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!

Sep 30, 2013

While you're waiting for tomorrow...

...here is a thing you can do besides simply stuffing your face with candy corn. Perhaps you remember- or perhaps you don't, I wouldn't know, I'm not your mother- In Satan's Closet, which is a fake trailer that I made once upon a time. It's an ode to Italian horror movies from the 70s, particularly the ones about possession. And yeah, it's a "trailer" that's longer than many short films. So sue me!


Anyway, the point of me talking about myself is this: tell me I'm pretty! friend o' Final Girl and illustrator extraordinaire Chuck Ramos made a friggin' poster for In Satan's Closet, and it's just so good, you guys. Then he went and submitted the design to Threadless for a contest they're holding. Contests mean that The People of the Internet must unite, and by "unite" I mean "fucking vote".

But hey, like I said: you're looking for something to do, right? Then make with the click-click, and let's get this shit on a shirt! Because it's awesome!


Yeah! The contest runs for four more days, so tell your friends to put down their bite-size Baby Ruths for a minute and get ta votin'. Every time a vote is cast, an angel gets punched in the face by a possessed nun!

Sep 24, 2013

People of Earth!

Right to business, right to business I say!

First up, Film Club! The next pick is a film I've been hearing good things about, and that film is The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. So get your eyeballs ready to watch it and your fingers ready to write about it or your yap ready to discuss it or whatever, aw yeah.

Les haps:

The movie: The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh
The due date: Tuesday, October 22
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 this film 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.

Next item on the docket! The clock be a-tickin' for you to submit your list of the ten movies that have scared you the most for the Final Girl SHOCKtober celebrations. Here are the relevant details, if'n you don't know 'em already. The deadline is end of day, September 26th! "End of day" meaning what time? I don't know, end of day wherever you are. If your email is dated September 27th, I'm chucking it in the cyber-bin!

I'm loving the entries so far! Some really wackadoo stuff submitted, which is pretty great. I don't care if it scared you when you were five or when you were 105 (but omg if you are older than 105 and you read Final Girl, let me know)...just whatever scared you. The list doesn't have to be in any order. It doesn't even have to be ten movies- some real badasses have only been scared by, like, two movies in their whole lives and that's just fine by me. If you submit more than ten, well, I'm only taking the first ten you list. If you want to tell me why any of the movies scared you, that's cool but most definitely not a requirement...it's just fun to read.

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Sep 19, 2013

amazon one-star reviews: THE FOG (1980)

I know you know I heart The Fog, as is evidenced in this thing I wrote a long time ago titled "I Heart: The Fog". I have always hearted it for many reasons, one of which is that it used to scare every last bejesus out of me; in fact, it may or may not have a spot on my list of ten scariest movies. I guess we'll have to see come SHOCKtober (which is right around the SHOCKcorner, so send me your list if you haven't already!).


Again, I realize that there may be people out there who don't like this movie despite the fact that it's got a great score by John Carpenter and perfect cinematography from Dean Cundey and it stars Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau and Nancy Loomis and there are leper ghosts and stomach pounders and NEVER MIND I don't understand how anyone could not like The Fog. The remake, sure. But this...ah, well. As nature hath spewed forth the amazing six-clawed lobster, so has she spewed forth a few people who hate The Fog. Why, let's hear from one of those people now!
This is undoubtedly one of the stupidest, poorly acted, and lame movies I have ever seen and I am kicking myself out into the fog for buying it!! I can't even waste the space on my shelf for this one, it's already in the trashcan! Since four letter words are frowned upon here, there is no way I can describe this absurd waste of time.
After reading this one-star review of one of my most beloved films, I thought, hmm. What if my brain is, like, rose-colored and The Fog ain't really that great? After all, it'd been a while since I'd seen it and hey, once upon a time I thought Caveman was the height of cinematic hilarity. With an open-ish mind, I checked out the blu-ray which is SO PRETTY YOU GUYS. First I watched an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis that's included in the special features and she was all "I just saw The Fog again this morning and it's not a good movie" and it was like, I don't know, somebody insulting my cooking or something. First you get all indignant with a "How dare you, I do declare!", but then a moment later you think "Well, perhaps my ambrosia salad isn't 'all that'" and you cop to the fact that there's room for improvement.

So here's what's up: I'll cop to the fact that when the fog starts a-rollin' in to Antonio Bay, Stevie Ray kind of flies off the handle a little too quickly. I'll cop to the fact that there are a couple of plot holes regarding the ghosts and their ghost abilities. I'll cop to the fact that there ain't enough Nancy Loomis in this movie, but then I could watch a 10-hour movie of nothing but Nancy Loomis giving sass. I'll cop to the fact that the film's relatively short running time, brisk pace, and multitude of storylines mean that we never really get a sense of Antonio Bay as a place.

But that's it! The Fog remains a movie that I heart hard and it's wonderful and creepy and a beauty to behold. So take that, Amazon one-star reviewer! Cram that up your Activia, Jamie Lee Curtis!

Wait, come back Jamie Lee Curtis, I can't stay mad at you, I love you forever!

Sep 17, 2013

Film Club: The Omen (1976)


You know what I love about The Omen? I love that Satan doesn't fuck around. You know I love possession movies, but let's face it: whether it's The Exorcist or Beyond the Door or whatever else, poor demon-riddled saps lie around in bed sounding scary and looking gnarly. That's great! It's one of my favorite things in horror movies! But I ask: to what end? What is your purpose, Pazuzu? Sure, once in a while someone dies courtesy of a flying credenza or something, but what's the bigger picture? This is tragedy on a personal level: oh no, our daughter is swearing and gross-faced because of some demon, let's save her! And then they do, the end.

As HBIC, however, Satan has very clear plans. Those plans entail siring an Antichristacular spawn and getting shit done, world-domination style. The son of Satan is gonna rise to power, bring about Hell on Earth, and woe be to anyone who gets in his way, whether it's earthly mommy and daddy or some nosy priest or YOU...and don't fool yourself- by "woe" I mean "death". The Omen is chock full of Final Destination-worthy death scenes that continue to shock nearly 40 years after the film's release. What's most shocking, perhaps, is that the movie doesn't feel at all dated. The shenanigans of Satan are timeless!

I love that there are so many freak-out scenes. I love that Damien is an evil kid without being an "evil" kid. I love that he's five and he's already got minions, both human and doggie, ready to do his bidding and give their lives to protect him. I love that it's got a downer of an ending. I love the weird nun elevator in the hospital. I love that there are so many eye closeups, you might think this is a Lucio Fulci film. Fuck yeah, I love The Omen!







----------------------------------------------------
Film Club Coolies, show 'em some love!
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Nilbog Milk
Life Between Frames
Not This Time, Nayland Smith
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
Diana Rogers

Sep 13, 2013

VHS Week, Day 5: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 4


Lemme tell ya, Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990) should actually be called Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: What in the Hell Did I Just Watch, because that's what you'll undoubtedly be asking yourself should you ever choose to spend 90 minutes of your life with this piece of what-the-fuckery. Here's the best I can break it down for ya:

A wannabe-reporter investigates the death of a woman who fell from a rooftop after spontaneously combusting. Soon she finds herself embroiled with a cult of man-hating "womyn" types, led by Maud Adams, who wants to resurrect her daughter by having a giant cockroach impregnate the reporter and/or having the reporter give birth to a giant cockroach, and also the giant cockroach represents the reporter's fears. Now you understand the movie as well as I do!

If you're thinking "Hmm, even if that made sense, how does this tie into the three Silent Night, Deadly Night films that came before it?", well, my friends, think no more, for this is surely the Halloween III: Season of the Witch of the series. Sure, sure, Clint Howard is on the scene as a homeless guy/bodyguard for the cult, and they call him "Ricky". Is he the same Ricky? If so, I guess the top of his skull grew back...? At one point he turns on a TV and Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 is playing, so who the hell knows. It's only one of a million questions you'll have during this movie.


In case I haven't conveyed it well enough, make no mistake: this movie is bad, bad, bad. While it's sort of fun in that late '80s/early '90s direct-to-video kind of gross total junk way, it's not anything you'll want to revel in. You know, if it was 1991 and you were lying on the couch watching Saturday Nightmares, you'd for sure sit through the whole thing...but you wouldn't be clamoring to rent a copy the next time you and your friends had a movie night.

awesome movie poster friday - the ARGENTO'S DRACULA 3D edition!

Yes, just one poster in today's Awesome Movie Poster Friday, but boy...ain't she a beaut!


Holy moley, this movie looks like such a total CGI-laden 3D shitshow, and I do not care a whit. Not a single whit! NOT ONE WHIT I SAY. I will watch the fuck out of it after its October 4 release, and I would absolutely hang that poster on my wall because it is a gorgeous illustration and there is a praying mantis in Dracula's hair and there is Asia Argento as Lucy and it is all just lovely.

And lest that poster fool you into thinking it won't be a big steaming pile, here's the trailer to reassure you. I can't wait for this!


Sep 12, 2013

VHS Week, Day 4: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 3


A psychotic killer lies in a coma for six years, his exposed brain encased in a nifty liquid-filled Plexiglass cap. A psychic blind orphan connects with him in her dreams, awakening him. The Christmas holiday awakens his rage.

HOW CAN THIS MOVIE NOT BE 100% AWESOME? Man, if something with that kind of set up like that turns out to be a massive disappointment, then what can we really believe in anymore? Dear Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!, you have stolen my childlike innocence and belief in the magic of ludicrous horror movie plotlines.

I know...I know. This couldn't fail- it sounds like pure magic! While Eric Freeman and His Fabulous Eyebrows of Acting don't return as SNDN Part 2's nutcake Ricky, the mantle is picked up by horror mainstay Bill Moseley. Bill Moseley in a brain hat! You can't lose.


Except that you can lose, and you can lose hard. Here are some ways you can tank your delightful concept:
  1. Be boring, oh so boring. (Be mostly scenes of talking heads. Be sure that the talking heads talk as monotonously as possible.) 
  2. Make your killer walk at the pace of a Romero Shufflin' Zombie. Have the entire affair and all action within wrapped in a cinematic shawl of lethargy that makes everything seem like a slo-mo rehearsal runthrough.
  3. Make your lead character a dull, unlikable bitch played by an actress who's really bad at that whole "blind" thing.
  4. JUST DON'T BE ANY FUN AT ALL.
Okay, I guess I can't say "at all", because Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 has a few bright spots a-shinin' through the murk, such as "grammy" appearing to our heroine in a sort of dream. As she shucks peas (or whatever you do with peas), she gets all Obi-Wan Kenobi and tells Laura to use her powers and concentrate if she wants to defeat Ricky.

Then there's the moment Laura's brother spouts one of those infamous "cool lines" before taking a shot at Ricky. Here's his movie hero cool line:

"Is it live? Or is it Memorex?" 

Even if Memorex were still running those famous ads for The Power of Cassette Recording...it wouldn't make any sense.

Then you've got the image of Ricky hitchhiking along the 101 freeway in his hospital johnnie and brain hat annnnd...that's about it. Robert Culp appears, probably just to collect enough money for a mortgage payment. Laura Harring (billed as Laura "Herring"), in her first film role, takes her top off and makes me wonder why I'm not watching Mulholland Dr. instead.


Oh well, I guess they can't all be gems, can they? Even if I live for another 150 years, I'll always wonder how the filmmakers took such a craptacular concept and managed to just make plain ol' crap. Naughty! But, I can take solace in that Part 4 has to be better, right? Right? It must be. Ah, that's it: childlike innocence restored. In your face, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!...you can't keep me down!

VHS Week, Day 3: PATRICK


You've gone to the prom with Carrie. You've spoken in tongues with Jennifer. Now, lie around and stare at the ceiling with...PATRICK!

Okay, that's not the tagline for Patrick (1978) and clearly I have no business trying to write taglines. But, the idea of a '70s movie with a single-named telekinetic teen certainly brings to mind Carrie and Jennifer (but, unfortunately, not Ruby), doesn't it? While this shocker from Australia is reminiscent of those similar films, it's unique enough to warrant a viewing.

And man, I just have to say, this VHS copy I have is amazing. Why? Because it begins with these three trailers, in this order:




Okay, that last one...I couldn't find the exact trailer for Stoner, but you get the point. And that point is, trailers for a horror movie, a sex comedy, and a kung fu flick followed by a "suspense thriller"? Holy crap, this tape contains a perfect drive-in experience. Well, as perfect as you can get without, you know, actually being at the drive-in. Years ago. Sigh.

Anybody expecting Carrie-style pig blood-n-explosionanigans will be disappointed by Patrick, which is far more slow, quiet, and strange. As I mentioned, the film is pegged as a "suspense thriller"; this ain't balls-out horror, and that's just fine.


Our titular wackadoo kicks things off by offing his mom and her lover as they enjoy splashing around in a post-coital bath. Mommy issues and sexual hangups, two great tastes that taste psychotic together! What Patrick didn't see coming, though, is that he'd also be injured in the accident. Three years later, he lies comatose in a mental hospital, all intense stare and glorious unibrow.


From there,the movie becomes your standard unconscious boy meets nurse, nurse is the only hospital staff member not trying to kill or experiment on unconscious boy, unconscious boy falls for nurse, unconscious boy uses telekinetic powers to inflict harm on nurse's suitors tale. Dime a dozen these stories, I swear!

As far as effects and, like, death scenes are concerned, Patrick is super tame and it's no surprise the film is rated PG. To that, I say YEAH, SO? It's engaging, and there are some interesting themes subtly at play here, such as the eternal science vs religion royal rumble and euthanasia vs quality of life. Still, if the slower pace of older cinema ain't your bag, you may not dig it. Your loss, sucker!

Sep 10, 2013

amazon one-star reviews: THE DESCENT


Anyone who knows me knows I loves me some The Descent (2005 oh muh gahd, 2005? how is that movie eight years old already). I loved it the first time I saw it, I loved it the last time I saw it (which will not be the last time I see it), and I loved it every time I saw it in between. It's in my Top 20 favorites, and I imagine it will remain there until I am dead and gone. It will remain on the physical manifestation of my list until Blogger vanishes one day due to a nuclear/zombie/SARS/SkyNet apocalypse.


But I am as magnanimous as I am beautiful, and I realize that this terrific film may not be in everyone's Top 20 favorites. That's okay. Variety makes the world and all the Hometown Buffets within that world go 'round.

In fact, The Descent is so far removed from some peoples' Top 20s that they feel it deserves but one star! Out of five! Hey, I may find that to be a crazy notion, but when the critiques are well-reasoned and thoughtful, like this one, I ain't fixin' to argue about it.
I SAW THE MOVIE BUT IT'S BORED AT ALL. ALSO IT'S NOT ENJOYMENT. THE CREATURE WAS STRANGE AND DISGUSTING. I THOUGHT THIS MOVIE WAS GOOD-LOOKING BUT IT WAS NOT. ANYWAY THIS MOVIE WAS A FAILURE.
As I said, it's okay if some folks find The Descent to be not enjoyment. I find it to be do enjoyment, and that's all that matters to me.

VHS Week, Day 2: WISHMASTER


The jerks like to say that horror movies are good for nothin' at all, but you know what? I learned a little something about myself whilst watching Wishmaster (1997), and that is that I am totally prejudiced! It's true. You see, I am far, far, faaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr more lenient with crap if it's on VHS. I just am. It's not that the format has any bearing on a film beyond resolution and picture quality- it's that for me, videotapes are sheathed in sheaths of cardboard and nostalgia and clammed up in clamshells of plastic and memories.

I know I've talked about it before, about how "movie night" was a thing back then, about hours spent picking out tapes, about how box art could make or break a film, about horror movies and slumber parties, about how I'm old, about where are my pants. But last night, it really sunk in- Wishmaster had that intangible something that seemed perfectly made for VHS viewing, and I was into it. I couldn't understand why everyone harshed on it! Djinn being all evil and not like the goofy genies we're all used to is a terrific idea, and during a djinn-induced chaos some dude's skeleton broke free from his body and went on a rampage. What's not to love? That's gold, friends!


As Ponyboy taught us all, however, nothing gold can stay. And, despite all evidence to the contrary, I'm not a complete idiot: crap on VHS is still crap, and it wasn't long before Wishmaster showed its true colors...and man, they were crappy like a crapbow. It's interesting, though, because it's easy to pinpoint the exact moment where the tide turned. It's here:


Or, more succinctly, it's the moment after that moment, but as you know I jammed out to this on tape and therefore can't do screengrabs. Anyway, ol' Wishie has just made a deal with a homeless guy and the homeless guys runs away in terror, blah blah blah. Then, the Wishmaster...sigh...picks up the homeless guy's discarded cigarette, smokes it, and gets, you know, "cool". Like, Freddy Krueger starting in Dream Warriors-cool, by which I mean "not at all cool". It gets worse after the Wishmaster covers up his gnarly nature by putting on a man-skin face: shit gets cornier and cornier, the lines get "snappier" and "snappier", and I hate my life.

Really, does anybody like this sort of thing? Where a terrifying, ageless demon-monster leaves pun-filled answering machine messages for someone? Do people enjoy all the quippy taunts? They're dreadful unless they're barfed out by the Leprechaun or the Rumplestiltskin. I mean, that is just Horror Movie Making 101.

The effects throughout Wishmaster are largely dodgy, given that it was made during the nascent era of CGI. "Dodgy", I can forgive...but more than that, they're as corny as the GD dialogue, with people turning into glass doors and the such. Over the course of its runtime, Wishmaster truly devolves into- to quote Pauline Kael- some truly corny-ass shit! If only I'd stopped at the 20-minute mark. Oh well. If I'd done that, I would have missed the cameo by the Pazuzu statue! (For real, Wishmaster is chock-full of familiar faces of death horror, including Robert Englund, Reggie Bannister, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joe Pilato, and the voice of Angus Scrimm.)

You may wonder why, when it was all over, I immediately popped in Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (which I happen to own because it's part of a DVD crap-pack, don't judge me). I guess I figured, I've sat through one, maybe the second one is better? How much worse can it be?

The answer: a lot worse. Wishmaster 2 doesn't devolve into truly corny-ass shit, it starts as such.

Some thieves botch an art heist, shots are fired, the Wishmaster escapes, blah blah. After he's freed from his little tiny jewel house, he has a run-in with the cops on the scene, who tell him to freeze. He then turns the cop into ice, ISN'T THAT GREAT. I won't even bother to get into how the movie collapsed in on itself and defied its own logic within the first ten minutes, rendering everything else during the course of its 96 minutes pointless. I have things to do! I will say this much, though: about 20 minutes in, I thought to myself "Maybe this movie will be better if I lie down, close my eyes, and just listen to it." You know what? It was better, because I immediately fell asleep.

I realize there are two more films in the series, but I'm pretty sure that my relationship with Wishmaster is but a one-night stand. Unless I can find Parts 3 and 4 on VHS...I mean, how bad could they be, right? RIGHT?

Sep 9, 2013

VHS Week, Day 1: KOLOBOS


Look, I know you think that I know every little thing about horror movies and that I've seen every one of them. It's natural to think that way, since I do have this blog and all. But...brace yourselves for the cold, hard tits of truth my friends: I do not know every little thing about horror movies, and I have not seen every one of them. Do you need a moment? I'm sure you need a moment. Take all the time you need! I will entertain myself by looking at this picture of a tiny goat until you are ready to continue.


You know what, I look at that picture and this is instantly me:


Anyway, the point is that I didn't know of the existence of Kolobos (1999) until it appeared here, during the 2010 SHOCKtober celebrations, as one of Amanda by Night's Top 20 faves. She always knows what's up, so immediately added it to my "must watch" list and found a copy. So why did it take me three years, then, to feast my eyeballs on it? Well, despite Amanda's seal of approval, I decided to judge the tape by the box, and I found the box to be rather uninspiring.


It's like, what, a supermodel gets attacked by a big lizard monster? I'm not a huge fan of creature features, so I kept putting it off. Besides, what the hell does "kolobos" mean, anyway? I figured it was the name of the green lizard dude.

Perhaps if my tape had this UK cover, I'd have watched it sooner because GUESS WHAT, ALL OF MY ASSESSMENTS WERE 100,000% WRONG and this cover is way more accurate and also defines "kolobos" so you don't feel like a big ignoranus for wondering about it:


A house, a creepy face. No supermodels or monsters and why oh why did the US cover have a lizard monster on it? THERE ARE NONE. This is how Amanda B.N. summarized the film, and it's totally perfect:
This creepy movie predicts the reality craze, pays homage to those crazed Italian horror films of yesteryear and was a complete surprise when I first saw it on a whim. The gore is really, really good, and although the story is extremely convoluted and a bit of let down at the end, as a whole, very few movies of the 90s could touch this oddball and eerie little film.
A bunch of creative-types agree to live together in a house and have their every move and confession recorded–on VHS, even!–only they soon discover that they're trapped amongst some deadly booby-traps. And they're not alone. If the "Big Brother" angle sounds familiar and worn-out, bear in mind that Kolobos came along in 1999, when the idea was fresh. In fact, along with The Blair Witch Project, it's a standout from that year; both films are strikingly original when you consider that '99 also saw the release of tepid sequels such as Warlock III, Children of the Corn 666, and Witchcraft Part fucking X.


The performances sure ain't great. If anything, the acting tends to be the "scream every line" variety, and at least half of the characters are annoying. If you think too hard about the plot when it's all over, it'll come apart completely. To me, movies like this are akin to those Magic Eye books that were so popular once upon a time: to get 'em to work, you have to use your eyes in a different way. You have to sort of cross them and look for something while not actually looking at anything. Then suddenly, an image that's all nonsense will transform into, I don't know, a fucking cactus or something. But if you let your brain say "this isn't how my eyes are supposed to work!" and you focus, you'll lose the cactus. So, Kolobos: don't focus on the plot. Don't lose the cactus.

There are nods to Argento and Fulci throughout, as well as some gentle ribbing at horror's expense. There's a cameo by and an homage to Linnea Quigley within, and the gore is pretty gonzo- a few moments certainly had me throwing my hands up and cringing. All in all, this movie is some seriously entertaining shit! I don't know why it seems to be so ignored and un-talked-about. Hey, maybe everyone's been judging it by the cover! I bet there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Sep 8, 2013

stuff to do

It's been a super long time since I've done an event around these parts, so I say to myself and to you: why not now? And by "now", I mean "starting tomorrow"! That's right, brace yourselves for...


You know how I feel about VHS (I LOVE IT) and I've got a bunch sitting around here waiting to be, like, watched or whatever. More than a bunch! Damn you, Spudic's Movie Empire (RIP, you were the best), for your $1 VHS tapes. Damn you, Bull Moose, for your $0.30 VHS tapes. Damn you, me, for finding them all irresistible! Anyway, beginning tomorrow, I'll be watching and reviewing a movie on tape every day for a week. Isn't that the most incredible idea? I think we can all agree that it's probably the most incredible idea in the history of ever.

So you're not dying of suspense wondering what I'm fixin' to watch and talk about (or maybe you want to join in the fun! FROM YOUR OWN HOUSE, I don't mean you can come over here, pervert):

MONDAY: Kolobos (1999)
TUESDAY: Wishmaster (1997)
WEDNESDAY: Patrick (1978)
THURSDAY: Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)
FRIDAY: Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990)

Obviously, I'll be spending the week in heaven.

Now then, don't you go forgetting about stuff you have to do! Have you submitted your list of scariest movies yet for the SHOCKtober celebrations? Have you watched The Omen yet in anticipation of the next Film Club meeting? Why are you just sitting around? WHAT DO I PAY YOU PEOPLE FOR?

I'd like to close with this 4-sketch card set I did, Horror High. Hooray!





Sep 4, 2013

junior varsity

Boy oh boy, some movies just ruin it for other movies by setting the bar so high, you know? It's like, Dear All Movies Featuring Murders By Phone That Are Not Murder By Phone, you will not feature better murders by phone than Murder By Phone, so why don't you just PHONE HOME (and by "phone" I mean go) (and yes, I need to work on my dissin' skills)? Right? Or, Dear All Movies Featuring Killer Bees, it is statistically impossible for you to be better than The Swarm, so take a hike!

This is essentially the problem faced by every demonic possession film that's come along in the 40 years since The Exorcist brought pea soup spew to the masses: it's impossible to beat, so what can you bring to the table to differentiate yourself? As I noted in my review for Beyond the Door, possession flicks either tend to rip-off The Exorcist or separate themselves from the pack by going down a more "realistic" road, which basically means that less gnarly makeup is used (such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which employs a dramatic courtroom framing narrative, and The Devil Inside and The Last Exorcism, which utilize a POV/found footage/documentary setup). Then you have The Antichrist, which is Exorcist-gnarly but jazzes up the proceedings with profane sex.

So. There I sit in front of The Possession (2012), all arms crossed and jaw a-juttin', asking what it's got to say for itself. Daring it to thrill me with something new...although I know that it doesn't really matter if its stale as a month-old loaf o' rye or as fresh as a macaroni salad beneath a Tupperware seal, on some level I'm going to like it because I'm a sucker for possession flicks. It doesn't mean I won't call out crap on its crappiness. It just means I've got a soft spot for 'em, as one might have for old people or young people or dogs wearing tights.

Wait, what was I talking about before I got distracted by Tupperware and dogs in tights (it happens all the time)? Ah! The Possession! Does it bring anything new to the subgenre? Well...the demon is Jewish and it lives in a box.

She's kvetching

It's true! Divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) stops at a yard sale and buys his daughters any old thing they want. Em (Natasha Calis) picks up a dybbuk box, which unbeknownst to everyone houses all sorts of demonic fuckery and oh my crap I'm just imagining a horror movie yard sale extravaganza featuring this box and the possessed floor lamp from Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes and why oh why hasn't there been an anthology film featuring a yard sale as the framing narrative? Or has there been? If so, tell me immediately. If not, get me Hollywood on Line 1 and let's get this shit made!

Anyway, oh. This movie. Well, it's fine. You know how it goes: Em gets really attached to the box and then starts acting out and then she really starts acting out and then she's possessed and then there's an exorcism and then the end. But did I mention it's Jewish? Yes. There's a delightful scene in which Clyde travels to the mysterious, far away, exotic land known as "Brooklyn" and gets out of his BMW only to find himself literally surrounded by, like, a hundred Hasidic fellows. Clyde stares in rapt wonder, like he's out on a fucking safari and he's stumbled across a herd of gazelles in a clearing or something, and it's hilarious.

While this different cultural angle is welcome, it's not really enough to elevate The Possession into the realm of must see. Although I like that the demon is treated as a tangible thing- it got out of its box, y'all gotta get it back in the box and oh my crap it's kind of like a Pokemon- the movie remains akin to, say, soggy Golden Grahams all swole-up with milk. Yes, I'll eat them, but they are not as satisfying as all the crunchy Golden Grahams that came before and perhaps my time would be better spent eating something else.

Now she's kvetching and verklempt

Like I said, it's all fine. There are a couple of inspired creepy moments. The final showcase showdown between the forces of good and evil aren't really anything you haven't seen before (albeit Jewish-ier)- I mean, there's even someone yelling "Take her, not me!" and all that, which...really? You're just going to straight-up hump The Exorcist's leg like that, The Possession? For shame. For shame.

Several other reviews have touted the family dynamics at the heart of the film, how they really provide backbone and blah blah blah and while Clyde and Co are all perfectly lovely people...isn't nearly every possession flick a family drama at the core? A beloved family member (usually a female, what up with that) isn't quite acting herself and the rest of the relations must figure shit out and save her? Seems that way. Although, I suppose I shouldn't be so flip in the face of a wee bit of character development, lest all the other horror movies in pre-production her me and think that such a thing doesn't matter. Because it does!

While The Possession certainly didn't thrill me, I did not hate it or even actively dislike it, I suppose...but that's just not good enough in this post-Exorcist world! The power of Pazuzu compels you to go big or go home and you, The Possession, need to be stuffed back into your Dybbuk box and...and...ugh why didn't this movie end with the Dybbuk box exploding like the possessed floor lamp did? Now that would have earned this flick a spot in the Demonic Hall of Fame for sure.

Sep 2, 2013

It's here, it's here! (almost.)


While SHOCKtober may not have officially started yet, the season of SHOCKtober most certainly has. I mean, everyone knows that the most bitchin' time of the year runs from September 1st to November 30th AT LEAST. As September is here, I need to make my plans for the site known, yes? Yes! If past celebrations are to be believed (except last year when I hardly blogged at all and I was so burnt out and let's just pretend it never happened okay stop looking at me like that) SHOCKtober is the most fun you'll have around these parts. The most. And much like the best of the 'tobers, 2010, it's gonna be all cyber-interactive.

If you have your remembering pants on, you'll know that in 2010, I asked readers what their 20 favorite horror movies are. Not which films are the best, not which ones you think should make some all-time greats list, but which are your favorites. We ended up with a master list consisting of 732 movies (YES I ALMOST DIED) ranging from Halloween to Dust Devil to everything you can pretty much think of in between. It was glorious, a hell of a lot of work but much more fun. So, this year, tell me:

WHICH TEN HORROR MOVIES HAVE SCARED YOU THE MOST?

There's a chance there will be some overlap with your Top 20, sure. But then, you know, while Creepshow is one of my favorites, it's never particularly scared me. (And by the way, my Top 20 hasn't really changed at all since 2010.)

So let's see what really scares each other, what makes us afraid to turn off the lights and too terrified to sleep. Maybe it's sharks or a dude in a mask or the idea of being turned into a pod person or who knows. Whatever works for you- and by that I mean whatever. We has some decidedly non-"horror" films listed back in 2010, and I expect we will again, and that's totally perfect. Annnd, maybe these movies of yours don't keep you awake anymore- most films lose effect after years of repeated viewings- but they did, once upon a time, and that's all that matters. Yay!

Now, here's whatchu do.

Email your list to: stacieponder (at) gmail (dot) (c)(o)(m). Put LIST or MY LIST or LIST-O or FUCK YEAH LISTS or something like that in the subject line. THE DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 26th.

Getcher list-making on and let's see what comes of it, shall we? Besides me pulling my hair and wondering why I'm doing it again, I mean. WOO HORROR MOVIES!

A NOTE: Unless you indicate otherwise, I will assume you mean the original versions of all films and not the remakes...so if you mean, say, Snyder's Dawn of the Dead and not Romero's Dawn of the Dead, be sure to include the year or director name. If you just say "Dawn of the Dead" with no indicators, I'll assume it's the 1978 version.

ANOTHER NOTE: The order doesn't matter, as the results won't be weighted- it's strictly numbers. You don't have to provide commentary or justification, unless you want to give me something entertaining to read- these are your choices. What's scared you! You don't have to pick "classics" or esteemed films or your "favorites"- just the ten scariest for you.