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 20, 2014

Juliette Cummins Week Day 2: CLICK: THE CALENDAR GIRL KILLER

There are two kinds of people in this workaday world of ours. Some people see "After Dark Thrillers" and run away as if the case itself is dripping with Ebola- it's eight "erotic thrillers" crammed onto two DVDs! It's under five bucks! They're all gonna be crap! Other people are like me, and perhaps like you, those who see "After Dark Thrillers" in a store and get positively giddy over it just reading the names dripping off of it like Ebola: Elizabeth Kaitan! Karen Black! David Naughton! Sybil Danning! Eight erotic thrillers for under five bucks? This is the greatest deal in the history of ever! Yeah, there's a warning light flashing somewhere in the back of your mind (these movies are going to be terrible you know they're terrible think of all the pizza you could buy with under five bucks, where am I going to get a lot of pizza for under five bucks, get it anywhere pizza is eight dollars, pizza hasn't been eight dollars in like twenty years what's wrong with you, well you could get Little Caesars I think that's still five bucks, eat Little Caesars are you nuts why don't I just eat Ebola) but when you see that Click: The Calendar Killer (1990) listed amongst the garbage, you give that warning light the bird and you go on your way. Didn't a friend tell you one time that Click was the best movie ever? You think maybe that happened, but you can't really remember. Oh well, it's only under five bucks.

Much later: is Click the best movie ever? Was it worth under five bucks? I just don't know, my friends, I just don't know. There's no denying it's an absolute shitshow, but then it  brings out so many feelings in a viewer. Generally these feelings alternate between "I'm going to marry this movie!" and "This movie is torture!" I've already hyped it up for people, letting them know that we must watch Click asap and forever because it's amazing. I know that as we partake, I will wonder why I ever wanted to see this movie again. Then it will end and I'll immediately want to start it over and show more people because wasn't it so great? The cycle will continue forever, and so are the days of our lives.

Although I am tempted to warn you away from this movie, we all know how this scenario plays out. You will see the screencaps herein, you will read about dazzling things like "models", "photo shoots", "explosions", and "Dollar Tree Norman Bates", and you will rush headlong into procuring a copy of Click: The Calendar Killer to clutch to your own bosoms. I won't blame you, for I understand you. I am you. Blessed be.

Look, I know Juliette Cummins is not mentioned on the cast list for this film and it's Juliette Cummins Week around these parts. What kind of bait-and-switch shit is this? I assure you, I am neither baiting nor switching! Cummins has a sizable role in this film (as "Rhonda"), but she's uncredited. As far as I've been able to figure out, it's due to union snafus- I mean, Click boasts two directors and six fucking screenwriters...there's no doubt the entire production was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. In fact, it's the last film she was in, save a cameo in the equally terrible Camp FearClick may have been agonizing enough an experience to drive her away from horror movies altogether!

Come on, let's profile the evidence Clarice Starling-style.

Throughout the entire affair she wears the pained, world-weary "I went to Julliard for this?" expression that sneaks right through the fourth wall sometimes, that awareness that completely betrays an actor's true feelings. Why, it's as if you can see her whole life pass right before her eyes! Now let's couple these moments with some of her dialogue, which is all the more delicious if you imagine she ad-libbed everything.

"I'm so frustrated from being here."

"Working for you is worse than getting raped."

"This is totally embarrassing."

"I'm gonna get out of here."

Case closed, Your Honor. This is the urban legend I have made up and I'm sticking to it! So, what kind of film could drive an actor completely out of bargain basement features and right into the lucrative, lovin' arms of commercials? Let's dig our acrylic talons into Click's naugahyde and find out!

Click begins with a photo shoot. There are a lot of photo shoots in Click, and they are all pretty much the same. They feature a plain background (save the light fixtures, of course!), a fog machine, and a model- in a bikini or an industrial strength Playtex bra- posing listlessly with a weapon or power tool. The same "funky" synth music plays every time. Your life becomes a möbius strip that comprises these images. As they flicker endlessly before your eyes, it seems that the cycle will continue forever, that Click might break you, too. And so are the days of our lives.

What I mean is, Click might break you with its awesomeness! Come on, there is nothing not to love here. Oblivious to how horrid these photographs will undoubtedly be, Jack (co-writer/co-director Ross Hagen) snaps away, providing direction to the models, such as "Put some shit in it, man!"

Oh, they do, Jack. They do.

Intermittently we get flashbacks to someone's childhood, wherein a young boy cries as he's berated by a mean nurse for the crimes of 1) existing and 2) sneaking a peek at a nudie mag. It seems his mother is dead and the nurse is his caretaker...? Eh, it's not really explained. All we really need to take away from this is that the mystery boy's torturous past has led to a murderous present as he shaves a leather recliner his chest and dons a wig and nurse's uniform.

Hold on, let me amend that: we assume it's a murderous present because it takes forfuckingever for the Calendar Girl Killer to actually kill a calendar girl. What happens in the meantime? Models and clingy boyfriends hang out at a ranch. There's a moment where one Friday the 13th alum (Part VII's Susan Jennifer Sullivan) clamjams another (Cummins) just for the fun of it, so that's something.

There are more photo shoots, each more extreme to the extreme than the last. Jack is interested in the intersection of sex and violence, you see. I'm pretty sure that's what's going on, but then I don't get art, so.

There are a bunch of red herrings running around, even though as I said no one dies for the longest time. But Click really wants us to ask: who is dressing up as the weirdo nurse? Is it...

Jack's assistant?

A model's hot-headed boyfriend?

This guy, who has a camera?

Or Jack, who is clearly the one behind the mask?

Why surprise, it's Jack! Shit finally gets real an hour in when Rhonda puts on lipstick and then takes a bath. As you do.

Are you feeling the terror yet?

There are a few more killings, and while there are certainly no Tom Savini-level effects going on (shit, there are no Halloween Store-level effects going on!) at least they're varied. I mean, Nursie busts out a blow gun. That's not nothin'! Neither is the epileptic seizure you may have during the murder sequence where a strobe light flashes for five minutes.

Lemme tell you, once Jack is revealed to be the Dollar Tree Norman Bates, Click goes off the rails into Crazytown like nobody's business. He chases the few remaining survivors around the grounds of the ranch, yelling his totally psychotic (he's crazy, you know) nursery rhymes, such as "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick...I'll burn your balls off with my candlestick!"

He shoots a flare gun that somehow fires grenades? And there's a minefield? Look, the details are sketchy and it makes no sense, but know this: there are 27 explosions in the span of seven minutes. It's like a Michael Bay wet dream, I'm telling you!

Eventually Jack grabs the Last Model Alive and ties her to a giant cross for some reason. Her hot-headed boyfriend saves her, and Jack dies in a fire. Like everything else that came before, it makes no sense whatsoever.

See what I mean? Click is the best movie ever, how can you not love it?

Okay, yeah, it's terrible. There are long stretches of nothingness punctuated by fleeting moments of glory. Why, I haven't even mentioned the big-haired all-girl metal band that plays at a party early on!

But as there are two kinds of people in the world, so are there two kinds of slasher movies. In one corner, you've got the likes of  John Carpenter's Halloween. In that film, there's a moment when we think the killer is dead...but he slowly, silently sits up. The iconic, chilling score kicks in as he steps ever closer to his oblivious prey without making a sound. It's one of the most frightening scenes in movie history.

In the other corner, you've got Click: The Calendar Girl Killer. In that film, there's a moment when we think the killer is dead...but then he simply appears in the next shot and says "I'm fine!" to his would-be victims.

Where oh where shall the twain meet? They meet in us, dear reader. They meet in us.


Yum-Yum said...

In my review of Click, I think I used the expression "pussy-block" to describe what Mrs. Sullivan does to Mrs. Cummins in this movie. But I have to admit, "clam-jam" is a thousand times more awesome. Kudos.

Colleen said...

Stacie, this totally reminds me of my favorite movie when I was a kid (well, this AND The Last Unicorn; I was a well-rounded youth), but I can't remember the name of it so perhaps you can help me: it's about these models that are being murdered like one is thrown off a balcony and one is killed in the fake hologram house; this movie has to be eighties, early, and the business is like selling real estate but they show people the homes as like holograms? Do remember that it takes place in L.A. and...maybe something to do with plastic surgery? I don't really know. Do remember making my older sister watch it over and over with me. Does this sound at all familiar?

Anyway, love the screen grabs of her bored/disgusted faces.

Stacie Ponder said...

Sounds like Looker to me! I just watched that recently, it's still quite a bit of fun. Here's the trailer.

(and thanks, Yum-Yum, you're the best!)

Stacie Ponder said...

Also, that clamjam- it's so (wonderfully) weird that she does it just because. I love's one of the many riches that Click has to give us!

Colleen said...

Hells yeah! That's it; thanks Stacie! Michael Chrichton? What?! Also, Cummins looks like a young Tori Amos.

Eliot Blades said...

I was convinced I'd seen this as I own that set but it turns out I was thinking of Double Exposure which is also on the set and is an equally deranged story of a men's magazine photographer whose models start turning up dead. He suffers from bizarre dreams and wonders whether he committed the murders.