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!

Dec 20, 2009

RIP Brittany Murphy

According to most everywhere, Brittany Murphy died early this morning in Los Angeles. Cardiac arrest, they're saying. There will undoubtedly be speculation until there's an official toxicology report- after all, young people don't normally go into fatal cardiac arrest...especially so soon after one's spouse almost suffers the same fate. Whatever the truth is, it's irrelevant except as, perhaps, serving as a warning sign to other girls (and boys) headed down the same dark path. What matters- what's the most heartbreaking- is that a young woman is gone, and the world has lost a remarkable actress who'd barely had a chance to tap into her potential.

I can't believe I'm typing any of this. I don't normally get attached to celebrities, but there was something about her that just riveted me. There's not much more to be said beyond this is so, so sad and condolences to her family. I'm going to repost below what I put up on her birthday only last month. Thirty fucking two.

Jezebel has a nice write-up.

Y'all, I have an unabiding, irrational, and unconditional love for Brittany Murphy...the kind of love you have for an actor that makes you sit through movies you wouldn't normally watch with 10-foot eyeballs (yes, I've seen Uptown Girls), the kind that causes you to deny all the rumors outright (even when you hear them from a really good source), the kind that makes you sad when the actor's career ends up...not where it should be.

She gets such a bad rap in the court of public opinion for...well, I don't know why, really. There are other celebrities out there raping, murdering, drunk driving, having affairs- yet Murphy is almost universally maligned for making some bad movies and assumptions about her private life. Really, though, that's all neither nor there, and as I said I deny all rumors anyway. The point is, I think she's a rather extraordinary actress who's vastly underappreciated. Once the elder generation of lauded actresses retires- the Dench-caliber ladies- who the fuck from the younger generation is going to take up the crown? It's a short list, in my opinion, and I hope Murphy can pull her career out of the basement to join it.

Yeah, she underwent some sort of transformation that seems, to be, "Hollywood" mandated and yeah, she'd made some caca mainstream movies that flopped. But then there's Clueless (fucking classic), and there's Girl, Interrupted- the film for which Angelina Jolie got all the glory. Jolie's performance is pretty damn good but it feels a bit showy to me, all surface- contrast it with Murphy's turn (or Angela Bettis's, for that matter), where there's a few more layers added to your standard "crazy" character. Watch Spun, watch some King of the Hill, watch Sin City and Common Ground and Freeway and for fuck's sake watch The Dead Girl, a fantastic movie which she (along with Toni Collette, Kerry Washington, Mary Beth Hurt, and Marcia Gay Harden) tears up, and see what you think. She's got range, and she's one of those few actors who has the ability to make you forget their real name while they're on least for me, but again, this is maybe an irrational thing.

She's dabbled in horror a bit, most notably in the darkly comedic slasher flick Cherry Falls, which I really need to get around to reviewing. There, now I've tied this odd diatribe about one of my favorite actresses into my usual content here at Final Girl. Hooray!

23:45 - Carnival of Souls

Dec 18, 2009

RIP Dan O'Bannon

I'm not usually one to do obituary-type posts here (those are best left to the folks who excel at 'em, namely Arbogast and Amanda by Night), but I wanted to not the passing of the great Dan O'Bannon, much too soon at the age of 63.

O'Bannon had a hand in some of the best horror films of all time, from writing Alien to writing and directing Return of the Living Dead, not to mention some lesser-known but no less enjoyable flicks like Lifeforce and Dead & Buried. I haven't watched that last film in a while- think it'll make a nice tribute tonight.

awesome movie poster friday - the JESS FRANCO edition!

Considering the ongoing debate over the merits of the films of Jess Franco (aka Joan Almirall, Rosa Maria Almirall, Clifford Brawn, Clifford Brown (Jr.), Juan G. Cabral, Betty Carter, Candy Coster, Terry De Corsia, Rick Deconinck, Raymond Dubois, Chuck Evans, Toni Falt, Dennis Farnon, Jess Franck, Jesús Franco, Adolf M. Frank, Anton Martin Frank, Jeff Frank, Wolfgang Frank, Manfred Gregor, Jack Griffin, Robert Griffin, Lennie Hayden, Frank Hollman, Rick Deconinck, B.F. Johnson, James Lee Johnson, David J. Khune, Lulu Laverne, Franco Manera, Jesús Manera, Jeff Manner, Roland Marceignac, A.L. Mariaux, John O'Hara, Preston Quaid, P. Querut, Lowel Richmond, Dan L. Simon, Dave Tough, Pablo Villa, Joan Vincent, and Robert Zinnermann), an AMPF tribute seemed only fitting. Notable notes:

1) That one Dracula vs Frankenstein poster is so blatant in its ripping-off of Universal.

2) I need to see The Bloody Judge.

3) I, too, am going to use the alias "Lulu Laverne".

4) Lina Romay.

23:45 - The Fog (1980)

Dec 17, 2009

this film club choice is awesome

Hmm, what a bold statement to make in my post title, no? NO! Because for the next round of Film Club joy, I want to watch Black Sabbath (or, as the Eye-talians call it, I tre volti della paura). Those of you who have seen it know that it is indeed an awesome movie. Those of you who will be seeing it for the first time- well, you're in for a treat.

This 1963 anthology film by Mario Bava stars Boris Karloff. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Netflixers, it's available so get ta queuein'! I'm so ready!

The film: Black Sabbath
The dude date (typo that stays): Monday, January 25...2010! So futuristic.

23:45 - Deathdream

Dec 16, 2009


When I was only small, my elementary school would have these fucking rad events called Book Fairs. A few times a year, a small room off the cafeteria was filled with books books books you could buy buy buy. They were open late-ish so you could come back after dinner with your mom or dad know, buy some books. As a nerd, I really looked forward to these fairs, and my mom always obliged my nerdish tendencies (she still does, by the way). We'd go and I'd come home with a small armful of gems: some Judy Blume, some Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby for the win)...and certainly anything horror-related. As the books were aimed at grade-schoolers, the pickin's were slim, unless you count Bunnicula (which I do). One particularly magical year- of course it was 1981- they had the Classics Illustrated edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. As you can imagine, young Final Girl snatched that shit up. I mean, who could resist Dracula in a purple suit- complete with see-through purple cape!- floating around in front of his green castle? Certainly not I, and thankfully not my mom, either.

The story was adapted by Naunerle Farr and Nestor Redondo. As I grew up to be a fairly well-read comics fan, I've become familiar with the late Redondo's fantastic work through the 70s and 80s on titles like House of Secrets, The Witching Hour, and Conan. He concentrated heavily in horror-based comics, for which his gothic flair is particularly well-suited. Of course, when I was poring over Dracula again and again, my opinion on his amazing draftsmanship wasn't one that would...well, include words like "draftsmanship", but I still knew beautiful art when I saw it. Seriously, You couldn't count on 3456892358984292 hands the number of times I've gawked at this book. The linework and inks are so good, I kind of want to eat them.

Many comics have become about detail, about cramming as much crap into a panel as possible; of course there are big exceptions to this (Mike 'Hellboy' Mignola is the first that comes to mind), but to me there's simply an overabundance of unnecessary information on the pages. I don't know where this came from- the Image boom in the 90s, from editors or from the artists themselves- but it's resulted in artists not being able to maintain a monthly schedule. Working together, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers could crank out 8-9 pages a day, in no small part thanks to the fact that there's not a lot of extra stuff on the page. You get everything you need as a reader and it's creative and gorgeous, but it's simple.

This is all my big old lady complainy-way of saying that the panels in Dracula have atmosphere to spare and lush environments, but it's streamlined. Take, for example, one of my favorite pages:

The back of the book also has some sweet WORDS TO KNOW:
  • ancestors
  • bloodthirsty
  • chapel
  • howling
  • ignorant
  • superstition
  • vampire
and some reading comprehension questions:
  • What is a blood transfusion? What good was a blood transfusion after being attacked by Dracula?
  • What animals could Dracula change into?
  • How can a person protect himself from a vampire?
I certainly hope for the sake of all teeny tiny nerds out there- especially the horror nerds- that book fairs are still alive and well and they sell amazing comics like Dracula. How else are kids supposed to learn about words like "bloodthirsty", or know what sexy vampire ladies look like? Won't someone think of the purple suits?