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!

Aug 29, 2013

amazon one-star reviews: THE EXORCIST

Hey everybody, it's William Friedkin's birthday! Why not celebrate with a one-star review of his masterpiece, The Exorcist? I'm sure he'll be thrilled.

I'm not surprised that the film has received its fair share of negative reviews from the masses, particularly those who have recently seen it for the first time. This movie has been hyped beyond measure, consistently cited as one of the greatest horror films in the goddamn universe. If anything, that kind of praise can work against a movie: if "one of the greatest horror films in the goddamn universe" doesn't totally completely 100% rock a new viewer's face off, the film becomes an overrated failure. I'd say that changing audience sensibilities and the decidedly 1970s pacing of The Exorcist share the bulk of the blame for that, but I know hardcore horror fans who don't like this film and don't think it's scary whatsoever (generally because they're atheists and therefore, you know, what's so frightening about Satan and the such?). I think anybody who doesn't like The Exorcist is a crazy person, but hey, everybody has their hang-ups.

But enough about what I think of The Exorcist- what does this Amazon reviewer think about The Exorcist? This one-star critique is a real treat: a critique within a critique! It's like the Russian nesting doll of reviews.
THE EXORCIST, the saddest and most disgustingly bad movie of all time, is the classic story of a young girl, Regan, whom through a Squeegy Board, becomes posessed by Satan. The film is supposedly based on a True Story about a young boy, whom in 1949, became posessed. That is unconfirmed.
"I hate this movie with a passion because it is so evil, and only a devil worshiper would love this movie and want to watch again and again. It is the ultimate evil you can find in this world. The scary thing about it is, is that this movie is based on a true story. NOW DON'T GET ME WRONG: This movie is VERY scary, but is just a gross out devil movie. No one in this whole world should see something so terrible. IT IS BAD- plain and simple, and I mean BAD as in it isn't a good movie for anyone to see. So all of you people who say this is a great movie, you just make evil seem so good."
I am glad this review opened my eyes to my own nature. No longer can I deceive myself: I am a devil worshiper. Otherwise, how could I love The Exorcist? Everything I thought about myself has been a lie! I have not been living a Satan-tastic life so far, but that's going to change right now. I'm bustin' out my Squeegy Board and later, after dinner, I'm gonna sacrifice somethin' but good.

Look at me, Film Club! It's all for you!

If you know the quote I'm aping in the title of this post, then you know what's up: the next Film Club choice is The Omen (1976)!

That's right. Though I love it, I haven't seen this flick in a good long while and so I'm fixin' to remedy that. Perhaps the luster has worn off...? I doubt it- I mean, the film ranked as #45 of your top favorite horror movies, and I know you have totally discerning tastes. So watch it, write something about it (or just cyber-talk about it with someone who has written about it), and let's all get our satanic groove on together.

The haps:

The movie: The Omen (1976)
The due date: Tuesday, September 17
The deal:

1. watch the movie
2. link to Final Girl somewhere in your review
3. email me the link: stacieponder at gmail dot com
4. bask in the warm embrace of your fellow Film Clubbers

That's it! If you wrote a review of The Omen a million years ago and you want to be included, that's fine. Just add the link to Final Girl in there somewhere and send it along.

Aug 28, 2013

amazon one-star reviews: THE HILLS RUN RED

Hello, my friends, and welcome to an all-new feature here at the good ol' FG. Because I only have the smartest (and most attractive) readers, you doubtless surmised from the post title that the new feature is called amazon one-star reviews. In this scintillating project, I'll highlight...wait for horror movie reviews verbatim from reviews for films considered to be genre classics, pieces of crap, and everything in between. Whatever catches my eye here where I live, which is on the razor's edge of danger, intrigue, and browsing The Internet. Why am I doing this? I don't know. But! we can always debate these 1-star reviews: is the reviewer actually on to something whilst skewering beloved films? Did he or she really watch the same movie the rest of us did? It will sure be fun to find out.

Let's start things off with the 2009 direct-to-DVD slasher flick The Hills Run Red.


Fun fact! Prior to the film's release, I was asked by a horror publication to attend a screening and give my opinion of what I saw- not to immediately review it, just to give it a thumbs up or down. Why? Because the director is a "friend" of not only the publication but also the horror community in general, and therefore reviewing his films is, I guess, tricky business.

I reported back that I thought it was terrible and I'd give it a negative review and should I go ahead and start writing? I simply got an "okay, no don't write anything" or something along those lines in response, and that was the last I heard of the matter. Fast forward to the DVD's release and sure enough, there's a review, written by someone else. A positive review- not glowing, mind, but still positive. Pretty gross, right? Right. And that's what can go on behind the scenes know, stuff and things and what the cool kids really get up to sometimes with that stuff and those things. Well, at least you don't have to worry about that here, as none of the cool kids in the horror community give a rat's ass about what I say here and since no one pays me for Final Girl, I can actually give, you know, my honest opinion about movies.

Anyway. Here's today's one-star review!
This movie did not make any since at all, I did not like the movie it was not even scary at all but that's how everybody makes their money some how, I watched the movie 2 times try to make since out of it but it was still the same, so I don't think no one should buy this movie I'm telling the truth it is not any gd at all thanks a lot.
So there you have it. What do you think of The Hills Run Red? Do you think it made any since? Is it any gd? Weigh in!

Aug 27, 2013

Film Club: Bay of Blood

Mario Bava's Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, aka A Zillion More Titles No Really Look Them Up, 1971) is widely considered to be the grandpappy of the slasher/body-count genre and it doesn't take a huge leap of logic to figure that hey, as such, the film is gonna have a bunch of gore and a bunch of violence and it's probably going to turn off a lot of people. In this regard, Bay of Blood certainly does not disappoint. And let me tell you, friends, that despite all the sights we've seen in the 40-plus years since this film hit, it's still as much of a shocker as it was then.

Some of this is due to the graphic nature of the kills- impalements, decapitations, face-hackings, throat-cuttings, and more are all on full display and, of course, many of these scenes would be aped later in "dead teenager" offerings such as Friday the 13th and its sequel.

More than the gore, though, it's the lingering shots Bava employs that serve to disturb the viewer as we're forced to watch that ol' death nerve a-twitchin'. All in all, the film is a downright nasty piece of work.

It's tough to put together the pieces of this murder mystery until roughly halfway through its running time. Up until then, you may find your patience wearing thin as you try to suss out who is who and who's killing who and who's zoomin' who as characters enter and exit the show with little explanation as to motivation and/or how they relate to one another. But when it all comes together, it comes together fast and Bay of Blood reveals itself to be not only a nasty piece of work, but also a delightfully gleeful black comedy in which terrible people do terrible things all in the name of greed. The familiar "inheritance plot" spirals out of control as people simply must be killed- you know how these things go- and eventually no one is left unscathed. When her husband questions if all the death is really necessary, cold-hearted snake Renata (Claudine Auger) explains, "Will you stop being such an old maid? You have to rely on instinct in certain situations." In other words, if someone gets between you and the money, it's murderin' time.

Though Bay of Blood may not rank among Bava's best work, it's still far better (and far more stylish) than the majority of the films it would influence later. And if nothing else, it's given me a burning desire to be a wealthy Countess so I, too, can dismiss people by simply saying "I'm late for my nap."

Film Club Coolies: show 'em some love!
Death Blog! The Blog That Eats People! 
Life Between Frames
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
Squealing Tires on Dirt
From the Depths of DVD Hell
Groovy Doom
Vegan Voorhees

Aug 23, 2013

awesome movie poster friday - the CHILDREN HATE YOU edition PART 2!

What in the world, I can't believe it's been so long since I did a Children Hate You AMPF. We should be basking in the murderous glow of murderous movie children way more often! Well, today will be a good start to that new life goal.

Tonight's the night that WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? and I will finally turn our gazes upon one another. I'll let you know how it works out; I don't want to get too excited, but I have a feeling we were made for each other!

Sometimes I forget about THE PIT. Then I start thinking about again and I'm immediately washed over with feelings of love. Clumsy-stupid love.

I've said it before regarding THE DEVIL WITHIN HER, and I'll say it again: the movie would have been so much better if there was actually a scissor-wielding fist-baby in it.

I love THE CHILDREN and I think it's high time I re-watched it. I could have sworn I reviewed it here but it seems that I have not. But now I don't know if there's a point, since I just told you that I love it, which is not a lie. Also, the French poster for it is wicked boss.

 BLOODY BIRTHDAY is out on DVD, so if you haven't seen it yet I really don't know what you're waiting for.

THE BAD SEED, the OG jerk child!

Aug 20, 2013

The Wind Beneath My Blood Wings

Another day, another horror movie, another life lesson. The movie is Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, the 1994 direct-to-video sequel to Stan Winston's directorial debut. I looked up my review for the original film and lo and behold, I mentioned the sequel in my closing paragraph:
There is a Pumpkinhead 2 (Blood Wings) which is most likely awful. But the cast...the cast, man- look at the caaaast! Soleil Moon Frye (that's Miss Punky Brewster if you're nasty), Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder, Linnea Quigley (and her bare boobs, I'm sure), Roger Clinton as...the Mayor, Steve Kanaly- who played Ray Krebbs on Dallas...oh man, you know I'm all over this one.
It's been almost eight years since I wrote that and finally- finally!- I have, in fact, been all over that one. And what of this life lesson I have learned courtesy of ol' P-head?

How can I put this? Despite my predictions, despite every Magic 8 Ball giving me a "SIGNS POINT TO YES" when I asked if Pumpkinhead II was going to be awful, the movie isn't awful. It isn't even bad! Actually, it's a shit ton of fun- and I don't mean that in some ironic, MSTK, make-fun-of-it way. I mean it is quite enjoyable to watch. Not a good movie, but a good time. I was all ready for craptaculosity, and I got none. Well, there was all the 1990s realness going on in the atrocious patterns, velvet chokers, sheer tops, high waists, mullets, and McDonald's golden arches hair, but that's not Pumpkinhead II's fault. That's the fault of an entire era! Besides, any non-jerk who's watched a movie made before five minutes ago knows that fashions and the such aren't a reason to deride a film as a whole. Still, it cannot be denied that the 1990s were a low point in human history, aesthetically speaking.

Remember when Roger Clinton tried to be a thing? Ah, the days of innocence and $1.10 gasoline.

Anyway, back to that lesson I learned. Hmm, it's all getting a bit fuzzy now, but it has something to do with the idea of watching movies ironically and whether or not one should do it. I can't say that I don't do it, but at the same time...okay, what I think I mean is, the crap I love, I love genuinely and whole-heartedly. You know, not solely because it's crap or because it's make-fun-of-able. Take something like Sharknado. I have not seen Sharknado and I have no desire to see Sharknado because looking at it from the outside at least, it seems to have been made simply to be made fun of. It looks as if there's nothing genuine about it, and I'm not just talking about the obviously CGI special effects. It's not a comedy, but it wants you to laugh at it. That trying-too-hard obviousness doesn't hold much appeal for me.

Maybe I'm fooling myself by thinking that my love of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon and the love the entire world/internet felt for Sharknado are two unrelated things. I'm likely presumptuous in my thinking that when I say "it's so bad, it's good" I mean it differently than the unwashed masses do. I'll figure it (and myself) out someday. An unexamined life is not worth living, gazing into the abyss, et cetera et cetera.

My point is that when I fired up Pumpkinhead II, I had Sharknado goggles on, you know? I was ready to make fun of it, ready to post a review that tore it apart but good. Then I realized I was enjoying it, and I kind of hated myself for not giving it a fair shake from the get-go. Not that I'm a moron who expects every movie to be terrific; why, sometimes your only hope is that a film won't make you want to kill yourself. No, I hated myself because I was watching it ironically, my only intent to tear it down. How gross, right? What a jerk.

While not a horror-comedy, Pumpkinhead II is much more light-hearted than its predecessor and its sad tale of noble dirt farmers. Broadly-drawn bad guys get pulverized by the titular demon of revenge and it's a delightfully gory affair. The highlight, no doubt, comes when a jerk, knocked through the air by Pumpkinhead, lands head-first in a l'il coop and gets his eyes pecked out by chickens. I rewound it three times, just so you know.

I have to say, while I wasn't right all those years ago in thinking that PII would be awful, I was right regarding one thing two things, and those are Linnea Quigley's boobs. Of course they make an appearance! Then poor Linnea is terrorized by Pumpkinhead and she screams herself into catatonia, which gives my favorite character, the always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor, a chance to shine:

SHERIFF (played by YES Andrew "Hellraiser" Robinson): It's like she's not even here!

ALWAYS-ON-THE-EDGE-OF-PANIC DOCTOR: She's not! Whatever she saw, it scared her so bad, her mind couldn't deal with it and shut down. It's one step away from being...scared to death.

It's so great that when the killings start, always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor immediately dispenses with all doubt and heads right down to this is some fucked up shit town: "If an animal got ol' Ernst, it wasn't of this world." Really, only Halloween's Dr. Loomis can compare in a willingness to expand one's professional mind beyond a proper diagnosis and DSM-IV. I love always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor!

And man, director Jeff Burr doesn't skimp on showing Pumpkinhead in all his glory. He's huge and maybe a little awkward and slow in his movements, but there ain't a lick of computer on him. When he picks up a jerk and twists the jerk's head off, he really does it! In a fake way, but you know what I mean. It's pretty awesome and quite satisfying.

Plot holes and logic gaps abound for sure, but dammit, I'm just gonna let Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings be great. Well, not great. As I said, not even good. It's certainly inferior to the original film. Geez, I was expecting to point at this movie and laugh...but we had a good time together, ol' P-Head and I. And that's one to grow on.

Aug 15, 2013

The Five Best Vampires

Lawd-a-lawdy, The Internet sure loves a list, don't it? And why not- they're easy to digest, like mashed potatoes. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes? Only jerks, no doubt. People also love getting incensed over lists: "I know this is a list of 10 zombie movies but I can't believe you left out these other 532986 zombie movies how could you you don't know what you're talking about this list sucks gfffarrrrgleeeeeee APOPLEXY"

Sometimes, when a person's blood is all fired up like that, he or she cannot understand that lists are generally meant to provoke conversation. Yes, if someone were to make a list of, say, the 20 most important slasher films and that list didn't include John Carpenter's Halloween, well, it would be right to question the exclusion and/or the sanity of the listmaker. In fact, that's exactly what I did many moons ago regarding a Top 10 Best Slasher Films list that included Cabin Fever. Final Girl was very young, and I was all "what in the what?" over it, all brazen brashness in a blazer (I WISH) as I took the mighty Kim Morgan to task over the inclusion of Eli Roth's film. What happened from there? She and I discussed that shit. In the years since (years, what the heck...Final Girl is a Final Woman now for sure), we have discussed much more. I discovered that although I disagree with her opinions once in a while, Kim Morgan knows her shit, I love her writing, and I'm always learning something new from her. My point is, lists! Debate! Learn! Grow! Hold hands and sway together, softly humming until you creep each other out.

Except this time.

That's right. My list of the Five Best Vampires is totally immutable! Why? Because it has been scientifically proven, in fact, to be a list of the Five Best Vampires.

Well, "scientifically proven" if you take my opinion as scientific fact, which you totally should.

Now then. You can just put away your debatin' hat and pull up your pants, my friends, because here it is, I'm layin' it down.


1. All lesbian vampires (except for the ones in this movie)

2. Mr. Barlow or Nosferatu, aka any creepy gross-looking vampire

3. Christopher Lee as Dracula

4. The vampire puppy from the end of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula

5. Zoltan, Hound of Dracula

And that's it! I know, you're going to say "But what about the dirty vampires in Near Dark?" or "You asshole, why isn't Eli from Let the Right One In on this list?" or "Go kill yourself, loser, Gary Oldman as Dracula is the best, this list is so lame and I repeat: go kill yourself"...but hey, sorry, man. You can't fight science!

Baby, I love your way

Every once in a while, you read something like this on Netflix...
A stripper regrets spurning the advances of a lecherous dwarf after he curses her unborn children. Months later, her newborn son is a vicious monster.
...and you think, "Oh. Oh my, yes." Then you realize that the stripper is played by Joan Collins and the film also stars Caroline Munro and, as you hit play, you think, "Okay, this moment...right now is the moment where my life changes."

90 minutes later you have seen all of The Devil Within Her (1975) and to be honest, your life did not really change except for the fact that you are 90 minutes older. But you had a great time! Well, actually you didn't have a great time. But you had a time, and that's all that matters.

In the interests of public service and also science, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions you will likely have after 1) seeing the movie's poster art, and 2) learning some of the film's alternate titles. First, the poster.

That tagline leaves things a bit muddied, I know. Was Joan Collins conceived by the Devil, or was her baby? The answer is: neither!

Second, is her baby some sort of grotesque Island of Dr. Moreau reject, a half-baby/half-hand? And if so, is the baby half wicked tiny or is the hand half wicked huge? The answers are: no, I wish, and I more wish.

The baby, though devilish, is all human...however, sometimes- for just a moment! she's not totally crazy- Joan sees a devilish dwarf looking back at her from the crib. As you can see, his top half is not a giant hand, either. Disappointing, I know.

Oh yes, friends. The what the fuckery of this movie is high.

Okay! Some of the alternative titles, let's get to 'em.
  • Sharon's Baby - nice attempt at riding Rosemary's coattails to fame!
  • I Don't Want to be Born - throughout the movie, this was a proposed reasoning for the baby's bad behavior (more on that behavior in a bit): he simply didn't want to be born. Well, I didn't want to be born either. No one does! But most people aren't murderous jerks about it.
  • It's Growing Inside Her - I can only assume this title was ditched because it's too vague. I mean, this could also be the name of a Lifetime movie about a woman coping with breast cancer, amirite?
  • It Lives Within Her - this title collapses under the same scrutiny that The Devil Within Her does: "It" and "The Devil" are only within her during the opening scene; after that, they are in the form of a baby, and the baby is in a crib. And for the record, I would totally watch It Lives Within the Crib and/or The Devil Within the Crib. I am just saying.
  • The Baby, and...
  • The Monster - why oh why didn't they combine those titles into one? The Baby, the Monster! That's cinematic gold.
  • Evil Baby - straight and to the point, all business. I like it.
Okay, so exactly what kind of shenanigans does this evil baby get up to? Pretty standard evil baby stuff: scratching faces, punching faces, yelling and screaming a lot. You parents out there may be thinking, "Hey, my baby does all of those things! Do I have an evil baby? Was the devil within me/my baby mama?" The hard truth is: maybe. Here are some other questions to answer to help you figure it out. See? I truly care.
  1. Has your baby ever pushed his nanny into a lake, and if so, was his pushin' hand suddenly a hairy dwarf hand?

  2. Do people regularly call your baby "large" and/or "strong"?
  3. Has your baby ever busted out of his crib, escaped from his second storey window, fashioned a noose, lassoed the noose around your neck, hoisted you up until you were dead, then dragged your body across the yard and dumped it in a well?
If you answered YES to any of these, then obviously your baby is evil. If you answered NO to any of these, then obviously your baby could still be evil. Though I care, I don't have the time to launch a full-blown investigation. You'll just have to do the best you can, and don't die along the way. Or do die...I'm not the boss of you, you can do whatever you want.

Man, I could watch movies about evil babies all day long. So why aren't The Devil Within Her and I down at the courthouse right now, makin' with the nuptials? I've got my reasons!

First, all the evil baby action takes place off-screen. Generally, it goes something like this:

[shot of BABY, bored in crib]
[shot of PERSON, standing over crib]
PERSON: Oh, he's darling! [leans in, extends hands to touch baby]
[shot of BABY, bored in crib]
[shot of PERSON, standing over crib]
PERSON: [recoils quickly] Ow, he bit me!

WHY OH WHY must it be this way? Even the noose scene described above- we never see the baby do a damn thing. I know that what is implied can be very powerful, and I know that particularly in horror films, less is more. But for fuck's sake, when you're making a horror movie about a possessed, murderous baby, more is more. Way more is the most! I kept hoping for anything- the pitter-patter of little feet running away from a crime scene, Joan Collins wrestling with a doll, anything- but anything never came.

Furthermore, well, the movie is for the most part quite dull. There's a shit ton of filler, from lethargic strip club auditions to a shopping montage to a sedative-influenced dream sequence to a "steamy" sex scene, all of which feel like they're there just to bump up the run time. There are no attempts at character development or anything of the like, and while I know it's a lot to hope for in a movie like this, character development is part of the reason why films like Rosemary's Baby are successful, you know?

Frequently you'll be wondering if The Devil Within Her is actually meant to be comedic. And as to what's up with the baby- is he cursed? possessed by the devil?- it's resolved, I guess, but in a way that's not particularly satisfying...not to mention that the "dwarves have evil magic powers simply because" theme is a bit problematic.

Look, I'm not saying you won't have a good time with The Devil Within Her. It's about an evil baby, so a "good time" goes without saying. What I am saying is, don't get your hopes up, because it ain't your soul mate. That's depressing, I know, but it just means that the one for you is still out there. Keep your standards high! Demand to see murderous, possessed babies in action! Trust me, you're worth it.