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!

Jul 7, 2008

the rig is up

It is a well-known fact that one of the sides comprising the equilateral triangle that represents the best television shows in the history of ever is the new Battlestar Galactica (the other two sides being, of course, Melrose Place and Dallas).

Wow, writing that sentence totally got me jonesing to do some alg/trig, what with all the letters and formulae and angles that are involved. Scalene triangles are the best triangles, don't you think?

Wait, I mean I hate math! Christ, I keep forgetting that I'm a girl. Damn this moustache!

The point is, when one loves Battlestar Galactica as if the show is one's own child and one is browsing at Video Hut and one spots a movie called Ghost Rig (2003) and one notices that the words "Jamie" and "Bamber" are emblazoned across the top of the box, one gets very excited and one brings Ghost Rig home. Jamie Bamber, see, plays Apollo on Battlestar Galactica, and Ghost Rig is ostensibly a horror movie. A squared + B squared = 2 great tastes tasting great together, my mathemagical friends!

In Ghost Rig, a bunch of environmental activists occupy an abandoned oil rig that's about to be demolished. Believing that the "artificial reef" formed by the rig debris will do more harm than good, the crazy kids of "Action Planet" intend to stay on the rig until...until...uh, I guess until the government promises not to destroy it. You know, they use the strategy of those folks who sit in trees to protest the chop-chop.

After what seems like 453968 minutes of activists walking around with flashlights, we learn that the rig is not, in fact, abandoned! There's someone on board, though whether corporeal or otherwise it's unclear. This someone's intentions are perfectly clear, however, and soon the someone makes with the Black Christmasing of an unlucky activist.

After the body is found, the group is divided into two factions: those who want to stay and those who want to split. The stayers outnumber the splitters so the activists decide to keep...activisting.

Captain Action Planet decides this is a good time to casually mention to the group that the rig was quarantined before their arrival. Nothing like a little exposure to unknown viruses and the such to liven things up a bit!

At this point, Ghost Rig becomes the rig-ified baby of John Carpenter's The Thing and that movie I've seen ten minutes of about seven times, Fallen. The virus ain't a virus per se, but rather it's a...demon of sorts, and the possession is passed from person to person and therefore no one can be trusted. The ragtag group of activists must overcome their differences (Captain Action Planet is an a-hole! Jamie Bamber is totally a double agent, which kind of doesn't make any sense!) as they fight for survival. Will they be able to?

People flip out and whale on each other with hammers, wounds heal via dodgy CGI, there's a 'demon voice' which proves that Mercedes McCambridge is the only person who could do a believable demon voice and she didn't need any fucking help from a computer thank you very much, there are corpses tucked away in the walls, and the activists piece together what happened on the rig before it got all possess-y, starting with the discovery of a giant devil's hopscotch.

By the way, the term "devil's hopscotch" reminds me of Devil's Hopyard, which is a state park near where I grew up. Obviously it's the best name for a state park EVARRRRRR. It also has the coolest legends of any state park I've ever encountered, which, as you can imagine, fueled wee Final Girl's imagination:
Another tale focuses on the potholes near the falls, which are some of the finest examples of pothole stone formations in this section of the country. Perfectly cylindrical, they range from inches to several feet in diameter and depth. These potholes were formed by stones moved downstream by the current and trapped in an eddy where the stone was spun around and around, wearing a depression in the rock. When the rock wore itself down, another would catch in the same hole and enlarge it. We know this now, but to the early settlers the potholes were a great mystery that they tried to explain with references to the supernatural. They thought that the Devil has passed by the falls, accidentally getting his tail wet. This made him so mad he burned holes in the stones with his hooves as he bounded away.
Stupid, awesome, superstitious settlers.

But! Now is not the time for southeastern Connecticut's geological history. Now is the time for mediocre horror movies, so back to Ghost Rig.

I must admit, just when I was thinking that this movie was a let down, Apollo or no Apollo, Ghost Rig surprised me with a twist ending that was interesting, satisfying, and undoubtedly the best part of the movie. I'm not going to give anything away here because not only was the ending completely unexpected, but it's also complicated and I'm too lazy to type all that shit out. Suffice it to say, when Ghost Rig ended I had to give it a begrudging "Not bad, kid...not bad at all." Then Ghost Rig gave me a Coke and I threw my shirt at it*.

So. Should you seek out Ghost Rig? Well, if you're anything like me, then perhaps yes. "Anything like me" means that you want to make out with Battlestar Galactica so badly that you even consider rewatching Halloween: Resurrection, a movie that opened with fifteen minutes that made you want to kill yourself and the entire world the first time you saw it, just because Starbuck is in it. "Anything like me" means that a movie about a haunted oil rig is something that makes you genuinely go "Ooh, hey, this could be good". "Anything like me" means you would buy an algebra workbook just for fun, but I suppose that's sort of beside the point.

*I realize that there are plenty of you out there who have absolutely no clue what I'm referencing here, so voila. Great Caesar's ghost, I've dated people who are younger than that commercial. How is this possible? In related news, does Coke really add life?


Jason Adams said...

Rob the cradle much, Stacie? Don't you find that a binkie gets in the way of a make-out session?

Okay nevermind, I did the math - never my strong suit - and a person born after that commercial could be 29 years old by now, so that hardly Jesus-Juice territory.


Stacie Ponder said...

Ha, Jesus Juice! I'm a cougar!

I know it's hard to believe I'd date someone 29 or so years old, as I just turned 21 myself.

I love The Bamber! It's weird- he's sporting his native accent in this and yet it sounds so fake to me...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Stacie is Gen Z's most diligent historian of the '70s. It's amazing, her ability to project herself into what it must have been like to be there.

And, man, that ad was quite the cultural touchstone way back when. Sic transit something or other.

spazmo said...

You're a brave soul for watching this, Stacie. Who woulda' thought they'd end up making a poor-man's "Ghost Ship"?

Especially since Ghost Ship was a poor man's "Haunting ('99)", which itself was a homeless junkie's version of the original, etc, etc.

Loved the Devil's Hopyard story. I'm a total sucker for folklore and spooky Americana!

Jason Adams said...

I think Jamie Bamber is a fake Brit. Every time I hear his so-called "native accent" it sounds fake. I think we need to go all Jessica Fletcher on his ass and uncover the Brit he's hiding in his basement whose identity he's stolen. It is an elaborate scheme - kidnap a British man to become British to play an character with an American accent (though not American, since he's from a fake planet) on a sci-fi show - some might say needlessly so... but that's why it's so diabolical! I'll unravel your wicked schemes, Jamie Bamber (Not His Real Name)!

Arbogast said...

I'm a cougar!

And I'm an old salt. If anybody wants me, I'll be in the fo'c'sle practicing my sheepshank.

Unknown said...

Hahaha! Funny stuff Ponder, ya big MATH FAG!

A (not The) Fan

Steven said...

In related news, does Coke really add life?

I think Reanimator pretty conclusively showed Mountain Dew does.

Pagan Mnemosyne said...

I did sit through Halloween: Resurrection simply because Starbuck was in it, simply because I hoped she would take her top off. Imagine how my hopes and eventually, my soul, died when it was her head that was taken off.

Not actually the sort of 'bounce' I was looking for.

kindertrauma said...

You got me wishing there was a horror movie with Col. Tigh in it! Actually his imdb thingy says he played "cop in subway" in the giant rat movie "Deadly eyes" look what you started, I gotta watch that again now.

RJ said...

The day a new Ponder-view arrives is always a day for celebration.

And I may be too young to have seen it on tv, but I'm still AWARE of that commercial if only b/c it was the source of so much cultural ribbing as I was growing up.

Arbogast said...

Deadly Eyes... where the rats are as big as dachshunds... and not for nothin', neither!

Anonymous said...

You've haven't seen all of Fallen multiple times!!! Denzel v. Goodman!!! Time is on my side. It's Exorcist 3 minus the hilariousness.

Anonymous said...

Well, Michael Hogan appears in The Cutting Edge, and I know plenty of people who find romantic ice skating movies horrific.

Getting Black Christmased strikes me as a pretty terrifying way to die. I'm surprised there hasn't been more movies where the killer just bags people to death. "Paper... Plastic... Or OBLIVION?"

Natazzz said...

I totally agree, Battlestar Galactica is the best television show in the history of ever.

I'm totally geeking out over all this math an algebra workbook just for fun...Oh Stacie, I heart you.

Not sure if I want to check out Ghost Rig, but you did make me all excited about suffering through Halloween: Ressurection just for Katee Sackhoff...

Anonymous said...

Devil's 'opyard? or whatever it was?
I'd like to present an alternative contender for the title of Best State Park Name - Cheese Quake State Park, NJ.

Not only does it make me think of those kraft commercials with the gushing rivers of pseudocheese, it's also another horrifically-
misunderstood-and-anglicized native american word, that would have meant something boring and/or obvious if some pilgrim hadn't "translated" it by the simple expedient of phonetically writing down what he thought he'd heard.