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!

Jul 25, 2011

I watched stuff: Asian Invasion!

Man, I have been watching stuff like a crazy person, I tells ya! By which I mean I've been watching a lot of stuff...not necessarily that I've been watching stuff in the same manner a crazy person would watch stuff. Although I suppose I can't say that for sure, because I've never watched a crazy person watch stuff, nor have I watched myself watch stuff.

Or have I?


Ju-on 2 (2000)
I've mentioned before that I'm a pretty big apologist for Asian horror films, in particular the ghost stories. It really doesn't take much to get me on board with whatever vengeful spirit is going to essentially stare at death! It's simply another of horror's subgenres that I've a weakness for; I realize that's a huge list (have I ever told you about the time I LOVE MOVIES WHEREIN ONE PERSON TRIES TO DRIVE ANOTHER INSANE FOR THEIR INHERITANCE?), but I am just saying. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I super wicked enjoyed Ju-On. It is what it is, and what it is is a bunch of really scary scenarios stitched together with the barest hint of a storyline. "Yeah, if someone dies when they're all pissed off, they come back as a ghost and whatever. Oh, this lady and her kid were murdered, so here they are being scary ghosts." Simple. I like it!

In fact, many people enjoyed it. So many that Ju-on blew up, becoming a franchise juggernaut with sequel after sequel after remake after remake sequel after, I think, maybe even a TV show. Despite this ubiquity, I'd never crossed paths with any of the numerous follow-ups- no, not even at Ju-on-Con 2009! (which was awesome, by the way. I cosplayed as the little boy and it was so cool! I posted pics on my deviantArt page if you wanna see)- until I plopped myself down in front of Ju-on 2 the other night.

But oh, how I wish I'd stayed ignorant! Ju-on 2 is...I don't know what the hell Ju-on 2 is. The framework isn't bad- house haunted, blah blah blah- but they try to cram every scare from the original film into the sequel and the results quickly descend into...well, pretty much parody. It's a film that proves the rule "less is more" by completely dumping on the rule and opting for the "more is more" approach instead. The ghost kid and the ghost mom are fucking everywhere. Everywhere! It's like, "Hey, the audience loved 'em in the first film, let's have 'em in every damn scene in the second!" and you know what? That shit wears off but fast! Getting a glimpse of the ghost kid lurking in the dark corner of a closet = scary. The ghost kid, like, sitting in your bowl of morning oatmeal = "What the fuck is this, Quaker? The box said 'apples n cinnamon', not 'apples n dead Japanese boy'. I want my money back!"

If- IF I SAY- you are as big an apologist as I am for this breed of film (and no, I'm not calling you fat), then it might- MIGHT I SAY- be worth watching solely for the "Is that...I think it's...yes, that's really happening!" ending, when the angry lady ghost crawls out of a most peculiar locale. And when I say "most peculiar", I mean "dannnnng, somebody watched some Cronenberg before they wrote this."

All that said, I saw Ju-on Black and Ju-on White pop up on Netflix and I was all "Yeaaaaaaah gimme gimme gimme!" I'm not sure what the point of mentioning that is, exactly. Is it that if I'm a sucker for these flicks and I say Ju-on 2 stinks, it's probably pretty damn stinky? Or is it that if I'm such a sucker for these flicks that my opinion should be completely disregarded? Or is it that if I'm such a sucker for these flicks, maybe I should just marry them? I don't know, I can't make all the decisions around here.

Ring 0 (2000)
Dudes, I had the weirdest dream! I know there's nothing more boring than listening to people talk about their dreams (I mean sleep dreams, not hopes-n-dreams...although honestly, those can be boring, too. "I just want to drive a nice sedan someday!" Oh really? GOOD FOR YOU), but hear me out.

I dreamt that someone made a prequel to Ringu that's supposed to explain everything but doesn't really explain anything! And Sadako grows up and becomes a shy theatre actress (oxymoron, I know, but it was a dream)! And the scariest part was...dun dun dunnn...the theatre people!

And then I woke up and I was, like, WHAT. I was in that weird state- not quite fully awake, not quite asleep- where I couldn't tell what was reality and what wasn't. For a moment, I thought someone actually had made a Ring 0, and it was as I described...but then I woke up a bit more and it became clear that it was all a bad dream- not a nightmare bad dream, but a bad bad dream. And not a good bad dream or a "'bad' means 'tough' like it did in the 80s" dream. Just...bad. I mean, who would make a movie like that? What a terrible idea!

Still, though- theatre people. Shudder!

Audition (2000)
YOU GUYS I finally saw Audition. After years and years of

"You haven't seen Audition? You have to see Audition!"
"I know."
"Why haven't you seen it yet?"
"I don't know, I just haven't."
"Well, you should."
"I know."
"No, really."
"I know."
"You should see Audition."

I have seen it with my own four eyeballs!

Aside: Does the "four-eyes" taunt/slur/tease still apply if one wears contact lenses? Or does the "four-eyes" only refer to eyeglasses and not impaired vision? I think it's a combination- I mean, certainly, it's said to make fun of someone without perfect vision...otherwise, people just wearing sunglasses could also be called "four-eyes". What to do with the contacts wearer? They still bear an impairment, which is OBVIOUSLY worth making fun of, but- GASP- they don't bear the MARK of the impairment, and they blend seamlessly into NORMAL society. What to do? Calling them "two-eyes" doesn't quite carry the same sting, does it? And unless everyone present is even aware that the object of derision is even wearing contacts, then calling him or her "four-eyes" might actually make the accuser look crazy. What a conundrum!

Aside to the aside: I think for Halloween this year I will be One-Eye from They Call Her One-Eye. I don't know why I haven't done it yet, or why every girl doesn't do it. Or why every girl doesn't dress like One-Eye all the time! Or, as I've mentioned somewhere before, why every guy doesn't dress like Snake Plissken all the time. Hmm. I guess eyepatches are hot!

Aside to the aside to the aside: I have had way too much coffee today.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Audition. I've seen it! I loved it! Now we can all move on with our lives.

No, really. What more can I really say about it? It wasn't quite as much of a gross-out as I was expecting- it's got quite the reputation- but that's fine with me. It's still squirm-inducing, no doubt, but I wasn't losing my lunch or what have you. I thought the way Takashi Miike played with time- the way the story unfolded and crossed back through and over itself- was genius. It was terrific, which is why everyone was telling me to see it. I'm just glad I've joined those ranks, because now I can bug everyone who hasn't seen it into seeing it.

Battle Royale (2000)
Another one crossed off my long list of I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVEN'T SEEN THIS YET films! I tell ya friends, I feel like such a brash young go-getter, it's ridiculous! I should be in that film about Wall Street called Wall Street.

Since I'm likely the last person reading this blog to have seen Battle Royale, you don't need me to tell you that it's about a class of high school students taken to a deserted island and forced to fight to the death with all manner of weapon and non-weapon, so I won't waste your time telling you all about the plot. I WILL waste your time, however, by telling you that man oh man I loved oh loved this movie. Loved. Lurved. Loaved. I don't think I've ever been quite so entertained by violence before, except maybe the first time I launched Lara Croft off a massive cliff in Tomb Raider and she hit the bottom with a sickening thud and ended up in a sickening, if pixelated, pile...mmm, nope. Battle Royale is way more entertaining. And violent! And violently entertaining!

I swear, I was twisting my handlebar moustache- my METAPHORICAL handlebar moustache, thank you very much- in glee the entire time, waiting anxiously to see what gory (and creative, it should be said) atrocities these kids would inflict on one another next. I became every non-horror fan's idea of a degenerate horror fan, always hungering for more violence, never satisfied! I didn't even recognize myself, but then I suppose Battle Royale brings that out in people. Or me, at least. It sees your true colors shining through, and they're a rainbow OF BLOOD.

That doesn't make any sense, but then, what does?

Okay, plenty of things make sense, whatever. The point is, I was not at all expecting to want to have Battle Royale's babies, but now I do, even despite the fact that the ending was a bit..."But how did they...? Eh, I guess a wizard did it.", meaning that either things aren't explained very well, or I'm completely daft. Since I watched the Special Edition, which includes an alternate ending meant to "shed fresh light on the events of the film", and I was still confused, then I'll cop to being completely daft. But no matter! I've still got babies to have.

I just realized that all of these movies are listed as having 2000 as the release year. Surely that means something.

Or not.

To the Mystery Machine!

Okay, baby geniuses, I need your help. Or, to be more precise, a Final Girl cyberfriend needs your help because I am unable to provide said help.

I'd post the GIF here, but it's big and I'm having problems. (that's what she said)

Let's solve this!

Jul 20, 2011

Film Club: Cold Prey

Once upon a time, Final Girl was all about slasher films. I'd review nothing but slashers, deconstruct slashers, write poems about slashers, write slash fiction about slashers...

Okay, I never wrote poems or slash fiction about slashers, although in hindsight, that seems a big shame. My point is that I was all about slashers because I love them. I don't care that even most horror fans think slasher flicks are on the bottom of the genre totem pole! I don't care that most of them are terrible films and most of my love stems from a childhood nestled in the warm bosom of the genre's heyday! Love is totally blind, except when it's not.

I can't help myself. Along comes a film like Cold Prey (aka Fritt Vilt, 2006), and my love blossoms anew...and I don't even feel like I need to hide my ardor because Cold Prey isn't on the bottom of the totem pole. It's a damn fine horror movie that just happens to be a slasher flick. So there.

The film is full of genre tropes, and seasoned horror fans will likely roll their eyes as they check items off the list know, genre tropes:
  • a group of friends (two couples and the odd man out, natch) head off for a weekend of fun (in this case, snowboarding action)
  • their cell phones can't raise a signal
  • there's a sensible girl (the Final one, natch) and a not-so-sensible girl who makes out in the backseat with her man
  • there's leg trauma when snowboarding action leads to snowboarding accidents for the odd man out
  • the killer has a collection of mementos
  • so on and so on and so on

Cold Prey, however, is all "whatever" about these tropes and turns most of them on their heads, making everything feel as fresh as a snow fall on a Norwegian mountaintop. Most of this oh-so-fresh feeling comes from the characters themselves: though they're not fleshed out with life stories and awkward narrative conversations, they're...solid, if that makes sense. In a shocking twist of events, they're not annoying! They're friends! The not-so-sensible girl is actually totally sensible! The odd man out isn't an irritating prankster! Jannicke, the Final Girl, is one for the record books! For the most part, they act like people would likely act when they realize that the abandoned hotel they're using for shelter isn't completely abandoned...because there's a killer in there.

Even the killer in Cold Prey is a delightful change of pace from the slasher norm. Sure, he's got a backstory (albeit just a tantalizing piece of one), a mask of sorts, and a weapon of choice- the pick axe- but he's not some backwoods mountaintop cannibal. He doesn't torture anyone. He doesn't try to sex up the girls. He doesn't arrange the bodies in some bizarre mise-en-scene for the Final Girl to stumble across, he dumps the bodies elsewhere. He kills people who stumble into his lair the way people kill spiders lurking in corners. It's self-preservation! And craziness, of course, but I appreciate the simplicity of it.

All of this bucking of trends is wonderful, but I wouldn't care a fig- not a single fig!- if Cold Prey wasn't successful. As it is, I find myself caring about it several figs worth. It's a beautiful film to look at, both inside and outside the abandoned hotel (which features a sly nod to The Shining's Room 237). The location is truly isolated, and the whole thing is right scary. Just enough gore, just enough everything.

Who says slashers are dead? Not me! My love remains an eternal flame- not unlike the one The Bangles sang of in "Eternal Flame". Or maybe it's completely unlike the one they sang of- I don't know the words to that song.

A wee note on the sequel: much like Halloween II (1981), Cold Prey 2 picks up where the first film left off and promptly moves the action to a hospital. It is really, really good. Surprisingly good. As good as the first film. In some regards, better. It might even be better than Halloween II. That's right, I said it! I loved it. I don't think it's gotten a Region 1 release yet (region-free DVD players are the best thing ever!), but it's definitely worth tracking down.

Film Club Coolies, y'all! Show 'em love.
Goretical Stimulation
All Day Permanent Red
Smogo's Movie Journal
The Horror Review Hole
No Room in Hell
Soresport Movies
Scare Tactic
Full Moon Reviews
I Will Devour Your Content
Vegan Voorhees
Life Between Frames (reviewing the whole Cold Prey trilogy!)
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
Man vs the Inevitable
Horror, Gore, and More
Post-Mortem Depression
Kitsch or Kill
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Bloody Mary's Horror-i-flick Movie Revue