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!

Feb 23, 2014

The Seventh Victim (1943)

Finally got around to watching The Seventh Victim (1943) and man, it's terrific. Maybe you knew that, as it's generally regarded as one of the best horror films of all time. That's me, always late to the party! Well, hey, at least I still show up. Now point me to the snack table, and on the way we can talk about this super boss Val Lewton production.

  • The Seventh Victim boasts three of my very favorite themes in both cinema and life: Satanism, urban isolation, and ennui!
  • Even if you're some kind of freak who thinks this movie stinks, you cannot deny the effect it's had on the genre: its influence is obvious in horror classics Psycho and Rosemary's Baby.
  • Speaking of an influence on Psycho, the shower scene in this film is full of dread and menace like nobody's business. NOBODY'S I SAY
  • There are some gay undertones in the Frances/Jacqueline relationship, no? It certainly seemed like it could be read that way. Then again, I think most things could be read that way, so.
  • Speaking of Jacqueline, let's talk about her white hot, outrĂ© Cleopatra wig! It's perhaps the most startling thing in the movie. I looked up actress Jean Brooks because once you see that wig, why wouldn't you? The results were not as I'd hoped, to put it mildly: a few years of floundering outside the studio system until an untimely death of malnutrition caused by alcoholism. I was reminded of Gail Russell, whose equally sad tale I discovered after watching the superior ghost story The Uninvited (1944). It's always shocking when "I wonder if _______ is still around?" and some internetting deliver a depressing life story that's in complete contrast to the perceived glamour of Hollywood's golden era.
  • I understand there were a few scenes scrapped during production, and I'd really like to see 'em because this shit wraps up in about ten seconds, and some ideas come out of left field in the final moments.
  • Man, what a delightful downer of an ending!
I think perhaps the greatest lesson in all of this is that you really can't go wrong with a Val Lewton horror production. Also, that I love snacks...but unless this is your first time here, this is not surprising.

Feb 6, 2014

Nope, still the worst

I know that y'all know that I love The Haunting (1963). I mean, I've said it so many times that even I'm sick of hearing it. It's like, man, we get it, if you could marry The Haunting you would, now let's all move on.

I also know that y'all also know that I loathe the 1999 remake about as much as I adore the original. Why, I have such a vendetta against Jan de Bont's The Haunting, you'd think that it chews its gum too loudly or it murdered my family. Why, I was just talking about it fairly recently!

Last night, however, I had a thought: what if I'm being too hard on it? Is it really so bad, or am I just holding on to a 15-year grudge for no reason? Is there hope that The Haunting '99 and I could ever come to some sort of a ceasefire? To find out the answer to all of these questions, I did something I never imagined that I'd do: I watched it again. I watched it again and tried to keep an open mind, tried not to compare it to the 1963 masterpiece, tried to treat it as its own thing, tried to enjoy it.

I tried.

And guess what? I failed because this movie is so terrible! I found myself completely unable to stop comparing it to the original (and to the book both films are based on, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House) because it's such a...such a...twisted perversion of that film that I can't ignore all of the differences, the oh so wrongness of it. This movie is obscene like that defiled statue in The Exorcist. It's the worst stereotype of an American: it's fat, loud, and stupid. It's an abomination! I've said it before and I'll say it again, because after watching The Haunting again, these sentiments are forever sealed in my heart place: If it were up to me, though, every copy of it would be placed in a big pile, and then the pile would be burned down, and then the ground would be sown with salt.

All that said, the film is not without its highlights. Let us peruse them!

1. Lili Taylor, because Lili Taylor.

2. Virginia Madsen! I'd totally forgotten she makes an appearance, but isn't she just the best? (yes)

3. This guy on the left, who has one word of dialogue.

4. Luke gets fucking decapitated in front of her, and Eleanor responds by calmly saying "Oh no."

5. Goodness gracious but Catherine Zeta-Jones is so pretty.

6. Eleanor's morphing teeth

7. Eleanor's hair vagina

That's it! Those are the highlights. Well, okay, so maybe Eleanor calling Hugh Crain "grandpa" could be a highlight but my god that is just so so so despicable, I can't. I can't.

When it comes to movies, music, any of that stuff, I tend to have a "live and let die" attitude. Everyone likes different things! The heart wants what the heart wants! There's no accounting for taste! You do you, girl! But for fuck's sake, if you think this is a good movie or- Charles Nelson Reilly forfend- you think The Haunting '99 is better than The Haunting ' really need to see your doctor because there is absolutely something wrong with you. It could be a blood clot, demonic possession, or worse and I worry about you, get it checked out.