FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 17, 2006

Day 16- ...and when she was bad...

Here I am, halfway into Shocktober '06, and I just feel kinda...meh. I need a movie that's gonna rock my face off from beginning to end- a new movie, that is. Everything I watched this past Saturday got my juices flowing, of course, but I'd seen them all before. I want some brand new superstar to come busting out and rock my face off hard. Is that so much to ask? IS IT? I should hope not. Wherefore art thou, hidden treasure that I love so much I want to take to bed with me and tuck away under my pillow so we can be close? Wherefore art thou, dammit? It's getting so I'm simply going to watch and review The Haunting every day and that'll be that.

Today's feature film was Madhouse (1981), aka There Was A Little Girl. I was pretty into this flick for the first 45 minutes or so, but my fervor petered away by the end. The result, sadly, was a Tiffany...which as you may well remember is my code word for a "coulda been". Coulda been good...started out strong, but pooped out before the finish line. Man, I hate that.

Trish Everly stars as Julia, a super sweet teacher at a school for the deaf. Her students adore her, she's got a mustachioed boyfriend, and her birthday is fast approaching. Sounds like heaven on earth, right? Sure it does...but we cannot have heaven without hell, can we? No! We cannot! And in Ovidio Assonitis's movie, hell is in...THE MAAAAADHOUUUUUSE!

Sorry. I'm just trying to jazz things up a bit.

Anyway, Julia's got a twin sister Mary, see, and Mary totally used to, like, torture Julia- stick her with pins, threaten to sic the dog on her, make her cry- you know, the kind of stuff kids get up to. Mary ended up in the so-called "mad" "house" and is wasting away with a disfguring skin disease. Against her better judgment, Julia goes to visit Mary. Mary, all scabby and grody-faced, still has a boner for torturing her sister. She tells Julia that she'll make sure their impending birthday will be one Julia will never forget! *insert evil, maniacal laughter* By "never forget", we can assume that Mary means to do Julia harm, not that she's going to take her to Ragin' Waters Fun Park for the day. Poor Julia.

Mary makes good on her promise in short order; she escapes the MAAAADHOUUUUSE and, with the assistance of her trusty sidekick dog (Ol' Smilin' Rotty, as I called him), sets about killing most of the people in Julia's life. She even goes so far as to have Ol' Smilin' Rotty kill one of Julia's's all offscreen, but you gotta admire a flick that has the balls to kill a deaf kid. Them balls be brass, my friends.

At this point in the proceedings, I was hooked. I mean, I was so hooked I was planning on taking Madhouse out to dinner this weekend...maybe some coffee afterwards. A little small talk, a little of this and that, and who knows where the night would have led? I mean, I'm all about movies with twins wherein one twin is evil. To me, that's all the setup I need and it I'm totally in. How can you go wrong with the old evil twin routine? The only way a movie with the evil twin angle can possibly be improved upon is if it stars the Sagal Twins. Even without them, though, you're good as gold- especially when the evil twin has a disfiguring terminal skin condition.

So what went wrong with Madhouse? The plot wound out of control, that's what happened. If you've got an evil twin, just go with it. Suddenly there was another killer and lots of dead air and a corpse birthday party that went on far too long. And you know, I love a corpse birthday party almost as much as I love an evil twin. It's a horror/slasher staple! But nonetheless, you've got to keep some forward momentum or the movie will fall apart despite the awesome elements. That's what happened here- once the second killer was revealed, the proceedings ground to a halt. The remaining kill sequences were incredibly dull and drawn out, and any promise the first two-thirds of the film had vanished.

Of course, it didn't help that the sound quality of the film was wretched, in fact, that I couldn't make out alot of the dialogue. It's hard to be in the moment when you have no idea what people are talking about.

I'm bummed this flick petered out- I was so excited early on. It's still got enough good stuff to warrant a look-see- I mean...evil twin, corpse party, decent effects...and Trish Everly plays a decent lead. Ultimately, however, my face was not rocked off. My face remains firmly in place. I give it 6 out of 10 jars of Noxema.

Oh, and just because this face cracks me up...


Anonymous said...

Hmm, Stace, your face-rockage may vary, but some underrated flicks that you might not have seen: The Vanishing, Dutch version, Joy Ride, Near Dark, Blade II (more action than horror). To get outside your '70s-'80s framework, check out Das Testament des Doktor Mabuse some time. Totally rocked my face off.

Chop-a-holic said...

Hmmm A good new horror movie. I don't know if you'd class it horror, it's more thriller but if you're equipped right, Hard Candy fits the cringe bill. Feast having just been released (finally) on DVD is a horror/comedy send up worth a view if not a rating. I can't remember if you've seen/read The Audition. It's the pinacle of J-Horror so far imho. There's some actual scenes that should have you jumping like Mr. Meyers just opened a closet door! It's hard to recommend anything else that you haven't allready posted except the MOH flix (and The Thing, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London. All deserve a review/rating). Especially Cigarette Burns, especially if your an actual "film" fan like me :)

Anonymous said...

Try Dead and Buried. I'd never seen it until very recently, but it's the sort of movie you're better off knowing nothing about coming in.

Anonymous said...

I'm tellin' ya, "May" is the best new horror film I've seen in the past few years. That flick jumped to "classic" status as soon as I saw it. Great performances (especially from Angela Bettis); wonderful, fun script; confident direction - ya gotta check it out!

Anonymous said...

Btw, here's a link that you might like. It's another "Scariest Killer" list:

SikeChick said...

After reading this I was surprised to see that you have not reviewed Sisters or Basket Case. Must see for lovers of killer evil twins.

I am bad with recommendations, but I will back josh up on Dead and Buried. Scared the hell out of me as a kid and held up well upon a more recent viewing.

Anonymous said...

Take a break from the horror and check out The Departed. It rocks.

Anonymous said...

Another good flick is "Innocent Blood." It's funny, but it definitely has an edge to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to second, third, and fourth May. Lucky McKee came out swinging, and you won't regret watching it (although you may steer clear of scissors for a little while)

warrenzone said...

I've seen this, Madhouse, it was one of the movies banned in the UK as a Video Nasty, I think I liked it less than you did though..

Stacie Ponder said...

Wow, so you guys like May, huh? :D Yeah, I done seen that one. Angela Bettis is great. She should be in more movies.

Innocent Blood! Ha! I haven't seen that one in ages...that's a good time.

I watched Dead and Buried last October for the first time- I loved it. I love a movie with evil townspeople (see Let's Scare Jessica to Death!

Audition will be watched and reviewed at some point during this month. I'm pretty excited about it.

Brennon- trust me, if I had the time to actually go to the movies...I'm hoping that'll still be around in a couple of weeks. I've heard nothing but glowing praise, and I haven't had a Scorsese fix in forever.

Warren & Bryan- yeah, Madhouse was a "Nasty" mostly due to the doggie-meets-drill scene. The version I had was edited, though, and cut away right before. The head came through the door (awesome), the drill started, and...cut. It's fine by me- I got the gist of it.

Thanks for that link, Theron- I'll probably address that list at a later date. I love picking apart other peoples lists! :D

Sike- you're right...I've seen both those movies and I should probably review 'em- Sisters, at least. Margot Kidder as twins? Sign me up!

M said...

I'm all about movies with twins wherein one twin is evil. I think you would like to read this story I once wrote that has two twin sisters -- it's short and great. Yes! I am praising myself!