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!

Mar 10, 2008


Anyone who has known me for a while can tell you at least two things about me: 1) that my 8th-grade school dance DJing skills were unparalleled (middle schoolers could not cope with the mad- MAD I TELLS YA- awesome power combo of The Violent Femmes, Stacey Q, and Loudness), and 2) I dig abandoned buildings.

While the latter factoid actually has some bearing on horror movies, I'm going to now post the video for Loudness's "Crazy Night" because it's infinitely more entertaining- and rockin', natch- than the movie I've got to review.

Now then, about The Sick House (coming to a DVD shelf near you on March 18). Gina Philips (Jeepers Creepers) is Anna, an archaeologist in London excavating a 17th century plague hospital. Yes, she's simply "Anna"- you know, like Cher or Fabio or JohnJacobJingleheimerSchmidt. At any rate, when some plague...spores or something or other are found at the site, it's deemed sort of deadly and hazardous and it's sealed off. Anna, however, is all, like, "Pssht, nuh uh! I ain't not diggin'!" and reenters the toxic site one dark and not-at-all stormy night before the hospital is demolished for good.

Little does she know, the Bubonic fucking Plague isn't the worst thing Anna will unleash that night! See, earlier we learned all about plague doctors and the "Cult of the Black Priest". These nasty dudes would actually sacrifice the plague-y children they were supposed to be saving all in a mad bid for...uh, power, I guess. Their motives are never really explained. But no matter! Anna falls into the remains of an orphanage which is located under the plague hospital, which is located under a regular abandoned hospital...uh, I guess. Sorry, I was completely confused as to where these places were in relation to each during the entire course of the film.

But no matter! Some drunken louts end up in the hospital as well, they contract the plague, they don't contract the plague, they run from the Plague Doctor, chalk drawings on the walls can survive for over 300 years, the building somehow catches on fire, and it all ends with a twist (OF FUCKING COURSE) that prompted this discussion as the credits began:

"That made no sense. Like, zero."
"So wait...what?"
"Fuck that shit."

I really wanted to like The Sick House. The subject matter was right up my alley. The Plague Doctors, when I could see them, were sufficiently creepy. The acting was better than can be expected from a straight-to-DVD effort- in particular I'd say that Gina Philips did a great job with what little she was given in terms of the script. There's some cringe-inducing gore, but again- it was so dark that it wasn't as effective as it should have been.

Given my love of old abandoned buildings, I would have liked The Sick House, even despite the 'tardo twist, if I could have seen what the fuck was going on for 98% of the film. Notice there are no screen caps with this review? That's because the pics would be nothing but a big square of dark blue and black and a barely-discernable shape. If it wasn't the darkness, then it was the jump cuts. I swear, I spent so much time trying to make out the on-screen happenings ("Wait, who was...did he just- where--oh, I guess he fell down the stairs?") that it actually started to make me angry. I don't want to be angry while I'm watching a movie. Actually, I don't ever want to be angry. I want to live in a world of happiness and kittens and lollipops where I can see people oozing grossness from their Bubonic Plague-induced sores while they're being chased by an evil doctor wearing a scary bird mask whose only thought is kill kill kill. That's what I want. Is that so much to ask?


Anonymous said...

I, as well, am indescribably obsessed with abandoned buildings. And I'm not just saying that to be able to say "hey, we have this in common." It's obsession I don't know what it is. Whenever we heard of one, we would explore it.
Where I live in Massachusetts, there was a feeding frenzy. Danvers, Met State, Hanson, etc. Then, just as soon as we found them, they are now all being torn down.

Arbogast said...

Notice there are no screen caps with this review? That's because the pics would be nothing but a big square of dark blue and black and a barely-discernable shape.

I had the same problem with The Cave, about which only 15% was visible to the naked eye. Perhaps sonar might have helped.

Ping, ping.

"I think Piper Perabo just got killed. Either that or our Tombstone pizza is done."

Ping, ping.

FatalPierce said...

I think that "'tardo twist" would make an excellent name for a drink.

Just imagine kicking back and listening to the brand new Gratuitous Flo album and sipping on a 'Tardo Twist. I bet that would ease the anger that "The Sick House" induced!

James Laidler said...

People like Anna should know that you never, ever get anything good from digging things up all you ever get are all manner of Pazuzu's, dragons, locusts, zombies or cursed jewels.

When will these damn archeologists stop their meddling, dammit?

Tim Bird said...

It sounds to me like it's based on the short story "The Life Of Death" by Clive Barker. Is he credited? He seems to be suffering from SKS (Stephen King Syndrome) where great stories are made into mediocre films.

Anonymous said...

Tim—nope, not according to IMDb. Four writers (always a bad sign), no Barker. But they could well have ripped him off...

And, Stacie, abandoned buildings rock. Have you ever Googled "urban spelunking"? Cool stuff. Also, you the History Channel's Cities of the Underworld? Check it out, if you haven't seen it. I think you can buy episodes off iTunes, should you care to.

Anonymous said...

I have been wondering for over 25 years what the hell does M-Z-A stand for. Lock and Lor Clazy Nights!!!!!

Joe said...

Loudness kicks soooooo much ass! Thunder in the East!!

That junior high event must of been astounding.

beedubelhue said...

I did a short action film on Beta in 1985,where "Crazy Nights" played on a loop throughout the fifteen minute running time.You ARE the hero tonight!What the hell is M-Z-A anyway?


Anonymous said...

That sounds so cool. They should have saved their money and had you describe their movie instead "Stacie Ponder describes SICK HOUSE. Now on DVD." It would have been very entertaining. Wait - it IS very entertaining. What am I talking about?

Stacie Ponder said...

2ndsuitor- I managed to check out Danvers before it got torn down/converted, if only the outside and the grounds. I never got to see Met State, which was one of the most notorious hospitals. I pretty much dig ANY sort of abandoned property...I spent many weeks cruising around Pennsylvania looking for dead factories. I haven't done any west coast exploring yet, though...

Arbo, while I didn't find The Cave to be that bad, The Cavern was another matter entirely. That movie was so frustratingly dark (and just plain suckass) that I wanted to destroy the entire world.

Pierce, I agree, it sounds like a delicious fruity cocktail best enjoyed in a Tiki lounge! Either that, or the "Tardo Twist" is some ridiculous early 60s dance move.

Bill, I've definitely done a lot of research on the topic! There are many cool sites (and books) out there. I've got lists of places I'd like to see...

I have watched an episode or two of that show, but the host is so damn irritating...he's a bit too enthusiastic for my tastes. Maybe I should watch it on mute or something.

I'm glad to see all the Loudness love! You are the He-ROOOOOOOOOOO!

Anonymous said...

MZA? Well it's from the 80's so that means... Multi Zippered Apparel! Actually if anyone's too lazy to google it.

The interview explains... well.. you'll figure it out.

(still hates blogger login screens)

Arbogast said...

The Cavern was ... so frustratingly dark (and just plain suckass) that I wanted to destroy the entire world.

For Ogy Durham compleatists only.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...unrelated, but did you join the AICN boards?

Stacie Ponder said...

Err...yes? I wanted to read something in the forums but I couldn't without signing up. So I signed up. Most likely I won't be back. I forget about forums.

Like the FG forum.


Evol Kween said...

Maybe it's just me, but I feel this same confusion watching Argento films. Scrap that, watching pretty much any Italian Horror. Maybe it's the translation.

Anonymous said...

"I want to live in a world of happiness and kittens and lollipops where I can see people oozing grossness from their Bubonic Plague-induced sores while they're being chased by an evil doctor wearing a scary bird mask whose only thought is kill kill kill."


Anonymous said...

MZA as heard in the loudness song "Crazy Nights" stands for My Zebra Ass. These are the actual words from the lead singer in an interview.

Anonymous said...

MZA means… nothing actually! Honestly, let me tell you that when we wrote the song Crazy Nights we didn't have lyrics. We did a preproduction with producer Max Norman and I had to sing something. So I sang some totally nonsense lyrics for him. It was a mixture of French, English, German, Chinese and Japanese. I just came up with the sound 'M.Z.A.' which was fine for preproduction. When we were actually recording the album we tried to figure out a line for the song instead of 'MZA.' We tried, but we couldn't find any good lines so Max Norman said we should forget about it and just use MZA. We didn't come up with a meaning for it either.

Sekhmei said...

Another thing that bugged me about this movie was that they presented an obvious solution hook, repeatedly drew attention back to it, and then totally discarded it in the end.

In specific:

• The chaos starts with Anna putting the head back on the doll.

• The drunk kids find the doll on the street.

• The doll falls out of the wounds of one of the victims.

• It becomes reasonable to think that the situation can be resolved by taking the head off of the doll.

• In the end, this entire thread was just left dangling.

This bothered me almost as much as the twisted recursion wherein the events of the movie cause the events of the movie...