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!

May 27, 2014


1987, what a year, what a year! I saw The Cure in concert. I played In My Tribe, Strangeways, Here We Come, and The Lion and the Cobra so incessantly I can't believe my parents didn't murder me. I had an ill-advised perm and fashion sense so bad, it likely distracted from said ill-advised perm. And as for movies, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II ruled my world. Dream Warriors is still bandied about on the regular in horror circles, but what of Prom Night II? Poor Mary Lou never gets her props, not even from me. Though it was my everything back in the day, I admit it'd been years since I'd really thought about it, much less seen it. Recently I indulged a sudden hankering for the film, and I admit, I was a bit anxious. I mean, 27 seconds after I got that perm I knew it was a bad, bad idea, but I had wanted it and I had done it and so my judgment is forever questionable. Could Prom Night II possibly hold up after 27 years? Was it ever okay to begin with?

Yes all of this and more this movie is still so much fun and I still heart it so hard in perpetuity amen!

Quintessential bad girl Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) is named Prom Queen at Hamilton High, but before she can don her crown a tragic stink bomb accident sends her up in flames. Tragic stink bomb many lives do they cut short every year?

30 years later, prom night approaches and Mary Lou's vengeful spirit is released from a steamer trunk when senior Vicki (Wendy Lyon) finds the dead student's sash, tiara, and cape inside. Soon, likable good girl Vicki begins acting very...un-Vicki and bodies begin to pile up. 'Tis the angry spirit of Mary Lou that's possessed her, you see, and it's time for the Prom Queen's revenge!

It's all very Asian horror premise done '80s American horror style, which means that it's a hell of a lot of fun. There's plenty of black humor and knowing nods to the genre, whether in dialogue pulled from The Exorcist or character names like Carpenter, Henenlotter, Dante, O'Bannon, and more. Prom Night II falls shy of being completely tongue-in-cheek, though, and make no mistake- this movie has a delightfully nasty streak a mile wide. Mary Lou is an unrepentant villain with not a single fuck to give, and this doesn't let up when she's in control of the church-going Vicki. Mary Lou will kill pregnant teenagers and, as Vicki, make out with Vicki's father. It doesn't matter. She wants to be Prom Queen, and she wants to kill anyone who stopped her the first time around...and anyone who gets in her way now.

I promise never to forget about you again, Prom Night II. I promise always to sing your name from up on high (or, at least, from wherever my mouth is) because you are still the best...and I am not just talking about the fashions.

It's so great to revisit the things you were into and discover you still love them just as much. It doesn't always happen (Caveman is my go-to "How could I ever have loved such a piece of shit?" movie...I can't even make it through that trailer), but when it does, it's so validating. I've always had such great taste...I think I'll go get a perm!

May 24, 2014

There's a sale going on in them thar hills!

This Memorial Day weekend there's a sale going on in my Society 6 if you've wanted to get a Final Girl t-shirt, well now's the time! T-shirts, v-necks, and tanks are all $5 off, and there's free worldwide shipping on everything. The Friday Bunch illustration I posted yesterday has been added, and I've updated the Casual Friday shirt with a new drawing and everything. Why, look at these fancy products for you to choose from! Thanks for taking a look! Here's that link again:

May 23, 2014

Juliette Cummins Week Day 5: PSYCHO III

I know I said that Psycho II didn't need to be made, but if that's true then boy, Psycho III (1986) really really super didn't need to be made. And yet, like its predecessor, the third film in the saga of Norman Bates is better than it has any right to be, and certainly it's far better than you'd expect. It's a supremely enjoyable effort, sprinkled with both disturbing violence and the blackest of humor, but studio mandates forced Norman and his mama into the slasher paradigm; the film is marred by nonsensical murders and a silly ending that primes the pump for yet another sequel. Nowadays, the film has found a bit of a cult following- or maybe horror fans finally reached that "you know, it's not that bad..." point after years of crappy PG-13 flicks- but at the time of its release it was a critical and commercial flop. I guess it's true what they say- there is no God!

The story is simple- that Norman simply ain't as rehabbed as everyone thought he was- but it's the characters that check into Bates Motel this time around that give the film life. There's suicidal nun Maureen (Diana Scarwid), wayward wannabe-musician-cum-motel-employee Duke (Jeff Fahey, at his most unhinged), good-time girl Red (Juliette Cummins, at her most memorable)...heck, there's even actress/director Katt Shea, who gets killed on a toilet and stuffed into an ice chest. Psycho III just does not give a shit, it does what it wants!

I mean, if there's any doubt that this movie plays by its own insane rules, you need look no further than what's got to be one of the most bizarre "sex" scenes ever, where Red kind of pretends to burn herself with a cigarette and Duke does...whatever it is he's doing. It's so great!

And let's talk about how pigged out and sexed up Duke's room was after he'd been there for, like, a day.

Star Anthony Perkins stepped behind the camera for Psycho III, showing a surprising amount of style and confidence for a first-time director. The film looks far better than plenty of its genre contemporaries thanks to Perkins's eye for detail and unique set pieces. Red's phone booth death springs immediately to mind, but there are smaller moments equally notable, such as the scene transition where the crack of light under a door becomes the glistening edge of a knife.

Though the script features a few too many callbacks to the original film (yes, Norman, we get it: the blood!), it does manage to retcon the retcon of Mother Bates that happened in Psycho II. And even though he's...well, a psycho who goes around killing people whenever he feels like it, you can't help but root for that Bates boy. Anybody who likes candy corn so much can't be all bad, right?

it's not the 13th, but still

May 22, 2014

Juliette Cummins Week Day 4: DEADLY DREAMS

Jeezalou, the late 80s were a dark time for horror. Despite an unwillingness to let go on the part of a few franchises, the slasher cycle was well and truly over, and it would be decades before the genre regained some of its bite. With the exception of a bright spot here and there, it's as if the world was simply horror-ed out for a while, you know? And while I'd like to say that Deadly Dreams (1988) is some lost classic or undiscovered gem...sigh. It is not.

But it is the movie crammed with the most homoerotic subtext since A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, so hooray, all is not lost!

The story begins on a magical Christmas Eve. While his father argues on the phone about someone named "Perkins", young Alex opens an early gift and is thrilled that he's received what every boy- nay, what every child- wants: a glass reindeer.

This idyllic celebration is interrupted by a knock at the door. Alex opens it to reveal Perkins himself, wearing a hunter's outfit and a wolf mask and brandishing a shotgun. He blows away Alex's mom and dad like something out of Martyrs lite! Like, really, really, really lite!

Perkins tells Alex to run, then takes potshots at him as the kid escapes, which is really not a nice thing to do, if you think about it. Right as he's about to blow Alex away...

...Alex wakes up! Phew, it was just a dream, and Alex (Mitchell Anderson) is now all grown up and safe and sound in his college apartment that he outfitted exclusively with items from the Pier 1 Imports clearance bin.

Yes yes, Alex is plagued by dreams of Perkins the hunter. Or is Perkins actually hunting him? Well, Perkins is long dead. But what if he isn't? But he is. But then he's over there! Oh wait, that was just a dream. But then there's Perkins! Oh, but that was a dream, too. And so on.

There is a lot- and by "a lot" I mean "a metric fuck ton" of this "oh, it was just a dream" shit throughout the movie. Sure, maybe the title might give it away...but geez, the pattern gets so boring after a while when you realize that no one is ever really in jeopardy. Or are they?

No one believes that the hunter from Alex's dreams is real- not his best friend Danny (Thom Babbes, who also wrote the script), an obnoxious, self-professed ladies' man who uses his pre-med schooling for access to prescription meds. Cops assume Alex is on drugs. His new girlfriend Maggie (Juliette Cummins) thinks he probably just needs more sleep. Older brother Jack (Xander Berkeley) thinks Alex needs to "man up", you know, and quit with these lofty dreams of being a writer. Instead, he advises Alex to invest the trust fund he's about to receive into the family business. I just love that Jack has furnished his office with one of those lightning balls from the Executive Collection at Spencer's Gifts.

But Perkins keeps showing up at the darndest times, in Alex's dreams and in his reality. What are dreams? What is reality? Damn, Deadly Dreams will mess with your head!

Well, I don't want to give too much away here, because there are some pretty decent and nasty twists throughout. Then again, Deadly Dreams isn't that great. It's more thriller than horror. it's never received a DVD release and it's fairly obscure even on VHS, so are you really gonna track it down to check it out? I guess you'll just have to live in suspense until you do!

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Okay, so where's all this gay you were talking about?" Hmm, where to begin.

Let's begin with Danny, who is immediately jealous of Maggie for no apparent reason. "What can you possibly see in her?" Danny whines at Alex, who gives some blah blah answer when he should have just said, you know, who wouldn't fall for a girl who can do this? It's Cynthia Rothrock meets Fame, fer cryin' out loud.

Danny and Alex snipe at each other like an old married couple, which culminates in Alex yelling "I jinx you, pig bitch!" during a game of pool. After taking a Polaroid of a sleeping, topless Alex (because, uh, he thought Maggie was there, too! Even though she's clearly not!), Danny hops in for a cuddle.

Later he tries to convince Alex to go hunting with him. As he enthusiastically cleans and brandishes his rifle, he begs Alex to come along since he clearly "needs a little release."

Then he aims the gun at Alex and talks about the way "you can feel this rush come over you!" But he's totally only talking about hunting. Yes. Hunting.

There's just so much more, even beyond that Mitchell Anderson (who actually is a big gay) spends most of the film shirtless for one reason or another. And I mean, come on...

That shirt! I'd say I'm reading too much into it but it's all pretty obvious if you watch the film. And anyway, subtext is the best (well, second best after...text...I guess), so tough!

It's too bad that Deadly Dreams is so GD lethargic, because there's a decent movie in there somewhere, and when the film's nasty side shows it's enjoyable (and I'm not just talking about that spinning bed sex scene) (you guys, there's a spinning bed sex scene). Unfortunately, it's buried beneath a big pile of too many dreams and it's not remotely "horror" enough.  Alex is a rather annoying leading man- when he's not yelling, he's whining- and you don't ever really care if Perkins is only in his mind or not. I will say, however, that he has my sympathies for continually being given shitty, shitty gifts, from the glass reindeer to the mounted deer head that Maggie buys him.

Most of all, it's good to finally see Juliette Cummins in a lead role instead of relegated to basically "Victim Number 4" status.

Is the payoff at the end of Deadly Dreams worth all the drowsy downtime it takes to get there? Probably not. Then again, what else are you gonna do with your life, hmm? Even sub-par 80sVHS horror is better than what you have in store, I'm sure.