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!

Oct 21, 2013

l'il nibbles

One of the biggest dangers in living an exciting, action-packed life such as my own is that it is actually possible to experience too much. Too many adventures and too many emotions get all jumbled up in my brain place. Sometimes, I find myself thinking back on, say, that time I made a papier-maiche Jermaine Jackson head to give to him as a gift, but then his roadies threw it in the shower to "defuse" it because they thought it was a bomb...but then I'm like "Damn, Stacie. That didn't happen to you...that happened to Tootie on an episode of The Facts of Life." What are dreams? What is reality? Am I Inception?

Sigh. Look, I know that this post seems like another excerpt from the story of my ongoing existential life crisis, but there's a point and that point is this: once in a while I mention a movie here on Final Girl and then I'll consult my big list of review links to find a review link only to find there is no review link. This is immediately followed by the thought "Well, mayhaps I didn't write a review, but surely I've talked about this film. Or maybe I just forgot to add it to the review list..." and I'll search around the ol' FG only to find precisely jack squat. Then I wonder a whole bunch about what's up because I'm convinced I have done this thing despite whatever my computer tells me. Then, as I said, I get worried about reality vs my brain's reality. Am I losing my mind? Wherefore art thou, cognitive dissonance? Am I Inception? Why is brain?

The answer, however, is a simple one: I've written about these movies elsewhere, be it for a website or a magazine or whatever. Because you may not peruse those websites or magazines or whatevers, you may not know how I feel about [Movie] and that is, legally speaking, a crime against nature. So, here are some tiny bits- not necessarily reviews, but...mmm, opinions about some movies I've yet to talk about at Final Girl. These were all talked about at AMC's website.

Even if you find these unfulfilling, hey. Having these on the record will ease my Inception-esque worries in the future!

The Centerfold Girls (1974)

This sleazy little slasher flick has recently gotten the remastered DVD treatment, and it’s totally worth checking out if you’re into…err, sleazy slasher flicks. As Clement Dunne, genre veteran Andrew Prine is morally outraged by women who pose for a nudie calendar, but he’s obviously not morally outraged by murder. The Centerfold Girls is pure grindhouse-flavor exploitation featuring the white-hot Tiffany “Kingdom of the Spiders” Bolling.

Looker (1981)

Michael Crichton’s Looker has a few things going for it, including its bitchin’ synthesized score and theme song. A bunch of beautiful models head to the Beverly Hills office of plastic surgeon Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) for minor tweaks in an attempt to become even more beautiful…because, you know, shaving 2mm off your nose can really make all the difference. The women soon start dropping like pretty, pretty flies, so Dr. Roberts gets his investigatin’ on. He soon finds himself in the computer graphics enhanced world of early 80s media conglomerates and advertising agencies, where artificiality is the word of the day. The eeeevil advertising magnates are using artificial actors in their commercials, to which I say gimme a break! Computer-made actors, crafted solely of pixels? Why, that’s just crazy talk- such a thing could never be!

Dawn of the Mummy (1981)

This American/Egyptian/Italian effort combines some of the greatest things in the history of ever: namely, zombie-style gut munching, pyramids, and fashion models. Make no mistake- Dawn of the Mummy is pretty lousy…but it’s awesomely lousy. The premise is simple: a group of shockingly self-centered model-types desecrate the tomb of someone or other by staging a photo shoot around his sarcophagus; the mummy, along with his mummy pals, rises and lays waste to the model-types. The thing is, that summary makes it seem as if the film is actually somewhat logical- trust me when I assure you it’s not. Who needs logic, though, when you’ve got mummies who act like zombies?

Tourist Trap (1979)

Preceding the slasher boom by a couple of years, Tourist Trap has all bears all the hallmarks of the subgenre: a group of good-looking teens end up stranded in a remote location (Slausen’s Lost Oasis, a rundown roadside attraction joint) on their way to a weekend of partying, only to find themselves hunted by a masked killer. What sets Tourist Trap apart, however, are the finer things: creepy mannequins, telekinesis, Chuck Connors hamming it up, and a closing shot that’s one of the true, bizarre, insane joys in all horrordom.

Below (2002)

A US submarine picks up three shipwrecked Brits as they patrol hostile German waters in this WWII-era ghost story. The claustrophobic setting adds to the sense of gloom and doom in this mature effort penned by Darren Aronofsky. It’s a low-key haunted boat story; you know the CGI-enhanced, bombastic Ghost Ship? It’s pretty much the opposite of that.

Dead End (2003)

Ah, the old “this shortcut down a dark, wooded road was a really bad idea!” routine. We’ve seen it a million times in horror, but Dead End amps up the formula with enough twists, turns, and genuine scares to leave you feeling unsettled throughout. The cast, led by Ray Wise and Lin Shaye, make familiar characters feel fresh. Though the end is predictable to genre vets, the fun is in the ride that gets you there.

First Born (2007)

I picked up this DVD on a complete lark one fine day; I’d never even heard of it, but the cover seemed to promise Elisabeth Shue as a crazed mommy and that was all I needed to take First Born home. The cover is slightly misleading- Shue is a crazed mommy, but not of the Mommy variety. She’s more a Yellow Wallpaper-type: a woman driven mad by her insecurities and the pressure of motherhood. This film wasn’t at all what I expected; rather, it was much more. It’s a taut, enthralling psychological character study in the horror/thriller vein that deserves a look.

Pontypool (2008)

This Canadian film breathed new life into the undead by presenting a world in which a rage virus can be transmitted not through bites, but through words. Sure, it's a bit of a head-scratcher, but it's an idea as horrifying as it is intricate: that language itself may be our undoing. Pontypool gives you plenty to think about, but it doesn't skimp on the thrills either as a small band of survivors trapped in a radio station control room try to figure out what's going on right outside their door- before it gets in.

The Children (2008)

Kids are germ sponges. They pick up every little virus, from the flu to the chicken pox and everything in between; usually this leads to lots of coughing, whining, and bedrest. In The Children, however, the coughing and whining of the virus-riddled kids during Christmas celebrations leads to murder most deadly, which really puts a damper on things. If you think you've seen everything a "killer kid" flick has to offer, well, you ain't seen nothin' until you've seen this one. It's as violent, brutal, and surprising as the worst 24-hour bug.

Triangle (2009)

When Triangle arrived in my mailbox, I was put off by its corny lenticular cover. Another throw-away direct-to-DVD flick, thought I. How wrong I was! In Triangle, writer/director Christopher Smith has concocted a labyrinthine horror tale that demands your attention right up until the end. When passengers on board a yacht are forced onto an ocean liner due to stormy conditions, they find the larger ship deserted...except for someone who's hunting them. A true underrated gem that proves what your mother always tried to teach you: corny lenticular covers can be deceiving!


Chris Otto said...

Cool. Thanks for curating and sharing these for us. And, don't worry, you're not the only one whose brain feels way too overloaded in this epoch of EVERYTHING/ALL THE TIME/ALL AT ONCE. Sometimes I just want to go live at a (non-possessed) cabin in the forest. With no Wifi.

Eliot Blades said...

I couldn't get past the ... let's call them "similarities" between Triangle and Timecrimes.

Stacie Ponder said...

Haven't seen TIMECRIMES. That's a bummer, though.

Antaeus Feldspar said...

I'm very happy to see your review of The Centerfold Girls - I first learned of the movie through a trailer compilation disc, and there was something, mmmm, intriguing about it, but I didn't know whether it was worth tracking down. Now I think I'll try to get my hands on a copy, at least through Netflix...

Unknown said...

I saw Dead End on the big screen and it reinvigorated my love for horror movies. I agree with you, the end was predictable, everything was familiar, but it was refreshing and genuinely scared me.