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!

May 28, 2008

The Wednesday Something Something

Big stuff...big stuff aujourd'hui, mes amis. BIG STUFF I SAY. You know the drill:

Over yonder at AMC, I talk a bit about what makes a scary mask a scary mask and not...uh, an unscary mask, I guess. If you'd like to see some unscary stuff, check out Ye Olde Final Girl Hall of Infamy. Oh Gene Shalit, how I adore thee.

Episode 3 of Ghostella's Haunted Tomb is up and at 'em! Check it out, they made me a fancy graphic:

Pretty nice, n'est-ce pas? This week's episode is a real doozy. Tune in as everyone's favorite Guinevere, Guinevere Turner, discovers...Who's Been in the Herb Garden?

Now, perhaps the biggest news of all! Fangoria is hitting Secaucus, New Jersey on June 20-22 for yet another Weekend of Horrors and I, yes I, have 4, yes 4, one-day passes to giveaway to you, yes you! Check out the guest list and if it strikes your fancy, enter my big Fangoria Ticket giveaway. Send me an email: stacieponder at gmail dot com by midnight, June 14 with FANGO in the subject line. Winners will be drawn completely at random, but feel free to send cookies anyway. See how much I care?

In other news...

May 27, 2008

we have a winner

The people have spoken, people, and it seems that the people want Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce to be the next Film Club choice. So say we all, or at least 27% of you.

Personally, I was kinda hoping that Food of the Gods would pull out a come-from-behind victory at the last minute, but alas, it seems that naked space alien vampire zombie boobies win out over Ida Lupino battling giant maggots. I was bummed for a second about that, then I remembered that I can watch Food of the Gods and review it any time I damn well please and I wasn't bummed anymore. I can't be boxed in!

So. Lifeforce. Due Monday, June 23. If there are any newbies out there joining in the fun, here's how it works: post your review or Lifeforce-related something something on 6/23. Be sure to mention Final Girl or the Film Club in there somewhere, and send me a link to your site. I'll post your link along with my review, and we weill all be joined together in a big cyber caring circle. Huzzah!

The film: Lifeforce
The due date: Monday, June 23

May 23, 2008

today rules

Why does today rule? Allow me to explain.

Exhibit A: It is raining.

Exhibit B: What does one do to procrastinate on rainy days? One goes to used bookstores to browse.

Exhibit C:

"The pigs. Look, they're coming out," she shrieked. "Oh, sweet Christ! The pigs!!"
Case closed!

awesome movie poster friday- the MARIO BAVA edition!

Some super duper beauties this week, wow. To be continued next week!

May 22, 2008

Listen to your mama

Yesterday I was talking on the phone with my mom, and because my mom is awesome we ended up talking about The Strangers. She'd seen the TV spots and asked if I thought it was some sort of remake- not of the French film Ils (Them), which has been the popular (if misinformed) opinion, but rather if it was some sort of remake of "that Naomi Watts movie". I knew the spot she was talking about, the one where Liv Tyler asks the masked intruders "Why are you doing this?" which, of course, is a question central to Michael Haneke's Funny Games. I picked up on that and immediately thought of Haneke's film, but I figured that it was maybe a coincidence- or at least, I was hoping it was.

I've been psyched about The Strangers since last year because, unlike at least 87% of the other horror previews I've seen, it looked like it would probably be scary. The original teaser poster, as we all know, has a kickass retro vibe that only added to my excitement.

It's almost impossible to tell what a movie will actually be like (or even about) based on trailers and posters, obviously, but now it seems that my mom wasn't so far off: the promotional machine behind The Strangers is undoubtedly trying to ride Michael Haneke's hump, as I discovered today over at Shock Till You Drop. Follow the yellow brick link and see what I mean.

I sure hope this is simply some kind of marketing ploy and The Strangers isn't mostly concerned with tying up Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and poking them with pointy metal things and 'torturing' them. In my dreams, the film was...I don't know, I guess more subtle than that- more stalking than stabbing. I wasn't a huge fan of Ils, but what I did like was the cat and mouse aspect of it.

Again, who knows? I'm continuing to avoid clips and stills from The Strangers and hell, I only have to wait another week or so before I can finally see how it plays out on the big screen. It's just that this new ad campaign has me feeling like...well, you know when you have a crush on someone and you think that they're simply the coolest, most awesome best thing ever and you want to be around them every minute of the day and then something happens and you look at them and think "Aw man. You're just like everyone else, aren't you?" and you deflate a little bit? I kinda feel like that now.

May 21, 2008

The Wednesday Bea Arthur

I just realized that these Wednesday title posts surely don't make a lick of sense to folks who don't remember my original middle o' the week news post, The Wednesday Bee. Then again, the running joke may only make sense to me regardless. Bah! Clearly Bea Arthur is as shocked as you are.

Beware the monitor upon which you read this warning, for it may kill you! It could totally happen. I talk all about stuff like that, kinda, in this week's AMC column. We all know to stay away from haunted houses, but who knew that anything bad could ever happen in a bed?


It's Ghostella's Haunted Tomb time, bitches! Episode 2 stars the awesome Bridget McManus and is titled The Devil's Bum Bag, which tells you all you really need to know- there's a cursed fanny pack. This piece of crap, direct-to-VHS slasher is from the heady days of the early '90s, when films like these were a staple of USA's Up All Night and CGI still wasn't de rigeur in horror. You know, the glory days of junk!

Don't be a freedom hater, you! Get your vote on and help decide what the next Final Girl Film Club pick will be. Your Film Club needs you, and so does Briefcase Lady. She also needs a sandwich, so try to help her out if you can.

Get your community on over at The Final Girl Seven, a fledgling Facebook group that already boasts posted photos of Charles Nelson Reilly and Shelley Winters, just like all the coolest groups do. Don't be afraid to add videos, pictures, whatever. Start a discussion about why you think bugs are neat, or how your bursitis is flaring up, it doesn't matter. The only rule is, there are no rules!

But wait, isn't that a rule? How can there be no rules if there's a rule about no rules? Omigod it's blowing my mind! WOW.

May 20, 2008

everybody loves voting

Look how exciting the very notion of voting can be!

Well, get ready to raise your briefcases HIGH and get your mouse-clicking fingers poised, my friends, because I'm going all ten kinds of democratic in order to decide the next Film Club choice. What we watch and review next month will be the winner in Yon Vote '08, which is undoubtedly the most important election you'll face this year. Once a winner is crowned and we've heard the requisite concession speeches from the losers, I'll choose a due date. But YOU will be choosing said winner!

All candidates are available from Netflix, but as you'll see they span a few different eras and subgenres. See how difficult this can be? The responsibility that comes with telling people what to watch hangs heavy on my shoulders, and now you'll know what it's like. Choose wisely!

Here are the nominees:

The Food of the Gods (1976)

I posit: is there anything in this world better than watching Ida Lupino battle giant maggots or Marjoe fucking Gortner going mano a beako with a giant chicken? I seriously doubt it.

Crazy Eights (2006)

This one of 8 Films to Die For concerns a dead kid found in a time capsule. That is so much cooler than finding a cassette of Christmas With the California Raisins!

Or is it?

This film also features Traci Lords. 'Nuff said.

House of Seven Corpses (1973)

Decidedly less ambitious than a house of 1000 corpses, yes, but this film features 100% more John Carradine than Rob Zombie's effort. Bad things happen when folks try to film a horror movie in a cursed house, as you might expect. Netflix claims this was released in 2000, but Netflix is a jerk. This is from the swingin' '70s, baby!

Lifeforce (1985)

Tobe Hooper makes a movie about naked space alien vampire zombies. Look, either that's going to appeal to you or it's not- there's really no middle ground here.

Schizo (1976)

A good old-fashioned UK slasher from Pete Walker, the dude behind the "Holy effing crap, I liked this way more than I thought I would" cannibal flick Frightmare.

There you have it, your nominees for the next Final Girl Film Club. The lines are open, America and the world, and they will be for a week: head over to the right hand column and get your vote on! It's your duty.

Omigod, I kind of love that briefcase lady.

May 19, 2008

Film Club: The Devil's Daughter

This review totally needs to begin with a qualifier: I enjoyed The Devil's Daughter (1973) way more than The Devil's Daughter has any right to be enjoyed. It's familiar and derivative and the ending is telegraphed from 50 miles away and it's anything but scary. I don't know if was the Shelley Winters-ness of it all or the fact that it felt comfy (most likely due to the aforementioned derivative-osity), but I was delighted by the entire affair.

The film begins with Alice Shaw (a cameo-in' Diane Ladd) worriedly gettin' her prayer on. She heads home only to find two weirdo goon/thug-types waiting in her apartment- they're after her daughter! Alice makes with the requisite "You'll never get your hands on her!"s, but then the door opens and someone comes shuffling in, leaning on two canes. This fellow insists that Alice's daughter is his daughter as well and now that she's 21, oh my yes, he will have her! Who is this dude, and what does he have to do with the title of the movie? Hmm...I wonder.

Alice points a gun at her baby daddy, but when she fires, somehow she shoots herself! Ta ta, Alice.

"What, me worry?"

At Alice's funeral we meet Diane (Belinda Montgomery), the daughter in question. We also meet Lillith (Shelley Winters) and her mute (but not deaf!) man-servant Mr. Howard (Jonathan Frid)- I'm pretty sure this is the point when my heart began to go pitter-pat for The Devil's Daughter. Lillith claims to be an old friend of Alice, and she simply insists that Diane come to stay with her. Diane is new in town and has nowhere to go, after all; besides, Alice would have wanted it that way.

Soon after her arrival at Lillith's pad, Diane notices that things might be a little...shall we say, off-center? First of all, there's Lillith's choice in art. Maybe you or I would have a painting of Satan hanging above the mantle, but I wouldn't expect my gramma to, you know?

Or would I?

Then there's the matter of Lillith's neighbors, the Poole sisters.

Yes, sisters. You can tell they're related because they wear matching outfits! Let me just state for the record, I fucking loved the Poole sisters. They were so weird and Janet (Lucille Benson of television's Bosom Buddies; yes, Bosom Buddies- Wendie Jo Sperber FTW!) was so hilarious, I wanted them to be in every single scene of this movie. How can you not love the Poole sisters? Anyone who doesn't love them is clearly a jerk.

Then there's the matter of the ring Lillith gives Diane, a ring that purportedly belonged to Alice. Diane notices that the strange design on the ring- sort of a cross with an X through it (clever branding, there, Satan)- appears all over the place. It's on the band of Lillith's fancy cigarettes, it's on cufflinks, it's dangling from windchimes, it's on Satan's staff in the painting- I wonder what that means? When questioned, Lilith claims she simply never noticed all those symbols before, which is good enough reasoning for the mildly-perplexed Diane.

"Jim never drinks coffee at home."

The symbol is also embossed (embossed!) on the cover of a photo album Diane finds tucked away in a drawer- an album that contains pictures of both her mother and herself! It's the memory book of The Private Club of the Satan's Helpers!

Lucifer High, Class of '58. Go Fighting Cerberi!

Eventually things get a little too strange for Diane and on the recommendation of her priest, she moves in with someone a little closer to her own age and a little less weird than Lillith and the gang. Lillith loses her shit and flips out at the news, as any rational person would.

The weirdness doesn't stop when Diane moves out, though- her very presence makes horses nervous and makes children almost wander into traffic! Of course, Diane has no knowledge of her arcane and mysterious new powers.

Lillith plans a big party for Diane so she can meet all of her mom's old pals- hooray! An old person party, just what every 21-year-old wants. Diane shows up, however, and is greeted with a shot right out of Rosemary's Baby.

They give Diane some booze, they all start dancing, and before you can say "Yes, I'd love another Zima!", everyone starts chanting "Hail Diane, Princess of Darkness!" Diane is informed that she's the daughter of Lucifer and she's destined to marry the demon prince of Endor; imagine my disappointment when he shows up later and he's not an Ewok.

At this point, Diane is a little bit overwhelmed by the news and flees. The next day Lillith and Abe Vigoda pay her a visit to apologize for their antics at the party; what I like is that it's not "Yeah, sorry- we got a little too drunk and crazy. Sorry if we weirded you out!", but rather it's "Yeah, sorry- we got a little too drunk and crazy. Sorry if we weirded you out! But no, really- you're the daughter of Satan and you're marrying the demon prince of Endor." They don't try to hide anything, and it was refreshing to see such honesty in Lucifer's minions. Diane decides they're all kookadooks and asks them to kindly fuck off. But are they simply kookadooks?

Diane's roommate goes on a date with her kinda-boyfriend, the guy who was one of Sue Ellen Ewing's paramours on Dallas, but there's a terrible horse-related accident during the date and Diane's roommate is killed. The kinda-boyfriend promptly heads back to Diane's apartment and asks her on a date...and SHE PROMPTLY AGREES! At this point, I knew exactly how The Devil's Daughter would play out, but I was having so much fun that I didn't really care. The whole film has an air of inevitability, and as is the case with Satan's Helpers, it's kind of refreshing. There's no pretense and the film has nothing to hide- yeah, it makes for a predictable movie, but when the movie features Satan and Shelley Winters and the Poole sisters, who really cares?

Diane and the kinda-boyfriend go away for the weekend and they're already so in love! We watch them fall in love and we're reminded that this film came out in 1973 because there's the obligatory falling-in-love-to-gentle-music montage, complete with sunset.

These two crazy kids are so in love, in fact, that they're going to get married ASAP! Yeah...figured it all out yet?

After the "I do"s have been done, the kinda-boyfriend busts out his yellow demon eyes, Lillith and the gang show up decked out in their Lucifinery, and Diane's dad himself shows up to gloat.

The only way this picture could get any better is if that was actually Lucille Ball in the center.

For all its predictability, the scene is still a bit cool- the "priest" performing the ceremony cleverly omits the use of the word "God" from his spiel, and having Satan show up in a Catholic church- cloven feet and all- took some balls back in '73. And then there's the kinda-boyfriend's yellow eyes! Oh well. If you have to marry a demon prince, it'd might as well be the same one who had an affair with Sue Ellen on Dallas, am I right?

The Devil's Daughter is nothing more than a made-for-TV cash-in on the Rosemary's Baby/Exorcist/Satan craze of the late-60s/early-70s. So what? It never tries to be anything else, and I think that has a lot to do with why it's enjoyable. That and the Shelley Winters-ness of the thing- she totally steamrolls through every scene she's in, and it's awesome. And let's not forget about my two most favoritest new ladies, the Poole sisters.

Despite its derivative nature- I mean, right down to the title sequence, which apes the famous Rosemary's Baby poster- the film is well made. Writer Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude) seems to be in on the joke, shamelessly cribbing at times from Rosemary's Baby and laying it all out for us, plain and simple. Director Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2, Bug) is more than capable behind the camera, setting up some fantastic deliberate shots- even if he, too, cribs from Polanski's work. The technical highlight is Laurence Rosenthal's score, which actually adds some sinister atmosphere.

The film transfer, however, is crap. The blacks are decidedly not-black, the colors are washed out, and the thing snaps crackles and pops more than your average bowl of Rice Krispies. Somehow, it seems fitting.

Film Club Coolies, y'all!

Craig Moorhead
Goatdog's Movies
Media Kitten

*it seems that this film was much more difficult to find than I'd anticipated. Boo! I'm going to continue the conversation (mostly about Shelley Winters, I expect) over at The Final Girl Seven's new headquarters on Facebook. Have you joined yet? What's the matter with you? Christ, I thought you were cool.