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!

Feb 28, 2006

It's art, man

Today I discovered Movie Goods, a site loaded with movie memorabilia such as photos, film cells, and posters, from reproductions to foreign rarities. Here's some of the noteworthy stuff for sale I found during a cursory browse (all images courtesy of

An awesomely creepy lobby card from Alice, Sweet Alice:

Here's a German poster for John Carpenter's The Fog:

Isn't that terrible? That's got to be one of the silliest, least terrifying images I've ever seen. Is she supposed to be scary or scared? I can't tell...she's cross-eyed and her hair is going crazy! Eyyaggggghhhhh! Actually, it looks like maybe there's a flasher in the fog and he's just shown her his manpurse.

From the Completely Judging a Book by Its Cover Department, the movie I've never heard of but want to see desperately now based solely on its title and poster:

What on earth did the cats do? Did they pee on his pillow? Did they shed all over his best suit? I'm wondering what the cats could have possibly done to make a man put pantyhose on his head and take someone who looks vaguely like Debbie Reynolds hostage. And who are all those girls lined up? Are they the "cats" in question? I must know...I must know!

I love this Italian poster for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. It seems to me that modern posters, when not just a plain photograph of the stars themselves, are simply dull, over-Photoshopped crud. Gimme a painted, broken baby doll head any day of the week!

Movie posters also used to be great marketing, really drawing you into the flick- especially when the flick in question is produced by William Castle, the gentleman who brought us such gimmicks as selling 'life insurance' to audience members (in case they died of fright during the film), or zapping their seats during The Tingler. Check out the poster from Bug:

Yep, it's the movie you see with your eyes closed! Castle's "serious warning" states:
Many people have an uncontrollable fear of the unknown. If you are such a person, please believe me when I say- this movie is not for you.
Have you seen Bug? The cockroaches can start fires and they spell out WE LIVE on a wall. It fucking rocks. Don't forget to go over your checklist after viewing!

The Japanese poster for Friday the 13th has a great layout, atmosphere, blood, action, and short shorts:

And finally, this is why Movie Goods will be getting some of my dollars-

That's what I'm talkin' bout, Willis. Long live memorabilia!

Feb 27, 2006

Denial something something river...

Bloody-Disgusting has a few pictures (as well as a link to a few more) from the set of the remake of Black Christmas. The film stars Michelle Trachtenberg (of Buffy), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (of Ring 2), and Katie Cassidy (of 7th Heaven) as residents of a sorority who are harrassed and eventually killed by a psycho living in their attic. Oliver Hudson of Dawson's Creek also stars, so obviously it's chock-a-block full of your favorite WB c-listers. Yaaaaay! One bright spot is Andrea Martin, who starred in the 1974 version; she's in a couple of the on-set snaps, so there's at least one original cast member returning for the remake.

Helming this picture are Glen Morgan and James Wong, the duo behind the Final Destination franchise. While I happen to enjoy the Final Destination flicks on a sort of visceral level, I hope the boys can go with a bit more subtle touch with Black Christmas.

Well, the movie is due out in December 2006, so I can no longer pretend that it isn't going to be made. These pictures from the set, though quite dull, prove that a remake of one of my favorite horror movies wasn't just some nightmare I had- it's actually happening. I guess this means I was naked during my Organic Chemistry lecture today, too.

And by the way, I was being sarcastic when I said yaaaaay.

Feb 22, 2006

I don't know how to feel right now.

In my quest to be The Last Person on Earth to Find Out About Things, I came across a nugget of info on David Arquette's upcoming slasher film The Tripper at Bloody-Disgusting. For all of you too busy or too cool to click the link, the plot apparently goes something like this:
The film revolves around a group of friends who escape to a modern-day Woodstock concert for a weekend of debauchery, only to be stalked by a fanatical killer determined to finish what he started years earlier.
Sounds, dare I say...old school and not too bad.

David is directing the film and co-wrote the screenplay. Wife Courtney Cox-Arquette is co-producing. Names attached include Jamie King, Lukas Haas, Balthazar Getty, Jason Mewes, Thomas Jane, and...Paul Reubens. It's this last name that's got me excited, because Paul Reubens fucking rocks. There's pictures from the set at the link above, and they're worth checking out just for Reubens's deadly moustache-and-mini-fro combo. I'm hoping that's an uncredited-as-of-yet Steve Zahn in the photos as well, because that would firmly put me in Arquette's camp.

I'll bring more news of this movie as it comes, because frankly, I'm intrigued. I'm not a David Arquette fan, and I could do without Jason Mewes. I've got a bad feeling that he'll be playing a Dewey-esque retard slacker type, but I could be very wrong. There's a picture of a headless body at the link, and the plot sounds classic. All the names attached to The Tripper strike me as bizarre, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on...they're all disparate personalities, maybe. They should add Maya Angelou and Stephen Hawking to the list- somehow they'd fit in.

That's all from the news department here at It's New to ME! Tomorrow we'll be discussing the Macarena and Crystal Pepsi- try them together!

Does the future of horror lie with this man?

Feb 21, 2006

I Heart: House on Haunted Hill

Don't hate me because I love the 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill! Yes, I know it's a Dark Castle Production. Yes, I know it's way heavy-handed with the CGI. Yes, I know it features Chris Kattan. Let it be known, however, that the 90-odd-minute cornfest also has a very special place in my heart, and nothing you can say can make me change my mind! This is the point where I cross my arms, stomp my feet, stick out my tongue, and say 'nyah'.

I'm sure you're wondering how this movie could have possibly won a place in my heart, given my high standards and impeccable taste in horror, right? RIGHT? Right. So, let me tell the tale and give you a little insight into a day, long ago in the life of moi, in a dazzling city known as "New York"...

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar bookseller at a location to be known as "Large Chain Bookstore". Getting by in New York City on a meager book jockey's salary is, to understate it tremendously, quite difficult. Believe me, the novelty of selling books to Sally Jesse Raphael wears off quickly when you're scraping together your last dimes -literally- to come up with subway fare. Yes, dear readers, the times they were a-tryin' indeed. In addition to the daily anxiety of having no money, ever, I also felt completely deflated every time I walked up the stairs from the train to the street. The job had long since worn out its welcome with me, and it depressed me to no end to go in for each shift. While working in a bookstore might seem to be a nice quaint little job, you're still simply working in a shop...and the wealthy customers of Park Avenue, New York City wouldn't let you forget it. I loathe retail, but I loathe being treated like "the help" far more. Any dollars are better than no dollars, however, and I had no idea what to do with myself next- so I kept on going back for more.

One fine day, whilst working the cash registers, I got into a wee argument with one of the assistant managers, over what I no longer remember. He told me to take a break, so I gladly did. I'd been in the breakroom about 5 minutes, talking with a co-worker, when another manager walked in and asked if I was on lunch. When I replied in the negative and related what had happened, she told me to get back on the floor or punch out. I thought about this for a few seconds, and then in a flash came these simple words to my little brain:

I don't have to work here.

I said it out loud to my co-worker- "Hey, I don't have to work here". Then I walked into the office and told them I was punching out for good. By the time I had cleaned out my locker and swiped my timecard for the last time, the breakroom had filled with people having lunch. Word had spread very quickly about what I'd done, and I kid you not- my co-workers in the breakroom started chanting my name and banging on the tables. STA-CIE! STA-CIE STA-CIE! I felt like Norma motherfucking Rae! I held my arms aloft, smiled, and walked out of Large Chain Bookstore in the middle of the day, in the middle of my shift. I still count it as one of the best things I've ever done in my entire life. Take your Olympic gold medals and cram 'em- I walked out of my job in the middle of the day! Take that, Jackie Joyner-Kersee! I'd like to see you try, Flo Jo!

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. Somewhere in the back of my head was the beginnings of a panic attack- I'd been scraping by, and now I was completely jobless- but I stuck my middle finger up at said panic attack and kept on truckin'. I walked the 15 or so blocks to Times Square- I may have even whistled, or jumped up and clicked my heels together, I can't say...the journey was a blur. If the pigeons and squirrels were smiling at me, or if I spun around Sound-of-Music-style amongst twirling garbage of the Manhattan streets, I wouldn't be surprised. It was like I was a living, breathing Mentos commercial! Somehow, I ended up at Virgin Megastore and browsed around a bit. I went down to the movie theatre in their basement and plunked down my last dollars on a Coke, some popcorn, and a ticket to House on Haunted Hill.

There I sat in the theatre, all alone and terribly proud of myself, munching away and having one hell of a good time. I thought the movie itself was fantastic- absolutely perfect for my mood, and I fancied myself a total rebel, sitting in a movie theatre watching a horror movie when I should've been selling books to uptight New Yorkers!

For those of you who don't know the story, the movie is a remake of the 1959 flick starring Vincent Price- I've never seen the original, so I've no idea how the two films compare. Geoffrey Rush (Shine) stars as Stephen Price, a man who's made his wealth by scaring people with thrill rides and 'haunted' amusement parks. He's hosting a birthday party at the titular house for his wife Evelyn (Famke Janssen), although he could be throwing the party simply as a lark- his real goal may be to kill his unfaithful spouse. She's got nefarious plans of her own, however, and it may be Stephen who doesn't live to see dawn. Also in the house are the party guests- a whopping 4 of them, who will each receive a check for one million bucks if they can make it through the night in the house. It's a renovated insane asylum, you see, and it's haunted, of course. Scary things happen, corny things happen, and lots of people die.

I watched House on Haunted Hill again today, and even without the taint of my personal rebellion, it's still loads of fun. Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen are fantastic as the warring couple- Rush particularly chews the scenery like it's made out of Laffy Taffy. There's gore a-plenty, some genuine scares, and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing as to who's fooling who. It's mindless enjoyment- and there's not a damn thing wrong with that, right? So turn off your brain and have fun with House on Haunted Hill- quitting your shitty job in addition is completely optional.

Feb 20, 2006

All Gorked Out

Today being President's Day here in America, I thought a fitting salute to the men that have led our country would be a viewing and write-up of the 1981 gothic slasher flick, Hell Night. If you're having trouble seeing exactly how that's a fitting tribute, well, you should know that as I type this I'm wearing a beard and stovepipe hat. I think I'll continue wearing the hat even after the's rather jaunty.

Yep, that's Linda Blair there on the box art, screaming as she climbs the wrought iron gate in her flouncy top. Blair stars in Hell Night as Marti, one of four fraternity/sorority pledges who must spend the night in spooky Garth Manor to complete their initiation.

The legend of Garth Manor is explained to us on the long walk from the crazy campus costume party to the house itself by Alpha Sigma Rho head honcho Peter (Kevin Brophy). 12 years ago, Garth patriarch Raymond wigged out and slaughtered his deformed family before killing himself as well. He left one survivor: Andrew, the "gorked-out" son. I'm not even sure what that means, exactly. The other Garth family members are described as mongoloid, blind-deaf-and-dumb, dim-witted...but Andrew is constantly referred to as "gorked-out". At first, I thought Peter was saying "dorked-out", which would simply mean that Andrew was a big nerd, but...I digress. At any rate, Andrew was never found by authorities, and is said to still be living somewhere in Garth Manor! And with that, Peter padlocks the gates and tells the pledges he'll be back at dawn to release them. From the get-go, we know exactly how this movie's gonna play out, right? Sure we do, but the fun's in the getting there.

The pledges pair off into boy-girl duos and promptly split-up. Heading straight to bed are surfer dude Seth (Vincent Van Patten) and Quaalude-packin' Denise (Suki Goodwin), while Marti (Blair) and Jeff (Peter Barton) have a fireside chat about life...he's rich! She's a mechanic! One time, she thought she saw a witch! One time, he thought he saw an elf! How sweet.

Meanwhile, Peter and some cohorts have returned to Garth Manor to play some of those Spooky Sounds cassettes over a jury-rigged PA system to scare the pledges- you know, those orange tapes with sounds like screams, rattling chains, moans, creaking doors, and the such. They've got a whole night of pranks planned for the pledges, but...dare I ssay it...the joke's on them!

Soon enough, the bodies pile up, just as we knew they would. Not only is gorked-up Andrew still alive, but so is his homicidal dad! There's 2 Garth crazies stalking the halls and the underground passages...who will make it out alive after night? Most likely it's the one actor who starred in The Exorcist.

Hell Night has decidedly less gore and nudity than its contemporaries, but it more than makes up for these "shortcomings" with great atmosphere and some genuinely scary scenes. Director Tom DeSimone talks about both the lack of gore and the gothic feel of Hell Night in Adam Rockoff's Going to Pieces:
We knew we were making a slasher film, however, we wanted to get away mostly from the gore and try to scare them with scares, rather than repulse them with guts. A lot of our murders, although they're kind of horrific, you don't really see that much. There isn't that much bloodletting in our picture.
I wanted a classic Gothic look. I don't like these horror films where people are walking around haunted houses wearing jeans and t-shirts. So we threw our heads together and I said I wanted Linda in a Gothic kind of wardrobe. And we came up with the idea to make the hell night party a costume party. And that way we were able to have everyone in those kinds of costumes that suited their personality.
I'm a fan of movies that go for the scares over the shocks, and Hell Night certainly delivers on the spookiness. If you're looking for a night of restrained horror- yes, it's possible, even in a slasher!- give it a shot. I mean, Linda Blair, folks...come on now! Don't get all gorked-out on me! I give it 7 out of 10 heaving bosoms.

Feb 17, 2006

Time to OD!

Ah, internet 'telephone' and the joys it can bring! Via awesome reader Michelle in the comments from yesterday's post, who got it from Ain't it Cool News, who scored from Bloody-Disgusting, who copped it from, comes this sweet shot of Pyramid Head from the upcoming Silent Hill movie.
Pyramid Head is an executioner who relentlessly pursues you throughout Silent Hill 2. He's got a huge knife, he brutalizes his fellow bad guys, and he is very, very scary- despite the fact that his name is "Pyramid Head". Here's some shots from the game- SH director Christophe Gans and crew have done an unbelievable job on this.

I've decided to completely boycott the month of March in an attempt to get the April release of Silent Hill here faster. I hope you'll all join me in my efforts- if we band together, we can do anything!

Feb 16, 2006

ad nauseum

Mr. Chadwick H. Saxelid's got all the current skinny on the new Friday the 13th movie (via Fangoria) right here for your reading pleasure. Go forth, if it be info ye seek!

Ugh, I can't even bring myself to type about that topic anymore. Sure, I'll read about it...but I also feel a severe lethargy creeping in. Info overload! Too much speculation, too many brain feels all fat with Friday the 13th possibilities, and I don't mean fat as in simply "full of tidbits", I mean fat as in sad and bloated and immobile and pretty useless, like that woman who fused with her couch. Remember the days before the internet when info was scarce and maybe you saw a trailer or two...maybe a little article in Fangoria (when it was black and white and kicked ass)...or else horror movies just appeared out of nowhere and blew you away? I liked that.

Anyway, I'm just going to sit quietly in regards to F13 until I see the movie with my own four eyes. Unless I wear contacts that night, then I'll only have two eyes...well, actually, glasses aren't really eyes so I guess I always have but two eyes. "Four eyes"? That doesn't make sense! God, kids are so dumb! Wait, that's not true. I believe the children are our future. We should teach them well and let them lead the way, whether they tease each other with nonsensical nonsense that doesn't make any sense or not.

On the other hand, just to completely contradict my previous feelings, I will admit that I suck up any little tidbits about the upcoming Silent Hill movie like they're heroin-covered crack rocks dipped in a crystal meth-and-Boone's Farm bath! There's a German horror movie site that's chock-a-block full of new pictures, and I must say...I hope someday that the Silent Hill movie and I will walk hand in metaphorical hand down some aisle somewhere to be joined in some sort of matrimony...unless we have a 'non-traditional' ceremony on the beach, of course. Forgive me, but I'm that excited about it! Mother, may I sleep with Silent Hill?

Yes, for all you cool kids in the know, that seems to be nurse Lisa (from the original game) in the bottom picture.


Feb 15, 2006

I Heart: My Bloody Valentine

I'd been toying with the idea of making some sort of list of my favorite slasher flicks, but then I came up with a sweeter alternative: the "I Heart" series. Every once in a while I'll write about/review one of my super faves, and I'll stick "I Heart" in front of the title like a stamp of approval. Then I won't have to deal with that whole pain in the arse numbering system...I mean, lists are so 2 weeks ago, you know? I'm like that lady Kool & the Gang sang about: I'm fresh and exciting.

The inaugural entry in the series hails from the magical far-away land known as "Canada": 1981's My Bloody Valentine. Made early-on in the slasher heyday, MBV is obviously an attempt to cash in on the "holiday" craze prevalent in the genre. While the movie does hold with certain conventions of the slasher flick, it's a polished and mature effort that's a cut above most.

20 years ago, in the sleepy town Valentine Bluffs, an explosion trapped several miners thousands of feet below the earth. It was the night of the town's annual Valentine's Day dance, you see, and a few supervisors were so hot to trot that they left their posts unattended. Of the miners, only Harry Warden survived...and when he was finally rescued weeks after the accident, he was a stark raving nutso who had stayed alive by eating his fallen brethren. Harry was rightfully committed to an asylum, but got out and took his revenge on the neglectful supervisors years later- on the night of the Valentine's dance. Harry warned the town that so long as they held the dance, people would die. The town cried 'uncle' and has been danceless ever since...until now! The townspeople felt it was finally time to stick a metaphorical middle finger up at Harry Warden and get on with the V-Day festivities. Soon after the red construction paper hearts get taped up, however, folks end up getting killed. It seems that Harry's back and mighty pissed off at Valentine Bluffs...

Sounds by-the-book, right? Sure it does. But as I said, there's some small touches in MBV that set it apart from the pack.

First and foremost, the characters aren't your typical horny zit-faced teens. The men in MBV spend their days toiling away in the coal mines, and when 5:00 rolls around, it's Miller Time. These characters seem to have real lives, and the movie captures the feel of a small working-class town and its inhabitants quite well. It's as if these young men and women find themselves saying "is this IT?" regarding their lives, but they chug along anyway and do the best they can. Ex-lovers TJ and Sarah (Paul Kelman and Lori Hallier) are very real, very well-drawn characters- surprising in a slasher movie. TJ has returned to Valentine Bluffs after attempting to get away for good. He doesn't elaborate, but it seems he failed miserably at starting a new life in California. Now he's back and resigned to a life working in his father's mine. When TJ and Axel (Neil Affleck) come to blows over who's going to be Sarah's main squeeze, Sarah says, quite downtroddenly: "I just don't care anymore". These aren't simply nameless teens trying to score in a sleeping bag- My Bloody Valentine feels much more authentic. As screenwriter John Beaird said, he and director George Mihalka were trying to make "the Deer Hunter of horror films".

The setting of MBV also works to set it apart from the pack. A majority of the film was shot inside the Sydney Mines, near Cape Breton- it's not simply "the woods" or a soundstage. Low-wattage lights had to be used during filming to avoid explosions, which simply adds to the atmosphere. Harry Warden fades in and out of darkness as he stalks the mine shafts, his single head-lamp shining through the smoke. It's a fantastic place to film a horror movie, and Mihalka uses the mine to maximum effect: characters get lost, hear unidentifiable's all exceedingly creepy.

Shot under an extremely tight timeline with a budget of around $2 million, My Bloody Valentine looks and feels better than movies with more money to play with. The cast, largely unknown, is above average in the acting department. While every single death scene was cut-up to meet MPAA restrictions, MBV still has its share of gruesome gore. Someday, hopefully, the restored footage will find its way onto DVD.

The wide-open ending sets up a sequel perfectly, and apparently there's one in the works, tentatively titled My Bloody Valentine 2: Return of the Miner. In the proposed sequel, TJ and Sarah are married with kids...Sarah's the sheriff of Valentine Bluffs, and the killings begin again.

This often over-looked entry in the slasher genre deserves more attention, and I'd certainly welcome a sequel. It was one of my favorite flicks when I was a young-un, and still...I Heart My Bloody Valentine!

For more info, check out the absolutely huge interview with director George Mihalka over at Terror Trap. They've also got a MBV gallery for your viewing pleasure.

Feb 14, 2006


Just when you thought you'd heard enough about Jason Voorhees for a while, E! Online reports that Michael Bay's production company, Platinum Dunes, will be working their mojo on the forthcoming Friday the 13th installment.

Now they're talking prequel, much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel Platinum Dunes has in the works.

No word on a director or cast yet, but they're still aiming for an October 13th release.

In other news, I think the name "Platinum Dunes" is terribly silly.

Feb 12, 2006

Fancy that.

This month's Giant Magazine points out the similarities between the posters for The Breakfast Club and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I never made the connection before and it's pretty damn funny.

Now if only the ads for the new Friday the 13th would ape those for The 40-Year-Old Virgin...

Feb 10, 2006

Stop the presses!

Today at his excellent blog Clueless Observations Chadwick H. Saxelid posted a link to an interview with Sean Cunningham at Fangoria**. According to the interview, the upcoming Friday the 13th flick isn't going to be a proper sequel, but rather a remake of the original Friday. Man, and to think: I wasted so much time ruminating on plot possibilities.

Is nothing sacred, Hollywood? Hmm?

Well, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this, really, but I am. In my opinion, it takes a pair of brass ones to remake a classic. Said brass ones have no bearing on the final outcome, but you gotta admire that moxie!

This'll be somewhat of a trendy re-imagining, with more emphasis on Jason this time around. He was ludicrously tacked onto the ending of the original purely for shock value (and it really is a killer shock, regardless of how silly it is) and no one expected him to become so popular. Poor crazy ol'Mrs. Voorhees. Does no one care for her anymore? Jason! Jason! Jason! That's all we ever hear. Where is the love for Mrs. V?
I'm honestly curious as to how this is all gonna pan out, and this is one remake I won't miss. I might even- gasp- be looking forward to it. I'm definitely warmer to the idea of a remake more than another crappy sequel, really.

And right before our eyes, the Friday the 13th series becomes a big, fat, bloody mobius strip. Just think, in 2026 or so I'll be writing a blog entry about the forthcoming remake of Jason X!

Actually, that's kind of a sad thought in a few ways.

**WARNING: graphic photo of hideous shirt accompanies interview

Feb 9, 2006

It's no secret...

...that I'm a Big Ol' Nerd super cool. Wicked super cool, even. Right? Yeah!

You may remember that during the action-packed drawing for the Silent Hill 2 videogame giveaway I was assisted in the "pulling of a name out of a hat" portion by the lovely and gracious Michael Myers. The Michael Myers toy, I mean. I know it's a toy, honest, I do. Yes, it's true, I have toys. I've got a Michael Myers toy, I've got a Freddy Krueger toy, a Leatherface, a Ghostface (from Scream)...I've got quite a few horror movie figures, and yes, I opened up the packages (gasp, shock, awe!) and put them on a shelf.

Those figures I just mentioned are part of a line called Movie Maniacs, from Todd McFarlane Toys. If you're not familiar with the name Todd McFarlane, well, here's the skinny: he's the comicbook superstar who went from drawing Spider-Man to co-founding the highly successful Image Comics. He's the man behind Spawn (which was a dreadful movie but a decent animated show on HBO), Todd McFarlane Toys, and the purchase of some ludicrously expensive baseballs.

Despite the amount of crap in my house, I don't really consider myself a hardcore collector of anything. I just...have stuff. I'm probably in denial, but I won't be labelled! You can't box me in, man- I won't fit into some nice little box! I won't! I see a toy I like, then I get it, if it's within my means. I used to have a collection bunch of Universal Monsters action figures when I was a kid, including a cool glow-in-the-dark Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I remember for my 7th birthday, my uncle took me to a department store and told me I could pick out any toy I wanted. I picked this:

Yes, the 18" Alien. What every 7-year-old girl wants, right? It was awesome. It had this button on the back of the head that, when pressed, would open the jaw and this little mouth would come shooting out- just like the movie! Unfortunately, the toy is long gone, though I know not wherefore.

All of this brings me to some sort of point for today...I think. I saw this, and (despite the tinge of materialism associated with the notion) I want it! I want it baaaaad!

Hey, I never said today's point would be profound.

Yes, courtesy of NECA, this is the first figure from Dawn of the Dead, due out sometime later this month. My nerd engine is all a-revvin'! Wait, I mean my super cool engine...yeah, that's it...

Speaking of Dawn of the Dead figures, you've never seen the Dawn of the Knitted Dead series, then go here now. They rock oh so very hard.

Feb 8, 2006

Le Freak, C'est Chic

There was an interesting article posted yesterday at the Delaware Journal Online: Torture Scenes Go Mainstream.

I was obviously aware of the numerous torture scenes in both Saw and Hostel (I wrote a bit about the latter movie here), but I had no idea that scenes of onscreen brutality were such the rage; apparently graphic torture scenes have made their way into the home as well, on such shows as Alias, 24, Nip/Tuck, Lost, and Prison Break.

Undoubtedly, this is just another burdgeoning trend in Horror Movie Land. Torture flicks step carefully into the limelight as the more sanitary I Know What You Did...-style flicks fade from view. Color me uninterested, no matter what grandiose statements Eli Roth claims to make with his bloody thrill-kill efforts. Speaking about Hostel, Roth says:
Right now we're at war, and then you have Hurricane Katrina, where there are people on roofs screaming for help. I have this feeling that civilization could collapse, and that if you go overseas, you could get killed, that you could be in the middle of nowhere, and that someone could kill you and no one would find you.

I think the whole "(lost) in the middle of nowhere, someone kill(s) you, no one finds you" idea is interesting. In fact, I thought the idea was put to great effect in The Blair Witch Project, which was a violence-free movie. So why do we need the onscreen torture? Why do we need to dwell on human suffering?

Roth continues:
Everyone's life has a price. I want the audience to feel guilty. I want them to feel sick to their stomach, but by the end they're screaming for blood. Everyone has this evil within them.
Hmm. I don't think I would ever rejoice while watching someone being brutally tortured, even if it was "The Bad Guy". Dude, I know what it sounds like when doves cry, OK? However, again, the whole "Ha ha! You have a dark side!" idea could be explored extensively. But it only works if you make the audience realize they've got a bloodlust, if you actually do make them feel guilty about it. Otherwise, it's as Thomas Doherty (chairman of the film studies program at Brandeis University) says in the article's conclusion:

"What we're seeing now is a pornography of violence for creative imaginations."

So what about these movies and TV shows? Do they make the audience feel anything beyond a morbid thrill at watching torture? Are they just a big, bloody, onscreen wank? Honestly, I wouldn't know, because I'm just not into the whole realistic, prolonged human suffering for entertainment thing.

Ah, well. The face of horror is changing, yet again. Call me when the next trend hits, unless it involves line dancing or wearing sweatpants in public...I'd have to pass on that one, too.

Feb 7, 2006

Chicken See, Chicken Do

In a blatant attempt to ride my coattails to...umm...fame and fortune, regular reader and local drunken curmudgeon Brennon Slattery suggested a little stunt wherein he and I would post reviews of the same movie on the same day. We'd be like Siskel and Ebert- somehow cooler than they are because, well, who isn't...yet somehow sadder than they are because we're doing this in blogs: relegated to the Intermawebnets rather than the television. And yes, I know Siskel's dead...but I don't know the new Siskel's name, because 1) I don't care, and 2) I don't have time to care- that's how cool I am.

Regardless of what you want to call us, Brennon and I synchronized our watches, got matching bowl haircuts and airbrushed sweatshirts, and sat down to watch the 1981 weird-a-thon Strange Behavior on couches many miles apart. Quite a stunt, eh? Well, I hope Brennon got a matching bowl cut and airbrushed sweatshirt- I'm really just taking his word for it.

"Holy crap, waitaminnit," you're thinking, "did I just read 1981? Another horror movie from that magical year? Ce n'est possible!" Oh, sure it is, my Francophile friends! Strange Behavior crosses from bad to good to so-bad-it's-good to what was that, exactly?

The short of it: a video professor from beyond the grave wows college psychology students with in-class demonstrations of behavior control on chickens. From a huge monitor, Professor Video tells his assistants to put the cutest little antenna hats on the chicken, then he instructs the chicken to raise its legs one at a time. Everyone oohs and aahs and volunteers for the department's behavioral control experiments. I mean, if it worked on a chicken...

Eager kids go to sessions in "Department 104"- they're given pills, injected with weird stuff in their eye sockets, you know, the standard psychological stuff. These treatments have their benefits: kids lose weight, gain better memory retention, etc. There are some minor drawbacks, however: kids become mindless stabbing, mutilating machines, only to "awaken" hours later with no idea what they've done.

Unfortunately, Strange Behavior dips its fingers into too many storylines, and that's where it falls apart. Student Pete is participating in the experiments to make some quick cash, but Pete's father, the police chief, has a vendetta against Professor Video and Department 104 because he feels they're responsible for his wife's death, blah blah blah. But before it gets all convoluted, this movie rocks! The scenes showing the zombified kids doing their dirty deeds are outright bizarre: they're a strange mix of lethargy and vicious brutality. It's like the killings take place in slo-mo, but they seem endless. They don't stop, and people get stabbed in some really cringe-inducing places: the hand, the's very, well, strange. While this flick isn't overly gory beyond blood, there's dismemberment scene that's treated the same way as the stabbing scenes. The obvious detachment on the face of "the fat girl" as she hacks off some kid's arm in the shower is silly, awful, and somehow unsettling.

The early-80s cheese is nicely in place with an extended costume party scene: kids are drinking beer and dancing to Frankie fucking Valli. Yes, they're having a rollicking good time, jumping around to Valli's annoying whiny screech, and turns into a dance routine. The drunken teens form lines like a dance troupe, like they're on Fame, and they go to town. Perhaps this is the "strange behavior" the title is referring to...unless they mean the scene with Student Pete's dad clipping his toenails at the dining room table.

I love this guy, one of the party guests who's also one of the drugged-up experiment kids...and also Pete's best friend:

He kills the fat bully guy that everyone hates, then relentlessly chases the fat bully guy's date...all the while wearing a creepy oversized mask that leaves him looking like the offspring of Uncle Fester and Tor Johnson. How could you not love a movie with this guy in it?

I haven't read Brennon's Super Synchronized review of Strange Behavior yet, and if you haven't either then go here and do so. As for me, I'll give this flick 7 out of 10 aerobicizing chickens. It's a little good, a little bad, weirdly's got chickens doing leg lifts and that mask, what more can you ask? The alternate title for this is Dead Kids, and you just gotta love a movie with a title like that, even if it's the runner-up title.

I really dig this concept of synchronized reviews of movies we've not seen before, and if anyone else out there wants to join in the fun, just drop me a line. GASP! I'll call it The Final Girl Film Club! Yeah! I'll be like Oprah and her Book Club! Except, of course, I'll be cooler than she is because...again, well, who isn't. I'll be sadder, though, because I'm not a powerful billionaire who knows the cast of Friends.

In other news, I loathe that show Friends.

Feb 6, 2006

Lists Rule!

I got an email from enterprising reader John Seibert pointing me to an article on MSN, wherein film critic Kim Morgan lists her choices for the Top 10 Best Slasher Flicks. I must say, despite the fact that it's an article purely timed to coincide with the release of When A Stranger Calls, I'm surprised: it's not a bad little list.

For you, dear readers, a tip: when a stranger calls, just hang up! That's my advice. Hang up that phone and save yourself a world of trouble. If the stranger asks if you've checked the children, tell him to mind his own beeswax, then hang up. Easy, breezy, beautiful.

Let's run down Morgan's list and see how I feel about the choices, hmm? I've got nothing better to do today than to throw my opinion around, I was going to make a joke there that would've gone way too far. You'll have to fill in the blanks if you can.

10. The Slumber Party Massacre I think I want to like SPM more than I actually do. It walks a very fine line between satirizing slashers and becoming an exploitation flick, and it raises a few interesting questions- this movie's got more boobage than about any other slasher I've seen, yet it's written and directed by women, so what does that say? Is it still "misogynist trash", or is it "empowering"? Does the fact that the writer (Rita Mae Brown) is a lesbian have any bearing on that answer? Whatever you want to read into SPM, first and foremost, I ask- does it belong on the list of Top 10 Slashers? Remember now, the killer is an inductee into the Final Girl Hall of Infamy...that's not a good sign. Ultimately, SPM doesn't thrill me's not good enough to be great and it's not bad enough to be good. Middle of the road, my friends, is a bad place to be. And one is the loneliest number.

9. Scream This movie's been out of the limelight long enough now for it to get the "props"(as the kids would say) it deserves as a horror movie. Forget the spoofs, forget Jamie Kennedy's 'horror movie rules', forget, if you can, David Arquette. Scream is a damn fine slasher movie. The kids might even call it "dope". "Dope" means "cool", silly- I'm not talking about drugs! Hugs, not drugs, I always say.

8. Friday the 13th Well, duh. What is there to say about this movie? Without a doubt it belongs on this list.

7. April Fool's Day Now we're talking! I fucking love April Fool's Day. Love it. Love. It. First and foremost, it's got Amy Steel. And to me, horror movies with Amy Steel are like bottles of Night Train in brown paper bags are to travellin' hoboes...gimme gimme gimme! It had a twist ending- a good one- before M Night Shamalamadingdong made them all the rage. Deborah Foreman creeps me out through this entire movie, and the whole thing has a wonderful air of unpleasantness about it. Maybe that makes sense if you've seen it. Or maybe it only makes sense to me, as does the bald cap I recently converted into a thinking cap. One of these days I'll do a proper review of AFD, but for now, I commend Kim Morgan for having this on the list.

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street Yeah, OK. But just the first one. It's far more dated than you'd think it'd be, but it still rocks pretty hard. Freddy hadn't become the Henny Youngman of Horror yet, praise Jebus. He was kept in the dark, he mostly kept his mouth shut, and he was scary. Nightmare had a totally original concept- he can kill you in your dreams? - that has yet to be surpassed in the genre. If only he'd kept his damn mouth shut!

5. Cabin Fever Umm...okaaaaaay. I must confess, I haven't seen this yet. It's on my Netflix list, but I have sooooo many episodes of BJ and the Bear to get through before Cabin Fever arrives- it's gonna take forever! But from my understanding of the genre, this...isn't...really a slasher, is it? It doesn't sound like it, judging by Morgan's plot summary. There's a few entries on this list that are pushing the boundaries of the definition, but Cabin Fever sounds like a horror movie to me, not a slasher.

4. Black Christmas Well, y'all should know how I feel about this movie by now. Me like! My best friend Margot Kidder plays a damn fine foul-mouthed drunk, and I've mentioned Olivia Hussey's shiny shiny hair many times. I love Black Christmas, and of course it belongs on this list; I'd put it higher up, though. This flick is probably going to get frequent mentions and wider recognition everywhere as the remake release approaches. Hopefully people will seek out the source material. I myself plan on sticking up my middle fingers at the remake several times- I may even go so far as to moon it. I don't know who's going to star in it yet, but her hair will look like straw next to Olivia Hussey's! Straw, I tells ya!

3. The Funhouse I watched this movie (for the who-knows-how-many-th time) a few months ago, and I still like it quite a bit. Tobe Hooper uses the setting (inside a carnival funhouse after hours) for maximum effect and there's some real shocks to be found. There's no way I'd put it this high on my Top 10 list, but hey. This ain't my list, now is it?

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Wow, Tobe Hooper in the number 2 and 3 slots. TCM pushes the boundaries as to what can be considered a "slasher"...I'm more apt to call it a "horror movie", where undoubtedly it'd be near the top of my list of the best. This movie is really really unsettling. It's visceral, it's relentless, it's disturbing- even today, 30-odd years after it was made.

1. Halloween I've never heard of it. I'll add it to my Netflix list, but like I said, it won't be here for a while. I've got BJ and the Bear, Cabin Fever, and the entire first season of 227 to slog through first. I'll let you know what I think of it when the time comes, though- promise.

Feb 5, 2006

Can You See Me?

OK, I'm really weirded out...and ticked off!

On Friday night, while at work, I posted a little something. Umm...not that I would ever post while working, of course, don't be silly! Heh, while I was on break. Of course. Anyway, I typed up all this stuff, saved it as a draft version, then tried to add a picture. Blogger wasn't havin' none-a-dat. Well, I figured I'd try to post the picture from home the following day, Saturday. Yesterday, I checked this site, and there was the post...but the comments couldn't be accessed. Weird. I went to my 'edit posts' lists, and the post wasn't listed at all. But there it was, on the today, I try the same thing, and the post is gone completely! Vanished! Like it never even existed. What the f?

This probably happens to people fairly frequently on Blogger...wait, time out. I'm listening to the radio as I type this, and you know that weird bleeping emergency signal they test all the time but never use? It just came on for about 15 seconds, with no announcement. Then it stopped and there's a Bruce Springsteen song playing. Were they warning me about the Bruce Springsteen song, or is the world about to end? Is there a tornado coming? Does this have anything to do with my disappearing post? Am I trapped in another dimension? Has some doppelganger Final Girl replaced me on earth and no one knows I'm gone? Does this post exist? Where do babies come from? Where am I? This is becoming just like The Watcher in the Woods! Feh, no matter. I know how to avert whatever disaster is headed my way...I'll put on a CD!

Well, I'd like to say that the now legendary missing post was one that absolutely shouldn't have been missed, but that would be a lie. And while I love lying, I don't like lying to you, dear readers. So, to paraphrase the legendary missing post:

I tried to watch Tobe Hooper's 1977 sleaze-fest Eaten Alive on dvd, but the dvd was of a horrible quality and actually didn't contain the end of the movie. Yes, that's right, the dvd suddenly cut off- poof- so I couldn't finish watching it. I then went on to muse about how it was nice to have Marilyn Burns (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) on the screen again, but just like her last appearance in a Tobe Hooper flick, she was tied-up, knocked around, and she screamed alot. Poor Thing.

After giving jeers to my dvd debacle, I gave cheers and linked to...somewhere...which had a little blurb announcing Wrong Turn 2, which made me happy, for I oh so liked the first one. Then I tried to post this picture:

...and then my world fell apart! Alright, that's overstating it a little. But regardless, the post went all haywire and slowly vanished. Maybe Eliza Dushku's breasts made the internet explode. This picture cracks me up. That West Virginian inbred cannibal cuckoo nutso there is thinking lewd thoughts, I bet- something involving the word 'jugs'.

Feb 2, 2006

You Big Chicken!

This just in! From the "Well, duh" department we've got a little article courtesy of The Boston Herald, telling us what horror audiences are afraid of and why.

The usual suspects are listed: The Exorcist, Jaws, When A Stranger Calls...wait- huh? When A Stranger Calls? Oh yeah, the remake is due in theatres any second now. Sure, everyone is familiar with the whole "The call is coming from inside the house!" bit, but I always thought that the movie itself flew under the radar for most people. Even if you know that line, do you remember the rest of the movie? Hmm? Do you?! I haven't seen it in a while and it took a review by Warrenzone to refresh my memory, but that famous line happens quite early on in the story. Don't get me wrong- I think it's a great flick. The first fifteen to twenty minutes are about as good as a horror movie can get, really. From that point, though, it evolves into more of a thriller- still above-average, but now it's a horror classic because it's been remade? You're putting it alongside The Exorcist? Girl, please.

Sorry. I shouldn't get worked up over some little blow-off article in a newspaper (or on a newspaper's website) timed to run with a movie release, but I have a headache.

So why do certain movies scare us, according to The Boston Herald? It depends, first of all, at what age you're exposed to scary movies. There was a nice little "conversation" concerning that very topic in the comments section for yesterday's post. The younger you are, the more imagination you've got (unless you're Johnny Depp in that whimsical Benny & Joon and you're forever filled with childlike wonder or some shit), and the more susceptible you are to the movie's charms, as it were. I buy that theory. As a kid, I'd stare out my bedroom window, imagining a backyard full of yucky Romero zombies or Michael Myers scaling the walls of our house. Yeah, I know that's stupid; but don't make fun of the children, for they are our future. That's what I believe, anyway. I've still got an imagination and I still play the "what if?" game with myself, and I still get scared. I don't simply blow off zombies because they don't exist- I'm able to say "imagine if they did exist". Be in the moment, people! Fill yourselves with childlike wonder and rejoice! Let's be whimsical together...let us be like unto Benny & Joon. OK, so I've never seen Benny & Joon, but I've seen the ads where Johnny Depp is wearing an amazing technicolor dreamcoat and is playing with his dinner rolls and frankly, it makes me want to puke and/or pull an Oedipus on my eyes.

But I digress.

Location and life also play a role in determining the scariness factor in a movie, sayeth the article. In other words, how does this movie relate to me? Me? ME?! A horror film that can make the familiar suddenly unfamiliar is a successful horror film. Good horror movies can affect your everday life: you're suddenly afraid to open your closet door, you dive into bed from ten feet away, the sound of TV static gives you that's impressive. Critics can deride the worth of the horror film all they want, but Halloween has had a much larger impact on my life than The Remains of the Day has.

In other news, Jaws can kiss my ass. Yeah, you heard me. That's right, I said it. Yes, it's a good movie. Yes, I like it. Yes, people were afraid to go in the water after seeing it. I just don't think it's the greatest horror film of all time. It may start out pretty fucking amazingly- the first time you hear that music and the girl getting pulled underwater can't be beat. Eventually, though, it evolves into an action movie, a man-vs-beast thing. Can't you see Sylvester Stallone in the Roy Scheider role? Yes, you can. Admit it.

Hey, you know that girl I meant, right? The one at the beginning of Jaws who gets pulled underwater and eaten up? It turns out she had know how the cops figured that out? They found her head and shoulders on the beach! Ha haha haaa!

Shut up, I have a headache. And just to refresh:



Gene Shalit hates you!

Feb 1, 2006

OK, OK..."uncle"! Now stop!

Well, you knew it had to happen, right? I mean, weren't we all just sort of waiting for this announcement? According to (who got the tip via Variety), there's a new Friday the 13th flick in the works. Apparently this movie, the 12th in the series if you count 'em all, will follow the lead of the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and tell the story of the origin of Jason Voorhees.

Yes, Jason, we see you there. Now just go away.

I've been thinking about this idea...musing...ruminating if you will. We can all agree, I think, that the series should've ended a long time ago- most logically after Part IV: The Final Chapter when l'il Tommy Jarvis got Jason to slide his face down a machete, then proceeded to flip out and hack up the psycho into little pieces. I mean, "The Final Chapter", y'all- you feel me? Since then, at the bequest of film companies reaching for the movie-watching public's almighty dollar, Jason has been killed and resurrected and drowned in toxic sewage and sent to hell and sent to space and fought ol' crusty-faced Freddy Krueger. He certainly knows how to Carpe Diem, but he knows not when to let go gracefully.

Wait, where was I? Ah yes- ruminating. I'm wondering- would it be possible, at this point, to make a decent 12th Friday the 13th movie? It's wholly unnecessary, of course, but is it possible? Let's pretend we care. I suppose the most logical path to take would be to tell the origin of Jason- what else can you do with the property at this point? Still, the movie is completely superfluous, but we're ruminating here, people.

If the task somehow fell to me to write this movie, I'd most likely continue the idea presented in Part II, or as I like to call it, "The Ginny Theory". The Ginny Theory proposes that Jason never died, never drowned in the lake all those years ago. He got out of the water and spent his days in the woods around Camp Crystal Lake, decorating his lean-to, foraging for nuts and berries, and eventually watching his mom's head get lopped off by counselor Alice. He became crazy backwoods man, running around in a series of mask-and-coverall ensembles until Tommy Jarvis shaved himself bald and went to town with the machete. The new movie would focus on Jason's early years, falling somewhere between getting out of the lake and the happenings in Part II. We'd see Jason building his lean-to, foraging for nuts and berries, and becoming a man- finding hair where there was no hair before. Maybe he'd meet a crazy, backwoods'd be just like some twisted version of The Blue Lagoon! Yeah, that'd be awesome! It'd be all- no, wait. That would be terrible.

OK, here's an alternative plan. Rather than focusing on Jason, why not focus on his mother, Pamela? Who's Jason's father? Where did he end up? What did Pamela do in the years after Jason drowned, as she thought he did? She killed the counselors directly responsible for the accident, then killed a whole bunch more when Steve Christy tried to re-open Camp Crystal Lake- but what about all the years in-between? What if there were 2 stories happening concurrently, following both Jason and his mother in that lost time? Sounds a bit interesting to me. But that would never fly- it would be too different. Audiences just want to be little baby birds, opening their mouths wide to be fed the same old worms time and time again. Give us oozy, corpse-y Jason in a hockey mask, killing faceless, obnoxious teens! Yay! We'll complain about it later, because, well, it has to suck, doesn't it? It's simply a tired idea. So we'll complain about it, but it's what we want. Anything really fresh or really different, so long as it had a "Friday the 13th" slapped on it, would be treated with as much scorn as the old re-treads precisely because it wouldn't be the same old re-treads. 'Tis a conundrum.

My prediction is they'll tie Origins in with Part IX somehow- you know, even though we all thought that Jason was basically a normal person underneath it all (at least at one point), it turns out that if you eat Jason's heart, you kinda turn into Jason, and Jason is really like some demon spirit that looks like an alien-penis-thing. Now that's the way to go, right? Sigh. Oh well. The fact that we've heard precious little about this proposed movie but they're shooting for an October release date speaks volumes about what we're going to get on-screen.

You know what, New Line? Make a movie about Jason Voorhees that's something like this and I'll be the first in line:

Fuck Freddy Krueger. I want Jason vs. little Italian stereotype plumber vs. hedgehog. Until that comes along, I ain't holding my breath!