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!

Nov 30, 2009

risk accepted

Today marks the opening of the Lifetime floodgates, people, and you only have yourselves to blame! That's right, horror-related Lifetime movies are officially on the Final Girl docket, and I say it's about durn time. First up: Acceptable Risk (2001), a film that finally unites the Salem witch trials and mold spores together in one positively scintillating tale of medical research gone awry. See, this is Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk- that's Doctor Robin Cook of Coma, Terminal, Virus, and a bunch of other medical thrillers that I want to like more than I actually do.

Now, that syringe filled with You Can't Do That On Television!- style goo featured on the cover may lead you to believe that there will be some Re-Animator shenanigans to come...well, I hate to burst your bubble, friendo, but the green goo does not make an appearance in the film, nor does an oversized novelty needle. I think I'm going to sue.

All is not lost, however, for Kelly Rutherford does indeed make an appearance in Acceptable Risk- in this, the cover does not lie. Yes, Kelly Rutherford, who stole the hearts of all the world over as prostitute-turned-receptionist Megan on Melrose Place.

Here Rutherford stars as Kim Welles, a...student of some sort who inherits a creaky old house in Massachusetts from relatives she never knew she had. Isn't that always the way? I'm hoping I have some weirdo relatives out there (ones I don't know about, at least) who will leave me a haunted house in their will when they shuffle off to the afterlife. Kim and her medical researcher husband Edward (Chad Lowe) move in, excited to start a new life in their mortgage-free home.

Yes, I said haunted! Or, at least, Acceptable Risk wants you to think the house is haunted. New neighbor Lois (Patty McCormack, the Bad fucking Seed!) talks about all the mysterious deaths that have occurred there, while the Welles experience mild Amityville-ish phenomena, such as mysterious water stains, power fluctuations, red foamy bathwater and the like. They find a secret walled-up room in the basement, and after that any supernatural explanations are quickly discarded. You see, it's not ghosts that are the problem in this house: it's a crystalline mold!

The weird stuff is growing all over the walls in the hidden room, and before you can say "health hazard", Edward gets some of it all over an open wound on his arm. His arm goes immediately numb, which immediately leads him to believe the mold may have analgesic properties, which immediately leads him to bringing some spores to his lab to inject into rats suffering from brain disorders, which immediately leads to the rats showing restored brain function, which immediately leads to Edward thinking he may have found a cure for Alzheimer's, which immediately leads to Edward ingesting the spores himself, which immediately leads to Edward becoming a super genius, which immediately leads to Edward calling his new drug discovery ULTRA, which immediately leads to...hmm, maybe I should have made a flow chart.

In the great Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tradition of such films as The FlyHollow Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Edward's discovery seems like a miracle, causing him to gain IQ points and run really fast (which is implied, of course, by showing him running in slow motion)...but, inevitably, he soon begins acting like a real jerk. He yells at his wife, he eats without silverware, and before you know it he's bare-chested and wrestling wolves like a Dollar Tree Leslie Nielsen. Mother of God, he's coming apart!

Kim notices that Edward is venturing into Cuckoo Town, but what she doesn't know is that he's not the only one! Edward has set up a lab on their property so his controversial research can thrive without the eyes of more...conservative scientists watching. He goads his assistants- a small group which includes Sean Patrick Flanery- into taking ULTRA as well, telling them it's an acceptable risk, which might be where the movie title comes from. Soon the sleepy town has four drug-addicted loonies on the loose- it's like Intervention meets Amityville meets other words, it's a this isn't good by any means but I can't help enjoying it dream come true for me.

Edward begins to regain a bit of clarity, and realizes that ULTRA may not be all its cracked up to be, and that an increased IQ isn't worth it when one is suddenly eating meals sans silverware like some sort of rube. He decides to stop the trials- but not before Sean Patrick Flanery runs Patty McCormack off the road in raging fit of road rage!

Edward puts the ULTRA formula on a 3.5 inch floppy disk (???) and locks it in safe, which seems to be the only way to ensure that this dangerous research is never found...well, the only way that doesn't involve not putting the research on a disk, or destroying the research altogether, or at the least destroying the disk.

Anyway, another assistant experiences her own moment of clarity and decides to call the police- but not before Sean Patrick Flanery bashes her head in!

Edward decides to call the police himself- but not before Sean Patrick Flanery drives off with the drug samples that Edward locked away instead of destroying!

Kim decides to call the police- but not before the remaining rogue assistant ties her up in the storage room!

Car chase, gun shots, fire, unearthed coffins, and death...proving once and for all the truth of what your mother told you: if you find some crystalline mold growing in the root cellar, do not eat it.

Oh, and if you're wondering how the Salem witch trials ties into this whole thing, well, it turns out that Kim's ancestor and her friends were exposed to the mold, which means that they started hallucinating and acting violently, which means that people thought they were witches, which means they were witches, which means they were hanged.

So there you go. Unfortunately, the supernatural shenanigans early on in the film were all just a red herring. Still, watching Acceptable Risk was an acceptable risk that panned out for the best- by which I mean it's not a good movie whatsoever, but I don't care*. When I've got Chad Lowe wrestling wolves married to Megan, the hooker with a heart of gold, I need nothing else!

*I have a feeling that's how a lot of these Lifetime reviews are going to work out.

23:45 - The Amityville Horror (1979)

Nov 25, 2009

like, stuff and other things.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...over at AMC, I wanna rock and roll and watch horror movies all night, and party every once in a while, so long as there are snacks. What that means is, I'm talking about rock & roll (or rock 'n' roll, if you wish) horror movies. Not musicals, not rock operas...well, you'll see what I mean.

In related news, here's my old old old review of Trick or Treat. It's totally one of those movies that isn't that great while I'm watching it, but thinking or talking about it later gets me all jazzed to see it again. You know, like Rumplestiltskin. I talked about that phenomenecronomicon here, in the first annual Hey Internet! Stop Being Such Cynical Effing Douchebags! blog-a-thon. Reading my entry and clicking links to other blogs who joined in, I think it's about high time for another go at it. Ooh, mayhaps an announcement next week! Rumpie himself is excited.

Heidi Martinuzzi of Pretty-Scary sounded off on the Ms. Horror Blogosphere contest currently up and running at The Vault of Horror. I know most of the entrants in at least a cyber-fashion (some I'd even call cyber-pals!), and I read a good portion of the blogs these women maintain. Glancing over the entries introduced me to some new sites, which is always a good thing. I'm beyond flattered that a few ladies mentioned me in their interview answers.

I know it's all meant to be in good fun, and maybe you'll think I'm being an old fart about it, but I find that my views on the affair are in line with Martinuzzi's, who writes,
Despite being a contest amongst bloggers, who are writers and journalists, each entry requires a photo of the lady and a bio. Which begs the question - why aren't they just being judged on the quality of their blog and writing? Answer: because it is never too late to judge women based on their looks...
Read the rest of her post here. It's commendable to draw attention to the fact that there are, indeed, plenty of women out there writing about horror movies. As with men writing about horror movies, the blogs all have different voices, different spins- although it seems to me that this contest doesn't celebrate that fact. Yes, there are links to each entrant's respective blog, but...why not talk about their writing in the interviews? Where are the writing samples? There are the obligatory questions about the genesis of the blogs and the inspiration these women find, but those questions are right alongside photos of the authors and questions about which horror movie characters they'd like to fuck.


And in the end, they're all pitted against each other in a sort of Miss Grand National Star Grand Supreme (you know, the horror edition) so we can vote and choose which one is the best. Because it has to be a competition, yeah? There can't simply be a spotlight thrown on each blog where we learn about new writers and their sites...after all, they're women.

23:45 - The Blair Witch Project

Nov 24, 2009

a dull boy by any other name...

Idioms and idiomatic expressions are neat. From the Serbian "He's ripping clouds with his nose!" to the Sweathoggian "Up your nose with a rubber hose!", quips and quotes and sayings vary from nations and people to people and nations. What causes outrage to a native speaker of a language may cause only puzzlement in a foreigner or Foreigner.

The most famous idiom found in a horror movie- well, except perhaps "You scared the shit outta me!"- is "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.", the sentence typed over and over by the sneaky Jack Torrance in The Shining. He was supposed to be working on his novel! That's why he refused sandwiches from Wendy, so he could concentrate! Gawd, what a jerk. First he sets up his special "must have quiet" writing area in the main hall, in the middle of everything, then it comes out that he's just been fooling around with typography the whole time.

Anyway. "All work..." may not be a familiar expression outside the shores of the ol' USA- so what was the phrase translated to in non-domestic releases of the film? Check it out!






Mind you, I got all of these from The Internet, and as we all know The Internet has been known to lie (I'm looking at YOU, Nigerian widow who promised me millions of dollars)...but there you go.

23:45 - House by the Cemetery

Nov 20, 2009

awesome movie poster friday - the DON'T edition!

Some of these "posters" are VHS covers, but they were just crying out to be included. I didn't want their heartbreak on my conscience, so there they are.

Looking at these, I realize I've only seen Don't Look Now and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone!; I've thought about picking up Don't Answer the Phone!, but...mehhh. No one's ever given it a ringing endorsement so I always pass it by.

See what I did there? "Ringing" endorsement? For the movie about a PHONE? Get it? Phone? Merrrrrr.

I will say that the odd Val Kilmer-Jeff Bridges love child sitting haughtily in drag has intrigued me enough so that I may seek out Don't Go in the House.

For what it's worth, I think my favorite poster here is for Don't Go in the Woods...Alone!- man, it's the mirrored aviator glasses that do it. What's even better is that she's actually in the film- along with hikers on roller skates, hikers in wheelchairs...ahh. I read my review and now I want to watch it again, even though I know it's terrible, terrible.

23:45 - Dog Soldiers

Nov 19, 2009

one thousand

Dear y'all,

So this is it, my big 1000th post. Though I really have nothing profound to say (shock), I couldn't let the moment pass by without acknowledging it somehow. I marked the occasion of my 500th post with a rather lengthy entry describing Final Girl's humble roots and highlighting a few of my favorite posts. Wow, I just noticed that my 500th hit on November 20, 2007- almost two years ago to the day. That's surely significant of something...? Probably not. Anyway, what's happened in the two years since my last major milestone?

Since post #500...

...I think we can all agree that one of the best things that's happened around here has been the introduction of Briefcase Woman, who came along one fine day in May, 2008 to demonstrate the joys that can be had when one votes. Since then, she's spread her enthusiasm all over this blog, let's honor her origins and vote for an apt simile, shall we?


...the Final Girl Film Club keeps chugging along, powered by the awesomeness of The Internet. We've covered a whopping 18 films since post 500, and there's no sign of stopping yet. Next up: The Wicker Man on December 14. What movies would you like to nominate for FGFC coverage? Before you answer, take a quick peek at my reviews archive to make sure I haven't already reviewed it.

...I made a movie- a few, really. Ludlow will be ready for mass consumption soon, a thought that's as terrifying as it is metaphorical boner-inducing.

...I've written 85 columns for AMC (holy crapping crap) and I've started contributing to Rue Morgue magazine. Both make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

...this little site just keeps on keepin' on, mostly business as usual. Reviews, stupid pictures, blah blah blah. As you know, I love Final Girl more than Donkey Kong loves throwing barrels at plumbers. While I could write exclusively for myself and be somewhat satisfied (being an only child grants me a +15 to both mana regeneration and my ability to entertain myself) (sorry, I've been playing Dragon Age: Origins) (it's so fucking awesome)...well, it wouldn't be the same without you guys reading it. Again, I say hooray!

Okay, now tell me what's been your favorite post or feature or whatevs here on Final Girl so I feel pretty.

What? I'm allowed to fish for ego-stroking compliments every 500 posts, that's the rule I made up.

Here's to 10,000 more posts! HUZZAH!

23:45 - Ju-on

Nov 18, 2009

it's wednesday!

Another Wednesday, another column at AMC. Friendos, feast your face on The North American Field Guide to Slasher Psychos! It's only small, but remember- Mr. John James Audubon began with but one bird.


Also, if you've visited any other horror site besides mine this week, then surely you know that two new trailers have premiered for genre films starring one- not two, but one- Brittany Murphy.

First up is Deadline, wherein Murphy plays a writer who shacks up in a creepy manse to work on whatever it is she's working on. Creepy stuff starts happening, she finds some DV tapes, she pieces together the mystery of said manse, it all feels vaguely familiar, and the audience wonders what the fuck happened to Thora Birch's career and whether she sees pictures of Scarlett Johanssen and is all "Hey people, I was in Ghost World, too!". Deadline hits December 1, and you can watch the trailer at Shock Till You Drop.

Also, the poster?

I'm not sure what that emotion is. Fear? Ennui? Indigestion? Geez. And if it were me, I wouldn't risk bringing my camera in the tub for fear of dropping it in the water. I'd also be concerned about the giant floating Rosemary's Baby-ish face behind me.

The second trailer that went up this week is for Across the Hall, described as thus:
A quiet night takes a dangerous turn when Julian receives a frantic phone call from his best friend, Terry. Terry claims to have followed his unfaithful fiancĂ©e, June, to a seedy hotel on the other side of town. To make matters worse, he’s staked out the room across the hall from her, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a revolver in the other. Julian pleads with his friend to stay put while he rushes to avert disaster.
Murphy is the unfaithful fiancee. Check out the intriguing, lethargic trailer at site says "in theaters December 4", but that seems...unlikely. Home theaters, maybe?

Also, the poster?

Supermodel with headache- that's some ANTM shit! Still, my Brittany Murphy obsession means I'm compelled to see these (two movies in one week- that's practically an event!). Wouldn't it be nice if they were both fucking awesome?

23:45 - Sleepaway Camp

Nov 17, 2009

slow on the uptake

So, after all our reminiscing about Summer School, I decided to give it a whirl last night, and whirl we did! Whilst watching the exploits of Larry, the student-turned stripper-turned student, I thought to myself, "Hmm. Whatever happened to that Craig Sheffer? He was in this, and April Fool's Day, and Night Breed...surely he's still working."

Well, kids, the joke is on moi. Apparently there exists an actor named Ken Olandt and he's the one in Summer School and April Fool's Day. It's not Craig Sheffer at all! It never was! Everything I know is wrong! Am I losing my mind? This is totally, like, the opposite of that Spice Girls song "2 Become 1".

At any rate, yes, they've both been working steadily since not being the same person in the 80s.

In other news, man...I just don't fucking get Night Breed.

23:45 - The Ring

Nov 16, 2009

The Curious Case of Harry Warden

Over the course of the last day or two, I've spent far more time thinking about Harry Warden of My Bloody Valentine than I probably should have. This may or may not have something to do with my forthcoming AMC column; the fact remains that there's plenty to talk about regarding him outside the confines of said column. Another fact that remains is that there will be plot spoilers for the 1981 film ahead (no talk of the remake here, although I did enjoy it). By now, it should go without saying that, excepting the most current films in theaters, there are almost always spoilers here at your friendly neighborhood FG. Still, I don't want any of you "kids" getting "up" in my "grill" with a "Wait, who has a penis?" or some such. Not that that particular question applies in this case...probably.

Anyway, after all that build up and intro, the bulk of this post may be a disappointment. Maybe there's not plenty to talk about, or much to say...but here goes. Regarding Harry Warden, we know this: he was trapped underground for six weeks following a mine explosion. To survive, he nommed on the bodies of his fallen comrades. When found, Harry was stark raving nutcake and was sent off to a mental hospital to recuperate. A year later, he was out of the hospital. Did he escape, or was he released? Whatever the case, he was still decidedly nutcake- now one of the murderous variety. He killed the two supervisors responsible for the accident in the mine, then...disappeared, warning the town of Valentine Bluffs that should they celebrate the holiday at at any time in the future, he'd be back to make with the kill-kill.

20 years later, the town decides what's past is past and it's time to hold another Valentine's Day dance. When people start dying, it seems that Harry has held true to his promise...eventually, we learn that the killer is really Axel Palmer posing as Harry. When the sheriff calls the sanitarium where Harry had been committed, however, they cannot find any record of him ever staying there...the secretary points out that it could be a clerical error, and she'd have to dig into the microfiche to be sure.

SIDE NOTE: I miss microfiche, particularly in movies. The internet simply isn't as noisy...or as thrilling!

We never get an answer to the question "Where's Harry?" It's a fact that he killed the supervisors a year after he went to the hospital- one of the men was Axel's father, after all, and it was witnessing his dad's murder that made him a murderous nutcake. But...what happened to Harry after that? Legend said he returned to Valentine Bluffs every year to make sure they held no holiday dances; did he live a normal life somewhere else for the other 364 days in the year? Where was he the night the town resumed the festivities? Was he dead? Or, once he had his vengeance on the mine supervisors, did Harry give a big ol' F.U. to the town and split for good, never to think on it again? Wherefore art thou Harry?

That's all. Just wonderin'.

23:45 - A Nightmare on Elm Street