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 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!!


Melanie's Randomness said...

Trash in the graveyard was badass!! I agree with Peter too from Dawn of the dead.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Trash is an absolute badass, no question.

matango said...

Oh come off it, Stacie. Enough with the false modesty. You're totally cool.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Peter also gets the coolest line in horror movie history. And that, m'dear, is the most important thing of all.

And MacReady -- shut up! Just shut up! He blows my fuckin' mind. Carpenter really brought out the best in Kurt Russell, did he not? Fucking Escape from New York, yo. Plus, EfNY also has Adrienne Barbeau getting her gunfight on atop a bridge in my hometown (Saint Louis)! Made for me, I tells ya.

Anonymous said...

I've recently been reflecting on the fact that I've never been cool. I remember as a kid thinking that being into "stuff" that was cool would somehow make me cool, but alas - no dice.

Anyway, good list of characters, and I'm going to have to see the MBV remake now that I know Tom Atkins is in it.

Verdant Earl said...

Adrienne Barbeau is so cool she makes all of us cooler.

And Annie Brackett? Totally!

Stacie Ponder said...

Uh, it's really not false modesty. If you knew me personally, which I'm assuming you don't, you'd know I'm not cool. I just don't have it, and that's fine. Put me in a room full of people and I'll disappear.

roarvis, I think the MBV remake is a ton of fun. While it's not a horror-comedy, it doesn't seem to take itself completely seriously. It's a throwback to the slashers of yesteryear in spirit. It was a really pleasant surprise!

Andreas said...

I think it'd be near-impossible for anyone without monster-fighting experience to compete on the coolness front with Peter or MacReady. They've just got "the cool" - and their genuine interest in the fate of humanity doesn't hurt, either.

What if I said that your writing had "the cool"? Does that count?

matango said...

You did ask us to lie to you.

When I tried to get The Convent from Netflix, they sent me The Covenant, which is like a male version of or something. It displeased me.

While near the subject of Adrienne Barbeau and Tales from the Crypt, does anyone know of any good horror anthology movies between Tales from the Dark Side and Trick 'r Treat? When I think about it, amongst anthologies are a lot of the best and most infinitely re-watchable horror movies.

Ruben Romero said...

"it's like fetal alcohol syndrome, not alcoholism"

This is such a good metaphor to make your point.

Stacie Ponder said...

Ah, you lied so sincerely that you totally had me fooled into thinking you were truthin'. How...sociopathic! You should think about becoming a suave serial killer, perhaps. I mean that all as a compliment.

RE: anthologies, what do you mean "between"? As in, year produced? I wrote a bit about anthologies many moons ago here at AMC. I looooove the Amicus and Hammer anthologies...

Mikey Sarago said...

Wow. There's so much cool in that list I can barely stand it. Everyone you listed is great, but I'd have to say Annie Brackett totally takes the cake.

And don't worry about being cool, Stacie. Maybe you can't be compared to the epic-ness of Adrienne Barbeau, but who can??? And anyway, I always thought people were cool by...NOT being cool. If that makes any sense. So I guess you're in luck, then!

matango said...

Well, it's nice to know I have options.

Yes, I meant as in year produced.

I'll have to check out Three... Extremes

Creature said...

VIOLET! Oh my god, I had such a crush on her. Then, years later, when I had forgotten all about her and was hip-deep in my goth phase, I rewatched F13V and realized that, holy shit, the entire goth scene looked, danced, and acted like her. Years ahead of her time, that one. Either that or Goth Rock is permanently stuck some time around 1985.

Great article, btw.

CashBailey said...

Great list, Stacie.

You know, to this day I still don't know exactly why Violet from F13: A NEW BEGINNING has stuck with me so vividly in the years since.

I heard that in the original cut of that film Jason actually stabbed her in her girly parts. Which is messed-up.

And Kurt Russell's amazing hat in THE THING came from him being smart enough to realise that sometimes he would be indistinguishable from the other 12 guys in snow gear. So he needed something to identify him by.

Ken Foree rocking that pimp coat like he was born to do so. Love it!

Beth from THE DESCENT: Love her. So cute and cool-headed. Damn shame about...

Simon said...

Everything I know is collapsing around me...

Though you are most certainly less cool than Peter--then, who isn't?

Banned In Queensland said...

People who make movies with Lena Headey, in their spare time, are uncool?!

Hmmm... I know coolness is highly subject, but that still doesn't sound right.

stonerphonic said...

i'm still waiting for cool to catch up to me...

AE said...

Hey Paul! I can no longer stall! (I like to sing this song in my kitchen sometimes, even though it still can never make me as cool as Annie.)

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Oh my god, AE, I thought I was the only person who walked around my house singing that shit.

Thomas Duke said...

Well, Stacie, I snuck into a drive-in (at 6 years old, no less) to see Friday the 13th part 6, missing a shared experience by a mere year and a sequel. I have the Pseudo Echo album (and their shitty follow up), but still fail to capture the spirit that Violet provided. After all, she was a punk rock goth, maybe a 45 Grave lesbo groupie at first glance, yet rocked the robot in vaguely erotic versimilitude, albeit whilst gyrating underneath a Alan Parsons Project poster. It is quite a trick to juggle such seemingly contradictory aesthestics, but Violet is not a juggler, not remotely, and this is the key to her success (and, therefore, her cool factor).

the2ndsuitor said...

Great list!

While we may not be "cool" or cooler than these characters, at least we are all WAY cooler that Maddy from F13p7!

Pokemon Postmon said...

I always thought John (Terry Alexander) in 'Day of the Dead' was way cooler that Peter! I dunno if it was the accent or just the fact that he could fly a helicopter which is a most useful attribute to have during zombie infestation. :D

Volvagia said...

A list like this and no Ash Williams? Shame. I know he's also a jerk (read: Mega Jerk) and crazy (read: absolutely bat-bleep nuts) after mid-way through the second one, but anyone who can pull an intentional ananchronism ("Groovy" in the late-80s?) has to be some kind of cool.