uttered by Ricky as a segue to yet another flashback: "I don't know what happened. Actually, I do know what happened."

If you don't want to watch a movie with lines like that, well then I guess I just have to hate you. A sequel better than its predecessor! I give this flick 8 out of 10 bumpy, stroke-riddled faces!

Dec 23, 2005

Santa's Sack o' Rage and Pain

Can a horror fan's holiday season be truly complete without the obligatory viewing of the 1984 schlockfest Silent Night, Deadly Night? I say thee, nay! NAY! It's compulsive viewing this time of the year, no matter how many times you've managed to actually sit through it before. Think of it like an audio/video fruitcake- it only comes around in December, no one really wants it, but there it sits on the table, as essential to Christmas as is that manger baby.

Silent Night, Deadly Night
is one of the most controversial horror flicks ever released. The uproar and protests caused the film to be pulled from theatres but a few weeks into its run- in fact, it never made it to the screen at all on the west coast. There's actually very little gore, and there's no more nudity than some bare boobs...so what's so offensive? Santa Claus 'punishing' naughty boys and girls with his axe, that's what. Not 'boys and girls' as in 'children', however- although that would cause quite a stir, now, wouldn't it? The movie, you see, is "insensitive to the spirit of Christmas", according to a letter written by one of the film's detractors. Included in the 'extras' section on the DVD are such letters and scathing reviews from viewers, critics, and the such. I love the letter from Mickey Rooney- yes! gasp! THE Mickey Rooney- who begins his missive of outrage thusly:

How dare they! I'm all for the first amendment, but...

My favorite letter was the one that asked "What's next? A rampaging turkey for Thanksgiving?". I read that and immediately thought...please, please god...please let someone make that movie. I may just have to do it myself.

I'll admit, Silent Night, Deadly Night is pretty sleazy. I'm not a big Christmas nut, but I can see how Santa getting blown away by the cops (TWO Santas, in fact!) in front of a bunch of kids might be considered tasteless. But it's the kind of tasteless I find pretty amusing, right down to the blackest pit of my cold, cold heart!

The movie begins with a happy little family- mom, dad, baby, young son- driving to visit Grandpa on Christmas Eve. They're not driving to Grandpa's house or some old folks home, however...oh no. Grandpa lives at the UTAH MENTAL FACILITY. Visiting with clinically insane relatives at the holidays can be such a drag, but our plucky family doesn't seem to mind. It seems like a wasted trip, though, because Grandpa is somewhat catatonic. He simply sits in a chair, staring straight ahead, not responding to anyone or anything. Bor-ring! After a few minutes, mom and dad take off with a doctor to go over some files or something, leaving young Billy to have a staring contest with Grandpa. As soon as the parents leave the room, Crazy Ol' Gramps snaps out of it! He begins talking like a one-toothed old miner 49er, telling poor Billy that Christmas is "the scariest time of the year" because Santa Claus punishes all the bad children. Billy's crying hysterically, but Gramps goes on: "You see Santa, boy, run for your life! Cackle cackle crazy cackle!". Then Billy's parents return, and Gramps snaps back into a Slim Jim...no, sorry- I mean catatonia.

"Dagummit boy, Santa's gunna gitcha!"

Well, it's nighttime now, and after blowing an entire day on the 'visit', our happy family is heading home. Billy has a newfound SantaPhobia- he no longer wants Santa to come visit or come anywhere near him whatsoever. Mom tells Billy that Gramps was just talking crazy old man talk- and Billy warns her that talking smack like that will only lead to punishment from Santa.

And in a way...he's right. You see, elsewhere an enterprising robber has donned a Santa outfit and shot a store clerk dead. On Christmas Eve! The nerve! Had he waited a few days, well, I guess it would still be bad to shoot the clerk...but on Christmas Eve? Now that'sa cold hearted snake! After leaving the store, the robber either fakes car problems or actually has car problems- either way, he flags down the happy family. When they pull over, the original Bad Santa shoots dad right in the forehead! Billy makes a mad dash for some bushes across the street and hides. Bad Santa drags mom out of the car, throws her down, rips her shirt open (exposing mom boobs), and slits her throat. Then, holding the blood-covered knife, Bad Santa tells Billy he's comin' to get him! Not cool at all.

"I SAID...Santa's gonna gitcha!"

Billy stays hidden, and eventually he and his baby brother end up at your sterotypical orphanage, run by the Evil Mother Superior. It's Christmastime again, and for some reason Billy always acts so strange around the holidays- drawing pictures of Santa looking like a bloody pincushion, drawing pictures of chopped-up reindeer...what on earth could be causing such anger and general oddness? Sister Mary Nice (that's what I called her- I have no idea what her name was) has it figured out- it's, you know, witnessing his parents get slaughtered by Santa 3 years earlier that's got his panties in a twist! Who'd-a thunk it? Not Evil Mother Superior, for one- she flat out denies that Billy saw anything, and asserts that he simply needs to straighten up and fly right. Gotta love that Catholic Church and their denials! Surely tying Billy to his bed will get him to cut the shit, right? And when Santa comes to visit the poor little orphaned children, forcing Billy to sit on Santa's lap will be extremely helpful in gettng through to him! Oh, Evil Mother Superior...you're so very, very wrong in all your mean, stern-faced righteousness. Yes, reader, her little 'face your fears, dammit!" approach (or would that be "sit on your fears"?) fails miserably when Billy punches Santa Claus right in the face, knocking him out of his chair. Billy runs away, but Evil Mother Superior catches him...and then it's time for punishment! Poor little Billy. If only Angelina Jolie had been around to whisk him away from the orphanage, to let him become another stripe in her rainbow of children. Alas, alack...he done got a whuppin' instead.

Actually, no one ends up adopting Billy. We last saw him quivering before the mighty strap of Evil Mother Superior, but now it's 10 years later and Billy is a strapping young lad, ready to strike out on his own. Sister Mary Nice helps him get a job in the stockroom at a toy store, and everything seems to be going so well for Billy at last. There's an excellent music montage, showing Billy hard at work: punching the time clock, opening boxes, helping a little girl reach a toy on a high shelf, putting together a Mr. Potato Head...yes, it's bliss. But then (cue ominous music)...it's Christmas time again. When the regular store Santa breaks his ankle, Billy is asked to step in. Reluctantly, he dons the costume and climbs into the chair. He threatens the fussy children with punishment, which actually gets them to shut up. I like that style!

At long last, the day is over and Billy managed to keep it together. He even gets blitzed at the employee Christmas party, just like a normal person. But then, he sees a male co-worker he really dislikes take a female co-worker he really likes (and yes, I mean 'like' like) into the stockroom for some 'Christmas Cheer'. Billy follows them in, and watches as Male Co-Worker refuses to understand that no actually does mean no- and rips open Female Co-Worker's shirt, exposing her boobs! Gah! See, Santa Claus and Christmas get Billy all wound up...but boobs, my friends...boobs are the trigger, the last straw, the lines- nay, the circles in the sand (Omigod, is that what Belinda Carlisle was talking about?!). Billy flips out (we can tell because he's sweaty)- "At fucking last!" I think as I watch- and strings up Male Co-Worker by some blinky Christmas lights. "PUNISH!" Psycho Santa intones as he deals out the pain. Female Co-Worker gets killed with a box cutter, and it's game time. Billy finishes off the rest of the store staff with a claw hammer and a bow & arrow, grabs a fire axe and hits the streets looking for naughty boys and girls.

The first naughty girl he comes across is- of course- Linnea Quigley. She's the slutty babysitter, gettin' it on with her boyfriend on a pool table in the rec room ("Two ball in the corner pocket!" is a sweet sweet nothing). Soon, however, there's coitus interruptus as Linnea goes to let the cat in the front door...and she makes the terrible mistake of putting on shorts but not a shirt. Yes, she answers the door topless, and her boobs are like beacons for the vengeful Santa. At this point in my life, I think I may be more familiar with Linnea Quigley's boobs than I am with my own. Maybe I should take some kind of Pepsi Challenge to find out. Anyway, Linnea and her boobs end up impaled on the antlers of a mounted deer head. Her boyfriend comes upstairs to find her, engages in fisticuffs with Billy, and gets himself defenestrated.

He's not as concerned with the the fact that Linnea Quigley is hanging there as he is with the fact that Cher may be lurking in the background...

Billy moves on and 'punishes' some bullies who steal sleds- and I must say, the shot of the headless bully sledding down a hill (with his head bouncing along behind) might just be worth the ticket price.

Sister Mary Nice has figured out that Billy's on a rampage and has rightly notified the cops. She's also figured out Billy's next move- the 'punishment' of Evil Mother Superior! To the orphanage! You know, methinks I should've called her Sister Mary Columbo.

It turns out that Evil Mother Superior is still a twat....but now she's a wheelchair-bound twat. Despite the warnings, she refuses to put a halt to the planned holiday activities, which, naturally, include a visit from Santa Claus. The cops are now patrolling the orphanage grounds, on the lookout for someone in a Santa suit, and...yep, you got it. There goes Santa, headed for the children! Oopsie! Poor old deaf Father O'Santa is mistaken for Billy and winds up with a few slugs in his back, shot dead in front of the orphans. Finally Evil Mother Superior concedes that there could be danger afoot, and she and the children gather to wait things out. Billy walks right in the front door, yells "PUNISH!", raises his axe high over Evil Mother Superior's head, and...winds up with a few slugs in his back, shot dead in front of all the orphans. Phew! It's over! But what's this? Billy's little brother, still a poor orphan, just saw his brother get swiss-cheese-ified! Oh no! Little Brother turns to Evil Mother Superior and declares her... naughty. Say, I smell Part 2!

You know, if young Billy was more like a young Bruce Wayne, witnessing the brutal murder of his parents might have inspired him to dress up in a crazy costume and punish evildoers...hey, wait! Wow! This movie is just like Batman! Except it's different. Close, though.

Yeah, this movie is pretty bad- but don't you think it sort of had to be made? It was only a matter of time before we got an axe-wielding Santa Claus on the screen. At any rate, the headless sledder scene elevates this flick to a rating of 4-and-a-half out of 10 HOs. If by some chance you want more info, visit Ryan Burgos' The Silent Night, Deadly Night Resource. I'm sure I'll watch this movie again next year...but until then, I'm holding out for a rampaging turkey.

Dec 22, 2005

Laziness, Thy Name is Final Girl

Things have been crazy, I think, for a few days now. I'm sort of overloaded with things to do, which is leaving me strangely ennui-riddled. It's hard for me to do anything but play Guitar Hero. I won't dull you with tales of my fake-guitar prowess and how the crowds go crazy for my band, Fat Banana. Suffice it to say, I wish playing Guitar Hero was my job.

But, alas and alack, it's not. Nor is this blog called Fake Rock Star Girl (hmmmm....)! So I watched a movie today to satiate you readers and to give myself a little Christmas Spirit, which I've been sorely lacking. Yes, that's right, today I watched Silent Night, Deadly Night. But I won't do a proper review post about it until tomorrow, because watching it was effort enough for me today. My shackles of laziness are on wicked tight this week, but tomorrow I will shatter them with my mighty typing fingers, just for you! As soon as I'm done playing Smoke on the Water on my fake guitar 50 times , that is.

Dec 16, 2005

guh

Guh. That's about all I can say after watching the 30-odd second Silent Hill teaser trailer.

Guh.

Happy Friday.

Dec 14, 2005

Because I Care

To keep you lot occupied while I come up with something... meatier to write about, I thought I'd point you in other directions for the time being, simply (like the title says) because I care.

Following links to links to links regarding information about Return to Sleepaway Camp, I came across a fab website called Upcoming Horror Movies. Guess what they cover there? Go on, guess! You're all so smart, I just love you to death. Here's a link directly to upcoming slasher flicks. There's some they've listed that I'm actually excited about- My Bloody Valentine 2, for example, sounds pretty sweet. Return to Sleepaway Camp has my knickers in a twist as well (wait, are knickers in a twist good or bad? because I mean good.), although it's going to be a truer sequel to Part 1, and skip the storylines of Parts 2 and 3 altogether. I adore all 3 Sleepaways, but I loves me some post-sex-change, self-righteous Pamela Springsteen 'Angela' in 2 and 3.

One of these days or months I'm going to tell you/list for you my favorite slashers. I promise. And when I do, you'll know why the upcoming remake of Black Christmas has me all 10-kinds-of-Hulkin'-out. It's 'roid rage time! Actually , I could just tell you why right now, albeit in not-so-deep detail.

I fucking love Black Christmas. I love it as much as a woman can love a horror movie on DVD without it turning into some kind of fodder for a Springer episode. I mean, come on now! Are you with me on this? It's got Margot Kidder (and we all know how special my relationship with Margot Kidder is), Olivia Hussey and her shiny hair, and the movie is fucking scary. Really, truly unsettling and scary. I don't know if you've seen it or not, so I don't want to spoil anything for you. I knew zero about it when I saw it for the first time- just last year- and I fell in love. Without giving any juiciness away, let me just say that the mystique developed around the killer is incredibly effective, to put it mildly. We don't know why he kills. Now, before you get all " he sounds like Michael Myers!" on me (and you know how I feel about Halloween and Michael Myers), let me just say this:

We don't know why he kills...and we don't know who he is. We don't see him during the movie, except for a disembodied eye behind a door. His name could be 'Billy', but that might not be true either. The fact that absolutely nothing is revealed about the killer was a little revolutionary, eh? No one does that. Sayeth director Bob Clark:

In the original, it was never my intention to reveal the killer's identity or backstory. It was bold and some people didn't appreciate it. When Warner Bros. bought the movie they tried to talk me out of it & into making more of a concluding finish.
Bob Clark stuck to his guns. He and writer Roy Moore rule.

Which all brings me to some sort of point, I suppose. For the remake (due in 2006), guess which angle the filmmakers are taking? Guess again. See why I love you? That's right, they're delving into the killer's backstory. While it could be an interesting backstory, can't we just leave it up to the imagination? Just this once? Please? I assume audiences need their hands held, they need explanations and 'why's. Stupid audiences. I hate them all! A white-hot ragin' hate! Not a 2 Minute Hate, a...a...15 Minute Hate!

And who's behind this remake? The writer/producer/director duo behind Final Destination are behind this, that's who. That's like...I don't know...let's say, first you find out your dog is talking about you behind your back, which is bad. Then you find out he "took a liking" to your pillow, which is worse. Then when he'd had his way with said pillow, he pooped in your coffee when you weren't looking, which is worse yet. See where I'm going with this? THEN you find out he ate your JJ Fad record which is...well, that's up in the air, now, isn't it.

Ha ha! You like JJ Fad!

Another fine site I'd like to point you to is a recent addition to the sidebar, Bleeding Skull. It's most righteous and filled with enough reviews to put my sorry ass to shame. And it just so happens they've got a link to the Black Christmas trailer right on the homepage. See how it all comes full circle? You'd think I planned it that way. In fact, I'll let you think I did.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention once again how much I'm looking forward to Silent Hill. That is all. Thank you and good night.

Dec 12, 2005

There's Gold in Them Thar DVD Cases!

At some point, somewhere in this blog, somebody pointed me to Just Before Dawn. I’m much much too lazy to go searching for the name, so if the recommender is reading this, I’ll just have to say muchas gracias. That’s Spanish for ‘thank you’!

Yes, saying thank you implies that I not only watched Just Before Dawn but I also enjoyed it. ‘Tis true. This 1980 slasher slipped under my radar in the days of VHS, but was recently released in a deluxe 2-disc set on DVD. Huzzah! Lookit me now, ma! I done seen it! I feel so cool, hip, and ‘in-the-know’.

This movie is full of the slasher stereotypes that we’ve all come to know and to love (or hate, depending on the movie). We’ve got the five teenagers, heading up into the woods to camp despite being warned repeatedly against it; the older authority figure (in this case, a park ranger played by George Kennedy, who I just love) who does the warning; the usual assortment of teens: the virtuous final girl, the nerd, the slut..; the backwoods inbred killers; the rural setting with dancing around the campfire…stop me if you’ve heard these all before.

Just Before Dawn works so well, however, because it takes all these stale ingredients (stale by today’s standards, anyway) and shows what you can squeeze out of them with good writing, good acting (including a turn by Jack Lemmon's son Chris), great direction, and a damn eerie soundtrack. And when I say ‘soundtrack’, I’m not simply referring to the music. Brad Fiedel uses SOUND to convey mood and create some real suspense. During several scenes, for example, there’s the constant chirping of crickets. It goes on so long that you begin to tune it out, as you would in real life- it becomes white noise in the background. Then, suddenly, the crickets stop and there’s silence. That silence means there’s someone out there in the woods. That’s not usually a good thing, now, is it? HINT: It is not.

Director Jeff Lieberman (Squirm) crafts some outright shudder-inducing sequences with the killers stalking the victims- the killers are out of focus and at the frame’s edge, but they’re there and we know it- the victims don’t. And I really thought I was way beyond getting spooked by the “Hey, is that you? Quit playing around, it isn’t funny anymore!” type of scenes. They’re so rarely effective, but there’s several of them here that are just outright fantastic, and I’ve been taught not to be so jaded- not that the lesson will stick.

I think a good indicator as to how much I like a movie is by how much I give away here in the reviews. When I really really dig a movie, I don’t want to give anything away because I want you to go out and see it for yourself, and it's always best to go into these things knowing as little as possible. So go. A reader recommended Just Before Dawn to me, and now I recommend it to you. That’s a double Final Girl Seal of Approval, but if you need more than that, then fine, be that way. I give it 8-and-a-half out of 10 crazy backwoods inbred killers and the slasher fans who love them. How’s that for ya?

Dec 9, 2005

hooray for trips

Alright, alright...I've been a little slacky. And now I'm going away for the weekend, so I won't be updating again until Monday. While you must go without new Final Girl for two more days, at least I'm telling you about it. You won't come here, anticipating new material just to find the same old boring crap you've seen before. That's right, kids...Final Girl is the blog that cares. I've got a movie waiting for my return Sunday night, so I promise a fresh start to our weeks.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a picture of one of my most prized possessions- my Freddy Krueger candle, bought on the mean streets of Chinatown and given to me by a friend. I love his meaty lips and Chiclet teeth. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

Dec 5, 2005

I'm drooling everywhere.

In case I've managed to keep it well-hidden up to this point, I suppose I should confess now that I'm a video game junkie. That's right- just when you thought I couldn't be any more of a geek, I go and make a statement like that. Well, hey- I'm a Gen-Xer, dude, what can I say? Ms. Pac-Man is like a stepmother to me. I was totally rude and disrespectful when she first started coming around, but now we're BFFs. Incidentally, where's the beef?

My favorite games are the horror-based ones, which should come as no surprise- particularly the Resident Evil series and the Silent Hill series. Games in the Resident Evil family are along the lines of solve-the-puzzles and kill-the-zombies, as you may know. A few scary bits here and there, but nothing that will really stick with you in the long run. Silent Hill, on the other hand...oh my. The games are some of the most immersive I've ever played, and damn if the makers don't know what's really scary. What's scary is the use of sound and darkness, which Silent Hill does like no other game. Armed at times with nothing but a flashlight and a length of pipe, exploring an abandoned hospital, hearing noises outside of your small circle of vision...knowing something's there but not knowing what...bleh! Bleh! Call me a wuss, but there have been times playing these games- all alone, lights off- when I have turned them off because I was too scared to continue. OK, yeah, that really is wussy. But it's true.

Silent Hill is a seaside resort town that becomes a nightmare-come-to-life for inhabitants and people passing through. In Silent Hill 2, the town beckons outsiders and becomes a hell to repay them for wrongs they've perpetrated. There's 2 faces to the town, both evil. One is a desolate ghost town where it's always snowing. The other is bloody, rusty, dark, noisy, and seems to be the offspring of Clive Barker and that amazing hospital sequence in Jacob's Ladder.

Twisted, sick, scary, amazing stuff.

I've always wondered if the games would translate to film well. I've even thought that if horror filmmakers would simply take some of the sensibilities of the games and apply them to films unrelated to the games, we'd get some good scares on the big screen. Well, we're all gonna get to see how the idea flies first hand when Silent Hill hits theatres in April. Directed by Christophe Gans (Necronomicon) and written by Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction), the film will tell the tale of a mother searching for her sick daughter in Silent Hill.

I know how these things go, and I know I shouldn't get my hopes up- I've seen Resident Evil 1 & 2. Although I must say I did find the first Resident Evil movie enjoyable, despite the fact that it wasn't scary in the least and bore close to zero resemblance to the games. But the pictures from Silent Hill just look so damn good- they seem to really be keeping the aesthetic of the games, which is what little Stacie has always hoped for.



See? My metaphorical penis has a big metaphorical boner over the prospects. A website for the movie went live today, and while it's mainly just a how-to for entering a make-a-movie-poster contest, there's lots of other film stills in the 'downloadable art' section. Check it all out at Welcome to Silent Hill. I absolutely cannot wait for April, and I'll be checking this movie out on opening night.

Dec 2, 2005

Congratulations! It's a blog!

Well, kids...an idea I've been kicking around for a long time has finally come to fruition. No, I haven't created a Charles Nelson Reilly museum in my basement...my other idea, I mean. I done gone n' started another blog, maw! She's called Four Color Girl, and it's going to be a place for my comics and art and the such. An ongoing, constantly updating portfolio and stuff, if you will.

That said, it won't take anything away from Final Girl. The Girls are two similar yet very different beasts...think Margot Kidder in Sisters. But if you're into the whole comics thing, check it out. Four Color Girl needs friends right now.

Here's a nice quote from Michael Eisner to get your juices flowing:
There are two kinds of ways to make money in the entertainment business. There is the very low road and the very high road, and there's nothing in between. The middle is the most dangerous to be investing in. It is the road to extinction. Because mediocrity is the enemy of creativity.

So if you want to be a pornographer, or you want to make slasher movies that only come out at Halloween, or you want to do only low-life stuff that appeals to a very small audience that will grow out of it as they age, great, go and do that.

I'm not interested in that. So if you want to make movies, television, games that are lasting, that you are proud of, you are lucky, because those will also be the ones that will endure. It's the best product that ends up making the most money over time.
Discuss.

Dec 1, 2005

Is your refrigerator running?

Let's talk about Pranks (1982), shall we? This movie arrived at Casa Stacie the other day, and the box copy promised me 3 things: Daphne Zuniga, a killer wielding a spiked baseball bat, and, well...pranks. Did it deliver on these promises? We get Ms. Zuniga (that's 'Jo' of Melrose Place to you, if you're nasty) in her first movie role, so check. One person is killed with the spiked baseball bat- check. Although, frankly, the funky motion-y graphic on the left there made me somehow assume that everyone would be killed with the bat, but that's another story I'll get to in a bit. Now, what's left on the list...ah yes, 'pranks'. Umm...there are none! "When the kidding stops..."? There's one character who's kind of a smartass, but mostly just a jerk. And he plays no pranks! Maybe it's my fault- I inferred from the title that there would be a hand in warm water to make someone pee, fake deaths a la April Fool's Day, or at the least the ol' corpse-in-the-bed gag from Terror Train. Yeah, that's it- I was expecting some pranks, dammit! Apparently the original title of this movie was The Dorm That Dripped Blood, which is a much better title in my opinion. It's not so generic or misleading as Pranks, and it's a nice cheeky nod to the 1970 Hammer anthology flick The House The Dripped Blood.

The short of it, Pranks tells the tale of 5 college students who stay on campus during Christmas break to clean out a dormitory that is slated for demolition...and, uh, someone starts killing them. The long of it, Pranks is a movie I really wanted to like. It started out with some poor sap being chased by an unseen killer- and when caught, he gets his hand cut in half- the long way. Eww! Such promise right off the bat! About 20 minutes in, I thought it might be a quirky unknown gem. An hour later, I thought "I know quirky unknown gems...and you, sir, are no quirky unknown gem, Daphne Zuniga or no Daphne Zuniga!". She's probably the only actor in this movie you'll know- in fact, this movie is the ONLY imdb.com credit for most of the people appearing. Despite playing a college student, Ms. Zuniga doesn't look much older than a high school sophomore here. In fact, I don't think she'd even hit puberty yet, if you know what I mean- wink wink, nudge nudge. I'm talking about her boobs, or lack thereof.

She's a little Jo Polniaczek from Facts of Life there, isn't she? No matter- she won't be sticking around long.

Debbie (Zuniga) tells Joanne (Laura Lapinksi), the leader of this pack, that actually she can't stay to help close down the dorm- she's going home for the holidays, and her parents are waiting outside in the car for her. When Debbie takes too long to come out, her dad decides to head inside to look for her- big mistake, dad! As he's heading up the stairs, the killer is heading down the stairs armed with the spiked baseball bat in hand and a pair of Chuck Taylors on feet. He swings for the fences and knocks dad's head outta the park. Well, you know me- I wish the head had come flying off...what actually happened was dad fell down with a bloody head. Not as thrilling, but OK. Then suddenly, we're back out at the car with mom, who's waiting patiently. Someone pops up from the backseat and strangles the poor thing to death with a piano wire. Wha? There's two killers? No no no...just some really awful editing and storytelling. There's but one killer, and I guess after offing dad, he managed to sneak into the backseat of the car without mom hearing a thing. Suuure. This shoddy direction plagued the entire movie- the POV changed so many times and there were so many slow pans and random music cues that it wasn't always clear who was looking at whom or who was in the scene or if I was supposed to be scared or what. At any rate, Debbie finally makes her way downstairs, only to find dead dad in the stairwell! Yikes! She races out to the car, opens the door, and out spills dead mom! Double yikes! Debbie is so distraught she passes out on the spot, and the killer takes this opportunity to back over her head with the family car. He dumps the whole clan in the trunk and speeds away in the Volvo. Do you see how the words 'unknown gem' began to float around in my brain pan? Yes, he'd killed 4 people with 4 different weapons and I wanted only the spiked baseball bat...but he backed over someone's head. That's good stuff.

Things slow down from there, unfortunately. Joanne and the other three students talk alot, and the exchanges are awkward, yet somehow I found them somehow captivating:

"Brian, how many do you want?"
"2, thanks, scrambled."
"Patti? How many do you want?"
"2 scrambled."
"How about you, Craig?"
"2 please. Over-easy, not too well-done. A little runny in the middle."
"Hey, aren't there any more napkins?"
"You may have to get them out of the supply room."

Did you see in the exchange above how 'difficult' Craig is? He has to have his eggs made all special-like. Can't settle for scrambled like everyone else. What a diva. Anyway, the dialogue is like that alot. There's also much unnecessary explaining and exposition- for example, instead of just leaving a note on someone's door, which the audience should be smart enough to figure out if you just show the action, Joanne says "I'm going to leave you this note now. I think you should read it.".

In addition to the foursome, there's someone else on campus- the transient weirdo, John (Woody Roll- quite possibly one of the best names ever)...he's not supposed to be there, and he's weird! He skulks around, picking through dumpsters, wearing Chuck Taylors (gasp!), and looking like the result of a wild night of lovin' between Art Garfunkle and Richard Simmons. I'm very, very sorry to put the idea of a Garfunkle/Simmons tryst in your head and mine, but it had to be done.

Woody Roll? Push him downhill to find out!

Very sorry. Anyway, John is, as Patti (Pamela Holland) calls him, "That weird guy with fuzzy hair.". Did I mention that he's weird? Hey, what's that smell? Could it be...red herring?

Eventually, everyone is dead except John, Joanne and Craig (Stephen Sachs). The others have met their fates via machete, power drill, and a big cauldron of something that's supposed to be steaming but just looked like dry ice. That's right, the baseball bat was retired after one use. Craig gets knocked out. John, carrying the machete, is pleading with Joanne to let him help her get out of this Death Dorm (another alternate title for this movie!)...but he's weird, so Joanne chops him with the machete when he drops it. Then, Craig appears to kill John and save the day and...out of the blue, confess to everything. Yes, it was he! Craig did it! Craig killed them all! He gives a lengthy explanation, of course, as to why he did it- because he was in love with Joanne, that's why. Okaaaaay. And...I guess somehow all those victims were preventing he and Joanne from being together. Sure...so he didn't kill Joanne's boyfriend Tim (Robert Frederick) who left town for a ski trip in the film's first 5 minutes, but he did kill poor flat-chested Debbie who was leaving to spend the holidays with her family? Great logic there, Craiggers. Oh, and when I say explain, I mean he explains..."You see, I went to the kitchen with Patti, then I pretended someone hit me. It really hurt, but...".

Just when you think Joanne is never gonna get out of this mess (and this movie is never gonna end), here comes the deus ex machina, in the form of some white trash dude Joanne met earlier that day when he asked about buying the dorm's furniture. This time, Joanne ends up knocked out. White Trash Dude, aka Bobby Lee Tremble (Dennis Ely) gets Craig cornered and is about to finish him off when the cops bust in for some reason. Craig slyly turns the tables and convinces the cops that White Trash Dude is the killer- and when White Trash Dude makes a sudden move, the cops shoot him up. With bullets, not smack or crystal meth or anything like that. He dies, and Craig is left alone with his beloved, unconscious Joanne. He carries her to the building's incinerator and...well, we don't know what happens. I guess he stuffs her in. I don't know if he follows her in to complete some weird murder-suicide mission or what. Cops on the dorm's roof, though, comment on the stinky smoke coming out of a pipe, so I know someone ended up char-broiled.

Such promise, Pranks...when you ran over Daphne Zuniga with a Volvo, you showed such promise. You failed to meet my expectations, though, and for that I must give you a mere 4 out of 10 panties in the freezer. And where the hell were the pranks?!

What stuck with me the most from this movie was a lingering feeling of "I've seen her somewhere before, but where?" in reference to Laura Lipinksi, aka Joanne. This is her only movie credit, so I've never seen her on the screen before. It nagged and gnawed at me, and finally about 7 hours later, I got it. She looked just like the result of a wild night of lovin' between my hairdresser Abbie and Hillary Clinton from those old pictures of her and Bill in college.

This comparison would impress you if you knew my hairdresser, honest.

Nov 29, 2005

Romero and stuff

The Guardian has a sorta interesting article about the current renaissance of the horror flick in American culture. You can easily draw parallels between trends in horror movies and the social climate, and Tom Shone, the article's author, argues that the current crop of scary offerings are filmmakers' answer to America's war on terror:

...America's war on terror may be the single biggest boost for the horror genre since Haley Joel Osment claimed to see dead people. Once again, America finds itself facing a nebulous, wraithlike enemy that scatters and regroups whenever you strike it, growing a new head every time it is lopped off. Throw in a gnawing sense of self-indictment, and you have the fertile shadowy ground in which horror likes to grow.

Well, I could maybe buy that if you're citing films such as George Romero's Land of the Dead or Wes Craven's Red Eye, which Shone does. He also, however, references blecchfests such as The Amityville Horror remake and The Fog remake, which are, as the infinite wisdom of C + C Music Factory would dub them, things that make me go 'hmm'. Stretching it a bit, maybe?

Funny, isn't it, how the recent movies with a bit of a message (or at least a point) are made by the vets who were making movies with a bit of a message (or at least a point) 25-30 years ago? Isn't it funny? Well, isn't it?! Go watch The American Nightmare if you don't believe me. Hollywood's proclivity to pump out bad horror movies to turn a buck is nothing new, but that's my point- horror movies are popular, but very few of them strive for anything more than box office position. The fact that the market is currently favorable to horror excites me, but so much of it seems to be sub-par- which, um...unexcites me. Don't get me wrong, I love my schlock, I love my crap, I love my bad horror movies. But let's not pretend that these turds are meaningful, alright?

Courtesy of Mike Imboden, who got it courtesy of Empire Magazine online, comes news of a sequel to George Romero's Land of the Dead. Unexcited, I am NOT! Was that confusing? I meant to say, this news makes Stacie happy. Still too confusing? Zombie good...me gooder. Wait, now I'm confused...

Yes, LotD did so well overseas and in the DVD market that a sequel is on the way. Huzzah, I say! Huzzah! I was one of the few who really liked Land...it definitely strayed from Romero's usual style and feel for a zombie movie, but it seemed to me the logical direction for him to go, if you consider all his zombie flicks in one large arc. It was more action-y than I'm used to from him, and it was bigger, less intimate...but it was also gory and fun and un-WB. I'm excited about a sequel because of this:
If it happens, a new Dead movie will follow the surviving characters from Land on their journey north...
That quote, to me, means the sequel could be more like Romero's earlier '...of the Dead' efforts- the story of how people cope and work together in a world overrun by zombies. More character studies, less fireworks. Me am happy. You can read the rest of the article here and decide for yourselves. I can't hold your hands forever, you know.

Tomorrow, I will have a movie review for you. A crapload* of movies arrived at Casa Stacie today, but I had no time to watch any. Patience, my pets...patience.

Oh, there have been a few kind-hearted readers who have inquired about purchasing the smash hit** comic of Mid-Ohio-Con '05, They Won't Stay Dead! Well, for anyone curious, the cost is a whopping $1.50, which includes postage. If you'd like a copy, just email me and we'll work out the deets. Righteous!

*crapload = 4
**smash hit = miserable failure

Nov 28, 2005

The Great Con Con

Well, gentle reader, I'm back from Mid-Ohio-Con '05...I was there and I was square.

I sold out of my mini-comic They Won't Stay Dead!, and angry hordes of nerds crowded around my table, demanding I go to Kinko's and print up more right this minute! I sheepishly approached Margot Kidder at her table, and when I held out the DVD sleeve for Black Christmas for her to sign, she stood and exclaimed "YOU are the fan I have been waiting for! I've signed so much Superman shit for so many nerds, but you...YOU! Come to me, fan of discriminating taste...let's hug here in the hallway of the Columbus Hilton and be Best Friends Forever!" She then handed me one of those half-a-broken-heart pendants that read

ST
ENDS

while she put on the half that read

BE
FRI

I handed her a copy of my comic, and when she was done reading it, she said, with tear shining in the corner of her eye: "You're my fan? No...no...I am but your humble servant. Now let's split, score some Oxy, and talk all night about Black Christmas.". We clinked our new pendants together like champagne glasses and walked off just as a rainbow peeked out from behind the clouds. The huzzahs of the mighty nerds echoed in the Hilton's corridors behind us.

All of that really happened, honest. It happened, and then I woke up in my bed Saturday morning in time to head to the first day of Mid-Ohio-Con.

I remembered my books! Good for me. I did have to drive back home before I got to the convention because I forgot my wallet, though. What the hell is wrong with me? I can remember the smallest little detail from some shitty movie- "Wow, did you know that the person who played Taffy McFattfatt in Halloween XIV: The Mild Irritation of Michael Myers liked to chew Juicy Fruit between takes? She also appeared on 2 episodes of Small Wonder!"- but I can't remember my wallet when I go somewhere to spend money. Screw Oxy, Margot- I need to score some Gingko.

The con was pretty quiet. Could there BE a more terrible weekend to hold an event like this? People are spending money on Christmas presents, not back issues of Night Force. OK, I am, but I've heard that I'm weird. It's also a terrible weekend for folks to travel. I shake my fist at whoever chose Thanksgiving weekend as the traditional weekend for Mid-Ohio-Con! I shake my fist and sneer! I did manage to sell some stuff- copies of the BloodRayne book and some BloodRayne pages. That was dope. But man, I just could not move They Won't Stay Dead!. What's wrong with people? Does no one have sense? They're all bastards! I did sell a few, however- to my frickin' tablemates! Kevin Melrose from Dark, But Shining bought one, as did Mike Imboden. They are truly stand-up fellas, and I think that perhaps they weren't even completely pity purchases. But the general public can, as my gramma would say, "kiss my ass and call it love". Yes, she really would say that, too. Deon Nuckols, another buyer, tablemate, and stand-up fella handed a copy of my book to some guy. The guy opened it, took one look, said "It's just a buncha sticks!", put it back on the table, and left in a huff. That's right, folks- my comic pissed him off because it's stick figures. Yeah, you heard me- it's stick figures, dammit. It's stick figures and zombies and zombie stick figures. Other comic books might have "real-looking people" and "rendering", but, I ask you, do they have THIS?

If you can find me an issue of Spider-Man where he's punching out some lovingly rendered elderly zombie, I will give you a quarter. Incidentally, drawing stick figures is harder than you'd think. It took me a long time to get that woman in the panel above NOT to look like Q*Bert. She still bears a passing resemblance, unfortunately. Long story short, I just could not get the comics-buying public to part with a measly buck for my book. A dollar! Kevin did get a copy of the book into the hands of Gotham Central artist Steve Lieber, however, as I was too chickenshit to give him a copy myself:

See, comic nerds? If it's good enough to be enjoyed by one of the best artists around, one of my favorites, one of the nicest guys on the planet, then it's certainly good enough for YOU! Hmm...maybe I'm on to something here. Yeah, I'll berate the fans into buying! That's it! "What, you think you're too good for my book? With that outfit? Are you serious? Come spend a dollar, you cheap fucks!" Maybe that should've been my marketing strategy. Well, there's always next year.

I guess by now you're suspecting that the tale of Margot & Me I told above wasn't entirely true. Sadly, you would be right. Yes, I gave her a Black Christmas DVD sleeve to sign. The guy with her, whoever he was, asked where I got it, and I said "Amazon". She signed it, I said something about it being a great, scary movie, she said something like "It is!" and we shook hands. No promises of being best friends forever. No skipping off under the rainbow together. She did, however, say that it was nice to meet me, so I guess that means there's hope for us yet. There's always next year.


Nov 23, 2005

Extry! Extry! Read All About It!

OK, so this may be old news...but it ain't old to ME, so I'm sharing.

You may recall me citing Adam Rockoff's book Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986 as an interesting read chock full of info on the slasher genre. Apparently I'm not the only one singing its praises, because Starz Entertainment Group and distributor THINKFilm are producing a documentary based on the book. At the risk of sounding like Kool-Aid Guy, I just gotta give an OHHHH YEAH! to this news.
The film provides a comprehensive and original look at the importance, prominence, and newfound legitimacy of the horror film genre and, more specifically, the sub-genre of the "slasher film." The feature-length documentary will contain an abundance of clips from classic films of the genre, as well as many current hits, and interviews with pre-eminent actors, directors, and producers, many of whom are themselves founders and masters of the genre.
I'm a total sucker for this kind of thing. I'll watch a documentary on just about any topic, but one chock full of slasher clips and related talking heads sounds to me like someone's been reading my diary or something. IFC's The American Nightmare is an entertaining documentary I highly recommend to you gentle readers out there, but it focuses more on horror from the 60's and 70's and the parallels between the films of directors such as John Carpenter, George Romero, David Cronenberg, and Wes Craven and societal attitudes and issues. But a documentary about slashers? They cite Sleepaway Camp and Black Christmas, and that's good enough for me. Again, I say- OHHHH YEAH! Read all about it here, and then someone go start an online petition to have a movie made about Final Girl. It'll be excitement on celluloid! Me sitting around watching movies, me a-type-type-typin' away, me staring off into space trying to think of something witty to say...yoo hoo! Starz Entertainment! I'm ready for my closeup!

In other news, I'll be parked at a table this Saturday and Sunday for Mid-Ohio-Con, a comics and other crap extravaganza. Should you find yourself at this illustrious event, stop by the Digital Webbing table where I'll be hawking my wares, as will Kevin Melrose from some website called "Dark, But Shining". I must remember my books...I must remember my books...I must...

Nov 22, 2005

The Killers Are Coming!

Do I like Prom Night (1980)? I really don't know. I've seen it enough times that you'd think I do. I watched it again today, though, and it just...I can't...I wanna...it didn't...well, I guess I was left wondering why I've seen it so many times.

The film is laid out like your archetypical slasher: we open with a flashback sequence which provides the killer with a reason to kill.
Some kids are playing hide and seek in an abandoned convent- except instead of just hiding and seeking, the person who's "it" is "the killer". So while searching for everyone who hides, the kid yells "The killer is coming!". If someone is found, instead of just being out of the game, they, too, become a killer. Kids play the darndest things!

Little Kim, Alex, and Robin are on their way to school and hear the others playing in the abandoned building. Kim runs home to get a forgotten textbook like a good little nerd, Alex heads to school, and Robin decides to check out the game. She should know that older kids never want to play with younger kids, though- but she has to find out the hard way. All the other kids gang up on poor Robin and chase her throughout the building, yelling "The killers are coming!" in her face. Robin is clearly terrified, but the little punkasses keep coming at her, backing her up against a window and shouting "KILL! KILL! KILL!" at her until they force her out the window. She falls a few storeys to the ground and dies. The "killers" (Nick, Wendy, Jude, and Kelly) decide NOT to go for help, but rather to swear never to tell a soul. They hop on their bikes and ride off. Children are truly heaven's gifts to us here on Earth, and I do believe they are the future.

We move up to the here and now, and everyone is six years older and getting ready for the prom. Grown up Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) and grown up Nick (Casey Stevens) are prom queen and king and so totally in love! Grown up Wendy (Eddie Benton) is Nick's ex-who-won't-let-go and is all bitch and attitude as she rides around in her orange Corvette. The other girls, Jude and Kelly, are The Nerd Who Will Do "It" and The Nerd Who Says She'll Do "It" But Then Will Change Her Mind At The Last Second And Really Piss Off Her Boyfriend, respectively. Each of the "killers" gets a phone call from someone who intones in a raspy voice things like "See you at the prom!", "Tonight it's my turn!", and "Do you still like to play games?". Guess it's payback time! Not that anyone really gets the hint- no one seems to feel particularly threatened, and the calls get chalked up as simply unobscene obscene phone calls. Personally, I think the calls would have been more effective if the Prom Whisperer had said "The killer is coming!"- at least someone would catch on, maybe. As an audience member, I find it decidedly unscary when the killer crosses names off of his "to do" list after he calls them. There's just something mundane about it- like on one page he has written NICK, KELLY, JUDE etc, but then what- BUY SCOOP AWAY AND BACON on the next page? Chores, chores, chores. And let's talk practicalities, here- keeping a list of your intended victims is probably not a good idea. I realize, though, that this is 1980- the days before CSI taught America and the rest of the television viewing world what NOT to do when trying to commit the perfect crime.

And now, the night of every child's dreams...the prom. Being made in 1980, Prom Night is fully- and I mean fully- entrenched in the disco era. From the moment the prom starts until the end credits, the disco music is virtually non-stop. At times this is fun: there's a song called Prom Night ("Prom night! Everything is all right!"), to which Kim and Nick do an elaborate choreographed dance while the rest of the promgoers stand in a Clapping Circle. That's right, if you've ever wanted to see Jamie Lee Curtis get down on a lit-up floor, this movie is for you. At times, however, the music is not fun. It goes on SO LONG that at one point I was considering putting lit matches in my ears just to make the music stop. Then I found the 'mute' button on my remote and I was saved.

During the festivities, various main characters go off to various places to have sex...or in the case of Kelly, come thisclose to having sex. And now, finally, the killer makes his appearance. Yes, besides poor defenestrated Robin, no one gets killed in this movie in the first hour. This is fine if the buildup to murder and mayhem is filled with tension and dread, as in Halloween. In Prom Night, however, the buildup is filled with disco music ad nauseum. Anyway, yes, the killer is coming! Dressed in black with a matching ski cap, he chases people around and offs them in a generally inept fashion. For example, he takes a swing at Wendy with an axe, and when he misses, she runs off. He runs after her, but comes back right away because he forgot his axe. Heat of the moment, I guess. At least he remembered before he got her cornered, though, and found himself weaponless: "Uhh..hey, wait right here a minute! I'll be right back! Err...don't run away, please.".

After Jude, Wendy, and Kelly are dead (as well as a few unlucky others who got in the way), it's Nick's turn- but Kim ain't havin' none-a that! Ain't no one gonna kill her man! Not at the prom, beeyatches! Don't worry, it only turned into an episode of Jenny Jones in my head for a second. Nick and the killer struggle on the dance floor...the killer loses his axe...Kim grabs the axe, and when she has a clear shot, she takes it! Wham! She whacks the killer in the head with his own weapon. Jamie Lee Curtis is once again a kickass final girl. She has saved the day, but...she and the killer lock eyes for a moment, and she realizes with horror that the man in black is her brother Alex! Nooooo! But yeeees, it's him. He tells her with his dying breath that he saw what happened to Robin all those years ago at the abandoned convent and he had to make them all pay! Pay! Paaaaaay! He's not so wordy, though- it's more like "Robin! They did it! Shmlehhhhhh...." and he dies in Kim's arms. Lucky Kim- she gets to spend the rest of her days musing on the fact that her friends killed her sister when they were young, that her brother killed her friends when they were older, and that she killed her brother at the prom. Hmm. Maybe it IS all a little Jenny Jones.

The most terrifying thing about Prom Night is the ruthless children at the beginning yelling KILL! KILL! KILL!. Little bastards. Other than that, it's not scary and is ultimately pretty forgettable. Maybe that's why I've seen it so many times. I'll probably watch it again in a few months, then ask myself why I keep watching it. Well, there's always Jamie Lee on the light-up dance floor. I give it 6 out of 10 smoove mooves.

Nov 19, 2005

I was 9, Part II

I promised that 1981 saw the release of more great horror flicks than just the bevy I wrote about yesterday, didn't I? And you were all "Nuh uh, I bet not", weren't you? Well, after this you're so gonna wish you had just believed me in the first place! Haven't you learned to just believe me by now, gentle reader? Haven't you?!

I hope you read the fine post I pointed you to yesterday about the werewolf flick The Howling. 1981 was a banner year for the lycanthropes and the fans who love them, as audiences were treated not only to The Howling but also to Wolfen (which is more about Indian mythology than a straight-up werewolf tale, if you want to be picky...) and to the John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London. If you've never seen it, then you'd best go rent it right this minute and watch it. Then come back and we'll continue talking. Go on, I'll wait. OK- got it? Seen it? Great! Now you know that American is a scary, funny flick long on atmosphere and even...umm...longer on fantastic pre-CGI special effects. When I saw "fantastic pre-CGI", I don't mean "fantastic even though they're not CGI", because to my mind Rick Baker's Oscar-winning man-to-wolf transformation sequences would be tough to top even 25 years later.

The Burning: This above-par slasher flick gave Oscar winner Holly Hunter, Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, and that guy you've seen in a million movies but you can't name one Fisher Stevens their first movie roles as campers doomed to death by the eeeevil Cropsy. Armed with giant scissors, Cropsy set about to get some revenge on the prankin' campers who burned him alive in a joke-gone-wrong years before. When you've got Tom Savini at the helm of the FX department, you know you're in for some gory treats, and while I'd LIKE to vouch that the film delivers, it's currently out of print and the only version I've seen (original release VHS) is so cut up that the effects are severely limited. I sincerely hope The Burning gets the DVD re-release treatment soon so we all get to see Cropsy take out an entire raft full of campers the way it was meant to be seen, dammit!

My Bloody Valentine: I used to reeeeeeally dig this Canadian slasher flick. It's fairly by-the-numbers as these things go: way back when, a mining accident left five miners dead...on Valentine's Day! Seems the accident happened because some selfish, good-for-nothing supervisors shirked their duties to attend the annual St Valentine's Day dance. The one survivor, Harry Warden, swore revenge on the whole town- with lots of raised-fist shaking, one can assume. Now, years later, the kids want to resume the V-Day dance tradition, and Harry sure is ticked off! You know where it goes from there, right? Like I said, by the numbers...but this movie has always stuck out in the crowd for me, for some reason. The killer, all done up in miner's gear with gas mask and pick axe, stalking the mine shafts, smashing the lightbulbs out as he went along was a very scary sight to young Stacie. Older, wiser, kinder, gentler Stacie still thinks it's a little scary. Don't make fun.

Deadly Blessing: I haven't seen this Wes Craven effort in soooo long, I had even forgotten it existed- and thinking about it is making me want to track down a copy. Wes Craven, Ernest Borgnine, Sharon Stone, spiders, snakes, the "Incubus", and the Amish-ish folks who fear it. Ohhhhh yeah.

Scanners: David Cronenberg. Telepaths. Michael Ironsides. Exploding heads.

Hell Night: Linda Blair. Sorority initiation in a haunted manor. Murderer inside. You've seen it all before, but in '81 the ideas were still fresh. Plus, Linda Blair.

Oh 1981, what else? What else could there be? Well, and then there's Maude...no, wait, I don't mean Maude. I mean there's Just Before Dawn, a flick recommended to me by a kind reader- it's on the way to my house as I type this. There's The Entity, with Barbara Hershey and her invisible, demon rapist. There's The Hand, the Oliver Stone directed flick about...umm...a hand...a hand that KILLS! I gotta revisit that one sometime soon. Nothin' like a detached hand scuttling about, getting up to all sort of nefarious derring-do. Let's not forget The Fan, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Blood Beach, Final Exam...the list of Stars of the Class of '81 just goes on and on.

Did you think I would could possibly write about 1981 without mentioning my favorite flick from that year- nay, one of my favorite flicks, period- Friday the 13th Part 2? Sorry if I scared you- I was simply saving the best for last. This movie features crazy, potato sack-wearin', backwoods Jason- the best Jason Voorhees in all 11 F13 movies, in my humble opinion. This movie features Amy Steel as our final girl Ginny...and if you don't know how I feel about Amy Steel, well, then you must just be tuning in to this site. What else can I say about this flick that I didn't say during my Friday the 13th marathon in Shocktober!- which you can read about here? Probably not much. And thusly I shall but silently post some pictures.

Oh, 1981, will you marry me?

Nov 18, 2005

I was 9

Recently I was looking for something amongst all my papers and crap and came across this little gem:
Yeah, boyeee, it's Fangoria #10, from 1981. My mom found it amongst all her papers and crap and gave it to me the last time I was home. Yes, I read Fangoria (and Famous Monsters) when I was but nine years old. I haven't looked at an issue of this magazine in years, but when I was a kid, in the early years, it kicked ass. Gross pictures, scary pictures, articles on filmmakers and comics and blah blah blah...man, Fango sold me on so many movies- Motel Hell, Dead and Buried, Fade to Black...I wanted to see them all oh so badly. Most of the time the movies didn't hold up to what my imagination inferred from the pictures, but once in a while they did. Fade to Black was a movie I looked forward to, thanks to Fango, after they printed pictures of Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher) in all the various getups he wore throughout the movie. If you read my review (link above), you know I wanted to kick it in the nuts because I didn't like it. Well! Perusing the letters column from this little time capsule, apparently I wasn't the only person who fell for it. Quoth one Paul Lanner of Staten Island, NY:

Being both a movie critic for my high school and an avid fan of horror films, I strongly felt that Fade to Black should have been omitted from your very good magazine. Let me tell you why.

And so he does.
Ha! Was I made a fool of! Fade to Black left a bitter taste in
my mouth. Not only was the screenplay insidious, the acting was also. Dennis Christopher resembled nothing more than a zombie from Dawn of the Dead. In fact...(it) was not a horror movie, it was a stale, obnoxious comedy with no laughs. I feel it should only receive *1/2.
And there you have it. I just wanted to point out that my opinion has been validated by a high school movie critic from yesteryear. Oh, and Fangoria's response to his letter? "You should know better than to listen to us!"

Inside the magazine there's also an article, An Anatomy of Terror, that has this for a teaser:
What makes terror work? And what will frighten us in 1981? We asked John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham, Richard Rubenstein, Don Coscarelli- and lots more people who should know!
And I thought to myself- if I could turn back time...if I could find a way...I'd take back the words that hurt you, and you'd stay. Then my little Cher make-believe fantasy ended and I thought to myself- Wow! 1981 rocked! Not only did my Mini-Minor League softball team go undefeated all season (and thusly become the champs), but '81 saw some wicked sweet flicks hit the screen. It's true. Behold the treasure trove!

Halloween 2: Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, this was more a continuation of Michael Myers's's's shenanigans from 1978's Halloween than a sequel. Or would that make it a true sequel? What is a sequel? Anyway...Jamie Lee Curtis stars once again as Laurie Strode, stalked by her craaaaazy brother Michael while she's all doped up in Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.

The Howling: Des did a marvy post about this werewolf flick during his October blogathon at Without Me You're Only You. I just loved Dee Wallace Stone in every movie she was in back in the day. She totally gets overlooked when people talk about "Scream Queens" (which, you know, is all the time), but I think she rocked. So there!

Evil Dead: Yeah, that Evil Dead. I think I saw this movie at just the right age that it's always been scary to me. It's waaay over the top, some of the effects are extra hokey, and the tongue is definitely in cheek with this Sam Raimi flick...but when Cheryl turns all evil? When she's locked in the cellar? The voices that are all demon-y? I thought that was some spooky shit back in the day. I think that's why the rest of the movies in the series don't matter to me- somewhere along the line it became more comedy than horror, and it ticked me off. Eh, maybe it always was a comedy and I just didn't get the joke. And you know what else? I don't think Ash (Bruce Campbell) is all that great. There, I said it. Nyah.

Ghost Story: Based on the novel by Peter Straub, Ghost Story centers around 4 fellas (Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr) who have a very dirty secret from their youth that comes back to haunt them in their golden years. Get it? "Haunt"? "Ghost Story"? Oh, man. That is beyond clever. This movie is a nice, simple, atmospheric spook tale, and I like it- even though it has old people in it. Now that's saying something!

Night School: This better-than-I-expected little slasher featuring Rachel Ward and her bare behind was part of my Shocktober! madness. See! A black-leather clad, motorcycle-ridin' killer stalks college girls on the wild, wild streets of Boston. See! A head in a shark tank at the aquarium. See! Someone smear weird red stuff on Ms. Ward's arse in a shower scene.

Dead & Buried: Another surprise from Shocktober!, this Twilight Zone-esque flick is all about the evil deeds perpetrated by the residents of the sleepy New England town Potter's Bluff. While it's not particularly scary, I really like this movie and its twist ending.

There's so many movies from that magical year to talk about that I need to continue this post tomorrow. I know you, though. You're thinking...there can't possibly be that many more. She's gone mad! But you'll see. Oh yes...you'll see.

Just to tease, let's end this with some killer non-horror movies that debuted in '81, shall we?

Nighthawks: Oh, how I love this movie. A bearded Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams as detectives on the trail of a crazy, murderin' Rutger Hauer? Notice I ask as if there's any other kind of Rutger Hauer...anyway, I'm there, baby. And that ending- you know what I'm talkin' 'bout, Willis. You know...

Then there's some little-known gems like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Road Warrior, Clash of the Titans, Escape from New York, Time Bandits, and The Brady Brides. See what I mean? I swear, I'm gonna figure out a way to go back in time and marry 1981 if it's the last thing I do.

Nov 17, 2005

Short, yet sweet

I'm cookin' up something tasty and fab for tomorrow- trust me. But for today, you get a little of this and a little of that. Don't lose hope- I've been busy, but you're never ever out of my thoughts, Final Girl...except between 4 and 5- that's Stacie time.

Exhibit A: Yesterday saw BloodRayne: Lycan Rex hit comic shelves everywhere. It's got vampires and werewolves, but doesn't have anything to do with the upcoming Uwe Boll BloodRayne movie, I swear. I've never seen a Uwe Boll movie, but he seems to be universally reviled. I'm gonna have to check out at least one of his flicks, though, in hopes it'll be enjoyable on that good/bad level. I mean, didn't Alone in the Dark feature Tara Reid as a rocket scientist or something? I'm there. Here's some previews from Lycan Rex

Oh, and I'm mentioning this book because I inked it, ha HA! It's available in comic shops, if you care about that sort of thing, or you can order it online right here.

Exhibit B: from Lilja's Library comes a synopsis of the new Stephen King novel, Cell.

Civilization doesn't end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something...well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn't matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-"normies" is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school's moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.

CELL is classic Stephen King, a story of gory horror and white-knuckling suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.

CELL is scheduled to be released on January 24, 2006.

I'm cautiously optimistic. King's pretty hit-or-miss with me, especially in recent years. What I like, I really really like, and the rest..meh. Remember back when he had editors and his books were a tight 300 pages long, instead of a rambling 700? Those short, early books are among his best: Carrie, Cujo, The Shining...although The Stand is pretty damn long and pretty damn good. I tend to dig his short stories most of all. What worries me about the above synopsis is the promised "soccer field" scene. I hope it doesn't involve...monsters. Too much of King's work leads you down Path A, which can sometimes be a spooky, kick-ass little journey, and then suddenly you turn on to Path B, which is a cop-out monster mash. I'm looking at you, It!

Exhibit C: For your reading pleasure, here's a link to an interview with Ray Harryhausen, just because. Just because why? Just because I love Ray Harryhausen, that's why.

Until tomorrow, my pets...

Nov 14, 2005

I'm dreaming of a...

Here I am, rock you like a hurricane. I've freshly returned from Dark Xmas, the little horror con in Warren, OH, and oh, the sights I have seen.

Firstly, let me just state upfront that I have got to be the biggest tool on the entire planet. Shocking, yes, but true. "But Stacie, " you say, "This is not possible. You DEFINE cool and cutting edge, what with your 'Charles Nelson Reilly' this and your 'I love Halloween III' that. What is this "tool" of which you speak? You must mean 'tool of wicked awesome'!" Alas, I just mean "tool". You see, the reason I left Final Girl waiting out in the cold all last week is because I was working on a mini-comic to sell at the con. I finished it Friday night- all the stapling and whatnot, and I felt so...so... indy! I was ready to rock the socks off the people of Warren, Ohio...I was imagining myself standing atop the table, books in hand, people at my feet, their dollar bills thrust high in the air- like I was a stripper on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or something. Pure. Mini-comic. Magic.

I left my house early on Saturday, so psyched and ready, man- ready! The three-hour drive went by like it was three minutes. I pulled into the parking lot of the host hotel, and thought to myself- "OK, iPod goes in suitcase in trunk. Here's my wallet...now where'd I put the boooooooo----------------".

Instant panic. My cheeks caught fire as I remembered that I hadn't put the books anywhere. They were still sitting in a bag on my living room floor.

So this meant that all my hard work would go unworshipped by the people of Warren...and also that I was going to be sitting at a table with my pal Dirk Manning with nothing to do for two days. See? TOOL! Like Dirk pointed out, I'll just have plenty of copies of They Won't Stay Dead! for the upcoming Mid-Ohio-Con. Small consolation, but consolation nonetheless. I guess.

But enough of this sad, sad story! Onto Dark Xmas! What wonders did the Comfort Inn hold this weekend? Well...umm...hmm. These shows never really turn out the way you expect them to, now do they? It was a nice little show and all, don't get me wrong, but it was not a buyer's convention. I was actually pretty pissed when I realized how little there was to buy. I fully expected to come home with some new flicks to review, but it was not to be. I did, however, pick up a most righteous autographed picture of Christopher Lee as Dracula. I don't normally buy autographed photos, or even care about them, but it's Christopher Lee. As Dracula. And it was cheap.

The tables at the con were manned mostly by basement horror movie directors selling their wares. No offense to anyone, as I'm a basement director myself, but come on. The fact that I have iMovie and a video camera doesn't make me a fucking auteur who should be selling my videos for $20. If you're at my house, I'm gonna make you watch 'em, but I wouldn't try to make you buy them. Unless you were drunk.

Tom Savini was in attendance, but he seemed really cranky every time I walked by and I totally wimped out. He was the only person I wanted to meet, but I knew I'd just get up to his table and say something stupid and make him even more cranky. He may just have been bored- like I said, the show was a little...quiet. By "quiet", I mean "a little better than completely dead".

Now, onto the highlight reel:

*There was Sid Haig of House of 1000 Corpses wearing a bib that read "Born to Suck Titty".

*The promo model dancing atop her table, with or without spectators, to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" at various times over the weekend. Whenever she started the music, this guy in a wheelchair made a beeline for the front row, right up against her table. Like the sign behind the table said- Promo Models Rule!!

*The female stormtrooper slyly attempting to adjust her codpiece.

*Harvey Pekar's nerd friend Toby was there on Saturday, and he really, really is a nerd. Really.

*The dude walking around who had a bottle of beer and a cigarette...he had nowhere to put the cigarette out, so he held his bottle between his teeth and rubbed the cigarette out on his palm. I hope to be that tough and badass someday.

*Can you see what kind of a weekend I had?

Saturday night Dirk decided to go hobnob with the drunken masses after the con, whereas I was happy simply to go back to the hotel- drunken masses just aren't really my thing (nor Dirk's, to be fair, but he wanted to pimp Nightmare World. Of course, he ended up falling asleep in his car, but that's another story.). Imagine my glee when I tuned in to the very beginning of the roaches-gone-crazy flick They Crawl and these words appeared on the screen:

with
Tone Loc
and
Mickey Rourke

Clearly, I made the right choice by staying behind. But oh, 'lil Stacie sure was tired, the bed sure was comfy, and the movie sure was awful. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was a shot of computer-animated cockroaches crawling out of a big pile of white rice or something. I remember thinking "Shouldn't the rice move?" because the roaches were just kind of...appearing on top of the pile. Then it was off to Slumberland. I never even got to see Tone Loc.

Warren has its fair share of "Oriental Sauna Health Spa"s, bars, and churches. What I liked about the churches was that they each put a snappy little saying on their signs outside...like "Every day is a gift from God...that's why it's the present" and "Poverty of purpose is worse than poverty of purse". What I liked about the Oriental Sauna Health Spas was the term "health spa".

There you have it. I don't mean to really paint the show in a bad light- it was certainly amusing. We met some really cool people, and I had a blast hanging out with Dirk. I was definitely let down by the lack of crap to buy, but maybe that's just me. Apparently next year's Dark Xmas will feature Elvira and Linda Blair as guests- that oughta liven things up a bit. And I really, really hope to remember my fucking books next time. Tool.

Promo models rule!!