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!

Dec 7, 2018

awesome movie poster friday - the TELEKINETIC QUEENS edition!


Just this morning I looked at my phone and I made a mental note that today is Friday. "Oh, it's Friday," I thought. Then the word "Friday" spun around and around in my head, all kaleidoscope-style, kind of like a bunch of prom-goers laughing at me because I'm all covered in blood. Then I had my second thought of the day:

"Today would be a great day to bring back Awesome Movie Poster Friday, what, with it being Friday and all."

And here we are! Whomever could have predicted?

If you have one of those Marilu Henner-esque beyond-photographic memories, then you know I did a telekinetic edition of AMPF way the heck back in 2010. 2010! A lifetime ago. What a different world it was then, wouldn't you say? I think I was living on the other coast. Horror movies weren't in the best place: the Saw, Resident Evil, and Paranormal Activity chugged along. Insidious was unleashed. Remakes were plentiful and mostly terrible. Quite frankly, my feelings about the genre were beginning to wane.

But here we are, eight whole years later. My, how things have changed! I now live on this coast. The world is a trashfire, but horror is in a pretty dang good place. (Hmm, funny how that works.) I feel revitalized about it. I treasure new stuff and want to spend time digging around for treasures of yore again. Neat!

The point is, you can peep the link to the old telekinetic AMPF and get an eyeful of some Carrie and Jennifer posters (and more). I'm not gonna re-post all the old Carrie stuff in particular...but what I am gonna post about that film reflects another trend that's occurred since that original post: the rise of the fan poster. You've seen 'em, and you might even have some. Alternative movie posters! Often they work solely as fanservice; I'm thinking in particular about the extremely minimalist ones, the ones that may be beautiful but don't work as, you know, advertisements. Sometimes they give away twists and secrets, or they're a wink and a nudge to the people who already know the movie by heart. The ones I'm posting for Carrie (with artist credit and links), I think, are lovely simply to look at, but they also work as and feel like "movie posters."

As for Jennifer, there simply aren't a lot of posters out there. I was sad about that until I found one--you'll know it when you see it--that makes up for the deficit by being so effing EVERYTHING that it contains the power of, like, 12 posters.

And then there's Thelma, which...I like some of 'em. Heck, I have the bird-on-the-face one that's sliiiiiightly reminiscent of the poster for The Silence of the Lambs. But, like, inverted. Or something. It makes sense in my brain, okay? But unfortch Thelma's one of those new horror movies with posters that are just Photoshopped photos. Thelma deserves better!

art by Adam Juresko

art by Guy Stauber

art by Beyond Horror Design

Dec 6, 2018

Sisterhood of the Traveling Christian Fashion Nightie

The 11th (eleventh!) episode of my podcast Gaylords of Darkness is now a-LIVE and a-VAILABLE. In "Sisterhood of the Traveling Christian Fashion Nightie," my co-host Anthony and I discuss, fawn over, and fall for the terrific telekinetic trio: Carrie (1976), Jennifer (1978), and Thelma (2017).

I don't know if the episode is any good--well, scratch that. I think it's good, but who cares what I think? What I mean is, I don't know if there are any, you know, trenchant insights or whattheheckever. There might be. But I am kind of in a fugue state while we record, and then I come out of it and I don't know what happened. Look, if you've listened to Gaylords, then you know what to expect, I guess. I'm not trying to neg myself here! But what I do know is that my (our) passion for the subjects overfloweth and it's perhaps the one episode I was most amped for, and the one I had the most fun researching.

Side note: yowza, we watch a shitton of stuff for this show. Sometimes that's great, and one of us is introduced to a gem. (Hi, I now love the Child's Play series more than I ever could have anticipated I would.) Other times, we have to sit through Mother of Tears. (Or another movie that we'll be talking about later this month, one I am not looking forward to watching for the second time, one I can't even believe I'll be watching for the second time.)

Oh man, I actually forgot that I endured The Haunting (1999) again for a previous episode! Seems my brain is starting a purge (not to be confused with The Purge). Until it purges something vital (like my feelings about Suspiria (2018) or how to put on pants or whatever) I suppose I should be thankful.

Anyway. The point of this is this: yes, new episodes of Gaylords of Darkness magically appear on The Internet every Wednesday when the clock strikes 6:66. No, I haven't been very good at reminding you about that! Nor have I been very good about anything else here, and here sure is gathering dust. So I thought, rather than simply posting "new episode, here's a link" every week, why don't I write...something? A supplement piece, you know? Because even though talking for the show is way, way (way) easier than writing (who knew??), well, I'm not ready to purge that ability quite yet. So, two tastes, tasting...something together.

Carrie, Jennifer, and Thelma are three women who wield unearthly powers so strong that not only can they kill you with a mere thought, they have whole movies named after them. Each character (and her respective film) stands on her own in a multitude of ways, but considering them as a triad is the way to go, baby, as it reveals a beautiful evolution of empowerment.

Everyone, of course, knows Carrie White. She eats shit, she burns in Hell, everyone is going to laugh at her, et cetera et cetera. Heck, if you want to know just how famous she is, you only need to check out the archives here: she won the first (and only) (so far) Maniac Madness tournament in 2014, beating out horror luminaries like Michael Myers and the Possessed Floorlamp from Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes. Here's what I wrote when she was crowned winner:
You know, I take Carrie for granted a lot of the time because it's become this thing bigger than the movie itself. Does that make sense? I mean I reference it all the time (see "get out your dirtypillows and clap 'em together in celebration"), telling my friends "they're all going to laugh at you" or talking about dumping pig's blood or whatever. I've suggested so many times that someone plug it up, you feel me? It's so easy to forget what a brilliant film it is, or how intense and perfect the iconic prom scene is. And Sissy Spacek, man. Her Carrie is the most terrifying person you just want to hug.
It's all true. Carrie is still one of the greatest horror films of all time, perhaps the best of the many, many Stephen King adaptations out there. Brian De Palma's vision is simply fucking brilliant, a masterclass in creating tension through pacing, editing, and direction. The entire prom and the build-up to the tipping of the bucket is brutal, even if you know it's coming and precisely when. The slow-motion...Sue Snell putting it all together, trying to save the day, and being thwarted by the well-intentioned Miss Collins...Chris Hargensen crouched under the stairs, licking her lips in anticipation...and Carrie, poor Carrie, resplendent in her homemade gown, crown on her head, beaming beneath the sparkly cardboard stars. Her moment--finally, her moment!--seems as if it will last forever.

But it doesn't. (I know it doesn't, we all know it doesn't, but I never stop hoping that it will.) The blood pours down, the pointing and laughing begin, and so does Carrie's revenge.

It should be cathartic for us, watching the outcast, picked-upon, downtrodden, telekinetic underdog stop her tormentors for good.  That's why we watch Death Wish, or Mandy, or I Spit on Your Grave, or any other revenge flick. The good guy suffers, and the bad guys eventually get theirs. If good guys must suffer, this is how we want it to go. So when Carrie turns her impossibly wide-eyed, somehow vacant power gaze on her bullies and the sparks start to fly--literally--we get ready for the sweet, sweet comeuppances. And we get them, but we also get a lot we didn't ask for.

Carrie's rage is indiscriminate. Either she can't control her powers once they're fully unleashed, or she simply no longer gives a fuck. She imagines slights and mockery where there is only kindness, as is the case with Miss Collins, the one person who tries to help Carrie simply to help Carrie with no personal gain, the one who pays a brutal price simply for being present. No one is spared from Carrie's wrath, and what should be a liberating triumph becomes a devastating tragedy.

It's compounded when Carrie returns to her mother, who is also a tormentor...but a tormentor she knows. Carrie begs for comfort, but Margaret White is incapable of providing. You know how it ends. Again, I always hope it'll end some other way, that Carrie will be able to salvage some kind of a life, find her place, and make her way in the world. But no, she dies a pathetic death in the Jesus Closet, clinging to the body of the mother who tried to murder her only moments earlier.

It's's so damn depressing.

While Sissy Spacek and Nancy Allen are GD perfect and Carrie is a sight to behold, it's not a film I turn to time and time again because it's too sad for my frail ol' heart. Perhaps I'll take a cue from my co-host Anthony, who largely enjoys the camp maelstrom that is Piper Laurie as Margaret White. She really is too much, isn't she? Practically rending her garments as she growls about her husband's whiskey breath that one time she enjoyed sex, going on about dirtypillows, gobbling reminding Carrie that they're all gonna laugh at her.

I don't know. I love the film. But at this point I'm incapable of looking at it solely as a camp piece, and I'm less in the mood for "sad girl with powers dies" than I am in the mood for "sad girl with powers isn't so sad, really, and claims her powers and lives her best fucking life." And so my impossibly wide-eyed, somehow vacant power gaze turns to Jennifer and even moreso to Thelma.

The first time I saw Jennifer was...sheesh, like a decade ago (how fucking old is this place/this me?) when I reviewed it for this here blog. I'm ashamed to say I wasn't super enamored at the time! I only saw the similarities to Carrie, which was released just two years earlier. Girl whose name is the movie title has a religious parent, she's picked on, she wields powers, the mean girl dies in a fiery car crash.

Sure, Jennifer is a Carrie riff. It's an American International Pictures picture, after all. But watching it in preparation for Gaylords of Darkness...well, it was like seeing it for the first time all over again, but, you know, with different eyes. Or a different brain. Maybe it's because my relationship with movies (particularly horror movies) and writing about them is so different now. Maybe it's because I watched it within 24 hours of watching Carrie. Maybe I was a dum-dum back then, and I'm marginally less of one now. Who knows? But the result is one that DOCTORS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW.

But I'll tell you the result anyway: man, I loved it this time around. It wasn't the similarities to Carrie that really grabbed my attention, but rather the stark differences. (Besides, they're more interesting to talk about.)

Side note: it's good, isn't it, to reassess things every once in a while? Sometimes it can be a letdown: that movie you loved no longer seems so great. Sometimes you find something new in a bad movie and it redeems itself. Sometimes it's The Haunting '99 and it's forever beyond redemption. Sometimes time and experience and whatever other alchemy makes up your life makes you see differently and appreciate what you may have overlooked. Makes me feel like I should watch everything I've reviewed here again! Except The Haunting '99. Three times is a fucking crowd and I am done with it forever.

The largest divide between the two titular high schoolers is agency. Carrie has brief flashes of independence, most notably when she tells her mother to sit DOWN, cuz like it or not she's going to the dang prom. Outside of this, Carrie is little more than a victim throughout her film: bullied by her peers, abused by her mother, and sabotaged by herself. She is pathetic--not that that makes me love her any less, mind you. But that's what Chris Hargensen and Co zero in on: Carrie's meek nature. They sense her weakness, they despise her for it, and Carrie never stands up to them. She only scurries away, whether it's from Chris's insults or Tommy Ross's prom invitation. She never comes into her own, and she certainly never takes control of her powers; at the end of the film her powers are completely beyond her and bring about the literal downfall of the White home.

Jennifer, on the other hand, refuses to play victim, even though her bullies--well, "bullies" is too light a word for these sociopaths, actually--try to murder her on several occasions, take (and post) nude photos of her, make fun of her, try to get her kicked out of school, kill her favorite kitten, and then frame her for its murder. It's only that last one--the kitten murder--that really gets a rise out of our heroine. Everything else, she just deals with. She speaks up for herself and stands up to them all without hesitation, sure, but once the kitten-killin' line is crossed, Jennifer busts out her snake powers and gets her revenge.

But her revenge is not an indiscriminate, wild one. Sure, it's wild in that she summons snakes during an extended disco-lit sequence. But she stays in full control of her powers, she doesn't kill everyone who crossed her, and no innocents are caught in the serpent-laden crossfire. At the end of the film, she isn't burning in Hell far below the rubble of her destroyed house, no sir. At the end of Jennifer, Jennifer is footloose and fancy-free, tossing scarves with her new sidekick (not a euphemism) (maybe), doing her thing, and living her best life, the life Carrie was denied (and denied herself). It's a GD power fantasy, and I am here for it.

The film also as a few things to say--intentionally or otherwise--about class and social issues. Jennifer is the "hayseed" scholarship student at the posh private school, trying to co-exist with superwealthy supersnobs. She battles with the daughters of politicians and a headmistress who values reputation and money above the welfare of her students. Her allies in this are other outcasts: the black women who work in the dormitory kitchens alongside her, and the "dykes" who welcome her to the swim team. The minorities know what's up, they're on Jennifer's side, and no harm comes to them. In fact, Jennifer cleans house and makes it better for all of them. She's a hero, and she doesn't have to stand alone.

This is a huge step up from Carrie, surprising in its message (particularly as an AIP joint) and the agency it allows its title character to have. In short, Jennifer is a treasure. A treasure! I was oh so wrong all those years ago, and it serves as further proof to what we've all suspected from the start: you should never trust my opinions! Except for the opinions in this piece, which are impeccable. Don't listen to old me, listen to now me: Jennifer is pretty effing great.

If we set aside the Carrie...uh, expanded universe?...of remakes and sequels and Broadway musicals, the "telekinetic queen has a movie named for her" lay fallow for decades until Thelma, the 2017 Norwegian stunner. "Decades" is a long time to be sure, but good lawd was Thelma worth the wait.

Thelma is a country girl starting a new life at a college in the city. Well, starting a new life as best she can while remaining tight--like, multiple daily phone calls tight--with her Christian parents. It's not long before she contracts a big ol' case of The Gays, as she's immediately smitten with female classmate Anja. Thelma suffers terrible, frightening seizures at the mere thought or sight of Anja, but the seizures belie something besides repression and fear of sin: Thelma's got mind powers, baby, and she doesn't know she has them.

Religious parents, mind powers, the suffering of a public indignity...yeah, Thelma's right in line with Carrie and Jennifer. But while there are nods and homages and light similarities to the other films in this tiny, lovely subgenre, Thelma is also the endgame of progression in the same. Ultimately it's the story of a young woman who fully embraces who she is and her place in the world. Thelma claims her stake (and her girl) and frees herself from repression, oppression, and all notions of internalized sin. She accepts her powers, loves who she loves, and is who she is. It's a beautiful horror-flavored coming of age story, one that's still remarkable in this day and age for centering on a lesbian who doesn't die, who doesn't commit suicide, who doesn't ultimately find herself redeemed or saved by the love of a decent man.

It's also straight-up genre masterpiece if you ask me, which you sort of did by, you know, reading this. It's a gorgeous film that absolutely rewards repeat viewings: every single scene feels so deliberate, laden with symbols and metaphors and layers and more layers to unpack and unravel.

It's not a flashbang riot--you're not going to get a Carrie flips out at the prom setpiece in Thelma. It's a quiet, thoughtful film that's also incredibly tense. First viewing, you won't know what to expect or where it's going in such a way that you'll suddenly realize just how nervous you are. Then let it settle in your bones and watch it again, looking for clues and angles and colors and try to unravel its secrets. What's this shot mean? What's this motif? It's a gift of a film and it just keeps giving.

Eili Harboe is a revelation as Thelma. It's a physically and emotionally demanding role, and she is an actor who conveys so very much without showiness, with a mere tilt of her head or a single look. It's the kind of performance I love; I revere actors who somehow pierce through and hit a nerve with you, who communicate a truth that removes the barrier between "audience" and "cinema." You know what I mean? It's rare. It's nice when it happens. It reminds me why I love movies. Thelma fucking transcends, you dig? 

Hmm, I kind of like doing this sort of supplemental piece to the podcast, because nearly every week I find myself going "Oh, I wanted to mention this!" or "I shoulda said that!" or "What the heck was I thinking when I said that" after we've recorded. There's often more I want to say, so I guess this is the best place to say it. After all, if you've listened to Gaylords then you know that it's the place for bad amazing Debra Hill impressions and railing against Halloween H40 in between the glimmers of serious discussion. Here at Final Girl and I can still do all that, but now you're forced to read it with your eyes! Think of them as companion pieces, separate experiences that don't need each other but enhance the flavor of one another. GASP just like Carrie and Jennifer and Thelma.

Also, hey: we take listener questions! And we answer them! On the show! Got a question for us about any ol' horror-related nonsense? You can leave it here in the comments, if it pleases you. Or post it on our Facebook page. Whatever, man. I'm too blissed out on these telekinetic queens to worry about it.

Sep 26, 2018

Presented for your ear holes!

Hi guys, so today there's a new podcast on the scene, and it's called Gaylords of Darkness, and it's hosted by me and the inimitable Anthony Hudson of Queer Horror!

Will you learn anything? Probably not, except for our opinions on things! Will you laugh? I do not know! Will you cry or get angry? That is your business!

In our premiere episode "Drops of Blood by the Ham," we talk about the trailers for Halloween and Suspiria. You know, the new versions.

During SHOCKtober we will be posting a new episode every Wednesday! You can subscribe to the feed right on our page; we should be available on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify any minute now. Oh! And there's a new Facebook page for the show, all fresh like a honeydew melon. (That's not a thing, I don't think.)

We've got some fun as heck content lined up for this month, so if you want some "hot takes" and "room temperature takes" "takes of other temperatures" then check us out. If there's a movie or topic or actor or whatever you want us to cover, leave a suggestion in any ol' place.

Enjoy! Or don't. As always, it's your life!

Sep 24, 2018

Some nooze fuh yooze

Okay, before I get to the nitty and/or the gritty of an announcement, let me tell you that back in...June? Maybe?...AW HECK WHO CARES, TIME HAS NO MEANING ANYMORE THE POINT IS I MET THE ONE AND ONLY QUEEN OF FINAL GIRLS AMY STEEL.





Seriously, you guys, it was a dream come true and I am still riding high from it. "An asset to the genre"! I don't know if that's true but hot dang it's nice. She was so nice! So nice. The best.

And should you need further proof that she is very much the Final GODDESS we always suspected, well, she also had a panel at this convention. And at that panel, someone asked her "what it was like being in a movie with Jason." Which...well, that's a question, isn't it? But before getting to it, Amy Steel said "Boy, everyone really loves those men who never say a word." There is so much truth in there, it's like a concentrated truth essence. She is so perfect.

Anyway, that's the story of how I died.

But as I said, life continues on from beyond the grave. And as I also said, there is an announcement! Or, more accurately, an announcement of an announcement. Yeah, I'm being that guy here, like a teaser trailer for a trailer. Why is that a thing now? I hate it! But here I am doing it. I hate myself!

Wednesday–as in the day after tomorrow Wednesday–there will be a new podcast birthed out into the world! And I constitute one-half of it!

I'll fill in all the other considerable blanks on Wednesday. You know, the whens, the wheres, the whats...but until then, here is a...something to get you all jazzed.

Now let me tell you a (boring) story. Once upon a time, The Internet was a kinder, gentler place. Hard to believe, but it's true! It wasn't all Peaches and Herb cream, but it was pretty sweet. Here at Final Girl the comments section was a free, wild place where folks could just comment and the comment would appear and I wouldn't have to "approve" it like I think I'm so big or something. Then some creeps started leaving creepy comments, spam got out of hand, and lo and behold I switched to moderated comments. I would get an email notification that there was a new comment and I could approve or zap it to oblivion right there.

My last post, about the potential newsletter and podcast, got no comments. I will not lie, I felt a bit sad! I know that there are few posts that get a ton of comments these days because 1) I do not post regularly and 2) that's just not the nature of the blog-o-sphere any more. But no comments? About a newsletter or a podcast? Yikes. YIKES I THOUGHT. I wondered if I should continue to yell into the void or simply hang it up and retire to wherever people who can't afford to retire retire to. (Spoiler: I decided to do the podcast anyway, even if I had an audience of zero. So there!)

BUT! Then I logged on to post this post, and what do you think I saw on my dashboard? That's right, a bunch of comments! For all sorts of posts dating back months! They never made it to my email, and therefore I did not know they existed. This proves what I've always said to be true: The Internet is a failure and computers are worthless!

A bunch of those comments were all like YEAH GURL DO A PODCAST. I didn't know I had your votes, but maybe I felt them and that's why I forged ahead. Maybe I don't even need to do the podcast or any of this writing. We can all just think things and feel them! It will save a lot of time. But for now...Wednesday. Podcast. You and me and my co-host with the most most! I'm super excited.

Also SHOCKtober is upon us very soon and I don't know what to do for it. YAY!

Jun 11, 2018

Hooray for Everything!

You know how it goes: you make a baby, the baby becomes a bigger baby, and then an even bigger baby.  Such s the case with Final Girl, who turns a whopping 13 years old today! Thirteen. The scariest of all ages except for 666 and 40!

Our Final Girl is becoming a Final Woman, you guys, and holy crapping crap I can't believe how the time flies.

I certainly do not update this place with the regularity that I should, so a Charles Nelson Reilly-sized THANK YOU to everyone who has bothered to stick around at all and is reading this right now!

Wow. Still so ornery after all these years. And still such poor penmanship! I suppose it's nice that some things remain the same.

Anyway. While I have been woefully neglectful here, I have been active elsewhere, and I'm not just talking about my jazzercise classes. I still write for Kotaku, and my name is gonna be popping up in a few more places soon. I've been thinking about maybe starting an email newsletter thing since I'm not doing much social media anymore but I want people to stay informed of stuff I'm doin' if they want to stay informed. You know, maybe once a month? With links and one of my grandma's favorite recipes? Okay, I would just be copying recipes off of Triscuit boxes, but still, what do you think?

Hey, speaking of things I did! Alexandra West's book about the 1990s teen horror cycle, appropriately titled The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle, is out in the world! I wrote the foreword for the book and it was truly an honor. The book is a terrific look at a subgenre written off by many horror fans and I'm super proud to be a part of it. Here it is, with a Freddy Krueger candle for scale.

Hmm what else what else. Oh, the ongoing lawsuit for the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise has finally cockblocked the video game as well: publisher Gun Media announced today that there will be no future DLC or content for the game. They had a lot in the works, including Jason X's Uber Jason and a Grendel map, but that's all taken a machete to the face. Friday the 13th: The Game was–and still is, they'll continue to support the game and fix bugs for the foreseeable future–a good time, but what a troubled year it had. Why, it's almost as if the game had a death curse on it. If only we'd been warned!

Hey man, if you've got a Friday the 13th itch, you can scratch it with a copy of Death Count. I am just saying! And also, I mean that metaphorically. Don't do unspeakable things with my book!

Actually, do do unspeakable things with it. In these trying times we all need to take our joy where we can find it.

I've been thinking about doing a monthly Final Girl podcast. On the one hand, the last thing this world needs is another podcast! Especially since, if this blog is any indication, it would be a nonsensical mishmosh shitshow. On the other hand, a friend keeps haranguing me to do one because he would listen whilst he's bored at work, so I would have one guaranteed listener, and I do love attention. What do you think? Tell me your thoughts concerning this! Again, I know. Another fucking podcast. But honestly it's the closest I'm probably ever going to get to living the Stevie Wayne life I so covet and I should probably just take the shot.

I think that about wraps it up for now! Happy Anniversary/Birthday to Final Girl, and Charles Nelson Reilly bless us every one.

Ha ha ha! What a rascal.

Apr 13, 2018

Things to Wear, Things to See

Hello! Happy Friday the 13th to you. How will you be celebrating? Playing the game? Watching A New Beginning yet again? Let me tell you, friends, ever since I began loving Part V, my life has improved in countless ways. My hair is shinier and fuller, my IQ is up nearly three-quarters of a point, I am wary those damn enchiladas, and I now carry a picture of myself in my wallet everywhere I go. You could say I'm a hashtag blessed big dildo!

Anyway. Enough about me. OH WAIT IT'S NOT ENOUGH!

First of all, I know you know what's up, which means you're a fan of The Faculty of Horror. It's the horror podcast to end all horror podcasts, so I bet you can guess how stoked I was when they asked me to art up-n-design their limited edition Class of 2018 t-shirt. (Hint: I was wicked stoked!) (Okay that's not so much a "hint" as it is an "answer" but whatever.) And now this t-shirt is available for purchase! When purchased, it will be available for you to wear! ON YOUR BODY!

If you want it FOR YOUR BODY or to put on that weird mannequin you have in the corner of your bedroom (I'm not judging) (okay "weird" is a little judge-y but come on), well, here's the link.

"But what if I want some of your art to celebrate today's holiday but I don't have a body?" you might ask. Well, I would posit that you could gift the t-shirt to someone who does have a body. But! If you are only thinking about yourself, today is the perfect day for me to remind you about my book Death Count: All of the Deaths in the Friday the 13th Film Series, Illustrated. Buy it and see what someone probably called "Okay"!

As always on this most holy of days, I wish you all a ki ki ki and a ma ma ma.

Apr 10, 2018

I've seen stuff!

Good news, my dudes: yes, I may look it on the outside and feel it on the inside, but as it turns out I am not actually dead! I've been doing stuff and things, writing stuff and things about horror games over at Kotaku, eating stuff and things...just lots of stuff and things. "Is this pertinent?" you may ask.

I may respond, "What, like you have anything better to do than read my rambling nonsense? But also yes, it's kind of pertinent because some of those stuffs and things I've been doing are horror movies."

Then I would hasten to add "I mean I've been watching horror movies, not doing them. That would be impractical and likely unhygienic."

"Yes," you might reply. "I figured."

Anyway, rather than recount our entire imaginary conversation, why don't I recount some of MY OPINIONS regarding some of the movies I've watched over the last eight years (or however long it's been since I last posted)?

Blood Diner (1987)

Now that I've finally seen Blood Diner, I can shuffle off to that great blood diner in the sky knowing that my time here on Earth was...not necessarily well-spent, I suppose, but it was definitely spent.

You will have a lot of questions before, during, and after you've seen Blood Diner. The biggest question of them all, however, is "Wait, did I see Blood Diner?" for even as the end credits roll, you will not be sure. This is because Blood Diner isn't a movie you watch...Blood Diner is an experience that happens to you and sometimes at you.

This horror-comedy about a couple of wackadoo brothers attempting to resurrect a goddess for some reason (I think that's what it's about?) exists entirely in its own universe...and I don't mean that in some "Marvel Universe" or "Star Wars Whatever" way. I mean its "universe" is solely the mind of director Jackie Kong's made manifest and the center of that universe cannot hold. There are no rules whatsoever; people do not act like people do, but sometimes not-people do act like people do. I know that doesn't make sense, but when that statement is refracted through the Blood Diner prism it kind of does. The whole movie is like that, a cacophonous assault on your eyes and ears so jam-packed with what-the-fuckery in every inch of the frame, you will wonder–even as you're dazed and dizzy–just how this movie happened. You will wonder what it's supposed to mean. You will come out the other side–if you come out the other side all all–wondering who you are and questioning your reality.

So yes, I loved it. I think? It's not good, but it's also a blessing. I think? I laughed unironically. I think? Blood Diner is perhaps a bit like Schrödinger's Horror Movie, as it simultaneously exists and doesn't exist. It's the only movie I've ever seen that I'll never forget, but I also can't remember anything about it.

Veronica (2017)

So there I was, just a-loafin' on the couch and a-scrollin' through the Netflix when I spot Veronica, the tale of a Ouija Board gone wrong but a possession gone oh so right. It's written and directed by Paco Plaza, one of the creators behind [REC] and since I fucking love [REC] forever and always, I decided to give it a shot. This was unusual for me, as my usual solo Netflix experience is "browse for 45 minutes, add 12 things I'll never watch to my queue, turn off Netflix." Sometimes that last part is "put on an episode of a reality show about prison life and fall asleep fifteen minutes later." This time, though, I was excited enough to follow through on the whole "movie watching" thing.

Veronica is...fine. While I did not wish that I'd opted to fall asleep to an episode of Lock Up or Lockdown or Lock This Way instead, I was decidedly underwhelmed. It's a veritable checklist of "spooky stuff" every horror fan has seen before: there's a creepy nun, a mouth that opens unnaturally wide thanks to CGI, a shadowy figure standing in the corner, a "based on a true story" angle, blah blah blah. It's perfectly serviceable, to be sure, in particular the strong performances from the children in the cast. But I hoped for more thanks to the [REC] pedigree and my fondness for a possession tale.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a text from a friend a couple of days later asking if I'd seen it yet. Apparently it'd been making the rounds on the social medias, with folks claiming it's so puke-in-your-pants scary that no one could finish watching it. Are you imagining my surprise? It was a big one.

Look, I love a bit of William Castle chutzpah, a touch of Herschell Gordon Lewis moxie. You know, that good ol' fashioned horror movie barfbaggery wherein you need an insurance policy lest a film scare you right to death. Hype posts on Faceplaces ain't that to me, though. In this era of Russian bots and FAKE NEWS and endless trolling everywhere, it simply feels like another lie on the fire. Because it's a lie! Veronica might be the scariest thing you've ever seen if you've never seen another horror movie. And you might not finish watching it if you decide to, like, go to bed instead.

Dead Awake (2016)

Oh dear me.

The phenomenon known as sleep paralysis (that state between sleeping and waking where you can't speak or move but you're totally aware of things happening around you) is terrifying...but not terrifying enough, says Dead Awake. What's even way more terrifyinger is, like, a "hag" who comes to you seeking skin moisturizer kills you when you're in the grips of sleep paralysis.

I mean. This is not a good movie, but then I don't know what I was expecting. I only watched it because I saw that it stars Jocelin "House of the Devil" Donahue as twins. Twins! Who could resist a horror movie with twins? But trust me, these are no fun time horror twins à la the dueling Daphne Zunigas in The Initiation. These twins are not having fun at all, a fact owing largely to how you can tell throughout that Jocelin Donahue knew this movie would end up a big pile. Boy, was she right!

Jocelin Donahue deserves better. Friend o' Final Girl Brea Grant deserves better. Swimfan deserves better. I know that I for sure deserve better!

Editor's note: I know that Jesse Bradford is not the swim fan in Swimfan, rather he is the swimmer. Still, when he popped up on screen I said "Hey! Swimfan!" so there you go.

Editor's second note: Also I know that "House of the Devil" is (probably) not Jocelin Donahue's nickname, but since that's where you probably know her from I put it in quotes like that. I am just saying.

Deadly Eyes (1982)

Ohhhh baby, now we're talkin'. Here's a movie I deserve!

Before I talk about what makes Deadly Eyes so great, let me clear the air: the giant rats of Deadly Eyes do not, in fact, have deadly eyes. They're just big rats, and as such they have deadly mouths. While Deadly Mouths is a more truthful title, it's not as good as Deadly Eyes, however, so here we are. I want total transparency here.

Now then. As science and math have proven time and time again, contaminated grain + rats = large rats with a taste for human flesh. That's just nature, and that's really all there is to this movie. So what makes it a superlative animals run amok flick? Two things:

1. In much of the film, the rats are played by dachshunds in rat costumes.

I'll get to #2 after you've had some time to recover from that information.

2. No one is safe from these hungry rats! Deadly Eyes does not discriminate, nor does it give a fuck. Are you an old? CHOMP. Are you a toddler? CHOMP. Are you a main character? CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP. Deadly Eyes does what it wants, and what it wants is to eat everyone without prejudice nor a lick o' CGI in sight. It's so great.

The Nest (1988)

Watched The Nest the same night I watched Deadly Eyes and had an inadvertent Lisa Langlois creature double feature, highly recommended.

As science and math have proven time and time again, biohazardous waste + cockroaches = cockroaches with not only a taste for human flesh, but also with the ability to somehow mutate their victims into cockroach-victim hybrids.

As you may have surmised, The Nest is not entirely serious. It's not necessarily a horror-comedy, but it is a Concorde Pictures/Corman production and it definitely leans into the campiness. It feels like a 1950s monster movie by way of 80s synthesizers and garishness. It's frequently gross, always ludicrous, and doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's pure drive-in style fun.

The poster, seen above, has always filled my mind with questions, none of which have really been answered after seeing the film. Still lingering in my brain:

Is that a giant cockroach? Or is it a very tiny woman? Am I supposed to be turned on by this image? It is everything wrong perfect and right with 1980s videocassette box aesthetics.

The Ritual (2017)

I don't know if The Ritual is actually super terrific or if I was high on too much Riunite but man, this shit did it for me! I was into it, my friends, cowering behind a blanket and feeling all kinds of tension. I was creeped out but good, like I haven't been in forever. This is some Blair Witch on steroids business and it worked: it's got woods, woods, and more woods; dark woods; scary stuff in said woods; a village in the woods full of creeps; some of the best creature design I've ever seen. Beyond that I don't want to give anything away, so let's just say that I love all of those things very much and I loved this movie very very much, a real gem. And you can trust my opinion on that: I have a horror blog!

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Another wee little gem, Tragedy Girls is to slasher flicks what Shaun of the Dead is to zombie flicks. Both a self-aware satire of and straight play of its genre, it's full of clever dialogue, charming and charismatic characters, a few outrageous set pieces, lots of humor and even more blood. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp are terrific as Sadie and McKayla, death-obsessed teenage besties hungry for social media hits who must create their own content when the town's psycho doesn't murder enough for their liking. It's a neon- and gore-drenched good time.

So there you go, a roundup of MY OPINIONS about some of the horror movies I've seen sort of lately. See you in another eight years!