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 2, 2006

Day 2- Wish You Were Here

Remember the Final Girl World Tour of the Southwestern United States? Actually, I guess I should ask if you remember my absence during said vacation since to the best of my knowledge it was only me and Rachael in the car. Anyway, during my excellent 2-day stay in Los Angeles during my vacation, I finally got to meet some Internerd friends in the flesh, including one Miss Amanda by Night. A word or two about Amanda by Night: she is an amazing repository of movie trivia, she’s much meaner in person than she is in cyberspace (trust me, that’s NOT a negative thing), and despite the fact that she thinks Ken Kercheval- that’s icky Cliff Barnes of Dallas to you, chum- is sexy, we would all have to take two years of classes in Advanced Awesome Theory at our local community colleges to even approach her awesomeness. If you don’t believe me, consider this: during my visit, she hands me a CD holder shaped like a bumblebee. The CD holder is chock full o’ nuts DVDs she’s made for me- made for TV horror movies, horror movies long out of print, horror movies she just plain thinks I should see. Now then…could you or I top that in awesomeness? Heretofore, the movies contained in the bumblebee shall be known in The Amanda Collection, and I shall designate a film as such when writing about it.

Flipping through the bumblebee, trying to decide what to watch for Day 2, I spied a movie called Death Valley…because I’m a bit obsessed with Death Valley, CA and I was just there 6 weeks ago, I got inordinately excited about it. Would my excitement be rewarded or would Death Valley crap on my neck? Well, lemme tell ya, I became even more optimistic as the credits began to roll and names like Catherine Hicks of television’s 7th Heaven, Wilford Brimley, and Peter Billingsley rolled by. That’s Ralphie of A Christmas Story to you chum, in an early screen appearance. Oh yes, this was gonna be good.

Billingsley stars as Billy, a smart little kid who’s trying to deal with his parents’ divorce. Billy’s hopes of a reconciliation are soon evaporated when mom (Hicks) whisks him away from New York so the two go on a vacation out west with her new boyfriend. Their itinerary was to include Arizona, the Grand Canyon, gold mines, and of course Death Valley; man, it was like watching my life unfold right before my very eyes! Except…you know, different because it was taking place in 1982 instead of 2006 and it featured Catherine Hicks of television’s 7th Heaven instead of suntan lotion. But still, it was eerie!

Eventually Billy and co. are toodling around the desert in a station wagon and Billy spies out the back window a very evil looking old car with a shadowy driver. The car zooms past but you totally know it’s bad news, right? Yeah…so does Billy.

Before you know it, Billy is the target of a serial killer operating in the desert. Will he escape Death Valley with his life and/or sanity intact? Sheriff Wilford Brimley sure won’t…he gets a little too close for the killer’s comfort and ends up with a pickaxe in his chest.

This made me sad because for once Wilford Brimley wasn’t acting all cranky and really didn’t deserve a pickaxe to the chest. His tone in those diabetes commercials and those oatmeal commercials is another story, however.

Death Valley is a pretty decent thriller that would have benefited from a tighter script. As it stands, too much information is given away early on that takes away the impact of the ending. What works in this movie really works however: the eerie music, the stark setting, some tense cat-and-mouse sequences, and little itty bitty Peter Billingsley in a cowboy outfit. I'm not one to go crazy over kids whether they're cute or not...but c'mon. I just want to put him on a keychain!

I enjoyed Death Valley a lot (I tend to really dig this kind of horror/thriller), and not just because I’ve been there, I swear. There are some genuinely unnerving moments, but it’s just shy of being great. I give it 7.5 out of 10 did you know that the kid who played Flick in A Christmas Story went on to star in such porn films as The Wrong Snatch? It’s true!s. I wanna go back on vacation to Death Valley, serial killers or no serial killers!


John Barleycorn said...

Is this movie about autism? Because he looks autistic.

Stacie Ponder said...

Who, Wilford Brimley?

Huh. I was unaware that kids could look autistic.

Yeah, the movie is totally about autism. You didn't get that idea from my review?

Amanda By Night said...

Ah Stacie, you liked it! YAY! Choosing movies for you is tough, because we like so many of the same things yet differ on so much else.

Peter Billingsly is the CUTEST kid on the planet (minus Brian Bonsall from Mikey. I love blonde kids with bowl cuts!).

Best part is when the lead vampire of Lost Boys is explaining how he fell out of love with Ms. Hicks. Is this a cast made in heaven or what?!?

Amanda By Night

SikeChick said...

I remember this one! I'd totally forgotten about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm Wilford Brimley,
and I have diabeatis.

Peter Billingsly, the Dirt Bike Kid himself. I have to check this one out. Nice usage of Oregon Trail. I generally wasn't good at that game. I would buy just bullets & constantly hunt. And while hunting, despite repeated warnings, I would shoot way too much dead animals to carry.

Stacie Ponder said...

I was so so SO bad at Oregon Trail and all those old computer games where you had to explore and solve mysteries and whatnot by entering 2-word commands. Eventually my useless "use flashlight" commands became even more useless "fuck you" commands. Then I'd quit the game and make a STACIE PONDER #1 banner in Print Shop with some ribbons and pigs on it.

Jesse Hammer said...

Man, I gotta dust off the Commodore and type in some "fuck you"s for old times sake. Typing games rule.