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, 2010

Two sentences and a verdict.

I've seen several movies lately, but time and ennui have rendered me impotent with regards to writing big reviews. Therefore, I am writing these "two sentences and a verdict" blurbs...just to get them out of my system. Lame? Perhaps. If you don't like it, move to Russia!

Hee hee, "impotent".

In Memorium: In writer/director Amanda Gusack's 2005 feature, Dennis and Lilly move into a house and sets up surveillance cameras to document Dennis's battle with terminal cancer. Footage reveals that there are spirits-n-forces lurking around.

Two sentences: While critics have gone goo-goo over this film, calling it terrifying, brilliant, and everything they felt Paranormal Activity was not, I found it...okay. More plot, yes, but fewer scares.

Not goo-goo.

In My Skin: In this 2002 film, a woman grows increasingly fascinated with her body after suffering a disfiguring accident (that's from the imdb page, yo).

Two sentences: French writer/director/actress Marina de Van proves she's got as much to say in as outré a fashion as her male counterparts in this startling examination of disconnection and disassociation. I love modern French horror cinema, and holy fucking shit, I love this movie.

Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes, I can't wait to watch it again.

Shock Waves: After their boat sinks, survivors take refuge on an island that's soon beset by water-logged Nazi zombies.

Two sentences: This slow-burner of a movie combines many things I love: 1977, Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams, sogginess, and a Let's Scare Jessica to Death-ish narrated setup. I dug the moodiness, but it sure ain't gonna be everyone's cup of brine.

Enjoyable enough, but would I watch it again? WOULD I? Probably not.

S&Man: From the Netflix description: Exploring the parallels between filmmaking and voyeurism, director J.T. Petty aims his camera at the world of underground horror films, interviewing scream queens and scholars and finding one auteur whose snuff series seems all too convincing.

Two sentences (and some spoilers): Going off of that description, I thought this 2006 film was solely a documentary, and I was diggin' it big time...and actually questioning if the one "auteur" was, in fact, making snuff films. It is not solely a documentary- fact and fiction are mixed, and I done been duped.

Verdict: I really liked it, but I may have felt differently throughout had I known of the ruse. Oh, and FYI: it's pronounced "Sandman", not "S & M Man" or "Samperasandman".

noteworthy notes!

If yesterday's round up of The Initiation of Sarah proved anything, it proved that I need to choose another film for da Film Club...and so I have. I can't believe this puppy showed up on Netflix instant watch; I've been wanting to see this movie forever, and now there's nothing stopping me. NOTHING. People, let us partake in the glory that is the blaxploitation zombie flick...


photo courtesy of the ever-so-fine Cinebeats

Yes, the last Film Club gathering for 2010 (holy crap) will be this gem from 1974. I cannae wait, lads n' lassies. CANNAE.

The movie: Sugar Hill (1974)
The due date: Monday, December 20
What you do:
  1. Review the movie on your site. Add a link to Final Girl in there somewhere. If you've reviewed the film before, that's fine- but you must retrofit your review with a link to FG to be included in my round-up.
  2. Email your link to me at stacieponder at gmail dot com. Put 'film club' or some such in the subject line.
  3. Bask in the warm, glowing, warming glow of Film Club Day. Easy, breezy, et cetera et cetera.
In non-Film Club news, I figured I'd barf up a link-n-reminder about Diet! Diet! My Darling! know, that fashion doll slasher flick of mine that's in pre-production. I'm announcing some cool cast members and raisin' some sweet, sweet dough-re-mi over there, so check it out! Spread the love like it's a communicable disease!

Huh. Weird.

So, you know how I do this weekly cartoon called Toosday Toons for AfterEllen, yeah? No? Well, I do. There's a link to the TT archive in the sidebar over yonder, but maybe you never look over there. That's okay. I wouldn't, either.

Anyway, this week's Toon is all about Murder, She Wrote (that's right, my topics be timely!)...and while you may be all "Yeah? So?" with regards to that information (understandable, as this is a horror blog and all), I thought it might be worth mentioning. Why? HOLD ON AND I'LL TELL YOU.

Whilst drawing the day away, I couldn't help but shake a funny feeling every time my stick figure Jessica Fletcher appeared in a panel. I don't mean the funny feeling in my pants- that was expected. No, what I mean is the funny feeling that she bore a striking resemblance to someone with whom the horror crowd is undoubtedly familiar. Behold! Jessica Fletcher...

...with the addition of a simple prop, becomes...

Mrs. Voorhees!

Perhaps this is not noteworthy at all and it's just a demonstration of my poor drawing abilities. That's fine. However, it does create wonderful scenarios to imagine, such as Mrs. Voorhees riding a bike around Maine and solving mysteries, or Jessica Fletcher hacking up horny teens with an axe.Hooray!

Nov 29, 2010

Film Club: The Initiation of Sarah

As I more than intimated when I announced The Initiation of Sarah as this month's Film Club pick, it's as if the film was made just for me. Seriously, this movie could have been borne from the Stacie Ponder Edition of Mad Libs. Let's fill in the blanks!
In this MADE FOR TV movie from 1978, a shy TELEKINETIC girl exacts revenge on bitches who tease her at a COLLEGE where the most important things in life are SHORTS, THE BRUSHING OF HAIR, and THE RUSHING OF SORORITIES. The film stars KAY LENZ and Morgan FAIRCHILD and Morgan BRITTANY (who was a total JERK on DALLAS and so Stacie was prepared to DISLIKE her immensely, but her character here was actually NICE), which is AMAZING enough...however, there's also ROBERT HAYS of AIRPLANE! (one of Stacie's favorite movies) and TISA FARROW, who is perhaps best known for her turn in LUCIO FULCI'S ZOMBIE, but she's also known for NOT BEING IN ENOUGH HORROR MOVIES ACCORDING TO STACIE. THE INITIATION OF SARAH also features SHELLEY GD WINTERS, who turns in one of her patented over-the-top IS SHE DRUNK? performances.

The best part of the film may very well be the recurring shots of a SCALE MODEL of a HEDGE MAZE that is supposed to be the REAL THING. It never fails to be completely EFFING AWESOME. NEVER. There's a bit of SATANISM thrown in and plenty of the requisite ROBES, DAGGERS of DESPAIR, and CANDLES, but then there's also this unexpected undercurrent of GAY. Seriously. There are enough LONGING glances between the GIRLS throughout the entire movie that it can totally be read as some sort of journey to SEXUAL AWAKENING if you're all, like, into SYMBOLISM AND SHIT. It's gay enough to be the lezzie version of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE. Sure, it's a bit of a rip-off of CARRIE (just substitute MUD and EGGS for PIG'S BLOOD) and in the end there's not much CARNAGE (though the end is still a total downer- it's DEPRESSING in the way all these TELEKINETIC REVENGE movies are), but there's no denying that SARAH and company were initiated straight into my HEART.
Film Club Coolies, yo!
Made for TV Mayhem
Betty Bloodletter
Film Shuffle
From Midnight, With Love
strange spanners
I Will Devour Your Content
Maynard Morrisey's Horror Movie Diary
Creature Cast
Cinema Gonzo

Nov 23, 2010

R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt, 1937-2010

By now you've probably heard the terrible news that the lovely Ingrid Pitt has passed away at the too-young age of 73.

I'm not skilled at writing wonderful remembrances, but I find myself incredibly saddened by all this, far more than I would have anticipated I'd be.

Ms. Pitt was a horror icon in the truest sense of the word, the kind you just don't find in the genre anymore. Hell, she was a woman and an actress of the kind you don't find anywhere anymore. I'd never use the term "scream queen" to describe her, although if any woman could be considered horror royalty, it'd be her.

Just...damn. Like I said, I'm not skilled at this sort of thing, so I leave that in the hands of my fellow writers who are. Then go watch The Vampire Lovers or The House that Dripped Blood or The Wicker Man or Countess Dracula and raise a glass of red to the great Ingrid Pitt.

Nov 19, 2010

Such apologies... you, my friends, for my lack of updates this week. Sometimes, it's how it goes, yes? Still, I know you must be aching and breaking in your heart place, and so I drew you a picture to assuage some of the pain. It's Michael Myers riding a shark who can walk like a man and shoot lasers out of its mouth vs. Jason Voorhees riding a bear who can fly and breathe fire, whilst Belial parachutes in, his allegiances unknown and his motivations unclear. Click to embiggen!

Nov 12, 2010

awesome movie poster friday - the TELEKINETIC edition!

My anticipation over The Initiation of Sarah for Film Club has got telekinesis on mah mind, y'all, which seems to be an appropriate enough place for it to be, I guess.

Anyway, that Patrick poster- you'll know the one- has got "Eye of the Cabbage" stuck in my head, sung to the tune of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". Hopefully, now, it is stuck in yours. You're welcome. That is some Pay It Forward shit!

Nov 11, 2010


You guys, I'm super pumped about this next Film Club choice. I had no idea this movie was on Netflix, never mind on Netflix instant watch! OF COURSE I'm talking about the 1978 made-for-TV movie The Initiation of Sarah, which combines so many of my favorite things in the whole wide world: the post-Carrie world where young women had telekinetic powers, that mid 70s-early 80s trend where movie titles were frequently The Something of Someone, and a cast to end all casts! I mean, come on:
  • Shelley Winters
  • Kay Lenz
  • Robert Hays
  • Tisa Farrow
People, I am so all over this, I can't wait. Oh, The Initiation of Sarah. You had me at "the"!

The movie: The Initiation of Sarah (the 1978 version, not the remake!)
The due date: Monday, November 29 (that's right, two Film Clubs this month because I cannot waaaaait)
What you do:
  1. Review the movie on your site. Add a link to Final Girl in there somewhere. If you've reviewed the film before, that's fine- but you must retrofit your review with a link to FG to be included in my round-up.
  2. Email your link to me at stacieponder at gmail dot com. Put 'film club' or some such in the subject line.
  3. Bask in the warm, glowing, warming glow of Film Club Day. Easy, breezy, et cetera et cetera.

To be honest, I had the lights on...

...whilst I was guesting on Conversations in the Dark with The Vault of Horror's B-Sol. I hope that doesn't put you off giving it a listen- I simply don't want to "front" with you, you know?

Anyway, Brian and I talked about preeeeeetty much anything that popped into our heads, although I supposed the original intent was to discuss SHOCKtober and its ramifications. All I really remember is that by the end of the discussion, I'd officially crossed into YOU DAMN KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN-land. Good times!

Thanks to Vaultmaster Brian for having me on the show. Check it out so he knows it was worth his time!

Nov 9, 2010

The Final Frame

This is the final frame from which horror movie?

That's it. I gotta make these tougher! Next time,'s on.

Nov 8, 2010

Feel like clicking links...

...doo, do do dooo, do do dooo, feel like clicking links...doo, do do dooo, do do dooo, feel like click-ing links to stuff!

Why, if you find yourself singing the song above, then friends, I'm here to help! You can click this link right here and it will totally take you to stuff- specifically, my newest edition of Take Back the Knife, wherein I talk about Alexandre Aja's High Tension in an "Is it homophobic or isn't it?" fashion. WOW!

Film Club: The Funhouse

When I was in my early teens I had this best friend, and this best friend had an older sister. She was just a couple of years older, but old enough that we were never in the same school at the same time...if she actually went to school. I'm not entirely sure she did, to be honest. She was a bit of a metalhead burnout, I guess you could say. She had walls covered with posters from Creem magazine, a grimy jean jacket, and long, perfectly straight hair parted down the she'd spend hours on, although you'd never guess it. Her younger sister found her completely irritating, but I found her completely fascinating. I was infatuated with her in that way that girls have, where they can become totally consumed by anyone who is not just like them (see also: Chris Hargensen in Carrie, Jennifer Check in Jennifer's Body). She was so different than my awkward, nerdy, studious self. Where did she go? How did she spend her time? The truth is she probably just got high with her friends in the McDonald's parking lot, but in my mind whatever she did was even more illicit than that. I've no idea why, but I've always been into sleaze...and if I'm calling her a touch sleazy, I mean it as a compliment.

I say all this because The Funhouse is, to me at least, the cinematic equivalent of that older sister. It came along in 1981, during the prime time for the slasher flick, and yet it's always been a bit outside the pantheon, lurking on the fringes. It's the seedy older sister to movies like Halloween, all scuzzy and sexed-up and illicit-feeling. In The Funhouse, the good girl- the final girl- will go all the way on the first date. In The Funhouse, monstrously deformed men pay $100 for a handjob while a low-rent magician smokes and mumbles his way through his act.

I hadn't seen this film in years before resurrecting it for Film Club and I have to say- it's aged well. I find my admiration of it, in fact, has grown beyond the nostalgia-wrapped love I have for everything from my youth- a reaction most unexpected. In The Funhouse, shit be crazy!

Despite the warnings of her father, Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) heads off to the carnival on a double date. They ride the rides, gawk at the sideshow, peep at the peepshow, and generally do all the things one does when the carnival rolls into town. When it's time to split, however, Richie (Miles Chapin) has a big idea: why not spend the night in the funhouse, like, doin' it and stuff? The girls agree and parents are called, but Amy's younger brother Joey (Shawn Carson) knows the truth- he snuck out of the house and followed her. He watches as Amy and her date ride into the funhouse, and he waits but they never come out.

While inside, the couples watch as a carnival worker dressed as Frankenstein gets a handjob from the fortune teller, Madame Zena (Sylvia fucking Miles). When he...finishes a bit too quickly, he wants his $100 back but Zena refuses to return it. Things escalate and turn violent, and Zena winds up dead. Amy and her friends have seen the whole thing transpire, and now they just want to go home. Before they can find a way out, however, the murderer's father is alerted to their presence and he sends his son after them. They'll get rid of the bodies and the carnival will roll away in the morning, no one the wiser.

Oh yeah...and his son is somehow monstrously deformed.

What The Funhouse gets right, it really gets right- and what it really gets right is atmosphere. This movie nails the carnival aesthetic better than any other movie I've seen; when I was a young-un, the Coleman Brothers show came to town every summer and it was just like this, from the constant sideshow refrain of "A-live, a-live, a-live..." to the dinginess to that other world behind the tents to...hell, even the scattered hay in the parking lot. This is as genuine a portrait of the cheap carnival as you're going to get, and it instantly brought to mind that Bikini Kill song (oddly enough, it's called "Carnival") which also sums up the experience so succinctly- "This is a song about 16-year-old girls giving carnies head for free rides and hits of pot...I'll win that Motley Crue mirror if it fucking kills me...see the girls with the feathered hair- they're wearing plastic, not real leather."

Plastic, not real leather: that whole "reality vs illusion" is a big theme at work in this film. At every turn, Tobe Hooper plays with our expectations and reveals the truth behind the facades. The film opens with a sequence that pays heavy homage to both Halloween and Psycho, as we follow a masked killer's POV into the shower, where Amy is brutally stabbed...with a rubber knife. Later, as Joey walks to the carnival, a man pulls over and offers him a ride, only to immediately pull out a shotgun and threaten him with a joke. The low-rent magician kills a young woman on stage, but of course she turns out to be his assistant (and daughter). The villain of the piece wears a hideous mask, which only hides the even greater horrors underneath. And no matter how much the incessant laughter of the wonk-eyed animatronic fat lady tries to convince us, the funhouse is anything but all fun. Simply put, appearances are not to be trusted.

And what of that Frankenstein get-up worn by the monster, the one echoed in the Frankenstein poster on Joey's wall? There are certainly parallels between the old Universal monster and the one in The Funhouse- both, in essence, are created by man and then shunned by their creators. Both have urges they can't understand and emotions they're unable to keep in check, and both are ultimately tragic figures with whom the audience might sympathize a bit. Still, in The Funhouse the boy's father does reluctantly come around and show some begrudging love for his son. When he tells the doomed teenagers that he can't let them go because "blood is thicker than water", he's obviously referencing one of Hooper's favorite themes- family. The monster's murders don't really matter, we're told, until he kills Madame Zena: one of their own, a member of the carny family. To differing degrees, both Amy and the monster have dysfunctional home environments; the carnival is an obvious band of misfits, but even Amy's lovely nuclear family hides ugliness, with an ineffective father and an alcoholic, indifferent mother. In fact, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Eaten Alive, and The Funhouse make for quite a trilogy, that of the fucked-up family...but perhaps a fucked-up family is better than none.

There's also the vile whiff of pedophilia throughout the film, as the carny father waxes a little too enthusiastically about the "girl scouts" from a town or two ago. Let's not overlook the carny who finds Joey on the grounds after hours and gazes at the sleeping boy a little too fondly and touches him a little too tenderly. It's that sleaze factor rearing its head again! I even found a bit of Deliverance in the film this time- class issue come into play when the privileged suburban kids head into the hinterlands for some fun, only to mock everything and everyone they see. The tables are turned and the "other" strikes back the only way it knows how: with violence. Man, who knew that The Funhouse was a gift that'd keep on giving? It wasn't that kind of movie in my memory, that's for sure.

In my memory, it was a slasher flick- a seedy one, as I said, but a slasher flick just the same, complete with the requisite crazy townsperson doomsayer bleating about the wrath of God to indifferent teenagers. As such, it's still an effective film, if a little slow at times- it's scary and unsettling, and surprisingly light on the explicit violence and gore. What's most surprising, though, is that The Funhouse may have a little more going on under the surface than you might anticipate. Wait, it's playing with my expectations again...Funhouse, you're blowing my mind!

Film Club Coolies, y'all- big turnout this time! Give 'em some love:
Things That Don't Suck
Chadzilla ROARS!
Sucker Punch Cinema
The Horror Section
From Midnight, With Love
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
In One Ear...
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Zombie Cupcake
The Horror Digest
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Vegan Voorhees
Banned in Queensland
Confessions of a Contented Wallflower
The House of Sparrows
The Verdant Dude
I Will Devour Your Content
The Girl Who Loves Horror
Dave's Blog About Movies and Such
Cinema Gonzo
Strange Spanners
My Daily BM Downloads
Maynard Morrisey's Horror Movie Diary
Pussy Goes Grrr
This Girl Digs Horror
The Son of Madblood!

Nov 7, 2010

Gallery o' Slasher Movie Title Screens, Part Two!

Here we go, more slasher movie title screens! Now, if you may reaaaallll close attention to detail, you may notice a trend amongst these.

Oh, and if some of them look all cruddy, it's because they are- some of them I've only got on VHS and I had to resort to photographing the TV. I'm not so bad that I'd cut off a title, though- believe me, Curtains did that all by itself. For the record, both that movie and The Burning are red font on a black background. Ah, the sometimes-pain-in-the-ass-i-ness of lo-fi...