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!

Jun 29, 2010

Film Club: It's Alive

If you've been here for any length of time, then surely you've heard me tell the fascinating tale of how the poster for It's Alive gave me nightmares after my mom and I walked by it as it hung outside of a movie theater. In case you haven't yet heard the tale...well, that's pretty much it. We walked by it, and later on it gave me nightmares. See? Fascinating.

Despite my relationship with the poster...despite my having a horror blog...despite the fact that it's been around for decades, I'd never seen this 1974 film before last night. Wow, Film Clubbers! Today I feel so much closer to It's Alive- and to you.

But! Do I mean "closer" in a good way? I'll spare you the suspense: yes. Yes, I do. In fact, I liked It's Alive far more than I probably should have. As I watched it, my brain was in this marvelous state: you know the one- the one that makes things which are not profound whatsoever seem totally profound. It's that same place your 7th-grade mind went, when you totally got all the deep meaning in songs by, like, Nena and to prove your connection to that which actually means nothing at all, you would write the lyrics all over your math book cover.

Or maybe that's just me. Regardless, consider this post my math book cover; I'm not sure what was happening in my brain place, but last night I was all "Wow, It's Alive isn't just a horror movie about a homicidal mutant baby, it's an indictment on the modern family! Or is it? It is! And it's an indictment of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industries! Wow." In the cold light of the day after, I don't know how right I was. What I do know for sure is that I enjoyed the hell out of It's Alive and I only feel a little bit wrong about it.

The film begins as Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) goes into labor with her second child. Her husband Frank (John P. Ryan) drives her to the hospital and waits alongside other men who are about to become fathers. In the delivery room, Lenore begins to have some difficulty. Her first child popped out in under an hour, and it didn't feel like...this! The doctor assures her that everything is fine- well, save that the baby must be an 11-pounder.

At this point, I would like to take a time out to mention that nothing that weighs 11 pounds should ever come out of a vagina, ever. EVER.

I'm sure plenty of you out there have children, and perhaps some of those children were that large at birth. Maybe- just maybe- you were a child once yourself, and when you came out of your mom's vagina you weighed that much. I just...the whole childbirth thing is beyond me. I mean, I get it; I understand the concepts and all that, but the mechanics of birthing? They make no sense to me. At all. I will summarize it thusly: there are limits. Let it suffice to say, I was sympathizing somethin' awful with Mrs. Davis.

When it finally emerges, the baby lays waste to everyone in the room save his mama. Doctors and nurses lay scattered about, their throats torn open. Baby, thou art loosed!

As the Davises deal with the repercussions of bringing a homicidal mutant baby into the world- you know, stuff like job loss, nosy nurses looking to cop a scoop, reporters at every turn- said baby gets his nom-nom on. As mutant baby-cam shows, perhaps the poor young thing is cranky because he needs glasses. Bad eyesight can lead to headaches, which can lead to irritation.

That woman, by the way? The one who's about to be a victim? She had on the most fabulous white go-go boots you could ever hope to see. I am just saying.

The police want to kill the baby before it completely obliterates the city of Santa Monica. Frank is fine with that; in fact, he continually stresses that the baby isn't really his- not in a my wife obviously had an affair with Xtro kind of way, but rather in a I refuse to believe it's not butter that I made that thing kind of way. You can't really blame him.

The medical community, on the other hand, wants to capture the baby alive in order to study it and attempt to figure out why it's so mean and gross.

So, the baby does his thing (killing people), everyone tries to find it, and Lenore kind of loses her shit. When the baby makes his way home, Frank shoots it up but good. Well, not good dead, but good enough so that junior leaves a trail of blood during his escape. Everyone tracks it down, and Frank has a change of heart. He realizes that even though his son is a hideous, homicidal freak of nature, it's still his son. But it's too late! There's no happy ending for the Davises. I mean, there kind of is because they no longer have to worry about raising a mutant...but it's still sad.

Somehow, It's Alive isn't quite as schlocky as you'd think a movie about a ridiculous-looking mutant monster baby would be. Writer/director Larry Cohen wisely keeps the child in the shadows, only giving us a glimpse here and there of a giant fang, a giant eye, giant claws, or a giant forehead. It's pretty hokey, sure, but too much would have made this movie an all-out laugh riot. The effects are all low-budget, in fact. Earlier I said "throats ripped out" when describing the hospital room massacre; well, the reality is not nearly as gruesome- some blood shows up on some necks and that's about it.

Is it scary? Theoretically, sure. In actuality...not so much. Truth be told, there's not that much action here. The baby hangs out in dark corners, we get some mutant-cam, someone dies. The majority of the film focuses on the Davises- how they're coping or not coping, etc. It's more their story than a monster movie, really. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but nor is it what you might expect.

As for my late-night philosophizing and all that, well, I suppose maybe you could look at It's Alive as a prime example of societal attitudes in the post-1960s, as the Leave It to Beaver-style notions of the ideal family became antiquated. The "me" generation was about to take hold, and white picket fences were no longer the be all, end all. Maybe Cohen is examining changing attitudes about families in the film...or maybe I'm just reading way too much into the fact that Frank makes an off-the-cuff comment about how lucky single people are and the baby kills a milkman. Eh. I like finding depth where perhaps there is none. Otherwise, It's Alive is just a movie about a killer mutant baby and-- wait, that's awesome enough.

Film Club Coolies, Y'all!
Movie Bullstuff
Banned in Queensland
From Midnight, With Love
The House of Sparrows
Innocent Donuts
emma blackwood
Pussy Goes Grrr
The Verdant Dude

Jun 25, 2010

awesome movie poster friday - the STUART GORDON edition!

It's about time Stuart Gordon got some love around here- after all, he did so much to mess with my mind back in mah yout'. Besides, it finally gives me an opportunity to post Robot Jox posters. Oh, and a couple of these are DVD covers, but what are ya gonna do?

Jun 24, 2010

way cooler than me

Hold on to your pants, because I'm going to say something that may just shock 'em right off: I am not cool. I know, right? It's hard to believe, what with all my talk of ice cream and video games...but it's true. It's something about myself that I learned a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and I'm fine with it. I'm not cool, I never have been, and I never will be. Somehow, life goes on.

See, I think that "cool" is something you simply have or you don't. It's not really something you can acquire- it's something you're born with; it's like fetal alcohol syndrome, not alcoholism, dig? Wearing your sunglasses all the time, even indoors, will not make you cool. If you're actually cool, you don't even need sunglasses to convey it. It's not the things you have (although the things themselves may be cool), it's the way you are. Read on to see some of the horror movie characters I find to be the essence know, what I've been talking about.

Joanne Clayton - Tales from the Crypt

Though it's decidedly uncool to murder your husband for the insurance money- uh, especially when your young daughter is hanging out upstairs- Joanne Clayton has enough sass to make us root for her when, moments later, she's pursued by a homicidal Santa Claus. Is it the hair? The shirt? The jewelry? Maybe it's just the fact that she's played by Joan fucking Collins- whatever it is, she's the coolest homicidal wife/mother ever.

Nick Castle - The Fog

Let's face it- I could have just said "Tom Atkins in anything" and it would be true. Whether he's portraying an abusive dad (Creepshow) or a cynical cop (Night of the Creeps) or an older cynical cop (My Bloody Valentine), Tom Atkins is the absolute essence of cool. The Fog is certainly a prime example, as he beds a young, hitchhiking Jamie Lee Curtis and battles the ghosts of lepers past...aaaand his character is named after the actor who played The Shape, aka Michael Myers in John Carpenter's Halloween.

Christine - The Convent

With regards to Adrienne Barbeau, I could simply say that she's sort of like the female Tom Atkins for me- the two of them are simply my dream team of cool. In The Convent, Barbeau gets to strut her badass stuff as Christine, a shotgun-totin', motorcycle-ridin', demon-slaying Catholic schoolgirl-turned-avenger.

Trash - Return of the Living Dead

With her shocking pink mini-mullet, her thigh-high leg warmers, and her penchant for public nudity and graveyard dancing, Trash is one of those weirdo cool girls that you're totally afraid of- even before she comes back from the dead as a zombie.

R.J. MacReady - The Thing

He plays chess and he flies a helicopter. He spouts off a couple of choice one-liners- one-liners that aren't cringe-worthy!- while battling a shape-shifting nasty from outer space. Hell, MacReady is so damn cool he makes the most ridiculous hat in the history of ever seem...well, not so ridiculous. Just you try it!

Troubled teen Violet pop-locked her way into my heart the night I saw Friday the 13th Part V at the drive-in. I was exactly the right age to get her character, and she was kinda like me- or, more specifically, the me I wanted to be. I don't mean the "troubled" part (and Charles Nelson Reilly knows, I certainly talked way more than Violet ever did), I mean the amalgamation of punk and New Wave that she embodied. Oh, those were heady times! The world embraced dual-colored hair, crimping irons, shaved heads, and foppish young British boy bands. For a few glorious days, the biggest question of my early teenhood was "Do I want to be Violet, or be friends with Violet?"

Annie Brackett - Halloween

Your first impulse might be to think that Lynda is the cool one- after all, she's the cheerleader and cheerleaders are always popular and cool, right? Whether or not that's true, it's beside the point. Annie is by far much, much cooler. Her sarcasm and sardonic attitude- especially towards children- give her an "I don't give a shit" edge, but underneath it all, Annie's also a swell pal. And the sweater vest- please. Only someone extremely cool can pull that off.

Peter - Dawn of the Dead

All I really need to say here is "See picture above".

Beth is quietly the coolest member of the ill-fated group of cavers in The Descent. Sure, she doesn't have a Sonic the Hedgehog-esque coif like Holly, and she's not all extreme-sporty like Juno. She's funny and she'll chug a beer as she boldly sports the ugliest pajamas known to man. In a situation that would break most peoples' brains, she has the wherewithall to interpret cave drawings- smarts, if you ask me, are wicked cool. To top it off, she's the loyalest of loyal friends, going so far as to use up most of her last words to warn Sarah of Juno's treachery. I'm certainly not cool enough or selfless enough to do that. My dying words will probably be something like, "This effing sucks!"

The vampire clan of Near Dark

They look as if they must smell like hell. They're filthy. They kill people and feed on them. They're very much not nice. They obliterate the notion of the romantic vampire. They're so obviously cool, which usually backfires miserably- I mean, see Poochie. Somehow, though, Jesse, Severen, Diamondback, Mae, and Homer defy the odds and are just as cool a they cool, they can even pull of names like "Diamondback".

So there you go- horror movie characters who are definitely cooler than me. No offense, but they're probably cooler than you, too. It's okay. No need to feel ashamed about it- I certainly don't. Much. I swear. Doesn't bother me at all.

lie to me and tell me i'm coooooool!!

Jun 23, 2010

now read this!

There's a terrific interview with Diablo Cody over at Twitch regarding Jennifer's Body. Well worth a read whether you're a fan of the movie or not. For me, it's one of those rare cases where the interviewer asks the questions I would want to ask- the issues of humor vs horror in the film are broached, as well as the nature of the relationship between Jennifer and Needy, blah blah blah. I wish someone could/would go ahead and make a darker version of the film that realizes all of its potential.

From the Sad Department: no Scare-ening tonight. Family matters will prevent my co-host from being available.

From the That Would Have Been Awesome Department: If I had said that Family Matters will prevent my co-host from being available. That damn Urkel!

Jun 22, 2010

when the impossible becomes possible

I was recently playing a video game (shocking) wherein one character says to another, "Many things are impossible until they are done." I didn't understand this sentiment truly until I watched the 1996 disasterpiece Caress of the Vampire. See, I thought it impossible to screw up the simple premise "lesbian vampires from outer space", but director Frank Terranova has gone and done exactly that, proving me at least 150% wrong. Caress of the Vampire is a complete failure in every single way- it's not so much a movie you watch as it is a movie that happens to you. I say this despite the fact that it stars the prettiest strippers in all of Glenwood, New Jersey!

After a few minutes of credits over Windows 3.1 Starfield screensaver, we are treated to a chilling Star Wars-esque opening...well, it doesn't crawl, exactly, but the words are there and as I said, they're chilling.

I know what you're thinking: why is "ago" capitalized? I'll tell you now- you need to let that go, because you'll never find out.

The most seductive force in the universe comes to Earth via some decidedly made by a student enrolled in their first semester of DeVry's computer graphics program effects. Mind you, I'm not saying this is bad- if anything, the spaceship certainly raised my anticipation of the story that was about to unfold.

We are never told that said unfolding story takes place in the present day; therefore, we can only assume that it takes place "Long Ago". If that's the case, then it turns out that "Long Ago" looks just like New Jersey circa 1996. I knew it!

A leather-clad lady strolls innocently down a boulevard one fine evening. As her constitutional ends and she's about to climb into her Trans-Am, she's accosted by a couple of ne'er-do-wells. Little do the hooligans know that they're messing with the wrong leather-clad lady...she's no innocent- she's a vampire!

I know what you're thinking: why would an alien have a tongue piercing? I'll tell you now- you need to let that go, because you'll never find out.

Cut to: a bedroom! Leather and another woman wear thongs and show some boobs (their own boobs- it's not, like, a demonstration) as they crawl around on a bed. I guess this Actually, everything about the scene- from the bedroom that's just so obviously someone's bedroom to the completely inappropriate action-flavored music- renders it all the polar opposite of sexy. The women are supposed to be lovers, but the actresses don't seem to feel comfortable actually touching one another- they sort of circle each other, roll around, rub each others arms, and come super close to kissing without, you know, kissing. Eh, maybe Caress of the Vampire takes the word "caress" very seriously- or maybe things will heat up later! [SPOILER: things don't heat up later]

After they're done rolling around, Leather and Other One stand at the window to spy on their new neighbor, whom I shall call Plaid. This is the best I can do, for none of the characters have names. It's not just that I don't feel like remembering their names- it's that no one in the movie has a name. Hell, when all is said and done, Other One doesn't even speak...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Apparently Leather and Other One find Plaid's stretch pants, plaid shirt, and top-knot very enticing. They...stare at her as she unpacks her groceries, which makes Plaid's kitchen get all negative-looking.

I know what you're thinking: why do the aliens need a calendar? I'll tell you now- you need to let that go, because you'll never find out.

The stare of the outer-space lesbians induces a sudden wave of total horniness in Plaid, which, as you may have guessed, causes her to immediately masturbate. Well, she doesn't masturbate, exactly...she does this, which, I don't know what the fuck she's doing.

Finally Plaid is released from the spell and she goes back to her chores none the wiser- which can only mean one's time for dialogue!

Leather is clearly smitten with Plaid, for she heads over to introduce herself. She puts Plaid under another spell and sort of...gropes her briefly. Plaid snaps out of it and immediately invites Leather to dinner the next night.

As Plaid is chopping carrots for the salad, she cuts her finger. This is to be expected, as the vampire can't resist the drop of blood and must show their true nature scene dates back to the days of Bram Stoker. Leather can't resist the blood and promptly begins sucking on Plaid's finger and says, "I'm used to blood- I used to be a nurse." Now, I've never gone to the emergency room while bleeding, so I don't know...maybe this is standard procedure for the treatment of cuts. One thing's for sure- it's sexy!

Wait, I mean it's nauseating.

Meanwhile, next door...or...somewhere, Other One is giving some dude a lap dance. Who is he? We don't know. There's no conversation. Why does this guy assume the standard strip club you no touch the dancer position while he's sitting on a couch in someone's home? We don't know. Other One takes off her dress to reveal an uncomfortable-looking outfit composed of straps, she gives him a lap dance, bites him, the end.

Meanwhile, a couple of homicide detectives are looking into the series of apparent "vampire murders". They catch a break when surveillance video of that first murder- you know, the one by the Trans-Am- is discovered. Here's a still from said video:

Yes, it seems that we were actually watching the scene unfold through the surveillance camera! Frank Terranova certainly toys with our notions of reality.

At any rate, we're treated to more rolling around by Leather and Other One.

Leather has invited Plaid to an after hours club. When it's time to leave, however, Leather decides she doesn't want to go- she'd much rather stay on the couch and grope Plaid's Kmart-bought breast implants.

The homicide cops go on a stakeout at the parking lot they saw in the surveillance video. Lucky for them, Leather is once again just a-strollin' down the boulevard; of course, this is just recycled footage from the beginning of the movie. See, Frank Terranova really does toy with our notions of reality and time!

The cops follow Leather to her home. They enter her basement and find some fruit punch blood in a Rubbermaid thermos. They go back outside just in time to see the garage door open and the spaceship zip off into the stars.

I know what you're thinking: what about Plaid? Well, finally my friends, we've got a question that can be answered. You see, Plaid is now a vampire! Gone is the top-knot! Present is the cleavage! Present are the fangs!

She introduces herself to her neighbor, who seems rather pleasant and has exquisite taste in art. Thus, the cycle continues here on Earth, while we can only assume that Leather and Other One have gone to some other planet to pursue their penchant for rolling around.

The best thing I can say about Caress of the Vampire is that it's mercifully short, clocking in at about 44 minutes. I've never seen a film with less plot, and I've certainly never seen a film featuring characters that don't even warrant names. What little dialogue there is between the women is atrociously dubbed, while three music tracks are constantly recycled throughout. If you're thinking there's at least some decent softcore action here- a natural assumption given the whole strippers as lesbian vampires angle, then you're thinking wrong, friendo. There's more eroticism to be found in a commercial for the Shake Weight.

Unless...wait! Maybe I'm under some sort of spell and Caress of the Vampire is actually awesome! Maybe it is impossible to make a terrible movie about lesbian vampires from outer space! I do seem to have a sudden urge to go climb atop my kitchen counter whatever it was Plaid was doing...